Tag Archives: online media

Pioneer Woman — how marrying a cowboy can turn you into an emerging web 2.0 superstar

The Pioneer Woman is Ree Drummond, a former city girl who met a cowboy, married him and ended up “in the middle of nowhere” with four kids on a cattle ranch.  Her original blog, which she started writing in 2006, has grown into a significant online media property.

As beautiful and polished as it looks — the photography and overall layout of the site are fantastic — and that fact that Ree clearly has a good instinct when it comes to creating a personal brand and public identity, she still manages to maintain her honest, down-home, “I’m just a wife and mother out in the boonies like you” soul.  Perhaps this, as well as her many recipes presented with easy-to-follow photos, is what keeps her estimated 2 million monthly readers (according to the LA Times) coming back to the site.  The photo archives of Charlie, the basset hound who thinks he’s a cattle dog, is just my favorite among many examples of the content on Pioneer Woman that keep it intimate and personal, indeed sometimes just down right corny.  (You can’t say that about Martha Stewart!)  It also helps that Ree has a style and a way with words that I suspect connects perfectly with her audience — like the way she refers to her husband only as Marlboro Man.

Pioneer Woman shows how web 2.0 enables us all to share our personal passions, lifestyle, thoughts and ideas with anyone, anywhere, and that even a mother-of-four, thousands of miles away from a media metropolis, can transform those passions into a commercial media property, while staying true to herself at the same time.

Still, it can’t be easy.  Wife, mother, household, 2000 head of cattle.  How does she do it?  It’s a challenge for me to write this blog at least once a week.  And the only animal (or child) around here is a parrot.  (Uh oh.  I hear him in the bathroom throwing the shower stopper around.  That means he wants to take a bath.  Gotta go!)


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Twitter feels more and more like just another media channel

There’s a lot of online buzz lately about teens not using Twitter.  And there’s quantitative data to back it up.  In a recent report, Nielsen provides data showing that 25-54 year old’s represent the biggest age segment of Twitter users. What’s more, it’s this segment that has fueled Twitter’s astronomical growth in recent months.  In contrast, the 2-24 age group accounts for only 16% of Twitter users.  (I don’t know any two-year old’s on Twitter, come to think of it.)

Twitter by Age Group

This isn’t surprising when I think about my own experience on Twitter lately.  It seems like an ever increasing number of new follows come from people trying to sell me something, many of them hawking the latest “get rich quick” scheme.  I can’t recall any of them being from the under-25-year-old set or late Gen Xer’s.  I suspect the huckster segment correlates pretty closely with that smack-dab-in-the-middle age group.

One hypothesis for the dearth of young Twitter users is that Twitter is a social network for meeting new people, and this isn’t what teens use the social web for.  They join communities that help them keep up with friends they’ve already made “in the real world,” which is why they are well represented on Facebook, whose functionality is more suited to that.

But I suspect it has just as much to do with the fact that Twitter feels more and more like just another media channel for selling stuff.  And because it costs nothing, even the crummiest of wares get sold there.  You don’t have to be under 25 to feel like that’s not a place you want to be.  Of course it’s easy enough to filter the garbage out of your Twitter feed.  But still, I’m wondering if it wouldn’t be more agreeable, and useful, for there to be two Twitters — one social, one commercial.   When I’m using Twitter to make social connections I would log into former.  And when I’m in business mode, I’d log into the Twitter that feeds me commercial tweets, which I am happy to receive when I’ve got my business, or customer, hat on.

That might not only get more teens interested in Twitter,  it might make it a better experience for everyone.

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Compare the Meerkat — brilliance or borrowed interest?


Everyone seems to be singing the praises of Compare the Meerkat — an integrated marketing campaign for the UK price comparison site comparethemarket.com featuring “spokes-critter” Alexandr Orlov.  Alexandr engages with us on TV, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and his own microsite.  The campaign is bold, funny and distinctive, but is it working?  This is a genuine question.  Does anyone know?  I haven’t been able to find any business results or analysis.

As much as I admire comparethemarket.com for expanding beyond the comfort zone of traditional media, I remain skeptical about the campaign’s effectiveness.  It has undoubtedly generated a tremendous amount of buzz and good will.  Furry Alexandr’s Facebook page boasts 342,567  fans and he has 11,179 Twitter followers, including me.  This should theoretically boost top-of-mind awareness for the company, which is nothing to sniff at in an online category that has grown fat with more or less indistinguishable offers.

But most of the talk seems to be about the campaign and not about the brand.  In fact, the heart of the idea is Alexandr telling everyone that if you’re looking to compare prices, you’ve come to the wrong place.  Okay — most of us who spend any time thinking about this marketing and advertising stuff get the point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if a sizable number of potential customers don’t.  If there’s one thing that often misguides marketers and the agencies that create their communications, it’s the egotistical fantasy that the general public spends as much time thinking about the brand and its advertising as they do.  In fact, most people couldn’t give a “meerkat’s ass” about most brands, and aren’t ready to invest more than a millisecond of their brain power figuring out advertising that isn’t clear about what it’s selling.

On the other hand, I could see a possible strategic rationale in keeping people engaged with comparethemarket.com through the ongoing entertainment value of Alexandr and his various meerkats.  When the time came that a particular customer entered the market for insurance, comparethemarket.com would be the destination of choice.

Judging by the comments and topic discussions on Alexandrs Facebook page, his fans certainly seem to be engaged — with Alexandr, with meerkats, and with all sorts of things relating to that.  The one thing they don’t seem to be engaged with is comparethemarket.com.  I don’t have the impression that anyone remembers that Alexandr is connected with the service, if they ever even noticed to begin with, or even cared.  There’s a ballooning cult behind Alexandr.  It appears a star has been born — but it’s not the brand.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of social media for brands.  (Why the heck would I write this blog if I didn’t.) But I’m not sure that Compare the Meerkat does justice to the potential of social media to connect consumers and brands, nor that it will be anything more than the bright blaze of a social media fad that will eventually sputter out.  I’d be happy to be proven wrong.  I would love to see evidence that this isn’t just borrowed interest, but brilliance indeed.

Does anybody out there have it?


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