Ask JFlo

Oct 11

Netflix Is Qwikly Making Enemies

My vote for the most stressful job in the second half of 2011 (so far) would have to be whoever is in charge of Public Relations at Netflix.

Netflix

Everyone’s favorite movie streaming service has been in the news quite a bit the past few months, and it has been for all the wrong reasons.  To make matters worse, they aren’t doing anything to help themselves.  They continue to dig themselves into a bigger hole with every announcement and decision that they make.

Here is a list of four things Neflix has recently done wrong and my two cents on the situation:

Price Increase

Even though many people were upset about the price increase, I believe it was a great idea for Netflix… they just handled the situation very poorly.

Over the summer, Netflix released a statement announcing that by September 1st, memberships would no longer cost the standard $9.99.  The new pricing plan split the streaming and the DVD-by-mail services into two pricing categories, costing $7.99 each.  Therefore, if you wanted to keep the same service, you would be expected to pay 60% more.

No reasons. No numbers. No other statements.  Just a price hike.  As you can imagine, people were thrilled (am I right Netflix users?).

I think the price hike was justified.  Each service is different from one another and needed its own revenue to help support its functions.  Also, Netflix was in a great position to increase their price.  They were increasing membership dramatically while competitors like Blockbuster were filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.  Aside from that, the price hike would still make Netflix cheaper than Blockbusters DVD-by-mail service and, if you watch enough movies, cheaper than Redbox, especially when you consider late fees.

If only Netflix had explained this earlier, they would not have to make this next move…

This HORRIBLE video

Why do I think this video is terrible?  Two reasons:

  1. You shouldn’t have to release an apology about something that was announced by a press release.  That’s what the press release is for.  It should be detailed enough so Netflix would never be in a position where it would need to apologize.
  2. Qwikster?  Seriously?  Oh, and I have only just begun with this one…

Qwikster

QwiksterNot only did Netflix upset customers with a price increase, they now were telling customers that they would be joining HP by spinning off a major part of their business: DVD-by-mail service.

What did this entail?  This meant that customers would now have to access two separate websites to organize their movies… yet, pay the same company at the end, but on two different bills.  Exactly, it makes no sense.  Oh, and it only got worse….

As with any announcement, many people hit the web to see what others opinons are of the news.  Many of those people went to Twitter, where they found out a Qwikster account already existed.  Unfortunately for Netflix, it wasn’t their account…

In case you can’t tell, that is Elmo smoking pot.  Great job Netflix!  Not only do they need to learn how to write press releases, they need to learn about social media… which is terrible because they are a digital company.  To all those reading, PR 101 tip: secure the name of your company on social media platforms before others do.  If you aren’t able to do so, try to resolve the issue somehow before making an announcement.  

Netflix did a terrible job covering up this error by doing and saying nothing.  Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, they found a way…

Well… that was qwik…

Netflix announced yesterday that it was abandoning Qwikster and keeping Netflix as one service.  CEO Reed Hastings wrote on Netflix’s blog, “It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.” … Really?  You just figured that out? 

This lead to many customers being satisfied and a large number of blogs/ news websites using corky titles replacing the word ‘quick’ with ‘qwik’ (yea, I jumped on that bandwagon).

However, I looked at it differently.  This was just another move that could have been prevented.  Where was Netflix market research that made the decision in the first place?  Where was Neflix public relations trying to reassure customers as to why this was a good move?  Where was any Netflix representative trying to promote how this made sense at all?  They weren’t anywhere.

Let’s not forget what Reed Hastings said at the end of his video: “I just want to say again how sorry I am in the way we handled the communication around these big changes.”  They obviously didn’t communicate with their customers to see if they would like splitting their services into two websites/ companies.

We have all just witnessed a modern, and short, version of the ‘New Coke’ diaster.  Whether or not Netflix can recover from its stock price dropping close to two-thirds in less than three months is something we are going to have to keep an eye out for.  Until then, sit back, relax, and enjoy the show…

Have a question about social media, digital media, technology, electronics, Google, or other related topics? For quality answers better than you will find in a simple online search, just Ask JFlo.

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Oct 05

It’s a bird, it’s a plane… oh, it’s just the iPhone 4S… whatever.

To all those who have been waiting for the iPhone 5 for months, you better start waiting longer because it doesn’t exist…. yet.

Yesterday was Apple’s first keynote with Tim Cook as CEO, and there was quite a bit of speculation coming into it.  Weeks before the meeting, people expected a new iPhone 5.  Then there were discussions that the iPhone 5 would be thinner, have a wider screen, and be 4G capable.  Then rumors surfaced that the iPod Classic and Nano would be discontinued.  Then there were rumors of Sprint getting the iPhone 5.  Then there was no iPhone 5, only an iPhone 4S.  Then rumors went around that Facebook might finally have an iPad app…. And that is not even half the rumors I read about.

                             TechCrunch: The iPhone 5/4S: The Complete Rumor Rundown

So what are my thoughts on yesterdays’s announcements?  I will give you the key points about the other announcements at this keynote and then dive into details about the iPhone 4S, and my predictions of Apple’s future phone development. (NOTE: Basically every link moving forward will direct you to a Mashable.com article. They had the best articles, so by no means did I favor their articles… even though they are my favorite tech & gadget blog)

New iPod Nano

Mickey Mouse WatchSo much for discontinuing the iPod Nano.  Not only did they improve the Nano to keep track of your exercise with Nike’s fitness program, it is now going after the watch market (Rolex, beware).  Those who did not follow yesterdays announcement must be lost, but I’m not joking.  The new iPod Nano can be fashioned as a watch with 16 different digital clock interfaces (including Mickey Mouse on the right).  So much for a dead product…

iOS 5 launch

So when Apple was discussing iOS 5, those who watched the WWDC began to wonder, “Is any of this new information?”  Regardless, the much anticipated iOS 5 update is set to be released on October 12th for free.  This upgrade will be available for all devices, and will thus create the iCloud.  No more wires needed as the iCloud will now sync all your Apple products together.  iOS 5 also has many new features (none that were new to this keynote) that you can read about here.

Sprint gets the iPhone

This one is pretty self explanitory.  So if you are one of those people who like to use a great product with a horrible service, by all means, get the iPhone on Sprint.  In my mind, that is like buying a Maserati and living in the worst neighborhood possible (*cough*Camden, NJ*cough*).

iPhone 3S is now $0

No, that is not a typo.  The iPhone 3S is now free, while the iPhone 4 is now only $99.  So if you are looking for a bargain, you can’t really go wrong with these cheap phones!

New App: Cards

Out of nowhere, Apple has created an app that will let you create your own greeting cards with 21 different designs.  Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, Apple takes it one step further.  Instead of just e-cards, you can have Apple print them on quality paper and mail them to anyone you want in the world.  The cost: $2.99 domestic, $4.99 international.  Yes, that is cheaper than a card at the store, not to mention this price includes postage! Oh and I can’t forget to mention that you will get a push notification once your letter is mailed (US only).

I honestly believe this was the sleeper at this keynote.  Hallmark better have been paying attention because they have a new competitor that came out of nowhere.

iPhone 4S

iPhone 4S

So what exactly is the iPhone 4S?  Basically, its iPhone 4 2.0.  It has many new features, but has the exact same body.  Here is a list of the major upgrades that will come with this phone:

           Read a Mashable Op-Ed about why CEO Tim Cook doesn’t care that you weren’t satisfied

What is yet to come: iPhone 5

So yes, there is no iPhone 5, but it will come eventually.  What it will bring is a mystery, but that doesn’t mean I can’t have fun and speculate based on Apple tendencies and previous rumors.  So here is a run down of what I think the future of the iPhone might look like:

I know the last bullet is vague, but Apple is always recreating products.  That is all I can predict.  Maybe none of those happen and Apple creates a phone new product to market… we won’t know until Tim Cook takes the stage again.

One more thing…

I have some advice for the new CEO Tim Cook… NEVER SAY “One more thing…” AT A TECH MEETING!!! People will take you literally and think you have one more “thing.”  Towards the end of the announcement, everyone got excited that Apple would actually have a point for this keynote.  Bloggers and journalists everywhere were already pretty disappointed to being with, so they were only let down more when they found out there wasn’t “one more thing.”

My Final Thoughts

Apple had a pointless meeting that could have been announced through a simple press release.  I’m not alone with these thoughts.  Many bloggers and influential tweeps shared their disappointment on the web.  It is no surprise that Apple’s stock dropped 5% immediately after the announcement.  Regardless, the iPhone 4S is still already considered one of the best phones on the market without it even being available yet.  If you need a new phone now and like the iPhone, go ahead and get it.  However, if you think you can wait, just hold off until the new iPhone 5… whenever that is.

P.S.

Before I could finish this post, a new iPhone 5 rumor has already surfaced.  Could the iPhone 5 with LTE 4G make its debut this spring?  If so, my guesses would be wrong already…

Sep 23

@abolishcancer: The best #SocialGood Campaign on Twitter

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Darah Bonham (@darahbonham), Founder and President of @abolishcancer, over Twitter last night.  During this Twitterview (get it… Twitter interVIEW…), I was able to ask Bonham 10 questions about @abolishcancer.  I won’t divulge into every detail, but I will highlight why I think this is the best social good campaign on Twitter.

                      Click here to see the full conversation with out #ACinterview hashtag.

In November 2009, Bonham started @abolishcancer to create Twitterthons that provide both funding and awareness for cancer organizations and charities in the fight against cancer.  A Twitterthon is ran when a sponsor pledges to donate $1 to a charity for every new follower that @abolishcancer receives in an 18 hour period.  I like to call this a win-win-win situation.  The sponsor gets great publicity and ends up receiving a few new followers.  The charity receives awareness around what they do, a few new followers, and receives donations from the sponsor.  @abolishcancer creates important connections and gains thousands of followers which will later see the motivation stories and future fundraisers that are posted.  Since @abolishcancer began, sponsors have donated over $51,000 to charities.  Of that amount, 100% is donated to the organization.  The largest sponsor of a Twitterthon is @Delprado who donated $10,000 to Project Ladybug in a single Twitterton.

@abolishcancer logoI started the interview trying to understand the beginning of @abolishcancer.  When deciding on the name, Bonham also thought about StompCancer and BeatCancer, among other things.  Bonham decided on @abolishcancer because ”of the powerful nature of the message. We want it ABOLISHED.”  He stated that he started the account on twitter because “there is no other platform like it where an ‘average Joe’ can connect with such influential people under a certain topic.”  You can also now find @abolishcancer on Facebook, YouTube, Blogger, and other social networks

Aside from Twitterthons, Bonham mentioned that he has run several different kinds of campaigns.  On April Fools, @abolishcancer teamed up with comedians such as Chelsea Handler, to encourage their Twitter followers to donate $1 to a charity of their choice.  He did something similar this past September 1st with the #Rock2AbolishCancer campaign with musicians.  Bonham has been doing an incredible job using social media for social good campaigns and creating a great image and brand for his account.  When we further discussed organizations using social media to help with fundraisers, I realized that we shared some of the same thoughts.  He encourages that, no matter how large or small, every organization should get involved in using social media, but in the right way.  ”If you are simply retweeting others and posting bulletin board material about your non-profit,” Bonham stated, “you are missing the boat.”  He expressed that “Twitter isn’t a bulletin board, it’s for ENGAGING and engaging means that you must have a conversation with those you connect with. “

I think one of the hardest questions I asked Bonham was to share what he thought was the most compelling story he had heard.  If you follow @abolishcancer, you see the heart breaking and heroic stories everyday.  In a brief conversation off Twitter, he explained about a story I have been following myself that I would like to share with you all.  Here is what Bonham said to me outside of our Twitterview:

@Bradenshope is just one person that has been a joy to follow and work with.  He’s a 1st grader in KC with neuroblastoma and his mom was also diagnosed with breast cancer.  Talk about resiliency.  They are true heros in my book for all that they have to endure, their spirit and never quit attitude.

At the end of the interview, I tried to get a sneak-peak of any new initiatives or campaigns that @abolishcancer has coming up.  Bonham wouldn’t let us get into details, but he stressed that it is a huge initiative that will be announced in 2012.  Whatever it is, it must be incredible because he is currently seeking angel investors to help develop “the integrated platform.”  Only time will tell what it will be.  Until then, we will all just have to wait in anticipation.

Before I finish, I want to end on one tweet from Bonham.  Again, @abolishcancer is a great campaign that is striving to help any cancer charity.  Being one of his first 100 followers, I have watched his following grow by thousands and thousands every month.  My last question was for him to describe the passion of his followers/ supports in one single tweet (140 characters).  For someone who is so passionate about this fight, he made use of the 140 character limit and said everything right:

https://twitter.com/#!/darahbonham/statuses/117038323272400898

Sep 22

Social Good Summit Day 2 Summary

… better late then never right?

First off, there is just so much to go over that it is going to be impossible to post it all and keep anyone interested that long.  I am only going to post some of the top quotes and key facts.  To learn more about the conference, I urge you all to watch the archived footage here.

Elie Wiesel

The main focus Elie Wiesel made is that we cannot get too attached to media and technology that we forget to physically interact with people.  He told a story about how he used to exchange letters with a girl he loved.  They would use “snail mail” to write back and forth, and go through that wait period when they anticipated the the other person to respond.  He said, “It was the waiting that was part of love.”  He says younger generations take advantage of the simplest things that we don’t appreciate the value of working towards getting to know someone.

Memorable Quotes:

"You can falsify history, or you can celebrate it. It’s up to you."

"I feel sorry for this generation not to have the joy of the book."

"This generation is image oriented. My generation was word oriented."

Empowering Women

Academy Award winning Actress Geena Davis, from “Beetlejuice” and “A League of Their Own,” was a major advocate of empowering women.  She had the most interesting facts out of any speaker at the summit on Day 2.  One quote that was tweeted ended up being the most ReTweeted tweet of the day.  Somehow, that tweet was mine.  Here is what I posted:

https://twitter.com/#!/JFlopsu/status/116206047722610688

Over a 125 ReTweets later, I have dozens of people arguing over the validity of this statement.  I for one can agree with the second portion of this statement.  The US media does really portray women in a negative light, sometimes unintentionally.  Davis said that only 81% of extras in movies are men.  This is not intended to happen, but it is a habit that people don’t realize.

Back to my tweet, I am trying my hardest to get a follow-up with Geena Davis to go into a little more detail about the US media.  I don’t want to attack her about the number, I just want to hear more about the other 20% of the media (or whatever percentage is) and what she is doing to help our media display a more equal light on women.  If you would like to help me get a follow-up with Geena Davis, I urge you all to tweet her at @GDIGM and politely ask her to contact me back for a brief follow-up interview.  Thank you.

Livestrong

The story of Livestrong was a very interesting one.  Nike reached out to Lance Armstrong to sell 5 million yellow bracelets, which Lance would then donate the proceeds (81 cents of every $1) to cancer treatment.  No one in Lance’s circle thought it was possible.  Even Lance and Doug Ulman (CEO of Livestrong) thought they could sell 5 million little plastic bracelets.  Lance told the audience that he told Nike, “Great. We’ll try to sell these. What do you want us to do with the 4.8 million left? Sling shot them across the room? Roll newspapers, napkins?”

As we all know, that little yellow bracelet revolutionized the fundraising industry.  Doug Ulman said, “The yellow bracelet democratized philanthropy.”  He said a lot of their current support comes from social media, with Livestrong’s Facebook page generating higher traffic than their own organizations website.

Memorable Quotes

 60% of people with cancer are over 60, but their kids are the biggest advocates.” - Doug Ulman

"When we look back in a decade, the yellow band will have revolutionized everything." - Doug Ulman

GE - Open for Business, Open for Good

Beth Comstock, CMO of GE, did a great job explaining the future of GE in terms of social good.  GE is trying to help lead other companies in their social good campaigns and ideas.  Without trying to “steamroll” companies by taking them over, GE is trying everything they can to help create honest relationships that enable the other organization to have their freedom.  Comstock said GE’s prime purpose is to help incubate and accelerate other companies.  GE’s responsibility is just to give them the resources of a large company.

Memorable Quotes

"Being open is good for business, and being open makes business good."

"No matter if you are a big or small company… Some of the best ideas don’t win."

"Money is often the easy part. The access to scale is difficult."

Other Key Takeaways

Additional Photos


Sep 21

Delay of Game: JFlo

Yea, I know. I had an #epicfail of a day live blogging during the summit yesterday.  I realized between live blogging, taking pictures, writing notes, and tweeting, I didn’t have time to actually listen.  So that was not really going to work.

After the summit, I had other obligations to take care of, so I could not gather a quality summary for today.  Therefore, I will post a summary of my day in NYC tomorrow.  My post on Facebook social good campaigns will be moved to Saturday.

Also, I have an awesome announcement…………………….

Tomorrow I will be holding a Twitterview with Darah Bonham (@darahbonham), the founder of @abolishcancer, at 8PM!  A Twitterview is an interview held on Twitter, so you all will be able to follow our interview live!  We are working on a hashtag to incorporate, so look out on my twitter when it is announced.  The twitterview will be summarized in a post on Friday!

Until tomorrow, relax, keep complaining about Facebook, and move over to Google+ #peerpressure!