Case Studies

Independent research done by site authors.

Website Development with WordPress

Wordpress Website and Blog HostingA large part of any online marketing campaign is the construction of a website.  Not only does it provide a consumer with a location to learn more about the brand, and potentially purchase goods and services from the site, but also demonstrates a brand’s professionalism and ability to communicate its value to customers.  However, many small businesses face the problem of not having the expertise to write their own code, or the funding to pay someone to develop a site on their behalf.  A great solution to this problem is for the company to rely on a WordPress hosted website, at least while they are in development.

WordPress provides easily manageable layouts and structures so that site owners can worry less about bugs and glitches and more about creating awesome content.  WordPress comes in two varieties, websites hosted by and those hosted by  The differences in these sites comes down to a tradeoff between control and simplicity. hosted sites come loaded with themes and basic features that require essentially no setting up, but prevent you from altering the HTML code in any way. sites on the other hand come with less sophisticated and involved themes, but allow the page owner to add countless features, or plugins, including a store.  For the small business owner it is likely that this is best choice.  For a full list of differences please click here.

For both sites, the original URL you will have control over will include “” or “” following the name of your site (for example  For a small annual fee you can pay to have the site URL can be followed simply by “.org”, “.com”, or “.net”.  On top of this, all WordPress sites allow you to add some features or themes for free, but many more incredible add-ons assuming you are willing to pay for it.  Prices range widely depending on what wish to add, but can be as little as $2-3 and go well over $100.  These add-ons are called “plugins”, they can be as simple installing rotating images onto your site that change every 15 seconds, or as complex as ones that can allow consumers to learn more about a product by mousing over different parts of an image.  Additionally, sites hosted by enable the user to input HTML which enables them to create their own features and customization and is used by many analytics sites such as Google Analytics and Clicky Web Analytics.  Without the input HTML, the sites cannot offer as much insightful data, one of the pitfalls of using a site.

Wordpress vs. Blogger Web Hosting

This site recently moved from Google’s Blogger to WordPress.  There were multiple reasons for this, and the results have been exceptional.  First, Blogger simply looked less professional.  The page format was not sleek, and the page constraints made the page look cheap.  WordPress’ clean and professional themes provided a better format to accomplish the goals of this site.  Some of the features that came with the site are also useful, including the site’s analytics and ability to easily prompt the user for information (as seen in the Kindle Contest).  Additionally, WordPress enabled the site to have its own domain name, providing the site’s content with increased trust, and authority.  Lastly, the format provided by WordPress is simply superior.  Being able to separate posts into categories, include tags, and make separate pages for individual posts, all provides greater flexibility for the page creators.  Hands down the experience is superior on WordPress, even without paid for features.


Kickstarter: The merger of Fundraising and Social Media

Kickstarter Campaign Image

By now most everyone has heard of it:  It is a site that allows people to fund creative projects that might otherwise not get enough attention.  The site has led to millions of dollars in donations to projects, that without the kindness of friends, family and strangers could have never happened.  It is the online community speaking with their wallets about what should be created, and what projects are not really worth making happen.  The impact of projects going viral and of social media on projects cannot be understated, those that have been successful play off of the media, link through various websites, share their projects on Facebook and Twitter, and fully engage with the online community.

Impressively, almost half of all Kickstarter campaigns get fully funded.  And of those that do get funded 94% get over funded.  Considering the average project asks for roughly $5,000 dollars, and the average donation $71, there is a lot of opportunity to create something great.  However, it is an all or nothing game.

Projects either receive 100% or more funding, or their creators, and their projects, get squat.  Further, projects are entirely limited to creative projects in arts, design, film, food, and music.  That means campaigns to raise money for a cancer foundation, sports team, to pay off college loans, are all out of luck.  However, the site will let individuals and businesses use Kickstarter funds to create something that might be used to support one of the aforementioned donor seekers, such as funding a video creation for a non-profit, or an arts program for cancer patients.

What makes a successful Kickstarter campaign?  Well, there is a lot of literature on that topic, on which I couldn’t hope to divulge meaningfully here.  But the basics lie in proper presentation, appropriate rewards, and successful networking online.

Design SketchA proper presentation means making the project page delightful to the eye, visionary, and well thought out.  Obviously typos and incoherent statements detract from the page viewers enthusiasm about the project, for why should anyone support a project that doesn’t even care to edit its own work.  But further, the page needs to shine.  A well-developed video can make the world of difference.  It can show the potential donor how important this project is, why they should care, and that they can trust you to see it through.  Professionalism and creativity dominate this aspect of any campaign.

Appropriate awards are also essential to a campaign’s success.  Designing price points that appeal to a variety of donors, from those who would like to submit a small contribution from $1-$25, and to those who might want to single-handedly fund the entire project.  However, rewards are also restricted in what can be provided.  All rewards must be produced directly by the project creator, cannot be financial incentives, coupons, or discounts, cannot be given out in quantities of 10 or more, and cannot be raffle, lottery, or sweepstakes tickets.  Further, drugs, alcohol and nutrition supplements are not allowed.   This poses an extra burden on the project creator, but also provides opportunities to really engage with supports of the project.  For instance if the project is to design a revolutionary stapler, you can offer anyone who contributes $25 a free stapler, and anyone who offers $200+ design art and a discussion with the design team (lets hope this is one really really cool stapler).

Early Bird RewardsPopular are early bird rewards in which only the first 10 – 20 donors of a certain price point can get the reward.  This supports the viral effect because there is an urgency to support the project.  Those who miss out on the best deals are still drawn to the product and can consider donating for a lesser reward.

Online networking serves as the keystone to a successful campaign.  For, none of any of this matters unless people actually get to see the project.  There are too many projects on the site for it to feature them all, so again the work lies with the project creator.  By coordinating well in advance with those involved in the project, and notifying anyone and everyone well in advance of the project even going up, you increase your odds of getting additional support.  Creating a Facebook event, a Twitter count down, an Instagram preview, all enable fans and friends to see not only what is going on, but how much effort and care you’ve given a project.  It cannot be understated how important it is for people to see how much you care, for if you do not care, why should they!  Further, be sure to share your video on other sites than just Kickstarter.  If you go through all that effort, more people should see it!

There are a few more concerns that every campaign needs to be aware of as well.  Kickstarter takes 5% from every project, and posts a warning that up to 5% more could be taken in payment processing fees. On top of that, the project owner will have to ship rewards out to the donors.  Remember, you only incur these costs if the project is picked up, but be sure to include them in your funding goal so you don’t find yourself 10-15% below budget.

Best of Luck!

Additional reading on how to make a Kickstarter campaign successful:
Income Diary
Boston University

Lessons Learned from Social Media Marketing with the UCSD Sailing

Through experimentation of different forms of social media with the sailing team there are clear lessons to be learned that have guided more recent posts.  The communities that contribute to each social media site and the feedback on content are the crucial elements from which success can be gauged and content tailored to suit the audiences tastes.

UCSD Sailing Team Facebook PageOn Facebook, pictures draw many times the number of views and likes as a similar post without an image.  Further, posts that interact with or include other teams and/or members of the sailing team’s community drive up engagement drastically.  Our proud proclamation of having stolen a uniform from UC Irvine got a lot of attention, as did a photo that we dug out from the team’s archives.  This content not only drew attention from our own communities, but also from the broader communities that were involved.  In the case of the stolen uniform, we attracted not only our own team and UC Irvine’s, but also from competitors from throughout the conference.  The photo from the team’s archives reached the individuals who were present in the photo and started a discussion of the context of the photo and the good times.

This type of post is replicable in a larger corporation.  For any large brand name, posting about a non-profit event they are sponsoring, or choosing to support one team over another in a sport competition, makes that brand part of a broader community and draws much more attention to their posts.  By being a perpetually seen as part of many of these external communities the brand draws attention to itself as an authority and symbol of these communities from which it can build a reputation.  This can drive sales as members from those communities buy into the lifestyle which the brand supports.

On another note there has come to be an expectation of lulls of attention and engagement on the page in-between big events, regardless of the cleverness or creativity of a post.  As much as I and others have tried to drive engagement in times when it seemed very few people were visiting the team’s page, it seemed very challenging to drive traffic unless there was an event for which the community could gather around with a mix of interest and support.  It seemed having both was crucial.  This challenges the notion of the claim that simply having “Great Content” is enough to ensure an active following.  While I admit a handful of the posts on the site are not thrilling, by and large the content is interesting to the sailing team’s community.  However, in order to drive people to engage with it, the content needed to rally support from the team’s community.  For instance, sometimes, despite posts after sailing races (regattas) had finished included the results and a photo of the event, it was more typical for the posts before and during the event to attract as much if not more attention and engagement.  These earlier posts called on followers to send their wishes for good wind and good luck for the team through the infamous “Like” button.  It seemed followers were more enthused to do this than to comment on the team’s overall performance after the event (Though I hope this wasn’t because our results were letting them down!).

UCSD Sailing Team Twitter PageTwitter has been more of an uphill battle.  The forum is complicated, especially for a club sports team.  Though the team now has more followers, it is unclear what Twitter offers to the team and its community, especially considering that the sailing world simply does not depend on, or engage with the medium.  Unlike my previous comments about Facebook, there is little to no opportunity for rapid interaction with other schools or communities, let alone clear ways for people to support the team on the site.  As the sailing team’s reach is so limited by having few followers (most of which are businesses and not people anyway) its reach is comparatively pitiful.  To compound on that, Twitter feeds are constantly updated, so even when the occasional post is made, it is likely drowned out by others activities.

This suggests that Twitter is largely a winners-win medium.  Those who invest a lot of time and energy into posting, favorite-ing, re-tweeting, tagging, and hash-tagging followers and relevant ideas about their posts can see a following and community grow and expand.  This in turn can result in engagement with other communities, building a brand’s image and shaping the lifestyle a brand develops. For a student run club sports team, this is simply unrealistic.

From a review of the team’s success the online data continues to show more use and engagement of all of the team’s online media (sans the Zombie Sailing Team, may it rest in peace), showing continual increases in traffic and engagement.  There are more followers and more likes than ever on both Facebook and Twitter, as well as consistently higher and higher numbers of views of each post, indicating not only that people are actually engaging with the content with likes and comments, but also not blocking or ignoring the team when it comes up on their news feed.  Additionally the Facebook page has served to draw more individuals to actually come out and try sailing, in other words, we now have a measurable ROI for the page.  Also on Facebook the statistic, “Number of People Talking about This” seems to be holding constant between 20 and 25, jumping to over 50 when there are events, up from static period during the season of around 15, which spiked to 35, and total likes is up to over 165 and climbing.  On the whole, our posts seem to be reaching more and more people as a result.  All of this will likely crash down to near nothing over the next three months as the season has ended and summer arrives, but it is a great benchmark for when we start again in the fall.

A Second Look: Nike and Adidas on Facebook

Adidas and Nike Logos

I couldn’t help but follow-up on my earlier post about Nike and Adidas’s use of social media as I noticed Adidas was leapfrogging Nike on Facebook.  In my last post, Nike’s page had a greater number of likes and a comparable, though slightly smaller about of engagement.  At present Nike’s overall engagement rate has actually dropped from my last post to .55% while Adidas’s rate has rocketed from .71% to 1.09% of users who have “liked” their page, actually engaging with it, be it comments, likes, or shares.  Additionally, Adidas’s page has now surpassed Nike’s in overall page likes by over 500,000 likes in less than a month while Nike’s number has barely budged.

Again the trend I identified in my first post is unmistakable.  Adidas is posting regularly, with a post every two to four days while Nike is posting once every two weeks.  And looking at the recent posts Nike’s relative advantage in getting huge responses to their Facebook posts has vanished.  Adidas’s posts are now getting as large, and in some cases larger engagement than Nike’s.

The lesson is the same.  Consistently creating interesting, sharable material pays off.  All this added engagement means Adidas is showing up on hundreds of thousands more screens than Nike is.  And these free advertisements are statistically more effective than billboards because they are recommended by friends. And from my last post we see this can be directly correlated with returns.

The fight for screen space and the number of shoes on feet is largely a zero sum game.  And In the Facebook aspect of the game, Adidas is winning and Nike doesn’t even seem to notice.

Marketing with Facebook: Nike vs. Adidas

Marketing Adidas and NikeJust Do It vs. Impossible is Nothing.  Nike and Adidas, both world renowned athletic brands, incredibly successful and mindful of their use of social media.  Their Facebook presence is incredible, together gathering well over 70 million likes on their pages.  These titans use a variety of methods, similar in some ways and differentiated in others which have led them both to successful marketing campaigns on Facebook.

One of the most important things to note about both of these companies strategies is the ability to localize, or target, specific audiences through different pages.  Both Nike and Adidas have pages dedicated to specific shoes, such as the Air Force 1 or the Adidas F50, and have pages dedicated to specific sports ranging from soccer to baseball to cricket.  One distinction that is highly noticeable is that there are Nike pages designed specifically for certain countries, including Nike India and Nike Spain.  While these pages are well followed and updated, it is a redundancy that could be avoided by using Facebook’s Post Targeting feature which could control the individuals who can see a post based on their region, language, or other discriminating factors.  This is not to say that this is a failure on Nike’s part, just a difference from Adidas’s use of Facebook.  From these different pages we can learn different things about these companies use of Facebook, what works, and whats less successful.

Online Marketing with Nike Just Do It SwooshStarting with the brands’ main pages, there are slight differences in rates of engagement.  Nike, despite having slightly more total likes than Adidas, has an engagement rate of .58% as compared to .71% for Adidas.  While this may appear to be a small difference, these numbers represent thousands of people liking, commenting, and sharing content on a page which then gets re-posted into those friends’ news feeds.  Each additional view of content represents a free advertisement, and not just to any consumer, but instead to consumers who are statistically more likely to enjoy the content shared or commented upon by the viewers friend.

So whats different?  The two pages descriptions vary dramatically, far more than would be anticipated. Where Nike’s is simply a short list of contact numbers and hours of availability, Adidas’s is a basic overview of what the company is all about followed by a large legal disclaimer about the rights of those posting on their page, and further no external link to a main web page or support numbers.

Next would be the cover photos.  Nike seems to dominate in this category.  It updates its cover photos more often, and with images that on average generate more likes and shares, despite being atop the page for shorter amounts of time.  Additionally, where Adidas might use its cover photos to represent its entire brand, Nike contrasts this with inspiring pictures that promote a new product or marketing campaign.  With this kind of promotion it generates new interest in its page, its product.  Adidas, though it may have as many star athletes on its cover, does not generate as much interest in this domain.

The profile picture is another interesting comparison.  Though neither company updates is profile picture in any kind of regular fashion, Adidas is guilty of not updating it at all, having the same picture for almost a year.  Nike on the other hand changes its picture to various swooshes and featured products.  Surprisingly, neither page out performs the other in quantity of likes or shares of profile pictures.  These different strategies can be seen as equally effective in promoting the page.


Comparative Statistics Nike and Adidas

Likes on Adidas and Nike’s past 20 Facebook posts

Comparing Total likes between Adidas and Nike over last 20 posts.  So then page content must explain the differences in the amount of engagement between the two pages.  Looking at the last 20 posts by each page it instantly becomes clear what has happened, but perhaps not how it might be expected.  In the last 20 posts by Nike, the posts have gathered over 129000 likes and 18200 shares.  This is vastly greater than the slightly more than 59600 likes and 4300 shares gathered by Adidas’s last 20 posts.  Yet, Adidas is the one with greater social engagement.  Whats going on is the date range of these posts.  The timeline for these 20 posts for Nike ranges from January 17th through March 27th, a period of over three months, while Adidas’s last 20 posts have all been posted since March 4th.  Only 7 of Nike’s last 20 posts have been done since March 4th.  This perfectly explains the anomaly about the amount of engagement recorded on the pages sites.  Adidas receives constant doses of attention from its followers, which in turn actually supplies larger engagement than Nike’s posts which generate larger interest.  This goes to support the idea that information online has an expiration date.  If it is not updated enough it goes bad, and people stop checking it.  So despite having fewer followers, by abiding by this rule, Adidas outdoes Nike for its overall performance with the followers it has.  Why it has less followers is a harder question to answer and one that won’t be addressed here.

Online Marketing Adidas Impossible is Nothing
All in all it is an interesting comparison.  Nike produces more exciting content, that drives more followers to engage and share it, while Adidas constantly provides decent content, that keeps its followers coming back for more.  In the end, more updates trumps better ones and Adidas’s marketing strategy is leading it to connect with more potential consumers through their Facebook page.   Any company could apply this same lesson, that more is simply better.  Sacrificing a little quality to produce more material to excite your followers is what will drive up those important statistics and provide you with valuable feedback.

An important note is that there is a lot of overlap between who is liking and sharing these posts, be it on one page, or even between them.  So the statistics provided cannot be seen as entirely independent.

Do you think this is a definitive conclusion on who is doing a better job on marketing with Facebook?  Share your thoughts, comment on the post!

Also, feel free to check out their Facebook pages and websites below:
Nike Facebook
Adidas Facebook