Category Archives: Advertising

What’s in a Name? A Cannabis Strain Word Cloud

The number of cannabis strains reviewed on Leafly exceeds 2,200. As amazing as this is to those unfamiliar with the industry, even more amazing is the number of new strains added weekly. In April, information on 2,232 strains was web-scrapped from the Leafly site. For marketers, the branding of cannabis deserves further investigation. The purpose of this post is to start that conversation.

Before exploring branding, the initial question is what type of cannabis do consumers prefer – hybrid, indica or sativa? To determine the answer to this question requires us to assume that the total number of strains available reflects consumer preference. While this assumption may not be true, it serves as a surrogate for attributes that consumers find appealing.

Based on the above, and given the data available, it appears that consumers prefer hybrid strains. Of the 2,232 strains listed on Leafly in April, 1,128 are hybrid (50.54 percent), 665 are indica (29.79 percent) and 439 are sativa (19.67 percent).

What are the most popular brand names or components of brand names for existing strains? To find out, we developed a Word Cloud. Word Clouds are visual representations of text data with the size of the text indicating the frequency of word use. Thus, larger words in the cloud are used more frequently. All existing strain names were input into a Word Cloud generator and the resulting graphic is presented below.

Some results were expected, some were a surprise. Prior to this analysis, the researchers didn’t know that 110 strain names began with the word Bhang. Other popular strain branding names include OG, Kush, Haze, White, Purple, Diesel, Blue, Sour and Skunk. Colors, fruits, tastes and/or effects dominate current branding efforts.

One issue of concern is that strain naming isn’t standardized. Thus, it’s possible for the same strain to have two different names depending on where and when it was developed. For instance, LA Cheese (strain name in Amsterdam) is known as Confidential Cheese on Leafly. Until a master list of strains that includes genetic testing exists, there is no guarantee that what you’re purchasing is what is being advertised.

Cannabis branding, both for medical and recreational purposes, is an exciting area of study for marketers. As the industry expands, consistency in branding becomes more critical and important.

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Social Media Growth 2006 to 2011

Dell Social MediaIn a previous post, social media growth from 2006 through 2010 was documented. As with that effort, there are no clear or easy answers when investigating the growth of social media sites over the past five years. No reliable or audited data exists for social media sites. Therefore, the numbers presented in the table below represent an estimate of total registered users for each of the sites investigated. The numbers are not assumed to be accurate, valid or reliable – they are as presented: estimates based on the best available public information. Data was collected for three social media sites and three blog hosting sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress.com, Tumblr and Posterous. Estimates for the latter three represent the number of blogs hosted on the sites (not the number of unique bloggers, a much lower number, as estimated in the original post). The result of the change in reporting for the three blogging platforms, necessitated by the lack of data regarding number of unique bloggers, explains some of the exceptional growth reported below. No data for self-hosted blogs using WordPress.org is presented. As of December 2011, all variations of WordPress version 3 have been downloaded in excess of 65 million times.

SMM Growth Table 2011

As in the original post, the Compound Annual Growth Rate (GAGR) is calculated for each using the free Investopedia Compound Annual Growth Rate calculator available on their website.

When examining the charts individually, the growth patterns look similar. Globally, the total number of people using social media continues to increase. Facebook, alone, reports 11.45 percent of the global population as registered users. The average CAGR for the six social media sites is 443.66 percent ranging from 75.97 percent to 1,145.73 percent. Again, multiple factors contribute to this exceptional growth rate as compared to the data reported in 2010, including the change in reporting for blogs (total number of blogs hosted, not unique users) and the rapid growth of both Twitter and Posterous. Growth charts are presented below for each of the social media sites included in this investigation.

Facebook Growth 2006-2011

Twitter Growth 2006-2011

LinkedIn Growth 2006-2011

WordPress.com Growth 2006-2011

Tumblr Growth 2006-2011

Posterous Growth 2006-2011

When charted together, the domination of Facebook’s growth and share of voice in the social media world remains apparent. The launch of Google+ as a viable alternative to Facebook, although well received by the social media community, has not gained much traction in the broader audience. Data from Google+ will be included in next year’s update.

Social Media Growth 2006-2011 The final chart presented is social media share of voice. The inner ring contains the data from 2006 and the outer ring presents the data from 2011.

Social Media Share of Voice 2006-2011

It is clear that in terms of diffusion of innovation, social media remains in the growth stage. Equally as clear, but not reported above, is that more people globally are accessing social media from mobile devices. For marketers, the implications are irrefutable: get social and become mobile or risk losing share of voice in the social/mobile marketing era.

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Generating Prophets: 141 Inbound Marketing Certified Students

Inbound Marketing UniversityAs business school educators, our job is to adequately prepare our students to enter the workforce. Likewise, we want our graduates to make positive contributions to their organizations and to distinguish themselves as valued employees. The problem is, as discussed before, business schools in general and marketing departments in particular have been slow to embrace the social/mobile marketing era. In many regards, we are struggling to catch up with current marketing theories and practices.

Fortunately, HubSpot offers support to business professors who seek to integrate social media marketing into their curriculum. HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University training and certification delivers curriculum materials designed to provide your students with a foundation on which to build.

This past academic year, in response to student demand, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Charlton College of Business Department of Management and Marketing incorporated IMU training and certification into two undergraduate courses and one MBA course. We’re proud to report that between the three classes, 141 students successfully earned IMU certification (3 with honors distinction). In our opinion, IMU certification provides added value and external verification of basic competence in social media marketing. And, coupled with their diploma from our AACSB-accredited business program, IMU certification provides our graduates with a competitive advantage when searching for marketing jobs within the Boston-Providence region. Here are three lessons learned:

1) Not Every Student will “Get It”

Perhaps we overestimated the technical prowess of our students, but not every student enrolled in the courses understood the utility of earning IMU certification or possessed the basic technical understanding necessary to earn certification. MBA students were more successful, in general, than were undergraduate students in successfully passing the IMU certification exam. Overall, 83 percent of all students in the three classes earned IMU certification. In the MBA class, the pass rate was 97 percent.

2) Make it Worth The Effort

Students pursuing IMU certification take 16 modules (offered free by HubSpot) and a 50 question multiple choice exam (offered free by HubSpot). Those who pass the exam with a score of 76 or higher receive designation from HubSpot as an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional (free, including a printable/frame-worthy certificate). Although HubSpot’s free training and certification is a brilliant content marketing strategy, students need to be motivated to do the work and to pass the exam. We did this by counting certification as an exam score within the overall point system of the class. Thus, the impact on the final grade for those students who didn’t pass the certification exam was negative.

3) Make it “Hands-on”

Learning by doing is powerful. The difference between understanding theory and being able to apply theory is vast. Require students to work on their social media skills. Make them blog, develop professional LinkedIn profiles, participate actively on Twitter, clean up their Facebook page, develop a video resume and focus on personal branding via social media. Convince them that investing in personal branding is an investment in their future.

We’re proud of the 32 MBA students and 109 undergraduate students who earned IMU certification as part of their marketing curriculum this past academic year. We’re confident that they’re well prepared to enter the workforce and to make a positive contribution to the businesses fortunate enough to hire them. We know that they will distinguish themselves as social media savvy marketing executives able to compete with anyone.

How can we be certain? Our graduates have already distinguished themselves as innovators and leaders in social media marketing from coast-to-coast (Boston to San Francisco). This batch of new graduates, building on the success of and with the support of their predecessors, is well positioned to make an immediate impact.

Do yourself a favor. When hiring new marketing talent, ask them about their experience in social media marketing. Ask them to provide verification of their prowess in inbound marketing. Ask them for their IMU certification. And when they provide it, ask them about the excellent marketing education that they received from the Charlton College of Business.

Congratulations to the first 141 inbound marketing certified students to graduate from our business school. The future of marketing is in your hands.

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