As my inaugural blog post, I wanted to discuss one of my favorite topics – social media marketing. I was in college when MySpace and Facebook were founded, back when only certain colleges were allowed Facebook accounts, and I had just graduated when Twitter was founded. Starting my career in marketing and public relations, it quickly became a core job function to figure out the whole “social media craze” to best enhance my employer’s brand. Well, it’s no longer a craze and is now a major marketing tool for many companies.
Companies want to use social media to create more awareness around a brand or product. But one pitfall is thinking that just because you promote a campaign online, it will “go viral.” While YouTube has been around since 2005, it didn’t become a huge marketing tool until much more recently. Every day there is a new video going viral whether it’s a cat video (75+ million views) or a clever marketing campaign like Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” or Evian’s “Baby and Me.”
Forbes contributor, Dan Schwabel, interviewed Jonah Berger, a Wharton professor and New York Times bestselling author of Contagious: Why Things Catch On, on this very topic. Berger believes making a campaign “go viral” isn’t just luck, but rather that following his STEPPS (Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories) formula will drive people to share content both on and offline. As an example, his first principal - social currency is the notion that people want to share content to make them look smart or “in-the-know.” So how do you capitalize on this? You create a campaign that makes people feel like they are insiders. This is just one example and you can check out the full interview for all six principals.
While Berger has seemingly figured out the perfect recipe to creating a viral campaign, here are some pitfalls to avoid:
- Trying to be cool – don’t try to be something you’re not; stick to what your brand knows.
- Target the wrong audience – if you don’t understand whom you’re marketing too, you’ll never appeal to your demographic no matter how exciting your campaign is.
- Failing to integrate your message – you can’t throw a microsite up or create a video and expect that to be enough. Content lives everywhere and needs multiple touch points to be successful. This is where PR and social media outreach can be incredibly helpful.
- Make it hard to share – Think about all of the social sharing tools and do the work ahead of time, make it easy for users to share/promote your campaign in seconds.
- Set out to create a viral campaign (my favorite tip) – The chances of creating a viral campaign are less than one percent, so concentrate on creating great content for your brand.
When it comes to marketing a campaign through social media, what are your best practices or pitfalls to avoid?
With new social sites popping up constantly, it’s hard to know what will stick around and what will never catch on. Well, I think it is now safe to say that Vine isn’t going anywhere for a while. Barely six months after Twitter acquired the company, and four months after its debut as an app for iOS, the app recently reached the number one spot for most downloaded free application in the App Store.
If you haven’t used it before, Vine is an application that allows you to create 6-second looping videos using your iPhone or iPad that you can share on Twitter and Facebook. You don’t need editing skills and the posting is pretty easy as well – making the app appealing to the masses.
And while it seems to have its place in users personal lives – should it be added to your company’s social media arsenal? The short answer – yes. And surprisingly, your company doesn’t even need to be B2C focused for it to add value.
Arguably, customer references are one of the strongest tools for gaining new clients. And now taping these videos just got a whole lot easier. Rather than convincing a customer to sit down for a traditional video shoot, you only need to convince them to give you 6 seconds of their time. Holding up cards featuring statements such as “saves money,” “decreased downtime,” and the like – you can make a strong statement without even having to say a word.
Introducing a new or redesigned product? Post a quick sneak peak via Vine to garner up come excitement. If a picture is worth 1000 words than a video must be worth at least double that, and Vine is a great opportunity to show off your work to clients in an eye-catching manner. Does your company receive the same old FAQs about your product? Film a quick video to demonstrate the answer. Vine provides companies an easy way to show a demonstration that viewers won’t lose patience with.
Vine can also be used to humanize your brand and show your followers what goes on inside the company walls. You can highlight employees, share fun company facts, and film brainstorming sessions. Putting faces to the company name can help customers become more invested in and engaged with the company.
Finally, Vine is a great tool for contests. Engage with followers by having them submit short videos of themselves using your product. Dunkin Donuts is actually currently running a contest using Vine. Customers can post videos of themselves showing how they enjoy Dunkin’s iced coffee – with the winner receiving free iced coffee for a year.
While not every social media platform is right for every business, Vine has already developed a strong following and is worth companies exploring. Find out its not a fit for you? The worst you have to lose is 6 seconds.
Over the past week, I’ve sat back and listened to all the buzz and commentary about this year’s Super Bowl commercials. So, I’m finally taking the time to weigh in on whether or not companies really took advantage of their $4 million, 30-second opportunity to make Americans love their brands. And first, I’d like to personally thank those companies who kept their ads a secret until the big day, companies like Chrysler, Oreo, and Tide. Although, those who revealed their ads early may have been taking advantage of the chance for additional viewings (Last year, Super Bowl ads released early were watched 600 percent more times -- with 9.1 million average views -- than ones released after the game, according to YouTube.com), to me, it killed the excitement. It’s like “Black Friday” which is now actually the entire month of November. Nothing is exclusive anymore – but that’s an entirely different post.
I will say, that I was really hoping this year’s commercials would impress me more than last year’s, but unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Just like last year, there were a few standouts that were memorable advertisements, but nothing amazing. Or again, maybe some fell flat for me because I had seen them splashed all over social media for voting (Doritos’ crash the Super Bowl campaign). So, without further ado, here are my favorites:
- Of course, the Budweiser Clydesdale Ad: Not only was it my favorite, but it also was USA Today’s official winner according to their 25-year anniversary Ad Meter. However, based on an unofficial study of no more than 15 people that I randomly talked to throughout the last week, this one seemed to be more popular with the ladies. But, how couldn’t it be? It was like a one-minute episode of the veterinarian version of Grey’s Anatomy. In my book, and obviously many others’, this was a job well done, Anheuser-Busch. Kudos.
- Geico: "Happier Than Dikembe Mutombo": Lets all be honest, there’s just something really funny about people swatting at things. I think this commercial was way under-rated by the media. OK, so maybe the “super young generation” didn’t know who Dikembe Mutombo was at first viewing, but they should all be able to look him up on their iPads before the commercial was even over. Either way, I thought this was hilarious.
- Dodge Ram “God Made a Farmer”: So, maybe I was a sucker for the sentimental ads this year, but it was mostly because the “funny” ads just weren’t really that funny. That said, this was the perfect ad to play during the Super Bowl, in my opinion. What goes better with All-American football than the All-American farmer? And, those were some powerful images with a moving script.
Of course, there were also the ads I just didn’t get at all. Here they are and here’s why:
- Go Daddy “Perfect Match”: I really did not enjoy watching this commercial. It grossed me out. I haven’t even been able to watch it a second time because I remember exactly how uncomfortable I felt the first time I watched it. That said, in the same, super unofficial survey I took of my random friends and co-workers, the men seemed to not be as turned off by this ad. I have my own speculation for why that may be, but I’m not sure this is the best outlet for my theory. Despite the fact that I will never, ever watch this commercial again voluntarily, everyone is talking about it…still. So, in this case, I’ll agree with a recent Huffington Post article, which stated “When it comes to Super Bowl ads, it may be better to offend than to merely flop.”
- Bud Light “Lucky Chair”: “It’s only weird if it doesn’t work,” is right. And, this just didn’t work, which made it weird. But, at least Anheuser-Busch had a hit with the Clydesdale Ad to make up for it.
- Beck’s Sapphire “No Diggity”: Really? You spent millions and this was the best you could come up with? I just didn’t get it. I didn’t get the fish or the song or the fish singing the song. And, I definitely didn’t feel enticed to try the product or really even think about it further, other than for the sake of this post. Epic fail.
I’m sure everyone had different opinions and surely may not agree with mine regarding this year’s Super Bowl commercials, but I’d love to hear them. Feel free to agree, disagree or simply let me know what your favorites were and why. Here’s to hoping next year’s ads really “wow” us!
On February 3rd, people all over the United States will tune in to CBS to watch the most exciting event of the year…Super Bowl XLVII of Advertising. Yeah, I’m sure two cities (tops) and those who placed high-stakes bets may actually be tuning in for the football game, as well, but most viewers will be tuned in to see which companies spent an insane $4 million for 30 seconds of exposure. Yes, I said $4 million – the highest price tag for Super Bowl ads ever, up $500,000 from last year’s event according to a recent Huffington Post article.
Back on January 8th, Broadcasting and Cable also reported
that the ads for this year’s game have officially sold out, although not as quickly as in the past two years. Maybe the price tag hike had some companies double thinking the purchase. The article also quoted CBS Corp. president and CEO Leslie Moonves saying, "Yes, we are sold out. But obviously, if some of those movie companies want to come in at the last minute and pay us five or six million dollars, we will find a place for you." (Obviously!)
But how do the Super Bowl ads of the past compare to one another? The folks at USA Today are counting down the top 25 ads in honor of the 25th anniversary of their Ad Meter. They’ll be revealing one per day in the month of January until they announce the number 1 ad on January 28th. Be sure to check them out as they are announced here. Here's number 21 on their list and one of my personal faves:
Want to see who is already signed up for the big day of advertising (and, maybe football) on February 3rd? Business Insider has been reporting on confirmed participants, which include:
- Best Buy
- Century 21
- Ford (Lincoln)
- Fiat (Chrysler)
- Gildan’s Activewear (WHO?)
- Go Daddy
- SodaStream International
- Taco Bell
- The Walking Dead
- Wonderful Pistachios
We love our clients, and that’s why I have zero shame in promoting one of them in this blog post!
PersonSpot announced this week the launch of its beta social publishing application. Its self-named application is a cool tool for anyone who’s looking to build their brand and share their content. (Come on, in this digital world, who isn’t looking to turn some heads?) With PersonSpot, users can create their own personal, online magazines and share content that they find on the Web, through their social media feeds or even have created themselves.
Because it’s seamlessly integrated with Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, PersonSpot makes sharing, promoting and branding personal interests easy for all of us who maintain multiple networks. You can even add a “Spot It” feature to your Web browser’s toolbar which will allow you to share the content you’re currently reading with your magazine readers or outside social followers. It’s perfect for those of us who read a ton and want a central location to share it with others. If you like to save links and vet the content later, you can keep them private on your magazine until you decide whether to share or delete.
So if you’re looking to boost your personal or business brand, give PersonSpot a try. Visit www.personspot.com and set up your online magazine today.
Ok, I’ll set aside my pompoms now…
- Mary Evans
Could you recognize your favorite brand without a label?
That is the question brand strategist Andrew Miller is posing to the public over the next 100 days. Every day, Miller will be covering famous products with a coat of white paint “removing all visual branding, reducing the object to its purest form.” Each object may be purchased for less than $10 and is either something Miller owns, something another person gives him, or something he finds.
Currently on day 17 of the study, I did a quick test around the office to see how many of the items SpeakerBoxers were able to identify. Across the board, everyone was able to identify almost all of the items as far as what the objects physically were (i.e. battery) but only were able to identify a little over half for their brands (i.e. Duracell).
For the most part though, it seems as though brand identity is stronger than words and products with a memorable or unique characteristic were the easiest to pick out. Lesson here: products need to represent the brand beyond just a label.
So are you able to recognize the brands minus a label? Would consumers be able to recognize your brand stripped down?
Whether you were waiting for it or dreading it, Facebook has started rolling out its new Timeline feature for brand pages. Up until now brands and people have been able to opt out of switching to Timeline, but as of March 30 this new profile will become the default.
Rather than waiting until the 30th and just letting Facebook switch your brand page over on it’s own, why not make the switch proactively? Doing so will prevent Facebook from deciding how your page will look for you or leaving you with a gaping hole at the top of your page.
To prep for your switch, there are three easy things you can do:
1. Update your ‘about’ section
One of the aspects of Timeline for brand pages is that the about section will now be more front and center. So with its new spotlight, this is a great time to refresh your ‘about’ section to make sure it accurately reflects your company. Also, make sure to include a link to your website and keep it short enough to fit in the space provided… not many people click on the ‘see more’ link.
2. Choose a ‘cover photo’ (and a new profile picture, if you need to)
So you already have a profile picture, but with Timeline you need a cover photo. Your cover photo is a larger image that spans the top of your page and works in conjunction with your profile picture. It can be whatever you like, but whatever you do…choose one! Timeline looks pretty funny without a picture!
From the pages I’ve seen so far, brands have left their profile picture as their logo and used to cover photo to showcase the most important aspect of the business. This way, whenever you post something, your logo is still associated with it. However, if you do decide to use your logo as your cover photo, don’t forget to choose a profile picture that is different!
Also, it’s important to note here that Facebook has set a stipulation on these photos for brands: they cannot include a call to action of any kind—no discounts, sales, contact info, or suggestions to ‘like’ pages, ‘share’ info or visit websites or blogs.
3. Organize your information, review your timeline and EDIT
The switch to Timeline will put thumbnails of your photos, apps and likes at the top of your page and allow you to pick which of them is most important to you to have displayed. So be sure to organize these in a way that makes the most sense for your company.
Also, before you actually switch, Facebook will let you preview your Timeline to make sure it displays your company information the way you want it to. Here you have the option to edit what is seen, so take a close look! Also, you can move items of importance up to the top of your profile by adding a ‘pin’ or highlight them where they are by adding a ‘star.’
I hope these tips get you started with Timeline or at least help make the transition a little easier!
You probably heard that Apple unveiled the new iPad today. And actually, that’s what they called it: “the new iPad.” Funny thing is, save for a few added, admittedly cool features – Retina Display, 4G connectivity, etc. – it’s kinda the same as the old iPad.
Doesn’t matter, though. It’ll sell gazillions.
That’s because Apple, perhaps more so than any other company on the planet, has become unbelievably good at getting people to not just want something but feel, deep down in their bones, that they absolutely need it. Even when they really don’t (and let’s face it, as nice as the iPad is, no one really needs one).
The funny thing is that Apple seems to do this without even breaking a sweat. How many big press releases do you see Apple distribute per month? How many speaking engagements does Tim Cook do outside of Apple-sanctioned events? How many byline articles have Scott Forstall, Jony Ive and Phil Schiller written recently? Y
You get my point. And that’s why companies of all shapes and sizes would kill to be Apple. The brand is so recognizable, with such a fervent following, that it towers over the tech landscape.
Chances are, you’re not Apple. But someday you might be. In order to get there, you need to do the seemingly little things that other companies who aren’t Apple do on a daily basis. Be up to speed and involved in all aspects of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs. Get the word out about your organization through relevant news releases (two per month is a good goal to shoot for, provided you have something newsworthy to talk about). Submit executives for awards. Explore potential speaking opportunities. Heck, you may have to do something as simple as get involved in your local chamber of commerce.
I’m not sure if that’s exactly how Apple built their brand to what it is today, but I’m willing to bet it involved at least a smidgen of that. Just some things to consider while you’re standing outside the Apple Store next week waiting to get your hands on the new, somewhat better than the old, iPad.
- Pete Larmey
Photo courtesy Associated Press
Not to be outdone, Henry Ford unveils his own offensive logo in 1939
When you think about it, it's amazing that certain brands survive while others perish.
Take, for instance, the Hummer. That was a cool car! At least I used to think so, before society decided that gas-guzzling Sports Utility Vehicles were worse than nazism.
Speaking of which, here's Volkswagen – going strong. Volkswagen. A brand that Hitler personally helped create, launch, and shepherd. A brand that – until 1940 – had a corporate logo that was, essentially, a swastika.
Volkswagen logo, 1939 (Seriously)
Didn't know that, did ya? Well, it's all here (as well as some hilarious logo prognostication) from StockLogo.com's Ivan Raszl.
Raszl's main point, I gather, is that these logos are moving – inexorably – towards maximal simplicity (or in the case of Gap, Sisyphean stagnation).
So check out the full info-graphic. It's a hoot.
Raszl's prediction for Apple's logo in 2040
10,000 Nerd Bucks if you get the title reference.
Sifting through my reader this week, I came across what I consider to be one of the most maddening yet incredible start-up stories, courtesy of Mashable. A start-up called Wander has launched a mind-numbingly simple game – you click the image of a cow and you get a point. If you like or tweet the game, you get 100 points. The points serve no purpose at all, but the leader has one billion points on the aptly named “Utterly Pointless Leaderboard.”
Let that sink in for a minute: one billion points in a time suck of a game that serves absolutely no purpose other than to earn points. Go ahead and curse the human condition, punch a wall, whatever – I know you want to.
Mashable points out that Wander’s game is the homage to Cow Clicker, a Facebook game designed to illustrate the pointlessness of, you guessed it, Facebook games. Sort of like “You Have to Burn the Rope” for the social generation, I guess.
But the stark simplicity of the game combined with its massive popularity is telling – no one has any idea what Wander does (even Mashable), but their name is going to be everywhere. This is a solid lesson for PR pros, and not just one in gamification (although that’s a pretty key point here).
Attaching client names to something, anything, which promises engagement, will have some kind of benefit. It may not be the booming success reaped by clicking a stock photo of a cow, but the exposure gained will surely be greater than standing quietly in the corner of the social world.
So tweet, create Facebook pages, have YouTube videos, create social contests…the list goes on for quite a while. But just think – if clicking a cow can have such booming effects for a mystery company like Wander, just think what a similarly well-conceived endeavor can do for your organization.