Now that Thanksgiving is over and we can all start looking forward to Christmas, I thought I’d take a minute to look back on the Thanksgiving shopping hoopla.
If you’ve been living anywhere with access to wifi you’ve probably been seeing ads for holiday sales since before Halloween. While millennials might be okay with Black Friday taking over the weekend and expanding in to Thanksgiving Day, most adults aren’t excited about the rush towards yuletide spirit.
A recent survey by Harris Interactive of 2,038 shoppers 18 and older found that 81% of adults think stores shouldn’t play Christmas music before Thanksgiving and 77% think stores shouldn’t be decorated for the holidays until after Thanksgiving.
The ‘Christmas Creep’ has been controversial for years, but this year the PR battle between opening stores and staying closed for the holiday has taken over the media. Today several retail giants have been carrying out proactive PR plans to defend the decision to open on Thanksgiving Day.
This morning Walmart’s US CEO Bill Simon made the round of morning talk shows to discuss the retailer’s rationale for opening their doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving. Almost simultaneously, Walmart distibuted a press release stating that their stores had a record breaking Thanksgiving Day with 10 million cash register transactions between 6pm and 10 pm Thursday evening alone.
In the release, Simon described Black Friday as the “Superbowl of retail.” He went on to say, “We ran a play that only Walmart could deliver and our customers loved it.”
While customers may have loved slashed prices, social media suggests that they may have loved the viral entertainment more. The record number of shoppers yesterday evening sparked a hash tag “#WalmartFights” where twitter users across the country tweeted and posted photos and videos about the injuries, fights, and arrests in the first few hours of true holiday shopping.
Additionally, workers groups and union activists across the country have lodged protests against many of the big box stores, but Walmart, the largest private employer in the US, has attracted the bulk of the attention.
The overwhelming financial success of Walmart’s Thursday opening may look incredible on paper but the question for retailers remains, is it worth the PR fight?
Other major retailers like Costco and Nordstrom refused to open their doors on Thanksgiving day, claiming that the decision to stay closed and let employees spend time with family is an easy one to make.
So tell us, did you rush out to the big box stores to shop after Thanksgiving dinner? Did you post something hilarious with the hash tag #WalmartFights? Do you believe that stores should let the holiday be a holiday? We’d love to hear your take on Black Friday’s creep in to Thanksgiving Day.
Last month I wrote a post about hashtags and if they are really a mystery or just overused. Today the good people at MarketingProfs shared the following infographic, from Offerpop, on The History of Hashtags. It seemed appropriate to share it here as well.
While I don’t particularly care for the layout of the infographic, I do think it shares some useful information:
First, while hashtags were used almost exclusively on Twitter for a few years, since January 2011 the use of hashtags on other social media outlets, such as Instagram, Vine, Facebook and Flickr, has happened rather quickly. I know that I see and use hashtags more on Instagram than on Facebook but they are absolutely being used there as well and are a great way to aggregate content.
Second, one thing we don’t often talk about is the integration of hashtags into commercials, TV shows and marketing campaigns. This is actually a really smart way to use hashtags. For advertisers or television producers, selecting and sharing a hashtag allows them to clearly see who is saying what about their product or show. I’ve absolutely been known to watch Top Chef and share my thoughts with the world using the #topchef hashtag on Twitter. The same goes for marketing campaigns – if you make it easy for people and provide them with a hashtag you want them to use, they are likely to do so and you’ll better be able to track their feedback (much easier than trying to track user-created hashtags). This has also has been effective for trade shows and conferences – I always look to see if the event coordinators have already set up a hashtag for the event; if so, I am sure to use it.
Finally, according to the infographic, tweets that contain hashtags are 55 percent more likely to be retweeted than tweets that don’t contain hashtags. While I can’t put a percentage on it, I do agree with this stat. Using hashtags aggregates posts and makes it easier for others to find them. I have noticed that when I tweet for a client and use the predetermined event hashtag, the tweet my client puts out is more likely to be retweeted – exposing what they have to say to an even larger audience than their own followers. Win-win if you ask me.
Last week, I was tasked with live-tweeting an event for one of our clients. I’ve done this many times in the past; however, I found this specific event extra challenging. With several different types of speaking sessions and complex topics, I often felt myself scrambling. Live-tweeting can often feel that way, but it can also yield great results and be well worth the effort. So, with all that said, I wanted to offer a brief look at the benefits of live-tweeting, plus some tips for optimizing its effectiveness.
Twitter defines live-tweeting as:
“Live-tweet (v.): to engage on Twitter for a continuous period of time—anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours—with a sequence of focused Tweets. The focus can be a big live event that everybody’s paying attention to (e.g. a TV show or an award show) or it can be an event you create yourself (e.g. a Q&A session with your fans).”
That all sounds simple enough, yet I can clearly remember feeling overwhelmed when I first live-tweeted. (And I can often see that same “deer in the headlights” expression on the faces of my new co-workers as they try live-tweeting for the first time.) So why go through the trouble of live-tweeting?
- Extend reach – At any event, there are bound to be folks you haven’t met yet. Establish yourself and/or your business as a thought leader and increase your following.
- Engage conversation – Get people talking about the issues and topics that matter to you and your company (or client). Take thought leadership a step further and really establish yourself and your brand as influencers on a certain topic or industry.
- Encourage networking – Live-tweeting provides the perfect outlet for introducing yourself and your company to possible new business partners. Retweet, respond and favorite other tweets (with the same event hashtag) to get a conversation started.
- Show speakers/sponsors some love - If your company is hosting the event, live-tweeting is a great way to show appreciation to your speakers and sponsors for their support. Promote profound quotes or simply thank participants.
- Document great moments - Take advantage of speakers and presenters (especially non-company employees) saying awesome things about your products, company, service or solution.
So, how can you make it easier on yourself and get the most out of live-tweeting? Here are some suggestions:
- Prep beforehand – If you have access to the agenda, look up speaker Twitter handles and relevant hashtags beforehand, and have the info easily accessible. Most importantly, don’t forget to use them. Include the event hashtag in each tweet..
- Use the buddy system – Events often have multiple sessions or panels happening at once. If possible, have more than one person assisting with the live-tweeting. This allows you to cover more ground (and also gives you two sets of ears for important talks, like the keynotes).
- Retweet and engage – Take some of the pressure off and avoid hogging the feed by interacting with others’ tweets. Miss something big? Don’t make it a habit, but don’t panic. See if someone else took note and retweet it.
- Tweet photos - Tweeting photos is a great way to break-up a monotonous feed, and sometimes you can stockpile photos in advance. Take advantage of networking time to snap a few pics of the event space or speakers.
- Don’t be afraid to be casual - The tweet I remember most from our event last week compared one of the speakers to Captain America. It was relevant yet witty. Don’t be afraid to break away from the seriousness of the event topic and have some fun. Whether it’s noting the delicious lunch spread or pointing out that one the panelists’ chairs look incredibly uncomfortable, personal interjection is often appreciated by your followers.
These are just a few tips to get you started in your live-tweeting adventures. Just keep in mind that every event will be unique, and your social goals may change from one live-tweeting undertaking to the next.
While Twitter may have brought the use of the hashtag to the masses when it launched in 2006 – and would like to claim they were created organically by their users – their use has actually been documented as far back as the fourteenth century.
While the when, by whom and how they first appeared may be up for debate, most agree that hashtags are intended as a way to categorize messages. Today, hashtags are widely used for this purpose on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Interested in finding out what’s going on with the World Series? There is a hashtag for that (#WorldSeries). Perhaps you’re interested in more hard-hitting news and want to know what the latest is (at least on Twitter) on Benghazi? Then check out #Benghazi.
When done right, hashtags can be a great way to group together and view a cross section of people’s thoughts on a particular topic. As Kathryn pointed out last month, when NBC redesigned Studio 1A for Today, they even went so far as to incorporate an Orange Room to share and analyze what’s trending on social media sites. During the government shutdown they also launched their own hashtag, #DearCongress, as a way to gather information directly from the American public about their thoughts on the shutdown.
Recently, the White House even launched their own Twitter campaign, #GetCovered, to encourage uninsured people to share their story of why it’s important to make sure you have health insurance coverage. Per this article in NextGov, the hashtag seems to be faring better than most other coverage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (I refuse to call it Obamacare).
However, just after I read that article in NextGov, I read this article on PRDaily.com about a poll that was conducted recently showing that baby boomers don’t really understand hashtags. Further, they actually believe hashtags should be taught in school.
Turns out that the PRDaily.com story is a bit misleading, though. The headline makes it seem as if hashtags are a mystery to baby boomers. However, the primary question in the Live Your Message poll was not, “Do you understand what a hashtag is?” (though that question was asked), but “In America, should schools teach how to properly use “hashtags”?
Marisa Murgatroyd, the founder of Live Your Message, goes so far as to speculate that, “One likely reason why so many Boomers want to see hashtags taught in schools, may be because they themselves don’t know what a hashtag means, despite likely seeing it used online and on television.”
She backs up this claim by saying survey data shows that 25.5% of respondents over the age of 55 do not know what a hashtag is (compared with 17.6% of respondents under the age of 55).
However, I have another theory – hashtags have become so overused that the proper use for them has gone by the wayside. Heck, our own Jonathan Katz even (jokingly) threw a hashtag into an email he sent to the staff here at SpeakerBox this week. While funny, it also showcased how out of control the use of hashtags has become, and how they are no longer being used solely for their intended purpose.
Recently the always funny Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon even took to mocking the overuse of hashtags in this hilarious clip:
So what do you think – are hashtags truly a mystery or are baby boomers on to something? Do we need to be teaching people how to properly use them?
Digital East 2013 is happening today and tomorrow at the Dulles Hyatt in Northern Virginia. Sessions range from "UX: Building Mobile Experiences That Don't Suck" to "The Visual Content Revolution: Pinterest, Instagram & Tumbler." Lots of content, dozens of speakers and hundreds of attendees.
My session was on "Content Marketing: Create, Distribute & Track ROI" and for my part, I focused on the content creation portion. My discussion focused on things to think about relative to a content strategy, the range of content options and thoughts on how to reach content goals.
One of the things we talk a lot about here at SpeakerBox is creating content that your target audience will find valuable. One of the cool things about speaking to a marketing audience at a digitally-focused conference is that you get real-time feedback and some interesting insights.
I jumped on Twitter when after I got off stage to see what the audience thought and ran a TweetReach report to get a sense for broader reach and sentiment once I got home.
Nineteen people/handles tweeted from the session for a total of 30 tweets. Pretty decent activity. There were 13 retweets, which seemed good too. On the amplification front, those 30 tweets reached 22,610 accounts for a total of 35,066 impressions. I had some great conversations afterwards and was listed in their event materials -- so the the time investment feels worthwhile in terms of exposure.
What may be more valuable to SpeakerBox out of this is some of the "tells" that the tweets expose. Based on what attendees tweeted about, two things jump out at me. Even though companies are blogging more than ever, marketers are still having a hard time getting buy-in and engagement from their leadership. The second is that people are still learning about incremental blogging tactics, specifically the "Call to Action (CTA)."
Not everyone thinks of an audience tweeting about a presenation as content engagement, but that's exactly what it is - and with the intelligence from these interactions, I can work with our team to create more content related to overcoming blogging challenges and how to cross-promote existing content using CTAs.
Do you pay attention to audience tweets on your presentations? Do use them to help gauge the content needs of your target audience?
Congratulations to Digital East for drawing great attendance and a big thank you to Mark Coleman of my6sense and Steven Tedjamlia of Predictive Science for their presentations on content distribution and measuring ROI.
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?
October is the month of pink. From the hot pink accessories on NFL players to iconic pink ribbons incorporated in logos, the October trend amongst organizations seems to be designing unique campaigns to support breast cancer awareness.
In recent years, the incorporation of social media in Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns has generated knowledge and participation by those who may not have been affected by traditional campaigns. Here are a few examples of companies in different industries that are using social media to promote awareness and action to fight breast cancer.
On October 1st Estee Lauder launched a website as the centerpiece of their 2013 BCA Campaign: Let’s Defeat Breast Cancer. We’re Stronger Together. The site encourages visitors to produce a “Circle of Strength,” which is a platform for friends and family to rally around any action that advances the fight against breast cancer.
Circle creators can use Facebook and Twitter to tag friends and encourage preventative, proactive and educational measures to beat breast cancer. Circle of Strength members can also use the hashtag #BCAstrength and handle @BCAcampaign to upload photos and share.
In addition to creating Circles of Strength, Estee Lauder encourages supporters to share their campaign video and to create and share videos of their own using #BCAstrength.
In 1999 General Electric developed the first digital mammogram system. Since then, they have spent millions developing full-field mammogram technology.
In an effort to engage those affected by breast cancer, GE created Breast Cancer Mosaic, a platform to share stories and experiences in the healthcare blogosphere. On the site, GE will host hour-long video streaming sessions with a parallel “tweet-up” using the hashtag #BCMTalks. The goal of each session is to empower those affected by breast cancer to contribute to the knowledge base of users worldwide.
Sunbelt Bakery, a granola and grain company, launched a social media campaign this month to raise funds towards the National Breast Cancer Foundation in support of early detection and free mammograms.
The bakery announced that they would donate $1 for every new Facebook like and new follower on Twitter during the month of October, up to $50,000. After four years of traditional campaigns, this is the first year Sunbelt Bakery will use social media as a tactic to fundraise for the NBCAF.
Using social media as a tool to spread the word about Breast Cancer Awareness has created more dynamic and engaging campaigns.
Have you noticed any brands going above and beyond in their Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns? Tell us about them!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year—and I’m not just talking about it being pumpkin-flavored everything time again, though that is pretty awesome.
No, it’s the time of year that makes me long to be back in Wisconsin, walking around the University of Wisconsin - Madison campus, drinking a Spotted Cow* and spending my Saturdays at Camp Randall watching my beloved Badger football team.
Now you might be wondering what the heck my desire to be watching Badger football has to do with waging a war on Twitter, but stay with me; I swear I have a point.
Last fall, just days after finishing the regular season and being named Big Ten champions, Wisconsin’s football coach, Bret Bielema, announced that he was departing Wisconsin and heading to Arkansas. While many in the upper echelon of the athletic department may have been upset by Bielema’s decision to leave, there wasn’t really a whole lot of love lost elsewhere on campus. Bielema had earned a reputation while at Wisconsin for being—how do I put this delicately—a bit of a pompous jerk.
However, it is what has transpired since he left the university—largely on Twitter—that has earned him a whole new reputation for being an immature idiot. See, some Wisconsin fans were upset, either with Bielema’s decision to leave or with the timing of his announcement—since Wisconsin had just earned itself yet another trip to the granddaddy of them all, the Rose Bowl. So some of those fans, unable to hold themselves back and seemingly feeling that Bielema deserved to hear from them, took their frustration to Twitter.
Unfortunately, instead of rising above and ignoring the comments, Bielema chose to engage. He started replying directly to fans who chided him on the social media platform. He made his attacks personal and started using the hashtag #1-0, referring to somehow being 1-0 at Arkansas, where he had yet to even coach, much less win, a single game.
While most of this transpired back in January of this year, the apparent feud between Bret, his wife Jen and the rest of the college football world has apparently not settled down. Recently, after some PAC-12 refs completely failed at doing their jobs well and cost my Badgers the game against Arizona State, Bielema’s wife was back at it, simply tweeting, “#karma”.
Unfortunately for Jen, her #karma tweet came back to bite her in the behind. See, just last weekend the Razorbacks, with Bielema at the helm, lost to future Big Ten member, Rutgers.
This set off a whole new slew of tweets, the most widely read of them coming from yet another member of the Big Ten family—the wife of Ohio State assistant coach Mike Vrabel, Jen Vrabel.
While I find Jen Vrabel’s tweet to be quite humorous, and her use of the word karma to be quite appropriate here (unlike Jen Bielema’s use—seriously? What karma is she talking about?!), the truth of the matter is that this whole thing is ridiculous. These people are adults—grown ups—people in positions of authority and responsibility within their respective university communities. Instead of behaving like the adults they are, they are behaving more like the college students they, or their husbands, coach. My advice to all of them: Grow up. You look ridiculous.
It’s an important lesson for all of us to keep in mind. While it may be easy—and tempting—to hide behind our computers and pick fights via social media, it’s actually a pretty stupid thing to do. In these sorts of fights, nobody wins, and everybody ends up looking foolish. While I’m not going to defend those who chose to attack Bielema on Twitter after he announced his resignation, I do believe that all of this could have been avoided if Bielema himself had chosen to just ignore it, walk away and act like an adult. There was (and remains) nothing to be gained by engaging in, or instigating, these sorts of attacks. This lesson goes for far more than just NCAA coaches and fans, it goes for every business out there. Sometimes you just have to listen to your mom and ignore the haters.
*In case you’ve never been to Wisconsin, New Glarus Spotted Cow is by far my favorite beer in the world, and it kills me that New Glarus Brewing Company does not and will not export the beer out of the state. If you ever find yourself in Wisconsin, do yourself a favor and skip the Miller and Leinie’s and have a Spotted Cow. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
Mmmm….deliciousness in a bottle.
There are a number of outlets for your social media consideration, but for communication purposes, Twitter remains at the top of the heap. Sure, Facebook is great for brand building and interaction, and LinkedIn is unmatched when it comes to networking. But for companies seeking to truly connect with interested third parties – especially in short, quick bursts -- Twitter is the top dog (or bird, in this case). In fact, most Fortune 500 companies are active on Twitter – more so than any other social network.
Organizations absolutely must be on Twitter, but those just starting out are literally beginning at zero – zero followers, that is. How does a company build up their presence to the point where they are truly making a mark on the Twitterverse, gaining followers, getting retweeted, building leads, and generally increasing their online exposure through the massive Twitter network?
Here are a few steps companies can take to attain Twitter success they can chirp about:
Set a strategy and goals. Getting on board with Twitter is like any other marketing campaign. You should prepare a strategy, and that strategy should include goals. For Twitter, that could be number of followers gained, leads that come into a website through Twitter, etc. Don’t use Twitter arbitrarily; put some guidelines around it that will help you determine whether or not your efforts are successful. Use these as signposts that help determine which way your overall campaign should go, and check them periodically.
Start following other people and companies. This is the best way to gain followers. Begin by choosing people and companies that are important to your business and your industry. Prospect, partner and customer lists are good places to start, as are industry analysts, reporters and news websites (particularly if they cover your industry). Not only will many of the people you follow feel compelled to follow you back, you’ll also likely get some interesting information that you can then retweet to others, which they’ll surely appreciate. You may even see some information that might inspire your own blog posts, articles, tweets, and more. Of course, once they follow you it’ll give you a wide audience through which to share company news and relevant information.
Start tweeting. After building your list of followers, send some quick tweets introducing yourself and/or your company. Tell your followers what you’re all about – and then follow-up those tweets with a frequent cadence of informative tweets. “Informative” here could include everything from new product announcements to links to interesting news stories to unique content on a corporate blog.
Set some guidelines for how much you tweet. Much like other forms of communications, Twitter should be used judiciously. You do not want to flood your followers’ Twitter feeds just for the sake of constantly reaching out to them. After all, just because it’s easy to tweet, doesn’t mean it needs to be done all the time. A good number to shoot for is five tweets per day. After that, make adjustments based on a number of factors (are the tweets getting re-tweeeted, for example).
Step 1 – again. There’s no sense in expending time and effort into something if you’re not seeing results. Therefore, every so often you should go back to your original strategy to see if your Twitter actions are having the desired effect. Have your efforts moved the needle at all? Have you gained followers? Are those followers retweeting what you post? Have any leads come in directly through your Twitter feed? If the answer to each of these is “no,” you may have to make some adjustments. Perhaps take a look at what you’re putting out there – is the content compelling enough? Are your tweets worded in such ways that people feel compelled to click through them? Is your list of followers up to snuff? Should you add more or different followers?
Truth is, we could write a book about using Twitter and social media for your business. These are just a few high-level tips to get you started. For more information, check out our Inbound Marketing webinar:
- Pete Larmey
The new Prince has arrived! That’s right, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have finally had their babe – and if you didn’t already know that, you have clearly been living under a rock.
Since it was announced that Kate Middleton had gone into labor early last week, it has been royal baby fever across the United Kingdom globe. While the young prince will never be monarch to anywhere outside of the UK – I nonetheless now know everything about him and his birth - from what stroller he will ride in (blue Bugaboo buggy) to what kind of car the doctor that delivered him drives (Mercedes) - all thanks to the endless (and relentless) media coverage.
Granted, we are in a much different day and age from when the young prince’s father was born, and news is no longer heard from a town crier. With today’s 24/7-news cycle there is a lot of airtime to fill – and clearly an audience who is interested. In fact, BBC News received record-breaking global traffic on the day of the royal birth – with 19.4 million views. They were not the only ones, with numerous other sites following suit by posting extremely high viewing numbers on the day and days after the prince was born.
The birth of Prince George represented a clash between old-age traditions and circumstance and modern day digital info-overload. The palace though, did well balancing feeding the media beast, while still maintaining the centuries old traditions that come with a royal birth. Keeping with tradition, a car drove to Buckingham Palace carrying news of the baby’s birth to post outside. However, in new age spirit, before the car carrying the news even made it to the palace, Clarence House tweeted the birth announcement. Not only that, but the Clarence House Twitter Handle encouraged followers to share well wishes with the royals by using the hashtag #WelcometotheWorld. The palace also put up a Google card for those who wanted to offer personalized greetings to the Prince.
In a country that is deeply routed with history and circumstance, many were skeptical on how they would adapt to modern day technology given their reputation to be a bit stuffy and set in their ways. However, they have leaped into the digital age over the last few years, and surprised quite a few with how much information surrounding the birth was made available (and quickly) via social media.
It will be interesting to see in the future how much information the monarchy continues to release via social media as the child grows and reaches major milestones in his life. In my opinion, it would seem to work in their favor to release the occasional update for no other reason than to keep the media somewhat at bay – though based on how they handled the birth, it seems they have already figured that one out.