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5 Things for October 4: Kleenex's Signs, Twitter's IPO & Fandango's Screams

Posted by Benjamin Porter

If you only read five awe-inspiring, toe-tapping, marker-moving stories this week, make it our weekly list of five things you might have missed!

1.) Sweet Screams: Fandango wants fans to scream their heads off on social media. According to ClickZ, “From October 1 to 18, Scream-Off fans can submit videos of their best ‘blood-curdling, skin-crawling screams’ on Instagram or Twitter, with the hashtag #FandangoScreamContest and @Fandango.” Fandango will pick a Scream of the Day and feature it on the site before moving it to the next round of competition. The best screamer gets a stay at the legendary Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where The Shining was filmed.

2.) IPOh!: Late Thursday afternoon, Twitter filed its paperwork with U.S. securities regulators in hopes of being a social media IPO that really delivers. Twitter is hoping that the ever-exploding mobile market will give it a leg up on Facebook. Social media marketers can expect Twitter’s decision to go public to mean a larger emphasis on advertising and mobile-friendly campaigns. But Twitter (or TWTR, as it will be known on the stock ticker) has a long way to go until it can bring in the ad bucks like Google or Facebook, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

3.) Drawn Together: Beer maker Steinlager wants its consumers to “be the artist, not the canvas” in a new spot which shows a mischievous young man who draws on his friends who have had too much to drink. The smart and funny commercial is accompanied by a “be the artist” app which gives users a chance to make and share their own ink masterpieces. 

4.) Adstagram: We knew it would come to this… Instagram announced this week that it would finally start delivering on the promise of introducing advertisements into U.S. feeds. Only a select group of brands that are already Instagram users will get to show ads first. The ads will slowly start appearing over the next few months. In contrast, complaints about the ads have already appeared on pretty much every other social network. 

5.) Bless You: Wrapping up our list is a little slice of online video creation that perfectly mixes “eww” with “aww.” The fine folks at Kleenex remind us not to get caught without a tissue by using people with signs telling their true sneeze confessions. It’s a simple, short and very memorable spot for a brand on the verge of a hipper, lighter digital makeover.

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Fashionable Facebook Pages That Awe & Inspire

Posted by Benjamin Porter

Facebook for business continues to evolve, and so do the ways marketers use the platform. Long gone are the days of branded Facebook pages rich in one-sided, sales-driven messages. Today, company Facebook pages can be information hubs, industry journals and a lively spot to talk to followers. Leave it to the fashion industry to come up with smart, stunning and stylish ways to market on Facebook.

When an old-school fashion staple like Burberry wants to reach out to a younger buyer, Facebook is an ideal place to start. Burberry’s page is filled with the kind of luxury the brand has always been associated with but bent to a hipper, more youthful audience. Currently, the page features photos from a new campaign featuring UK “It Couple” Tom Sturridge and Sienna Miller, for example. Burberry also takes advantage of Facebook’s improved video capabilities by posting videos from recent runway shows.

But let’s say you’re not that fancy a dresser. Fine. With nearly 38 million “likes,” Converse must be doing something right. The iconic shoe company uses Facebook to post the kind of things its fans are into, like music, skateboarding and viral videos. Converse excels at speaking to followers rather than at them and therefore encourages lively discussions in its comments sections.

And for incredibly chic and trendy foreign fashion labels like UNIQLO, Facebook is a must. The Japanese retailer is opening 10 more stateside stores this fall, so a steady stream of interesting posts and fabulous photos is essential for keeping fans, both new and old, excited.

Who needs a glossy, overpriced fashion magazine when you’ve got Gucci’s Facebook page? The mainstay of high-end branding for 92 years running stays fresh and on the cutting edge with a Facebook page chock full of slick videos, incredible images and the latest from the runways. Gucci keeps its whopping 11 million fans on the edge of their seats by continuously updating, reinventing and changing its page.  

In the end, that’s what great Facebook marketing is all about. Every business can take a cue from the fashion industry and keep their pages as fresh and innovative as the designs coming off the runway.

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Are You Making This Major Social Media Mistake?

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

179320163resizedWe have long preached about Facebook and Twitter marketing being two-way streets. These social media channels are great for selling our company, getting the word out about products and services while helping with SEO. Yet social media management cannot exist solely on sales-driven posts. These efforts should help tell our brand’s story and build relationships. A new survey for Econsultancy, however, proves that marketers are more interested in using social media for lead generation and list building than for branding.

The study, published on MarketingCharts.com, found that 37 percent of marketing professionals surveyed used social advertising for lead generation. Eighteen percent used it to increase traffic, while another 18 percent used it for direct online sales. Only 27 percent used it for branding.

Steve Olenski of Forbes explains why this is not such great news.

“It means that marketers are putting more emphasis on selling than they are at establishing relationships with consumers via branding,” he writes. ”It means that marketers would rather try and sell you something than say tell you a story. It means that marketers are only in ‘it’ to increase their bottom line.”

Olenski describes placing sales-driven marketing placed ahead of relationship building as “catastrophic.” We could not agree more. Over and over, we’ve seen social media marketing “fail” small businesses. Upon a closer inspection, we usually find that these efforts failed because they were filled with only sales-driven messages. No effort to reach out, zero engagement and a brand’s unwillingness to connect with followers is what fails, not the platform itself. The mistake is thinking these efforts are short-term, quick fixes for lead generation. Consumers and especially social media users can see right through brands who do that and are quick to unfollow those who exist only on a “please buy our stuff!” diet. Social media has invented a class of savvy shoppers who expect a little conversation and intelligent back-and-forth before they plunk down their credit cards. For the most part, this is a good thing — and, good or bad, it’s a reality. Embracing the culture of social media and reaping its benefits is a more long-term survival method.

“What these same marketers fail to realize is that by building their brand via storytelling, sharing of relevant content and truly engaging with consumers will lead them to the lead gen promised land they seek,” Olenski notes. “Make no mistake about it, however. Those marketers who go down the path of putting lead gen/sales over branding and relationships will not be successful in the long run.”

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Getting Your Party Started Using Facebook Event Pages

Posted by Brandsplat

Anybody who uses Facebook for business is undoubtedly familiar with Facebook events. This handy tool lets you invite all of your page’s followers to your openings, new product release parties and company functions. If your brand has hundreds of “likes” and you have a very active page, all you need to do is create an event page and all of your adoring fans will show up, making your event a smashing success. Right? Um, no. We hate to break it to you but, having pulled off several successful Facebook-driven events, we can say with confidence that creating the event page is only the beginning. 

When your brand’s major method for communication is Facebook, an event page is a must. They are incredibly effective and easy tools. In fact, thanks to new targeting which allows admins to promote events to certain demographics, it’s gotten even easier. Invitees can now be chosen by gender, relationship status, age and interests. To begin, make sure your event page has all of the correct information and important things like start time and dates. Sounds silly that we’d even mention this, but you’d be surprised how many event pages leave off the vitals. Next, constantly update the content on that page to hype the event. Stagnant pages with no updates get fewer confirmed guests than ones with a steady flow of action. Add videos, photos and the latest news your guests need to know before attending.  

Yet even a well-chosen guest list and an oft-updated event page does not necessarily mean that your event will be well attended. The event and the event page both need further promotion outside of Facebook. Other social media sites like Twitter and Instagram are worth a shot but make localization key if you’re looking for real-life bodies in attendance. We’d say a great resource for your event page is your local media. Those papers they shove in your mailbox, the calendar sections in the hip neighborhood journals and even your city’s television stations are worth hitting up with information on your event. That way folks in your own backyard are hearing about your event from multiple channels. Since your Facebook event page has all of the details already, we think directing members of the media and followers on other social media platforms is an easy way to spread the information while promoting the page. 

In the end, we think that Facebook event pages are a fantastic way to promote a brand’s events as long as other forms of promotion happen alongside it. Readers, do you go to the things people invite you to on Facebook and have you had success using events for your own shindigs? Tell us in the comments section!

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Is What We Read More Important Than Who We Are?

Posted by Brandsplat

For a brief minute, social media marketing seemed to be a golden ticket into giving marketers a better look at who consumers really were and what they really liked. Facebook pages filled with “likes” for favorite brands, tweets mentioning interests and Pinterest boards chock full of lusted-after items give the illusion of really getting to know a consumer. Yet many think when it comes to content marketing, we should really be asking consumers what they’re reading instead of analyzing their status updates.

The webpages we visit, the blogs we read and the things we search for say far more than social media ever could, says the Guardian’s Jonny Rose.

“By tracking consumer interactions as they browse and engage with content, brands can begin to reveal current and evolving interests, inclinations and needs — sometimes before the individual knows themselves,” Rose says.

Technology referred to by Rose as “content analytics” gives brands access to invaluable insights — but how?

“Content analytics technology analyses pieces of text and makes it understandable and readable for computers. It allows computers to understand the topics, people, places, companies and concepts in the content, sentiment towards aspects of the content, and the language of that content,” Rose says. “This, in turn, means computers can track an individual’s interaction with a piece of content and collect and draw trends about that individual’s tastes and interests.”

If this sounds Big Brother-ish or a little creepy to you, you’re not alone. A lot of folks are startled by the amount of information that advertisers have access to. But others would argue that content marketing analytics helps companies get a more truthful look at the person they are trying to reach. These analytics have also been a long time coming; by now, most people know that when they’re online, they are communicating with brands, whether they want to or not.

Regardless of opinion, these kind of analytics are unavoidable.

“Whether you are browsing to kill time, entertain yourself or researching for a friend, what you are reading right now is incredibly indicative of who you are as a person — and this is immensely useful for brands,” Rose concludes. 

But what do you think, readers? Are content marketing analytics helpful or a borderline invasion of privacy? Tell us in the comments section below.

 

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5 Things for August 9: Blog Marketing, Watery Billboards and Applebees

Posted by Brandsplat

Need a longer lunch break? Want more people to read your blog? Can’t find your keys? Our weekly list of the best content marketing stories you might have missed can help! We have five stories that could very well answer your most puzzling questions when it comes to social media and online marketing. When it comes to things like finding your keys, however, you’re on your own.

1.) On Trend: It feels like there has been a never-ending supply of new Facebook stories this summer, and here’s one more you might have missed. On the heels of its hashtag rollout two months ago, Facebook is trying out another Twitter-born application: trending topics. Facebook told Mashable on Wednesday, “Today we started running a small test that displays topics trending on Facebook. It is currently only available to a small percentage of U.S. users who use Facebook’s mobile web site (m.facebook.com) and is still in very early stages of development,” a rep for Facebook said. Good idea or just another Twitter knockoff? Tell us in the comments section.

2.) Blowup Dolls and Burgers: Applebees is back with more inflatable dolls in hopes of inspiring folks to take a longer lunch break by leaving a stand-in behind at the office. Sounds ridiculous, but two styles of the dolls, “The Overachiever” and the “Cubicle Queen,” have already sold out on Amazon. It’s a clever and successful stunt. Still, it’s hard to say if these blowup buddies actually inspire people to eat at Applebees.

3.) Get Your Blog Noticed: Forbes published a fantastic list of easy solutions to blog marketing earlier this week. The list is worth a read since it gives 14 blog marketing and content ideas that every business can put into practice immediately. 

4.) A ‘Pizza’ the Action: Domino’s is investing in startups while generating some huge buzz with Pizzavestments. The program, covered by tons of blogs this week, hands out $500 Dominos cards to 30 startups who probably spend a lot of late nights munching on pizza while working. #PoweredByPizza is the hashtag the company is using to inspire Twitter users to share their own tales of pizza-assisted genius. 

5.) We’ll Drink to That: We close out this week’s list with a billboard in Lima, Peru worth celebrating. UTEC, a tech and engineering school, looked to solve Lima’s drinking water problem by creating this billboard which captures humidity and converts it into drinking water. Since the billboard went up 3 months ago, this magical billboard has created a whopping 9,450 liters of drinking water.

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5 Things for August 2: Slurpees, Hot Pockets and Cronuts

Posted by Brandsplat

Can we get an “Amen” up in here? Divine Twitter marketing, holy Hot Pockets, salvation for travel bloggers and much more make this a list of five things you might have missed that’ll have you saying “hallelujah!”

1.) Oh Thank Heaven: When it comes to engaging with their Twitter followers, no brand does it quite like 7 Eleven. The convenience store rocks with clever, timely responses that evoke the brand’s sense of humor and fun. For example, this week a follower tweeted “There is no God” after discovering the Slurpee at her local 7 Eleven was broken. To which, @7ElevenCares replied, “We’re sorry this has caused you to question your faith. Can we get the location to eliminate your doubt?” 

2.) Snuffed Out: This viral spot for Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week featuring Snuffy the Seal is so funny, delightfully wrong and surprising, we won’t spoil it for you. Just go watch it — immediately. 

3.) Blog Travel Advisory: This excellent post in The New York Times about the changing face of travel blogging is a worthwhile read for blog marketers, too. Written by Dan Saltzstein, the editor of the Times’ Travel section, the piece is chock full of sage advice as well as being illuminating on how blogging has evolved for travel writers. Example: “Despite all the growth and expanded opportunities, for successful bloggers it comes back to guiding and connecting with readers.” Haven’t we been telling you this?

4.) Cronutty: The hoopla around the pastry hybrid the Cronut is officially out of control. As if paying up to $20 bucks a pop for this donut-meets-croissant mutant wasn’t enough, creative agency BBH has taken it one step further. According to AdWeek, “‘The Cronut Project,’ spearheaded by some BBH New York interns, partnering with NYC Food Bank and Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel, features a daily raffle — with the donor who pledges the most money, plus another random donor, getting a free Cronut. ” All proceeds go to the NYC Food Bank. We’re thinking the BBH interns are behind the “another random donor” hijinks.

5.) Drop It Likes It’s Hot: We wrap up our list this week with Hot Pockets. The stoner treat is back with a new makeover, and apparently we’re really excited about it. Like, over 3.5 million views on YouTube excited. The videos, which feature a variety of chefs plus “sandwich expert” Jeff Mauro, aren’t incredibly entertaining, but nevertheless the public still loves this brand. And with this kind of popularity, Hot Pockets could be the branding comeback of the year. Take that, Twinkies. 

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TSA Uses Social Media to Carry On the Message

Posted by Brandsplat

Over the last few years, Twitter marketing and Facebook campaigns have been paramount in helping government agencies and nonprofit organizations spread information about important regulations and changes happening in said organizations. New traffic laws, food safety alerts and disaster relief efforts are just a few ways these agencies have used social media platforms to inform the public. And now, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is the latest group to rely on social media marketing in hopes of driving home an obvious but important point.

You’d think most of us would assume that since we get scolded on the size of our toothpaste or forgetting to take off our shoes, we’d know that loaded firearms were a huge no-no on airplanes. You would be wrong. In fact, the TSA reports that a surprising 894 guns alone have been taken directly off passengers or from their carry-on bags since January. This a 30 percent increase from last year. The TSA hopes to remind folks that weapons on airplanes are not okay by using Instagram. The account, which debuted in June, features pictures of cleverly disguised weapons with witty captions. The campaign hopefully will remind passengers what they can and cannot bring on a plane.

And so far, it seems to be a hit. With 46,000 followers and just 11 posts, folks are obviously responding to the agency’s humorous but informative snapshots. Still, this isn’t the TSA’s first social media rodeo.

“The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) uses a variety of ways to engage with the traveling public in order to provide timely information that assists them in traveling safely,” the agency said in a statement.

But the TSA is one of the first government agencies to really utilize Instagram, and we think it is wise move. With image-based blogging at an all-time high, brands that capitalize are undoubtedly going to turn heads. For non-profits and government organizations, image-based blogging seems incredibly progressive, even edgy. 

But whaddya think, readers: Is Instagram marketing the new Pinterest marketing? Are government-based social media campaigns effective? And just for kicks, tell us your airport security horror stories. We know you have some. Sound off in our comments section!