The Twitter Cause Celebre: Raising Awareness or Self-Congratulatory Hooey?

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The Twitter Cause Celebre: Raising Awareness or Self-Congratulatory Hooey?
It’s hard not to roll your eyes when reading about the latest social media campaign ignited to raise awareness. Sure, Facebook fans can get Betty White on Saturday Night Live. But have subsequent social media movements addressing issues like bullying, domestic violence and breast cancer actually made a difference? Most likely, social media campaigns teeter between being the Internet equivalent of the Pet Rock and today’s version of Live Aid because of the sheer lightness of social media. Take this celebrity-fueled endeavor in honor of World AIDS Day for example.

Digital Life Sacrifice benefits Alicia Keys’ Keep A Child Alive AIDS charity by enlisting celebrities and their social media followers. For as long as it takes to raise $1 million dollars, stars like Kim Kardashian, Lady Gaga, Usher and Justin Timberlake will remain silent on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. While many people would pay to keep celebrities off of social media, the point here is to enlist fans and followers to fork over cash to Keys’ foundation, which goes towards the treatment for children with HIV/AIDS in India, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and South Africa. There’s no arguing that this is a noble cause, but when we peel back the layers of campaigns like this one, we see a naiveté and egoism which can thwart the message of such efforts.

Social media fundraising and awareness raising campaigns need clear-cut goals other than hocking t-shirts and showing that celebrities are good people, too. As some have pointed out already, the goals of Keep A Child Alive are fuzzy at best – but that’s not to say Keys is the first star whose pet project fails to drive a message home. For example, how many “No H8” photo shoots have we seen stars take part in while the cause behind it still goes largely ignored? These social media campaigns have put the stars involved in them in the headlines, but at the end of the day, little impact is felt. That being said, Keys deserves recognition for tying in our celebrity obsession with fundraising. How powerful a star’s group of social media followers truly is will be tested with Digital Life Sacrifice.

But let’s hear from you. Do Twitter-launched campaigns raise awareness or are they just good PR?

Five Things You Might Have Missed

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five things you may have missed list

If you are reading this, then one of two things has occurred: A) You couldn’t take the long holiday weekend off from work; or B) You think our Five Things You Might Have Missed List is even better than turkey dinner leftovers. (We’d like to believe it’s the latter.) So without any further ado, here are five items that you might have missed. And pass the cranberry sauce, please.

1.) Target Misses the Bull’s-eye: Consider this one of the things we wished we had missed. Comedienne Maria Bamford plays an over-the-top, holiday-shopping-obsessed nightmare in Target’s commercials promoting Black Friday. The problem with the series of ads – other than their omnipresence online – is, well, everything. Spanning an obnoxious eight commercials, Target’s latest campaign misfires because of its heightened materialism and bombastic unfunny tone.

2.) Sak’s Fifth Avenue Takes Holiday Displays to New Levels: Thanks to advancements in architectural video mapping, Saks Fifth Avenue has created an outdoor holiday display unlike anything we have ever seen. The video of the display, which is entitled “The Snowflake & the Bubble,” is on the verge of going viral for being a mix of old-fashioned holiday magic and new-fangled technical genius.

3.) Eyecare For Tech-wary Eyeballs: This article, written by Dr. Nathan Bonilla-Warford, outlines tips for better eye health in a digital world. Published on Mashable yesterday, the piece is essential reading for those of us who spend way too much time in front of computer screens and who need to take care of our eyes.

4.) Rock, Paper, Twitter: Adidas and MTV Japan launched a very cool campaign last week which invites followers of Adidas Originals on Twitter to play a game of rock, paper, scissors. The catch? You bet on your own followers. Although it sounds risky, it’s just a virtual game and provides nifty social media engagement.

5.) The Ickiest Ad We’ve Seen In A While: Without going into the, um, hairy details, we’ll just say that this ad for True Clean Towels is probably the grossest commercial we’ve witnessed in quite some time.

Unicorn Watch 2010 Continues

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While we’re all nibbling on turkey, there’s another animal running amok online and in social media: the unicorn. That’s right kids, as we predicted over the summer, the horned critter is back in full force and everywhere from the Los Angeles Times to Cartoon Network has harnessed, pondered and pontificated the power of the mythical creature. The latest roundup of unicorn delights proves the horny beast isn’t going anywhere any time soon.

Pop artist Camomile Hixon stirred up some major PR – and a little trouble for herself – when she posted missing unicorn posters all over New York City. Hixon was slyly promoting her Missing Unicorn installation at a local gallery yet what ended up happening was marketing magic of epic proportions. Her some 2,000 posters with a missing unicorn hotline caused more than 3,500 responses from all over the United States. The city of New York shut down her renegade art project, slapping her on the wrist for hanging up the posters. But Hixon took her message and campaign online where anybody could download the posters. She also set up a Twitter account so people could post unicorn sightings. Hixon’s effort is the kind of do-it-yourself guerrilla marketing Andy Warhol-types and fantasy fans alike can applaud.

On the other end of the spectrum, Cartoon Network has seen massive success with its online game Robot Unicorn Attack. The game, which is purposely ridiculous, has moved onto Facebook and iPhones while spawning a heavy metal sequel. Now Robot Unicorn Attack is decking the halls in its own twisted kind of way with the just-launched Christmas edition of the game. This snowy and sparkly rendition is available for iPhone and iPad. Cult holiday hit song “Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End)” by The Darkness is the soundtrack for the latest unicorn gaming adventure.

And the unicorn madness is bound to continue in 2011 as Steven Spielberg’s The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn hits theaters next summer. We here at Brandsplat will keep you posted on the latest sightings. Why? Because we care – that’s why.

Gobble Gobble Tweet:Thanksgiving Tips From Social Media

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Gobble Gobble Tweet:Thanksgiving Tips From Social Media

A recent survey dropped this week just in time for Thanksgiving that confirmed what we already know: even on the holidays we can’t stop checking our email, Facebook, or Twitter. Xobni along with Harris Interactive found that 60 percent of working Americans will be checking their work emails this holiday season. As obnoxious as that sounds it’s really not that hard to believe as we are a culture that grows more and more tech addicted every day. Naturally, many brands are relying on our social media and internet dependence this Thanksgiving to push products while helping fledgling cooks in the kitchen. We found a trio of companies using social media and technology to gobble up new fans.

Turkey titan Butterball has taken to Facebook to answer last minute cooking questions from nervous Thanksgiving chefs. Using expert turkey bloggers, Butterball addresses burning questions like to brine or not to brine, when to start defrosting, and how to perfectly carve. Butterball’s Facebook page directs fans to the company’s website for more turkey TLC. Williams-Sonoma, fresh off a product placement win by ending up on Oprah’s Favorite Things, has also turned Thanksgiving into a social media affair. The purveyor of fancy pie plates is using Twitter to alert users of last minute products they might need for the big day. But the company really hits it out of the park with their videos on YouTube. All things turkey are covered here from stuffing and roasting to basting and brining. Naturally the videos slyly plug products from Williams-Sonoma that cooks are going to clamor for. Lastly, Digital Laundry has come up with a handy-dandy iPhone app entitled iFeast. iFeast plans out your shopping lists, cooking times, and cleaning tasks. Using alerts, the app tells you when it’s time to move on to the next item on your list. iFeast also has over 20 classic holiday recipes and preset menus organized by a chef’s specific needs and level of skill.

Facebook Fierceness in 40 Minutes a Day

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facebook fierce workout 40 mintes a day

Much like tackling the junk drawer or organizing our garage, making time to devote to our company’s Facebook page seems like a colossal pain in the neck. Yet would you believe a bit of pain-free maintenance holds the key to solving this problem? We’ve come up with a 40-minute-a-day Facebook marketing plan to simplify using the world’s most popular and powerful social media site.

Like going to the gym or meditation, great social media marketing takes a dedicated amount of time every day to yield any results. So we recommend starting with 40 minutes – 20 minutes early in the day and 20 minutes at the day’s end. We know by now that Facebook fan pages work best when they are regularly updated; therefore, we think a minimum of two updates a day is a good place to start. We see small restaurants post their dinner specials every day and we think this a perfect, simple Facebook model. By letting your customers or clients know what the latest happenings are at your company in your status, you are staying on their minds while opening up the conversation for comments or suggestions.

That being said, you don’t want to kill your fans with second-by-second Facebook status updates. So try to limit yourself to four a day. In lieu of a smartly-written status update, try to post a relevant video or news link three times a week. Levi’s routinely does a great job of this on its page and it’s something we can all do in a matter of minutes.

When it comes to uploading and tagging pictures on Facebook, the rule of thumb is edit and post in a timely fashion. Your customers don’t want to see every glass of wine that was poured at your latest event. Instead, edit and post only the best pictures and post them in a timely fashion. Plus, uploading a few thoughtfully-chosen pictures won’t eat up as much time as posting and tagging an entire roll.

The biggest thing we all want our Facebook pages to do is to link back to our company’s website. So throughout the day, make sure your Facebook is sending your fans to your site by linking your company blogs and website updates. This should be the top priority with Facebook, so we advise using no fewer than six opportunities a week to bounce back to your business website.

Lastly, take 30 minutes once a week to come up with new promotions or marketing ideas you can implement on your Facebook page. See what other companies are doing. Get inspired! And remember – if nobody responds to a Facebook promotion, you haven’t really lost anything except for a few minutes.

Realistically, we all spend way more than 40 minutes every day on Facebook, so why not take a few minutes between rounds of Mafia Wars and actually do some social media marketing? But you tell us. How much time a day do you spend on social media marketing? And do you have any tips for Facebook marketing newbies? Sound off below!

Our Five Things You Might Have Missed List

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Stuffed with more social media goodness, more cheesy commercial chewiness and more marketing magic, our five things you might have missed list is a feast for the senses. (Gobble, gobble!)

1.) We’ll Stop the World and RockMelt With You: We squealed like teenaged girls at a Justin Bieber concert when we got our hands on RockMelt, the newest social media-centric browser. It’s like a Facebook- and Twitter-enriched version of Google Chrome. For social media marketers, RockMelt could turn out to be a very useful tool. While some tech snobs have kvetched about the browser’s glitch issues, overall RockMelt truly is a lot of fun, both for social media mavens and plain old Facebook junkies alike.

2.) Reading the Plethora of Newsletters in Your Inbox: Our brains tend to go into instant delete mode when receiving e-newsletters from big companies, but this time of year it pays to stop and take a gander. Not only are retail newsletters packed with deals (see Borders‘ e-mail marketing for an example – they’re practically giving that store away), but also the big guys have lots of savvy e-mail newsletter ideas that any small business can adapt.

3.) How The Groupon Saved Christmas: From Gap to The Joffrey Ballet and now American Apparel, brands are relying on the wildly-followed Groupon to help boost sales. And it is working. We’ve been tracking the popularity of Groupon for some time and we’re pleased this marketing tool has exploded over the last few months.

4.) The Smell of Bootylicious: We could write 1,000 words or more on bad celebrity perfume commercials, but this latest – for Beyonce’s first fragrance Heat – is one of the worst. Downright ’90s in feel and art direction, the spot was actually banned in the U.K. for being too sexy. It should be banned for being bland and trite. Also, can we please retire Peggy Lee’s “Fever” from commercial use/abuse for a while? That poor song has been beaten to death.

5.) Being Grateful: We put this on the things you might have missed list simply because haven’t we all occasionally forgotten how lucky we are to have clients, readers, collaborators and followers? We declare “Thank You” the most stylish catch phrase of 2010. So thank you for reading, commenting and caring.