Are Digital Distractions Making You Lose Money?

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Being the owner of an “Ooh! Look! It’s something shiny!” type of brain pattern, I feel absolutely qualified to discuss a new survey about how social media distractions are costing companies big time dollars. As someone who primarily works alone, there are Facebook and Twitter temptations that threaten to derail my whole operation on a daily basis if I indulge for too long. According to harmon.ie, the software company that conducted the study, I’m not alone — folks who routinely get distracted by social media during their workday reportedly flush $10,375 in productivity down the drain each year. In big companies with more than 1,000 employees, digital distractions can waste a whopping $10 million each year. So as social media marketers, the question is this: Are our efforts for our clients causing distraction?

Clearly, anything we contribute to the social media landscape has the potential to make someone stop and spend too much time staring at it, commenting on it or passing it on. This is, after all, what we want to some degree. Still, the statistics seem to indicate the big digital distractions don’t come directly from social media at all. Surprisingly, the biggest distraction on the list is email. Yes, 23 percent of those surveyed say email routinely derails their work efforts. Only 9 percent admitted that falling into a Facebook hole or getting swallowed by a Twitter tornado was the cause of their at-work distraction. I would have thought the number for social media should be a lot higher but email is a less obvious way to pretend like you’re working compared to leaving comments on Facebook. Smartphones were also surprisingly absent from the list of work momentum killers.

Mainly, surveys like this shine a spotlight on how the temptations to digitally blow off our work have just gotten easier to find and easier to accomplish. So it’s confession time, dear readers. Which social media site do you indulge in during your work day? And do you have boundaries set for yourself when it comes to digital distractions at work? And freelancers, how do you manage digital distractions without a big boss looking over your shoulder? Leave us something shiny in the comments section below!

Five Things You Might Have Missed!

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It was a big news week, so perhaps some entertaining, inspiring and informative tidbits from the world of digital marketing and branding passed you by. Never fear! We’ve collected five things you might have missed and put them in this handy-dandy list. Enjoy!

1.) What to do in Case of Zombie Attack: The CDC just got a little cooler last week when it released Social Media: Preparedness 101 — Zombie Apocalypse. The clever campaign rides the zombie popularity wave while promoting emergency situation preparedness. The CDC breaks down exactly what the agency would do if zombies did actually attack. We’re just happy that at least someone has a plan.

2.) Overville: Last week Lady Gaga released GagaVille, a Zynga-created Farmville knock-off filled with Gaga-type imagery. This week, perennial favorite of drunk white dudes in Hawaiian shirts Jimmy Buffett released his own game, Margaritaville. Ugh. We get that social gaming is a hotbed for integrated branding and advertising… but that doesn’t mean we have to like it. Some people claim that there’s a woman to blame but we all know its Facebook’s fault.

3.) Proof That You Are Amazing: The Caseomatic is what we’ve been itching for — it’s instant, hard-boiled evidence that your business is totally awesome. While a Caseomatic video study isn’t guaranteed to get you a job, it will certainly provide a few laughs.

4.) Return of the Twitter Curse: As American Idol wrapped up its season and a new winner was crowned (Scotty Whatshisname), an old nemesis returned. The Twitter curse is a bizarre, much-talked-about phenom wherein the number of tweets about a contestant predicts the eliminated contestant. As Mashable points out, the booted off Lauren Alaina received more tweets than Scotty. This seemingly silly curse actually says a lot about how Twitter can track brand loyalty and popularity.

5.) Score One for AT&T: We, like most people, love to give AT&T a hard time, since it seems like it’s in the business of making lives more complicated. Yet we have to give the company props for this funny spot. In it, a lone dancing guy realizes his scheduled flashmob has been moved to 12:30 pm. It’s timely and funny — and unexpected, as it’s from a brand that is usually neither.

As a Brand, Just How Strong is Armstrong?

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Known for beating cancer while popularizing inspirational little rubber band bracelets emblazoned with messages, his celebrity romances and, of course, winning the Tour de France like a jillion times, Lance Armstrong is a brand with staying power. But as 60 Minutes releases new allegations that he took performance-enhancing drugs from his own teammates, both Armstrong the man and the brand could be in hot water.

So beloved is Armstrong as an icon, the teammates who made the allegations are being chastised as liars. Lance Armstrong himself has gone to minimal lengths to dismiss these accusations while carefully guarding his own brand and name. There is more at stake here than just a cycling career for Armstrong. His LiveStrong brand includes a self-help website, a line of shoes and clothes from Nike and other multi-million-dollar endorsement deals. Seen as a cancer survivor, as well as a Hercules of the sports world, Armstrong’s brand is trusted — as are his charitable efforts.

Consumers turned the other cheek to his divorce and infidelity rumors, but when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs, fans have a zero tolerance. Convicted stars have a hard time bouncing back if the allegations are proved true. Just ask Marion Jones. Armstrong’s social media accounts like Twitter have been strangely devoid of any mention of the scandal. This could be strategic, however, given the possible legal repercussions. LiveStrong will have to play this carefully if they want to protect Lance’s Greek God with a Heart of Gold image. Acting like it isn’t happening might hurt the brand, but we’ll wait to see if it turns out to be true as the Feds dig around the case.

On the other hand, if Armstrong is let off the hook, 60 Minutes may be the brand in trouble. The news shows has teetered on the brink of unreliable journalism for a couple of years. Many believe the show is more interested in generating ratings than actually gathering facts.

One thing is certain: This battle has just heated up and neither brand will escape without a few battle scars.

How to Create Butt Kicking, Gut-Busting, Brain Exploding Headlines!

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Man attacked woman with swim noodle. CSI Star Call Beiber A Brat. Is Cheese the New Cocaine? Is This Cat a Great Photographer? I’ll admit it: I actually stopped and read the stories behind those headlines yesterday. I’m not proud of myself but there you go. Maybe admitting my addiction to reading corny Internet stories with hilarious headlines is truly the first step. But we’re all guilty of stopping on dramatic eye-catching headlines. If we weren’t, the Huffington Post would be out of business. In fact, the once edgy and opinionated web magazine has turned into the modern version of the Weekly World News. I now not only turn to HuffPo to read the “news” but to give myself a chuckle at those crazy ass headlines. Still, Arianna and Co are on to something over there. Cook up irresistible headlines and you have hooked blog readers for life.

So in lieu of staging a strange news event with wacky readability, how do we get people to stop and read our blogs? Not every blog can be a hotbed of entertainment but every blog has something to offer its audience so you just need a headline your readers will respond to. A great place to start with headlines is with our industry’s hot topics. Find what everybody is talking about, put said juicy topic in the headline and watch readers come-a-runnin’. When it comes to headlines, don’t be afraid to use a little humor. Coyly changing the lyrics of a hit song or playfully jabbing a pop culture icon are ways to generate laughs while grabbing readers. This being said, know when to use humor. For example, If your company sells cancer medication, maybe jokes about Donald Trump’s hair should be left out of the headline. Lastly behind every great headline is a meaty story. Make sure your well-crafted headline has something to do with your blog. Nothing is worse than a headline on a blog solely devised to generate clicks but doesn’t have the editorial huevos to back it up. I find writing the story first and then coming up with a headline to be helpful but sometimes the headline shows up before a word is written. Either way, if the story and headline complement one another, you’ve mined blog gold.

6 Noteworthy Twitter Stars

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Feeling stuck in your social media marketing? Is your Twitter campaign in a rut? Here are six rocking Twitter campaigns and accounts to help you get inspired.

1.) Levis Workshops: America’s favorite jean company keeps it fresh by mixing social media, social good, creativity and fashion. The brand sponsors artistic endeavors and presents online creativity workshops through videos and @levisworkshops keeps artsy types and jean lovers alike in the know of upcoming events.

2.) Radio Shack: This holdout in the old timey electronics store mass extinction is staying afloat thanks to warmly embracing social media. Radio Shack is a great example of Twitter as customer service tool. The brand announces deals and talks to shoppers all day long. Inspiring and easy to implement in our own businesses.

3.) Wrigley & Coachella: The gum-maker and the hippest rock festival on the planet hooked up this spring to drive folks to the sponsored YouTube live feed channel so people around the globe could be part of the festival without ever leaving their homes. Using Twitter, Wrigley notified followers of performers and festival surprises. The result? Over 4 million views and thousands of followers.

4.) X-Men: First Class: The summer superhero blockbuster speaks geek when it tweets and we applaud a movie company for finally engaging its audience in a language they understand. Hollywood has a lot of failures and successes when it comes to Twitter but the X-Men use their mutant Twitter powers to scare up marketing magic.

5.) Rachel Zoe: Celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe has been tweeting for years, but Miss Thing has recently begun calling on her tweeps to draw attention to her recently-launched fashion line. Zoe is on her way to becoming an empire, so her fun product placement-filled tweets are the kind of thing her following eats up with a Gucci spoon. Well done, Zoe.

6.) Joe Posnanski: Senior writer at Sports Illustrated, Posnanski covers the world of baseball with thoughtful and well written tweets. Conversational, funny and smart Posnanski takes tweets to sublime levels and we’re aspiring to be like him.

Five Things You Might Have Missed!

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Depending on who you ask, it’s the end of the world as we know it. So just in time for the rapture, we’ve compiled a list of five things you might have missed!

1.) Your iPad Has Bunny Ears: Playboy might just be a sly old dog after all. The men’s magazine introduced iPlayboy for iPad this week which looks like an app and feels like an app but is really an optimized website. Hefner and Co. got creative to sneak around Apple’s stringent no nudity policy and by proxy ended putting a floundering brand back on the map.

2.) Colon No: This ewww-inspiring post via AdWeek makes the list for its sheer “oh no they didn’t” factor. Touted as the “safer, more effective way to fight constipation or lazy bowel” this commercial isn’t as funny as the SNL skit Colon Blow but funny because it’s hard to believe it exists.

3.) Yes You Cannes: It’s nice to see some positive creative efforts coming out of the world’s most superficial film festival. The Cannes Lions “YouTube Good Work” challenge put innovators and film makers to task to come up with inventive ways to get audiences inspired to keep music in schools. The results are as clever as they are inspiring.

4.) Good News for Tweeps: A new study infographic thingamabob came out this week that claims students who use Twitter get better grades! A compelling case is made for Twitter and how it helps with classroom engagement. Is it valid? Who knows… but we love any study that helps fuel our Twitter addiction.

5.) Some Silver Linings: With all this doom and gloom, Inc.’s list of Ten Inspiring Small Business Success Stories is truly worth a read, bookmark and forward. From a pair of moms hell-bent on getting America to eat healthier to the owner of a kids-only barber shop, the list has entrepreneur idols perfect for our challenging times.

And, here’s a special bonus 6th thing….. check out our guest post on today’s DailyBlogTips.