Five Things You Might Have Missed

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Check out these cleverly-branded APIs, online video creation filled with heart-stopping stunts and oh so much more of the best stories in online marketing in this week’s Five Things You Might Have Missed!

1.) Muscle Music: Old Spice tops our list with another great viral marketing ploy. This time the men’s cosmetics giant wants viewers to get hooked on its earworm of a song “Muscles” featured in the video starring Terry Crews as a buff one-man-band. Then Old Spice wants followers to record their own version of the song in real time and post it on its Viveo channel. That ought to make some fun watching.

2.) Coffee Cup Polling: 7-Election is 7-Eleven’s first (genius) forray into API marketing. Using coffee cups marked either Romney or Obama, 7-Eleven customers can vote for the presidential candidate of their choice and developers can visit the chain’s API for non-scientific polling results. Never has which coffee cup you pick been so, well, hot.

3.) Don’t Try This at Home: To demonstrate how powerful its new line of trucks is, Volvo turned to world-record holding highliner Faith Dickey, two speeding trucks and an empty Romanian highway. The result is a nail-biting viral hit. Will the stunt make you run out and buy a Volvo? Maybe not. But you sure won’t forget it after you’ve watched it.

4.) The Brand that Cried Fire: Oh, Amazon. You’re turning into quite the master of tooting your own horn. Amazon released a statement this week saying its popular product the Kindle Fire had completely sold out in the United States. The news arrives days before the company releases Kindle Fire 2. While skeptics are raising eyebrows over the shady numbers, we’ve gotta hand it to Amazon for taking over the exciting tech hype and publicity territory once completely dominated by Apple.

5.) Read it and Blog it: And, finally, here’s a story from the “Yes, you can blog about anything” files. Fashion blogger Wendy Felton took on the five-pound monster that is Vogue’s September issue and blogged to tell the tale. She wrote about every single page and even dished about the ads! “People live-blog major events like the Oscars, and the September issue of Vogue is hugely important and influential,” Felton told the New York Daily News. “So why not give Vogue the same treatment?” Why not, indeed, Wendy! Her coverage was a hit and we say blog what ya love and the readers will come.

Marketing Tips from the RNC: Making a Point with Twitter Campaigns

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So much of running Twitter for business campaigns is about getting your message heard by the right people. But for non-profits, activism groups and community-based organizations, Twitter can be a powerful platform to champion causes and bring awareness. This week, the Human Rights Campaign used a highly-quoted speech from the RNC to help spearhead a Twitter campaign for marriage equality.

On Tuesday night, Ann Romney, the wife of presidential candidate Mitt Romney, made headlines with her speech in Tampa at the Republican National Convention. About her relationship with her husband, Ann Romney said:

“I read somewhere that Mitt and I have a storybook marriage. Well, let me tell you something. In the storybooks I read, there never were long, long rainy winter afternoons in a house with five boys screaming at once, and those storybooks never seemed to have chapters called M.S. or breast cancer. A storybook marriage? Nope, not at all. What Mitt Romney and I have is a real marriage.”

By Wednesday morning, the Human Rights Campaign had launched a Twitter initiative that took her words to task. The HRC told followers to “Tell Ann: My Same-Sex Marriage is Real, Too.” Via its blog, the HRC’s Twitter tool helped same-sex couples tweet the message to Romney, “Because of #marriagequality, my same-sex partner & I have a #realmarriage too, @AnnDRomney #GOP2012 @hrc.” Hundreds of supporters chimed in using the tool, and Romney herself continued to trend on Twitter well into late Wednesday afternoon. Ann Romney and her speech were the talk of the convention and the HRC was wise to hop in on the Twitter trend while it was hot.

Regardless of how a person feels about the issue, the HRC’s use of Twitter marketing in this case is skillful and well-done. For non-profits, raising awareness is one of the biggest tasks on the publicity to-do list and a thoughtful Twitter campaign can do precisely that — and in just 140 characters.

Young Bloggers Invigorate the RNC

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Who would’ve guessed the Republican National Convention in Tampa would be the place to look for hot trends in fresh and youthful blog writing? The GOP has a reputation for a lot of things, but young and hip ain’t exactly one of them. Nevertheless, the party looks to rebrand itself for new generations of voters and a pair of highly-talked-about, up-and-coming bloggers might help them do exactly that.

17-year-old Virginia resident Evan Draim holds the distinction of being the youngest delegate in attendance at the RNC. Politico, Seventeen magazine, Education Week and the Washington Examiner are just a few of the media outlets to run with Draim’s fascinating story. After all, for a party perceived as being out of touch from Draim’s generation — usually pegged as extremely liberal — this is an oddity for sure. So Patch.com scored big time when they enlisted Draim as their blogger of all things RNC. His posts give readers an inside look at one of the most talked about political events of the year through the eyes of a teenager.

Mostly of the “Gee whiz! Look what’s happening!” flavor, his blogs are definitely naive — but that’s really the point. Eager for a younger perspective of its own, The Boston Herald turned to 20-year-old Corey Lainer to blog from the convention. Lainer is a student of University of Massachusetts Lowell who is braving the wild weather and moments of boredom to cover the event. A little more cynical and slyly observational than his 17-year-old counterpart, Lainer’s posts are filled with behind the scenes details about the RNC and even some interviews with GOP big shots.

Blogging an event like the RNC may be old hat, but using fresh voices is a great way to keep the coverage interesting. And this new point of view isn’t just reserved for “the kids.” Corporate blogs of any variety should feel inspired by these two whippersnappers and recruit new contributors of all ages. Seek out guest posts from loyal customers, new employees and enthusiastic fans of your brand. These new voices won’t only refresh your content, they might also bring in new readers, too. Guest bloggers, as both the Herald and Patch have discovered are simple way to put a spring in your blog’s step.

Bad Viral Content is a Good Lesson

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We apologize in advance for the following atrocity in custom content — but trust us, it’s for your own good. This video from Papa John’s Pizza is just plain terrible. Whoever thought the world needed to hear Dallas Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones rap needs to be seriously slapped. The Loomis agency is to blame for this crime against hip hop, pizza and humanity and is perhaps the longest 30 seconds you’ll ever experience. There’s something intrinsically uncomfortable about white people rapping in the best case scenario, but when the rapper in question is a 69-year-old billionaire, awkward is suddenly taken to new heights.

That said, beyond being epically unfunny and horribly produced, this awful commercial actually has some real value as a learning tool.

Viral marketing is a tricky little devil. Campy and self-effacing can easily become “Oh dear God! Make it stop!” if you’re not careful. The thin line between laughing with your brand and laughing at your brand truly lies in knowing your identity. What makes the Papa John’s clip downright criminal is that it has nothing to do with the brand or the brand’s personality. It seems miscalculated and out of left field. Tongue-in-cheek gangsta and Papa John’s just don’t seem to mix. We say make a splash with video content and we believe any size company can benefit from viral marketing. Just makes sure the message fits with the rest of your marketing. Also, when making a humorous viral video, make sure it’s actually funny. Maybe a handful of people got a chuckle out of this clip, but judging by the YouTube comments, it was a tiny group. When pursuing laughs, have some blunt and trusted friends and coworkers tell you the truth about your clip. Real friends don’t let friends release unfunny videos.

Lastly, a great thing to ask ourselves about video content is, “What’s the point?” Clearly, the point of the Papa John’s ad is to promote their Cowboys Combo — but do you remember the great deal on pizza or the incredibly awful backup dancers and old white guy rapping? Yeah. We thought so. Always make sure people remember your video content for being creative and smart and not for being an abomination.

But now it’s your turn. Tell us what you think of MC Jerry. And what other branded viral videos from hell have you seen lately? Spill it in the comments section below!

Blog Like the Big Brands: Las Vegas

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Think a travel and tourism board wouldn’t know how to cleverly use blog creation? Clearly you aren’t familiar with the work of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. After all, LVCVA is just a “little” tourism group that helps Las Vegas bring in 9 billion dollars in annual gambling revenue and created the legendary “What Happens in Vegas” campaign. So you better believe when it comes to smart blog marketing, Vegas is a safe bet.

Maybe you didn’t hear a little story about Prince Harry of England’s epic partying in Las Vegas last week which resulted in a major nude photo scandal. The pictures, which were leaked by one of the Prince’s “friends,” quickly became the stuff of Internet legend and the VisitLasVegas.com blog was right there with a smart post to show their support for the royal. An old-timey blog post on Friday read: “For Shame! To Those Who Traded in Their to The Las Vegas Brethren, We Deplore You!” The post was a tongue in cheek reference to “the code” of Vegas and went on to shame those who broke it and ruined Prince Harry’s good time. Naturally, the blog post was turned into a social media campaign and print ad, too.

This kind of hip and up-to-the-minute blogging is a big part of Vegas’ brand. The desert city relies on talking directly to the 20-something demographic and blogging is a great way to do that. The blog also features the skinny on the hottest entertainment, sporting and fashion events happening in town. VisitLasVegas.com sees blogging as central to its vast digital marketing plan to hit Las Vegas fans on every possible platform.

This brings us to our takeaway tips for the week. First off, you don’t have to be a gambling mecca to have your blog, Twitter and Facebook work together like a well-oiled machine. All three platforms should scratch each other’s backs and promote the other’s content. VisitLasVegas.com does this brilliantly and seamlessly. Also, all of us can get creative and use the day’s headlines to increase traffic to our company blogs. Scandals, news stories and buzzed-about Internet memes are easy blogging ideas and a great way to reel in new readers. Go ahead — bet the house on timely topics and great social media synchronicity and your blog will come out a winner.

Five Twitter Things You Might Have Missed

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The world of Twitter marketing is an ever-changing one indeed. Every hour, a new story involving Twitter seems to pop up in our newsfeeds, leaving us to wonder, “How’s a busy online marketer ever supposed to catch up?” That’s why we’ve devoted this week’s Five Things You Might Have Missed to the biggest, oddest and most fascinating stories to come out of TwitterLand.

1.) Twitter v. Tumblr: Facebook face-0ffs are so 2010. The hot social network showdown is the one currently brewing between Twitter and Tumblr. Things got sticky for the two social media megapowers when Twitter told Tumblr this week that it could no longer have access to a friend-finding feature that let Tumblr users search for contacts on Twitter who also use that blogging platform. While Twitter has remained tight-lipped on the diss, Tumblr is not happy. “To our dismay, Twitter has restricted our users’ ability to ‘Find Twitter Friends’ on Tumblr,” a Tumblr spokeswoman said in a statement. “Given our history of embracing their platform, this is especially upsetting.” Twitter apparently doesn’t like to share and we’ll see if this greediness bites the little bird in the backside in the months to come.

2.) Twitter Hearts NBC: Depsite the #NBCFail hashtag that was prominent during the London Olympics, an article in The New York Times this week said that both NBC and Twitter were as pleased a punch with their partnership during the summer games. Twitter head honchos say their platform wasn’t a spoiler as much as it was a teaser during the games and NBC says the Olympics aren’t about the results as much as they are about the stories. We say both sides wouldn’t be singing such a happy tune if the ratings and advertising dollars weren’t through the roof.

3.) Spooky Tweets: Warner Brothers came up with a clever way to spook out Twitter users while promoting its new horror film The Apparition. The studio tweeted freaky ghost filled-photos from the film along with scary tweets. Creepy and effective, this is pitch perfect Twitter marketing for a late-summer horror flick.

4.) Twitter’s Newest Star: Move over, Miley! Twitter’s most-talked-about star isn’t a person at all. Turns out the most lively conversations and creative tweeting are being inspired by Curiosity, the rover currently roaming the planet Mars. NPR reported this week that Curiosity has over 1.1 million followers. @MarsCuriosity is run by three women in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena who post for the spunky, one-of-a-kind robot. With direct-from-Mars pictures and a witty narrative, @MarsCuriosity is a new kind of Twitter marketing that inspires followers to learn more about science.

5.) Twitter Waffling: One Direction star Zayn Malick has returned to Twitter after a 24-hour break. I know. We’re relieved, too. All kidding aside, this sort of Twitter waffling by “celebrities” who leave then eventually come back to Twitter is symptomatic of our collective reliance on Tweeting. Also in the case of boy banders like Malick and other b-list stars, returning to Twitter reeks of the strong arm of a wise Hollywood publicist who undoubtedly convinces their clients to stay on Twitter if they want to stay relevant.

Great Blog PR in 10 Minutes a Day!

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In the beginning, most of our clients are convinced that blog content management has to be a long, painful daily process that will suck out all of their creativity energy. But as we work our magic for them, they start to see that taking care of your corporate blog need not be a time-sucking and painful exercise. In fact, over the years we’ve found a few easy tips anyone can use to promote their blog in under 10 minutes a day. Here’s three of the most simple and time-efficient tips to get you started.

The first thing you should do after your brilliant blog has been posted is tweet. Unlike any other social media platform, Twitter drives readers to blogs and if you have a strong following it should do the same thing for you. To make things even easier, make sure your blog has a Twitter badge so you can tweet right after you read it (and so your readers and employees can do the same thing, too). And don’t just tweet your hot-off-the-press posts. Use Twitter to get traffic for underrated blog gems of the past, as well. There’s even a bunch of nifty tools to help you tweet posts automatically after you’ve posted them.

The next speedy thing you can do is add your blog to a directory. This is so simple and takes under 10 minutes. Each directory, from BlogNation to Blog-Bunch, has its own set of procedures and logins, but the few minutes it takes to untangle them are worth it. Blog directories get major traffic worldwide, so why shouldn’t your blog get listed, too? The best part? Most blog directories are free! This is an excellent list of blog directories, by the way.

Our third easy-speedy blog marketing tip is start using a social bookmarking tool like StumbleUpon or Delicious. Yes, these tools are a great way to customize the way you browse the web, but they are also incredible places for people to find your blog. While bookmarking other blogs you love, don’t forget to bookmark your own. By doing so, you are literally putting your business’ blog on the radar for millions of readers. Giving your posts a thumbs up or a like takes seconds and could grow your audience in unexpected ways.

Readers, now you tell us. What are your secret ninja tips for getting the word out about your blog? Share your wealth of information below!

Here Comes the Blog: Bridal Blogging is Big Business

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We’ve seen every type of industry — from travel and pet care to fashion and cleaning products — try their hand at blogging for business and succeed. Blog creation and blog marketing are online marketing techniques that any type of business can use to find an audience. But no industry has mastered blogging quite like the wedding industry.

The $90 million wedding industry has taken to blogging like a determined bridesmaid reaching for a tossed bouquet. Simply put, if you’re a caterer, florist, wedding dress designer or event planner, you better have a blog if you want a chance to keep up with your competition.

Wedding blogging is such a big deal that it has become a lucrative industry within an industry. Wedding blog Style Me Pretty, which virtually created the bridal blogging boom back in 2007, brings in a whopping 18 million monthly page views. About the growing wedding blog business, Style Me Pretty founder Abby Larson told XConomy in an email interview yesterday, “We actually saw a couple of blogs pop up from brides who had entered various contests on our site and now their blogs are very much a part of the industry landscape. Now, as you know, the industry is saturated with various online publications and competition is definitely a part of the discussion. It’s actually quite incredible that there are so many resources out there for a bride. She has so much creativity and innovation at her fingertips, and that is always a good thing.” Of course, all of those aforementioned florists, caterers and designers are now advertising on blogs, too. Social media sites like Pinterest and Facebook are jam-packed with bridal industry marketers hoping to get a bite of that billion dollar pie. And there’s no end in sight to the growth.

It’s truly amazing that one day in a person’s life can spawn so many blogs and businesses. Even non-wedding industries should feel inspired to walk down the aisle towards their own blogging empire.