DKNY’s Unfashionable Branding Backlash

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Any online marketing guru will surely tell you that hell hath no fury like a social media audience scorned. Once a damaging story about a brand behaving badly has made its way through thousands of furious Facebook forwards, ticked off tweets and blasting blog posts, a company’s image can be positively battered. Businesses busted for shady goings-on will inevitably be called out in the blogosphere, and the clean up won’t be pretty. Just ask the folks over at DKNY.

DKNY, the casual clothing branch of ’90s mega brand Donna Karan, found itself in Internet hot water this week when an unflattering picture of the blog was painted in a series of news stories. According to the Daily Beast, Brandon Stanton, the creator and founder of the popular street photography blog Humans of New York, was woken up on Monday by an unwanted text message. A friend of Stanton’s in Bangkok ecstatically texted the artist to tell him that they had seen Stanton’s photos in DKNY store windows there. Great news — except for the fact Stanton never gave DKNY permission to use the photos. Within hours, the photographer had taken to Facebook to explain how something like this happened and to let folks know he wasn’t happy.

Stanton says he was approached by DKNY three months ago, when brand officials asked to use 300 images from his blog in its windows around the world (including, possibly, some in New York). It offered him $15,000, or $5o per photo.

“A friend in the industry told me that $50 per photo was not nearly enough to receive from a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

He refused DKNY’s offer and assumed the deal was long dead. Stanton went on to encourage his followers to contact DKNY and demand that the company make an $100,000 donation to his local Brooklyn YMCA. By midday on Monday, after the story had spread through social media like wildfire, DKNY admitted they had used the photos without permission and without paying for them. And where else to admit wrongdoing than on Facebook, naturally. DKNY posted, “For the Spring 2013 windows program, we licensed and paid for photos from established photography service providers,” the statement reads. “However, it appears that inadvertently the store in Bangkok used an internal mock-up containing some of Mr. Stanton’s images that was intended to merely show the direction of the spring visual program. We apologize for this error and are working to ensure that only the approved artwork is used.” The brand apologized and said they would make a $25,000 donation to Stanton’s neighborhood YMCA.

The moral of this story? Trying to be shady in the social media age is nearly impossible. Or, as Stanton puts it, “Ten years ago, this could have been done, and no one would have figured out about it. Social media makes work easier to steal — but it also makes the people who take it more accountable.”

Pardon Me: Grey Poupon Scores a Viral Smash

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Pardon_me_grey_poupon_scores_a_viral_smashYou know your traditional and online video creation is a success when folks are still buzzing about it on Twitter and Facebook days later. Social media experts clamour for this kind of success and hope that every campaign can be a success on YouTube as well as on the major social media channels. But in reality, it takes a special, rare ad campaign to dominate all of the platforms of content marketing. And who would have guessed that just such a major success story of last Sunday’s Oscars would belong to mustard maker Grey Poupon?

Ah, yes, Grey Poupon. We all know the legendary ’80s commercials very well. “Pardon me,” says the stuffy aristocrat in the Rolls Royce to another snooty snob in another luxury car. “Do you have any Grey Poupon?” Yet the latest viral and social media hit from the company suggests that we only know half of the story. A hilarious and pitch-perfect commercial entitled “Grey Poupon: The Lost Footage” also known simply as “Pardon Me,” debuted this Sunday during the Academy Awards. The spot went on to show the hilarious car chase and showdown that happened after that infamous mustard exchange. Clever, unexpected and really funny, Grey Poupon’s ad was a hit during the awards ceremony and Twitter users buzzed about it for the rest of the evening. Wisely, Grey Poupon fully loaded a new website where folks could see the whole Dijon saga unfold. In the following days, the videos have killed on YouTube, garnering a 778,000 (and growing) views as well as major media buzz.

It helps that the commercial aired during one of the most watched events on the planet. But Grey Poupon didn’t just rest on its award show laurels to get its spot seen. By placing it prominently on all its social media channels, YouTube and its own website, Grey Poupon helped ensure that even people who missed the Oscars would be talking about it for days to come.

Hey, readers, seen any good viral commercials lately? Tell us about them in the comments section below!

5 Facebook Fouls to Avoid

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It could be argued that if you wanted an accurate glance into all of the ways we human beings communicate poorly, just take a look at Facebook. From over-sharing of personal and private situations to blasting unsolicited opinions, what we put in our collective Facebook newsfeeds isn’t exactly life-affirming. Yet when it comes to social media marketing, you’d expect the pros to behave better on Facebook.

You, of course, would be wrong. Belvedere Vodka, McDonald’s, DKNY, Amazon and many other big companies have committed major Facebook faux pas over the last year. So if you’re dipping your toes into Facebook marketing for the first time or if you just need a refresher, here’s our list of five Facebook fouls to avoid.

1.) Don’t Be a Tragedy Vulture: Capitalizing on the latest school shooting or natural disaster simply in order to get more likes or engage more users in comments is really jacked up. Yes, you and your company are compassionate, and yes, “your hearts go out to the victims,” but company donations go a lot further toward helping out in tough times than self-serving words on social media ever do. Also, contributing to the chatter around news stories — especially those that have victims — is the kind of thing brands should stay out of. Instead…

2.) Get a Sense of Humor: Times are tough and Facebook can be depressing, so why not make followers smile or laugh for a few moments? Humor is still tops in what Facebook users pinpoint as their favorite posts. Sure, your company is on Facebook to help sell your brand, but the random funny video and silly observational post or original meme/image can only make Facebook more fun for your friends. Just make sure you…

3.) Keep on Topic: Nothing makes us crazier than brands that talk about things or post links to stories that have zero to do with their industry. Each post should talk about your brand in either a creative, covert or obvious way. If you want to post links to wacky articles, do that on your own personal page. Use Facebook pages for marketing, period. That said…

4.) Quit Repeating Yourself: We get it. You’ve got stuff or services to sell and Facebook is a good way to help with that. But each post should not be sales-oriented. Give followers a break and mix up the kind of things you post. They’ve already ‘Liked’ your page, so a hard sell is totally unnecessary. Above all…

5.) Stay Consistent: Facebook marketing is not a quick fix, and sometimes, quite honestly, the results take a long, long time. But you should ignore the impulse to give up and ditch it altogether. Getting on solid social media marketing schedule (30 minutes a day works nicely) helps build a routine that, over time, will produce more positive results.

Blog Like the Big Brands: ASPCA

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Blog creation and blog marketing can be a real lifesaver for nonprofit organizations. Thanks largely in part to its low start-up cost and easy upkeep, blogging is online marketing any do-gooder organization can do. Plus blogging is a terrific way to create fresh content for nonprofits, thus making it a heck of a lot easier to find them online. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or the ASPCA, is one nonprofit organization that has turned to blogging to help our furry friends while helping itself as a brand.

Founded in 1866, the ASPCA continues to fight the good fight against animal abuse, and blogging is yet another way it helps spread the word. Committed to working for animals, the ASPCA keeps its blog topics devoted to that message. From posts describing upcoming fundraising events and how-to articles about pet care to the latest headlines in animal news and updates on new legislation affecting pets, the ASPCA’s blog is a comprehensive news center covering every topic animal lovers want to know about. The format is clean, not fancy — yet affective. For a nonprofit like the ASPCA, there’s no need for super fancy graphics or funny videos. Animal advocates take their work very seriously, so the blog reflects precisely that level of seriousness — all without being too stodgy or judgmental. In fact, the tone of the blog entries is inspirational and hopeful… no doubt an intentional move. By inspiring readers with its blog posts, the ASPCA is more likely to get people involved with its mission. The ASPCA has clearly figured out how it wants to engage in a conversation with its supporters and followers by creating an uplifting tone. This a fabulous takeaway for every nonprofit looking to get in the blog creation game.

By truly cultivating a tone and opinion in your blog posts, you, like the ASPCA, can invite people to learn more about and support your organization. Work with a content marketing specialist to really pick out a tone that inspires readers to then be inspired by your nonprofit.

Five Things You Might Have Missed!

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Drained for online marketing ideas? Totally tapped out when it comes to new blog creation strategies? And just downright pooped trying to tweet? Well, buck up, little camper. Our weekly list of Five Things You Might Have Missed has a quintet of stories sure to inspire, entertain and delight!

1.) Tumblr To Go: Hesitating using Tumblr as your blog marketing platform because it seems so locked to the desktop and not smartphone-friendly? Think again, says Tumblr’s own CEO David Karp in an interview with Mashable last week. Karp claims that Tumblr’s total mobile domination is “going to be either later this year or early next year ’cause it’s accelerating. We’re seeing 3 times the growth on mobile vs. desktop.”

2.) Waiting Room Wonders: Here’s a neat-o idea that uses tech to transform the somewhat tedious and tiresome hospital waiting room into a fun and distracting experience for kids who would certainly want to be elsewhere. Artist Chris O’Shea turned Royal London Hospital into an interactive real-life children’s book and made us believers in rebranding something most folks think of as boring.

3.) Twitter Ads Simplified: Good news for Twitter marketers looking to branch out into Twitter-based advertising. On its official blog, the company announced, “We’ve been testing the Twitter Ads API since January with our partners, and today we’re officially launching it. Marketers now have more tools in their arsenal to help them deliver the right message, to the right audience, on the desktop and on mobile devices — all at scale.”#TwitterMarketingForAll

4.) Stressed to the Max: Nivea pulled a fast one on some very stressed out German airport visitors in this hilarious and kinda cruel commercial. Striking viral video gold, the spot tricks travelers into thinking they are wanted by authorities by using newspapers with their pictures on them, news footage and airport announcements. It’s funny, primarily because it isn’t happening to you.

5.) Touch My Chromebook: We round out today’s list with the latest product announcement from Google that proves the company is serious about taking the wind out of Microsoft’s sales. The Chromebook Pixel is a touch-based laptop which could elevate Google to the big leagues. Stay tuned to see how this branding battle turns out.

Attack of the Twitter Hackers!

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Account hacking is an unfortunate risk of Twitter management. Whether you’re an individual or a big brand, the threat of a hacker taking over your social media accounts is a very real one. This week, two major brands had their accounts turned inside out on Twitter. Many are wondering whether Twitter is to blame when branded pages get hacked and what can companies do to avoid a similar Twitter-based travesty.

Fast food and social media giant Burger King disabled its Twitter page on Monday when its page was taken over by hackers. The page was slapped with McDonald’s imagery and logos. “We just got sold to McDonald’s! Look for McDonald’s in a hood near you @DFNCTSC,” the hacker tweeted. In addition, for nearly two hours, the newsfeed was filled with photos and videos which skewered Burger King. “We caught one of our employees in the bathroom doing this….” read one of the tweets which accompanied a photo of a man shooting up presumably intravenous drugs.

BK quickly put its account on lockdown and apologized to followers. Yet the next day, Jeep found itself in the same predicament. Hackers tweeted that Jeep had been sold to Cadillac and the page was emblazoned with Caddy’s logo. Fortunately, both companies have the bucks and willpower to wipe these kind of ugly hacking snafus from their respective newsfeeds and neither seems to have taken a hit because of the incidents.

Many are considering the hacking attacks a wake-up call for brands of all sizes. While Twitter has been blamed for lax security policies, when it comes to branded social media accounts, it’s up to the company to protect itself. Regularly changing passwords, choosing more difficult passwords and knowing exactly who in your business has access to your Twitter and Facebook pages are the easiest ways to keep hackers out. Twitter marketing is still an incredibly powerful and fun to use tool, but it’s up to business owners to protect their branded messages and accounts.

Back to the Blogging Basics

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Even the best blogging-for-business efforts can get sidetracked. We worry about fresh content. We take a break and never get back. We focus on video and leave blogging behind. Mainly, after blogging for a while, we tinker with our blogs so much that we forget why we started to blog in the first place. Yet if we really look at our blogs, we can see the simple things we can do to keep them fresh, well-written and great to read.

If your blog has really gotten off track, maybe it’s time to rewrite a new blogging mission statement (or write one if you never did one in the beginning). This isn’t the kind of thing that will be graded or that you have to publish. Mainly, it’s for you. Your mission statement will remind you what your blog’s values are, what stories you want to tell, the ultimate purpose for your business having a blog and the goals you want to achieve with blogging. After your mission statement, refresh your blogging schedule. If you’ve only been posting once in a blue moon or only “when you have the time,” your blog is not working as the sporadic nature repels readers. So get back on track with a 30-minute-a-day schedule. Plan your topics for the week or month and schedule blog posts out to alleviate the stress of coming up with subject matter and remembering to post. Like is writing in the morning best, or do you prefer late, late at night? Pick whatever time you prefer and stick with it. A specific blogging time will put you in the habit of writing when you feel the most relaxed and creative. Sharpening up your editing skills and stopping sloppy habits is another terrific quick fix for a blog in disarray. Go back to slowing down and using your darn spellcheck. Listen, mistakes happen, but they can be fixed before your readers see them by using the tools already on your blog platform. Rereading a post only takes minutes and can really help you fine tune your blog into the kind of writing you actually want to read.

Finally, getting back to basics means returning to what you love about your business and then sharing that with your readers. So, readers, now it is your turn to share. What blogging basics do you return to time and time again?

Is Tablet Blogging Right For You?

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We know now that tablets have changed the way we communicate, play games, handle our business and watch videos. But have these popular little buggers made any impact on the way we conduct our blog writing and blog marketing? We’re wondering a lot about the impact tablets have had on the world of blogging these days. Sure, dozens of online magazines have talked endlessly of late about picking the right tablet for blogging, test-driving tablets with daily blog creation and reviews for the latest in tablet-friendly blogging apps. And while we know that blogging on a tablet can done, we’re still left with two questions: What kind of blogs are best suited for tablets and, more importantly, is tablet blogging good for every-blogger?

As both an iPad Mini owner and a daily blogger for several brands, I can tell you that tablets can come in very handy. Tablets are great for research and make reading other blogs more portable than lugging around the laptop. Google Reader, Kindle, Apple Books and WordPress all have terrific apps which turn blog writing research into an easier and more fun affair. When it comes to blog creation, though, it all depends on the actual blog. I create Tumblr-based blogs for different clients and those are a blast on the iPad. Since Tumblr is perfect for image-heavy blogging, tablets work incredibly well. Fashion blogs, design blogs, photo-rich real estate blogs, food-related blogging — these are fun and easy to create on a tablet. But for this writer, who admittedly was born with breakfast sausage-type fingers, writing on a touchscreen sort of sucks. It’s awkward and a little frustrating — but maybe I just lack the prowess and smaller fingers to make it more enjoyable. I’ve done it and for short posts it’s fine but I’d recommend getting a keyboard to do heavier lifting when it comes to actual writing. And if the tiny screens annoy you, blogging on a tablet isn’t going to be your thing. I personally don’t mind it and find the compact and lightweight nature of tablets to be a definite bonus.

When it comes down to it, choosing a tablet to blog with or deciding whether to blog on a tablet at all is a matter of preference. Matters of hardware and our subsequent attraction to them are subjective indeed. Just pick the tool you are most comfortable working with and that will help you create a blog your readers and consumer will enjoy visiting — regardless of how big your fingers are.