5 Things for June 28: Skittles Gets Interactive, Zimmer Gets Crazy and America Gets Married

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If it’s Friday, it must mean that it’s time for our weekly collection of online marketing news, social media wonders, branding blunders and awesome online video creation!

1.) Brands Salute Equality: Given the Supreme Court’s historic decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, it was only a matter of time until brands showed their support — in fact, most of them did so in a matter of hours. Google, Facebook and Apple each released social media and video campaigns in support of the ruling. 

2.) Chuck, Meet Hack: To celebrate the release of its new Google+ page, Converse invited ad agencies from around the globe to come up with viral video campaigns for a “creative hack” contest. The results are incredibly creative, fun to watch and inspiring. 

3.) I Guarantee it: In lieu of the Paula Deen debacle, you might have missed another big branding meltdown happening over at Men’s Warehouse. Not only was commercial spokesperson and executive chairman George Zimmer fired, he resigned from the board and then rattled off a series of juicy and angry letters. Zimmer’s zingers are already being heavily quoted on Twitter and, although fired, we don’t think we’ve seen the last of him yet.

4.) What the !@#$: Since Kmart’s “Ship My Pants” ads, 12-year-old boy humor has taken over online videos. And we admit, we like it. Like this one from cleaning product CLR which uses cleverly-placed bleeps where obscenities should be. 

5.) Skittle Smash: Rounding out our list is an excellent time killing video from Skittles. The spot features Tommy, a kid who smashes his grandmother’s unicorn figurine to find it filled with Skittles. But don’t worry. We get to smash, too. By clicking on other figurines in the video, viewers help Tommy smash more stuff — and crave more Skittles.

New Adventures for Old Blogs

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Blog writing and blog marketing every day of the year isn’t a walk in the park. Creatively blogging for business takes a lot of stamina, ingenuity and, mainly, a lot of posts. So it isn’t surprising that after blogging for a long period of time, many of our clients run out of steam. Thankfully, we’ve come up with a few easy tips to help your old blog feel like new again.

The Main Event: If you have the type of company that attends trade shows, conferences and big industry events, then you should be covering it for your blog. Not only does this solve the daily “what should I write about?” problem but it, if properly tagged, invites potentially thousands of new readers. Labelling your posts with the event titles will help folks find your posts  on search engines and maybe introduce you to fresh followers. Videos, photos and good, old-fashion blog posts from these events elevates your blog from standard corporate blah-blah-blah to a source covering big events your readers care about. 

Design Time: Maybe it’s not your content. Maybe you just have an ugly blog. It’s okay. A lot of brands do. Summer is a fabulous opportunity to redo the look of your blog. We’ve recommended this several times in these pages, with good reason: Almost 90 percent of the time after a blog facelift, there is a bump in readership. We like new and shiny things, so of course we respond to new blog design. There are literally thousands of blog posts, websites and services devoted to blog layouts, making the makeover easier than ever. 

Change Your Focus: Other times, it is the subject matter that is stagnant and uninteresting. Luckily, there’s no law stating that your company blog has to cover the same topics forever. Properly and objectively assess your current blog post topics. What’s working? What isn’t? What could you add? Do you need more images or more videos? Honestly answer these questions and we’ll bet you’ll come up with fresh and concise blogging ideas your followers will come back for. 

Make New Friends: Social media is terrific for marketing our blogs, but in many cases, it isn’t enough. New readers with their compelling comments will instantly add new zest to an old blog. To court new readers, read and comment on more blogs. It really is that easy. There are dozens if not hundreds of bloggers who blog about things you and your readers are interested in. They probably just don’t know you’re out there, so by commenting on a blog with similar topics to yours, you are saying, “Hey! I’m here. Let me join the party!” Reading other blogs is also an invaluable way to learn even more blogging ideas and tips by seeing what works for other bloggers.

 

In Blogging and Social Media, Editing is Your Friend

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The writer of this blog worked as an underpaid assistant and mildly abused copywriter back in the day where we faxed stuff to clients all day long. Other than how to nap in the copy room without getting caught, one of the valuable lessons we learned was the importance of double-checking and editing our work. Our mentally unstable boss might have pushed us over the edge with this task, but we certainly learned how to edit for content and how to clearly present the intended message. As a social media expert, it’s a lesson I’m grateful for 17 years later and one I use everyday in blog marketing and social media content creation. 

Recently, I had a client in a panic. After shooting off a post on the company Facebook page which can only be described as bonkers and then getting the expected angry responses from followers, he looked like a kid who nearly burnt down his kitchen after playing with matches. The first thing we did was delete the post. The next thing we did was have the editing talk. The editing talk is one we all get — one that is incredibly vital in social media. Especially with branded blogs and social media accounts, we have to pause and ask ourselves, “Is this the kind of post that even makes sense for our company to comment on?” If we find that maybe our impulse was of the reactionary, angry variety, maybe we should hit delete button before we incite a riot and damage our company’s reputation.

All of this digital marketing comes back to reputation, essentially. Look at the difference between a brand like Oreo and a brand like Chick-fil-A, for example. One kept it fun, light and entertaining while the other got political and in hot water. Oreo has emerged as a leader in social media while that other place is still trying to repair the damage nearly two years later.

The next question in the talk is this: Is it social or personal? Social should be the kind of stuff you talk about at a cocktail party while personal should be reserved for you inner circle and done only in person. Fans will turn on brands in an instant when they start commenting on stuff that is inappropriate for their image. You want to yell about Obama or your mother-in-law? Super. Just don’t do it on the company blog or Twitter page.

The last and most important part of this talk is reread, reread, reread. Take a cue from my old boss and take five minutes to read your post. And then read it a few more times. Not just for brand-friendly content but for grammar, language, cohesion and spelling. Well-edited blogs and social media posts are the kind of things your brand can be proud of and set you apart from the crazy people.

 

3 Sizzling Simple Twitter Campaigns for Summer

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Whether you’re in retail, real estate, movies or makeup, summer is a decidedly slower time for Twitter-for-business campaigns. When the biggest thing to tweet about is Kim and Kanye’s baby’s name, we’re officially in a slump. Add to it that this is a summer without big television events like the Olympics and it feels like a scramble to find stuff to tweet about. But don’t worry. Grab yourself a lemonade and feel free to borrow some of our summer Twitter campaign ideas. 

Summer, with all of its vacations and events, is a prime time to take pictures. So why not turn our collective obsession for snapping shots into a photo contest for your Twitter followers? Come up with a theme and hashtag (like #BestBeachPhotos) and some sort of prize for the best photos and watch the shutterbugs fly in. Repost your favorites for even more traction.

But let’s say your Twitter followers are more of the stay in town and in front of the tube types. That’s OK. There’s still stuff to tweet about. From So You Think You Can Dance and major league baseball to The Bachelorette and the U.S. Open, there is no shortage of things to watch and talk about on Twitter. As long as chatting about pop culture and sports makes sense for your brand, we say go for it!

For non-profits, getting folks to show up to fundraisers in the summer can be a challenge, but using Twitter to raise awareness for your worthy cause is incredibly easy, even when the temperatures have pushed folks to the beach. Tweet videos of your organization, create hashtags that define your mission statement (like #EndChildHunger) and use the season to put your nonprofit on the minds of generous folks everywhere. 

Twitter for business doesn’t take a holiday, so why not use summer’s relaxed vibe to reach out to folks who suddenly find themselves with more free time? Quality, not quantity, is what counts.

Okay readers, now you play the role of advisor. What Twitter campaigns this summer are rocking your world? Tell us in the comments section below!

 

 

Blog Like the Big Brands: The Mayo Clinic

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Are you trying to explain your company and what it is you do exactly but can’t quite figure out how to do that with blog writing? Then why not have your employees and clients do it for you! Company blogs that turn employees, followers, fans and customers into bloggers are truly onto something. By letting the folks who already say and write nice things about us become blog post creators, we’ve found a solution for fresh content while letting the people who know our brand to all the talking. The Mayo Clinic, for example, hands the blogging reigns over to its employees and patients with readable and interesting results. 

The Mayo Clinic was founded in 1863 and was the first integrated not-for-profit medical group practice in the world. It prides itself on accessibility, and the blogs certainly reflect this mission statement. Amid its many blogs, some of which are scientific or medical in nature, is Sharing Mayo Clinic. This blog profiles the people, the patients and the latest news from the Mayo Clinic. Since many who wind up at the clinic aren’t feeling so great, the blog has a hopeful, knowledgeable and friendly tone. Since the Mayo Clinic’s mission is to help people, the posts illustrate how it does precisely that. One inspiring post profiles a young girl who, with the help of the clinic, overcame deadly virus while another post gives the firsthand account of a Mayo Clinic administrator who visited Mexico on a medical mission for the Red Cross. Other posts give details of new treatments for a variety of ailments, provide Q&As with doctors and profile Mayo clinic employees who recently won awards. Likewise, the blog’s layout and design are uncomplicated and simple. No need to make reading a blog difficult since many patients are probably going through enough problems. 

This isn’t to say you must have legions of employees or thousands of social fans to pull off the Mayo Clinic’s style of blogging. Occasional guest blogs can fill the void nicely. Guest blogging from employees or clients is a wonderful way to fill up the pages of our blogs while creating personalized and dynamic content.

 

5 Things for June 21: Facebook Drama, Pinterest Hilarity and Scary Restroom Pranks

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Our new and improved 5 Things list has all of the news stories from the world of content marketing that you might have missed (without any of the filler). Fabulous!

1.) Video Wars: Just as we were trying to tolerate the annoying videos on Vine, Instagram comes along and announces it, too, will allow users to post nonsensical short videos. The difference? Instagram’s videos will run at 15 seconds as opposed to Vine’s 6 seconds. Vine, a spinoff from the makers of Twitter, looked to have the corner on the short video market until this week. Aside from being competition for Vine, the Instagram video platform could also become home for the long-rumored home of Facebook’s video advertising.

2.) Men’s Room Nightmare: Here’s a surprising anti-drunk driving viral video campaign from the UK you won’t soon forget. Without giving the shock away, we’ll just say we’re sure the suspects won’t ever go to the restroom alone again.

3.) Meet Quinoa: My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter is the funniest Pinterest board ever — and one filled with tons of great content marketing lessons. Luckily, Ann Handley chatted with Tiffany, the copywriter behind the hilarious phenomenon, for some eye-opening revelations on becoming a Pinterest marketing rock star.

4.) Did I Do That?: If you can find a weirder Tweet beef than the one between Jaleel White (famous for playing Urkel on vintage sitcom Family Matters) vs. USA Today sports writer Mike Garafolo, then congratulations. Personally, though, this one takes my cake for randomness in Twitter battles. The insults flew fast and furious and in the end, Urkel might have been the winner. Nevertheless, none of the brands came out too classy as a result of the tussle.

5.) Driving Change: Finally, we close out our list with an inspiring video from MindDrive, an afterschool program that teaches at-risk kids about math and science by repairing cars. Now, a one-of-a-kind social media campaign will help drive the kids from Kansas City to Washington D.C. by using the power of Tweets and Facebook posts to get there. It’s an incredible example of how social media can be used for good.

 

 

What Would Cher Do? A Diva’s Lessons in Twitter

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Celebrities were some of the first brands to really use Twitter marketing. From cleaning up public messes to promoting new movies, stars (and their publicists) have found thousands of ways to put Twitter to work. Twitter’s instant communication platform truly makes delivering news stories incredibly easy, while Twitter’s limited character format helps eliminate rambling. But in the end, for celebrities and small businesses alike, Twitter is all about selling your brand’s personality. For a complicated tutorial on how to do just that, may we present Cher?

The 67-year-old actress and singer has been an entertainment icon since the 1960s, but her use of Twitter is definitely straight out of 2013. Cher routinely makes headlines for the outspoken, bizarre and often hilarious stuff that pops up in her Twitterfeed. We looked at the diva’s Twitter page and came up with some Twitter tips any company can use.

I Got You Babe: Cher is incredibly loyal to her Twitter followers. She answers questions, gives them exclusive content and talks to them in the frank manner they’ve come to expect from her. For a star of her caliber, this is impressive. It shows Cher gets how Twitter works and is truly a tip we can all try. Engage with your followers on a conversational level for superstar results.

Snap Out of It: This being said, Cher is often guilty of engaging too much. The star gets into heated and sometimes incoherent arguments with Twitter followers and the results are sometimes a mess. Cher has clearly learned a lot over the years, but we don’t think editing is one of them. Instead, a good rule of thumb is pause, reread, edit and then send before getting all crazy on Twitter. Remember, being argumentative hurts your brand, not your followers

Don’t Turn Back Time: If anybody can teach us a thing or two about resiliency, it is indeed Cher. Cher has her Twitter fallouts and makes blunders, but she keeps going. Cher also isn’t afraid to try new things, and your brand shouldn’t be, either. When it comes to social media marketing and Twitter management, it’s important to try lots of things, make a few mistakes and then keep going.

 

Hashtags, Facebook-style

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As we discussed last week, hashtags now are officially part of Facebook and Facebook marketing. Even though Facebook users had been hashtagging for months (if not years), the social network recently began formally recognizing hashtags. So why did Facebook suddenly warm up to hashtags, and how can marketers best utilize them?

It’s not hard to see the motivator behind recognizing and promoting hashtags: #money. Facebook has been floundering when it comes to drumming up new ad revenue, so seeing how successful branded hashtags have been for Twitter, it would be stupid not to hop on board.

“If you’re a viewer watching an NFL game on the couch and search the hashtag #MondayNightFootball, for instance, that’s prime real estate for companies such as Frito-Lay or Budweiser to slot a promoted tweet right in there,” says Mike Issac of All Things D. “And that’s a lot of potential ad dollars being lost by Facebook over to Twitter. Facebook even said that on any given night during prime-time television hours, there are between 88 million and 100 million people active on Facebook. Give those folks a way to use hashtags and follow content more easily on the social network, and you’re giving Facebook’s ad guys an easier way to sell against said hashtags.”

The hashtags aren’t yet available to everyone, everywhere (and not at all on smartphones). But it isn’t too early for marketers to start using hashtags as a way to promote events, discuss popular news stories and tag products and services. Like on Twitter, just make sure you’re using the same hashtag over and over again when it comes to original services and products. This is especially key when using hashtags to promote events, parties and openings. Hashtags like #3rdStreetArtGallery are easy ways for attendees to find and talk about your event, so keep the hashtags consistent throughout a campaign. Use hashtags on Facebook the same way you do on Twitter — to engage conversation. Hashtags, above all, are good icebreakers and help stimulate discussion. Lastly, not every post needs to be hashtagged. Use these valuable tools sparingly. A great rule of thumb is only hashtag posts that deal with hot topics, upcoming events and conversation starters. 

Readers, now it’s your turn. What do you think about Facebook hashtags? #Fabulous or #Fail? Tell us about it in the comments section below!