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5 Things for October 4: Kleenex's Signs, Twitter's IPO & Fandango's Screams

Posted by Benjamin Porter

If you only read five awe-inspiring, toe-tapping, marker-moving stories this week, make it our weekly list of five things you might have missed!

1.) Sweet Screams: Fandango wants fans to scream their heads off on social media. According to ClickZ, “From October 1 to 18, Scream-Off fans can submit videos of their best ‘blood-curdling, skin-crawling screams’ on Instagram or Twitter, with the hashtag #FandangoScreamContest and @Fandango.” Fandango will pick a Scream of the Day and feature it on the site before moving it to the next round of competition. The best screamer gets a stay at the legendary Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, where The Shining was filmed.

2.) IPOh!: Late Thursday afternoon, Twitter filed its paperwork with U.S. securities regulators in hopes of being a social media IPO that really delivers. Twitter is hoping that the ever-exploding mobile market will give it a leg up on Facebook. Social media marketers can expect Twitter’s decision to go public to mean a larger emphasis on advertising and mobile-friendly campaigns. But Twitter (or TWTR, as it will be known on the stock ticker) has a long way to go until it can bring in the ad bucks like Google or Facebook, so it’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.

3.) Drawn Together: Beer maker Steinlager wants its consumers to “be the artist, not the canvas” in a new spot which shows a mischievous young man who draws on his friends who have had too much to drink. The smart and funny commercial is accompanied by a “be the artist” app which gives users a chance to make and share their own ink masterpieces. 

4.) Adstagram: We knew it would come to this… Instagram announced this week that it would finally start delivering on the promise of introducing advertisements into U.S. feeds. Only a select group of brands that are already Instagram users will get to show ads first. The ads will slowly start appearing over the next few months. In contrast, complaints about the ads have already appeared on pretty much every other social network. 

5.) Bless You: Wrapping up our list is a little slice of online video creation that perfectly mixes “eww” with “aww.” The fine folks at Kleenex remind us not to get caught without a tissue by using people with signs telling their true sneeze confessions. It’s a simple, short and very memorable spot for a brand on the verge of a hipper, lighter digital makeover.

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How to Instagram Like the Big Brands

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

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Social media experts seemed a bit confused by Instagram when it first launched back in 2010. Would people actually care about photo sharing? Moreover, could this kind of platform really be social? And could brands find ways to make Instagram work for them? Three years later, the answer to those questions is a resounding “Yes!” Instagram has fast become the darling of social media marketing, and a new study shows just how Fortune 500 use Instagram. Turns out, the Instagram habits of the big boys are things every company can try.

According to the study conducted by TrackMaven, the best time to post on Instagram is, well, anytime. Marketing types often think social media ends with the workday, but TrackMaven found that user activity stayed virtually the same on Instagram on weekends as it was on the weekdays. As far as filters go, Fortune 500s used #nofilter the most on their Instagram photos, but the “Mayfair” filter performed the best. Also, Fortune 500 companies seem to be loving Instagram’s version of Vine  new video feature. Nike, Starbucks, Foot Locker, Apple and Ralph Lauren are the top five most active Fortune 500 brands on Instagram. Yet it should be noted that while 123 of the Fortune 500 companies have Instagram accounts, only 22 percent have active accounts.

For small businesses who want to get better at Instagram marketing, these are fascinating things to hear and chock full of lessons. For starters, post on Instagram all day, every day. Since photo sharing often happens from events (which happen whenever), normal business hours should be happily ignored. In fact, Instagram photos posted on the weekends have a better chance of getting “likes” with more folks off work and on their phones. Also, go crazy with the hashtags. As Mashable’s Jessica Lee puts it, “It’s often considered a social media faux pas to use more than two hashtags in a tweet; however, on Instagram, that rule can be thrown out the window. The data prove otherwise for bigger brands, showing that four to 11 hashtags can increase up to on average 77 interactions per Instagram post.” Lee also reminds us not to clog the bottom of the post with hashtags; rather, we’d do well to pepper them seamlessly throughout the post instead.

Finally, in order to have big-time rocking Instagram success, you actually have to use the darn thing! Pictures from trade shows, mouth-watering snapshots of the day’s specials and exclusive backstage photos make for great Instagram posts. Remember, the top five only became the top five because they were inspired by Instagram’s endless ways to connect by sharing amazing, funny and interesting original images. 

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Hop on the Hashtag Bandwagon

Posted by Benjamin Porter

If you’re brand new to Twitter marketing, you’ve picked a perfect time to join the social network. Much of what Twitter users discuss is what’s currently happening in the world and there is a lot to talk about right now. From ObamaCare and the government shutdown to new episodes of buzzed-about television shows and from football to baseball, Twitter is on fire with hashtags relating to the things we are all talking about. Used correctly, hashtags can help brands join the conversation while potentially introducing themselves to a new legion of followers.

At the writing of this post, the following hashtags were trending on Twitter: #TheGovernmentShutDownBecause, #Netflix, #Halloween, #Buctober and #America. If you haven’t used hashtags, that list might make zero sense to you. And that’s okay. Hashtags are simply ways to tag things others on Twitter are talking about — a way of joining and inviting others to join similar conversations. #TheGovernmentShutDownBecause, for example, invites Twitter users to fill in the sentence with their own one-liners, funny memes or opinions. (This one, which referenced the Nickelodeon show Drake and Josh, was the top of the pack, by the way.) But you don’t have to be born in the 2000s to take part in the conversation. Hashtag #Buctober is a shout out to the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team. Local brands like Pittsburgh eatery Primanti Brothers used #Buctober to encourage fans to come in after the big game. Trending hashtag #Halloween gave brands like ABC Family, American Apparel and Random House a chance to start trick-or-tweeting early with followers.

The key with hashtags is to strike when the iron is hot. Sometimes hashtags go on for days, but most peak in popularity in a matter of hours. Also, only use hashtags that relate to your brand and social media marketing story. If you sell cards, then #Halloween would be an easy one for you. If you sell tires, however, the hashtag of #Netflix might be a harder sell. But maybe you can make it work! For huge companies and mom-and-pop shops alike, hashtags and how we use them rely 100 percent on a brand’s creativity. Hence, the sky is the limit.

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Twitter Gets #Satisfried By BK

Posted by Benjamin Porter

Every once in a while, a Twitter marketing effort — usually a hashtag or promoted tweet — takes social media by storm. If the hashtag is popular enough, traditional media takes notice, and before you know it, we’ve got a bona fide marketing phenomenon on our hands. Burger King fired up one for the record books yesterday when it introduced us to #Satisfried.

Most viral hashtags start with a great name and #Satisfried is no exception. The clever pun was concocted to promote Burger King’s new Satisfries, a lower-calorie, lower-fat french fry. According to USA Today, Satisfries have “30 percent less fat and 20 percent fewer calories than BK’s current fries. (And 40 percent less fat and 30 percent fewer calories than McDonald’s fries.)” They also have a rocking hashtag. Released on Tuesday, #Satisfried was tending almost immediately. One Twitter user chirped, “Whoever came up with the term #Satisfried is a genius. A genius, I say.” Others used #Satisfried to talk about the hazards of fried foods while others employed the hashtag to profess their love for Burger King. The hashtag effortlessly transitioned from marketing to conversational piece, which is what every Twitter marketer hopes for.

Yet Burger King wasn’t just content with a great hashtag. In celebration of #Satisfries, the company got chatty with Twitter followers who used the tag, posted tons of photos of the product, answered questions about Satisfries from the Twitterverse and generally played every Twitter card in the book in hopes of getting people excited. The long-term popularity of the product is impossible to predict at this early stage, but we think Burger King’s efforts are paying off. Food bloggers are already praising the product and the media frenzy continues to rage on. 

Readers, what promoted Twitter hashtags have you found to be particularly clever and which ones are less than appetizing? And while we’re at it, will you try Satisfries?

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Online Video Creation & Google+, a Match Made in Heaven

Posted by Benjamin Porter

Social media marketing is a must to promote branded videos. Links to your company’s newest videos on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like are the easiest way to get your amazing online video creation in front of audiences. Posts with original videos make for dynamic and viral social media gold, so there isn’t a reason not to do it. Yet for our money, no social media channel is better for video marketing than Google+.

For starters, Google+ is incredibly YouTube friendly (naturally, given both channels are part of the Google family). This ease means original videos posted to Google+ can be added instantly to a brand’s YouTube channel. For anyone who has ever spent an entire day loading a video to YouTube, this is fantastic news. Also, videos uploaded to YouTube and then posted on Google+ look and sound great given there are no compatibility issues. And with Google+ Hangouts On Air, you can actually create live content which can also be saved to your YouTube channel. Hangouts On Air are used by tons of brands of all sizes for things like interviews, product reviews, conference coverage and live Q&As with followers. In fact, these hangouts can become a live event in themselves, potentially driving folks to your brand’s channels. If you’re good at rolling live and have a game plan for an entertaining segment, Hangouts On Air are a real solution for fresh video content. Finally, Google+ has dozens of ways to promote videos throughout the platform. Communities, for example, are terrific spots to place videos in front of handpicked audiences with interests in what you and your brand do. From bookworms and weekend warriors to travel lovers and fashionistas, there are Communities for everybody.

Finally, posting videos on Google+ has a distinct edge that the other channels won’t ever have: It’s Google! This means every time you create content for Google+, your company has just given its SEO a shot in the arm. Videos — and everything you post on Google+ — winds up in Google searches for your business. 

Readers, have you used Google+ for videos? Tell us your love stories (or tales of woe) in the comments section below.

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5 Things for September 13: Fiona Crucifies 'Big Food' for Chipotle

Posted by Brandsplat

Haunting and genius online video creation? Yup. Oddities from the world of social media marketing? Uh huh. Some legitimate news thrown in just for good measure? You got it. Our weekly list of five things you might have missed has all that and then some.

1. Pure Imagination:  The creative team on Chipotle’s new online short film and game reads like a big-budget movie: Fiona Apple singing an iconic song, Oscar-winning producers and a compelling look at a controversial topic. While cute and charming in animation, make no bones about it: This film takes a tough stance against “Big Food.” Undoubtedly one of the most creative and most-talked-about online videos of the year. 

2. Footlong Couture: Project Subway incorporated the currently happening New York Fashion Week with its “$5 Any Footlong in September” promotion to produce a competition where designers made outfits entirely out of Subway wrappers. The hashtag #ProjectSubway was used by the chain to help engage its 1.6 million followers in this unique fashion smackdown. 

3. Twitter’s New Song: Speaking of Twitter, the social media giant has long tried to launch its own music platform. The results have been underwhelming at best. Yet all hope for #TwitterMusic may not be lost: This week, the company paired with massive music service Spotify to hopefully take music streaming and social search to new heights.

4. Skip the McLine: Mobile ordering to pick up real-life items and in real time is something a few brands have been ballsy enough to attempt. According to Mashable, McDonalds is willing to give it a shot. The company is now testing a mobile payment application in Utah and Texas. “With the app, you can order ahead and pick up your food at drive-thru windows, curbside or in the restaurant,” Mashable reports. 

5. Try to Forget: Finally, we round out this week’s list with a major Twitter bellyflop from AT&T. The communications magnet tried to pay tribute to those lost on 9/11 with a tweeted image of the Twin Towers in searchlights, but consumers weren’t having it. After hundreds of complaints, the company took the image down and apologized a couple of times. The moral of the story? Take the day off from marketing on 9/11, brands… Or deal with the wrath.

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Are You Making This Major Social Media Mistake?

Posted by Dawn Walnoha

179320163resizedWe have long preached about Facebook and Twitter marketing being two-way streets. These social media channels are great for selling our company, getting the word out about products and services while helping with SEO. Yet social media management cannot exist solely on sales-driven posts. These efforts should help tell our brand’s story and build relationships. A new survey for Econsultancy, however, proves that marketers are more interested in using social media for lead generation and list building than for branding.

The study, published on MarketingCharts.com, found that 37 percent of marketing professionals surveyed used social advertising for lead generation. Eighteen percent used it to increase traffic, while another 18 percent used it for direct online sales. Only 27 percent used it for branding.

Steve Olenski of Forbes explains why this is not such great news.

“It means that marketers are putting more emphasis on selling than they are at establishing relationships with consumers via branding,” he writes. “It means that marketers would rather try and sell you something than say tell you a story. It means that marketers are only in ‘it’ to increase their bottom line.”

Olenski describes placing sales-driven marketing placed ahead of relationship building as “catastrophic.” We could not agree more. Over and over, we’ve seen social media marketing “fail” small businesses. Upon a closer inspection, we usually find that these efforts failed because they were filled with only sales-driven messages. No effort to reach out, zero engagement and a brand’s unwillingness to connect with followers is what fails, not the platform itself. The mistake is thinking these efforts are short-term, quick fixes for lead generation. Consumers and especially social media users can see right through brands who do that and are quick to unfollow those who exist only on a “please buy our stuff!” diet. Social media has invented a class of savvy shoppers who expect a little conversation and intelligent back-and-forth before they plunk down their credit cards. For the most part, this is a good thing — and, good or bad, it’s a reality. Embracing the culture of social media and reaping its benefits is a more long-term survival method.

“What these same marketers fail to realize is that by building their brand via storytelling, sharing of relevant content and truly engaging with consumers will lead them to the lead gen promised land they seek,” Olenski notes. “Make no mistake about it, however. Those marketers who go down the path of putting lead gen/sales over branding and relationships will not be successful in the long run.”

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When Promoted Tweets Bite Back

Posted by Brandsplat

Promoted tweets are one of those things Twitter marketing specialists can never agree on. Some love the fact that promoted tweets can put a brand and its hashtags in front of the right audience, while others dismiss them as overpriced and not affective. Nevertheless, we believe the days of promoted tweets being only for the big boys may be over.

Twitter user Hasan Syed took promoted Tweets into his own hands after an allegedly terrible experience with British Airways. Syed was upset that the airline lost his father’s luggage and the way it handled the situation. So he used Twitter’s self-serve ad platform to buy a promoted tweet to vent his frustrations.”Don’t fly @BritishAirways,” he tweeted on Sunday night. “Their customer service is horrendous.” Under the Twitter handle @HVSVN, Syed’s promoted tweet secured a place atop Twitter’s list of trends and gained notice worldwide.

“Interesting; a disgruntled customer is buying a promoted tweet slamming a brand where they had a bad experience,” senior vice-president of marketing at JetBlue Airways, Marty St. George, tweeted. “That’s a new trend itself!”

Syed wouldn’t tell members of the media how much this promoted tweet set him back, but modern data would suggest that Syed will end up shelling out a least a couple of grand by the time all the CPE numbers are in. Maybe he didn’t know that the comment cards are free?

But seriously. This enforces what we’ve thought about promoted tweets for sometime: if you have an idea that folks will respond to and have the cash, they’re a good investment. Promoted Tweets can become smash hits in now time as long as the subject matter is hot button and easily tweetable. Readers, how do you feel about any old guy buying and having success with promoted Tweets? Does this give the power to Twitter users and consumers or could it turn into (perish the thought) a bitchier, paid version of Yelp?