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

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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.

Are You Making This Major Social Media Mistake?

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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.”

When Promoted Tweets Bite Back

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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?

Twitter: Part of a Balanced Breakfast

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They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. For some of the world’s biggest breakfast brands, the meal comes with a side of aggressive and clever Twitter marketing. The assortment of food items represented on Twitter would rival the menu of your favorite waffle house. Pancakes, toast, coffee, donuts, cereal and beyond all are sold on Twitter to thousands of followers. Grab yourself a toaster pastry, a strong cup of Joe and see how the super brands are rocking out Twitter long before you’ve even wiped the sleep out of your eyes. 

The American Egg Board has used traditional advertising and digital marketing for years to push the idea that eggs are still our favorite breakfast food. Therefore, it makes sense that its Twitter account, @IncredibleEggs, does the same thing. Tweets with nutritional facts, links to recipes and light-hearted responses to followers’ tweets help the brand stay on top of that mission statement — all while being more approachable than ever.

New to Twitter but already getting major engagement and press coverage, Pillsbury Toaster Strudel has taken Twitter marketing to delicious new heights. According to Mashable, “Pillsbury’s Strudel Düdeler, a machine powered by tweets, makes icing art on your Toaster Strudel. Starting on Tuesday, Twitter users who tweet details about what they to do get their morning going (along with the hashtag #StrudelArt) will receive a picture of a Strudel with personalized icing art.”

Now an old-timer at social media, Cap’n Crunch delivers funny and self-effacing tweets clearly aimed more at parents than kids. “One must Crunch something to be alive. #capnsquotes” is an example of the brand giving the iconic character a voice via Twitter. And it works. The attitude is consistent to the branding and a throwback for folks who now buy the sugary goodness for their own children. (Sadly, the Cap’n’s dull, robotic pal Aunt Jemima could use a similar hip, Twitter makeover.)

Greek Yogurt is the breakfast choice for people of all ages. @YopliatGreek realizes this and lures its Twitter followers in with sumptuous and descriptive tweets of its yogurt. The brand loves to use Twitter to chat with followers, respond to customer feedback and retweet comments from  adoring fans.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be breakfast — or the Internet — without bacon! The greasy pork treat has become the culinary equivalent of Justin Bieber (which is to say it’s ginormous). There are literally hundreds of Twitter accounts devoted to bacon, but our favorite has got to be the United Church of Bacon. Tweeting from @praisebacon (of course) the UCB is a crazy organization that sells bacon-themed goodies and performs baconcentric wedding ceremonies. Naturally, the UCB is based out of Las Vegas. With 597 followers, the UCB is just getting started, but thanks to witty tweets and well-placed social media plugs, we predict it will be sizzling in no time.

Praise Twitter, and pass the bacon!

5 Things for August 23: Smelling Swift, Fancy Facebook Ads and Masculine Mascara

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Nine out of 10 online marketing geniuses and social media experts agree: Our weekly list of five things you might have missed has the best stories from the digital newsroom. Why don’t you read for yourself and see if they’re right? 

1.) Adtractive Facebook: Facebook announced this week a partnership with Shutterstock that will give advertisers access to Shutterstock’s massive visual library. “Not every business has a team of designers to help communicate their message, and so the Shutterstock integration allows Facebook advertisers of all sizes to search and choose from millions of high-quality images at the point of ad creation,” David Fraga of Facebook told Business Insider. This could help companies of all sizes make better-looking, more professional Facebook ads.

2.) Better Business Blogging: If you missed Daniel Newman’s post entitled “Demystifying Small Business Blogging,” please read it now (well, after you finish reading this post, of course). Newman helps his readers find easy ways to stop making excuses and start blogging. “In order to see results from blogging for your small business, you have to commit to doing it like any other sales, marketing or operational effort,” he writes. Preach.

3.) Surprise Package: We’ll go ahead and say that 2013 is the year of the double-entendre dude-filled viral commercial. This one for Benefit mascara is also star-studded. Vinny Guadagnino of Jersey Shore, Simon Rex and some comedian from Vine all take part in this sexy, silly viral hit which plays on mascara wands hidden in guy’s crotches. We promise it’s not as NSFW as it sounds.

4.) Smells Like Taylor Swift: #HiFromTaylor is a Twitter campaign, an interactive online video experience and social media marketing blitz — all in the name of promoting Taylor Swift’s new perfume, Taylor. The spot integrates fan’s photos and status updates to an ad with the pop star “shot from the perspective of the user to create a sense of them starring in the video with Taylor herself,” an agency rep says. As long as there’s no Kanye cameo, we’re cool.

5.) Food Photos for Thought: Lastly, big kudos to chef Mario Batali for spearheading Feedie, an app that both helps the hungry while celebrating our insatiable desire for food photos. According to Mashable, “Each time you take a picture of your food at a participating restaurant using Feedie, the restaurant makes an instant donation equivalent to one meal to The Lunchbox Fund. The non-profit provides daily meals for at-risk South African schoolchildren, many of whom have been orphaned because of HIV/AIDS.” Bravo!

Is What We Read More Important Than Who We Are?

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For a brief minute, social media marketing seemed to be a golden ticket into giving marketers a better look at who consumers really were and what they really liked. Facebook pages filled with “likes” for favorite brands, tweets mentioning interests and Pinterest boards chock full of lusted-after items give the illusion of really getting to know a consumer. Yet many think when it comes to content marketing, we should really be asking consumers what they’re reading instead of analyzing their status updates.

The webpages we visit, the blogs we read and the things we search for say far more than social media ever could, says the Guardian’s Jonny Rose.

“By tracking consumer interactions as they browse and engage with content, brands can begin to reveal current and evolving interests, inclinations and needs — sometimes before the individual knows themselves,” Rose says.

Technology referred to by Rose as “content analytics” gives brands access to invaluable insights — but how?

“Content analytics technology analyses pieces of text and makes it understandable and readable for computers. It allows computers to understand the topics, people, places, companies and concepts in the content, sentiment towards aspects of the content, and the language of that content,” Rose says. “This, in turn, means computers can track an individual’s interaction with a piece of content and collect and draw trends about that individual’s tastes and interests.”

If this sounds Big Brother-ish or a little creepy to you, you’re not alone. A lot of folks are startled by the amount of information that advertisers have access to. But others would argue that content marketing analytics helps companies get a more truthful look at the person they are trying to reach. These analytics have also been a long time coming; by now, most people know that when they’re online, they are communicating with brands, whether they want to or not.

Regardless of opinion, these kind of analytics are unavoidable.

“Whether you are browsing to kill time, entertain yourself or researching for a friend, what you are reading right now is incredibly indicative of who you are as a person — and this is immensely useful for brands,” Rose concludes. 

But what do you think, readers? Are content marketing analytics helpful or a borderline invasion of privacy? Tell us in the comments section below.

 

Vine Marketing: Nailing the 6-second Commerical

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Tired of hearing social media experts go on and on about Vine? Well, get used it. The mobile app, launched in 2012 and acquired by Twitter shortly thereafter, has just begun to generate the kind of buzz it deserves, and brands are finding all kinds of ways to make it work for them. But what is Vine exactly, and how can small businesses use it in online marketing?

Love it, loathe or fail to understand it, Vine isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Vine is a smartphone app that lets users create and post short videos — short as in a max of six seconds — which then can be shared or embedded on social networking. These tiny videos are easier to share and download given their size. Like YouTube’s early days, initial content has ranged from grating to nonsensical. Skateboarding, cats, skateboarding cats, weird old people making faces — you know, the kind of things that are the cornerstones of online video creation. Yet the longer Vine grows, the more brands are finding ways to creatively use the micro-video format. Oreo, Urban Outfitters and Lowe’s, for instance, are a few companies with the budget and talent to make effective and memorable videos on Vine.

“The good news is that almost any business can find a way to use Vine, but those that are great at storytelling are the most likely to be successful,” writes Yael Grauer for Business2Community.com. “Communicating via video works best for brands that have already identified how their story connects with customers. And as always with video or images, visually-appealing products or storylines win the day: The challenge is to fit a story into six seconds, say marketing experts, so some creativity is required.”

In other words, when it comes to standing out in the already crowded Vine jungle, creativity and an already high visibility are key ingredients.

Readers, what’s your take on Vine? Is it the next YouTube? Or the decline the of online video innovation as we know it? Sound off below!

The Smithsonian Practices the Art of Twitter

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Twitter management is no longer just a graveyard of sales pitches and spammy promises. In fact, companies really taking Twitter for business to the next level use the social media platform as far more than just an avenue to sell products or make new fans. Twitter can be an invaluable communication tool, a news channel which covers stories generated by your brand and an instant avenue for sharing videos and images. Cultural institutions like theater companies and museums have taken to using Twitter to do all of these things while promoting their latest exhibitions and performances. The Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. lets twitter work overtime for its 19 museums — and the results are inspiring for brands of all sizes.

When the world was introduced to a new mammal called the olinguito (think teddy bear crossed with house cat) last week, the Smithsonian was there. The head of mammals for the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum was live on Google+ hangouts answering questions about the little critter submitted via Twitter from around the globe. But this kind of thing is business as usual for the Smithsonian, a brand built on sharing information and exciting people about new discoveries. It also uses its Twitter account to mark important days in history, promote events and exhibitions, to answer questions from visitors to the Smithsonian and to share stories published in its magazine. The Smithsonian is such a busy brand with so many facets and Twitter keeps tabs on all of them. Twitter is used as a ticker-tape for news generated from the National Gallery, the National Zoo and all of the other museums and research facilities under the Smithsonian umbrella. For a company this diverse, the Twitterfeed could be jumbled and confusing, but it isn’t. By staying organized and excited, the Smithsonian uses Twitter to entice, not overwhelm, visitors. Art, science, history and research are all covered here while selling the Smithsonian experience. 

But you don’t have to a be a massive cultural destination to use Twitter for your company. The Smithsonian tweets the latest things happening at its brand and that’s a simple way for Twitter marketing novices to start. Tweet about new products, new changes in staff or the latest ideas to come out of brainstorming sessions. But why stop there? Use Twitter to talk about upcoming events, sales and promotions. Then move into conversations with your followers. What products do they use? How do they spend their time? In short, get to know them. Everyone can do like the Smithsonian does, and share your excitement with your followers. Use Twitter as a way to express the things you love about your company and pretty soon others will be doing the same