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5 Things for August 9: Blog Marketing, Watery Billboards and Applebees

Posted by Brandsplat

Need a longer lunch break? Want more people to read your blog? Can’t find your keys? Our weekly list of the best content marketing stories you might have missed can help! We have five stories that could very well answer your most puzzling questions when it comes to social media and online marketing. When it comes to things like finding your keys, however, you’re on your own.

1.) On Trend: It feels like there has been a never-ending supply of new Facebook stories this summer, and here’s one more you might have missed. On the heels of its hashtag rollout two months ago, Facebook is trying out another Twitter-born application: trending topics. Facebook told Mashable on Wednesday, “Today we started running a small test that displays topics trending on Facebook. It is currently only available to a small percentage of U.S. users who use Facebook’s mobile web site (m.facebook.com) and is still in very early stages of development,” a rep for Facebook said. Good idea or just another Twitter knockoff? Tell us in the comments section.

2.) Blowup Dolls and Burgers: Applebees is back with more inflatable dolls in hopes of inspiring folks to take a longer lunch break by leaving a stand-in behind at the office. Sounds ridiculous, but two styles of the dolls, “The Overachiever” and the “Cubicle Queen,” have already sold out on Amazon. It’s a clever and successful stunt. Still, it’s hard to say if these blowup buddies actually inspire people to eat at Applebees.

3.) Get Your Blog Noticed: Forbes published a fantastic list of easy solutions to blog marketing earlier this week. The list is worth a read since it gives 14 blog marketing and content ideas that every business can put into practice immediately. 

4.) A ‘Pizza’ the Action: Domino’s is investing in startups while generating some huge buzz with Pizzavestments. The program, covered by tons of blogs this week, hands out $500 Dominos cards to 30 startups who probably spend a lot of late nights munching on pizza while working. #PoweredByPizza is the hashtag the company is using to inspire Twitter users to share their own tales of pizza-assisted genius. 

5.) We’ll Drink to That: We close out this week’s list with a billboard in Lima, Peru worth celebrating. UTEC, a tech and engineering school, looked to solve Lima’s drinking water problem by creating this billboard which captures humidity and converts it into drinking water. Since the billboard went up 3 months ago, this magical billboard has created a whopping 9,450 liters of drinking water.

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Clever Online Video Needs a Good Home

Posted by Brandsplat

 

Quality online video creation requires a lot of dedication, talent, effort and time. Producing branded videos can be such an exhausting experience that distribution is often the last thing on our minds. But for small companies, finishing a video is only the beginning. Figuring out where a video needs to go is a whole other journey that can be equally as confusing and time-consuming. So where do place our videos so new followers and consumers can find them?

Naturally, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are the obvious and necessary channels, but they’re also incredibly crowded. Simply sticking your company’s video content online on YouTube is sort of like placing one box of homemade cereal in a giant warehouse stocked with a billion boxes of cereal and expecting people to find it. Video platforms are stocked daily with brilliant videos. In order for your efforts not go to waste, you have to think outside the usual channels.

Interactive media strategist Tessa Wegert suggests asking your brand’s biggest fans for help.

“Identify your most enthusiastic fans on Facebook and Twitter, and give them a sneak preview to share with their network of equally enthusiastic friends,” Wegert writes. “Do the same with bloggers and reporters who have generated positive interest in your product in the past. These are the people who will give your content the push it needs to go mainstream.”

Shares and likes are great, but previews help give the video a boost before the rest of the world sees it. Also, bumping up your social media followings before you post your latest video is a great way to help your video get seen by more folks. Another option to consider is a video-uploading dashboard like OnLoad or StarCut. These services do have a cost, but they push videos out instantly to a variety of social media channels and platforms.

Lastly, word-of-mouth doesn’t end once your video gets posted. Video virility often takes time. Some of the most popular videos didn’t go viral for months. For a video to be successful, brands need to continue to push videos on social media and to bloggers long after the filming has stopped.

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5 Things for August 2: Slurpees, Hot Pockets and Cronuts

Posted by Brandsplat

Can we get an “Amen” up in here? Divine Twitter marketing, holy Hot Pockets, salvation for travel bloggers and much more make this a list of five things you might have missed that’ll have you saying “hallelujah!”

1.) Oh Thank Heaven: When it comes to engaging with their Twitter followers, no brand does it quite like 7 Eleven. The convenience store rocks with clever, timely responses that evoke the brand’s sense of humor and fun. For example, this week a follower tweeted “There is no God” after discovering the Slurpee at her local 7 Eleven was broken. To which, @7ElevenCares replied, “We’re sorry this has caused you to question your faith. Can we get the location to eliminate your doubt?” 

2.) Snuffed Out: This viral spot for Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week featuring Snuffy the Seal is so funny, delightfully wrong and surprising, we won’t spoil it for you. Just go watch it — immediately. 

3.) Blog Travel Advisory: This excellent post in The New York Times about the changing face of travel blogging is a worthwhile read for blog marketers, too. Written by Dan Saltzstein, the editor of the Times’ Travel section, the piece is chock full of sage advice as well as being illuminating on how blogging has evolved for travel writers. Example: “Despite all the growth and expanded opportunities, for successful bloggers it comes back to guiding and connecting with readers.” Haven’t we been telling you this?

4.) Cronutty: The hoopla around the pastry hybrid the Cronut is officially out of control. As if paying up to $20 bucks a pop for this donut-meets-croissant mutant wasn’t enough, creative agency BBH has taken it one step further. According to AdWeek, “‘The Cronut Project,’ spearheaded by some BBH New York interns, partnering with NYC Food Bank and Cronut inventor Dominique Ansel, features a daily raffle — with the donor who pledges the most money, plus another random donor, getting a free Cronut. ” All proceeds go to the NYC Food Bank. We’re thinking the BBH interns are behind the “another random donor” hijinks.

5.) Drop It Likes It’s Hot: We wrap up our list this week with Hot Pockets. The stoner treat is back with a new makeover, and apparently we’re really excited about it. Like, over 3.5 million views on YouTube excited. The videos, which feature a variety of chefs plus “sandwich expert” Jeff Mauro, aren’t incredibly entertaining, but nevertheless the public still loves this brand. And with this kind of popularity, Hot Pockets could be the branding comeback of the year. Take that, Twinkies. 

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What You Can Learn From the Worst Interview Ever

Posted by Brandsplat

One of the biggest trends in online video content today is to produce and post live footage and interviews. Thanks to technology, brands of all sizes can dip into this river by taping things like segments from industry trade shows, in-store events and the like. Yet if you aren’t prepared, a live video and interview can go from bad to worse in the blink of an eye. Just ask Fox News’ Lauren Green.

In what’s being called the “worst interview ever,” Green has made headlines and viral history for all the wrong reasons. In an interview with Reza Aslan, a best-selling author, Green breaks journalism law 101 and browbeats her guest. Green repeatedly wondered how Aslan, a Muslim, could possibly have written a historical analysis of the life of Jesus Christ. The painful three-minute segment featured borderline-discriminatory questions like, “Why would you be interested in the founder of Christianity?” while Aslan squirmed and tried to remind her he has a Ph.D. in religion and writes about a variety of faiths. What Green never got around to doing is getting more information on his book (which she clearly didn’t read) or even starting a real conversation or debate. Oy.

But Green’s train wreck can be our tutor in what to avoid in branded live videos and interviews. Here’s three tips we can take to heart for our own live videos:

1.) Come Prepared: Whether Green was simply fed questions or didn’t have anything else to talk about rather than the faith of her guest, there is no denying it was awkward. She seemed totally ill-prepared. When interviewing and shooting live footage, make sure you know who you’re talking to and what you want to ask them. Read their bio, visit their website, email them beforehand get to know them a little (bonus tip: if they’re promoting a book, you should read that, too). Also, get professionally schooled on the technical requirements of streaming live and uploading to your channels. What’s the WiFi situation where you’re filming? Have you tested your equipment? How will you address sound issues? Answer these before you go live. You don’t want to promote a live interview or event and have your followers not be able to watch it. 

2.) Be Respectful: It’s important to remember when shooting on location or while interviewing that the people involved are most likely doing us a favor by letting us show up with cameras and equipment. The least we can do is get there on time, make them feel comfortable and return things to where we found them before we leave. With guests, a little warmth and respect not only makes them feel comfortable but makes you easier and more engaging to watch. 

3.) Move On: What makes this downright excruciating is Green’s one-note questions which accomplish nothing, other than make her look like a tool. Instead, when someone is rambling or a guest isn’t as fascinating as you hoped, move on to different questions. Try to engage them in topics that relate to their field and to the things your followers are interested in. If it still isn’t working, wrap it up. The last thing any brand wants is its video to go viral for being a disaster.

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Content Marketing and the PR Renaissance

Posted by Brandsplat

Remember PR? You know, public relations? Remember when companies paid for that stuff instead of just having an intern tweet it? It’s okay. We barely do, either. In our post-content marketing revolution world, PR seems like an ancient beast tiptoeing its way to extinction. Many industry insiders say, however, that could be changing. 

As a recent panel, BuzzFeed’s Jonathan Perlman optimistically stated, “I think PR is bound for a renaissance.” The panel also featured Matthew Browher of Ketchum and Digiday’s Josh Sternberg. Sternberg agreed that the explosion of content marketing hasn’t killed PR. Rather, it’s brought it back to life.

“At the end of the day, all people care about is good content. PR people have the skills to create that content. There’s going to be a big push in the PR agency world in the next 12-18 months toward this, especially as media agencies and ad agencies are getting squeezed,” Sternberg said.

Not only do PR firms have the writing skills, distribution is sort of what they do best. PR geniuses become that way because they have a talent for getting the right stories to right media channels. A great story becomes a forgettable one if no one knows about it.

“Content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants. It’s not nearly enough to create a good piece of content. You have to understand how content spreads across the web,” Perlman concurred. 

Personally, we’ve seen the small business PR trend explode because of content marketing. Motivated business owners get a crash-course in PR when they’re stuck with great, original content and pushed to find new ways to distribute it. Thanks to social media, blogging and more online media options than ever before, folks are feeling empowered to take on the PR reigns for themselves.

Readers, do you agree? And are you a do-it-yourselfer when it comes to PR, or do you use an agency? Tell us in the comments section!

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5 Things For July 19: Sharknado 2, Cheerios & PBS

Posted by Brandsplat

Not to pat ourselves on the back, but this week’s collection of online marketing news stories that you might have missed is totally rocking. Don’t believe us? Then by all means, read for yourself — and feel free to post your favorite stories of the week in the comments section, too!

1.) Cheering for Cheerios: The biggest non-troversy of 2013 might be the Cheerios ad which featured a mixed race family (and drew criticism from, well, morons). The comments got so out of control on YouTube that the video was removed by Cheerios. Cheerios fired back by essentially keeping the ad the way it was and defend its casting choices. Now a viral video featuring kids’ response to the commercial has single-handedly shut the whole controversy down with brilliant wisdom like “Some people just fall in love like that” and “Underneath it, you’re literally the same. You have organs and a heart.” Score? Kids: 1, Bigots: 0.

2.) Shanghai Surprises: TimeOut’s Shanghai edition actually wanted to have its cellphones stolen. The magazine placed cellphones all over the city and the lucky thief who swiped the phone got a first-class tour of Shanghai. From fancy dinners to crazy old jazz hotels, these lucky thieves scored more than just a lame phone, while TimeOut got to show off its legendary tour guide skills. 

3.) Bring on the Clam Kings: A reality show about a family who tans together? Another about Long Island gardeners? What’s this world coming to? Fortunately, those shows are spoofs. A series of very funny fake commercials for Clam Kings, Meet the Tanners and Long Island Landscapers are part of an online campaign cooked up a New York PBS station. These videos are done just right and almost convince you these horrible shows might exist. 

4.) Follower Frauds: Ever wonder how small companies wind up with hundreds of thousands of Twitter followers seemingly overnight? This interesting post by PCWorld has all the dirt on the folks who buy and sell Twitter popularity. A must-read for Twitter marking specialists. 

5.) Sharknado, Sharknado, Sharknado: This beyond awful, made-for-television movie, which aired on July 11, has us all still yammering about Sharknado. An instant camp classic (thanks in large part to social media), Sharknado will now have a sequel to be released in 2014 and SyFy channel is asking viewers to help name it via Twitter. Our faves so far? “The Wizard of Jaws,” “Sharkpocalypse” and, of course, “Sharknado 2: Sharkalanche.”

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True Confessions: Can the Viral Video Confessional Work for Your Brand?

Posted by Brandsplat

In an era rich with fake body parts and CGI effects, who would have thought that the biggest trend to come along in online video creation would be the truth? That’s right — we, the YouTube watching public, can’t get enough of folks venting their problems, telling off their boyfriends, confronting celebrities and generally speaking their minds in confessional viral videos. The recipe for these videos is a simple one: Add one YouTube poster with a chip on his/her shoulder, place in front of a video camera, stir and enjoy. The simplicity is almost embarrassing, but clearly it’s effective and incredibly popular. So we wondered, would folks actually watch branded confessional videos or does having a company behind them sort of defeat the whole purpose?

The power of the confessional video hit a fever pitch a few weeks ago when the world discovered a little video affectionately known as “It’s too damn hot.” The video features a woman who is fed up with summer’s insufferable heat and is filled with one liners now popping up all over your friend’s Facebook feeds. This world-class rant was removed from YouTube due to language, but lives on in social media infamy. It isn’t hard to see why. We responded to the video because the woman said what many were thinking and because she was talking about something timely. Without using expletives involving the Devil’s nether regions, every brand can tap into this kind of frank and funny talk as long as it is timely and stays true to the brand’s general messaging. Confessional videos are also widely used to talk directly to a celebrity or organization like this viral hit from Jim Parsons of television’s The Big Bang Theory. Brands can use this style of confessional video to talk directly to consumers and followers about new products or exciting news happening at the company. 

Like all successful viral videos, confessional videos resonate because they feature content we relate to. Speaking the truth and speaking directly to viewers is an incredibly powerful way to deliver messages of all varieties. Popular confessional videos do share some commonality that is helpful for brands to remember. Keeping these videos under 3 minutes (1 minute and 30 seconds seems to be the real sweet spot) helps keeps viewers engaged. Also, while the confessional should be spontaneous and real, make sure you have a general plan of what you want to talk about before you sit down in front of the camera. Finally, remember that you can be real and honest without offending or blabbing on incoherently. Nothing turns viewers off faster than a brand that doesn’t know when to shut up.

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5 Things for July 5: Kitty Video Awards, the Sugar Rush of Candy Crush and a Toast Like No Other

Posted by Brandsplat

It’s a long weekend for some lucky folks. And for the rest of us? Not so much. Either way, our five things you might have missed list will help you stay informed and entertained on the latest happenings from the world of content marketing

1. We Have No Lives: File this study under “D” for “Duh.” A new eMarketer report finds that Americans spend a whopping 23 hours a week emailing, texting and using social media. According to Mashable, the study found that “more than 75 percent of users checked email, texts, Facebook and Instagram at least one time a day.” The study found email to be the biggest time consumer, with respondents admitting they spend up to 8 hours a day checking and sending email. So by all means, if you’re considering email marketing, go for it. Go ahead. Yes, now. We’ll wait.

2. The Rest of Our Time is Spent Watching Cat Videos: Cat food and treat maker Friskies has taken the planet’s cat video obsession one step further and created an awards ceremony. Think of it as the Oscars of cat videos, The Friskies look to award viral videos that feature our furry friends. It’s a brilliant campaign that not only creates new viral content but traction for a brand cat lovers already know. 

3. Blogging the Demise: Usually, we see brands employing blog creation to get folks excited about their company. But this anonymous blogger is chronicling the failure of his startup company in a Tumblr entitled “My Startup Has 30 Days to Live.” The author’s name checking of Silicon Valley bigwigs coupled with the intimate details of a collapsing Internet company have blog readers and the media fascinated. 

4. Sweet Success: On the other end of the startup spectrum is Candy Crush, that crazy game everyone everywhere seems to be playing. This profile of the smash hit from ReadWrite.com is sure to inspire mobile game developers and amateur branding experts everywhere. 

5. That’s a Rap: We thought we’d close out our list this week with a video currently blowing up YouTube. Here’s that bridesmaid who shows off mad rapping skills in her toast to the bride and groom to the tune of Eminem’s “Without You.” Just because.

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4 Great Viral Videos for the 4th

Posted by Brandsplat

Happy 4th of July! This holiday, we celebrate independence from bad online video creation and crappy video content marketing. No brand should have to put up with a lame video. After all, how do you think our founding fathers would feel if they knew the freedoms they fought for were being wasted on a horrible viral marketing campaign? So in the spirit of freedom and creativity, we’ve rounded up a foursome of fantastic videos to inspire you to make some viral fireworks of your own.

Google Chrome: The most genius thing about this series of ads for Google Chrome? The length! These ultra short and very clever videos feature “Chrome: For Your Cat,” “Chrome: For Finding Directions” and “Chrome: For Your Pizzeria,” among others. This incredibly popular series proves that concise and entertaining videos can also be viral smash hits.

Cumberland Farms: In the world of viral commercials, sometimes nothing beats the WTF factor. And this music video featuring David Hasselhoff singing about iced coffee for a chain of convenience stores has that in spades. While the Hoff’s vocal stylings might not be your cup of tea, you certainly won’t forget the spot anytime soon. 

Dove: Other times, a softer, less ridiculous touch is needed, and no company does that kind of thing better than Dove. “Camera Shy” is the latest video from the company’s campaign to bring issues of women’s self-esteem and beauty to the forefront. With a fun song and great camera work, the viewer has a good time while getting a deeper message.

Virgin Atlantic: Videos that show real-life branded installations or pranks are incredibly popular on YouTube, and this one for Virgin Atlantic airlines is no exception. Virgin transformed a New York park bench into a luxury experience like you’d find on-board Virgin’s planes. New Yorkers who sat on the bench were treated to fancy meals, champagne and service by flight attendants.