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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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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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5 Videos for August 30: Hyundai, Twitter and, Yes, Twerking

Posted by Brandsplat

Since the Labor Day holiday is fast approaching, let’s get things kicked off with the best online video creations from the week that you might have missed. Whether you’re looking for inspiration for your own online videos or just wanting to kill some time, these five should do the trick. And the best part?  No work required on your end. 

1.) Morgan Freeman Twerks it Out: We here at Brandsplat try to be 100% Miley Free, but given this week’s onslaught on Cyrus-related news, it’s a difficult task… especially when it comes to twerking. We’ve already had ABC News do a much-maligned report on the twerk (which coincidentally spawned #ABCReports, one of the funniest uses of hashtags of all time). Thank goodness for Oscar-winning actor Morgan Freeman. Freeman sorts out all of this twerking silliness by reading the definition to Headline News with his Voice of God inflection in an already viral hit. 

2.) Tech Commercial Clichés Exposed: Looking to promote your tech brand with online videos? CollegeHumor.com has come up with a phony ad that brilliantly skewers tech ads while playfully listing the clichés to avoid. Perfectly titled “Every Tech Commercial,” the spot features lots of bakers, people talking at the same time, hollow concerns about speed and convenience and other hilariously omnipresent crutches marketers use to peddle products.

3.) Keeping Up with the Conversation: Twitter, on the other hand, avoids those tired clichés. The social network has cooked up a great video which explains how its new update makes following conversations on Twitter even easier. On the official Twitter blog, the brand explains, “As you can see, tweets that are part of a conversation are shown in chronological order so it’s easier for you to follow along. You’ll see up to three tweets in sequence in your home timeline; if you want to see more, you can tap a tweet to see all the replies, including those from people you don’t follow.” A great feature, and a great use of online video, too.

4.) 0 to 60 in 6 Seconds: Hooray for Hyundai for beating other carmakers to the punch with this ultra-clever Vine video. To illustrate a car’s speed and handling capabilities, Vine is an unlikely but brilliant choice for Hyundai. 

5.) Sweet Karma: We wrap up this week’s video roundup with a lovely little campaign from European chocolate company Milka. The brand produced chocolate bars with missing squares and gave consumers a choice: reclaim their chocolate square or send it to someone else. Sweet!

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

Posted by Brandsplat

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!

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Is What We Read More Important Than Who We Are?

Posted by Brandsplat

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.