You Are What You Read

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You are what you read. So we’re glad you’re reading our blog, packed with content tips and social media management tricks. After all, we’re experts. But what else should you be reading to ensure you get a balanced diet of noggin nutrients to maximize your digital engagement strategies?

Social media watcher Mark Hayes recommends Social Media Examiner, an information-dense, main dish type of resource. It’s the meatloaf of social media information consumption, if you will.

“This user-friendly site offers valuable tips for leveraging your opportunities on Facebook, Google+, Twitter et al,” he writes. “Whether you’re using Facebook for contests, Twitter for quickie ads or message forums to provide links to sites, you’ll find ways to enhance your marketing strategies. Social Media Examiner offers everything from advice on how to deal with website emergencies (such as security issues) to how to set realistic goals for your marketing campaign.”

Favorite side dishes around the office here at Brandsplat include Social Media Today for timely insight and analysis (like a spinach salad to add muscle to your social media plans), 12 Most for list-building inspiration (sweet potato fries, anyone?) and the smart, once-weekly Brain Pickings for discovering interesting new things (our version of spicy Indian-inspired green beans).

We also like Mashable for dessert. You don’t want too much of this sugary, image-dominated sweetness, but it’s a nice way to wrap up your reading. If you’re more of a cheese plate aficionado, try Forbes’ Social Media section. Less fluff, more substance.

Still, like any good diet, variety and moderation are the keys to good health. You wouldn’t want to consume information from just one of these sources and consider yourself well-informed. And don’t forget to exercise: Take some of the ideas you read out for a walk with you. Clear your mind and use them as a springboard for fun ideas you’d like to implement in your own diet (ahem, website). Then give us a call and put us to the test as to how we can help you realize those dreams.

But what say you, readers? Which blogs, news sites or other web-based sources do you rely on to ensure you’ve got a healthy amount of social media know-how? Sound off in the comments section below!

Dunkin’ Donuts Drama Proves the Power of Social Media

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Social media experts have seen brands of all sizes rise and fall when it comes to dealing with crazy customers, employee drama and company politics on sites like Facebook and Twitter. In our era of instant information, every triumph or mistake can be spread and posted in a moment’s notice. Last weekend, an altercation at a Florida Dunkin’ Donuts confirmed just how powerful social media and viral video really are.

Two teenagers behind the counter at Dunkin Donuts had no idea that the racist rant of 27-year-old Taylor Chapman would turn them into heroes. Chapman unleashed an 8-minute explosion on the teens after claiming she didn’t receive her receipt from the night before. Chapman filmed her abusive tongue lashing and promised to post it to Facebook. The employees stayed cool and gave Chapman her free food as dictated by company policy when a guest doesn’t receive a receipt. What Chapman didn’t anticipate was how social media would be on the side of the beleaguered and berated employees. Facebook and Twitter were soon populated with messages of support for the teens for coolly handling the situation. The Dunkin’ Donuts Facebook page was soon filled with messages from followers who just wanted to commend the employees and the brand.

Even Dunkin’ Donuts bigwigs stood by their employees.

“We are aware of the video and the situation that occurred at the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant located in Fort Lauderdale,” Jessica Gioglio, a spokesperson for the company, said. “We commend the franchisee’s crew members for handling this difficult situation with grace and patience. We believe this is a powerful example of great customer service and the respect our crew members have for our guests.”

The lessons here are good ones to remember. First off, video is forever, so it’s important for brands and businesses to always be on their best behavior. Secondly, branded Facebook pages are powerful places for customers to show their support and disdain. Lastly, treating people with respect — whether they deserve it or not — is something that never goes out of style.

Five Things You Might Have Missed!

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Which brand is headed back to the drawing board? And who’s turning to their fans for hot online video creation We’ve got the answers to these questions and so, so much more in today’s Five Things You Might Have Missed!

1.) Original Recipe: We’ll never know what the Colonel would think about KFC’s new boneless chicken… but thanks to a new video campaign, we’ll soon know how fans feel about it. #IAteTheBones is the chain’s new campaign which calls for fan-created videos that show reactions to the new boneless chicken. Video entries are posted on Facebook until June 8; weekly winners will be chosen to receive prizes like t-shirts and gift cards. Five grand prize winners will also be selected to receive $1,000 and a chance to be included in an online or social media advertisement within the next year, KFC says.

2.) Curves Ahead: If you missed the hubbub over H&M’s new swimsuit campaign, don’t worry. We’ve got a feeling we’ll be talking about this photo shoot featuring a normal-sized girl for quite some time. Size 12 model Jennie Runk became an accidental hero this week when her campaign for the global clothing brand was released, drawing applause and accolades from fashion industry and marketing insiders alike.

3.) The Facebook PR 411: Lisa Buyer at Search Engine Watch published a fascinating blog post this week entitled “22 Facebook PR Secrets Every Community Manager Should Know.” Must-read tips include why you should market on Saturdays, the benefits of a positive attitude and why less is more.

4.) Watch What Happens: Sci-fi films and tech gurus alike have long predicted a super smart watch that acts like a phone, computer and social network. But according to Read Write Web, the smartwatch revolution might not happen for a while. Still, with big brands like Apple, Microsoft and Google toying with the idea, the smartwatch might be the next tech branding story to keep our eyes on.

5.) Social Media Meh: Is social media marketing lost and no longer valuable? Are we wasting our time? What brands are doing it all wrong? Kipp Bodnar ponders these concerns in a fantastic article on social media marketing that you may have missed.

Blog Marketing Basics: Social Media Synergy

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There comes time in every blog content management strategy when it mixes with our social media management strategy. Not to worry; this a totally natural merging of two separate but similar worlds. Social media is a perfect channel to promote our blogging-for-business efforts. Posting links to our latest posts on Facebook and Twitter is something your brand should be doing already (if you’re not, please start — now!). But maybe social media marketing can help our blogs even more? Our final look at Blog Marketing Basics involves putting social media in the spotlight to find new ways to put these popular platforms to work for you.

Believe it or not, there is social media life beyond Twitter and Facebook. Posting your blogs on these sites is incredibly simple and takes just minutes. Thanks to dashboards like Hootsuite and TweetDeck, your blog posts can get scheduled out days in advance to reach your Facebook and Twitter followings with very little stress or effort. But why stop at Twitter and Facebook? Study after recent study shows that consumers are interacting with brands of all sizes on different social networks. Promoting your company blog on Tumblr, for example, takes just a few minutes. Being a unique mix of social media, image sharing and blogging platform gives Tumblr extra oomph for promoting blog posts. Embedding existing blog posts onto your Tumblr takes a little finagling, but is a breeze once you get the hang of it. This post by Social Media Examiner gives a great tutorial on how to do it.

If, perchance, your business’s blog is filled with awesome photos or nifty ideas, then Pinterest is a natural place to pimp out your posts. We talked about Pinterest last week, but it’s worth another look for your blog, especially if your company is all about visual marketing. Posts with eye-catching photos should be pinned right away. Pinterest users love passing it on and can really keep links alive a lot longer than most social media sites. Google+, LinkedIn and social blogging platforms like WordPress and Blogger are more great channels for blog posting, depending on your consumers and followers.

In the end, when it comes to blog marketing on social media, it really is about throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks. Religiously and thoughtfully posting your recent blog brilliance on social media will, in time, bring readers to your blog. You just have to put it out there.

Readers, now it’s your turn: Tell us what blog marketing techniques work for you in the comments section below!

Taco Bell’s #FeedTheBeat Dances Into SXSW

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If there’s a hot social media management trend circulating amongst brands of all sizes, chances are Taco Bell did it first. Over the last two-and-a-half years, Taco Bell has darn near reinvented social media marketing, so leave it to “The Bell” to create a Twitter-based rock and roll marketing frenzy from Austin’s South by Southwest.

Taco Bell commissioned documentary filmmaker Sam Jones to film an exclusive concert from indie darlings Passion Pit as part of its Feed the Beat program. The program literally feeds starving musical acts by giving them $500 in Taco Bell gift cards along with opportunities to be featured in Taco Bell advertising and branded events. Past Feed the Beat artists include fun., Young The Giant, Walk The Moon, Andrew W.K., Gym Class Heroes, Dr. Dog, Delta Spirit, Portugal, The Man, Best Coast and Ra Ra Riot.

As the Taco Bell website puts it, “Touring bands and musicians can relate to eating on the road, and Taco Bell wants to help by picking up their post-show late-night dinner tabs. We know that late nights are even better with great food and great music.”

For Passion Pit fans who couldn’t make the trek to Austin, Taco Bell streamed the concert live on FeedTheBeat.com. The concert was made even more dynamic thanks to a camera-switching app which featured several roaming and stationary cameras that viewers could click through. In addition to the musical footage, the site featured fan created Instagrams, Tweets, Vine videos and Twitpics. Taco Bell is also calling on social media followers to capture acts from SXSW and post them on the Feed The Beat website. The website, along with Taco Bell’s Feed the Beat Twitter account, is engaging music fans in discussions about favorite bands, best venues and interview questions for featured bands. To add a little big screen synergy to the event, Taco Bell plans on releasing the documentary of SXSW this summer.

Branded documentaries that bypass the usual channels have been a hot, online video creation trend for a few years now. Taco Bell is taking it a step further however by adding a distinctly young and interactive twist which relies on fan-created content.

Five Social Media Tips You Might Have Missed!

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Seems like everybody, from the big shot advertising guru to the owner of the indie ice cream parlor, has some indispensable advice when it comes to social media marketing. These nuggets of wisdom usually begin with the phrases, “You know what you should be doing…” or “If I were you, I’d focus on…” Far be it from us to miss out on this opportunity! We’ve collected five social media marketing tips that you might have missed — ones you might actually use!

1.) Marketing Rising: If you’re having trouble seeing how social media channels like Facebook and Twitter can help promote your small business, take a look at the independent documentary Girls Rising. What this little movie did was build a huge online following and fan base before even trying to get into theaters. “In today’s world, if you can get your message out early enough, you can find your super-fan,” says Holly Gordon, executive producer, in an interview with The Daily Beast. With more than 245,000 Facebook likes and huge buzz on Twitter, Girls Rising proves the importance of finding our brand’s super-fans.

2.) Ready, Set, Strategize: Before you start tooting your brand’s horn on social media, the best thing you can do is get a strategy. Finding out what you want to accomplish online and how you plan on making that happen is a crucial step that a lot of companies skip. This terrific post from Mashable has great social media strategy planning tips to help your brand use Facebook and Twitter more thoughtfully.

3.) Get +: Love or loathe Google+, its power cannot be denied. Unlike any other social network on the planet, Google+ transcends mere social and relies on Google’s massive search capabilities. Or as Demian Farnworth at Copyblogger writes, “On Google+ your network impact extends beyond the social media domain. It follows you across all of Google’s products: Reviews, Maps, Chrome, Ads, Hangouts, YouTube, Drive, Calendar, Wallet. It follows you across every Google product.” And that’s something any brand can use.

4.) Event Helper: How a company threw a product launch, book signing, art opening or new location party before social media is a mystery to us. Wait, you’re still not using social media to promote your company events?! Read this list from Social Media Examiner to help get your parties on track and well-attended thanks to a few social media tricks.

5.) More Than Just Social: While this week’s list is devoted to social media tips, it would be a big mistake to forget search engine marketing and email marketing. This article by Marketing Pilgrim will help you prioritize email and search along with Facebook and Twitter.