About M/C/C Contributors

M/C/C creates the right mix of communications for today’s audience – from traditional advertising and public relations to highly interactive digital communications, engaging social media and powerful search engine optimization. With such a broad range of communication services, it’s easy to think of M/C/C as the big agency that does. With the passion of the little agency that could.

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Facebook and Instagram Video Ads – the Way of the Future?

Late last year, Facebook announced it was beginning to test out video advertisements for brands. Then, earlier this year, Instagram jumped on board this video ads train. (Makes sense considering the photo-sharing platform is owned by Facebook.) If you’re thinking “so why haven’t I seen any video ads yet?” you’re not the only one. The majority of the advertising world is patiently waiting for this new option to be available for their brands. But before advertisers begin segmenting some of their budgets to social video ads, there are a few things they may want to know first:

What will be the parameters for video ads?

The video ads will be 15-second video spots that will automatically start playing as the user scrolls over them. This is similar to how the user-generated videos on both platforms auto play. We know that on Facebook, there will not be sound playing until the user opens it up to a full-screen view.

What will they cost?

A lot of dough! For Facebook video ads, it’s expected to cost between $1 million and $2.4 million a day. Instagram says it doesn’t have a rate card and CPMs are based on factors like targeting, reach and frequency. However, some ad executives are saying that a month-long buy could be anywhere from $350,000 to closer to $1 million.

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Trans-Media Storytelling: Make Sure Your Audience Hears You

Remember in school when teachers said there were three types of learning styles? You probably took a test or quiz to figure out if you were primarily a visual, auditory or kinesthetic learner. The visual learners do best with the use of visual objects such as graphs, charts or pictures and can learn by just watching lectures. Auditory learners retain information through hearing and speaking. Then there are the kinesthetic learners who need a hands-on approach to learn new material.

The same learning styles can be applied to how people view ads or consume the news. This is where trans-media storytelling comes into play. Don’t worry – it sounds complicated, but it’s actually really easy to understand! It means that we, as marketers, need to be using multiple media platforms to tell a story.Transmedia Storytelling photo

Why do we have to use multiple platforms? Think about it this way – you have your target demographic, let’s say females ages 25-34, but how are you going to reach them? Some might be stay-at-home moms who like to watch or listen to the morning news as they get their kids ready for school. Others may be working professionals who might consume the news on their way to work, whether that’s listening to the radio in the car or reading, either via the paper or their phone, while on the subway. Therefore, if you were just trying to get your story covered on morning television, you could be missing an entire section of your targeted audience. You must meet your audience where they hang out to tell your story, and more than likely that means different platforms. Now, which platforms are best for each type of learner?

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Features vs. Performance: Finding a Balance in Modern Web Design

We all know the old saying, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” This concept as applied to modern Web design might read, “If a website has an amazing design and cool/advanced features but takes too long to load, will anyone use it?”

And thus is the struggle of the modern day Web designer. Of course, we want our designs to be striking and our websites to have cutting-edge features. But at the same time, we don’t want the design or features to overshadow the ultimate goals of the website. Maybe just as important, we don’t want the site’s features to adversely affect the site’s performance: slowing down load times or overcomplicating the interface, which could turn users away.

Recently, I attended a Dallas User Experience Group meetup. One of the featured speakers, Jeff Whitfield, touched on this topic during his talk. At one point, Jeff started to draw a pyramid on the whiteboard and related it to a user’s experience on a website. This idea referred to an outstanding article written a few years back by Smashing Magazine called, ‘Designing For A Hierarchy Of Needs,’ which applied psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory to Web design. (This article has a solid explanation of Maslow’s theory, as well as a great application to Web design. See visuals below.)

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

At the heart of the Smashing Magazine article and Jeff Whitfield’s talk was this question – In terms of the experience of a website, what is the most important thing vs. the least important?  As he drew the pyramid, Jeff explained that the base of the pyramid is the most important. As applied to design, the base is functionality: does the website work/load correctly/address the user’s basic needs? If the website does not load correctly, or takes too long to load, or doesn’t have the content the user is looking for, they will leave your website. Quickly. The user in that case won’t get to experience the amazing looking features you spent months creating. The same goes for general human needs. If you don’t have enough food to survive, you won’t get to achieve the higher level needs we aspire to in life: like peace, knowledge and self-fulfillment.

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SEO and Responsive Design

SEO and Responsive Design

The Web is now a multi-device world. Visitors to your website come from mobile phones, 7” tablets, 10” tablets, laptops, desktops and even television screens. Instead of creating separate versions of a website for each device, developers are now making websites responsive.

Responsive Design vs. a Mobile Site

Simply put, a responsive website is a single website that adjusts to the user’s screen size. Non-responsive websites require a desktop version and a mobile version to display properly for most visitors.

Check out responsive design at http://mccom.com  via your desktop and cellphone. Notice how the URL stayed the same, yet the layout changed.

To see non-responsive design go to http://walmart.com via your desktop and cellphone. Notice on your cellphone how the URL changed to http://mobile.walmart.com and the layout changed.

Which One Is Better for SEO?

In most cases, responsive design is the way to go in regards to SEO. With responsive design, you only need to worry about one URL for each page. While with a multi-version website, you need to worry about employing correct coding such as canonical tags for each version of that page.

In some cases this might not be the best method. If you are trying to rank for mobile-specific keywords like “mobile games,” multiple versions of your website – a desktop version targeting “computer games” and a mobile version targeting “mobile games” may be the way to go. Since content does not change in responsive design, having a separate mobile site makes sense.

Overall, there are fewer SEO problems when using responsive design versus having a separate mobile site, but having a mobile specific website can be just as beneficial as long as you employ the right coding tags and use Google Webmaster tools correctly

Be sure you are working with a qualified and experienced SEO professional who can advise you about how to execute web design to utilize search effectively for your marketing strategy.

In the Social Media Game, It’s Now Crucial for Brands to Pay to Play

Why pay to advertise on social media? The better question is — why aren’t you? Social media marketing is at an all-time high right now. Gone are the days to simply post and hope you engage your fan base. With all the conversations that happen on the platforms daily, brands need to start paying to be seen and heard.

With Facebook’s ever-changing News Feed algorithm, brands are having a harder time getting their posts viewed by fans. The new algorithm favors content that is timely and relevant. Posts that receive a lot of engagement or are considered higher quality, such as content from publications, will appear in a fan’s News Feed more frequently and for longer amounts of time. Therefore, brands need to seriously consider paying to promote their posts and using targeted ads to reach their intended audiences.

The same goes for Twitter! The “Twittersphere” is already very saturated with content. In fact, there’s an average of 500 million tweets per day. Brands cannot expect their tweet to reach a large audience when it can get swallowed up by the handful of other tweets that happen within the same second it’s posted. However, if a brand promotes a tweet or its account, the chances of their audience seeing them through all the clutter is greater.

And don’t forget about Pinterest and Instagram in the near future. Although the two platforms are relatively new to the advertising game and are still ironing out the details before they are open for everyone to use, brands should start to consider how they could use them when they are. This brings me to say, one of the most important aspects of social media advertising is to know which social media platforms your customers use and how they use each one. Before you even begin thinking about advertising, you need to know where your fans are and how you should be communicating with them there. For example, if you are trying to reach women and you have visually-pleasing content, Pinterest is your place. The platform is still predominately used by women. Also, if your brand is trying to reach a younger demographic, Facebook might not be the place to reach them. Younger audiences are starting to move away from the popular platform and, instead, are turning to photo-focused platforms Instagram and Snapchat. Trying to reach more of a B2B audience? Consider LinkedIn and Google Plus.

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Why Brands Should Give a Little More This Year

We’ve heard it time and time again – companies need to engage in corporate social responsibility (CSR). But with the New Year, maybe brands can look at CSR in a slightly different way. Instead of just partnering with an organization or giving to a charity, brands should consider taking it one step further and really engage with their community. While simply donating is not bad at all, company employees giving time and effort can go a lot further in how a brand is perceived by the public. Don’t believe me? Check out these brands that go the extra mile:

Tide Loads of Hope 4

Sometimes, it’s the little things that count. The Tides Loads of Hope laundromat began in 2005 in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. They saw a simple need they could fix – providing clean clothes to those affected by a natural disaster. The company deploys the mobile fleet that carries 32 washers and dryers to a disaster site for a few days where they wash, dry and fold laundry people bring them for free. To this day, the company has washed over 58,000 loads of laundry for more than 43,000 families. Most recently, the fleet headed to Colorado in late September to help those affected by the flooding in the area. Although it’s as simple as doing a load of laundry, they are helping communities by trying to make their lives better with little acts of kindness.

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How do engagement and conversation on social media sites affect SEO and vice versa?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plays a critical role in directing traffic and leads to a company’s website. However, SEO is a difficult thing to understand, and it’s even more difficult to predict rankings.

161335395 - SEO ImageGoogle uses more than 150 signals to determine rankings. They also use a formula that changes constantly to keep you from figuring out their system. They also add in random variables to make it even more difficult to crack.

But over the past year or so, more SEO experts, social media gurus and bloggers have been saying, “Social media signals affect SEO rankings.” Continue reading “How do engagement and conversation on social media sites affect SEO and vice versa?” »

The Art of Crafting Engaging Social Media Contests

One way businesses work to increase brand loyalty is by engaging with their fans on social media by hosting a contest! There are two different goals for social media contests:

  1. Increase fan base – usually by hosting a sweepstakes contest where fans have to simply “click to enter” and fill out a form. This is an easy way for a business to gain more customer information, and it will increase the amount of likes or followers. The problem arises with brand loyalty and will they continue to come back to your brand page once the contest is over?
  2. Engage and reward existing fans – done by doing types of contests with a higher barrier of entry, such as photo or video submissions. By asking customers to take an extra step beyond filling out a form, fans who do are more engaged with the brand. Brands, on the other hand, can learn what the fans are truly interested in and, in turn, reward them by continuing to do things they like. This approach seems to increase brand loyalty as fans that are engaged with the brand have more of a vested interest in it and, therefore, will be more likely to continue to come back.

So which platform is best for hosting engaging social media contests? Each one of them can do it well in a slightly different way.

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TREND SPOTTER – 5 W’s on Snapchat for Brands

You heard it here first. Despite a reputation as a platform used for conducting questionablesnapchat logomessaging practices with others, in actuality, Snapchat is much more than that. I didn’t learn this until I tested out the platform firsthand – it’s a force to be reckoned with and could prove to be a viable marketing tool for brands.

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