Should Marketers Engage in Reddit?

Most people have heard of Reddit. The platform has become a hot topic during major news events such as the Boston Marathon bombings. In the hours and days that followed, Reddit users acted as citizen journalists to report breaking news on the spot and working to identify the suspects. But when compared to other social media sites, it seems that most people don’t really understand how the Reddit community works or how their company could engage with it.

What is Reddit?

Original fan art by M/C/C

Original fan art by M/C/C

To start with the basics, Reddit is a completely user-driven social platform. By its own definition, “users provide all of the content and decide, through voting, what’s good and what’s junk. Links that receive community approval bubble up towards #1, so the front page is constantly in motion and (hopefully) filled with fresh, interesting links.”

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Haters Gonna Hate: How Brands Should React

In today’s world where blogging and social media provide multiple platforms for activists and customers to voice their opinions, businesses (big and small) are continually feeling pressure and hearing overwhelming amounts of criticism not for anything the company has necessarily “done” but for who they are or what they believe. It makes me think about these three important questions:

  1. Should brands correct their haters or let the criticism fizzle out?
  2. How can brands not get consumed by the negativity and survive the heat?
  3. What are some real-world responses from brands under attack?

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Are Social Media Users Already Desensitized to Ads?

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said, “the only constant is change.” That’s always been true of marketing and advertising, but the rapid shift from traditional advertising to social advertising has come at a blistering pace. According to a recent article by AdAge, in just a few short years, Facebook alone has surpassed the reach of the four TV broadcast networks in two key demographics: 18-to-24-year-olds and 25-to-34-year-olds. Pretty incredible really – and a testament to how many people are on social media. Pew Research Center issued a report and noted that an eye-popping 71 percent of all U.S. adults are on a social network. When this usage is broken down by demographic, the numbers get even more impressive: 89 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds are posting, while 78 percent of 30-to-49-year-olds are on, as are 60 percent of 50-to-64-year-olds and 43 percent of those over 65.

With that kind of volume and reach to consumers, it’s easy to understand why social networks and brands big and small are banking on social media 476945953 - Digital Marketingadvertising. As brands evaluate a media landscape that’s increasingly fractured, many are intrigued by the opportunity to target specific demographics, social connections, interests, and habits. Combine that targeting with high engagement and desirable demographics and you can begin to understand the growth predictions. BIA/Kelsey recently came out with a study that offers one view, forecasting $11 billion of social ad spend in 2017, up from $4.7 billion last year.

So, with the explosion of social advertising across platforms, how will consumers react? Will they continue to be receptive to messages in their social environments or will they tune out? Continue reading

Selfies Are Taking Over The World!

Okay, maybe selfies aren’t as extreme as the title suggests, but with social sharing sites like Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and Imgur, selfies are becoming more and more popular. So popular, in fact, that “selfie” became the Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year in 2013.

Thousands of selfies are taken every day. Popular figures such as President Obama, Darth Vader and the infamous Justin Bieber have even caught the selfie bug. They are personal, revealing a glimpse of how people view themselves.

Also, let’s not forget what happened at the Academy Awards. Ellen, Brad and the gang’s selfie resulted in more than 3.3 million retweets and almost 2 million favorites! That selfie broke Twitter.

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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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Reactive Tweeting, It’s a Thing of the Now

Brands flocked to squawk in 2013 proving Twitter is where the conversation is at no matter the event. These companies taught us that you don’t have to create an event and live tweet to increase brand visibility and engagement. Instead, hijack one. If done correctly, brands can capitalize on already established events such as football games, award shows, TV specials, etc., and join the already ongoing conversation alongside their fans.

Two great examples seen in 2013 — Oreo and DiGiorno.

DiGiorno captured the attention of its followers and millions of musical lovers by hijacking the highly anticipated NBC live production of “The Sound of Music,” starring Carrie Underwood. Reported as almost stealing the show, DiGiorno sent out roughly 40 fun-loving tweets with the hashtag #TheSoundofMusicLive. Often  tweeting commentary about scenes that most viewers would agree with such as, “#TheSoundofMusicLive Can’t believe pizza isn’t one of her favorite things smh,” the witty one-liners were timed brilliantly to coincide with what was happening on the screen. Continue reading

Modern Marketing – Talk with, not at, your customers

“Good morning, Mr./Ms. Marketer. This is your wake-up call. While you were sleeping, the marketing world moved on without you and your company’s brand. We hope you enjoy your stay at Ye Olde Fashioned Advertising Inn. Goodbye.”

Modern marketing rarely gives you such clear notice. That’s why this blog is here. Gone are the days when your company only needed to run clever ads in the paper or on TV, telling customers why they should spend their hard-earned money on your product. Instead, technology has opened up new channels of two-way communication, and a growing number of techno-friendly customers expect your company to use these channels to engage with them on a deeper, richer basis than ever before.

Of course, there’s social media – that’s a no-brainer. Any brand worth its social salt should actively engage its audience with content they’ll find interesting and useful, not just sales messages. In fact, some of the most effective brands go further, using social media as a customer service resource, responding to customers individually in real-time whenever they report an issue via Facebook or Twitter. But social media is just one channel. The real opportunity awaits the brands that go beyond social media – to use every medium at their disposal not to talk AT their customers but to drive conversations WITH them. You can see what I mean by revisiting a legendary marketing campaign from the past.

If you were at least 10 years old in the 1980s, you might remember when Chrysler nearly went bankrupt the first time. To help turn its financial tide, the company revamped its product line and hired a new CEO. Little known to the average American when he took over Chrysler, Lee Iacocca became a household name as the star of the automaker’s TV campaign. In his commercials, he was frank and likeable and tough, and he had a patriotic swagger that America yearned for in the middle of a difficult recession.

The campaign was wildly successful, and Chrysler rebounded. But from a marketing perspective, Chrysler and Iacocca could’ve connected with America even more effectively using today’s technology.

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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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How to Measure the Value of Blogger Relations

Blogger relations is as important in today’s marketing mix as traditional media relations, and much like its sister function, blogger relations can also prove challenging when reporting a return on investment (ROI) to the people that hold the purse.

Historically, one way this challenge has been approached on the media relations side is to value coverage in publications at what you would have spent had you placed an ad there. This has never been a method we’ve subscribed to at M/C/C because every good PR pro knows it doesn’t take into account the weight – or quality – of press coverage, such as whether an article is a full feature solely about a client, a simple quick mention of the brand name, a press release pick-up or quick news brief.

Photo by Sean Hagen, CC-BY-2.0

The crossroads where monetary value and content value meet is where the battle of quantity versus quality is waged. This is true for measuring or demonstrating the value in a blogger relations program as well. We all value the word-of-mouth that comes from a great blog post by a real, familiar, everyday customer writing that they’ve had a positive experience with your brand, your employees, your product or your service; but at the end of the day executives need to be presented with something tangible to support the feel-good. Think of quality as the tabletop and quantified results as the legs that hold it up.

Here are a few tips for giving your blogger relations campaigns legs:

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