Real Time Social? Guess Again.


Originally posted on The Huffington Post Blog.

We can agree that when it comes to social media, we’re all panning for real-time gold. We’re tirelessly keeping up with the trends and coaching our clients (or bosses) about the importance of being in today’s conversation – which isn’t necessarily the one we planned on. Reach just isn’t possible without super smart real-time executions that propel our brands into the now, especially when paid dollars aren’t on the table.

But here’s the problem: our highly regulated, bureaucratic world isn’t suited for the quick movements necessary to make real-time possible. And it’s not the fault of the process. There is so much compliance involved that large companies are rendered motionless until they’re given the go-ahead from their legal departments.

But trends die out as quickly as they catch on, and in the time it takes to get something approved, your real-time relevance is gone with the wind.

So, the only times we’re able to hop on a trend or be part of a live conversation is when:

  1. We’ve anticipated almost every possible conversation, developed messaging that makes sense for each and gotten all of these approved ahead of time. Sounds efficient, right? No. But when it works, it works. For instance, this awesome tweet from Beats by Dre during the 2013 MTV VMAs:2015-10-02-1443822621-2367040-dre.jpg

    Beats by Dre anticipated a conversation around Lady Gaga’s arrival and capitalized on it. The result? A shout out from Miley Cyrus…organic reach like whoa.

  2. We’re able to identify a conversation early enough that we have time to not only develop content, but get that content approved both internally and by our client and get it in front of legal with enough time to publish before the conversation ends. Have you rolled your eyes yet? Yes, definitely tough to overcome, but somehow brands have figured out a way to work around it – think Oreo and the #SuperBowl XLVII power outage:2015-10-02-1443822735-5870405-oreo.jpg

    Did you see that? Yep, this singular tweet received over 15,000 retweets. And it came as the result of a LIVE collaboration between agency and client, creative and listening, strategy and account.  All branches coming together, likely in one room (the “war room”), to monitor and brainstorm together with their legal reps. It takes a lot of people and a lot of effort, but, in this case, the brandlive/war room approach was well worth it. But is this realistic for every brand?

  3. The stars have aligned and the current convo magically fits 100% into our scheduled content. We can then simply slap a hashtag on it and publish early. Yes, there are ways to strategize and help make this a reality, but it’s not a model that can sustain itself.Without a hero’s commitment and Oprah Winfrey pockets it’s almost impossible to carry any of these out. No matter the amount of relevance, if there’s no media budget for this extreme effort in relevance, no one will see it. It’s actually likely to get less traction than one of your regular promoted posts.

There’s only one exception that my colleagues and I can agree upon, and that’s Instagram. Not only do hashtags seem to trend for longer on Insta (remember#nationaldaughtersday? Yeah, it lasted for three days), but paying attention to them is actually pretty posh. However, their recent push into the advertising spotlight is likely to change that reality as well.

So what’s the solve? How do we ensure that social is truly interactive when we live in a highly regulated world?

My prediction (and maybe my childish dream), is the rise of social compliance agencies that are dedicated to learning the ins and outs of specific industry regulations and how they apply to social media. Agencies with staff members dedicated to 24/7 support who can deliver short turn around times, and, most importantly, who have their asses covered with the best legal teams in social.

But we’re trying to be real…right?

So, for the purists out there, keep trying to jump over hurdles to win your insta-gold medal. And prove me wrong by getting some ROI out of these extraordinary efforts. Until then, we’ll all settle for as real as real-time can get.


Originally written for & published on Social Media Examiner.

Want to make sure your ads stand out on Facebook and Instagram?

Have you tried Carousel Ads?

While many businesses use Carousel Ads solely to promote products, the ads also provide an excellent opportunity to showcase your brand’s unique narrative.

In this article, I’ll share how to use storytelling in carousel ads to promote your products and stand out from your competitors.

Discover how to tell stories with Facebook and Instagram Carousel ads.

#1: Grab Attention With the First Image

The first rule of storytelling (and advertising for that matter) is to start out strong. Be sure the first image in your carousel ad series grabs attention and makes sense on its own.

Since users may not scroll through all of the images in the series, you want to get your message across right away. Otherwise, you risk confusing your audience and wasting impressions.

For example, in Progressive’s #ActYourAge carousel ads, the first image immediately stands out.

progressive carousel ad

Make sure the first image in your series grabs attention and can stand on its own.

It uses a white background, which is very different from normal photography on the platform, and has a man playing with a baby’s mobile (also known as a carousel). The picture is so unexpected and kooky, the user can’t help but read the line below: “Dump your parents’ car insurance company. #ActYourAge.”

While your first image shouldn’t rely on any of the others to get its point across, it should still be intriguing enough to get users to swipe through to the end.

#2: Make Them Swipe

With any story, the point is to keep the reader engaged throughout and ultimately to read through to the end. Just as authors want to keep their readers interested, the same is true with carousel ads.

Once you’ve hooked the user with the first image, encourage continued engagement with the other images. This gives your brand more exposure and increased recall.

This carousel ad by Tesco Foods certainly elicits the “I can’t stop swiping” response. To see the entire photo users must swipe through all of them. This is a great example of drawing a user through a story and, in this case, a very delicious-looking one.

carousel ad example

Keep users engaged so they feel they must swipe through to the end.

Test out this concept for your brand. Use Photoshop’s splice tool (or play with pictures in your favorite design program) to cut separate images from a larger one.

#3: Create a Scene

Relating to your audience and evoking emotion are the other important parts of storytelling. To do these, provide the context necessary for users to feel like they’re right there with you. Place them at the scene.

Choose photos carefully to create imagery for carousel ads. Then write copy to draw in your audience.

The TV series Wet Hot American Summer did a great job getting their audience members to envision themselves at Camp Firewood. Pictures show the characters hanging out and doing things with their friends. Plus the image and copy pairing is so clever that users not only picture themselves there, they also remember how they felt when they attended summer camp years ago.

carousel ad example

Using images and text, set a scene that is relatable to your audience.

Obviously it’s easier to set the scene when you’re advertising something with a plot, like a television show or movie. However, for products and services, figure out how your brand fits into your customers’ lives and create a scene that demonstrates it.

For example, if you’re advertising a shirt, rather than show still images of it, think about the lifetime of the shirt. It goes from fresh and new in a package to being worn to being cleaned to being borrowed by a friend, etc. Photos that showcase a story create a plot, which evokes emotion from your customers.

#4: Think Sequentially

The order of events is essential to story comprehension. A well-edited sequence provides a natural pace to the story within your ad. Help move your users through your story.

Showtime did a great job incorporating natural sequence into its recent ads around the second season of Penny Dreadful. In just four photos you can tell the story is about a man on the run. He shoots someone, says goodbye to his girlfriend and runs away to a church.

carousel ad example

Sequence the images in your ad to increase story comprehension.

Keep in mind that sequence doesn’t necessarily mean chronological order. It just means every action captured leads to a reaction.

#5: Incorporate Visual Variety

In videography, visual variety means shooting multiple shots of the same scene from different locations, angles, distance and so on. Choose an assortment of images to build a story and ensure visual interest.

In this jean ad from Target, each shot has a role in painting the big picture. It brings the audience into the design studio, shares what the studio is like and displays what kind of jeans are being made.

carousel ad example

Use a variety of image shots to make your ads interesting and paint the big picture for your audience.

Most feature films show multiple images to set the scene. This is something you can easily do with carousel ads.

#6: Consider the Platform

No matter what your story, if you want to stand out, think about the channel first. Look at the platform’s audience, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, and what they expect out of it. Then design an ad that speaks to them.

For example, Buick hit it out of the park on Instagram with these ads about its new 24-hour test drive service. The photography is beautiful (an Instagram must), and it uses a popular photo filter. Buick is also leveraging some of the top content categories that receive the most engagement by users on Instagram: fashion and fitness.

carousel ad example

Make sure whatever story you tell, it’s in alignment with the platform.

Develop a channel-specific story that makes the best use of the platform, and increases engagement with your intended audience.

#7: Leave Your Audience Wanting More

If there’s a place to break the rules of storytelling, here it is: do not give a conclusion. Rather than offering a natural ending, lure users into clicking the learn morebutton, so they can finish the story on your custom landing page.

For example, Sour Patch Slurpee takes viewers through the first four images of a Sour Patch Kid story. So much excitement is generated that users want to see what comes next. After they click, they’re directed to a landing page that extended the “party” to its audience. This custom landing page asks users to share their #SPKSlurpeeSelfies.

carousel ad example

Create a story that leaves users clicking for more.

The purpose of carousel ads is to increase awareness and engagement. However, the ultimate goal is to get the audience to continue the experience and click through to a landing page. When that happens, you’re able to establish a relationship, continue the interaction and possibly capture your users’ information.

Final Thoughts

With today’s cluttered ad space, it’s getting harder to really stand out. If you want to build a breakthrough carousel ad, start by creating an engaging story that takes your audience along for the ride.

What do you think? Do you use storytelling in your carousel ads? What techniques are most effective? Which brands’ ads really stand out?

3R of content strategy

#TheDress & The Three R’s of Great Content: React, Resonate, Recall


Okay. I always saw it as black and blue. In fact, I have no idea how anyone else saw that dress any other shade. But, my cones & rods aren’t the point here. The virality that was #thedress had all of us (who aren’t hidden under a rock) scheduling eye doctor appointments. All of us except for the Salvation Army, who used the dress as a chance to spread awareness about domestic violence:

Salvation Army black and blue

Now generally the response to their campaign was positive. It’s a topic that needs to be talked about. But, something about it put me off. I wasn’t immediately sure whether I agreed with it. But I knew I felt something. And as I talked with a colleague, it reminded me of a very simple content principle:

Three R’s: React, Resonate, Recall.

One I learned first hand in research I conducted years ago on these Australian anti-drunk driving ads:

Try to watch that and not react.

We tested the difference in reactions between these drunk driving PSAs by the TAC (drink and drive and people get hurt) and the American very pragmatic approach toward drunk driving PSAs (drink and drive and get a ticket). The results were pretty astounding.

The people who watched the Australian PSAs reported having stronger opinions regarding drunk driving than respondents who watched the American PSAs almost without fault. And if you watch that video, you’ll notice that the PSAs also had a huge effect on the amount of lives lost due to drunk driving since they began 20 years ago.

So what’s the point? The point is the reaction. It’s all about the reaction. Whether it be a smile, a laugh, a tear, a gasp, and in this case, probably all of the above, it’s the reaction that triggers memory. It’s your strong response that allows you to remember the experience, make associations in your brain and then recall the information later. And that’s why a PSA with such a strong message actually gets results.

Now we can’t attribute everything to an ad, or a tweet for that matter. But what we can surmise from this is the powerful effect or contribution that advertising, messaging, brand perspective and storytelling can have on a society when it’s relevant – yet another ‘R’ to add to the mix. Can every campaign we create elicit this same level of emotion? I’d argue no, it can’t. But is it something every brand should strive for? Absolutely.

And if you want to strike a chord that resonates and people recall later, with an eventual goal of increased awareness and, dare I say, increased sales or brand lift, you have to think strategically about the types of people you want to react, how, and how it aligns with your brand.

Your goal can’t be to make someone laugh. Well, it can be…if you’re a comedian. But the real genius brand content is the content that elicits a laugh and evokes a memory that can easily be re-associated with your brand, or your brand’s message. Otherwise the emotion will pass, and you will have lost your moment to make a lasting exchange with your audience.

So, back to #thedress takeover. My first reaction to the Salvation Army tweet and campaign was negative. I felt it in my gut. Black and blue used in that way disturbed me. But that was the point. And that’s the genius of it. The entire campaign was designed to shock you. But shock you into awareness around something that we all try our hardest to ignore. And guess what, we’re talking about it. We’re remembering it. And we’ll recall this later, I promise.

What are your favorite examples of content that makes you react?


Things Will Never Be The Same: The Growing Necessity of Paid Social


The Growing Necessity of Paid Social As social lovers and marketers, we all knew there would come a time when our favorite social platforms would find themselves answering to their investors. That’s just the way it is.

And now, unfortunately, things will never be the same.

(At least where organic vs. paid social is concerned.)

Last week Twitter announced its intention to filter user’s Twitter Feeds. In effect, choosing the content that does and does not get seen by each user. There are two schools of thought around this:

  1. The average Twitter user feels quite overwhelmed by the amount of content that appears in his feed, which inevitably leads him to be less active. Lower active user counts, then, disheartens investors.
  2. The Twitter connoisseur enjoys her ability to follow who she wants and always see the most recent content in her feed. She loves that as long as she follows her local news station, for instance, she’ll see any/all breaking news stories in her area.

But if Twitter does decide to create its own algorithm (much like Facebook’s EdgeRank), no content is guaranteed to make your feed, especially if you haven’t interacted with a tweet from a particular user in a while.

Twitter is doing two things here. It’s addressing the information-overload complaint from average users while also forcing brands to amp up their efforts by using their paid options. Promoting your tweets will eventually be the only way to make 100% sure that your followers see your content, not to mention reaching your potential followers.

After a change similar to this on Facebook, AgoraPulse and Mark Schaefer found that more than 70% of all companies across 104 industries had a decline in organic reach of 30% or more. And while the question on whether the brands are to blame for their decline in reach is still valid, the hard truth is that Facebook’s algorithm change has led to a very steep decline in organic reach and engagement rates across the board. And this same trend will likely rear its ugly head on Twitter as well.

The answer: dollars.

Innovation and relevancy have always been the pathway to success on social. But the almighty algorithm is driving the need for brands to invest in not only great content, but also in sponsored and paid social advertising – especially, if they want to see their social programs succeed.

Conversion Rates for Paid vs. Organic Social Network Advertising by emarketerThe good news in all this is that paid social ads actually have proven to achieve higher conversion rates than organic content (via emarketer 2014 Q1 study). Especially on Twitter, where ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users.

So now, the questions will not be, should I spend money on social ads? Rather how much, when, and why?



B2B Video Marketing: Why B2B companies should use YouTube


Considering the videos you watch on YouTube, you might not think that it’s the right place for B2B companies to communicate. Isn’t it for videos of cute kittens and babies? But as online video consumption increases, YouTube is becoming a top online destination for everyone, including the B2B industry. Increasingly, video is proving it can engage users much more than any other medium, no matter who they are.

Why should B2B marketers use YouTube?

YouTube has evolved over the years from a novelty into a mainstream method for executives to receive business information. In fact 75% of executives watch work-related videos each week (Forbes Insights). Studies show that decision-makers increasingly want to watch, not read.

You can probably draw from your own experience. How many times have you reverted to YouTube to learn more about a company ? Or to learn more about some business-related subject matter?

B2B companies often have involved concepts and processes that are hard to explain with text. A dynamic video can explain these much more efficiently and in a more captivating way than a long text-filled web page.

Not only will executives appreciate the brevity and ease of a video that can spark their interest, but they’re also apt to share it with their colleagues. Younger execs, in particular, are more inclined not only to view video but to also create and share it over the business-oriented social web. The more your videos are shared, the greater the likelihood that other people will watch it.

If we haven’t given you reason enough to consider YouTube as part of your B2B marketing strategy consider this:

Studies show that people who have seen a video are more likely to convert to a lead.

So, YouTube is not only helping B2B marketers build incremental reach among decision makers, but it’s also helping to engage and convert them. All in all, YouTube is helping B2B organizations sustain long-term customer relationships and carve out potential leads.

Using YouTube has a few other added bonuses:

  •  YouTube improves a brand’s SEO and natural search rankings. Because Google knows that people prefer videos, a keyword-titled video shows up in search results much more often than a written post. In fact, videos attract 300% more traffic than a plain-text article, according to Marketing Sherpa.
  • On YouTube people are able to leave comments, creating an even stronger bond between them and your brand.
  •  YouTube provides comprehensive reporting and analytics to track your efforts, so that you can be absolutely sure you’re creating the right content for your target.

How to properly take advantage of YouTube & video marketing for your organization?

B2B marketers who use YouTube can increase awareness and preference, demonstrate products, share knowledge, and put a likeable, human face on their company, but it takes a sound strategy in order to do this. This strategy is built by learning what information and content your current and prospective clients are looking for and what they want to know about you. American Express has done a wonderful job leveraging YouTube for their B2B communication needs: Amex Open Forum.

Craving more information? Leave a comment below with your questions or email for more specific strategic approaches to YouTube as well as information about YouTube advertising!

It’s a Jungle Out There: How to chose the perfect Facebook ad format for your goals


Facebook advertising is more sophisticated than it was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. When advertising was first introduced to the platform, Right-hand Side Ads were the only option, but now the options are almost endless (at least with the various types they seem endless!).

Navigating these different ad options can be tough for a marketer to do without a ton of experience under his belt. There are so many things to consider:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. How are you measuring success?
  3. What kind of content do you have at your disposal?
  4. What kind of content does your target audience engage with the most often?
  5. How do you want users to change with your content?

To help you more easily choose the right ad type for your specific needs, here’s a rundown of the different ad types and the best ways to use them:

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

These are the traditional ads provided by Facebook that allow advertisers to get in front of users who are on their desktop devices. The important word here being…DESKTOP. They aren’t served on mobile devices, so if you’re trying to reach people when they’re on the go, this is not the best option for you. Also consider that at the end of January 2014, Facebook mobile users surpassed desktop users.

Right-hand Side Ads work well as a means of awareness and continuity for the rest of your campaigns – they’re a great way to keep your brand and message top of mind throughout your campaign.

With a platform like AdRoll, you can use Right-hand Side Ads to retarget users and get them back to your website or landing page to achieve higher CTRs and engagement rates.

Facebook Promoted Post Ads – Link & Image

Recently, Facebook changed its algorithm (EdgeRank), making it nearly impossible for brands to appear in a user’s News Feed without serving an ad. So, if you want to make sure your post gets seen, you’re going to need to put some money toward it. The good news is that promoted posts (when done correctly) are very engaging and see low CPCs.

There are two different types of Promoted Posts to use for different purposes.

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts used to be the only option for Promoted Posts. This was based on the knowledge that users interacted with image posts more often than link or text posts. In fact, photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes than the average post. So if you’re looking for user engagement in the form of page Likes, post Likes, comments, or shares, Image Promoted Posts are a great way to go.

The one downside to Image Promoted Posts is that you cannot ensure a click to your landing page or Facebook tab with one of these posts. When a user clicks on the image, he or she is taken to a larger version of the picture, not to your website, so there is no way to guarantee that a user actually gets to your site. When bidding on a CPC basis with these posts, you aren’t paying for a click to your landing page, you’re paying for a bigger image view.

The best way use Image Promoted Posts is to increase your Page Likes or interactions with your brand in general, as they garner more shares and Likes (in my experience) than any other format.

Link Promoted Posts

Facebook Link Promoted Post

Facebook Link Promoted Post

A month or so after Facebook introduced the new link post format with much larger images, they also introduced Link Promoted Posts. Like Image Promoted Posts, Link Promoted Posts can be served to users on both mobile and desktop devices and are best used for directing users to another landing page or Facebook Tab, because no matter where a user clicks on your post, he will be directed to your landing page. In that vein, if you’re measuring success by the amount of leads your campaign as generated, or entries your contest received then Link Promoted Posts are the most efficient use of your budget.

Facebook has also introduced Cost Per Action bidding, which allows an advertiser to pay only when a user has visited your website or when a user completes some pre-determined action (like filling out a form). In my experience, though, the average cost per action is much higher than your average cost per click AND Facebook will generally serve fewer impressions of your ad because they’re not guaranteed to make as much money off of it.

Page Like Ads & App Install Ads

There are a few other ad types I haven’t mentioned, like Page Like Ads & App Install Ads. As their names suggest, Page Like Ads are used to help you generate more Likes to your page and App Install Ads (allowed only on mobile devices) are used to advertise a new app to user.

The best campaigns use a mixture of all of these ad formats (except for the App Install Ads, which don’t apply to all situations). As they all serve a different purpose, they’re complementary in that manner – Increase awareness with Right-hand Side Ads, increase user engagement with Image Promoted Posts and, further down the funnel, capture a user’s information with link promoted posts.

What other questions do you have about the different Facebook ad types?

I’m more than happy to answer them – just tweet @social_allie.

Data-Based Advertising: Targeting with Facebook Partner Categories


When isn’t Facebook in the news? It seems that, no matter what, there’s always a story. Facebook stock has gone down! Facebook stock as gone up! Facebook changes its layout…again. Facebook allows video ads! The list is endless.

So, sometimes the really HUGE information can get lost. In this case it’s Facebook’s partnership with Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon. Techcrunch and some of the other tech-savvy pubs covered this news. But somehow its importance to advertisers just didn’t break through. Instead, consumers were more worried about the impending transfer of personal data from these services to Facebook (understandably so).

But from an advertisers standpoint, this news is groundbreaking. These data services will match up a user’s online browsing activity (outside of Facebook) with their Facebook user IDs, thereby allowing Facebook to provide advertisers over 500 new unique targeting groups (with more to come).

These third-party data services provide additional data to make your target audience come to life in an even more relevant manner. Here is an overview of the targeting capabilities provided by these data services and a little more about each company:

Facebook Targeting Partner Categories

Acxiom is a data company with 32 billion data records. It’s one of the industry leaders when it comes to compiling, managing, and applying consumer & business data for marketing. Facebook’s current partnership with Acxiom allows you to target based on the household information of a user (their dwelling type, the market value of their house, whether they rent or own, etc.). You can also target users based on what sort of bank cards/credit cards they use, whether they invest some of their money, and what their job role is (administration/managerial, clerical, educator, farmer, financial, etc.).

Acxiom - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

Datalogix has a database containing more than $1 trillion in offline purchase-based data. They convert this data into an online universe of custom-made targeting profiles. Facebook’s partnership with Datalogix seems the most beneficial as it includes general buyer personas (e.g. fashionista, healthy & fit, green consumers, sportsman, etc.), retail categories (flower buyers, childrens products, pet supply, etc.), and subscription service categories (enrolled in online higher ed, has a mortgage, signed up for online auto insurance, etc.) to make it a bit easier for advertisers to put together their targets.

Datalogix - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

Datalogix - Facebook Advertising Partner Targeting

When I first learned the word Epsilon, it was as a letter in the Greek alphabet (I have my 10th grade teacher to thank for having memorized the entire thing!). But Epsilon, the data company, provides transactional data and consumer-reported survey data. Its partnership with Facebook now allows advertisers to create target audiences based on the type of business a person works for, their occupation, whether they have auto loans, if they donate to charitable causes, buy magazines, and more.

Epsilon - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

All of these data options make it easier for advertisers to reach audiences that they might not have been able to in the past. Gone are the days of having to resort to LinkedIn to reach someone in a certain profession. Gone are the days of guessing the items people purchase based on their “Likes.” Now there’s actual data to back these suspicions up.

Because of these partnerships, Facebook ads will not only be more targeted, but they will also be more relevant to they users they’ve targeted. B2B companies, retail companies, and all other companies now have the capability to know that they’ve targeted the right person with a message that’s relevant to them.

Twitter TV Ad Targeting: Qualifications for Advertisers


This morning at its #Twitter4brands conference, Twitter unveiled two new services: TV Ad Targeting & Twitter Amplify. We’re most excited about the new TV Ad Targeting project, but have discovered that it may be a VERY long time before advertisers and brands will actually be able to use it, especially because of its budget restrictions and exclusivity.

Here’s what we learned about the new products:

Twitter Amplify:

We knew when they announced the Vine app that Twitter was trending toward making video a more prominent part of the Twitter user experience. But we had no clue what was on the horizon. This morning we learned that media brands and their ad partners can promote short television clips on Twitter. It’s been in Beta for a while, with 5-10 second replays from NBA basketball games. But brands will now be able to include their message at the end of the clip. For instance, a clip from “The Weather Channel followed by an ad for a restaurant chain,” (Mashable). How this smaller advertisers will be able to take advantage of this, we’re not exactly sure yet. But what we do know is that promoted videos are an amazing way to really engage an audience.

TV Ad Targeting:

I’ve always been a fan of the technology behind Social TV analytic company Bluefin Labs. Since being acquired by Twitter, though, we had yet to see any major changes in the platform. Until now. This morning Twitter announced a new product that will allow you to promote tweets to users who have just watched your ad on tv, thereby securing post-commercial viewing engagement.

Twitter is now enabling brands to consider the entire Social TV experience and giving them a chance to break through. Want users to watch your commercial and then visit your amazing website or start playing your social game? With TV ad targeting on Twitter, this is now a reality. The Social TV movement has finally come full circle.

But you’ll have to hold your horses, because the project is currently in Beta and only being offered to current Twitter ad partners. I was also sad to find that the reality is that this is a product only brands with large marketing budgets can afford.

Here are the qualifications needed before Twitter will allow you to use Twitter TV Targeting (as confirmed by an account executive at Twitter):

  • Run national TV advertisements in the US that span multiple days (ideally across multiple shows and/or networks)
  • Run TV ad targeted campaigns for a minimum of one week, in line with TV schedule
  • Promote tweets that reinforce the same message as TV ads
  • Allocate a minimum of $100K incremental (per handle) to “Promoted Tweet” campaigns coordinated with TV ads.
    • $50K of this must be allocated to TV ad targeting, with remaining funds to be allocated at the client’s discretion.
  • Have spent at least $25K with Twitter in 2013

With these new opportunities, will you rethink your Twitter advertising budget?


Facebook Advertising: Targeting Niche Audiences


While I strongly recommend well-thought-out social media strategies that predominantly include organic social media tactics, I also understand the necessity for paid social media advertising (though I wouldn’t advocate for Twitter promoted trends unless you have a luxurious marketing budget).

Paid social ads, particularly Facebook ads, are relatively cost efficient, have the ability to kickstart a campaign and, most of all, they provide one of the most highly targeted mediums available.

Gone are the days of the “cast a wide net” theory. Now it’s the online networks and publications with the ability to provide hyper-targeted niche audiences that are of most interest to advertisers. Facebook is one of the best when it comes to reaching these tightly woven target audiences.

For some reason, though, whether it be the hype associated with the Facebook IPO or the general misuse of Facebook ad campaigns by the average user, the amazing targeting options and high click-through rates of Facebook ad campaigns are often lost on marketers.

Some suspect that their target audience simply isn’t on Facebook or that Facebook users don’t click on ads. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Q1 of 2013, Facebook reported that it had 1.11 BILLION users. A wide variety of reports confirm that these users also check Facebook daily, if not multiple times per day (especially on their mobile devices)…even while they’re working out. And if you’re using the correct combination of creative elements and have the correct strategy in place (e.g. lead generation), Facebook users WILL click on your ads.

Now that we’ve tackled that elephant in the room, let’s dive into what exactly the Facebook targeting options are:

  1. Demographics: You can target users by location (by zip code, city, state, country, within x miles of specific cities), age (any range up to age 65), sex, and relationship status (married, engaged, single with interests in males or females).
  2. Birthday: You can create ads that are targeted at people who have a birthday in the next week (or other specific timeframe).
  3. Precise Interests: Facebook considers information such as the Facebook pages the users “Like,” the apps they use, and any other information they have added to their Facebook timeline, to determine their precise interests. These can be drawn from their listed interests, activities, education, job titles, groups they belong to, and more.
  4. Facebook Broad Categories: If you need a little help developing your target audience and can’t quite come up with precise interests, Facebook also has broader categories. These are also based on users’ status updates or any actions they have taken on Facebook.
  5. Education: Target users by the year they graduated, whether they’ve graduated or are still in college, which university they attended, and even which subject area they majored in.
  6. Connections: In addition to this demographic data, you can also target people who have “Liked” your page, joined your group, RSVP’d to your event, or users who have used your app. You can even reach the friends of people who have taken any of these actions, which is a powerful way to gain new users/”Likes,” as friends tend to have similar interests.
  7. Partner Categories: Here’s where it gets even more robust. Facebook has partnered with Acxiom, Datalogix & Epsilon to provide over 500 unique groups (with more to come) of people to target via Facebook. These services allow Facebook to combine information from their partners (which is based on a user’s online browsing activity on websites other than Facebook) with the information gathered from the user’s activity on Facebook. Click here for more about targeting with Facebook’s Data Partners.
  8. Custom Audiences: Custom audiences allow advertisers to target their ads to a specific set of users based on a previously owned list of phone numbers or email addresses. Basically, Facebook matches these email addresses and/or phone numbers with Facebook user IDs and encrypted data to build an audience that’s completely your own.
  9. Lookalike Audiences: When you create a custom audience list, you can also create a “lookalike audience” that includes people who are similar to your custom audience list. This way you’re reaching people who have the same interests and demographic information as your custom audience, but that you have not established a connection with just yet.

Allie db&r social media specialist

I’m Six Stories Up at db&r


Allie db&r social media specialistIt has been such a long time since I’ve posted on Shame on me! Here’s the deal – Most of my blogging efforts are now through db&r. As their Social Media Specialist, I curate and write for our blog ( I’m still writing!

So, while I think about my next post exclusively for, I thought I’d share some of the most recent blogs I’ve posted for db&r.

It’s All Relative – Social Media Engagement To Stand The Test Of Time | Nov. 6, 2012
Today, I turn 26 years old. Maybe you think I’m pretty young… or just maybe you’re thinking that’s the perfect age (and I’m hoping this is the case!). As I prepared for a simultaneous election and birth-day, I began reflecting on what it means to be 26 in a “social” world: how has my social media use changed over time; how do I use use social media differently from my parents, my older sister, and my co-workers; and most importantly for us at db&r, what does all this mean for social media marketers? Continue Reading…

Must-Read Posts: Presidential Debate, Social TV, Social Style, Pinterest & More | Oct. 18, 2012
It’s been a busy week (well, couple of months really) here at db&r. Even still, we always make time to stay in touch with the latest online conversations. Here are some of our favorite blog posts, articles, or videos from the week so far: Continue Reading…

Five for Friday: 5 Mac Memories in Remembrance of Steve Jobs | Oct. 5, 2012
It’s exactly one year after one of the greatest innovators of our time passed away – Steve Jobs. When we realized it had already been a year since he passed, we had nothing but memories of our first interactions with Apple. So, for this week’s Five for Friday we pulled together our first Macintosh memories. Continue Reading…

Myspace Redesigns & Repositions: New Myspace Features [Slideshow] | Sept. 27, 2012
A few days ago Justin Timberlake tweeted a link to what I call “the little video that could,” which recaps the new Myspace design as well as some of its functionality. This video has the whole social media world tweeting up a storm. And why? Not just because of its “sexy” design. It’s how the brand seems to be repositioning itself as more of a partner to Facebook and Twitter than a replacement. This move could potentially allow the network to penetrate the mass market…quickly. Continue Reading…

Google Reader & Marketing Your Brand: Why & How to Use RSS Feeds & Google Reader | Sept. 10, 2012
Google Reader has been around since a beta was launched in Google Labs in 2005 – I first started using the service about three years ago. But I’ve discovered that not everyone understands or is even aware of what Google Reader is, let alone how to use it for marketing purposes. So here’s your guide to using Google Reader as a marketing tool. Continue Reading…

Demystifying Facebook Advertising: 9 steps to optimize your Facebook ad campaigns for success | Aug. 14, 2012
Ever since GM pulled its ad dollars from Facebook back in May, there’s been a ton of conversation around the worth and effectiveness of Facebook ads. When Facebook became an IPO, the controversy continued. Now the question is not only whether Facebook advertising justifies a major ad spend, but are also whether Facebook will even be around in a few years. Continue Reading…

Demystifying Facebook Advertising: 9 steps to optimize your Facebook ad campaigns for success


Ever since GM pulled its ad dollars from Facebook back in May, there’s been a ton of conversation around the worth and effectiveness of Facebook ads. When Facebook became an IPO, the controversy continued. Now the question is not only whether Facebook advertising justifies a major ad spend, but are also whether Facebook will even be around in a few years.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this, because it makes no sense that ads on Facebook wouldn’t show a significant return. Not only are there 900 million users, spending on average six hours on the network per day, but it’s also a data machine. The amount of personal data Facebook has access to can translate into hyper-targeted, very well-performing advertisements.

Here’s the problem: the majority of those engaging in Facebook advertising on their own are under-informed about how to use the platform correctly. 

As with most ad mediums, Facebook requires its own set of best practices to ensure good performance and ultimately ROI. After some experience with the platform and one of the best resources for Facebook Advertising, the Social Fresh Facebook Advertising Conference, I know that you really need help to make sure that your ads not only perform well, but to also spend less per click!

Here are the 9 steps to creating effective Facebook advertising campaigns:

    1. Your goal affects everything! If you’re working for a smaller business, you might not have a specific goal in mind. Maybe what you really want is just to gain Facebook fans. You need to think differently! Figure out if your campaign is to create awareness about something, whether it’s meant to create influence, generate leads, or generate actual sales. There’s only so much one advertisement can do, no matter where it lives, so pick out one goal and then go by a few rules we’ll post next week!
    2. Think about your targets (and you should have multiple) as people. Your ads will not be effective if you lump a bunch of interests into one target group. Create targets based on their personas – they probably have an age range, a geographic location, and more than one interest. For instance, if you’re selling scrapbooking supplies maybe your target is in their thirties, they like DIY, but do a little digging to find out that they might also like country music, or have a few kids. Think about them as holistically as possible.
    3. Create content for specific targets. While you might have a similar message to serve all of your targets, each has its own way of processing information. Put everything in context and use the language that your target uses to make highly relevant advertisements.
    4. Test, Test, Test! Test everything and every combination. Split test your headlines, your ad copy, your image and then test how they all work together with specific targets. You might be thinking, “there’s no way I can do all of that.” There probably wouldn’t be, if it weren’t for amazing services like Qwaya and Clickable that save target information, and automatically pair these variables for you. They also allow you to monitor and analyze all of your campaigns asa well.
    5. Prevent ad fatigue. If you didn’t know this – get ready, this is a BIG concept. The more people click on your ads, the lower your ad will cost you. Mind boggling. Usually with display advertising, once click thru rates improve, the site can start charging more. Not with Facebook (or LinkedIn for that matter). Facebook will always award a lower cost per click (CPC) to those ads that prove to truly engage users. After a few days, your ad is probably not receiving the same CTRs as it was when it first started to run. As soon as you see a dip, you should pause the campaign. Otherwise, the same ad will start costing you more and more. To prevent this, all you have to do is make a few changes. Swap out an image or change its color. Keep in mind, though, that lower CPCs are not necessarily indicative of a high-performing campaign. Higher engagement rates on your website or your Facebook tab might mean you need to pay a little more for the click.
    6. Think about the future. The higher CTRs your ads (as an ad manager) receive, the better your reputation. This means from the start of your campaigns, your suggested bids can be lower and lower as Facebook trusts your messaging. So, when creating campaigns today, be sure to monitor them tightly to make sure your average CTR doesn’t nosedive.  Or else, so will your reputation! Remember that Facebook’s benchmark for a great CTR is 0.02%.
    7. Audience sizing is muo importante. It’s not only important to craft very special and deliberate targets to serve your facebook ads to, but it’s also important to make sure that the size of your target makes the effort worthwhile. Any target audience that contains fewer than 5,000 people lends itself to a low-performing campaign AND will result in diminishing returns.
    8. Image, Image, Image. Employ the 3-foot-rule. If you can’t see what’s going on in the image from 3 feet away, then it’s not going to make for an effective ad. In fact, the single most important factor in a well-performing campaign is the image used.
    9. Think about users expectations when it comes to your landing page. If you’re not showing users what they expected to see when they clicked on your ad, then you’re going to have high bounce rates and not see return on your ad dollars. Be sure that  you follow through with any call to action included within your ad AND that you make it super easy for users to understand and take that action. AndNEVER make them scroll.

Facebook Advertising – Premium Ads & the new Timeline


Facebook Timeline is now mandatory for business pages, whether you like it or not! Prior to the switchover Facebook business pages you could produce a professional looking page with lots of options for fan engagement without a large budget.

With the new changes, though, Facebook business pages are definitely not as “small biz friendly.” The new format brought changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank, the look and functionality of business pages, as well as changes to their advertising options. There are now “premium” advertising options for the big guys – things like logout page ads, mobile ads, Facebook offer ads, even news feed ads!! The regular ads we’re used to will pale in comparison.

On top of this Facebook has also changed the amount of characters allowed in an ad to 90 characters so that they can fit more ads on the advertising panel. Meaning that not only will you have less space to get your message across but that you’ll also be competing with more ads. To compete, you’ll need to focus more on the image you post along with your ads – making it stand out from the rest.

So, what are the premium ad options?

1. News Feed Ads – Before this option, the only way an ad could make it to your News Feed was if one of your friends shared or liked the link. Now – businesses can pay for the News Feed placement of Featured or Sponsored Stories Ads regardless of the ad’s actual “Edgerank.” The ad will look like any other post in your feed, except for it will be tagged as “featured.” To the average user, this could be viewed as pretty intrusive, but it is a great opportunity for marketers to get some prime time impressions with their fans’ friends.

2. Logout Ads – I never log out of Facebook, but there are tons of people out there who do, actually around 37 million per day. Facebook is looking to capitalize on this by allowing big brands to purchase advertisements on the sign off page. But only one ad will show up on the sign off page at a time – one huge image for one huge impact. The thought is that these ads will convert more people because they are already ending their Facebook experience and are ready to jump to another site.

3. Mobile Ads – It’s happened. Facebook can’t help itself from serving ads to the 350 million active users who access Facebook via a mobile device. The mobile ads you purchase will appear in the News Feed, but no panel ads (the small screen prohibits side ads).

4. Offers – Premium accounts can now provide discounts and offers to their fans. Offers as easy to create as a status update and are super share-worthy. Combine an offer with a Sponsored Story ad and you’ve got a winning advertising campaign.

And the doozy….

5. Reach Generator – Brands can now pay to guarantee that at least 75% of their fans see a particular post (as opposed to the 16% an average post receives). This is good news for the big brands with deep pockets, but for smaller companies it’s out of the price range. Maybe in the coming months this option will be available at a more reasonable price, but for now it’s an advantage that the major players have over the little guys.

What’s the problem? All of these options sound awesome. The problem is multifaceted. First of all, consumers will be served more ads per day than they’re used to. Second, only certain businesses are allowed these features. The offers ads are great, but small businesses don’t have access to them. Nor do small business have access to News Feed ads.

Until there’s a different EdgeRank for underdogs – allowing their ads or posts to be revealed more often, big businesses are the ones who will be #winning with these new ad changes. One of the reasons so many smaller companies flocked to Facebook in the first place was the ease of use and low overhead it took to compete with their competitors – even the larger brands. Now – that is not so.

From a user’s perspective – yes, we will be receiving more ads then ever from companies. Fortunately, the ads that we’ll see will (or should) engage us more than ever.

What other implications do you see coming from the new ad changes?


WOMMA Webinar with Cara Friedman at Likeable Media

Mikal Belicove. How Facebook’s ‘Offers’ and ‘reach Generator’ Can Deliver More for Less. March 7, 2012.

Super Bowl Challenge: Social TV changes the advertising landscape


Social TV is changing the world. Okay – that might be a little too strong of a statement. But the reality is that social tv could very well be the television’s antidote to streaming services, Netflix, and even the high and mighty DVR.  Why? Because it’s changing the way we consume programing. It’s definitely changed my television watching habits.

If you’re a little confused, I’ll break it down for you. People tweet, post updates on FB, and blog starting the minute their favorite program airs. Tweeps use special hashtags to ensure that they’re a part of the conversation. And now, at least for me, it’s almost a crime to not follow a hashtag along with a show, game, or political event.

Why? Because I want to know what others are saying, what they’re thinking, how they’re reacting. It’s a virtual “water cooler” that you don’t have to wait until the day after to converse around.

As we all stopped watching our shows in real time or began multitasking while watching TV, advertisers and networks started getting scared. There used to be a time when there were few TV channels that everybody watched quietly, with no distractions. How can we reach our target consumers? How do we keep our viewers engaged?

A popular historical reference comes to mind – FDR’s Fireside Chats. Though I wasn’t around in the thirties or forties, I do remember stories of families crowded around their radios to hear his coined, “Good evening, friends” speeches. In fact, Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats attracted more listeners than the most popular broadcasts of the time. There’s no way it couldn’t have been the next day’s topic of conversation.

In this era, we’re lucky that we can chat back and forth during our Presidents’ addresses. We can comment on his tie, his political statements, and whether or not our vice president is on the verge of falling asleep. And in doing so, we’re all coming together in front of our TV sets and paying attention. We’re listening to the words spoken and watching action scenes with our eyes widened.

We know that social media has changed the way we consume media. But, who would have ever thought that this technology would bring us back together akin to Roosevelt’s radio addresses? Well, it’s happening. And advertisers, brands, and networks are finally realizing that by leveraging social media, a 30-second spot can extend way beyond the television frame.

I can’t wait to see what advertisers have in the works for this Sunday’s Super Bowl. In fact, it’s been reported by that every major Super Bowl media investment has a social tv component. Smart for the brands and fun for the consumer. This Super Bowl Sunday is going to be HUGE, and not just for my fellow New England fans. I’m predicting that the social chatter during the game breaks all precedents and saves the almighty commercial from becoming obsolete.

My challenge for you is to get involved. Follow along with the hashtags within commercials in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck streams and join in the conversation. Use NFL Huddle to keep track of all of the updates from players, hosts, and the media before, during, and after the game. If you’re a social media nerd like me, you’ll be happy you did.


Facebook Sponsored Stories & a Happy New Year


Do you know what a sponsored story even is? As a marketer or advertiser, you notice the small differences in the different ad forms and platforms. A banner ad on a website is soooo much different from a site takeover or a sponsored tweet. But do consumers even recognize a difference? At the end of the day aren’t all advertisements, well, advertisements?

It seems as though Facebook has graciously answered that question for us – absolutely not, and especially not if your approach to advertising is user-friendly. A few months ago, Facebook added Sponsored Stories to the ticker feature on everyone’s “home” page (for more info about the new ticker click here). The Inside Facebook blog noted that this transition was a smooth one without much backlash.

So it seems only natural that Facebook would move forward and start placing these Sponsored Stories in users’ News Feeds. But, what’s a Sponsored Story anyway and how is it going to affect my experience as a Facebook user & my experience as a marketer?

If you have friends on Facebook, you probably have friends who “Like” a few brands and interact with a them on Facebook. So, it’s likely that you’ve seen an update in your news feed from time to time about “Charles Gibson” (for instance) commenting on the ABC World News Page. But, honestly how often do you see those sorts of updates? Probably not that often, and if you do, you probably ignore it.

Formerly, Sponsored Story ads were there to insure that some of these stories actually did show up as ads on the right hand side of your page. There’s an example of one of these ads on the right.

Starting in January, though, those ads will begin to surface in your news feed, looking something like this:

This might seem like a pretty lame way for Facebook to start out 2012, but there are some redeeming qualities for users. First, at least in the beginning, you’ll only ever see one sponsored story ad per day. Second, all Sponsored Stories will be marked as “sponsored,” and Facebook is smartly rolling out the program slowly to all of its more than 800 million active users.

Plus – think about it. It’s not a regular advertisement – it’s something your “friend” has already done or said. And in that sense, it could be engaging. The ads could be created around one of your friends liking Lady Gaga, checking-in to the Brooklyn Museum, or using Spotify – among other types of status updates. At least it’s not one of those random ads that you can’t relate to, right?

And for advertisers – this is going to be the help we need to continue to acquire more interaction among our followers and potential followers. The new Timeline feature has decreased the frequency and likelihood that your regular posts on Facebook will make it to your “fans” news feeds. Which means that brand pages must provide even more relevant content in order to successfully make it into a “Likers” news feed. This new Sponsored Story option gives advertisers a way to combat this. Now a brand might have a chance to make it into someone’s feed, without fighting Facebook’s unknown algorithm.

There are a few problems, though. First, you won’t be able to buy placement only in the news feed for Sponsored Stories. You’ll have to buy into them and cross your fingers that it ends up in the news feed. Facebook also hasn’t provided any pricing information just yet either.

It seems Facebook is playing a game of chess with us marketers and, so far, they’re coming out on top. eMarketer estimates that the addition of Sponsored Stories this year alone has increased Facebook’s global ad revenue in 2011 by 104.3 percent over 2010.

What do you think about Sponsored Stories? Yay or nay?