Started from the bottom now we’re here:  10 revolutionary changes to social media in the 2010s


By: Allie Wassum with contributions from Boston Social Strategy team

The last decade was particularly vibrant for social media. Remember what 2010 was like? Facebook had just surpassed Myspace in unique users with 350 million users. Foursquare had just launched and in less than 3 years became irrelevant. Mobile was just starting to disrupt desktop usage for entertainment and social networking. Social media marketing was a wild west (some argue it still is), with just over 40% of US adults using it regularly. Fast forward to 2020 and that number has increased to over 70%. Social is now woven into the threads of culture and our culture has forever been changed.

1. The rise of influencers

In 2019 the term ‘influencer’ was finally added to the dictionary, marking its ubiquity outside of just the marketing world. Over the past decade, an influencer changed from being a household name like Jackie O to a handheld name like David Dobrik

Digital influence began to grow as soon as camera technology became synonymous with mobile technology and social networking moved from being about just sharing pictures on your camera roll to sharing pictures of yourself. 

Pair these technological advances with every social platform’s continued focus on who you follow versus what you’re interested in. It’s this emphasis that led to the exponential growth we’ve seen in influencer culture in the past decade. As each social platform has improved its functionality to help users explore and find new accounts to follow, the democratization of influence within these channels exploded, leading to micro-influencers and even the nano-influencers we might use for brand campaigns today. 

Influencers have had an enormous impact on the social media landscape: 

    • The first, and probably most obvious, is the immeasurable pressure placed on “likes” as a form of status. Constantly comparing yourself to an influencer has been proven to promote negative self-worth and impossible standards, not unlike those constructed by popular magazines. 
    • Creators and influencers are often small business owners. Many openly speak about what it means to be an entrepreneur and want to share what they’ve learned. This encouragement has fostered one of the most entrepreneurially-focused generations we’ve ever seen. Nearly half of Gen Zers plan to own their own business and one of the most popular career aspirations for young Americans is to become an influencer.  
    • Influencers have also cultivated a sense of community in social media that may not have happened otherwise. Think about it: having access to celebrities lives and having the potential to actually interact with them keeps you coming back for more. It also makes the world feel smaller. 
    • The rise of influencers has enabled social media to become not just about conversation and entertainment, but also about shopping. Without influencers, it’s unlikely that the rise of commerce via apps like Instagram and Pinterest would have become so pronounced. When you see someone you follow endorsing a product in an environment where it’s encouraged to ask questions, you’re definitely more likely to buy right then and there. 
    • Finally, no change happens in social without influencers being privy to it. Think about Instagram testing the removal of Likes. Influencers expressed varied opinions which will ultimately impact how the platform rolls out this change. 

2. Timeline to algorithm

Prior to 2009, platforms focused on organizing content in users’ feeds chronologically – ensuring the most recent content was seen first. But Facebook noticed something in the last decade that would have widespread implications for its revenue model: people weren’t spending the same time on the platform. Since Facebook needed users to spend more time in platform, it had to make sure the content user’s see when they get to Facebook is relevant, not just recent. Thus, EdgeRank rolled out in 2009 prioritizing affinity, weight and decay. 

Over the rest of the decade, EdgeRank morphed into a complex algorithm that constantly optimized and thereby constantly morphed how users and brands used the platform. Prominent changes included: the deprioritization of branded content, focusing on friends/family over news, prioritizing video content and, more recently, making Groups more prominent. 

Facebook’s algorithmic shift ultimately rolled out from platform to platform as they all realized the revenue power associated with it. With this, the importance of organic social dwindled and it became a “pay to play” environment for brands. Steadily, spend in paid social increased from $1.2B in 2008 to Facebook alone bringing home over $43B in 2019 global ad revenue. That increase has changed the entire user experience of social. It means ads are just a part of our feeds and the amount of media messages we consume in aggregate has increased exponentially.

The introduction of this algorithm has impacted not just social, but also the world. Many argue that we have algorithms to blame for the online echo chambers that contributed to off base 2016 election predictions and, ultimately, to an even further fragmented society.

For all of the negatives attributed to algorithms there are some positives too. Spotify knows what I want to listen to. Netflix knows what I want to watch. Instagram knows what I want to buy. Pinterest knows what I’m planning to do. The barriers to finding the unique things you love are much lower, though the tradeoffs have pervasive implications for data privacy. But let’s keep that can of worms closed for now.

3. The Selfie

Oh, the Selfie. The selfie. THE SELFIE. Selfies have transformed the face of social media from feeds full of photos folks took, to feeds full of photos of one another. But the act of capturing a self-portrait is not something new to this decade.  Throughout history, everyone from artists to astronauts have found creative ways to leave their mark. Even as camera technology steadily improved over the years, the means of taking photos of ourselves was still pretty difficult. It wasn’t until Sony introduced the front-facing camera in 2003 to enhance business meetings that self-portraits finally became easier to capture. Yet, few people actually had this device. Enter the iPhone 4. It was in this model that Steve Jobs unveiled a front-facing camera meant to support its new Facetime service. We’d use it for Facetime, but we’d also use this functionality to forever change the nature of what we share.

The convergence of social networks (where you strive to show your best self) with technology (where you can very easily capture photos of yourself when you’re at your best) provided an addictive outlet for performance and vulnerability like nothing had before. The selfie allowed users to share moments of confidence, of pride, and receive real-time feedback. Paired with the potential for virality inherent in algorithms, the selfie would drive us to seek approval, build confidence and maybe, just maybe, become famous. 

Apps like Snapchat and Instagram now thrive on the selfie. It’s this variable ratio schedule that keeps users on their platforms, driving up time spent in platform and, of course, ad revenue. 

4. Stories & Ephemerality

Without the selfie, “Stories” never would have taken off. But because selfies had already skyrocketed in popularity and phones were more vertically-oriented, peopled swooned when Snapchat launched the format back in 2013. Reggie Brown, credited with the inception of the app, hit on something no one knew they needed – a way to share photos that would eventually disappear. At the time every piece of content felt so permanent and as such, every post held an associated reputational risk. But ephemerality reduced that risk, allowing people to be less curated and way more spontaneous.

Ephemerality was the key that would unlock an untapped world of interactivity and creativity. It let our guards down and once this happened users started to share the silly, uncut tales of their everyday lives. Whether via video, a succession of photos or just in one frame, Stories empowered storytelling. Prior to Snap stories, our creativity was limited by time and functionality. Sure, we had cameras in our hands, but we didn’t have the means to quickly make our perspectives understandable. A selfie of me in class is completely different than a selfie of me puking rainbows, with the caption “acing the test like…”. 

Stories also took off because of the generation they catered to – Gen Z (born between 1995-2015). With seemingly unlimited access to almost any form of media, they are the most creative of all generations. Augmented reality, polls, filters, geo-filters, GIFs, etc., revealed this creativity and provided a more genuine outlet for Gen Z to share its vision with the world.

Today Stories have harnessed this creativity in a way that’s beneficial for our mental wellness and relationships. The pressure for the picture-perfect life can erode our self-worth, but stories finally provided an escape and a way to interact more comfortably and more regularly. 

5. Private messaging

What we can see publicly in our social feeds is only the tip of the iceberg. The majority of sharing and communication in social actually happens under the surface via private messaging. In fact, 63% of people report messaging apps to be their favorite way to send content or recommendations to those in their circle. Despite its popularity as a social medium today, the first era of messaging focused on simple desktop clients (Aim Messenger anyone?). It wasn’t until iOS launched in 2007 that mobile messaging apps inundated the space. 

But what led to the creation of 5 billion global private messaging accounts today? The tiniest little thing – the three-dot typing indicator. In text this little notice let us know someone was around and that the conversation could continue. This extended the length of private text conversations and led to a greater feeling of connectivity. 

We needed this connection. Today’s world is so public—we share what we’re eating, what we’re listening to, where we are, where we work, what vacations we’ve taken—we needed messaging to give us a break from being so “polished” and to have more obviously altruistic conversations — conversations are always more genuine in private settings. 

WhatsApp and Kik knew this and provided unique spaces for users to have more genuine conversations both with friends and brands while still in platform. They integrated interesting chatbot features that furthered conversations when no one else was around. They even enabled commerce in a way that social networks hadn’t yet nailed. In 2011, Snapchat would revolutionize both the social and private messaging space by enabling this deeper connection in a more creative way – lenses, geo-filters and stories. It would become the new check-in and a way for friends to stay connected all day long and enabled new forms of communication between friends. The most popular social networks would follow suit, all creating ways for users to foster conversation more privately.

As waves of users begin to #QuitFacebook over data privacy concerns and others are exhausted by the feeling of being always on, we’re likely to see even greater growth in the private messaging space in 2020. For better or for worse, it’s because of private messaging that social/messaging is now the dominant way we spend our screen time. 

6. Live Streaming

By 2005, DVRs were almost commonplace and by 2010 they were a mainstay of cable providers. Interestingly, while we wanted to delay linear viewing, our desire for live content on our mobile devices increased. In 2015 Meerkat made the livestream, mainstream with a major launch at SXSW. What Meerkat had figured out is that livestreaming only worked if the technology was on point and there was an existing base of users to see it. While YouTube had already introduced livestreaming, user behavior hadn’t yet caught up to the technology and it was mostly used in the same way as linear TV. Meerkat, however, tapped into the network that was known for having an audience who cared about what’s going on now: Twitter. For a few days it seamlessly integrated with Twitter’s social graph, allowing attendees to share things everyone wanted to know about (SXSW) as they happened to their existing base of interested followers. Genius.

Since then, we’ve seen Twitter (first through Periscope), Facebook, and Instagram join twitchthe live streaming game. As the options increased, use and consumption of live video ballooned, with over 100 million Instagrammers watching or sharing on Live every day and over 3.5 Billion Facebook Live broadcasts from 2016 to mid-2018. With zero lag time, Twitch encourages even more livestreaming and now accounts for almost 76% of the livestreaming market. It’s average viewership even surpasses that of ESPN and cable news outlets. 

Livestreaming has contributed to quite a few shifts in society. Formerly a medium that was most commonly used to share breaking news and allow others to watch live performances has transformed into a completely new form of entertainment. As such, livestreaming has contributed to a larger shift in how we consume and create media. The pressure to “go live” has contributed to the spread of misinformation as news outlets often spend less time vetting stories prior to streaming. Since anyone can live stream, we’ve seen a diversification in the types of content available. You can stream someone playing a video game, trying on a Chewbacca mask, selling natural oils or potting a plant. This has enabled greater access to education and global points of view. People who may have been isolated can now access different cultures, foods, sports and more with the touch of a button. 

7. GIFS/Meme culture

No one: …

Absolutely No one: …

Me: Like most things on the internet, there can be a lot of confusion about what defines a meme. 

The term “meme” was originally coined by evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins in 1976. Dawkins theorized that virality was something that extended further than infectious diseases and could also be found in human behaviors. In other words, in anthropological settings, human behaviors could also “go viral.” He defined a meme as any shareable cultural artifact that spreads through a culture like wildfire. Furthermore, he believed that memes increase the chance of human survival because they strike a common chord that humans crave and rely on to exist. Okay, Boomer, now that we got out of the way….

Flash forward to 2009, memes were weird pictures that anonymous creators of the internet made to entertain themselves and share on Tumblr or 4chan. As time went on, Tumblr grew into a larger social media platform and memes started infiltrating the internet quickly and to a larger audience. Tumblr paved the way for the peak-meme era, as accounts were created with the sole purpose of posting memes and accumulating mass followings, a strategy that would be emulated and used on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which have much higher audience numbers than Tumblr. 

Today, memes have become mainstream and play a major role in our digital and social environments. They are created, shared, and consumed every minute across every social media channel and in many forms; from viral videos to GIFs to screenshots of tweets or texts – ermahgerd!

What makes memes so popular is their relatability and simplicity—they spark human connections through common mindsets, opinions and circumstances and are extremely digestible with a shareability factor that is hard to compete with. The majority of meme content is based off humor and nostalgia – two types of emotions that bond and connect people. When you are sharing a post to a friend, you are implying a shared experience or sense of humor. The most popular memes are so relatable, they feel like an inside joke. 

This type of connection works so well that it increases the level at which a meme or meme account gain traction, which leads to higher discoverability on social media platforms and in some cases, virality. In actuality, a good meme is doing exactly what Dawkins described, striking a common chord that humans crave and rely on. 

8. The retweet 

Originally launched in 2009, the “retweet” button (shortened to RT) was a quick fix to eliminate manual RTs which started in 2007. People wanted to share the things they saw/read on Twitter and still give credit to the original author. 

Twitter itself was (and still is to some degree) one of the more intimidating platforms. It is infiltrated with highly opinionated and powerful journalists, politicians and world leaders. This made users less apt to share their own takes and POVs. But the Retweet, which seemed like a no brainer, provided an easy way for a user to participate in a conversation without having to be clever him or herself. It played into our desire to share what reflects our own values and, as such, enabled something that’s core to social media today – the ability to go viral. If someone retweeted you, your exposure to new followers was exponential. The allure of going viral helped Twitter amass more users and more engagement, so Facebook introduced its own version, the Share button, in 2012. 

The retweet and share buttons had a powerful multiplier effect that allowed the mass spread of important information like earthquakes. But they also lessened the friction of sharing content and, in doing so, led to the proliferation of misinformation. It encouraged being the first to share something versus rewarding thorough journalism. The retweet button propelled Gamergate (a harassment campaign against women in the game industry) and, for the first time, really showed how quickly hate could spread faster than people were able to defend themselves. The impulse to share things we are outraged by increased and led to the spread of terrible rumors during the 2016 Presidential election. Ultimately retweet and share buttons have forever changed the discourse around social media’s impact on society. It has ultimately incentivized the creation of polarizing and outrageous content.

9. Spotify & Music Integration

Music started as one of the most powerful draws to using social media and, after some bumps in the road, continues to coalesce with the most successful user experiences. It’s hard to explain how much social media has impacted music without going back to the days of Myspace, which, at the time, was the hottest place for musicians to share their songs and gain fans, especially aspiring indie artists. Musicians cultivated new, global audiences that could connect on their shared musical interests despite not knowing each other in-person. Myspace primed young audiences for future social habits with user-generated music discovery as the focal point– like YouTube and Soundcloud.

But as social networking moved to a mostly mobile experience, users stopped listening. In trying to create an optimized experience for users and encourage usage in noisy environments, Facebook’s default was an audio-off environment. Videos would autoplay, but without sound. Now, as someone who’s been in social media for a pretty long time, this would be one of the greatest battles I’d ever enter – trying to explain the importance of creating videos that made sense without sound or voice over was no easy feat. 

Of course, once I’d finally imparted the importance of audio-off video, Snapchat did what it does best, disrupt. It saw the success Vine was experiencing by integrating music and built an experience that ultimately led to Vine’s demise. Sound was allowed to be a vital part of Snapchat because the videos you received were from your friends. Vine was allowed to have sound because that was what it was built on – it was its own separate community that eventually launched the musical careers of some pretty famous musicians… Shawn Mendes anyone? 

We all know how powerful the right music can be in drawing out emotion; Snap had figured out how do this in a way that enhanced rather than disturbed a user’s experience. As a result, Facebook announced the reversal of their audio-off default policy in 2017. Sound on would be its default unless a user muted their device

The landscape changed, music made sense in some environments and not in others (so don’t forget about audio-off consumption people!). But music still wasn’t the most integral part of a platform until (now TikTok) figured out a way to tap into the everyday creator, not just the talented creator that Vine had. It mashed up dubsmash and Vine, allowing users to lipsync. Yet another instance of a lower barrier to creativity. 

Music ended up changing social media, but social media ended up changing music too. Ever hear of Lizzo or Lil Nas X? Their careers skyrocketed when users were able to create their own lipsynced versions of their top hits. Meme/music crossover culture is just the beginning and we’ll likely see this trend increase in 2020 and beyond as platforms, brands, and musicians continue to make users the stars. 

10. Challenge Mentality

While we’re talking about TikTok, we might as well tip our hats to one of my favorite changes to social media in the past 10 years: challenge culture. Now I’m sure there were many challenges forced upon friends on social media before, but the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in 2014 created magic. It fused the generous nature of younger generations with the ability to show off and go viral (Call Me Maybe anyone?), creating the most powerful examples of how social media can give back. But it also showed just how far we’d go to be a part of something. A movement doesn’t always have to be about raising money or making huge policy changes, it can also be just something fun that everyone does together. The mixture of memes, the popularity of the Ice Bucket Challenge and the growth of sound on social environments paved the way for TikTok. And in return, TikTok paved the way for challenges to become a pillar of what we consume and create on social media.

The past decade has been quite the social media revolution. So much so that it’s hard to include all of the big changes that have happened in a list of 10. Things like Augmented Reality, gaming, and social commerce have all become major forces in the social media landscape. While they may be a little too nascent for a 2010-decade post, we’re likely to see these and many more have a substantial impact on social media in 2020 and beyond.

Vine Is Vanishing. How Should Brands React?


This week, the social world was rocked by Twitter’s announcement that it will be shutting down the Vine app. Stunning, because it still has 200MM monthly users. And, sad, because it substantially shifted the way we think about short form content creation.

That said, the transition will be slow. First, will continue to live on as a six second video library. Second, and maybe most importantly, the way Vine worded their announcement leaves much open to interpretation: “…we’ll be discontinuing the mobile app.” No mention of Twitter’s intentions for its Vine employees and Vine, the company. So, does Twitter have something up its sleeves? Maybe.


We know Twitter has been refocusing on live video and entertainment, reframing the way users view the platform and the way brands think about it as a part of their media mix. Partnerships with the NFL, livestreams of the 2016 Presidential Debates, even new broadcasts with Bloomberg and Cheddar point toward a much larger shift for the platform that could indicate Twitter’s intention to incorporate Vine’s core functionality into its own. Thereby allowing the same creation to take place, just in a different place. Only time will tell.

So, what should your brand do in reaction to the announcement?

  1. SAVE EVERYTHING. Twitter won’t make any fast and furious moves because they know creators and brands alike have invested quite a bit of energy into their existing content. But, if you haven’t already, save everything. Just in case. Save your profile information, save the videos themselves and save the captions you wrote as well. It’s video that can probably be used again, maybe even on another platform.
  1. NEVER FORGET WHAT MADE VINE GREAT. Vine changed the way we think about “snackable” content, debunking the myth that :30 and :60 seconds were a requirement to entertain and inform. So, remember that all you need is six seconds (and maybe even less) to capture someone’s attention and engage. Apply this thinking to some of the videos you create moving forward, because the principle is true across most social networks.
  1. LOOP DAT DOOP. Aside from the shift from what’s now considered “long-form” video, Vine also taught us to loop. Some things are so exciting that we just need to see it again and again, to either admire its genius or figure out what its genius is. Either way, the barrier to inspire users to hit the replay button themselves is much too strong to overcome, so consider making videos that loop for other channels. And then riff off of the looping technology to help form interesting creative.
  1. BE STRATEGIC. This may seem obvious, but think before you repost your Vines elsewhere. Be strategic about where you post and when you post your old Vine videos. You might naturally want to post everything on Instagram this minute, but that could be off. Maybe your Vine would be better served as a Snap ad or a Twitter GIF. Yes, you probably should consider posting your hotdog Vine on Twitter during the MLB World Series. But, you may want to wait to post that vine you created about skiing until later this year or early next. Context is everything, so try as hard as you can to keep your anxiety at bay and plot out what content you’d like to reuse and how to reuse it in a meaningful way for your audience.
  1. CONTINUE TO INNOVATE. One of the things that was so special about Vine was the crowdswell of support it received early on and the brilliant ways these creators approached the medium. From comedy, to stop motion, to magic, to artistry, and memes, Vine inspired the inspiring. Even though the mobile app may be going away, its mantra to innovate must remain, and it’s up to us to ensure it does.

Only time will tell what Twitter’s next move will be, but let’s have a six second moment of silence to honor the creativity of the app that made short-form video even more snackable.

Originally published on theDose.


As Pinterest Hits 150MM Actives, It’s Time to Re-Think Your Social Approach


Originally published on & Huffington Post.

While Pinterest has been whispering about their 150 Million Monthly Active user count since Advertising Week, yesterday marked the first official announcement of their milestone increase in users since 2015.

Their latest product releases—including an innovative new mobile image search functionality upgrade and their launch of Promoted Video ads—showcases Pinterest’s renewed interest in drawing attention to the platform.  But, what’s even more interesting is the “more search than social” evolution they’ve pivoted to.

It’s no secret that Pinterest has remained hyper-focused on separating themselves from other social networks. (We’ve known of their shift toward a more search-oriented experience for some time.) But the platform’s investment in their search experience has never been so prevalent. And considering that Google alum Gunnard Johnson was recently named Head of Measurement & Insights (adding to the list of other former Google employees) Pinterest is now concentrating on perfecting search.

And they’ve clearly thought through how to brand their pivot, so as not to pigeonhole themselves. Their use of the word “discovery” instead of “search” is clever because it highlights the user at the center—seeking out and suddenly happening upon—both sought out and contextually relevant results. And their use of self descriptors, like “catalog of ideas” and “database of taste” sets them apart from both social platforms and search platforms. They seem content on resting somewhere in the middle for now.

But Pinterest’s desire to stay in the gray can be confusing for brands simply trying to navigate, and succeed, on the platform.So, what exactly puts Pinterst in the gray areas between search and social?

1. Self-Discovery & Personalization – Via “personalized recommendations that feel qualitatively different from other services,” Pinterest is able to help users uncover their own tastes, one pin at a time. For example, recommended pins are able to consider all facets of your style (not just one specific pin) to help determine what you’ll want/need next. This makes Pinterest a different user experience than other platforms, but also shows how data-rich it is from an advertising perspective.

2. Actionable Nature Pinterest has created the ability for “passive searching” to suddenly become active. In a nutshell, the platform is able to seamlessly move a user from casually perusing a fashion influencer’s boards, to finding a look they love, to drilling down to the specific blazer they want to buy, to buying it. In fact, 70% of users who find pins take some sort of action. This is the driving force behind Pinterest’s MPS (Motivating Potential Score) – it’s higher than any other social network, because users who see something go and do. That’s powerful.

3. Long Shelf Life – Like traditional search, but unlike social networks, Pin content is relevant much longer than a tweet or post. The content itself is hosted in a repository that was made for this very reason—to be able to keep things around that you don’t want to forget. This has given way to what I’m calling the “Two-Four Rule,” because 25% of all pinning on Pinterest happens 2-4 months before an event or holiday. Usually people in social are searching for immediate or near-term gratification and the same is true with traditional search. But Pinterest seems to lack the expected expiration date because they have cracked the “intent” code, capitalizing on signals early in the consumer journey.

4. Category-Based Search – In conjunction with its planning nature, the search terms we actually type in via Pinterest are very different from those we use on Google. We search more broadly on Pinterest, using categories as cues – things like “DIY”, “Wedding”, “Home Décor”. This allows us to discover new things and be inspired. On Google, our search gets very specific – “red chair mid century mod” which helps us to narrow down our choices, but Pinterest is about just the opposite: broadening our horizons.

5. Co-Screening – When we think about co-screening (watching some form of TV while on our mobile devices), we think of the usual suspects: Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. But new research shows that 45% of Pinterest users are likely to hang out on Pinterest while they’re watching TV. But there’s more: 47% of the time what users see on TV sparks activity on Pinterest. And 64% of Pinterest users say they pay more attention to what they’re doing on Pinterest than what they’re watching on TV and 44% of them will engage with Pinterest for the show’s entirety, regardless of whether it’s on a commercial break or not. This not only says something about the types of pins we create, but also about how people are consuming Pinterest content differently than other platforms.

6. Open API & Image Search – Last year Pinterest announced its open API, allowing brands to provide personalized, curated experiences for users, but few partners have taken advantage of this functionality. The most recent and robust use was Burberry’s recent campaign, which allowed users to answer a few questions to inform the creation of a custom board based on their responses. Another underutilized functionality is its image search capability, rivaling Google’s with the ability for users to upload photos and receive similar pins in response. Via buyable pins, the technology is then there to enable users to actually purchase the pair of shoes they snapped on the T (for instance). Imagine a world where you could upload a picture of what’s inside your fridge and then receive an output of recipes which include only the items you already have?

So what does all of this mean for brands? First, bring your search team into the conversation. If people can’t find your content, or your content can’t find people, you’re not taking advantage of what the platform is capable of. Second, content needs to follow all levels of intent, from “just browsing” to “ready to buy.” Don’t hyper-focus on one end of the consumer journey. And lastly, don’t over-think the community angle of the Platform. Yes, friends are sharing and sub-communities are connecting. But, unlike platforms like Twitter and Facebook (where sharing is a key KPI of success) focus on moving people from awareness to consideration as the sweet spot. If they are pinning, you are winning.

The Silent Social Feed: Creating Video in an “Audio Optional” World


If you’re not building mobile-first videos because you can’t stomach the additional production dollars, you’re doing the same thing users are doing in their feeds—not listening. In fact, 85% of Facebook video is watched without sound.

And with video consumption on the rise across all social platforms, mastering the ability to create video that works with or without sound is key to success in the feed. Instagram’s video consumption has increased by 40% in the past 6 months, and Facebook is reporting that the shift to video consumption is bigger than our shift from desktop to mobile. Pause and take that in.

Yes, you’re probably feeling a little overwhelmed. “We didn’t budget for this!” you’re thinking. Unfortunately, the data makes it even clearer that stuffing your :30 and :60 minute TV cuts into a pair of social skinny jeans isn’t the way forward. It’s time to learn how to live in an “audio optional” world.

To succeed in our already inundated feeds, follow these seven best practices for social video:


Because of auto-play functionality, videos are mostly consumed with the sound off, so creating videos that make sense to users without sound is imperative to not only capturing their attention to watch the entire video, but also to ensuring recall. You might argue that Facebook has a nifty new caption functionality within its platform, but those captions aren’t always accurate and there’s no creative control over the text placement. Additionally, other networks (namely Twitter and Snapchat) don’t have this capability.


Focus on stories that can be told very quickly. If you’re working from a TV spot, think about your spot in vignettes. Are there parts that can be told more quickly, or segments that can be removed, leaving the story intact?


In social, keeping your video’s point a mystery for too long will hurt you. People just won’t watch. I’m not saying you have to give away the whole ice cream truck, but you do need to give out some free cones in the form of some type of action or expected result. Often brands will put the end result in the first 3 seconds (the time that’s needed to count as a view), include some sort of title card, and then work back up to the end in the meat of the video. Additionally, videos that feature people in its opening moments generally drive more qualified video views (meaning users who are actually interested in the content, who watch through to the end). However you decide to approach it, the video’s focus should be clear in the first few seconds, otherwise you’ll lose the user.


Your brand doesn’t need to be front and center throughout the entire video. But, if you’re running any kind of brand awareness study alongside your creative, you’ll want to make sure that, no matter what, you include your brand within the first 3 seconds. That counts as a view, so it’s either that or #forgetaboutit. Again, you don’t need to create an overlay (though you can), but you could subtly place your product, or insert “XYZBRAND presents”, but make sure it’s in the beginning of your video. Obviously, it’s better to start with some sort of action to capture the user, so if you can get your brand in there, great. If not, add that title frame in there before the 2.5-second mark and you’re golden.


One caveat. No matter how you reveal the focus of your video, storytelling always wins. Videos with clear story arcs (e.g. a beginning, middle and an end), are more memorable and according to Twitter, drive lifts in purchase intent. So if you’re working with longer form video (meaning 1-minute plus), think of ways to first capture the user and then build a story that maps to the storytelling arc you learned in 3rd grade.


Okay, you don’t need to go as far as captions for your videos, but there are definitely creative ways you can incorporate text overlays into your videos to help move the story along more quickly and in an engaging way. Take this Wrigley’s ad for example.

Here’s the TV ad:

Here’s the Facebook ad:


facebook wrigley 1


facebook wrigley 2facebook wrigley 3

facebook wrigley 4






Though we don’t have the entire video playing here, you can see that they’ve taken the same concept from the TV ad and shortened it significantly and added the “Will he dare? Skinny Dip” text overlay, to give a better idea of what the user is viewing. It also does a great job of getting the branding in early!


Last but not least, when it’s feasible, consider going live with video. It doesn’t make sense in all scenarios, but when it can be tied to an event IRL (in real life), it’s one of the most engaging video formats. Facebook reports that its live videos receive 10x more comments than regular videos and Twitter reports that Live video on its platform drives the highest levels of favorability in online video.


Originally posted on

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.

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?


linkedin publisher

LinkedIn Publisher: A 2015 Content Marketing Must


I’ve heard it time and time again from clients, and I’ve even considered it myself, what’s the ROI of this blog post? Is it worth the time creating it, when I could be finishing my laundry? And while we’re all trying new innovative ways to drive traffic to our blog in order to answer this question, we’re finding that the number of blog views isn’t always the best indicator for success, (nor is leads generated).

Rather it’s the quality of the people who read it, the impressions they’ve drawn and their importance to you or your company. And, we get it, more traffic increases the likelihood of getting quality views. But, really, it only takes one important prospect reading your post to justify its ROI. So how do you ensure that both important and relevant people read your blog post? Two answers: LinkedIn Pulse & Publisher.

LinkedIn Pulse has been around since earlier this year, and it recently opened up its Publisher tool to everyone. Now there have always been concerns about LinkedIn’s actual relevance for marketers – LinkedIn’s UX has taken more than one attack, LinkedIn Groups are a bit lackluster when it comes to providing genuine engagement, and many see the network solely as a recruiting and job searching tool – however, with LinkedIn Pulse and the new Publisher tool, LinkedIn has moved to the top of our must-use content marketing tools list. Here’s why:

  1. Exponentially Increase Impressions. As with any social network, your content has the ability to increase exponentially based on the size of your network and extended network. As you publish blog posts via LinkedIn Publisher, your network receives updates in their LinkedIn feeds about your posts. As they begin to share this content, people in their networks will then see your content as well.
  2. Hyper Relevance. Your network of LinkedIn connections likely includes former classmates, colleagues, clients (new and old) and industry-related professionals that you’ve met meaning that they’re predisposed to either be invested in or interested in the content you create.
  3. Showcase your expertise. Blogs published via LinkedIn Publisher also get posted to your LinkedIn profile. Consider the new business prospect you just Linked in with. He or she will not only know who you are and your experience, but he will also be able to see all of your thought leadership in the form of blog posts. A powerful tool to showcase your knowledge as well as your company’s expertise.
  4. Enhance your LinkedIn profile & LEO (LinkedIn Engine Optimization). By publishing, not only are you upping the ante on your profile, but as with SEO, the more you post on LinkedIn, the more eyeballs your posts and profile will receive – we like to refer to this as LEO. The more eyeballs, the more opportunities to connect and engage with leads.
  5. Ease of Sharing. LinkedIn may not win any UX awards any time soon, but it does make sharing very, very easy. Though easy sharing has become standard practice, we’ve actually found that our posts are more likely to get shared on Twitter when they’re posted via LinkedIn Publisher, than when we post them to our blog alone. So there must be something special about LinkedIn’s sharing experience.
  6. Ongoing Engagement & Optimization. Once your post is seen, users can easily follow you on LinkedIn Pulse so that each new post you share gets automatically shared with them, and also raised to the top of their LinkedIn feed. Users with the LinkedIn Pulse App will also get push notifications on their phones about any new posts. This speeds up your ability to notice which blogs resonate with the majority of your network, allowing you to tailor posts moving forward based on what gets shared most often.
  7. Opportunity for Super Stardom. Okay, well you may not be a super star over night, but if your LinkedIn post gets enough views, it could get picked up by LinkedIn Pulse and re-posted under a particular category (like social media, marketing, etc.). LinkedIn Pulse curates the top articles to show to each individual user based on their interests, so once placed in a category, your post can then be viewed by even more people who will find it interesting, giving you the potential to connect with new contacts or new biz leads. If your blog is amazing, it could even get posted in the Pulse’s “Top Posts” section and viewed on the front page of Pulse. Content marketing gold.
  8. Knowledge of the “Who.” This might be the most important element. Not only are the people who see your post more likely to read it and share it, but you’ll know exactly who shares and comments on it, including a link to their LinkedIn profile. This is the piece of the puzzle missing on traditional blogging platforms, because people often use aliases or different usernames. But with LinkedIn, you know exactly who that person is, their name, their profession, where they’ve worked, etc, in order to reach out to them in a meaningful way.

So, now that you’re convinced. How should you get started and what are the best practices for using LinkedIn publisher? I’ve got that covered – 10 Best Practices for Maximum Impact with LinkedIn Publisher.


7 Key Elements of an Actionable Social Media Audit


Can you believe it’s almost the end of 2014? It seems like a minute ago we were planning for a long Summer and now, here we are, well in the midst of FY2015 planning.

Arguably the hardest time to plan for the new year is toward the end of the year before. It’s the holidays, people are out, people are sick (crossing fingers!), and budgets are like mythical creatures looking for confirmation they exist.

With all that, the question quickly turns to, “How can you make a lull period a super productive period?” Our recommendation: A Social Media Audit. We specifically recommend taking this time to do a little dirty work for the greater good of your social strategy.

We see far too many brands moving forward with fresh social campaigns that are grounded in nothing more than their own experiences OR (and arguably worse) their campaigns are exact replicas of a competitor’s strategy. And while it’s exciting to embark on anything new in the digital space, often the post-campaign reports that correspond with these efforts are less than scientific:

“We got more followers!”

“People really liked what we did!”

The key to making a social media audit an effective use of your marketing budget is to make it useful and actionable. So many times we see companies develop audits but then never do anything with the results from the audit itself. That may satisfy someone’s curiosity, but it won’t do much more.

So, if you want a report with actionable insights and a strategy grounded in research that really resonates with your audience, you need to do a social media audit right.

To ensure success, the components of an audit should vary slightly based on your own 2015 goals, but there are 7 elements that make for a truly actionable social media audit:

  1. Identify Competitors – This step may seem obvious, but while you may already have a good perspective as to who your competitors are, they may vary a bit in the digital space. We like to use a little SEO mastery to discover which companies are leveraging the same search keywords as our clients and include any of the top players as a part of our audit.
  2. Examine and Rank Competitors’ Social Media Efforts –  The best way to inform this section of your audit is to do a little research into the social networks that are most relevant for your target audience. These habits will help inform a score card approach to guide your competitor analysis. Basically, it allows you to create  a weighted scale (giving more weight to the social networks used most often by our client’s target audience), and score a company and their competitors across each network. In addition to baseline ratings to give you a first and last place for each network and overall, this section should include anecdotal information on how each competitor is approaching each particular network, how often they’re posting and what they’re posting about.
  3. Analyze Social Media Landscape as a Whole – Compare your brand to what we refer to as the “landscape average,” meaning the average amount of followers, posts or engagement experienced across all of your competitors. This will tell you how your follower counts, post cadence and engagement rates line up.
  4. Evaluate Top Content – Determine which content receives the highest engagement rates across the board and which content resonates most often with the entire landscape of followers.
  5. Analyze Audience Engagement & Influencers – Audits should include a high level glimpse at the types of followers each competitor has individually, as well as a
    holistic view of the types of followers and influencers that exist across the entire landscape. Often, we like to perform a “follower overlap analysis” to determine how similar our client’s followers are to their competitors’ followers.
  6. Provide Insight Into Competitors’ Social/Content Strategy – A really excellent audit always includes a little background into competitor strategies. Basically, based on what they’re posting on each channel, what can we surmise is their overall approach?
  7. Provide Opportunity & Gap Analysis – Finally, what does all of this mean? The part of the social media audit that makes it truly actionable are the insights and intuitions drawn from all of the data. Where are there gaps left by competitors in terms of thought leadership and customer service that your brand can fill? Where are your opportunities to improve? Take this section and run with your social strategy.

Together, these seven components will help arm your team with the information it needs to develop a social strategy for the coming year – or even just the next quarter. And this also serves as a nice benchmark report to draw comparisons over time and to discover how your brand is improving (hopefully!) versus the rate at which your competitors might be improving.

Now, go forth and audit. And, of course, if you’re interested, we can help!

Download as an infographic.

Be Careful What You Ask For: 4 Rules To Mitigate Risk With Social Engagement Strategies


Recently I saw yet another case of a social media “campaign” campaigning for something completely the opposite of its original intention.

Dr. Oz’s social media team set out to solicit health questions from his 3.58M followers. An idea that seems harmless, well helpful really.

Dr. Oz asked Twitter for health questions

And it was helpful…for some.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 7.06.29 PM

But for most…it was just humorous…

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 7.00.38 PM

Long story short, it got a little out of hand.

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 7.09.23 PM

And there are plenty, plenty more.

Now, I’m not here to re-hash the Dr.Oz story. But I am here to ask, was this preventable? And if not, what does that mean for social engagement strategies? And, how do you respond when your hashtag is taken over?

Those are some pretty lofty questions. But in my experience, I’ve found that honesty, trust, and transparency are the keys to getting through or preventing something like this from happening. It’s happened before (remember Bill Cosby Memes gone wrong?) and it will happen again.

And this is precisely what scares big and small brands alike from trying to actively engage with people on Twitter. The problem is, interaction is what Twitter is meant for. You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go through it. It’s the only way to get to the other side of the Twitter success and karmic bliss.

There will always be risk. But there are steps you can take to mitigate that risk:


Check out Dr.Oz’s Twitter feed. There is nothing, nada, zilch in response to this hashtag takeover. If you’re going to be on Twitter, you have to actively participate. You can’t ignore conversations, and you especially can’t ignore the 254 tweets (according to Topsy) that you solicited with your ostensible “Q&A.” Let’s face it, there’s no “A” happening here, except for the “A” that stands for “Avoidance.” So, responding is a must. And when you do…


The collective vent session via #OzInbox is the result of quite a few publicly harmful tidbits provided by a licensed doctor. Something Dr. Oz has never spoken out to apologize for or even defend. We get it…Things happen. You will say things that wish you had never said or things that will come back to bite you (and probably somewhere you really, really don’t want to be bitten). If you don’t proactively nip this kind of stuff in the bud by giving your own HONEST and transparent response, then when your attempt at engaging via a Q&A will likely garner the same results as Dr.Oz’s. People will use it as a chance to converse with you finally. And this conversation will, most likely, not be good. Consider the Renee Zellwiger new face controversy a few weeks ago. Twitter was abuzz about her supposed plastic surgery and her response was perfect. What happened after? People gave her kudos and moved on.


It’s disingenuous to begin a conversation for the sake of engagement, with no intention of actually engaging. You can’t post a Q&A that sits among several other auto-scheduled tweets. If you are going to participate on Twitter, make sure you participate as often as possible. As often as regulations allow. And, as often as the industry demands. If not, when do you post a question, it will seem coerced – like something your social team developed, without fully thinking it through. And that’s frustrating to everyone, not just social media nerds like me.


No matter what the conversation is that you’re trying to start or be a part of, be ready for anything. Have responses ready. Know your brand personality and use that to drive how you participate in the conversation and how you might respond to any negativity. Check out Taco Bell for instance. Its brand personality is snarky. So it tweets that way and it responds to conversations and mentions whether they’re positive or not:

Taco Bell Twitter Responses
Now, not all brands can be Taco Bell. But they can be creative and true to their brand. If that means needing to create conversation guidelines and examples, do it. If that means having one creative and conscientious person man your feed, than do it. This is how you prevent negativity and come out on top.

The morale of the story is this: the only way to prevent negativity is to be there and be prepared, always. And to recognize that when you’re playing in the conversational, two-way, two-to-many world that social media has created, you have to have to have to interact and you have to expect the unexpected. Otherwise, the consequences could be dire.

How do you plan for Twitter crises or foster engagement on Twitter?

Instagram’s Hyperlapse & The App-Manic Frontier


How many apps does it take to post one picture to Instagram?

Actually, with the recent launch of Hyperlapse, the question should probably be:

“How many apps does it take to post one video to Instagram?”

The answer: more than one.

Hyperlapse, the newest social media one-hit-wonder, is an app that helps shaky cam holders stabilize their videos and allows average users to create time lapse videos. Hold applause.

It’s an amazing app. Believe me, I’ve played around with it already:

But, do we really need another app?

Don’t forget that to post images on Instagram, people are already going to some “extreme” lengths. For example, want to combine multiple images? There’s an app for that (well lots of apps for that). Want to “re-gram” an image posted by another user? There’s an app for that. Want to create a time lapse video? There’s another app for that, too.

And now, instead of incorporating these already-existent technologies and this amazing new video technology into its native platform, Instagram has added to the app-mania with yet another step for users to take pre-post.

Maybe Instagram has taken a little advice from its parent, Facebook, which just launched a new messenger app, separate from the normal mobile Facebook experience. And we can’t forget about Paper, the Facebook stories app that launched and then…wait, what happened to it?

And then there’s Vine, which just made some major updates to its video capabilities – namely adding the ability to import multiple videos to one Vine. A capability Instagram doesn’t currently have.

So, with the mega-millions of apps, how do we, as advertising and PR pros, decide which ones will stick? And more, how do brands decide which new apps to leverage – considering that the quicker you are to the game, the greater your potential following usually becomes.

Experience and intuition.

We’ve experienced the hype associated with google plus (which still exists, but for very different reasons other than traditional user engagement) and we know not to trust everything that’s shiny and new in the digital space.

We trust our intuitions and consider the app-implications (excuse the play on words). Will the masses use it? Maybe not. Will professional bloggers, videographers, agencies, big brands, foodies, fashionistas, who care first and foremost about quality, use Hyperlapse? You bet.

As for brands, trust your gut. Think about whether you have the resources (internally or via an agency) to experiment and to add another step to your posting process. Or at base line, determine if you have enough storage available (GB) for yet another app! If the answer to all is yes, then go for it. Just make sure to download the correct app…you wouldn’t want to pay $0.99 to download the Hyperlapse app by Google.

Have/Will you download Hyperlapse? Tell us why…

Early Adopter Effect & It’s Implications for Non Mega-Brands


A few weeks ago I read an interesting study by Business Insider about brands that “get there first” (so to speak) when it comes to new social networks.

They found that there’s a positive relationship between being an early adopter and a brand’s audience size. Basically, the brands who created their profiles on a new social network the fastest also tend to have the most followers.

It makes sense – the longer you’re on a social network, the more time you have to accrue more followers. But, there’s much more to the story for bigger brands.

  1. Longer Lead Time – The big brands who are first the game likely already knew the network was about to launch. Their agency partners or higher ups probably have met the owners, or have been told about the network by a rep in anticipation of future ad dollars. Because of these relationships, bigger brands have more lead time to think about the network and a strategy that aligns with their goals and other efforts. This way when a mega-brand creates one of the first branded profiles, it looks good and it makes sense, which translates into better engagement with users and…..more followers!
  2. Press – Once a company creates one of the first brand profiles on a new network, the digital presses go crazy. Is it good? How are they using it? Is it used correctly? The commotion is endless. I like to call this the “early adopter” early adopter effect. All of us social, techy, digital, UX people flock to see it. We gaggle over it. Then we write articles about it, sharing our opinions about whether it’s the right fit for the brand or the network or both. The more articles we create, the more traffic is  driven to look at that brand’s profile. And, thus, the more attention and followers the brand builds.

So how can you compete with these massive brands?

  1. Read, Read, Read. Keep up to date on new startups & tech news, so you can try to predict the next new thing.
  2. Dive in, personally. Get the app, make your own profile, and be a part of the community as an individual. This experience will really give you the insights you need to figure out how this network may be used to connect your brand and its consumers.
  3. Create Cross-Medium Social Strategies. When you create social strategies, don’t think about how it lives on one social network, think about how it lives as words, images only, videos, etc. This way when a new medium is created, you’ve already got some way to imagine how to use it.
  4. Be agile With Existing Content. No one ever said you must reinvent the wheel when a new network launches. Instead of thinking about sourcing new content, think about how this technology serves to make your existing story or strategy come to life? Then think about what content you already have that can be altered in some way to work for this network. #makeitwork
  5. Get Buy-In Early On. If you want to take advantage of this “Early Adopter Effect” you need buy in on this type of approach from your higher ups (or from yourself, as the case may be). This will give you the excuse you need to prioritize reading about the network, being a part of the network individually and figuring out how it fits within your strategy. You need to be able to drop everything in order to play catch up with the bigger brands who have a leg up. And in order to drop everything, you need a quick approval process…or none at all.
  6. Agency Partner. No matter how big your brand is, it’s always good to have a relationship with, or an ally at, an ad agency. The good ones make it a part of their job to know everything there is to know about new & emerging social networks. When you combine that knowledge with creativity and an intimacy with your brand and your brand’s social strategy, the turn around on an amazing new social presence can happen with just one call.

Are you an early adopter when it comes to social media?

So What? 3 Reasons Why You Need a Social Media Strategy


Social Media bandwagon - Image courtesy of Prepare1.comBecause of the ease and low-cost associated with space on social networks, most businesses opt for a “shot-in-the-dark” strategy rather than approaching their social media presence, strategically.

In fact, a significant amount of marketers (80%) incorrectly begin with tactics instead of goals when it comes to social media strategy. They consider the creation of a Facebook page or twitter handle to be “free” and place them in the “as time permits” category.

This passive approach has led to one of the largest challenges in social media marketing as of late: How to measure and determine the ROI of your social media marketing efforts. The creation of a social media strategy is the only way to adequately answer this question, as it provides a critical context for evaluation of these efforts.

Your brand is too important to be treated so casually!
If you jump on the social media bandwagon by thinking about tactics first (e.g. creating a Facebook page or Twitter handle), you risk spending time on something that might not actually make strategic sense for your brand. Here’s why:

1. Time is Money – First of all, all of these “free” social media networks should take real time to manage properly, especially if you want to be successful. The time you or your co-workers spend updating each of your social media profiles, creating content, and (hopefully) optimizing it, all equals money.

2. Opportunity Cost – Think back to intro level economics. When you spend time updating your status, tweeting, pinning, creating videos etc. you’re not spending time doing another activity. Our time is not infinite, so we must make choices on how we spend it. As such, it makes sense that we should spend our time on activities that are proven to drive revenue or generate leads. But how can we determine if our time is well-spent with no measurement tools in place? That brings me to my next point…

3. Measurement & ROI –  The key to determining the worth of your efforts is creating metrics to follow and measure throughout the course of the campaign. Here’s the problem: without actual goals in mind, you are unable to delineate key performance indicators (KPIs) that will help you measure your activity. Sure, you can do daily maintenance and discover, for instance, that funny quotes get more retweets and that shorter YouTube videos get the most shares. You might even track how many hits to your website you get from each of these channels. But…so what? All of this means nothing if you have no plan in place or goals to work against. Without measurement tools, you’ll have no idea whether it is actually worth your time to maintain these social media profiles. You’ll have an even smaller idea about whether your target audience or customers are even receptive to these efforts – or if they even know about them?

Essentially, without goals and a strategy your efforts are seemingly purposeless. You’re posting updates, tweeting, blogging, and creating content all in hopes that something is going to move the needle. The problem is that you have no clue how you’d know if it did move or how.

The bottom line is, in order to determine the ROI of your efforts or to justify the budgets and time allocated to social media marketing, you must create a strategy that starts with clear business goals.

Why else might a social strategy be useful?

This is the second in our series of “So What?” blog posts, introducing social media to brands. As we move throughout this series, we will cover topics such as ROI, the social consumer, analytics, and more. Click here to read the first in the series: Why Embrace Social Media & The Groundswell.

So What? Why Embrace Social Media & The Groundswell


This is the first in a series of “So What?” blog posts, introducing social media to brands. As we move throughout this series, I’ll cover more sophisticated topics such as ROI, the social consumer, analytics, social strategy and more.

so what? social media

So what?

In an age of limitless social networks, of Mustafa the Old Spice Guy, of Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project, there are still a sea of executives wondering:

“So what? – what’s the point of all this ‘social media’?”

The pervasiveness of social media is undeniable. As of August 2012, 69% of online adults use social networking sites. But why should brands and marketers alike spend their time and money developing a social media strategy? The simple answer is that they cannot afford NOT to. Here’s why:

Why should brands embrace the social media “trend?”

Since the first real social network in 1996, consumers have been privy to more information and more connections to brands and each other than ever before. We have more knowledge at our fingertips and we have the ability to share that knowledge using just 140 characters (if we like).

Along with the incipience of social networking sites, came a fundamental change in our online behavior. Forrester calls it the “groundswell” – by their definition it’s “a social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions…” It started with networks like Craigslist and Napster – allowing people to share music or apartment vacancies. And now, people turn to one another for advice about almost every aspect of their lives – including which products to buy and brands to give their loyalty.

Customers have always formed opinions about what a brand signifies and shared that with their friends over a few drinks. Now, as a part of the groundswell, they’re spreading that opinion online, in seconds, to an exponential number of people. They’re posting reviews on Yelp, tweeting about your brand, etc.,  and by doing so, they’re redefining your brand one post, tweet, review at a time. In fact, a recent study by Massrelevance found that 75% of consumers use social to find & share info about brands.

The balance of power has changed and is now in the hands of your consumer.

As a consequence of these connections, this knowledge, and the ease of sharing amongst our network, brands are now forced to be more open, more transparent, more consumer-centric, and more connected themselves. It’s no longer okay to sit back and watch others participate, now brands must listen to and engage with the groundswell in order to get its attention and help influence the conversation.

Connected consumers simply will not accept brands that aren’t participating, aren’t listening, or aren’t responding to them in real time. Convinced yet?

Stay tuned for more in our “So What?” series about social media, ROI, strategy and more. And – feel free to leave suggestions for “So What?” posts in the comments below.

To learn more about the groundswell, check out Groundswell (the revised edition) by Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff.

Get Pinterested: 5 Reasons to Use Pinterest Business Accounts


Image courtesy of

If you’re as into social media as I am, you too may have been excited about the latest news from Pinterest – verified business accounts have arrived! Pinterest has also announced that new tools will soon be available to businesses to set their accounts apart from personal pages. We still aren’t sure what these tools might be, but they’re likely to include some back-end analytics, and maybe even a means to conduct a Pinterest contest without relying on a third party.

If you’ve been skeptical about using Pinterest for your business, now is the time to take it into consideration – especially if your target audience is women who enjoy curating information. As with any new platform, it’s important to make sure that Pinterest fits into your social strategy before diving in head first. However, if you need an incentive to start your decision-making process, here are 5 reasons we think you should ‘get Pinterested’:

5 Reasons to use Pinterest for business

  1. Drive traffic to your website or blog – In multiple studies, Pinterest has been shown to direct more traffic than Yahoo organic search, Bing, Twitter, and Google+ combined. And, according to Real Simple, Pinterest refers more visitors to its site than Facebook!
  2. Another avenue to engage with your audience – One of the best ways to measure engagement with your content (no matter the channel) is to look at the amount of time users spend with it. According to ComScore, Pinterest users spend an average of 15.8 minutes on the site per visit, which is more than the average time spent on Facebook and Twitter combined.
  3. Expand your reach – With each new pin to one of your boards, you gain another opportunity to reach someone new. Especially so if a user “repins” your post. It’s very similar to the Twitter model, because the potential reach of each piece of content is exponential.
  4. Drive purchases – Are you a retailer? Pinterest is a great way to drive actual sales. A study by Shopify shows that Pinterest users not only buy the products they pin, but they also spend more on average than Facebook users. In fact, shoppers referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase than visitors who arrive from other social networks!
  5. Use it for market research – Search a topic of interest to your brand or consumers of your brand. What are people pinning related to that topic? Use the Popular Pinterest Board to find out what new and unique things are trending each day.
How do you use Pinterest for business?
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…

Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics

How to Measure Social Media ROI – by yourself


ROI (Return on Investment) has been THE buzz word for the past six months or so (well before Facebook became an IPO and stole its thunder). Why? Because now that social networking sites are here to stay, marketers are being forced to carve out a place for it in their overall marketing budgets, instead of using discretionary funds for “emerging technologies.” But it’s no easy task to get the buy-in on a whole budget dedicated to social media marketing (SMM) – especially if you work for a small business.

First of all, many people perceive that social media marketing is virtually free.

Networking sites themselves are “free” to be a part of, but managing them correctly and devoting the time necessary to developing a strategy and creating unique content is in no way FREE. Large corporations have huge sectors and agencies and freelance writers devoted to keeping their blogs and social networks alive. That’s a lot of actual dollars and cents.

To boot, if you ever took an intro level economics class, you know about “opportunity costs.” These are the costs you incur by not doing something else. For instance, if you spend 2 hours writing a blog post, you’re losing 2 hours where you could have been creating an email. If your emails on average garner about $800 each, then to make spending your time creating a blog post worth it, you’ve got to at least generate $800 in revenue from it, right?

If only it were that simple. Social media marketing is a little different from traditional marketing- it takes time to build a base, a reputation, and to increase your site’s SEO. If your ultimate goal by participating in SMM is to increase revenue, then you’ve really got to think about three things:

  1. The resources you have involved in it – How much money do you have, how many people do you have to draw on for the effort, how much time is your team spending on social media?
  2. Your more immediate goals – be they awareness, engagement, purchase intent, etc.
  3. How much value you associate with each social networking touch point (a twitter follower, or a facebook fan etc.).

TechCrunch reported that the value of a Twitter follower is less than one cent. Others think Twitter followers are worth closer to $3/month. There’s really no conclusive evidence because it’s always a case-by-case basis.

Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using MetricsSo how do you figure out what the ROI of your social media marketing strategy is?

1. Instead of associating value directly to dollars, associate value to your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Ex. How many of our twitter followers shared our content or purchased our product? 

2. To delineate your KPIs you have to think long and hard about what your end goal is.

Is it awareness about your brand? Is it to influence purchase decisions? In what part of the marketing    funnel are you trying to reach your target?  

3. Determine how active your followers are on average. Some indicators of their engagement level on various social networking sites are how personalized their Facebook or blog comments are and by how much time they spend on your landing page or site.

Do they visit your page, whether it be your Facebook page, blog, etc., once and then never interact with it again? 

Some advocate for creating a social media scorecard. This method incorporates manually grading or balancing different interactions (a video view versus a tweet).  These “grades” are dependent upon your SMM goal(s). You basically create a weighted scale to help you determine your ROI.

After you figure out the value of each KPI, you can put them in order and then multiply the number of interactions with the grade. Add them all up for a total campaign score. More about this method to come.

What factors do you include when calculating your social media ROI?

Analytics & Social Strategy – Do they exist?


I’ve been working on this post for a while. Why? Because to be completely honest, there’s a ton of debate around social media ROI and analysis. As I’ve researched, though, I’ve found a few tips that can help you in the right direction when it comes to measuring the success of your social media efforts.

I want to start by stating that it’s not all about the money. Let me qualify that – I mean, every marketing initiative doesn’t directly translate to actual dollars. A lot of marketing is about maintaining current relationships (CRM – Customer Relationship Management). Here’s a great quote I found in a recent STORES article:

“It may be hard to accept that the sweet spot for social is more about deeper engagement and brand building than a lift to the bottom line.”

Marketers are pointing to the ever expansiveness of social networking and claiming that even if you can’t evaluate the numbers properly, you still have to be involved with social media marketing. Nielsen’s Social Media Report noted that nearly 80% of Internet users visit social networks and 53% of active social networkers follow brand. No matter what, social networking is important for brands.

But, if you can’t measure the success of your latest social media campaign, then it’s almost impossible to determine areas for improvement and growth for your next social endeavor. So there’s no way that we can completely ignore the numbers!

Here are some low barrier to entry ways to start measuring the success of your social media efforts:

At the beginning of a campaign, be it a new facebook contest or an integrated social media and online event, the most important thing to do is to delineate what factors you’ll be looking at to indicate either an achievement or a failure. This could be increased engagement, awareness, preference change etc. There are many options in the marketing funnel.

Then, you must determine what Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), will help you figure out if you’ve achieved this goal. What do you want your new followers or community to do – how do you define conversion? This could be FB likes, email opt-ins, ad impressions, site traffic, twitter followers.

Once your campaign launches, you then have to monitor them – looking at social “analytics!” What are people saying, are they retweeting you, how much? Are they sharing the content via FB, or forwarding an email, how often? Are they recommending your product or brand via Yelp or other networks? Are theyblogging about you?

You can find most of this information on your own, using Facebook insights, Hootsuite analytics or for twitter (and Twitter also has its own website analytics), YouTube analytics, google analytics for web traffic levels and sources and you can even use to search the blogs that include your brand name or topic.

Still wondering what the value of these followers and shares is? Check out my next post about low-level social media ROI!

How are you currently analyzing your social media efforts?

Is your brand a good Valentine? How to evaluate your brand sentiment via social networks


Valentine’s Day always makes me think about my family, friends, and if I have one, my significant other. I usually smile thinking about my parents and my sister – remembering our special Valentine’s Day dinners. I feel so lucky to have so many valentines in my life.

But more importantly, in the days leading up to the 14th, I’m forced to reflect on my relationships and to evaluate if I’m a good Valentine myself. Do I want to spend Valentine’s Day with myself? How do my mom, my sister, my father, my boyfriend and my friends think of me?

Brands should be doing the same thing, regularly. It’s important to monitor what your followers and your customers think of you – and how they think of you so that you. In other words, what’s the general brand sentiment? 

Why is this an important thing to monitor? Sentiment is a good indicator of how well you’re doing as a company and it can help discover more & better ways to engage with your followers. So if you haven’t started yet, you should start monitoring brand sentiment this Valentine’s Day, but how?

I can tell how I’m doing based on the heart-shaped notes, chocolates, and maybe even flowers I receive, but how can brands tell how they’re doing? Thank goodness for social networks! Now there’s a whole new avenue for people to express themselves. To find out how we’re doing and what our customers are thinking about us, all we have to do is leverage this information.

First, the easiest thing to do is to set up search streams in either Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, so that any time your brand or company name is mentioned via twitter, it will show up. You can do the same with Google alerts, so that when there’s a mention in a news article or blog you’ll receive an email straight to your inbox.

In the same search stream you can search popular keywords in your industry or community as well – if there are popular owners or employees you can search their name as well. If you’re not using a twitter aggregator, then you can just do a normal search on twitter.

The next part is determining the “sentiment” of each of these mentions. Clearly, a recommendation is positive while a complaint is negative. For all of the negative comments, you should try to respond – try to find out more details about the problem and figure out a way to make it better. As you go on, this can become a means of customer service and market research.

There are some free services out there to help you evaluate your brand sentiment and I list some below. But it’s best to track sentiment on your own – that way you can respond in real time!

1. This website allows you to search by keyword (brand name for instance) in multiple categories (blogs, twitter, images, news, etc.). The sentiment they use is basically the “ratio of mentions that are generally positive to those that are generally negative.” It will also show you the people who are mentioning your brand the most and how often.

2. Twitrratr: To analyze your sentiment based only on twitter, Twitratr is okay. You can enter in your search term and it pops up with all of the twitter mentions in three different colums: positive, neutral, and negative. I’ve found that it’s not so useful all the time because words like “blue” make mentions appear in the negative column, but blue isn’t always negative!

3. Twitter Sentiment: Allows you to enter in a keyword and then it pops up with all of the mentions, red if it’s a negative comment and green if it’s positive. There’s no color if it’s neutral. Again – you can do this constantly on your own, by just setting up a search stream. But they do summarize the general sentiment at the top with a nice little pie chart and bar graph.

There are definitely other services out there, like Twendz etc. which require a little extra funding for pro accounts.

How do you monitor brand sentiment?

What social media marketers can learn from Raven’s kicker, Billy Cundiff


On Sunday night everyone was abuzz after Ravens’ kicker, Billy Cundiff, missed what could have been a game-tying field goal. I went to twitter after the fail, to see what people were saying, and guess what – twitter was down. Cundiff not only broke his fan’s hearts, but he also broke twitter! In fact this past weekend’s NFL social chatter surpassed the chatter of last year’s Super Bowl!

This incident brought to light a few thoughts –  Is all press good press? Do social media campaigns that flop, but get tons of press actually end up doing some good?

The jury’s out on how this press will affect Mr. Cundiff’s career. One thing is for sure, though, the fans are pretty pissed. All Cundiff can hope to do is grow as a player and hope he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. No one, who actually knows Cundiff’s record, would consider him a failure.

When it comes to social media, though, we’re quick to label certain campaigns as “failures.” It seems so final. As social marketing evolves we’re learning that these failures at least give brands a chance to be in front of their consumer. Some brands even get a mulligan (but, remember, you only get one). Consider the Dominos faux paux over a disgusting employee video. Dominos struck back by revamping not only their social infrastructure, but also their pizza!

Just last week McDonald’s twitter campaign backfired. They encouraged their followers to tell their own McDonalds’ stories using the hashtag #McDstories. Instead of heartwarming stories, the hashtag took on a life of its own with tweets that included animal cruelty, weed, and super negative thoughts about McDonald’s.

This just goes to show that when you put things out there, you never know where the groundswell will take it. A part of being a great social strategist is realizing that a lot of what happens is out of your control. The best way to quell a social media storm, is to be ready for it in the first place.

McDonald’s is a huge company and their Social Media Director knew when the tweets starting getting too negative that they should try to regain control and steer their followers in another direction by promoting their own tweet: “When u make something w/ pride, people can taste it #McDstories.”

Regardless, instead of the nasty tweets appearing at the top of search, now all that’s attached to the hashtag are tweets about their social media flop – #McFail.

The bottom line is that you’ve got to try. If you have a sound objective and strategy, even the bumps in the road won’t keep you from achieving your ultimate goal. We can all follow Billy Cundiff’s words:

“I’ve had setbacks before but I’ll move on from this. It’s one of those things that will strengthen me in the end.”

How do you prevent social media disasters?

MLK & Content Strategy


I’m not sure when MLK day became more than just a monday away from school for me. I think it must have been in the 6th or 7th grade when I read Why We Can’t Wait written by Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. When I read his words and realized just how intelligent, powerful, and forward-thinking this man was, I understood why the nation took a day off of school and work to celebrate his achievements.

It might seem like a stretch or even a “downgrade” to relate his efforts in the Civil Rights Movement to anything related to social media. But, when I think about MLK and his road to success – there are a few things that I truly feel relate back to our efforts in social media marketing.

1. Amazing writing – Everyone knows that MLK’s speeches were some of the best speeches the world has ever witnessed. Almost every line in his “I Have A Dream” speech or in his last speech “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” are quote-worthy. Writing that compels someone to action is the only way to create a following. No matter your limitations – be it 420 characters or 140, always strive to write beautifully.

2. Great Timing – Use timing to your advantage. King paid attention to timing, not only when he was delivering speeches, but also when organizing movements, sit-ins, and boycotts. I remember reading MLK’s advice: “except for Christmas, Easter is the main shopping period of the year…the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.” When creating content for social media, consider what’s going on in the world and be relevant. This leads to the most memorable and “viral” content.

3. Strategy – It’s true that MLK recognized the importance of spontaneous actions, like those of Rosa Parks. But he also realized that, without organization and long-range strategy, people will exhaust their energies. Though I don’t remember everything from Why We Can’t Wait, I do remember that every effort King organized in Birmingham was thoroughly thought-out such that it would make the Civil Rights Movement  a “top-of-mind” subject for Americans. Extending beyond Alabama, planned well-organized boycotts played a major role throughout all phases of the movement.

Thinking through a social strategy is what makes a campaign successful. Even with the most eloquently written and relevant blogs, without a real plan or strategy, they may very well be over-looked.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have A Dream”

Social Media Madness: 5 ways to be a real NCAA bball fan & a great social media strategist


As some of you may know, I am a huge UNC Basketball fan. To some we’re “North Carolina,” to others we’re “the tarheels” and to me, we’re “#1.” Okay, I had to throw in that last one.

You can’t be a great NCAA basketball fan without a few key characteristics – including being crazy. And the same is true for being a great social media strategist, or marketing professional in general. So, I thought I’d sum up some of the most essential aspects to being great at one, or the other, or, for me, both.

  1. Understanding the strategy: If you want to be a really great fan, you have to understand your team’s underlying structure. Does Roy usually bulk up on great defensive players, power forwards, or 3 point shooters? When we look at great SMM campaigns, the best ones have strict objectives and creative strategies to accomplish them. This way, not only does everyone know what the plan is, but everyone also knows what the measurement for success is and how often to evaluate it. To be a great college basketball fan, you have to know what the coach is up to when he puts certain players in, otherwise you wont know if the team is actually doing what they set out to do (or win to cheer)!
  2. Knowing the rules: There are rules to every sport and while I haven’t mastered the differences between college football and the NFL, but I am well-versed on NCAA bball rules. Why? Because of the high level of competition, oftentimes the games come down to free throws or which star player is benched due to foul trouble, if you don’t know the rules, then you can’t understand what’s going on. To be a great fan, you have to know why these things are happening and what ways your team might be able to use these rules to their advantage. Each social platform has its own rules – some of the most namely are Facebook’s contest rules. To be a great social strategist you need to know how to embrace these rules and creatively use them to your advantage, otherwise your great idea might get shut down! If you know the rules, you can play on the line in just the right way. Remember Burger King’s “Whopper Sacrifice? ” Though it was eventually shut down by Facebook, its creators knew the risks associated with it and were able to promptly put up new images when it was dismantled.
  3. Keeping track of your competitors: This is one to remember. Because the social world is always discovering new technologies, it’s always changing. That means your brand’s competitors probably know something you don’t. It’s inevitable. So, it’s to your advantage to keep abreast of the new happenings in your category. Constantly evaluating your competitors efforts will help you to stay in front of their efforts and to use their failures as advice for your brand’s future campaigns. You better believe that I know which teams are the teams to beat. Everyone knows that UNC’s #1 rival is Duke, and I know every year they’ll have great 3-point shooters. Because I know about their competition, I also know that the Tarheels have to be tight on perimeter defense when they’re playing the Blue Devils.
  4. Having a schedule: Always, always, always have a schedule. Be flexible, but have a schedule. Creating a calendar helps you to remember your goals for a particular month (or week even) and what your ideas are for achieving these goals. That way you’ll always stay on track for a campaign. Without a schedule, your strategy can become muddled and unclear – and then you can’t track its success! Obviously, to be a good fan you have to watch every game. To do that, you need a schedule with which channel the game will be on, what time the game is, and who they’re playing.
  5. Being a little crazy (super passionate): The best social strategies are the ones no one else could have thought up. They use a platform in a different way or have an underlying idea that’s kind of, well kukoo. Think about the Old Spice campaign. Mustafa? Really? It’s brilliant. When you’re starting to create your strategies, give yourself 10 minutes to come up with as many ideas as possible. Don’t rule any out. Then spend the next hour scheming what would need to happen for each idea to come to life. Then you can evaluate the elements it takes to make the idea work to find out if it will work for you and your brand (considering time constraints, available resources, & metrics for success).

What makes you a great fan & strategist?

2012: A year for resolutions not predictions


Though I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what 2012 will bring for the the state of social marketing, I’m not sure how productive all of the predictions we’ve been reading and spreading around in the past week have actually been.

Aside from the theoretical ones, most of the predictions I’ve read thus far are not so helpful when it comes to considering a whole year’s worth of marketing (If you are going to read some predications, check out the 2012 Social Marketing & New Media Predictions put together by some  of the industry’s most progressive thinkers – courtesy of Brian Solis). Some predict the rise of social media, the demise of Facebook, the rise of google+, the list is endless.

Instead, what I’d like to focus on is how we can start using what we already know about social media marketing in the coming year. So many marketers have, up to this point, merely translated their traditional marketing and advertising efforts into social media lingo. For instance, remember when CVS launched their CVS_cares twitter feed? Probably not. That’s because they made their profile private, so that only confirmed followers could read their tweets. Again – it’s not an advertisement, it’s a conversation. How can someone retweet CVS if they can’t even see their tweets to begin with?

This sort of thinking completely undermines the the nature of social marketing – there’s not one set reach. Instead of relying on one commercial to reach one person, social relies on one tweet to reach one individual and then reach another individual and so on and so on exponentially.

So, in 2012 I resolve to think of social media differently.

Instead of spending my time thinking about what might change in the social media landscape, I’d rather spend my time coming up with strategies and opportunities that take advantage of the true nature of social networking. Most importantly, I resolve to develop strategies that leave room for brands to be flexible as well as responsive to consumers. I resolve to do my due diligence and research consumer opinion before diving into any strategy. In effect, leveraging the consumer’s ideas and willingness to share to create campaigns that stretch across platforms and beyond the traditional marketing mindset.

What is your 2012 social marketing resolution?

2012 Pantone color of the year: Tangerine Tango


I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t like the color orange. It’s bright. It’s cheerful. As my favorite color since  2000, it’s actually been the pantone of my century. And so, I can’t adequately express how thrilled I am that Pantone has chosen “Tangerine Tango” to be their color of choice to represent 2012.

My orange crush is unusually related to my passion for social media. Both have changed my life in such significant ways. For instance, once I realized that my love for orange was something that people recognized me by, almost like my “color mantra,” I made it a part of my identity. It’s a symbol of the positivity we should bring to every situation. And if ever, and these times do happen, I’m feeling frustrated or upset, it’s the honest truth that surrounding myself with orange (and now Pantone 17-1463) somehow gets me out of my funk. Orange has changed the way I approach my work, my friends, and my life.

Social media has done the same. It’s not just something I do or even something that I like. It’s a part of how I communicate. It’s a part of how I live. I can’t just read an article anymore and think quietly to myself about it. No, now I read an article and share it to my followers, or my friends automatically see that I’ve read it via Facebook. I don’t just cook food for those who are actually eating it anymore. I cook and share pictures of my delicious dishes with my family and my friends. I don’t save my thoughts about marketing for conversations over cups of coffee (or tea). Instead, I share my ideas with people like you via a blog, twitter, facebook etc.

But this isn’t where the similarities end. It’s the energy that our new pantone of the year emits, that makes it so special. A great social media strategy has this same type of energy. It’s a bright light, a great idea, a spot on, amped-with-caffeine approach that makes a social strategy successful. There’s research and thought and PASSION behind every strategic element and that gives a campaign staying power. It gives it that certain “mustafa-genius” that we all, as marketers, strive for.

With it’s rich color, the 2012 pantone has a little more depth than other colors. Something that is also especially helpful when implementing a social strategy is a great idea that has “legs.” If a concept has depth to it, a strategy goes beyond assumptions about people’s behaviors and is driven by real human insights, then there’s no limit its virality.

Happy Pantone 2012! How has your favorite color shaded your social media interactions? 

5 Similarities between chucks and social


While wearing my chucks this weekend I started to wonder why so many people own them – from tweens to moms to big whig art directors. It dawned on me that my love for chucks is very similar to my love for social media.

When converses were first introduced, some out there probably thought they were just a fad – shoes that had no real value for the masses. The same was true of social media. Marketers were hesitant to jump on board, fearful of what consumers might post on their walls or tweet about their brands. But as time went on, chucks became a sign of rebellion – a sign of creativity – and social networking became a way for brands to harness this creativity into engaging conversations and interactions with their consumers.

Clearly the similarities between chucks and social didn’t end there. Here are some of my top comparisons:

  1. They’re both kind of geeky. Don’t get me wrong, chucks are definitely cool, but who started wearing them (well aside from the basketball players in Flubber)? Nerds. The same is true for social media. It started with a bunch of nerds (no offense Harvard).
  2. Rise to stardom.  When celebrities start wearing or using something, somehow the whole world catches on. I’m not exactly sure what made rock stars like Kurt Cobain and actors like Michael J. Fox start wearing all-stars, but when they did, they started a chuck-olution. Now, the most popular celebs out there wear them from Miley Cyrus to Elton John.  When celebs like Ashton Kutcher started using Twitter, we started taking notice. Now that almost all stars (like Lady Gaga, Oprah, and Obama) are using this as a powerful way to project their brand, it’s obvious that twitter and social is going to be around for a while.
  3. Something for everyone. Alert: this might sound corny. But one of the reasons I love social media as a marketer, is because of the niche groups of people I’m able to reach in a short time period. There are social networking sites like Foodspotting, Instagram, Washington Post’s social reader, there are short form and long form blog sites, there are check-in services, sharing sites, even sites that allow you to swap homes…you get my point. No matter what your interests are, there’s a social network out there that suits you perfectly. The same is true with chucks. There are not only thousands of different colors, but chucks are also customizable. Celebrities and even charities have designed their own chucks. Not to mention, the new world converses that are made of leather etc. Basically there’s a network and a pair of chucks to fit everyone.
  4. Make a Statement. If you’re looking to make a statement about yourself, in either a subtle or, well, not-so-subtle way both chucks and social media are the ticket. Wearing chucks allows you to make a statement about your personality, just like using a social networking site allows you to check-in, update, send pics, or tweet to communicate more about who you are to the world.
  5. Simplicity. The aesthetic of your typical chuck is simple, yet authentic. People wear chucks, not the other way around. When you think about social media, the core of it is simple – people want to communicate…easily. In order to be successful, a social networking site needs to be simple to understand and easily usable. People use social media, social media does not use people.

Have an opinion about your chucks? Tell me in this super quick survey!

thanksgiving cupcakes

Thanksgiving, minus connection.


Yesterday I spent an amazing day with family, lounging around, watching football, and eating. I made calls to the people closest to me and took around three “cat naps.” What I didn’t do, was log on to a computer.

Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but when your 3G iPad isn’t connecting to the internet, there’s not much y
ou can do – I couldn’t even play Words With Friends. I went to my phone to tweet “Happy Thanksgiving,” but other than that I was pretty much in real world mode.

Looking back, it was genuinely nice to not do anything with people I care about. To smell the flavors of delicious foods, watch the Macy’s Day Parade (McDonald’s, that is), and simply sit. But at the time, it was uniquely frustrating. Even the book I turned to for solace started to annoy me (I’m finishing up Brian Solis’ The End of Business As Usual). 

I felt disconnected. I felt like things weren’t in their right places – like I wasn’t in the right place. There’s something about being on Facebook and on Twitter, checking-in on Foursquare, Stumbling articles etc. that gives me a sense of belonging – even if it is virtual.

In this biz, we know that social networking allows us to form virtual “communities.” But, these virtual communities are becoming more real than ever for those in my generation. The reason I was frustrated yesterday, was not because I couldn’t play Angry Birds, it was because I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with the people I not only interact with, but I also identify with and go to for advice. Some of those people are part of my social community.

Am I crazy? Are these communities so real that they can be missed just like any other relative or close friend on Thanksgiving? Or, is it more about the gratification of instant communication that our social communities can usually provide?

The more I think about it, the more I know that our social communities are becoming a part of our every day realities. Holding on to this insight will be and is the key for marketers when coming up with a social strategy or even just a singular post.

Our social community – who we choose to follow, Like, share with, RT and mention – are dear to us. We trust our community with our attention (which is hard to come by for marketers these days) and that means that every single thing we read or view needs to have a purpose. The closer these online communities become to an individual’s heart, the more important it is for marketers to be careful with the content they provide and context in which they provide it.

What are you doing to make content that’s important to your communities?

How to incorporate geo-social into your marketing strategy


So what’s the deal with this geo-social stuff anyway? How are brands using it, how should brands be using it?

The possibilities are really endless. If you’re a marketer, hopefully, you’re looking at all of these check-ins with wide eyes and are overwhelmed by all the avenues you can drive down (and then check-in). Why? Consider the traditional marketing funnel – Geo-social has the ability to help brands interact with customers on each level.

1. Awareness

The utilization of geo-social can also help create buzz for a brand.  When you check-in you’re prompted to share where you are via Facebook and Twitter. Now, not only has your presence on one of these social apps motivated one person to come into your store, but it’s also been shared with their entire network.

Creating challenging adventures using services like SCVNGR and partnering with other companies is a creative way to truly engage fans and implore them to share their experiences with their friends. Hangover 2 did a great job of creating an adventure by partnering with seven-eleven stores to host fun challenges in which fans could win tickets, t-shirts and more after checking-in via SCVNGR and completing certain challenges.

2. Consideration

Offering deals via Foursquare, SCVNGR, even Groupon Instant can help during a customer’s consideration. When you open up one of these apps, it shows you all of the places in the area offering deals or challenges. If you’re considering two different burger places, for instance, you’d most likely pick the burger place with a deal, or the one with the best deal, right? Sometimes, just knowing that a restaurant or a boutique is on Foursquare makes me want to check them out.

3. Conversion

What’s going to make someone actually come in and shop with you or eat at your restaurant? Ultimately, it’s a combination of price, service and reputation right? With geo-location services, your customer now knows you’re in their area and is considering you because of your deal. Brands can also expand their reach by offering special deals with users.

These deals make a brand more attractive and could increase the frequency of visits per customer. Now it’s up to you to make a promotion that’s appealing. Or in the case of SCVNGR a challenge that’s engaging.

4. Loyalty

This is one of my favorite parts about geo-social apps. They can provide FREE loyalty and rewards programs for marketers. Set up Foursquare so that once someone checks in x amount of times they receive a free dessert or even a gift card to use the next time they come in. You don’t need any expensive technology to make that work – all you need is a business profile on an app. Not to mention, that built into each app is a sort of competition (I referred to this in my last past), that draws on our innate desire to win.

On Foursquare if you check-in the most times in a certain period of time – you become the mayor of that location. Why not offer your mayor a special seat at the bar, table in the window, or parking spot? Going one step further, marketers can then leverage these loyalty programs via geo-social apps in their advertising and messaging.

5. Advocacy

All of these things combined will contribute to a customer’s desire to become an advocate for your brand. Remember, though, that to make someone an advocate you have to truly follow through with all of your promotions and engage those who are willing to engage with you!

Any other ideas? Check back next week for more on the future of geo-social apps!

5 holiday social media tactics


Though my carved pumpkin still sits on my window seal, Halloween is over. Now it’s time to start sinking into our chairs and preparing ourselves for the winter. Unlike bears who slumber, we start getting busier (or at least I do). Holiday parties, shopping, flights, longer hours at the office or the store. Our pace starts to accelerate and we, inevitably, overcommit. In general, at least for me, the holidays can become a disruption.

For marketers, this means people are constantly multi-tasking and “zipping” around. So, how do you break through?

By delivering a break. No…I don’t mean adding hours to someone’s clock or making the speed limits higher. I mean providing your customers with things to make their lives easier.

Target and Wal-Mart are all about the layaway this season. Helping people purchase and store elsewhere. Retail stores offer free gift wrapping or free shipping. But how do we apply this concept to our social media strategy?

Here are 5 ways to give your customers/followers a break this holiday season:

  1. Content, content, content. It’s the holidays, what do people want? They want travel tips, recipes, craft ideas, design ideas, present ideas, ideas on how to deal with the in-laws. Use twitter, facebook, your blog, YouTube etc. to provide your followers with relevant information. Or just take them out of their busy lives with some great stories, that are well-written. If it’s a topic that a ton of people are already writing about, be sure to put your spin on it. Check out this collaboration between YouTube and Lowe’s – The YouTube Holiday Solutions Center. Great ideas like help people and helping people, gives them a break!!!
  2. Listening. If there’s anything you should know about social media marketing, it’s that you have to listen to the “groundswell.” Your customers know what kind of deals they’re looking for over the holidays. So why not ask them what they want? Then respond with some sales (even if for a short time) that they asked for. This way you’ll not only generate great word-of-mouth about your brand, but you’ll be known as a brand who cares and actually listens.
  3. Engaging. Along the same lines as listening, you should also be actively engaging your customers this holiday season. Suck them in with great questions, polls, and puzzles. Constantly update and tweet during optimal times of engagement. Be sure to stay active during the holidays even when you yourself are busy. Remember that Facebook became the most visited site in the US, exceeding traffic to Google, on Christmas in 2009. Why is this? Because people are looking for a break from their emails, they’re sharing more photos, they’re looking for deals, and spreading the cheer. So brands must be there and be active to stay engaging.
  4. Fun – Capitalize on the spirit that people have around the holidays. Come up with great contests and giveaways that spread cheer and give people a chance to connect. Start a cool hashtag, tweet fun facts about the holidays that are relevant to your brand. Give people five minutes away from their lives with elaborate social contests and funny games. Remember those dancing elves that people couldn’t stop emailing back and forth, or the snowball fight games? Associate yourself with a games like these and give busy people some fun. If you can’t create your own game, align yourself with a social game that’s already out there by being creative with in-game ads and virtual currency.
  5. Give Back – Around this time of year, people are concerned about the children and people of the world who aren’t as well off as themselves. Give those people a way to help out those in need via your brand. It’s a win/win, because it increases good sentiment around your brand and helps people help people. You’ll learn quickly that partnering with charities is one of the easiest ways to drum up “buzz” around an event or a brand because they already have a huge following and some even have a great social presence of their own. Marketing alongside one of them by creating an event in your store, a tweetup, or special shopping night can help accomplish two goals: Increasing your reach, and helping them raise money. Click here for Four Charities That Rocked Social Media last year.
What are some other ways brands can use social media this holiday season?
world series 2011 and social media

3 reasons to tune into the MLB World Series & tune up your Social Strategy


world series 2011 and social mediaTruth be told, I’m not the biggest baseball fan in the world. What I am a fan of is this time of year. The post season, the playoffs, and the MLB World Series.

Tonight, in the heart of St. Louis, the Rangers and the Cardinals go head to head in Game 2. A tight matchup between two great franchises. But, all I can think about is the similarity between the effort it takes for the champion to triumph in 7 games and the effort it takes for a brand to have a successful social media plan. Here are the top three reasons to tune into the MLB series and to tune UP your social strategy in the coming months.

  1. Everyone is tuned in. Though ratings have dropped this year, the World Series is still one of the top-rated broadcasts of the year, pulling in around 14% televisions in use at that time.  Can you imagine the pressure? That same pressure bears down on brands and businesses in terms of social. Almost 800 million people are active on Facebook. Around 145 million people are on Twitter. And over 6 billion people are online worldwide. Think of the expectations. What does this mean for professional baseball players? It means they better not mess up. What does this mean for brands? It means they better not mess up. It’s important to think through a strategy, work as a team, and inject meaning into every swing, plan out every run, and be ready for every pitch.
  2. Stamina. I’ve heard a number of different conjectures about who will win the series. Most think there’s no question that the game will go to the last inning of game 7. This means that our favorite players are charged with being in top physical and mental shape. Why shouldn’t our social strategies be in top shape too? Think long distance with your social strategies. Be ready with a broad enough objective that no matter what the new technology is, you’re prepared to incorporate it in a holistic strategy that accomplishes a single goal.
  3. All or nothing. At this point, either you win the title, or you don’t. There’s no in between. The same is true in the social world; either you get out there, be transparent and be social, or you don’t. To be successful, a brand needs to truly embrace social media and the groundswell. The old advice for companies was to just get in there and start “posting,” but that mentality wont jive today. To gain a following, you must have goals and clear cut strategies to achieve them. Otherwise, the other team wins.
Steve Jobs and social media

How we can channel Steve Jobs in the social media world


With my nose in the books last night, I was late to find out that Mr. Steve Jobs passed away. I remember walking home in the cool, fall air thinking how sad it is to lose…well…a genius.

Though Apple is not necessarily associated with social media, I think that the brilliance of Steve Jobs gave impetus to a more connected and intelligent universe. I know that the technology that he gave us and the words he inspired us with coalesce to help us refine not only our “social” lives, but our hard-knock lives as well.

So, I’ve interrupted my series about the new Facebook changes to bring you a few of Steve Jobs’ most famous quotes and how they can help you innovate within the social media realm.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
-BusinessWeek, 1998

Social strategy doesn’t have to be a Whitman classic. It doesn’t need to be the next Rembrandt. But, what it does need to be is relevant. People (or more specifically your audience), need to be able to not only understand, but to also easily engage with your brand via social media. Each element you add to your strategy adds to the snowball, so it’s important to remember what your original objective actually was. Then make sure that you’re achieving this objective with the simplest strategy and technology possible. Caution: this does not mean to avoid creativity. As Jobs states, “simple can be harder than complex.” Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most creative.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
Stanford University commencement speech, 2005

Always, always be transparent. Be a naked brand. Wake up each morning and really think about how you can engage and connect with your audience that day. Always be your brand and that means to give up control.

“Follow your heart.” What’s the heart of your brand? What do you represent to the general public? Be this. “Stay hungry ” – Don’t ever give up or feel satisfied with the status quo. Always search for ways to trump yourself. This is where the really great social strategy originates.

Steve Jobs & Think Different

Finally, “stay foolish.” Pure genius is not afraid to be different. Though you or your clients might be hesitant to try an “out there” idea, remember that no one ever changed the world without the ability to “think different.”

Thanks to Steve Jobs for inspiring and enabling a generation of us to think differently.

My Recipe for Content Strategy


Last night, I made my favorite side dish: carolina slaw. It’s a red slaw made with apple cider vinegar, NO MAYONNAISE, hot sauce, cabbage, and a few other things. But the deliciousness of this slaw is not the point of this post. The point is that I don’t have an exact recipe.

I like it that way. There’s something about the fluidity of the process that makes it evolve and get better each time. In my experience content strategy should be somewhat the same. Businesses should have a handle on the right ingredients to use, but they shouldn’t be so precise that it impedes them from actually talking in real time.

Create a loose approach to content strategy by understanding yourself and your followers (ingredients). Here’s how:

First, you have to know who you are. Figure out your brands voices and then stick to them. With every story you tell, every URL you retweet and every video you post, you should also think about how it reflects your brand. Along with this authenticity comes credibility and right down the street is authority. Just like I know the five or six ingredients in my slaw, you should know your the adjectives that make up your brand’s identity and let those inform your approach to conversation and content.

On par with learning your brand’s voice is learning the voice of your followers. While my slaw always has the same components, I mix it a little differently depending on who I’m making it for (most kids can’t handle red pepper flake and hot sauce). To steal a quote from Rosenbaum, the king of content curation, “the web will get exponentially nosier.” This means that in order to stand out, you have to not only listen to your audience, but you also need to respond and collaborate with them (immediately). When I find out my slaw is a little to spicy, I make it differently the very next time. You have to make your content valuable, just like I need to make my slaw tasty.

To do this you have to know who your audience is. Follow those who follow you. Be personable. The whole point of these social networking sites is to continue conversations. No one wants to be talked at, they want to be talked with.

Use google trends to keep content currentBe relevant, today. Monitor all your social networks to see who’s there and what they’re talking about. Pay attention to google trends to help you stay current.

Finally, be helpful. Be there as an outlet for your audience. Get them to complain to you instead of their friends. No business wants a page full of negative comments, but if you have them you’ll learn a lot about what you need to improve. You also get the chance to respond to them and, hopefully, solve their problem. I’d rather someone critique my spicy side dish to me, than blabber to all their friends about it. That way I have the chance to show them that I can make it better.

There are other elements to content strategy, but these are its core. The point is that it’s all about giving yourself the chance to be immediate and fluid, so that you’re constantly hitting the right chord with your audience.

For the rest of my slaw ingredients, comment below!

September 1st & 5 Keys to Successful Social Strategy


September. It’s September. The summer is almost over and, here in Boston, the weather is slowly transitioning. As the sun came up this morning, I shyly peeked out of my bedroom window to enjoy one of the few summer mornings left. But, instead of a beautiful landscape of trees, I saw U-HAULs, old pick-up trucks, and tons of furniture lined up around the block. Stay off the roads everyone, it’s moving day.

It got me thinking about what makes moving days hard. The simple answer: lack of planning. There will always be those who pack everything in tight boxes with labels, stacked neatly at the front door ready to go. And then there are those who put things in piles, loosely thrown into bags and remade boxes. Those who have no idea where things will go – throwing kitchenware in with cosmetics. I’ve been there and it makes moving a pain in the you-know-what.

How do you avoid this? With strategy. Coming up with a plan with how things should be loaded and unloaded, being prepared for the “first”, and not being afraid to re-evaluate when you’re unable to get everything packed into the truck. The same applies to social.

5 elements of strategy you should employ to be successful in the social realm:

  1. Figure out who’s helping. How many people will you have moving boxes and unpacking content? Resources make a huge difference. If it’s just you – the timeline might be longer. Great ideas need the proper follow-through, just like a lot of boxes need a lot of people or a lot of time.
  2. Game plan. What’s the easiest way to move, what are the optimal truck routes, how can you avoid being stuck in traffic? Make a broad strategy statement and goal for your social program. Then brainstorm tons of ideas that will help accomplish that goal. Research what others in your category have done and where you have the space to be different. This will be your social game plan.
  3.  Schedule. What time will you start, when are you picking up the truck, who’s unpacking what? Knowing all of these things increases efficiency. Once you have a game plan, you can build a calendar that incorporates your great ideas with the resources at hand so you’ll know when blog posts can be published, when your contests will get the most traction and what content makes sense now verses a few months from now.
  4. Move! Start packing, employ your plan, use your movers. The next step is to follow your schedule day by day. Start engaging your followers.
  5. Finally, re-evaluate. If it starts to rain on moving day, you might need to change your plan. In the social realm, it’s important to pour over every bit of analytics you’re afforded. If you’re not steadily moving towards your goal, you’ll need to try to find out what’s happening. Are you posting at a bad time of day? Is your tone off for your followers? Is your content just not that engaging? Is the barrier to entry for your contest to high? Check your interaction levels constantly and change your game plan accordingly.

Happy moving!

5 lessons from my social-illiterate dad about social marketing


It’s no secret that sometimes my dad wasn’t my favorite when I was littler. He always had something to say or a reaction I was less than thrilled with. But as I’ve grown older, I find myself leaning on my dad’s advice. It’s advice that is applicable to various aspects of my life, but especially so in the social world.

1. Don’t just listen. Actively Listen.
Just like it wasn’t enough for me to sit on the couch and listen to my dad’s feedback, It’s also not enough to monitor Facebook fans or twitter followers. What’s more valuable for brands is listening and responding. I needed to prove to my dad that I actually heard him.  Whether that means tweeting back a nice comment or question or posting another comment in a Facebook stream, brands must interact in order to engage.

2. It’s all about value.
Value yourself. Value family. Value property. It was never the wrapper left on the floor that upset my father. It was the fact that I didn’t value the house or the people in it enough to put it in the trash. The same is true for brands. It’s not enough to engage your community, a brand needs to value its community and fans, giving them content and opportunities to enhance their lives. Perceptions of a brand directly stem from what that brand openly values. In Naked Pizza’s case, all of its followers know it values good health. We know that Coke values happiness. This shapes the way we interact with them.

3. Own up to your mistakes.
And never lie. We all do things we regret. My dad always emphasized the process of cleaning up the aftermath. Fix it. When you take some paint off the wall, don’t just cover it up with some genius 7-year-old artwork, tell somebody. Then work together to patch it up. Sometimes there’s only one person in a company managing its whole social identity. If you’re that person, don’t get bogged down when you misfire. Define what it is you did incorrectly, then find a way to patch it up in real time. This usually includes getting some ideas from your colleagues. They may not be “social aficionados” but they know the brand and what it stands for.

4. Hustle.
My dad is the hardest worker I know. He literally never stops and he never stops pushing me either. He is one of those dads who yells on the sidelines and won’t stop until he knows I’m truly sweating. Supremely annoying at the time. In the social cloud, you have to hustle to give your brand a presence. You have to constantly review your analytics and refine your posting times and content. If it’s not working, you need to go back to the drawing board with your strategy, do it with vigor. Don’t stop until your customers are engaged.

5. Have Fun.
Take your time and be passionate about what you do. Every summer my dad plants a new garden, there’ssomething to plant or pick or till every night. Then he harvests everything and makes amazing canned goods. You see nothing but excitement in his eyes when he says he’s “going down to the garden”. Social Media Marketing is somewhat new. It’s exciting. Keep up with the trends and have fun. It’s not weird that you love hashtags or’s or Hootsuite. It’s that passion that helps you make a brand relevant and fun to follow.

Not old, but unique


Moving makes us consolidate. Makes us dream of functionality and design. It makes us envision color palettes and perfect accents. In short, it makes us reconsider our current lot. While traversing the neverending terrain at Ikea today, I noticed what seemed to be the perfect bedroom set. I was awed by its sleek design and in five minutes was very close to saying “Towanda” and replacing all of my old, shabby furniture with crisp corners and perfect organization.

But, something felt wrong. I couldn’t stop thinking about the bedroom I’ve already built for myself. Completely confused I decided to leave sans yellow bag. Though I left without a purchase, I didn’t leave without a concept. Social media has companies and brands “reconsidering their lot.” Instead of thinking of how to incorporate the best aspects of their brands into a more integrated offline and online shop, some consider changing their core. They’re too busy oohing and awing at beautiful Facebook pages to think about their page strategically.

Brands that have been around for a while, have spent real time, energy, and paint creating and maintaining their voice. They, like me, have some handcrafted furniture that’s been well-kept for years making it unique, not old. And now, all of a sudden, the move to social means it’s time to toss all of this hard work on the side of the road.

Like there’s no real equation to work off of when designing a room, there isn’t exactly a set of commandments to help brands go social. What’s important is to remember what’s at the center of your brand’s voice(s). Remembering what your customers or your fans come to you for. Take your “old furniture” and translate it to social. This may mean reforming some parts of the brand that already exist. For instance, blending your age-old product knowledge, with a more modern way of communicating it.

What are some of your favorite old meets new combinations?