blog-header

Archive

see all

posted by Julie Turner Nov 10,2016 @ 02:05PM

Brands and Viral Dreams

chewie-ca26bcd48f99371a92a73196a382772c76f51b2b-s900-c85.jpg

It’s interesting how something becomes a viral sensation. From the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which raised more than $115 million to #pantsuitnation a Facebook group of Clinton supporters that mushroomed from one to 3.2 million members in the days before the election, the Internet is an undeniable flashpoint in modern marketing.

While it’s every brand’s dream to ride the million-viewer wave, it’s a luxury few will ever enjoy. Those that crack the code know what makes people want to share their content: emotion. The emotional arc can be anything from laugh out loud hilarity or empowering self-awareness. It’s the secret viral ingredient.

One brand that’s masterful at viral sharing is Budweiser. We’ve all likely shared or watched their heartwarming Clydesdale commercials but two of their commercials stick out in my mind as favorites.

Harry’s Last Call
Budweiser paid homage to the Cubs’ World Series win earlier this month in a heartwarming way. The brand re-ran a decades-old commercial featuring the team’s patron saint Harry Caray. Then, seemingly just hours later, they released another two-minute video of Caray “calling” the final out of Game 7 over footage of Cubs fans in the moments before, during and after the historic win.

The brand’s marketing team came up with the idea 10 days before the game and secured permission from Caray’s estate and from the WGN network, the rights holder of the Cubs audio. After splicing together audio from previous games, the fan footage was captured during Game 7 near Wrigley Field. The commercial was approved at 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning and tweeted by the brand a few hours later.

It’s natural for Budweiser to be a part of huge events like the World Series, but my personal favorite viral sensation from the brand happened late one cold snowy night in Canada in 2012.

Flash Fans
Budweiser Canada contacted two rec hockey leagues asking them to participate in a documentary they were filming. During the spot you see the players preparing themselves and their equipment for the game, heading to the rink, donning their gear. And then something surprising begins to unfold.

The brand knows how passionate hockey fans are and that’s what they wanted to show the world in this spot designed to give a Canadian beer league hockey team an extraordinary hockey experience complete with 600 fanatical fans, spotlights, play-by-play announcers and a confetti cannon. The brand also released a great behind the scenes video.

Brands dream of creating viral content that puts their brand in a spotlight but they will fail to catch fire. Their focus is off. It’s not about the brand here; it’s about tipping your hat to the enduring spirit of a Cubs fan or the unglorified recreational league hockey player.

Most brands would never dream of footing the bill to dress a skating rink for a hockey game, and hire hundreds of extras, a production team, two skating mascots, foam fingers, puck hats and who knows what else to set the stage. Even more, to be second fiddle. And, honestly, you don’t need a million-dollar production team to create something meaningful.

Brands need to see beyond themselves and beyond the risks of their ideas. That’s where the glory is.

posted by Julie Turner Aug 10,2016 @ 03:24PM

Hashtags, the big global event and you.

Let’s be frank for a minute. You can’t get away from hashtags any more and you’ll never be able to again. Whether you’re a lover or hater, hashtags are an integral — and helpful — aspect of the digital landscape.

hashtagmain_2.jpg

With the World Sporting Event That Cannot Legally Be Named without Paying for It upon us, there are several interesting subplots happening in the hashtag world. Let’s look behind the scenes of two social stories currently being battled out.

Twitter vs. U.S. College Football Fans
If you’re going to cheer on a team, say Great Britain, Twitter wanted to be sure you had a tweet-worthy hashtag. That’s why they reallocated the University of Nebraska’s longstanding Go Big Red hashtag (#GBR) and triggered the addition of a British flag to it (creating a temporary #hashflag). Seems easy enough, right?

Screen_Shot_2016-08-09_at_2.59.45_PM.png

Turns out Nebraska fans don’t like it one bit. While the school doesn’t own the hashtag — since you can’t own a hashtag (more on that in a minute) — they’ve been using it for many years. Equally peeved are Purdue University, Eastern Carolina and even SEC stalwarts the University of Georgia Bulldogs. With football season fast approaching, expect #UGA tweets to sport a Ugandan flag for the duration of the Big Sportsing Thing.

Screen_Shot_2016-08-09_at_2.59.16_PM.png

United States Olympic Committee vs. Nonsponsor Marketers
Remember how I said you couldn’t own a hashtag? Apparently you can trademark them as the Committee has pretty effectively done. To prevent ambush marketing, the USOC “advised” brands against marketing that referred to “Olympic results, shares or re-tweets of the official Olympic account, or use of official hashtags including #Rio2016 and #TeamUSA.”

Don’t worry, they’re not going to come after us Everyday Joes — individuals who tag their #phelpsface memes with official hashtags. In fact, the way some brands skirt around the mention is getting them some serious tweetplay.

So what does all of this hashtag fluttery mean for a modern marketer who doesn’t have Super Big World Game aspirations?

Hashtags are here to stay. Not the ones #youandyourfriendsjustmakeup. Real hashtags that integrate varied marketing strategies to multiple audiences in platforms ranging from Instagram to Facebook. Hashtags are indexed by social networks and searchable by anyone. That’s staying power you can harness for free.

However, if your hashtag has grown into a valued brand asset, you now have some means to protect it. You can invest in trademark protection for a hashtag via the United States Patent and Trademark Office. At a cost of about $275 and six months, you can register a trademark though you may experience bumps in the road based on the hashtag content.

In short, hashtags are here to stay. If you’re finally ready to wade in, tread very, very carefully.

posted by Kelly Davis Jun 22,2016 @ 01:56PM

The Story Behind the Story

I recently read an article on AdWeek.com titled, “How Social Media Could Have Changed the O.J. Simpson Trial.” Inspired by the recent FX mini-series, “American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” the author, Josh Rosenberg, points to the trial’s role in the rise of the 24-hour news cycle, reality television and participatory journalism. Rosenberg also raises the specter of what the trial experience would have been like for both the viewer and the people in that courtroom in 1994 “if the world had been watching in real time with a mobile phone in hand.”

Certainly, we now live in an “always on” world – a world in which it is difficult to hide from the onslaught of speculation, opinion and commentary. It’s a world very different from 1994.



tree-200795_1920.jpg

As Rosenberg writes, “Today, all of us have a very loud microphone in the palms of our hands, and every time we share a thought, use a hashtag, communicate with a like-minded individual or get through to someone who doesn’t share our own belief, we are harnessing a power no one could have dreamed of in 1994.”

I would contend that not only could we never have dreamed of today’s technology twenty two years ago, neither could we have dreamed of the ability that technology provides us to share with the world a comment, observation or criticism of the actions of those around us – sometimes thoughtfully, sometimes carelessly. Generally speaking, while advances in communications technology have opened up a world of human connection and interaction, they have also closed our minds and hardened our perspective on the events and actions taking place around us.

How often have we seen – or posted ourselves – a video of something we’ve observed in a public place, or a video of a complete stranger? From concerts and parties to interactions with store employees, these slice of life videos seem to be permeating our society and generating opinion and commentary on a daily basis. We have to assume that there is always a camera present.

The challenge is that the very moment in time you captured is just that – a quick snapshot often shared without any further context. We may not know what happened before or after, or from a different angle, or behind the scenes. All we have are those few seconds and perhaps the commentary of the person who filmed the event. However, the instinct to post and share every moment now means that individuals who weren’t present form a perception of the event based on those few seconds of shared video – and not on the full reality of the experience.

While social media and our “always on” world certainly create opportunities, they also create great disconnects when it comes to human interaction and compassion. It has become so easy for us to handle our dissatisfaction with a negative customer experience with harsh words and a stealthily filmed video – shared not with a person who could have helped improve our experience, but with a random group of people who were not present and who are only seeing the event through our narrow lens.

What if instead we slowed down, put ourselves in someone else’s shoes, and thought before we posted? What if we quietly ask to speak to someone in charge to express our concerns? What if we ask how we can help? I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t call out a company when your experience doesn’t meet your expectation. I do believe that there is a better way to find a resolution.

Brand marketers instinctively look for the story behind the story. The next time you’re faced with an opportunity to “film and post,” try to do the same. While your instincts may tell you to jump to judgment, perhaps the better course of action is to dig a little deeper. We hold in our hands a little piece of technology that has the power to impact human interactions and to influence others’ perceptions of people and brands. The onus is on each one of us to approach this responsibility with compassion and discernment.

Kelly Davis, APR is the Public Relations Director at Riggs Partners. Read the AdWeek story referenced here.

This article originally appeared in the May 21-June 19 issue of Columbia Regional Business Report.

posted by Courtney Fleming Apr 06,2016 @ 05:00PM

A meaningful engagement: teaching California retirees how to use Instagram

Last month I had the opportunity to visit Paradise Valley Estates (PVE), a continuing care retirement community and a Riggs Partners client in Fairfield, California. My assignment? Teach PVE residents how to use Instagram.

I’m confident as a digital marketer. I’m fluent in social media and the digital world–but this was a demographic I’d never taught before (70-90+ years old!)

I was an early adopter of Instagram in 2010. This platform changed the course of social media by providing an almost entirely image-based outlet to share our lives and connect with each other. Instagram’s myriad of filters and other photo-editing options can make anyone feel like a professional photographer. I’m not alone in this preference–Instagram continues to gain popularity with more than 44 million monthly users.

As I approached my classroom, I had no idea what to expect. What if they weren’t interested? What if no one showed up? What if what my presentation didn’t make sense? In addition to usual pre-presentation jitters, I worried that differences in age and experience would make my presentation seem scattered and confusing.

Fortunately, all my fears vanished as soon as my students walked in the door. The residents were eager to learn and participate. I was blown away by the level of excitement and energy in the room as they explored their newly created Instagram accounts, learned about hashtags, snapped and edited photos using filters, and tagged their friends and family members.

PVE.png

Somewhere in between explaining the basics of Instagram’s interface and listening to residents shout out their favorite filters—I realized that I was learning just as much from my students as they were from me. Social media has the power to connect people of all ages and backgrounds and create unforgettable experiences—like mine at PVE.

During my stay, I gained more new friends than I can count, all with unique stories and adventures that they’re now ready to share on Instagram. Want to see for yourself? Follow @paradisevalleyestatesca on Instagram and check out their hashtag, #PVElife.

posted by Cathy Monetti Dec 22,2015 @ 08:30AM

Is Your Post Worthy of A Click?

I am a television binge watcher.

There, I’ve said it.

My current obsession is Damages, a crime drama that features the magnificent (and stylistically perfect) Glenn Close. It’s an indulgence I share with my 22-year-old daughter, something we both look forward to at the end of long, productive workdays that deserve a good wind-down reward. Eliza queues up the next episode via Netflix, then we both pile on the sofa, the dog between us, and commence to watching one, two, sometimes three shows a night. (Binge-watching is so addictive.)

There’s something else we do, another obsession we share even if neither of us ever acknowledges it. When we are settled in front of the TV she pulls out her iPhone to scroll through Instagram, Facebook, or to click on late-breaking Snapchat photos and videos. I pop open my laptop and respond to email, check my blog roll, click to Facebook, pop over to Twitter to see what’s been going on. Then I check my email again.

It’s embarrassing, this admission. Because very often we both spend the next Damages hour(s) with these electronic devices active and in front of us. (Very, very often one of us will ask, “What’d he say? What just happened? Rewind, please.”)

DeathtoStock_Medium10.jpg

It’s an addiction, of course. That I know, because the thought of putting away my phone and laptop for the entire evening makes me very uncomfortable. How can that be, I wonder, with my daughter—my typical excuse for keeping communication at my fingertips—right there beside me?

The answer may lie in this commentary offered on NPR by Matt Riechtel, technology journalist for The New York Times: "When you check your information, when you get a buzz in your pocket, when you get a ring — you get what they call a dopamine squirt. You get a little rush of adrenaline. Well, guess what happens in its absence? You feel bored. You're conditioned by a neurological response: 'Check me check me check me check me.’" 

So. Without the promise of my own little time-to-time dopamine squirt, simply watching an intense, high adrenaline television drama is not enough to keep me from feeling bored. So sad.

So true.

(Hang on for a minute. Got to check Facebook.)

All this hand-wringing got me to thinking about the steady stream of communications I’m addicted to and how often the payoff is worthy of the attention the monitoring requires. And as a marketing professional, that got me to thinking about the responsibility for producing content that has real value. 

Let’s start by acknowledging there’s a lot of work to be done up front. You must first articulate your business objectives and determine how content marketing can help achieve them. Then you need to identify your target audience and know how your product/service fits into their lives. What needs do they have that your brand meets? In what ways does it do this that are unique? Where is the powerful connection? Find this space and base your content strategy on it.

Once you have this outlined, here’s a good, simple gut-check for brands committed to providing well considered content that’s worthy of the click:

  1. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Speak only if it improves the silence.” Consider this to be the Golden Rule of digital communications, as well.
  2. Think of the “target audience” receiving the information as actual human beings. Better yet, develop your messaging as if you are speaking to an individual, someone you see in your imagination as you create it. It should be someone you like. More importantly, it should be someone you respect.
  3. Will he/she be pleased when they see your offering? Is the information meaningful? Is the content helpful? Is the commentary insightful?
  4. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Resist the urge to load up a social media feed just to get your brand out there.
  5. Remember the great gift of the digital world is the ability to form community without the constraint of geography. Be a valued member of that community. Be generous. Be kind. Be interesting. And always, always, be a good neighbor.

It’s not difficult to be mindful in creating your brand’s digital communications. In fact, it’s a great relief in a world that seems to feed on the command Do More Faster. You simply need to take a moment to be sure the content you are creating and sharing is actually worthy of someone’s valuable click.

 

billion+_ebook

Flickr

By the numbers

youtube is 2nd largest search engine