Thursday, January 30, 2014

Which Brands Will Make Their Super Bowl Advertising Slot Pay Off?

Because the Super Bowl is being played this Sunday, I was going to put together a "Throwback Thursday" post of some of my favorite ads from years past that were originally broadcast during one of the football games. However, when I started browsing through commercials on +YouTube I saw just how bad and unmemorable most of them really are.

Brands spend quite a bit of money on these ads due to the sheer size of the audience they know they will be in front of. But, size isn't everything. Advertising should always be about generating results. A brief laugh does not count. And, as digital marketing offers more opportunity to reach an increasingly specific audience with a relevant message, it seems these mass marketing opportunities are less and less important.

It's true that Super Bowl ads still get a great amount of press after (and these days before) the big game though. So, I wouldn't say they are worthless. If creating awareness is your goal, a Super Bowl ad could definitely do the trick. But, that's quite the price tag for awareness alone. I'd want to do something with that awareness, and know that it worked. Below are some of the biggest challenges faced by Super Bowl advertisers, and how to overcome them to make a commercial pay off.

The Challenges 

  • No One is in "Buy Mode" - People are in front of a TV (most away from home) to watch the game with their friends and family. They're not looking to make a purchase.
  • There's A Lot of Noise - I mean this both figuratively and literally. People's attention is pulled in a lot of directions during game breaks. Will your message stand out and be heard?
  • Results Are Difficult to Measure - So, your commercial is talked about on the morning news the next day. How much of a spike in sales did you have as a result of the multi-million dollar ad? It's okay if sales aren't your goal. But, what is? How is it measured? 

The Solutions

  • Go Beyond The Commercial Itself - With all of the tools at our disposal, it's important not to begin and end with the commercial. Offer a teaser online ahead of game night, document the process to use as content, involve your social media fans by starting discussion, and make the idea bigger than a cheap laugh. Be creative to make the moment stretch. Get others with a voice involved in the pitch too. More on this in a minute.
  • Introduce Something New - Don't be boring. Telling viewers what they already know will get you nowhere, even if a dancing bear or talking baby tells them. Showing viewers something brand new will help get them talking about your offering rather than just the ad. How many times have you heard people talking about "the one where those ducks all jumped in that car and went through the drive-thru at that restaurant", or something? Not good.    
  • Ask For Something - Try to get viewers to perform an action. A simple action. They are busy watching the biggest sporting event of the year. But, get them to do something to remember you the next day, and interact in the future. Ask the viewer to download an app . Get them to tweet the answer to a question by the end of halftime to win a free one of whatever you sell. Have those interested text "Sign Me Up" to a number to be the first to know when your product is released. There are all kinds of possibilities. But, ask for it. And, measure the response.   

The Right Idea

This is an example of what I mean by going beyond the commercial. Beats Music has a new app that they want people to download. They enlisted Ellen DeGeneres to be in the commercial. But, they didn't have her stop at being the spokesperson in the ad. Ellen introduced the Super Bowl ad exclusively on her TV talk show ahead of the game, explained the app and AT&T plan that goes with it in more words than you can put in a 30 second commercial, and then topped it off by giving her entire audience an +LG Electronics phone to get started. Not bad, eh? Check out the full segment below, and enjoy the Super Bowl (and ads) this Sunday.  

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Did Arby's Win Their Own GRAMMY On Twitter Sunday Night?

It's kind of a known thing for brands to stake out Twitter during big events these days to pounce on any chance to insert their name into a trending hashtag with any kind of relevance in order to "hijack" the news and get some attention. Some are pretty ingenious, while others are seen as being in poor taste.

+Arby's  saw their chance tonight during the Grammy Awards when Pharrell Williams wore hat that may remind some (with a bit of a nudge from the brand) of a certain fast-food restaurant logo. Below is their tweet using the trending hashtag #GRAMMYs.

So, what do you think? Did Arby's successfully newsjack the #GRAMMYs on Twitter? From the count of retweets and favorites on this tweet about Pharrell's Arby's hat, I'd say they didn't do too badly.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Why Your Corporate Social Media Accounts Should Be Human

I love it when I come across something that makes me say "Yes!"

This happened today when I saw the above tweet from +Smashing Magazine. Social media from a corporate perspective is not an easy thing. Your brand must have a voice, a personality. It's a big part of its identity. And never before has this voice been as important as it is now with social media. Why? Because instead of talking to your customer, you now must talk with them. That voice, whatever its characteristics, has to be a human one if you're going to have meaningful interactions with people. That's what they expect, after all.

This is why it's best not to try to automate the entire process of social media. Scheduling certain posts in advance is occasionally necessary. But, an automated response to a customer complaint based off of keywords that can get context all wrong is a really bad idea. You may find yourself with a much bigger problem if an automated mistake goes viral, showing the world that you don't care enough to man these accounts with employees.

Instead, we must let ourselves be real...and available. Social media does more for a brand than build awareness. It builds trust, even likability. What's more, a lot of insight can be gained from customers on Twitter or Google+. Need some quick, honest feedback? Ask for it on your social media accounts. This medium can create a real connection that can last with customers, and cause them to talk you up to their own networks. It can make them feel like they have a voice, and that you care enough to listen to it. We must appreciate the opportunity as brands, and take full advantage of it by being social. We can do that from behind a logo. We just have to put our voice out there.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Great Ads From Years Past - Week 5 - Winter Olympics

I was planning on doing a Throwback Thursday post with some Olympic-themed advertising in the next few weeks before the Sochi Winter games began in Russia on February 7th. But, today I came across a post on Juxtapoz Magazine displaying several Winter Olympics posters going back as far as the first games in 1924. And, they're a lot of fun to look at. So, the post is coming a little early.

I do love creative brand advertising from the game's sponsors. But, the official posters are even better as they bring attention to the actual event, rather than leveraging the event to sell another product. They also become a part of world history. 

My favorite of the those included in this collection from Juxtapoz is actually this one from the first games in Chamonix, France. The artwork is really great, and it brings together national and world elements very nicely. Below that you will see a poster from the first Winter Olympic Games I can remember, from 1988 in Calgary, Canada.  

Visit the whole collection here, and let me know which is your favorite. If you have others, post a link to them in the comments. I'd love to see them.

Friday, January 17, 2014

How To Use Flipboard As A Marketing Tool (Video)

Yesterday I discovered a new marketing tool. Flipboard. It's not a new app. It's not even new to me. I've been using it sporadically on my Android device for a while now. But, yesterday I participated in a Google+ Hangout that deepened my understanding of what the content reader app was capable of, and broadened my thinking as to how I might use it to further my marketing goals.

Hosted by +Mark Vang of the Sanctuary Networking Community, this Hangout features online marketing professional (and fellow Google+ enthusiast) +Mark Traphagen discussing the ways he uses Flipboard to curate and share content.

A few of my main takeaways from this Hangout are: 

  • How to import your Twitter feed and individual Lists into the Flipboard app for quicker use
  • How to use Flipboard as an eCommerce tool that rivals Pinterest
  • How to create Magazines on Flipboard and use them for content curation and personal branding     

Mark also shared with us a step-by-step article he wrote detailing how to create and use magazines on Flipboard. This morning, I created my first Flipboard magazine as an offshoot of my startups & entrepreneurs community for Cincinnati professionals on Google+.


Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Brands Should (And Should Not) Be Using Google Plus: Do's And Dont's

I came across the following short, but sweet rant on Google+ last week about brands using the network ineffectively:

Obviously, there are brands that just plain suck at social media. They put no money into it. They put no effort into it. They don't understand how it can improve their bottom line. Their loss. But, I understood exactly what +Dustin W. Stout was referring to here because there are brands, large and small, that I know have the ability to do social well. But, they are failing on Google+ mostly due to laziness.

There are more advantages to leveraging the Google+ platform (and all of its connected services) for business than I can get into in one post. But, there are a few very simple things you can do starting today to make your brand more attractive to Google+ users, and those finding your posts through Google Search.

Google+ Do's

  • Do Build Your circles - I'm not sure how many brands follow this guideline because we can't see one another's circle set-ups. But, by using public posts to ask followers something about themselves or what they'd like to see from your brand, you can segment customers to share specific content. For example, you may want to give them details on a specific product, location, or event. To be clear, anything shared with specific circles is not publicly viewable or searchable. But, your goal here should be to truly engage with the customers in this circle. You may even send them an email notification of the post assuming they have opted-in to receive these.
  • Do Use Hangouts - The ability to have direct face-to-face interaction with your customers cannot be overstated. You can use these privately to address specific customer service issues, or publicly (HOA with live stream and YouTube upload) to educate on your goods and services. The possibilities for using Hangouts are vast. Start internally with your own team and experiment. 
  • Do Be Present and Make an Effort - If you want engagement then you have to engage. Fill out your page profile as completely as possible. Post regularly and often. If someone leaves a comment or shares your post, acknowledge them. Be human and interact as your page. Allow your team to use their profiles to speak for your brand as well. This is what brings a brand to life on social media.  

Google+ Don'ts

  • Don't Make it About You All The Time - Not everything has to be specifically about your brand for you to share it on your page. Google+ users want good content, and they'll interact with a brand if they provide it. Be a curator of valuable things related to your brand. Just posting a link to something you have for sale everyday is not going to bring in the results you desire. Be curious. Be creative. Be helpful. 
  • Don't Auto-Post - This goes along with "being present" in the 'Do's' section. But, if you're posting for Twitter, leave it on Twitter. There's nothing more annoying than seeing a post from a brand with a bunch of '@' mentions that link to nothing since Google+ uses '+' to mention people. You're not fooling anyone. It's clear that you posted this for Twitter and are regurgitating it for all of your other networks in a lazy way. Don't be lazy.  
  • Don't Recycle Garbage Tactics - These posts - "Fill in the blank", "What's your favorite thing about Friday?", "Guess the image", "Share/+1 if...", "Caption this photo", etc. - are all garbage. It makes your audience feel dumb. Yes, some people may follow your dumb instructions. But, it's not making them remember you. They're just bored. Spend your energy offering value instead, and you'll be on your way to leaving a positive impression and doing more business. 

For more help on using Google+ effectively, send me a message, check out the page/community +Plus Your Business!, and/or read through the following list of brand case studies provided by +Denis Labelle:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ads I Like: "Samsung: Eyes On The Road"

This video is presented as more of a case study for the whole campaign around the +Samsung Mobile app launched in Singapore. The app is called "Eyes on the Road", and its purpose is to help protect drivers from themselves by eliminating distractions from their mobile device.

While not all of Samsung's ads hit the mark, this one certainly does. It has everything. A disturbing visual is followed by alarming stats that grab attention. Samsung doesn't put themselves above the problem, instead claiming a bit of responsibility for driving distractions by using their own device and notification sound when the wreck occurs. Yes, it is additional branding. But, they could have used a generic device just as easily to stay separate from the bad, deciding instead to only provide the positive solution.

Samsung affirms their commitment to public safety by building this mobile app that automatically switches to "drive safe mode" when a certain speed is detected. They take it a step further by "gamifying" the experience with attainable goals which result in socially-shareable rewards for users. This encourages use while spreading the word through user-generated, branded social media posts. Well done.

I originally came across this through +Ads of the World, a curator of great advertising. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Facebook Sponsored Stories On The Chopping Block. Good Riddance.

The time has finally come for Facebook where the headaches/payouts outweigh the profits for their "Sponsored Stories" version of advertising on the site. According to Marketing Land, the social network will cease offering this option to marketers and phase it out completely by this April.  

For those unfamiliar, in a nutshell Sponsored Stories are ads that incorporate user activity into the existing Facebook ad to leverage organic interaction from fans discussing your business. They display in the main news feed (meaning they are also visible on mobile devices), as well as the sidebar on desktops.

image credit: pcworld
The advantage for businesses is that this extra bit of ad content, which you can see in the image to the right - "so-and-so likes..." - leverages a fan's "like" or other interaction with them (i.e. comments, check-ins) to lend credibility to the post and business thereby increasing the chance that ad will be clicked on by that fan's friends.

While the CTR (Click Through Rate) was no doubt much higher on average for Sponsored Stories versus non-sponsored ads, the very thing that made them "work" also made them problematic. It turns out that many Facebook users saw these as an invasion, not appreciating that their names and profiles were being used without explicit permission to act as endorsements for branded content.

I have used Sponsored Stories in the past. And, while most Facebook users either don't have a problem with it, or simply don't notice that they are "sponsoring" ad content, I occasionally received unkind messages on my pages from angry people who said something along the lines of "I don't 'like' this post. Please remove my name".  I would if I could. But, Facebook doesn't give marketers that much control over the feature. Sponsored Stories are either on or they're off.

image credit: techcrunch
So, while your Facebook page may be getting more clicks, you also may be turning off valuable customers when trying to gain new ones. This, of course wasn't Facebook's intention. But, the problem lies in their willingness to monetize their social network through advertising at nearly all costs. Little thought seems to be put into whether or not an action is good for Facebook's customers or its users. The question is whether or not they can make money offering it.

image credit: bitsocialmedia
Now that multiple lawsuits have cut into profits from Sponsored Stories the feature is going away. I say good riddance. I use social media to build audiences and engage with them, not too piss them off. And, it's time Facebook and other social networks took more responsibility up front to make sure privacy is respected and users don't have to sign away all of their rights just to have some fun online. In the meantime, it's up to marketers to think long and hard about each tactic they employ to reach potential customers, and what the long-term effects will be before checking that extra box.

top image credit: qwaya

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Great Ads From Years Past - Week 4

If you follow me on social media at all, you may know how much I admire the marketing work of the team at +Coca-Cola. They consistently push the limits of creative advertising, consumer engagement, and marketing innovation all while keeping a consistent brand identity (see some recent examples using Facebook, mommy bloggers in Korea, and their own packaging. For even more, take a look at this page of search results using my name and "Coca-Cola").

I first saw this commercial a few years ago. It is from 1953, and is much more direct than much of Coke's advertising today which alludes in one way or another to the beverage's ability to make people happy.
It definitely reflects the time in which it aired.

The ad targets women who are out enjoying themselves, but burning energy nonetheless. The two patrons at the Coca-Cola fountain take a timeout for a refresher, a friendly chat, and an energy boost before they resume shopping for their spring wardrobe. They even take a moment (when cued by the spokesman) to play a catchy jingle on the restaurant booth's jukebox.

It's television spots like this that no doubt allow for the brand to play on nostalgia with the older crowd these days. Perfect refreshment. Every time.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Great Ads From Years Past - Week 3

This week I'm taking it back to 1988, to an ad from +Wendy's that I only vaguely remember (I'm a young man, after all). This one does not feature their famous founder *Dave Thomas*, a fixture of their television campaigns for many years.

What it does feature is a restaurant concept that didn't hold up for the hamburger chain, and has long since been discontinued. I'd love to talk to a member of Wendy's marketing team from these days to see how the whole idea played out, what kind of reception it received from customers, and how long it actually lasted.

To me, it appears as though they were going for a concept that took them out of the "fast-food" space, and more into the "affordable family dining" space. When I look back though, I don't see a failure. I see a highly successful restaurant chain trying something new to see if it makes them even more successful.

Needless to say, Wendy's is still around and successful today. Innovation and growth is important for a business. Try new things, bring in new customers, and see what works (and what doesn't). Sometimes you succeed and sometimes you fail. But, without injecting some new ideas into any business, the brand becomes stale, and customers notice.

Do you remember the SuperBar at Wendy's? What did you think of it?   

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Here's What Happened On Social Media In 2013 (Infographic)

It's amazing to see just how much social media has grown to become a part of the everyday lives of most people. We use it to communicate, share, and learn. The opportunity to reach pretty much anyone is no longer lost on marketers, many of whom had some kind of social aspect to their marketing campaigns in 2013.

Below is a great visual from Infographic Promotion detailing some of the biggest developments in, or through social media in 2013. 

A few of my favorites that I believe speak to the power of social media are: 
  • 38% of Super Bowl ads included hashtags visually displayed
  • Syrian government starts using Instagram
  • Beyonce sold 365K copies of her new album in the U.S. on the first day (promoted through an Instagram post upon release - no prior marketing)
Here's to your success in marketing in 2014!! 

If you'd like to discuss social media marketing for your brand for 2014, give me a shout. 
The State of Social Media 2013
The State of Social Media 2013 by Infographic Promotion