Sunday, November 16, 2014

A New Normal

Havas Chicago is recruiting the next crop of winter interns. While that may be nothing new, the method of recruitment is.

Potential internship candidates are prompted to ditch the traditional resume and cover letter, and pitch themselves via social media. Using the hashtag #winternshipiscoming, students will compete "Game of Thrones" style with Instagram content and Snapchat pictures. The recruitment process is meant to give candidates creative freedom and use the platforms that are already second-nature to them. And it's a win-win, as Havas is more recently designated as a socially savvy agency. It's only right that the new recruits be at the top of the social game.

The first round consisted of applicants submitting content on Instagram with the corresponding hashtag. The assignment was to post unique photos and equally as compelling captions explaining why and how the applicant possesses certain traits paramount to a successful intern. One applicant went so far to prove his loyalty that he got a tattoo. Needless to say, competition is fierce.

The Instagram round narrowed the applicant pool to approximately 75 candidates, where the process now jumps to Snapchat. Applicants will have 24 hours to prove their worth however they deem necessary. Submissions will be judged on November 18, and the winning interns will be announced on the 24th.

Social media is awesome way to recruit interns. Not only is it a more honest and transparent picture of who the candidate is, it's good incentive for these candidates and future applicants to remain cognizant of what they are putting out there on the web. The candidates are also optimizing the content they post and learning what companies like Havas look for in entry-level positions, as well as how the company is growing toward social media. Candidates are putting in the extra effort to present themselves in a competitive light, and that will transfer to other positions they apply for in the future.

Havas presented applicants with a good exercise that is similar to what they'll be asked to do as young professionals in the industry. There is no doubt that within agencies the younger employees are included in almost any conversation about social media strategy. Following the success of Havas' social media recruitment last summer (with the hashtag #Imheretotakeyourjob) and this latest installment, it's likely social media accounts will play an increasingly larger role for both parties involved in the job search.

Digiday article here.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Offline, Online and Back Again

YouTube has been and continues to be a breeding ground for a new generation of celebrities. I've written before about some of the best practices to pursue and develop an influential channel and how to use the social platform to address consumers. Several YouTube stars have managed to expand their brands offline and successfully engage with fans through other, more traditional means; kind of rounding out the brand presence.

Adweek recently ran a cool story about three women who did just that. Each had started her own YouTube channel to express certain interests and play with the freedom of uploading personal content. Michelle Phan, Rosanna Pansino and Bethany Mota candidly admit that they never intended to develop a brand or even a small army of followers. Now these women are YouTube icons and the faces of the social network's latest marketing push. They're also pursuing their own new ventures and enjoying the rare opportunities that come along with the fame.

Mota teamed up with AĆ©ropostle and developed a special clothing line for the store, and she is currently a contestant on Dancing With The Stars, partnered with Derek Hough(!). Phan created a makeup collection for L'Oreal, as well as starred in a national Diet Dr. Pepper commercial. Pasino worked with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, where fans have chosen to use their wishes to meet her.

This article supports the notion that social is great, but can often pack a more powerful punch when coupled with offline endeavors.

It's awesome to see how YouTube supports the big-name content creators and even awesomer that the social network chose three smart women to spearhead its national campaign.

Adweek article here.

Follow me here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lots going on these past few weeks, so nothing new. Treated myself to a vacation, some birthdays and a (disheartening) GA/FL game. Back at it soon.

In the meantime, you can keep up with me on Twitter or Pinterest

Monday, October 20, 2014

Live Tweets Rule

Last month, Twitter released the results of its study on live-tweeting TV shows and how it effects tweet reach and audience growth. As logic would suggest, when the stars, writers, judges, producers and/or official TV show accounts live-tweet the show, viewers happily tweet and follow along. In fact, in the survey, 66% of Twitter users revealed that they like to see tweets from the official show accounts and 61% are especially delighted by tweets from the cast or contestants. ABC's The Bachelor and Scandal continue to be wildly popular and quite successful in this arena.

The purpose of this study was to give television programs and their marketing teams a few insights and pointers on what this means and where to go. The rest of the study reveals some crazy-high numbers, all pretty consistent with the notion that a primetime TV show can't go wrong incorporating live tweets into the TV-watching experience. It's a win for everyone involved.

While the following tips are meant for TV shows and their various accompanying Twitter accounts, they can be tweaked a bit to fit into a more traditional brand's social media strategy.

1. Make Social Sharing Easy for Your Cast and Crew
The study plainly states that the cast and actors are a TV show's greatest asset for making an impact through live-tweeting. Various non-TV-show brands like a department store, a cosmetics line, or cookie company can interpret this as empowering stakeholders. Employees do not necessarily have to live-tweet events and happenings, and they shouldn't have to. Brands can equip their advocates and insiders (with the technology and platforms), and call on them to infiltrate commonly live-tweeted events, using the relevant hashtags and handles appropriately.

2. Anticipate Social Storylines
Tweets, while building a brand's reach and chatter, could very well be negative. A brand should prime and prepare for such sentiments, as well as forecast tweetworthy moments, where engagement is at its peak. For TV shows and other brands, live-tweeting appears spontaneous but should actually be very carefully planned and thought-out. Conversation can stray in several directions and those tangents should be considered, too.

3. Identify High Impact Conversations to Create Winning Moments
This point encourages conversation between TV show and viewer. It mentions that the live-tweeting actor or TV show account realistically cannot reply to every tweet during the program, so instead to identify the influential players and respond to them. TV show accounts often reply to and retweet celebrity viewers who have voluntarily engaged online. The associated tweets and messages exponentially increase reach, attention and the program's "Twitter-share." Other brands can do the same by recognizing similar users and relevant social opinion leaders.

4. Build a Team of Passionate Players
This starts with a passionate community manager; someone committed to developing mutual excitement and deep relationships with viewers or followers. Meaningful content infused with emotion and shared values will nurture a loyal fan base that will engage with a brand over and over again.

Good Luck!

Convince and Convert article here.

Twitter study here.

Follow me on Twitter here.

Comments open to all.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Tweet Home

"Drill down for what? Science."

This is a real tweet from the Curiosity Rover, the spacecraft that's been exploring Mars for the last two years, and I just became a huge fan its account, @MarsCuriosity.

If you're like me and have ever wondered or been concerned about how our spacecrafts are faring being so far away from home, just look to Twitter. Since 2008, spacecrafts like the Curiosity Rover and the 37-year-old Voyager have been optimistically reassuring us that they are happy and healthy.

Roughly six years ago, NASA's three-person social media team created online personas for the distant robots and their missions, and they did so with admirable finesse. The team quickly learned it was much easier to tweet in first-person when bound to 140 characters and discovered that a relatable personality paired with logical updates best resonated with followers. Then, high engagement was garnered through sharing photos and weaving-in current event humor. Followers respond well to the casual tone and intellectual tidbits offered by the various spacecrafts. Followers also just think it's cool to "communicate" with a pal that's literally billions of miles away. (Or maybe that's just me...)

Each spacecraft has its own account and unique voice. The @MarsCuriosity is the friendly, chatty new guy on Mars. The @CassiniSaturn is quite witty and stoic as it studies Saturn and its rings, and the @NASAVoyager is noted as the bravest satellite of all, the veteran with a bit of wanderlust. While the tone for each robot may be different, the model is the same: Their tweets incorporate some mix of audience interaction, current trends and specific, detailed updates. 

NASA and its spacecrafts use Twitter as a human-connectedness tool, in such a way to encourage people to care about the often-forgotten goings-on in outer space. It lets the world know that our intergalactic buddies way out there are doing ok.

Tying this all back to social media marketing, the spacecrafts' Twitter handles effortlessly intrigue and engage online audiences; take a generally undervalued topic and humanize it for maximum interest and reach. How cool is it that these rovers take a second to check-in with us earthlings and let us know it's all good? 

The Atlantic article here.

Follow these cool rovers and missions: @MarsCuriosity, @CassiniSaturn, @NASAVoyager

Follow me here.

Comments open to all.

Monday, October 6, 2014

This One's for You

Jobseekers, you are participating in social media marketing whether you like it or not. Your personal brand is likely getting pieced together right now by a recruiter combing through your social accounts and profiles. You, much like a brand, should be targeting your online efforts to achieve a desired outcome a.k.a. a full-time offer from your dream job.

Quite a few similarities exist between the consumer looking for information about a brand/product before purchase and a recruiter performing a background check on a candidate before offering an interview. Both the consumer and the recruiter will start with social media and their social networks. They'll also place a premium on friends' recommendations, so know that word-of-mouth counts. Like a brand, you should cater content to your intended audience, make logical and meaningful connections, and occasionally and gracefully toot your own horn.

According to CareerBuilder's most recent survey, 45% of recruiters use social media to research a candidate, and 11% plan to use social media as a background check tool in the future.

If you find yourself eager to land your dream job in a few short months, or at least break into the industry, here are some general guidelines about social media upkeep to help you with the process. (Keep in mind these will vary from industry to industry.)


Stay active. At least maintaining an online presence shows that you know how to use the platform, and it allows you to regularly monitor yourself. It also shows a bit of initiative if you go a step further to follow the leaders and people you admire in the industry. I retweet and favorite content from MSLGroup pretty regularly, and after a year of a consistent show of interest and active engagement I earned a follow from Pascal Beucler, the SVP and Chief Strategy Officer. A small, but mighty personal accomplishment.

Share. Blog posts, retweets, photos, check-ins... The content you share is a window into your likes, hobbies and aspirations. It humanizes your digital presence and helps create a more complete picture of who you are. Now a recruiter (or anyone, really) can connect with you on the basis of shared interests or qualities of an ideal candidate.

Use consistency of message. Make sure you are the same person across platforms. Your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts should have a little bit of overlap, in which a recruiter can verify the accounts belong to the same person. It's ok to let a little professionalism seep into your social accounts, and vice versa. All your social profiles should be facets of you and your "in-public" personality.

Think twice about posting content that includes...

Risky behavior. Yes, you may be applying to a company that boasts happy hours and booze carts, but err on the side of caution, you jobseeker you. Funny and harmless photos could be the deciding factor between you and an equally qualified candidate. That photo of you from last year on the beach at Georgia-Florida will be held against you.

Anything politically charged. Political statements tend to polarize people and usually lead to argument. You may alienate the recruiter or someone with which you could potentially work. It's a judgment call depending on your desired line of work.

Health issues. Many people turn to social media to seek solace or support in the midst of health problems. If you choose to post your health issues online, you will have a hard time proving health-related discrimination occurred should you be refused the job, since you made the comments public. The law gets a bit tied up on this particular point, so again it may be best to be cautious and aware.

Good Luck!

Personal Branding article here.

Build Your Brand article here.

Follow me on Twitter here.

Comments open to all.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Help vs. Hype

Social and online content that helps, rather than sells, is the best way to win the hearts and minds of consumers. Especially in modern business, when there is huge competition for attention, how you build your business in terms of trust and consumer confidence matters.

Jay Baer is a New York Times bestseller, marketing consultant and the second-most retweeted person by B2B marketers. In a nifty little podcast, he explained the difference between the two social media marketing approaches, and here is my summation:

Utility, or as Jay coined it "youtility," is key. If you want your brand to stand out, provide tools or content that helps your consumer make educated decisions or access crucial information. The target audience should find some use or benefit in your offering, whether or not its directly related to your product or service. The preference for your useful content can drive the consumer toward a preference for your brand.

According to Jay, brands tend to shy away from providing an adequate level of helpful marketing for free for fear of losing proprietary stock or competitors imitating content. However, withholding your "secret for success" is working actually against you. There are no secrets, and if you don't provide helpful content for your consumers, someone else will. Just because you have all the ingredients and a recipe, doesn't make you a chef. Finesse and focus make all the difference. Successful brands hone in on a niche audience or content type/style and give away all they know bit by bit.

Helpful content also facilitates trust between brand and consumer. Brands that capitalize on help-centric marketing are confident in their own thought leadership and are comfortable when other people begin to advocate for and tell the brand story; a hallmark of a thoughtful and mutually beneficial relationship.

On the other end of the spectrum, hype marketing is essentially tooting your own horn. It's the intent to sell without any depth, youtility or consideration of the end-user. Hype casts a wide, overly-optimistice net and lacks focus; a marketing interaction that consumers tolerate, at best.

Jobseekers, apply Jay's thoughts on helpful marketing to yourself and your job search. Don't just tell 'em, show 'em.

Jason Swenk featuring Jay Baer article here.

Comments open to all.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Don't #Ask

Q&A and #Ask sessions sprout up all the time and are pretty common on Twitter for people and brands alike. But far too often these seemingly short-lived and simple PR campaigns become unruly and unstoppable monsters.

You should evaluate what you or your brand may be risking if you decide to candidly engage in an unfiltered, real-time conversation with the anonymous, opinionated and vocal beings of the Internet. So, is a social Q&A or #ask sesh a useful or meaningful marketing tactic? My short answer is no. Although, of course there are always variations and exceptions where there's a possibility it could go surprisingly well.

Maybe the Internet has gotten meaner, but I don't think any of the following responses were unpredictable. Here are a few cautionary tales of brands that got it so horribly, horribly wrong:

Poor Roger Goodell. The recent, highly-publicized domestic violence in the NFL isn't the first time the commissioner has had a nasty go-round with passionate Tweeters or an association with a less-than-postive hashtag. In May of this year, someone in the NFL camp thought it'd be a good idea to have Goodell participate in an open forum Q&A to... Actually, I'm not sure what the intended goal of this campaign was because it was orchestrated at a time when football-related concussions/traumatic head injuries and racist team names were blazingly hot topics, even outside the not-so-small world of professional sports. The NFL used the hashtag #AskCommish, and the resulting participation was far from ideal. Some tweets were crudely funny, some were completely irrelevant, but most attacked Goodell, the brand and the institution head-on and for everyone to see. Take a look at some of the tweets here. Be warned, grown-up language ahead.

J.P. Morgan almost held its first live Q&A session last year with the hashtag #AskJPM. However, the day before the scheduled event, the hashtag was already hijacked. It failed, and it failed hard with more than 18,000 tweets in 24 hours, not a single one of which was kind. The bank originally hoped the hashtag would connect consumers with a knowledgable executive who would field questions related to leadership and career advice, but the tweets that followed harshly criticized the bank's behavior and ethics. One tweet read, "Do your clothes fit better without the added weight of a soul? #AskJPM." The avalanche of negative tweets was too overwhelming for J.P Morgan, and it consequently cancelled the Q&A session, simply stating it was a "bad idea."

The NYPD is another brand that made a faulty attempt at good PR via social media, and it sure did escalate quickly. To boost perception of and solicit goodwill toward the Big Apple's boys in blue, the NYPD PR and social team encouraged the public to take a picture with a friendly officer and post the photo on Twitter with the hashtag #myNYPD. This was ultimately received as an open invitation to mock the department and publicize several instances of police brutality and misconduct. Twitter was flooded with disturbing photos all united under the #myNYPD hashtag. The campaign backfired in a big way, and several high-ranking officials are still reluctant to admit complete failure or acknowledge the newly unearthed ill-will and resentment.

Is it at all possible for #Ask to go right? Maybe. Brands and celebrities that use a moderator or have a strictly defined goal could have better luck. LiveNation's Twitter account does a pretty good job at this. The account hosts different musicians throughout the year and filters and chooses the questions the artists receive and publicly answer, being a trusty middleman.

However, I don't think I would ever advise my friend or my client (or even myself) to bet on such a risky and volatile tactic. The Q&A sessions appear to continually be a popular brand perception tool, but it is not one I would recommend incorporating into a social media marketing plan.

AdAge article here.

Disagree with me or itching for an intellectual debate? Comments open to all.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Good Kind of YouTube Stardom

Digital word of mouth is a hot commodity, and no one has this masted quite like YouTube stars.

YouTube is an awesome way to showcase products, and YouTube stars have huge influence in saying what's cool and what works. They also enjoy a very loyal and passionate fanbase. The comparatively lengthy video content is at least a marketing tool and at most a valuable friendship between creator and viewer.

Entertainment, fashion and lifestyle YouTube channels dominate in the online cult-like followings, which is why brands tend to emulate their styles and content. The commitment YouTube celebs have to their fans, even in the midst of corporate attention, is quite admirable as well. It'd be wise for brands to use a similar foundation when marketing to audiences via social media.

So, think of this as a launching pad for your long-awaited YouTube stardom. Or at least a quickie  guide for brands who are looking to partner with this influential bunch and/or cultivate a similar following.

1. Embrace the nuances of your brand's behavior. Don't abandon your identity, but do develop an audience-centric mindset.

2. Don't overcommercialize, and be picky about endorsements. Viewers know the difference between a sales pitch and honest usage. Pro-YouTubers suggest incorporating the product or brand in a way that makes sense, and remember it's ok to say no to endorsements or partnerships. Keep the interests of your audience at heart.

3. 30-second pre-roll is annoying and doesn't work. Try a five or 10-second bumper instead. YouTube audiences understand that ads fund their free content, and they're ok with that, but to a point. Relevancy is important if you want to be remembered, too.

4. Don't repeat what you did on TV. Viewers are less passive here, just like other social media platforms. They want the option to interact, and it's difficult to do that with an iteration of a TV spot.

5. Get to know the taste and humor of your intended audience.  It makes it a lot easier to tailor content to their needs.

6. Ulterior motives are not cool. This should be a no-brainer, but worth the reminder. You are trying to build a relationship, not a one-time transaction.

7. Natural growth is far and beyond better than forced growth. Let viewers like you for you. Avoid the overwhelming acts of desperation for likes, shares, favorites, etc... If authenticity shines through and viewers' needs are appropriately met, they will be more inclined to continue a friendship.

8. If you are going to pursue a YouTube channel, make it a priority and keep it maintained. Out-of-date and out-of-touch material isn't doing either party any favors.

9. A genuine interest in viewer happiness. As in, "What is the real reason you are invading YouTube with your product or brand message?"

Good luck to you and to them.

I pulled some wisdom from two websites this week, as well as a few successful YouTubers:

Marketing Magazine article here.

Fast Company article and video here.

Missglamorazzi EvanTube HD iJustine Schmoyoho

Disagree with me or itching for an intellectual debate? Comments open to all.

Monday, September 8, 2014

You might like this #WCW

There is a right way for brands to participate in trending hashtags.

At the risk of stating the obvious, I'm a huge Law & Order: SVU fan and an even bigger Mariska Hargitay fan. #BensonandStablerForever. So, when I saw the latest promo for NBC's Fall line-up, I was excited, to say the least. The TV spot features Mariska with Sophia Bush and Debra Messing, each representing her new or returning crime-fighting television show. The ad is overflowing with girl power and emphasizes that "your Wednesdays will never be the same." #WomanCrushWednesday is onscreen for the duration of the spot, and the three women even form the letters "WCW" with their hands. (It's a good bet that all three programs air on Wednesdays, too.)

The hashtag you know and love has infiltrated traditional media.

Promotional hashtagging is nothing new. Brands are quick to participate real-time conversations and use existing hashtags to become embedded in relevant topics. Most of the time, it's in effort to further a brand message when convenient. Brands may also create unique hashtags to publicize a short-term campaign. The problem with this type of hashtag usage is that it usually lasts for just a blip in time. It's short-lived and spur-of-the-moment.

NBC takes these tactics a step further. The #WCW hashtag bridges traditional media to social media. By perpetuating #WCW, it has created a hybrid trending-campaign hashtag; here's a topic that is consistently and regularly trending used to promote a related, short-term campaign. NBC crafted an appropriate strategy around something that exists naturally in the social media environment, and the best part is the message will be the same every Wednesday. No need to develop more or different content for the duration of the campaign.

NBC incorporates several important aspects of social media marketing. The TV spot targets the usual suspects who would respond favorably to the ad as well as accept the offer to join the conversation online. The television networks, the programming bookends, the dayparts... It was all considered to reach the intended audience. I first saw the spot while I was watching the SVU marathon last Sunday on USA. This was no coincidence. Online, NBC was smart to use a hashtag that spans the majority of social networks. Hashtag participation is easy, and it doesn't feel like endorsement. It's likely anyone with a Twitter account will encounter Mariska, Sophia or Debra on their timelines soon, and whether or not they fully process the ad, they will have at least been exposed. And I'd have to agree that these talented, career-driven women are indeed crush-worthy.

A variation of social media marketing that I especially appreciate is when brands are resourceful and use a no-waste approach to a campaign. Circumstances and tools are sometimes so plainly visible, that all that's left to do is connect the dots. This NBC promotional drive is a great example of connecting the dots.

Social Media Today article here.

Follow NBC here and Mariska here.

Disagree with me or itching for an intellectual debate? Comments open to all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Miley Cyrus: Social Media Marketer

This is not an opinion, but rather a statement of fact.

Last week, VMAs viewers watched a homeless man accept the Video of the Year award on behalf of Miley Cyrus. But an acceptance speech, he did not deliver. For many, this was the first time hearing about Miley's advocacy for the 1.6 million homeless youths in America. However, for those of us tuned-in to Miley's social platforms and personal accounts, she had been clueing us in days in advance.

I fancy myself a Miley insider by virtue of simply following her across several social platforms. She likes to tease her fans (the media, everyone in general...) with cryptic images or captions. As it relates to social media marketing, Miley and her team know how to create thumb-stopping content, design messages that pique interest and urge the passive skimmer to participate in some way. Prior to the MTV awards show, Miley released photos of herself at a site unknown on her Instagram and Twitter accounts. One photo was captioned "Met some of the coolest young people I've ever met today," and another one which included the website and #makinsomeartformyfriendsatmyfriendspace. Makes you wonder what Miley is up to, right? These particular posts were anticipatory and promotional; sprinkling in hints of something bigger to come and at the same time giving you the resources to find out for yourself. All signs pointed to Miley realizing her stardom and widespread reach to freely advertise for a homeless shelter called My Friend's Place.

Miley used her position as an influencer to raise awareness about and campaign for a cause. Mix-in cause-related marketing with the social strategy, and her message was focused and simple, later reinforced by the events played out at the VMAs. The early photos and concise content drove collaboration, connection and community among Miley, her followers and My Friend's Place. She encouraged website traffic as well as converted interested parties to further participation, like volunteering and donating. She has made a huge impact on the organization and the thousands of homeless kids in Los Angeles since the various announcements. Following the VMAs Miley was trending on Twitter, garnering attention from big names like Kim K, Madonna, Chelsea Handler and Susan Sarandon, in addition to users outside the music and entertainment industry. The lingering effects include Miley leveraging herself as a brand and influencer, providing a social link and association to another brand, and ultimately adding value and credibility to an otherwise under-the-radar organization.

I'm happy to see Miley flexing her superhero strength for a great cause. Other brands can easily imitate this example and successfully pursue and execute a mutually beneficial partnership. Certainly Miley and My Friend's Place are enjoying a healthy boost in stock right about now.

It's likely Miley doesn't even know she is actively participating in social media marketing tactics. But then again, being the smart and savvy young lady she is, she probably does.

Mashable article here.

Follow Miley here or here.

Disagree with me or itching for an intellectual debate? Comments open to all.