Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

Ebben Zall Group’s 2014 Marketing Predictions

January 15, 2014

crystal ball2013 was a year with changes that rocked the world of marketing (figuratively and literally, thank you Miley Cyrus and Buzzfeed). From Google’s hummingbird algorithm to Instagram offering advertisements to Twitter going public, media shifted and evolved at an accelerated rate.

At EZG we try to stay nimble and ahead of the curve when it comes to trends and industry milestones, and over the past month or so we’ve focused on setting goals for ourselves and our clients.

Out of that effort, the team raised a few marketing predictions for 2014.  We know 2013 took marketers on a wild ride, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store for the year ahead!

EZG’s 2014 Marketing Predictions:

  • The value of content will become increasingly clear – and the role of paid media increasingly blurry.  On the social media front, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others will continue to move towards showcasing certain content and sharing user information in an effort to monetize.  Meanwhile, industry news and opinion websites will try to differentiate and draw traffic by competing for viewpoints from thought leaders who have significant networks through which they can share.
  • Ad spend will increase significantly across the world in 2014 from this past year due to public events set up to receive global attention. With the Winter Olympics in Russia, the World Cup in Brazil, and the mid-term elections in the U.S., there are multiple platforms with extremely high viewership that are great opportunities for advertisers to brand their clients’ brands.
  • Short videos will continue to grow in popularity. Whether they are used to show a clients’ expertise, for pitching purposes, or for fun mash-ups that display a firm’s personal side, videos will be included in more campaigns in 2014.
  • Advertisements and social media posts that gain popularity will become more image focused. It’s important that ads are visually digested and that text is kept to a minimum.
  • Interactive advertisements will gain popularity in 2014, and they will need to be more creative than ever. Whether it’s a crawler across your screen or a game that must be played before it will disappear, ads will increasingly become interactive and engaging across multiple platforms.
  • Content strategy is king: With the amount of content floating around the internet and on social media platforms, marketers must (as always) be strategic with their publishing initiatives.  Content publishers, content context and content timeliness will be absolutely vital for the success of brands in 2014 — more so than ever before.
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Is online marketing the new dot.com?

December 11, 2013

Here’s a question: is online marketing the new dot.com?  (Hint: the answer is “yes.”)

I don’t pretend to be an economist, but bear with me here.  When Facebook went public in 2012, there was no real revenue model, no real plan, and the economy was stagnant.  The company targeted a $38 opening stock price, which it couldn’t legitimately garner.  Bankers scrambled to make it happen and the world cried foul.

Guess what?  Facebook is currently trading at $50.24, and everyone on the planet still uses it to post pictures of their children in snowsuits.  For now.

In 2013, Twitter headed for the public markets with lessons in hand from the Facebook “debacle” (I struggle to call what is now a $120B company a true misfire).  Smooth sailing, sneaking under the radar at a measly current market cap of around $28B and now trading at the same price as FB.

Forbes.com would have us look at all the ways these IPOs were different.  But surprise!  They’re actually very much alike in the most important way: once again…no real revenue model, no real plan, no clear economic picture.  Just a giant, overly communicative audience at their fingertips.  In the end, the markets bought bandwidth, and little else.

Certainly there’s tremendous value there, as the world runs on connectivity.  There is no shortage of ways in which these platforms can evolve and serve as launchpads to great new ideas and products.  They factor into our daily marketing strategies and serve as a common touchpoint for audiences across every industry.  The question is whether the current iterations will  translate into long term viable business models, or go down in flames and give rise to a phoenix we haven’t yet imagined?

Here’s where I flashback to 2000, though, and this crazy thing called the Internet.  You’re launching a website, you say?  How will you make money?  What’s that, Pets.com, Flooz.com, and theGlobe.com?  Oh, I see: “if you build it online, they will come.”

[Sound of U.S. economy collapsing]

The way we communicate globally is nothing short of miraculous, and creates an incredible new pair of pants into which marketing will grow.  In our glorious tradition, though, we’re assuming value before the fabric is fully cut; my hope for 2014 is that we can find the seams  before we get, well, too big for our britches.

3 Key Elements for a Successful PR Campaign

November 25, 2013

The Marist College (my Alma Mater) PRSSA chapter recently entered the Bateman Case Study Competition and asked me to serve as a Professional Adviser.  The competition tests students’ skills, knowledge and creativity when it comes to public relations.  Students are required to produce a full-fledged PR campaign for an innovative personal payment system—which is an exciting and cutting-edge opportunity for any young person ready to embark on a career in PR.

Based on my experience, successful campaigns exceed client expectations, deliver results, and reach intended goals.  As the Professional Adviser, the students have already come to me with several questions and I’d like to pass along the tips I shared with them:

  1. Ask Yourself: Who is the client? When you begin to work on a new project or campaign, due diligence is key. With any project in public relations, research is the foundation for success, so it is important to take the time to become immersed into researching the client’s history, industry and products/services.  This will help you to understand who they are and how to create an appropriate campaign. To take this step a bit further, getting to know the client’s competitors will shed light on industry trends as a whole.
  2. Manage Goals and Expectations: Asking the client what their goals and expectations are is vital to understanding their overall needs. This is where you set the bar for realistic outcomes and identify your professional limits. Be as specific as you can when sketching out goals, and ensure that there are no questions left unanswered or ambiguity. Additionally, it is wise to establish deadlines in order to stay on track and make the client feel at ease with the strategy.
  3. Strategize: Last but certainly not least, creating and implementing a detailed strategy will effectively lead you toward the goal-line.  Strategizing will help you to identify which media platforms and outlets you will use in order to get your client’s message in front of their target audience. You can’t expect to hit your marks and gain media attention unless an effective strategy is in place. In PR, the term “toolkit” is used often–and for good reason! Our team at EZG has various skills and we provide customized PR plans for each client based on which tactics will be most valuable for their brand.  It is important to remember that there isn’t a one size fits all strategy for PR; each campaign is unique.

Developing a creative PR campaign is a project within a project. And although each client’s goals are different, I can guarantee that the above tips will apply to every engagement. You can always count on research and strategic initiatives to guide you in the right direction.

What other steps do you think are important to take when developing a PR campaign? Let us know @ebben_zall.

From Cave Drawings to Instagram- Using Photos to Tell a Story is Nothing New

November 1, 2013

Ever since early humans picked up rocks and etched an ox onto their cave walls, we have been attracted to good story telling through pictures. Fast-forward a few million years and the “cave wall” is now the social media feeds that we access every day. The wild popularity of photos on social media and in our ad campaigns demonstrates that while we’re no longer dressing like Fred Flintstone, we are still drawn to appealing visual stories.  This has led to great marketing tools for creatives who have successfully found a way to mesh the art of storytelling and photo sharing together.

When brands use photo sharing to connect to an audience they are usually looking to tap into an emotion. Whether it is joy, pain, triumph, or excitement, campaigns are enhanced by more than just words when photos connect with a feeling.

We’d like to share a few examples from popular brands that we think do a great job at combining simple photos with powerful campaigns:

 Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte (#PSL) Instagram Campaign:

#psl

Everyone knows that Instagram is a great social media platform for sharing personal photos, and when brands use it, powerful connections with customers are made. This Autumn, Starbucks has used the power of Instagram to encourage real-life drinkers of the pumpkin spice latte to share their photos and connect by using #PSL. As a direct result, a viral marketing frenzy was born. Not only did Starbucks connect with their customers by asking them to share their personal photos featuring the lattes, but they also integrated a collage of the Instagram images into their national ads. Through this effort, customers felt as though their personal stories mattered to the brand and were likely to feel more connected to their delicious seasonal cup of Joe.

IKEA Creates Holiday Ads To Connect With Families:

IKEA

In this ad for IKEA, there is little copy but the message conveyed in the ad is clear: love your home. At first glance, the viewer will notice the word “love” spelled out by the IKEA furniture and models, but the marketing strategy is really appealing to the viewer’s emotional connection to home. The ad is framed this way so that the viewer feels as though he/she is getting a private look into a family’s living room through the birds-eye photograph.  Viewers are instantly gratified as parents with children can identify with two siblings playing by a holiday fireplace.  Instantly, IKEA becomes associated with warm emotions from the viewer and a connection to the brand is made.

RedBull Uses Instagram to Support Their Brand’s Authenticity:

redbull

Photo Credit: http://instagram.com/redbull#

RedBull is a brand that is notorious for appealing to adventure seekers who require a lot of energy. The strategy that they have adopted on their social media channels uses photos to showcase landscapes, sports and individuals who exemplify an active lifestyle.  RedBull has clearly adopted the “show not tell” philosophy for connecting with their consumers, and it worked (with nearly 1million followers on their account).  Consumers begin to connect the thrilling images with the brand which directly makes them excited to drink the product.

 

Using imagery to attract audiences is a vital part to any marketing, advertising, or social media campaign in today’s shareable media environment.  Photos are easily understood, widely accepted, and a great garnish to a written story.  When brands want a medium to share their voice without using text, photos sharing platforms are a great option for a viral campaign. Because a photo can really be worth a million words, we always strive to find images that powerfully communicate our clients’ overall brand propositions.

What photos do you find most powerful? Let us know @Ebben_Zall

Two great brands that tweet great together

October 4, 2013

Just a few weeks ago I posted about “staying on top of the media mix,” looking at how the industry lines between PR, advertising, and social media are blurring to create effective marketing campaigns. I discussed how Honda’s #WantNewCar campaign strategy implemented all three elements cohesively and engaged with target audiences.  And guess what? Honda is at it again!

In my opinion, the car-maker is blazing past other automotive companies when it comes to utilizing social media as a powerful marketing medium. Honda has taken to Twitter to promote a new feature added to the 2014 Honda Odyssey: a tiny, built-in vacuum that is fueling a social media surge that has sucked in the Twitter feeds of major consumer brands. Yes, a minivan and a vacuum have started a conversation that turned into a viral marketing sensation. The promotion of the newly designed Odyssey kicked off with a series of cute commercials, featuring the vacuum at center stage. If you haven’t seen the clip yet, check it out here:

After Honda captured viewers with the commercial, the marketers turned their attention to twitter. While scrolling feeds on October 1st, I noticed that Honda began tweeting @ other brands, using the vacuum as a conversation starter. Honda posted tweets that demonstrated the sucking power of the vacuum using products from companies like Oreo and Lego.  Consequently, those brands began to retweet the clever pictures and captions to their own audiences, and the campaign gained viral stardom.   

Who would have ever thought that Oreo and Honda would engage in a cross-promotional twitter strategy that appeals to the mass market?  Here’s a slide show of the images and tweets posted by Honda:

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More and more on social media we’re seeing corporate brands using digital platforms to push their overall brand or a specific product. Whether they’re taking advantage of timely content (like Oreo’s Super Bowl Blackout ad), or launching a planned campaign  like Honda’s Odyssey vacuum effort, social media helps to get the message directly in front of the consumer.

Honda’s social media strategy was successful because:

  • The tweets were short and to the point.
  • They targeted brands that share their audience (families with small children) – parents can relate to lost Lego’s and cookie crumbs on the floor of their car.
  • Targeted popular brands with a large following, and using dynamic images that were designed to be easily shared amongst large groups of people.

In public relations, we are our clients’ storytellers, so it’s our duty to know which mediums act as the best platforms to get the message out. In our work with automotive clients at EZG, keeping up to date with campaigns from brands like Honda is a no brainer, so we always think of ways that we tie broader corporate campaigns to our local clients. Whether companies use other brands to help push their message, piggy back off of a corporate campaign, or blend traditional advertising and PR with social media, integrating messages and media is what delivers the best and most convincing campaigns.

Staying on top of the media mix

September 6, 2013

When it comes to PR, advertising, social media, and marketing, it’s all blending together. Many times, these disciplines cross over one another as the digital influence continues to grow and becomes intertwined with other tactics. The different spheres are no longer their own element. Social isn’t just a Twitter account, and ads are not just aimed at people watching TV; every piece is being integrated. As everything meshes the goal is still the same – to influence the audience with your message. So why not become a fluid brand and spread your message across all channels? Two brands that really come to mind when thinking about integrated campaigns are Honda and VitaminWater.

Even if you tried, you couldn’t escape Honda’s Summer Clearance campaign, it was everywhere. Whether you were watching TV, on Twitter or Vine, or listening to the radio, Honda utilized all of these outlets to fuel their annual Summer Clearance event. They advised consumers to use the hashtag, “#WantNewcar” to express why they want a new Honda and they could win one. Honda’s commercials then also featured some of these tweets. This campaign enabled Honda to do a very important thing: engage with the consumer and reward them for it.

honda pic

The sport drinks arena is a competitive one, so VitaminWater came up with a campaign to differentiate themselves from the others. Like Honda, they implemented a hashtag (#MakeBoringBrilliant) and used it not only on Twitter but across their ads as well. They got their audience talking about their brand, and engaged with their consumers.

vita water pic

These are the case studies that jump out at us, because from social media management to traditional PR efforts, advertising and creative design, EZG handles a continuous mix of tactics to build the best strategies for clients. The best part about it? We get to keep an eye on the ever-changing landscape, and look for ways to take campaigns to the next level – with kudos to campaigns like Honda’s by RPA and VitaminWater’s by CP&B.  If you’ve seen campaigns that put brands in the best light by integrating their message across different channels, please share!

The PR Rookie Tool Kit- Tips & Tricks For Your First PR Job

August 27, 2013

As the new kid to the public relations school, I entered my first full-time position here at Ebben Zall Group with starry eyes, and five internships under my belt. Coming into this position as an Account Coordinator straight from graduate school has been quite an experience. What I didn’t realize was that a PR professional has more responsibilities than ever in today’s digital and fast-paced world.

For my first contribution to our EZG Blog, I have decided to provide other Millennials some tips for surviving their first role in public relations.  Even though I did learn a lot from internships, nothing beats real world experience.

1.      Arm Yourself with Answers.

Always anticipate questions from a client. When speaking with clients, I have learned that it is important to leave no stone unturned. By demonstrating preparedness, clients become well informed and the PR team becomes trusted. When all potential bases are covered, your client will feel comfortable placing their success in your hands— and that can lead to a long and successful relationship.

2.      Trust your Social Media Instincts.

Chances are you are going to be spending much of your time interacting on social media. As a millennial, I have used social media in my daily routine for quite some time, but it is a different ballgame when it is used professionally. If a tweet or post does not sound quite right, don’t post it. If you sense controversy, follow your gut and save yourself the trouble. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion from a co-worker if you are on the fence.  Look at what happened to Dr. Phil this past week: a careless tweet landed him in some hot water with the media.

3.      Create Multiple To-Do Lists to Remain Organized

PR professionals need to be thorough and well-organized when relaying information internally and externally. If you work at an agency, you are most likely bouncing around different projects with multiple clients throughout the day. Keep multiple “To Do” lists for urgent tasks and a separate list for long-term items. I personally have a table with items under four different categories marked urgent, tomorrow, next week, and ongoing. I update this every day to stay on top of my work and committed to organization. Tip: color-coding your tasks can also be a big help as well.

To my friends who have decided to embark on a career in public relations: this may be your first “real world” experience.  The territory may seem daunting at first, but remember that your co-workers were once in your shoes. Don’t be afraid to ask them for their own tips and tricks – they want to help you learn. Use their knowledge to your advantage, because one of the best benefit of a team is the shared experiences that can be gained.

Millennials are a new generation looking to find a voice, and what better way to do it than working in PR?  I hope these tips were useful, and if you have a trick or tip to share send me a tweet @ShawnaLMarks. I’m always happy to trade ideas with fellow millennials and communication professionals. Good luck and don’t forget to keep calm, after all, you’re in PR! 😉

Shawna w/ PR sign

Bringing interaction with real HUMANS into social media

July 19, 2013

Social media is awesome. I live, love, and breathe my social networks, and if you’re reading this post you probably do too. New apps and social networking sites continue to pop up daily (example: #RoyalBabyApp), and to keep up, our eyes and ears become glued to our devices. We take “selfies”, check emails, create short videos on Vine, and filter photos on Instagram.  Let’s be honest, we’re all hooked.

In the age of social media communication, news is traveling at light-speed.   As social media users, we all live this experience every single day. YouTube videos go viral and are passed around to co-workers and friends; a cute note written by a child is plastered across Twitter, and sporting event highlights are replayed over and over again.  So it’s shocking to think that until recently, a Facebook page had fallen under my radar.  There is a community page on Facebook that I wish I had been aware of all along, because of its emphasis on the human spirit. Simply put, I think this page is the bee’s knees.

Humans of New York (HONY) was started by a man named Brandon in the summer of 2010 with the idea that he could construct a photographic census of NYC’s inhabitants. With every photo, Brandon interviews the person (or persons) in the photo and includes a few blurbs from their chat as a caption to the photo.  Over the course of his journey, HONY has become a sensation on Facebook. With close to a million “likes”, the page is verified, and followers comment, like, and share every post. HONY doesn’t give out prizes, they’re not a consumer brand giant, and it is not a celebrity news page–so what makes photographing people in NYC so captivating?

I believe that HONY’s popularity is due to the fact that it combines social media with a personable touch.  In the infinite sea of social media profiles, all users are looking for something that provides a personal connection and HONY is that something.  From NYC’s smallest members, to the oldest, wisest, and most unique, HONY showcases it all.  HONY displays real life situations through its photos, and because of this, followers can relate to their own experiences through the stories.  Followers of the page share their thoughts and thank Brandon for the photos because they serve as a way to stir up conversation and provide insight on the human experience.  Here are a few of those photos taken from the HONY Facebook page:

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As a PR and social media maven, I want to take a step back and analyze HONY from a personal point of view. I’d say that HONY is doing an amazing job of:

  1. Fulfilling their goal/mission
  2. Engaging and connecting with their audience
  3. Creating and spreading important and profound messages

All brands attempt to relate to their targets, and establish a trust in their audience. With a book drop scheduled for October, I’d say that HONY has not only captured the hearts of its digital friends, but those traditional print minds as well.

Are you using the social media cycle?

July 8, 2013

3 Additional Tips for PR Success: A blog post collaboration authored by EZG’s PR Squad

On EZG TV, we recently discussed the basics of how social media and public relations practices fit together. Traditional media and approaches to PR remain crucial to shaping a story, but social media outlets provide us with an additional toolset.  Traditional media is a great “one to many” channel, and by working with journalists and other influencers we can help bring a story to life online, in print, and in broadcast media.

Social media gives another dimension to the story.  It allows companies to directly engage with audiences, provides an outlet to monitor conversations and trends, and serves as a forum to add expertise and unique experiences. This engagement with our audience allows us to connect with them on a more personal level; in a nutshell, companies are no longer just a brand, they have a personality!

To hear more of our tips on social media, please check out our EZG TV video.  As a bonus, we are sharing 3 additional tips that take social media plans to the next level:

  1. Don’t forget about creating original content

Original content is key to an influential social media presence. In order to attract attention and maintain your audience, you must come up with unique content that highlights your expertise. For example, each week we publish an EZG Tip of the Week on Facebook and Twitter as a piece of original content. We take our advertising, PR, and media relations expertise and create our own ways to share that information with our audience on social media.  We advise clients to do the same – what better way to communicate your original expertise than by sharing it to your audience of influencers?

  1. Respond and Engage

We touched on this a bit in our video, but social media is the go-to platform for responding and engaging with your target audience.   Social media allows consumer brands to respond to comments, reviews, or posts in a timely manner, opening the door to customer interaction. When something positive or negative appears on your Facebook page, for example, companies can reach out directly to the poster and respond to the situation quickly and appropriately.

Additionally, our clients ask us how we can be proactive as opposed to reactive.  Our answer is: ask questions!

People love to be asked a question because it makes them feel as though someone is listening.  This kind of brand engagement was big with consumers when Lay’s launched its “Do Us A Flavor” campaign, for which fans were asked to vote on a new potato chip flavor. The winning flavor would be Lay’s latest chip to hit the shelves. Bonus Tip: By asking your audience questions, not only are you demonstrating that you value their thoughts, but it also allows the brands to tap into the wants and needs of their audience.

  1. Pick Appropriate Channels

There are multiple sites that you can utilize on social media, but it is important to pick the right channels for your brand and message. Most consumer brands take advantage of a wide variety of channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Vine. A consumer brand can utilize almost any social media site, but the content on each site should vary. For example, photo sites should share posts that inspire desire, Twitter posts should be designed to spark a conversation, and Facebook posts should be full of relevant information.

Professional brands must also choose appropriate channels for social media. Unlike consumer brands, it is not always appropriate for a professional brand to be on all forms of social media. LinkedIn, Twitter and a corporate blog are much more appropriate and influential channels for professional brands.  When crafting original content on a corporate blog, professional brands should utilize “share” tools as a way to engage with their followers.

These 3 tips – as well as the points we discuss on EZG TV – are all important elements to consider when making the most of your social media presence. When you use each feature properly you will see the benefits of social media content: the right channel that communicates your original content will help engage audiences, and effectively bring more traffic back to your website…it’s the social media cycle!

Speaking of original content, we are always interested in your thoughts; do you have any tips for creating posts on social media?  Let us know @ebben_Zall

Marketing After a Tragedy

May 2, 2013

There seems to be a steady stream of tragedies across the US in recent months, reminding us that we live in a complicated world – to say the least. However, with these somber tragedies came brilliant signs of hope and unity, some of which was reflected in the media. People turned to social media and advertising to get their message out. One of the main questions I find myself asking is: As a business owner, how do you help those in need and initiate community outreach without seeming like you are trying to capitalize on misfortune?

In my opinion, this is all about common sense. I have seen local bars and restaurants designating a day where a percentage of their sales will go to the One Fund Boston. Dunkin Donuts gives their customers a chance to donate when buying their morning coffee. There are even other businesses promising that for every Facebook “like” their page receives in the month of May, they will donate $5 to the same charity. Bravo for these local businesses. These are great ways to offer the kind of support that our beloved Boston needs, while still building excellent brand loyalty.

With success stories, though, come missteps as well. Epicurious, a culinary website, took to social media in a completely inappropriate and insensitive manner tweeting “Boston, our hearts are with you. Here’s a bowl of breakfast energy we could all use to start today”.  Talk about belittling tragedy!

Epicurious Tweet

 

Ford has also been the focus of some ridicule due to their “thank you” to Boston first responders. The company posted a picture of two different Ford vehicles with the text “To the first responders of Boston: Thank you. You are true American heroes”. Many have argued that the images of the Ford cars provide little to no value to the image and that it was a shameless attempt of promoting the Ford brand. I have to say that I agree, I think that a simple status update or Twitter post would have sufficed, the not so subtle images were overkill and in my opinion, Ford wasn’t fooling anybody.

Ford Social Media

 

Managing Director of Edelman Digital Dave Armano recently posted a guide on branding after tragedy strikes. He wrote this after the devastating events at Sandy Hook elementary school back in December. This is a great tool for businesses and marketing consultants to become familiar with. It addresses the point that even in the midst of devastation, professionals still have businesses to run and this helps them not only do just that, but express their sorrow and offer value to the broken communities. It advises business owners to help when you can and stay silent when you should. Social media can come across as insensitive if timing and tone are not well thought out. Companies must evaluate the message they put out there to make sure it could not be misinterpreted.

What someone chooses to post, or even not post, can influence the public enormously. During that Marathon Monday afternoon, it was through social media that people were able to keep up to date on the unraveling events. The FBI encouraged us to get the images of the suspects out to the public via social media so that they could identify these men as soon as possible.  The very next day, they were urging us not to post too much for fear that the suspects would have an inside look at the investigation. With all of that being said, it is a true testament to how prevalent social media has become in the past years. It is also a reminder about how social media should not be taken lightly: it can be what makes or breaks your reputation and your company’s brand during a time of need.


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