Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Another “Thumbs Up” for Facebook

October 2, 2014

fbatlas

At EZG, we have a common request asked of us by our clients – they want to target their advertisements by appropriate demographic and target their audience based on behavior and context.

Simply put, our clients want to be able to do more than just target broad audiences like “Adults 25-54”. They want to be able to reach specific people who are interested in their products or services, and possibly already shopping around for it! Ideally, these potential customers would be talking about it on social media as well.

As advertisers, we’ve had popular search engines like Google and Yahoo! on our radar for years as our go-to sites for targeting. However, there is another advertising platform that is quickly becoming a top contender in the industry – and that heavyweight is social media.

This week, Facebook rolled out a new ad network titled Atlas,(Atlas is a former product of Microsoft that Facebook purchased last year for about $100 million) which now allows the site to follow users across the web and serve ads to them on non-Facebook sites.  The ads they are served will be based on information they have listed on their Facebook profiles.

For example, if a woman posts a Facebook status about recently having a baby, Atlas will allow advertisers to serve her ads relating to diapers, baby clothes, etc.  Sounds like a targeted dream come true, right?

In a blog post posted by Erik Johnson (Head of Atlas) earlier this week, he explains that there is a lot of room for improvement in this type of advertising. According to Johnson, “Today’s technology for ad serving and measurement – cookies – are flawed when used alone. Cookies don’t work on mobile, and are becoming less accurate in demographic targeting and can’t easily or accurately measure the customer purchase funnel across browsers and devices or into the offline world”.

Sounds like a flawed system, but Johnson believes that Atlas acts as a way to solve the problem by using something called people based marketing.

As an advertiser, there were a few things that I found interesting about Atlas. First, I think it’s great that Atlas tracks social media users across all devices. Obviously, mobile and tablet use by consumers is increasing, and it makes sense for advertisers to be able to serve targeted ads on these popular devices.

Secondly, I love the measurability that Atlas provides. Johnson writes that “Atlas can now connect online campaigns to actual offline sales, ultimately proving the real impact that digital campaigns have in driving incremental reach and new sales”.  For us, this is a huge benefit of the tool.

Our clients are very careful with how much they like to allocate towards their advertising budget and are very concerned with each campaign’s ROI. This can be a great way to track an advertising campaign’s success and the results can guide us in the optimization process.

I’m looking forward to seeing the positive impact Atlas will make for advertisers. I think Atlas could be a real game changer in the industry and hopefully something EZG will implement in our targeted campaigns.

It is really astounding how social media networks are now competing with sites like Google on advertising space. Who knows, will Twitter be next?

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The Ice Bucket Challenge – Why It’s the Coolest Social Campaign Right Now

August 22, 2014

Like many of you, my Facebook newsfeed is crawling with videos of friends and acquaintances pouring ice water on their heads- there are so many of these videos that they’re impossible to ignore. In a matter of days, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge went viral, with everyone from celebrities to politicians being nominated to take the challenge.

If you haven’t heard about it yet, allow me to explain; a person is challenged by a friend, family member, co-worker, etc., to pour a bucket of ice water over his/her head as a way to help raise awareness for the deadly disease ALS. If they don’t, they must donate $100 to help fund ALS research. From there, the person challenges a few friends (usually on social media) to take the challenge or donate within 24 hours.

Some people who made a video may not realize the Ice Bucket Challenge was not always connected to ALS. The idea was the same, but people could donate to any charity of their choice. When Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player who has been living with ALS since 2009, and his family got involved, the challenge took on a life of its own. Frates’ father’s video tied the Ice Bucket Challenge to #StrikeOutALS, an on-going campaign for ALS.

#StrikeOutALS in correlation with the Ice Bucket Challenge has created a way for people to unite- through one cause- and through one challenge. Today, people are accepting the challenge as a way to raise awareness for a horrible disease rather than just donating to a charity of their choice. This campaign has purpose, and it’s working.

The challenge has gone viral for three reasons:

  1. There is a clear call to action
  2. There is a sense of urgency (24 hours to respond)
  3. Connectivity through hashtags

These three elements will ensure that the campaign will have a relatively long shelf life and is sure to bring attention to ALS. . While there are naysayers who believe the Ice Bucket Challenge hasn’t really accomplished much, the ALS Association has received over $53.3 million in donations between through August 22. Just as important- people are talking. People are talking about ALS about what it’s like to live with ALS, , and coming forward with their own tales. I can’t help but watch my friends and my favorite celebrities pour freezing water over their heads and know that it’s going to help people like Pete Frates and Anthony Carbajal.

To watch Anthony’s hilarious, yet heartbreaking video click here:

Have you participated in the #ALSIceBucketChallenge? What are your favorite #IceBucketChallenge videos?

What’s in a Hashtag? Entire strategies!

February 27, 2014

Hashtag

Pound sign, number sign, hashtag; whatever you want to call it, this little symbol has impacted the marketing sphere for all who work in the communications industry. It’s hard to remember a time when hashtags weren’t part of marketing campaigns because they play such a significant role when building a strategy. In fact, in some cases the hashtag is the strategy.

Since hashtags are supported on multiple social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest) marketers realize using hashtags can be advantageous for bigger picture gains. Hashtags can be used to reach target audiences in a fun, engaging and social way that other forms of marketing materials can’t. By using hashtags, brands can create a quick connection to a large group, and if brands are really smart, they’ll connect the hashtag with a feeling. Creating an emotional connection enables the hashtag to leverage a positive brand image for an organization or individual. For example, Honda aired its touchy-feely #HugFest campaign (starring Bruce Willis) during the Super Bowl. Honda purposely did not mention their brand within the hashtag, in order to generalize it and position it to a larger group. Honda then went the extra mile and supported the #Hugfest social media campaign by launching a series of YouTube videos. Doing so caused the #HugFest hashtag to take off like a Civic Coupe on a race track. Marketers at Honda clearly know that everybody can use a hug now and then, and were wise to correlate a “warm and fuzzy” feeling with the famous auto maker.

Additionally, hashtags can be used as a fierce weapon to differentiate brands from competitors. For example, Yoplait Greek Yogurt flipped their lid and created a duel with competition brand, Chobani (the Greek yogurt giant). After realizing they would rather win the “who’s better” battle fair and square (instead of swooning shoppers with studly John Stamos) Yoplait formed the hashtag #TasteOff as a way to motivate customer feedback. A risky move that even Uncle Jesse couldn’t combat.

Yoplait invited real consumers to go spoon to spoon and vote in the #TasteOff on Twitter. Ladies and ‘gents, Yoplait won the brand battle right then and there. At EZG, we can stand behind a hashtag campaign that inspires direct engagement with consumers and promotes real brand loyalty across social media. Consumers want to be involved; they want to be spoken to and know when they’re being sold. Through a simple hashtag, Yoplait kicked off the conversation that inspired brand loyalty amongst consumers, a tasty move indeed.

At EZG we participate in hashtag specific campaigns on behalf of our clients. We conduct industry research and survey the conversations taking place on social media in order to be active social listeners. When monitoring hashtags, we filter out the noise and find the windows of hashtag opportunity where our clients can promote their brand, position the brand ahead of competitors, or just simply engage with an existing audience. Whether it is a brand specific campaign using a designated hashtag, or a hashtag that is used during an event, we understand the power that hashtags have and we love it.

What are some of your favorite hashtag campaigns? Comment and let us know which brands you think use hashtags effectively or tweet us @ebben_zall.

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.

Boosting brand with video production

August 15, 2013

Public relations – and marketing in general — never seemed boring to me.  Even in the early days when I was faxing letters to the New York Times (yes, faxing), the ability to convey a story through channels that reached such a wide range of audiences was a fascinating exercise.

Today, the core of that buzz is the same.  It’s about the story.  And yet the channels available to us have expanded tenfold (stay tuned for more on this from EZG TV).

Video production is a great example that we’re seeing more of every week.  A medium that used to be reserved for big budget clients looking to mass-market has now become a tool we can use on a variety of levels.  I dug into this a little in PRNews, examining when it’s appropriate to use film clips in-house and when it makes sense to seek out a production house.

That’s a valid discussion, as we use deploy video for quick Facebook clips, YouTube channels, multimedia press kits, corporate branding exercises, and of course B-roll and commercials for more traditional broadcast placement.  We have longstanding relationships with production professionals who can do a far better job than we can of creating sophisticated, crisp content that will play well with more discerning audiences.  Those studios are expensive, but they play a key role in maintaining client brands in some circumstances.

Hemenway & Barnes, investigated these options earlier this year.  H&B is the oldest law firm in Boston (celebrating its 150th year in 2013), an EZG client, and was looking for a way to convey its traditional values through a modern vehicle.  When it came to developing a video overview of the firm’s history, a high end production house – in this case, Moody Street Pictures – was absolutely appropriate for the job.  Our internal team could certainly have filmed interviews and spliced together clips that conveyed H&B’s character, but to capture a culture that has persevered for centuries it was more powerful to invest in a higher end product.

The resulting video series has generated outstanding awareness of the firm and stayed true to its traditional values.  For H&B, it speaks well to the firm’s client base and influencers; for EZG, it becomes another effective storytelling device as we interact with the media.  A lower-budget effort would have cheapened the look and feel, and in this case the brand itself.

We know more video is on the horizon, and likely more innovative channels through which to distribute it.  PR continues to bring the ultimate media mix to the table, keeping us engaged at every corner.

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

Soup, sincerity, and social media

August 28, 2012

Just add substance and stir

Too often, social media and traditional media are separate thoughts. Why this is, I’ll never understand – I’ve always been vocal about social media as an outstanding tool, but not as a replacement of traditional media.  The fascinating part is interacting with these two channels, as it becomes clear from the public relations side that each one informs the other…when they’re working together, they create a powerful combination for brands.

A recent act of kindness captured on Facebook serves as a great reminder of this.  A good story travels a long way, and social media helps propel legitimate topics into the spotlight.  This month, we saw a story unfold organically that typifies how media channels can interface, and the difference between making noise on the Internet and telling a real story.

In this case, we have a Facebook post from a New Hampshire resident looking to fulfill one of his grandmother’s last wishes: a bowl of Panera Bread’s clam chowder. Both PR Restaurants (a Panera franchisee) and the family got more than they bargained for, as the post went viral, traditional media saw the story, and the PR team was able to help extend its reach.

The post was simple and heartfelt:

My grandmother is passing soon with cancer. I visited her the other day and she was telling me   about how she really wanted soup, but not hospital soup because she said it tasted “awful” she went on about how she really would like some clam chowder from Panera. Unfortunately Panera only sells clam chowder on Friday. I called the manager Sue and told them the situation. I wasn’t looking for anything special just a bowl of clam chowder. Without hesitation she said absolutely she would make her some clam chowder. When i went to pick it up they wound up giving me a    box of cookies as well. Its not that big of a deal to most, but to my grandma it meant a lot. I really want to thank Sue and the rest of the staff from Panera in Nashua NH just for making my grandmother happy. Thank you so much!

Facebook fans grabbed onto the good deed, and the story spread to over 731,000 people. As popularity and ‘likes’ continued to grow, the genuine, human aspect of the story stood out among the countless posts that cross the desks of traditional media members. What started as an innocent “thank you” became a signpost that captured the spirit of Panera’s brand, garnering local and national news from television [WMUR], daily newspapers [Nashua Telegraph], and online media [Huffington Post, Yahoo!, etc.]

On the public relations side, this stands as a culmination of several elements…maybe corny to call it a minor “perfect storm,” but let’s go with that.

  1. A brand ambassador (the Panera Bread bakery cafe manager) acted in perfect coordination with the values of the company.
  2. An end-user recognized the act and became another ambassador for the brand in a social media setting.
  3. The sincerity of the exchange overcame the skepticism of traditional media when it comes to online endorsements.
  4. The PR team had the opportunity to extend the story without tarnishing its sincerity.

This last point is among the most important, because we hate spin.  We hate the thought of spin and we hate the perception of spin even more.  We are, on the contrary, storytellers – and that’s a significant distinction.  Sometimes our team finds the story, and sometimes the story grows on its own.  In all cases, we work with the media to bring the story to life using the tools at our disposal.

If we were to separate channels and say that social media and traditional media stand alone would limit our ability to pass the story on: they are intertwined, and always will be.   This case is a perfect example, showing us how social media legitimized a beautiful story for traditional media, and four elements – the Panera brand, Facebook, the media, and public relations – pulled together to make it visible.

[Note: special thanks to EZG’s Jenn Tatelman for lending firsthand insight to this post.  She is an absolute warrior.]

Digital Innovation is ‘Bruin’ in the NHL

April 5, 2012

If you missed the launch of the Boston Bruins Digital Entertainment Network (DEN) last week, it’s time to come out of hibernation. The Bruins Bear is back, topping his own fan etiquette campaign from last seasonwith his new series of shorts called, “The Bear and the Gang”. But this 1980’s style sitcom is just one of the many hilariously funny features showcased on the NHL.com “portal”, The Bruins DEN.

The Bruins DEN is the organization’s effort to consolidate their digital and social content under one umbrella. Through this network, fans can connect to the Bruins through many avenues of social media including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Pinterest. Fans can also upload their favorite Bruins fan photos via Instagram, view the “The Bear and the Gang”, and compete in the Bruins Fantasy Challenge, all from one centralized location. The most significant feature of the Bruins DEN is its new mobile app, which has been made available on the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry.

While the Bruins DEN website provide an easily accessible venue for all things Bruins, the app does all that and more. Fans can view team stats, get updates on current games, and even purchase tickets on the fly. This initiative is truly innovative for professional sports teams, both providing valuable content for fans and also creating new, more effective opportunities for sponsors. “Our fans are on the receiving end of great content that is accessible through all of the digital channels that they use and is distributed in a streamlined, organized fashion,” says Amy Latimer, Bruins Senior VP of Marketing and Sales. “Our corporate partners now have the ability to reach more than 2.5 million unique Bruins fans per month while aligning their brand with compelling content in a manner that is fan friendly.”

In our humble opinion, this umbrella is a clear indication that the Bruins understand their audience. Sports teams don’t always have a specific following, where they can narrow down exactly who sits in the stands or watches on television. Most likely, team fans are all different ages, ethnicities, classes, and personalities. The Bruins seem to recognize that some of their fans prefer to just read stats, while others want to post photos of their friends all wearing Bruins gear in Montreal. Each of their fans prefers to connect to the brand/team in a different way, and fortunately the Bruins DEN is just a more accessible way to do so. Let’s see how many teams follow their lead and what success this will bring to sponsors, as well as the team. Perhaps the unified support will bring the black and gold another….. well let’s just wait and see!

Is social media killing your big idea? Probably.

June 28, 2011

Ideas and leadership are mutually inclusive concepts.  Simply put, you can try to lead without original thought, but any success will be short-lived.  And original thought comes from within, not from the masses; in fact, the more divorced an idea is from the norm, the more likely it is to give rise to leadership (for more on this, I recommend multiple viewings of The Hudsucker Proxy…”you know, for kids!”).

A convergence of technology and a generations-long legacy of success in the U.S., however, has put a crimp in that inclusivity.  We have an army of incoming leaders that have been weaned on constant connectivity and rapid dispersion of ideas, but very little indication that our environment is conducive to creating visionaries.  Too many brilliant minds see something online, and pass it along.  They have the inkling of an idea, they post it, and they hope everyone “likes” it.  They take the easy road to acknowledgement and set up camp, satisfied.

Social media isn’t wholly to blame, but this is a marketing blog so we may as well tackle that part of it here.  There have always been detractors and words of caution against the virtual frenzy, generally labeled as grumbling from an old guard resistant to constant connectivity. But the arguments for ratcheting back participation in social media are starting to come together with a little more cohesion.

My qualifier, as with similar posts, is that I engage in social media. Our clients engage in it. My wife, my friends, my sister, and someday my sons. It’s an outstanding channel for maintaining relationships and it’s not going away. However, it is going to change. Soon.

But don’t take my word for it.  Consider three viewpoints that seem to be running in parallel with one another:

(more…)


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