Top Ten Friday: Social Networks Your Company Needs To Be On

Social media has become as valuable as any marketing and advertising channel, but not every social network is perfect for your company. Before you join any network, make sure you go in with a strategy and goals in place, otherwise you may lose steam shortly after starting and end up with a dead page. Sure, you could write an entire post, or even a series of posts, about each network, but we’ll just give you a couple reasons to be on each network.

1. Facebook

There are more than a billion users on Facebook. That alone should get your attention. Facebook allows you to post to a large audience with a variety of content and also gives you built-in analytics to help track your strategies. Use the Timeline to tell the storied history of your company. Post consistently with a variety of content to help you with Edgerank. Brands doing a great job on Facebook include Oreo, Frank’s Redhot, Red Bull and Skittles.

 2. Twitter

Twitter is a conversational platform and is much easier to connect with users. Brands take advantage of this by responding to questions, problems and general comments in order to build relationships and loyalty. Posting company news, coupons and deals, jobs and general conversational posts are just a few examples of what you can do. Brands like Starbucks, Oreo, Whole Foods and Chobani are doing wonderful on Twitter.

 3. Google+

Many brands are hesitant to take the leap to Google+, but I wouldn’t shy away if I were you. Utilize Google+ Hangouts in every way possible, especially because they’ll automatically upload to your YouTube account. Send products to fans to try out and invite them to a Hangout to talk about their experience, create Circles of brand advocates and participate in Communities. A few brands nailing it on Google+ include Cadbury, BMW and National Geographic.

4. Pinterest

This is the ultimate visual platform and has quickly grown into one of the most popular social platforms out there. Pin your products, stories and news about your company, industry news, your company’s work, things that represent your brand, just a few ideas. Brands that really strive on Pinterest are Chobani, Nordstrom, Lowe’s and Ben and Jerry’s.

 5. Foursquare

Foursquare is primarily for visibility and brand loyalty. When users see a place offers a deal or special for checking-in, they are more likely to stop in or become repeat customers. Brands should continue to update the page with posts about current deals or updates from your company. Some brands doing a great job include the History Channel, Bravo Channel and CNN.

 6. LinkedIn

If you’re wondering what the best social network for B2B companies is, it’s LinkedIn. It’s great for finding talent, highlighting your company’s updates and work and offering content to help give people answers to questions they’re yet to ask. Brands doing a great job on LinkedIn include Hubspot, Adobe and HireVue.

 7. Instagram

Instagram allows you to share pictures and 15-second videos. When you take pictures and share them, you can use filters to alter your shot. Short-form video is becoming powerful and with 15 seconds, you can do a lot. Like Vine, you can use it to take behind-the-scenes videos, how-tos, product demos and releases. A few brands really doing great on Instagram include Gatorade, Starbucks, Chobani and Sharpie.

8. Vine

Vine is a young, but popular platform that allows users to create six-second videos on their smart phone. Six seconds doesn’t seem like a long time, but many brands have gotten creative to cram a lot into such a short amount of time. As a brand, you can use Vine to demo a product or service, show off current environment such as your office or photo/video shoots, introduce employees or celebrate great moments. The possibilities are endless.

9. YouTube

YouTube is one of the largest search engines on the Internet and videos appear high in search results. Brands like Red Bull, Oreo, Nike and Whole Foods are doing a great job creating a variety of content their users love. Some popular types of videos include product demos, how-tos, events and conferences, interviews and thank you videos. YouTube is popular for content because video is much easier to consumer than written content.

10. Yelp and TripAdvisor

These two are important, but often overlooked. Just because you’re not active on a site, doesn’t mean people still aren’t talking about you there. By having an account here, you then have the opportunity to respond to any problems customers face, that aren’t shared on Twitter or Facebook, and can also keep an eye on all conversations about your brand.

Are there any other social networks you feel are essential in 2013?

Check out our last TTF post about finding ideas for creative inspiration. Stay tuned for more upcoming TTF posts!

July 26, 2013 · Posted by in social media  

In our professional lives here at z2, we try to do work that gets people to buy/use/like our clients’ products. This rather obvious observation got me to thinking: “Have I ever bought anything because of its advertising?”

Hmmm, let me think. I’m sure there have been some coupon ads and Buy One Get One offers that motivated me to buy something or another at a grocery store or restaurant, but not counting those I honestly can’t remember anything that advertising actually got me to buy.

Despite a few bad consumers like myself, and perhaps you, advertisers aren’t giving up. A recent strategy is the use of celebrities and other so-called “influencers” in social media. They’re paid to make favorable mentions of products on Facebook and Twitter. And they’re paid very well.

Actually, it’s a freakin’ crime what some of them are paid. Khloe Kardashian, for instance, gets an astonishing $13,000 per tweet, and her sister Kim is rumored to rake in $20,000 per tweet.

I can’t decide what’s more sickening: how much they’re paid for their shilling, or the fact that they’re actually esteemed as “influencers.”

Alas, the FTC is catching on to this social media gravy train, and to protect the naïve they are now requiring celebrities to disclose that their tweets about products are not done purely out of love for said products. Among other things, they’re requiring that they add the hashtag “#ad” to all sponsored tweets.

What about you? Is there any product or service you’ve bought as a direct result of its advertising, or the person paid to pitch the product? And, conversely, is there anything you’ve avoided buying as a protest against a particular product’s advertising?

As for me, I’m putting my foot down and will not be buying any Kardashian-endorsed eos Lip Balm, regardless of how pretty it would make my pout.

July 23, 2013 · Posted by in advertising, branding, social media  

Top Ten Friday: Creative Inspiration

Everyone tends to get their creative inspiration from some place different. Some get inspiration from the Internet, others by simply reading a book, and some even find inspiration from walking around his/her city. Here is a list of places some of us z2ers find our creative inspiration.

10. Mr. Cup: This blog offers up a plethora of inspiration for contemporary design, packaging, web design, type and more. One of the best parts of the blog is the large list of links to other great sites devoted to similar subjects.

9. Talking with other creatives: Sometimes this is the best way to drum up ideas and inspiration. When you get so focused on an idea, it really makes it difficult for you to see it as a whole with a clear mind. Getting other perspectives allows you to back up and refocus your thoughts and energy.

8. Designspiration: This is a great place to discover and share great design. There are a variety of images to find, but one of the coolest things you can do is have the ability to search by color. See logos, typography, graphics, etc., with a certain color background.

7. Smashing Magazine: SM is an online magazine for web designers that has topics ranging from coding, mobile, UX, WordPress and more. It offers helpful techniques and tutorials, best practices and valuable insights that might give you the kind of creative inspiration you’ve been hoping for.

6. Vimeo: Vimeo is a more small, niche community of film buffs. The community is highly engaged and has a serious love for all things film, video, cinematography and more. There is less fluff and more “on-topic” videos where people are more likely to offer constructive criticism. Follow channels and engage with other users. Check out the “staff picks” for some of the best videos out there.

5. Dribbble: Dribbble is a community of designers, web and graphic designers, illustrators, icon artists, typographers, logo designers, and other creative types share small screenshots (shots) that show their work, process, and current projects. It’s a place to show and tell, promote, discover, and explore design and is also a great place to find design inspiration. Think of it as like a social network for designers.

4. The Best Designs: A slick website that finds some of the most creative and innovative sites out there, and puts them in one place. On top of that, its design is pretty awesome.

3. Creative Bloq: This site was actually created specifically to inspire your creative side. It provides daily inspiration on graphic design, typography, tutorials, web design and so much more.

2. Pinterest: It seems like everyone and their mother is pinning these days. But that’s not a bad thing because it has seemingly brought out the creative side in everyone. People can find inspiration in recipes, weddings, party planning and many more ideas all on Pinterest. It has practically become its own search engine.

1. Make Magazine: From 3-D printing to robotics to DIY projects and so much more. This site brings inspiration to the engineering minds in ways you didn’t know were possible. Videos, stories, images and tutorials give you a whole new perspective when looking to build or create something new.

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

Check out our last “Top Ten Friday” post, which was our team photo challenge. Let us know which was your favorite!

July 19, 2013 · Posted by in design, TTF  

The Future of Video

Cedar asked JJ and I what we thought the future of online video would be, so here’s a few thoughts from my perspective.

I started putting videos online nearly 10 years ago, before there were easy (and free) ways to do it, and a lot has changed since then, not just in the world of video, but the online world, including the social media and mobile world. Back in 2005 I never would have imagined that you could shoot a video on your phone and have it automagically uploaded to some service that would host it for you and spread it out across multiple networks. Crazy!

So here’s the thing, and this comes from my own view, as someone who produces videos for organizations and clients. The new “short form” video we’re seeing from Vine and Instagram is a good thing. We shoot a lot of video here at z2, and what the pros know is this–editing is the key. We’ve done shoots that consume an entire day, with a full crew, multiple cameras, and hours of footage, all to distill it down to a video that’s less than 3 minutes long.

Sometimes I like to think of video editing like a marble sculpture. You start with this huge thing, and you keep taking parts of it away until it reveals itself to be beautiful.

So with Vine’s 6 seconds (or Instagram’s 15 seconds) you’re really forced to think about what you want to do, in effect “pre-editing” before you even shoot. I’ve said before that design is about working within the constraints, and I think this is another good example of that concept.

So the big question now is, will these short videos all turn into blipverts?

July 16, 2013 · Posted by in branding, social media, video  

We’re back again with the z2 Photo Challenge! Our goal was to capture an image of our favorite summer drink. Which photo is your favorite? What quenches your thirst most in the summer?

April

April – Gimme Some Mo-jitos

Beth

Beth – For me, it is not about the drink, but how you play the game.

Carly

Carly – Drinkin’. Drankin’. Drunkin’.

Cedar

Cedar – My hobby, my craft.

Cory

Cory – Summer on the deck: Blue Moon

Dawn

Dawn – Depends on the time of day.

Deb

Deb – The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Heidi

Heidi – When the sun goes down.

Jason

Jason – PBR tallboys at my favorite Milwaukee music venues. The Pabst, Riverside and Turner Hall.

JJ

JJ – Keeping it Cool and Fresh.

Joe

Joe L. – Orange Blush

Karyn

Karyn – Smirnoff Ice

Katie

Katie – Summer drink. Winter drink. Anytime of year drink.

Mario

Mario – MamaJuana: Dominican Juice.

Pete

Pete – The original energy drink.

Tracy

Tracy – Summertime ‘schamps!

Check out our last photo challenge!

July 12, 2013 · Posted by in photo  

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