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  

The Future of Video

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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  

Facebook has made many changes this year, both for personal and business pages. Graph Search may have been the biggest change for personal accounts, which is still currently being rolled out to everyone. Brand Pages are also making changes. Earlier this year, Pages received the “Reply” option for threaded comments, which is a long-awaited feature for brands that want to reply to each individual personally. Facebook has also opened up the hashtag option for everyone, Pages included. This allows for brand’s posts to be found much easier in Facebook Graph Search.

Some other changes include a new cover photo policy. Your image cannot include price/purchase information or contact information. The words “Like” and “Share” are no longer allowed nor are calls-to-action. Previously, the images couldn’t include more than 20% text, but that is no longer a rule as of July 2, 2013. The Ads Manager has seen some changes that are meant to make it easier for marketers to run ad campaigns. Check out this breakdown for more insights on the Ads Manager changes.

Two other major updates include the ability to set comments in chronological order or by popularity on Brand Pages. This makes it easier to address top comments without having to search through the clutter. Photo comments have arrived in recent weeks and seem to be quite popular so far.  These are just a few of the changes worth mentioning. Facebook is constantly changing, albeit very quietly, so pay attention because there is always something new.

As for some of the changes we’re waiting for on Facebook, whether it’s for Pages or personal accounts, that list is endless. Some of the things I’m hoping for include:

  1. Ability to edit posts, both for fixing simple typos and for adding font/size/color changes, too.
  2. Make Lists easier to find and create. Also, allow posts to be shared with specific lists, similar to Google Plus and Circles.
  3. Edgerank to take a hike. This is a problem for brands because less than a fifth of your fans see your post, on average. It also filters your personal accounts, which means you only see a small percentage of your friend’s posts.

What kinds of things would you love to see added, removed or changed on Facebook?

July 2, 2013 · Posted by in social media  

Like many of you, I woke up this morning and turned on the TV to see what looked like a low-budget action movie being shown on my local news station. Swat teams everywhere, the focus was on a white home. Officers had guns aimed at the house and were shuffling residents down the stairs. A possible apprehension was taking place right before my eyes, and I was shockingly close to the action. I couldn’t believe it was happening in real life and in real time.

The shot switched from the live view to a photo that had been Tweeted by a resident (@samanthae0) in lockdown near the scene. (I still can’t get over the fact that she took the time to add a filter.)

The media coverage this morning of the ‘Boston Bombings Manhunt’ was unlike any I have ever seen. Between the proximity of the cameras to the scene and the images from social media sites, I felt as if I were there.

Over the past few years, we’ve been seeing news media using content from social media outlets more and more. Every other day I see a dancing dog from YouTube on my local station. But it’s being used for actual news, too. Earlier this week, we saw that Texas fertilizer plant explode before our eyes via a YouTube video.

While social media can serve as an amazing tool for providing instantaneous news and reports, it can also act as an impactful source to perpetuate false information, like we saw with some of the early reporting on the Boston suspects. Now, I’m not knocking social media. I just want to point out that because it is often used as a source for traditional media, we need to make sure the correct messages are going out.

Earlier this week, Cedar wrote a post that gave companies some social media tips to follow when a big national tragedy occurs. But what if a crisis arises—be it large or small—that directly relates to your company? How do you control the messages that might eventually end up in the news media via social media? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

1)      Everyone’s a reporter. Social media makes anyone on the street a source. Always watch who you and your employees are talking to and what you say.

2)     Monitor social media. Of course, as a brand you should always be monitoring social media to learn what the public is saying about you. But in a crisis situation, this is especially important. You need to be able to address inaccurate information in a timely manner to help set the record straight.

3)    Prepare statements. In any crisis, one of the first things you should do is prepare an official statement and get that out to all of your company’s representatives. Anyone who interacts with the public should know exactly what to say to keep your messaging accurate and consistent.

4)    Create a social media policy. It goes without saying that having a solid social media policy in place is one of the best ways to ensure others on social media are hearing your message. (Refer back to Cedar’s post for more on this.)

As the line between traditional media and social media continues to get thinner and thinner, be sure the right messages are getting out to everyone, be it news reporter or man on the street.

(See also, a previous blog post I wrote on crisis communications.)

April 19, 2013 · Posted by in pr, social media  

Well, it happened again. We experienced another unfortunate national tragedy Monday that completely overtook Twitter and other social networks. And right on queue, there were brands that tried to capitalize on the trending topics. One in particular was Epicurious. The image posted below, which was posted Tuesday morning, shows a few tweets it used regarding Boston and the tragedy the city faced.

It’s pretty obvious this was probably not the right approach when offering condolences. The right move is to not “sell.” In fact, the right strategy might just be to say nothing at all.

Epicurious wasn’t the only one feeling pressure. Wendy’s was found atop the Twitter search feed for “Boston Marathon” as a Promoted Account and that didn’t make a lot of people very happy. Sometimes, things happens and brands are caught off guard on social media. It’s impossible to be prepared for everything, but there ARE ways to plan and react when moments like this happen. Here are a few tips:

1. Pause Posts – When a major tragedy or event happens that overtakes social media, you should immediately pause your scheduled posts. Stop everything. You never know if a post could offend someone and lead to a PR crisis of your own.

2. Suspend Ads – If you are running ads or a campaign of some kind on a social network, stop them immediately. We saw when Wendy’s paid to have their Twitter account promoted, it was bad timing and placement. I’m not sure if their “promoted account” was sitting atop all trending topic searches or specific topics, but it was there for “Boston Marathon” and that was just bad timing. It was likely set up long before the incident, which is why you must be prepared to suspend ads in an instant. When you’re reading about a tragedy, you don’t want to be fed ads from every direction.

3. Stay Silent – Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all. There were many brands that posted condolences–and that’s just fine. But even that can still be a touchy subject. Tread carefully.

This is one of those times when selling and marketing need to come to a halt. Let people have this moment. The tough part is tragedies are impossible to predict. The people in charge of your social media need to be paying attention and be ready and able to make proper adjustments. Be sure to get a plan in place now, so you’re not paying for it after it’s too late.

April 16, 2013 · Posted by in social media  

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