Against the Grain: Social Media

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  • Lauren August

    Super Bowl Advertisers Get a Bigger Bang for their Buck

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    Each year millions of people tune in to watch the Super Bowl, presumably to watch the football game. But for many others, the game is secondary to what happens during commercial breaks. Traditionally the most expensive commercial timeslots of the year, ($4 million for a 30 second spot), advertisers’ main goal is to maximize their large investment by making a big splash and generating buzz around their brand. These cutting edge commercials often set the bar and create advertising trends that are seen far beyond just the Super Bowl.

    Many advertisers are already tuned into what works, like puppies, flashy cars and celebrities (just ask Volkswagon, they have it figured out). This year, a trend emerged that, without doubt, will only continue to grow. This new trend is one where a commercial is no longer just a commercial and more advertising will begin to have multiple interactions. Advertisers during the Super Bowl needed to be more strategic about their money, and instead of only reaching their intended audience during the 30-60 seconds of airtime, they were savvy enough to create multiple touch points. As advertising rates increase for all timeslots and social media usage increase, viewers will likely begin to notice a rise in the multiple-touch advertisement.

    One of the most popular examples of this was the much-talked about H&M commercial featuring David Beckham. Prior to the game, H&M asked viewers to visit their website and indicate if Beckham should appear #covered or #uncovered in their actual Super Bowl commercial. And, as expected, #uncovered won. Another example was the large number of teasers that were released prior to the Super Bowl. With clever teasers, intrigue was created in advance of the actual commercial, increasing the chances a viewer would tune into the Super Bowl to see the full spot and thus creating multiple exposures with the viewing audience for the price of one. One popular example was the Bud Light teaser with Arnold Schwarzenegger, which was elaborated upon in the full Super Bowl commercial.

    Doritos allowed website visitors to view all their commercials and vote on the final decision to be shown and Bank of America invited viewers to download U2’s newest song on iTunes for free. This new and more strategic trend in advertising has begun and, chances are, this is one trend that will continue to grow. 

  • Trilix

    Using Instagram to Grow Your Brand

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    If you are not aware of Instagram, now is the time to get familiar.

    Instagram is a photo, and video-sharing mobile application that allows its users to snap pictures and videos, add filters and effects and then share the finished projects with their followers. With more than 150 million users, 55 million photos shared daily and over 67 percent of top brands using the social channel, I’m not the only one who has taken a liking to the visual powerhouse. Companies of all sizes have been signing up faster than you can say, “Cheese!” Big brands like Target, Nike, Ford, Starbucks and Apple are all some of the leading names on Instagram. But fear not, small companies, the application is also a great way for you to put a face to your name and help grow your following in a not-so-typical way.

    So what can you learn from these top players in the Instagram space? Here are eight tips for businesses of any size looking to grow their brand through the social channel.

    1. Trial and error — Before you jump into using Instagram for your business, get familiar with the application by becoming a personal user. This will help you understand the basics and features behind the app to know what works and what doesn’t. The elements of the personal and business accounts are the same, so when you are ready to create an account for your company, you will have all the necessary skills to help grow your brand.

    2. Coordinate with other social media outlets — Use Instagram in conjunction with your existing social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Make sure to let your current Twitter and Facebook followers know you started the new account to help grow your following, and when possible, use the same handle for all outlets. This will ensure your followers don’t have a hard time finding you and can tag content to you on all of your accounts.

    3. The more (hashtags) the merrier — Unlike Twitter, where the unwritten rule states that it’s best to keep hashtags (such as #cars, #fashion, etc.) to a minimum, Instagram hashtag rules are non-existent. In fact, multiple hashtags are encouraged because users often search for the photos and videos they want to see by key hashtags. The more your post contains, the better your chances are for users to see your posts and, potentially, start following your page.

    4. Utilize the video option — Who doesn’t have time to watch a 15-second video? Unlike other video-sharing applications (YouTube, Telly, etc.), Instagram videos are short and sweet (a maximum of 15 seconds in length) and can be edited just like photos. The edited clips give you just the right amount of time to tell your story without boring your followers.

    5. Post frequently and at random — Just like on Facebook and Twitter, you need to post frequent content for your account to be effective, but unlike most social media sites, there is no time of day to post that is more advantageous than another. Because users have access to Instagram at all times of the day, posting randomly can help target different audience segments and help gain you the most followers.

    6. Mix up your content — Don’t be one of those companies that only posts images of your products or services; your followers will feel like you are only trying to sell them something. Instagram is also a great place to share images featuring your company culture such as customers, new hires, organizations you support, etc. Mixing up posts will ensure your followers don’t feel “spammed.”

    7. Hold a contest — The good thing about Instagram is that there are no contest rules, meaning you create your own. For example, if your company is a hair salon, you could ask your users to post a self portrait, or “selfie,” with their favorite hairstyle accompanied by a hashtag of your salon name to win a prize such as a gift card or free hair cut. Get creative and watch your participation thrive.

    8. Examine your feedback — Did your recent post get less likes or more comments than usual? You can learn a lot by what your followers “like,” comment and tag. Pay attention to their comments and actions to help decide what’s best for future posts and what to stay away from.

    If your company has yet to hop on the Instagram bandwagon, what are you waiting for? Act now to help grow your brand faster than ever before.

  • Lauren August

    Which Social Media Platforms are Right for Your Business?

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    With so many new social media platforms popping up seemingly overnight, the average business owner can easily be overwhelmed. Because so many are available for businesses to connect with their customers, utilizing them all would sacrifice efficiency. Below is a synopsis of the trendiest social media platforms to help you make an educated decision of whether to they would benefit your business: 

    Facebook: The world’s largest social media site allows you to create your own page and share posts containing photos, videos, basic company information, updates and even make brand announcements to those who “like” your page. Consumers and businesses can follow your page and see each time you add information (the optimal post length is less than 250 characters) or update your profile, creating an easily accessible way to reach a wide demographic. 

    Twitter: Provide real-time updates or commentary in 140 characters or less with pictures, videos and web links to those who have chosen to follow you. In recent years, Twitter has become the main vehicle by which many brands interact with their customers due to the immediate and concise manner of connecting. For a business looking to frequently connect on a one-on-one basis with their audience, Twitter can be a very beneficial way to do so. 

    LinkedIn: Connect with individuals and easily review their online resumes or create a page for potential employees to visit and browse your current employees. News articles or job openings may also be posted, which will appear in followers’ newsfeeds.

    Instagram: Tell your company’s story through images and 15-second videos that display your creativity, mindset or even the tangible products you produce. Users can apply filters to pictures and videos to create a unique and eye-catching visual that can be shared with followers and displayed on other social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

    Pinterest: Ideal for connecting with a (primarily female) consumer audience on a more personal basis by providing links and images that portray the lifestyle your brand embodies. Followers can “pin” your items to reference later or can share your pins on their own social media pages to further spread brand awareness. Pinterest also provides analytics so businesses can gauge a post’s effectiveness.

    Google+: Primarily used by a tech-savvy audience, Google+ can be used for a number of business purposes, including creating “authorship” of documents so visitors can easily see everything published by your company, and in turn, you are able to access viewership metrics. Additional business functions range from optimizing your day-to-day operations with document sharing/editing and the ability to create and plan events within the application. Finally, for a company looking to expand their social media horizons, “hangouts” and communities can be created in addition to posting pictures and the opportunity to increase your search engine optimization through visits to your Google+ page.

    WordPress or Blogger: For businesses that frequently have news to share, a blog can be an effective way to communicate information. Blogs can be displayed directly on a company’s webpage and programs such as WordPress or Blogger can help make the process of updating information and pictures easier.

    YouTube: A video-sharing site visited by a wide variety of users that allows a company to create their own page housing their brand’s clips. Videos up to 15 minutes in length can be searched for within YouTube and linked to a business’ home page.

    A number of other social media sites, such as FourSquare, Yelp, Trip Advisor and Tumblr are available to businesses; however, please note that many of these sites have applications that lend themselves better to the business-to-consumer versus the business-to-business company. For an organization looking to venture into the social media unknown, start slowly and continue expanding only as time allows. The best social media campaign will provide no benefit unless it is properly executed and regularly updated. 

  • Kristin Sunde

    Fast Ideas for Company Facebook Contests

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    Now that Facebook has backed off its stringent rules against promoting contests from timelines without a third-party app, your business now has much more freedom and flexibility to host contests that work within smaller budgets and timeframes. Though apps that require contest registrants to provide information like name and email are great for building databases, sometimes you just want to give followers a quick chance at a small prize in exchange for a bit of increased activity on the page.

    There are plenty of contests you can host with minimal time and planning. First choose a prize that’s within your budget, but worth a little effort to win (no, no one wants a 15 percent off coupon for a five dollar product). Think gift cards, t-shirts, tickets or anything else that you can easily give away without breaking the bank. 

    Then, ask followers to “like” or share a post, or provide some other feedback in the comments section. Get creative to make the most of the promotion.

     Here are a few easy ideas:

    • Ask a company trivia question which pushes followers to your website to find the answer.
    • Team up with a vendor or partner to cross-promote each other and sweeten the prize.
    • Post a photo and ask followers to give it a caption. Choose your favorite as the winner.
    • Do a survey with yes/no or A, B, C, etc. answers. Tell followers if they participate, they’ll have a chance to win.
    • Ask people to submit their best photos tied to the product.
    • Offer a prize to the first 10 or 20 people to take an action, like commenting or sharing a post.
    • Tie contests to holidays. For instance, a restaurant could ask people to share their secrets to cooking the best tasting Thanksgiving turkey.
    • Create a contest with a charitable giving aspect – for instance, for every “like” this page gets in the next week, donate $5 to breast cancer research.
    • Ask for personal product/service stories or testimonials and select the most compelling as the winner. Or feature that story in a monthly “Customer of the Month” Facebook note.

    For more ideas on how to make Facebook contests liven up your social media efforts, contact me. 

  • Trilix

    Taking the Mystery out of Social Media Marketing

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    Social media is one aspect of marketing that can be tough to put your finger on. We search endlessly for a magic formula to attract followers and increase engagement, but in truth, it doesn’t exist. It really boils down to implementing a few simple strategies. In the last year, Trilix client Missouri Valley Line Constructors Apprenticeship and Training Program has multiplied its number of Facebook followers by more than eight times! How did they do it? With our help, Missouri Valley has enjoyed successful social media marketing with the following key approaches:

    Know the target audience: First, Missouri Valley recognizes that social media users want to connect with what matters to them. The company gauges this by asking who is following, whether they are current apprentices looking for support, past program attendees connecting with fellow linemen or new applicants researching the trade. Knowing the audience can help shape messaging and tone. Remember that social media marketing is not a numbers game, but about real people.

    Provide valuable content: After understanding the target audience, Missouri Valley regularly posts photos of real people on the job, around the classroom and information from a thorough, well-organized website. Interaction with popular industry-relevant pages, including liking, sharing and participating (appropriately and positively) in conversations on other public group pages are other ways to provide answers and insight, while driving them back to your Facebook page and/or website.

    Take advantage of paid promotion: As with any successful marketing plan, content is best when supported by other marketing efforts. Missouri Valley has consistently utilized Facebook’s paid options to promote messages to unreached audiences. Right-side column ads, newsfeed stories and promoted posts are fruitful options.

    Finally, at the end of each month, Missouri Valley uses realistic measurements to report and analyze social media activities to ensure goals are being met. If you’d like to hear more about Trilix client social media work or want more direction for your own social media marketing plan, give the Trilix PR team a call! 

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