2017 Marketing Trends to Watch

Looking ahead to the new year, staying up-to-date on current social media marketing trends is imperative to launching a successful campaign. Not only does it help streamline the process, but creative juices start to flow in ways that were not once expected. Today we will look at some campaigns that are being executed by big businesses that could be attempted on a smaller scale.

Delta Dreamhunt

https://youtu.be/ANfBipBvfeU

As the commercial shows, Delta sent out a bunch of clues that lead to geo-targeted locations that contain Snapchat filters. Once you reach the secret location, you send a snap to the Delta account and you are automatically entered for really cool prizes. How can your small business try something similar?

If you’re a restaurant or a bar, have days without specials (like Fridays and Saturdays) and implement a “Snapchat Special” instead. When customers come in, they snapchat a selfie of them with their meal or drink including the restaurant filter to the business’s account, and they could win a $50 gift card. For $50, you pay for the entire campaign after a few posts on Facebook to let people know about this opportunity.

Entertainment for All

Social Media 2016

As a small business, utilizing guest interaction on Instagram is such an important feature. Walt Disney World does a perfect job in this department. For the biggest entertainment company in the world, they leave their Instagram up to the guests. When guests tag or place on a location on their photo, Walt Disney World finds it and asks for permission to post it on their page with photo credit. In doing so, followers of their account get a beautiful, yet realistic view of the theme parks because they are through the eyes of other guests.

Find out what people post on Instagram and attack it with campaigns that force interaction on the app that normally only is interacted with a simple like or comment.

The Cold Detector

https://youtu.be/2dJkbvKQPQE

Here’s a fun one: apparently Germans don’t miss work no matter how sick they may be. This interactive sign was put in a busy location to speak to passerbys when they are sick. If someone coughs or sneezes close enough to it, the sign suggests a medicine and where to purchase the medicine. This technology reacts to what it believes you have based on the sounds you make and additionally shows visual imagery of what the product looks like.

Obviously, this might be a little more difficult to utilize as a small business. But keep up with trends and technology, and know that the future is here. The important aspect of this case is that its interactive. Consumers love interaction, especially interaction that doesn’t seem like a gimmick. Be honest and real with them while interaction, and they are more likely to respond.

2017 is Coming. Are You Ready?

IT IS TIME. Specifically, it is Mid-October and our minds have to be on 2017 already.

Yes, it was just yesterday when you were in the city celebrating what would turn out to be the weirdest year in American history. But now we can hope to turn the page on something brighter and more important: future business plans.

“But why make the push when the busiest time of year is headed right our way?”

Before you know it, the new year will be here and the budget will have to be finalized for the entire year. Start now and realize where adjustments can be made throughout the remainder of 2016 in order to monetize every dollar and every investment necessary.

“From a marketing perspective, where do I start for my business?”

Many times one of the last aspects to be covered in the annual budget, it is still extremely important to place weight to the marketing plans for 2017. Especially with the extreme evolution of social media usage just over this past year, allowing for enough to cover all changes that take place in the medium is imperative to success.

Think about it for a moment: In just this year, Facebook started to place more focus on friends and family posts, Twitter discounted @names and images out of the 140 character count, Instagram adds stories to compete with Snapchat, and Snapchat lowered the importance of its Discover feature as of this past week. Some of these alterations came as a huge surprise while others will go by unnoticed. But either way, the way things are changing is quick and not even the biggest advertising companies in the world can always keep up.

So be prepared. Get on these platforms, keep up with their blogs, and talk with professionals about what can be done to see what may be coming and how to best utilize new features in the near and far future. Plan what you want to do now so that when these changes come, you can make a big swing and hit the home run before anyone else in your field.

In a year from now, this article will be just as relevant as it is now as the world is only moving faster and if you haven’t started to plan for 2017, you’re already behind.

The Grudge Match of the Year

This week revealed one of the most surprising, yet greatest social media updates of 2016. Instagram Stories have arrived to compete with Snapchat’s ever-growing success.  Only time can actually tell us how much this will affect Snapchat, but as it currently stands, Snapchat’s willingness for change and innovation proves that it can (and will) respond and build upon its simple communication and raw material.

With the young Instagram Stories’ release, let’s take a look at how this affects Instagram’s overall experience and the competition it gives to Snapchat.

Brands

For brands, Instagram Stories is absolutely fantastic. According to Ad Age, “Nike, for example, generated 800,000 views in 24 hours for an Instagram Story that it posted on Tuesday, the first day the feature was available. On Snapchat, Nike’s best video got 66,000 views.” Receiving ten times more views than its competition, Instagram is simply able to utilize its built-in audience and keep them on the app longer as the article goes on to say: “Instagram updated its numbers last week, saying it has 300 million daily users, and Snapchat has about 150 million, according to sources familiar with the company’s internal figures.”

Secondly, stories from brands are more accessible on Instagram than Snapchat due to follower counts and how Instagram keeps the stories at the top of their timeline.

Users

For users, the impact may be smaller than expected. Currently, many of the stories have normal users posting their snapchat username in order to gain more followers and continue their usage of the snapping app. Confusion is strong as people play the knock-off card on Instagram and wonder why it would be used in such a way. Secondly, the issue for Instagram comes from only being able to horizontally access five stories at a time, having to scroll to see more. This is less accessible than Snapchat and might deter people from continuing their search for more stories. However, it takes away the less candid, more sophisticated aura that Instagram has touted for so long. This mish-mash of sophistication with realism is a nice twist for an app that intends to stay relevant thanks to its parent company, Facebook.

Something else that some people night not even notice is how much better the image quality is on Instagram (Especially for Android users). On Android, Snapchat doesn’t use your phone’s camera directly. It will grab a screenshot of what your camera sees rather than physically take it’s own photo leaving a much lower quality shot.

Snapchat's photo quality kinda sucks
Photo composed by user “pjmccartney” on Reddit

Who Wins?

As it stands however, Snapchat should be on its toes, but does not have anything to worry about in the short-term. As influencer Gary Vaynerchuk has pointed out: “Plenty of users will remain on Snapchat simply because they want to maintain their audience, they have a preference for Snapchat’s UX (user experience), or they’re spiteful about Instagram Stories being a ‘copycat.’ Snapchat has built a huge following and, while Instagram will probably take a bite out of it, Snapchat will still hold its own.”

Although this social media war should be interesting with willingness to change affecting the outcome, the real winner will continue to be brands.

 

You won’t believe what this article says about Clickbait!

Clickbait, for many, is the bane of the internet where traditional journalism goes to die.  It feeds on our inherent need for surprise, excitement, and uncertainty, as we click the link to learn what we already knew about the top five reasons to brush our teeth, but it seemed like a good refresher from such a credible source like Buzzfeed or Upworthy.

For those unaware of what clickbait is, it is defined as: “(on the Internet) content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.”

Yellow journalism

By nature, this is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, journalism has been enacting forms of clickbait in its own way since the nineteenth century, but instead went by another name: “yellow journalism”.  That term comes from the wildly successful “Yellow Kid” cartoons that appeared in Joseph Pulitzer’s New York World, which was the main reason consumers bought the newspaper in the first place.  “Yellow journalism” is an antiquated clickbait that sensationalized articles to sell newspapers.  Interesting that one of the greatest journalistic honors, The Pulitzer Prize, is named after a man who pioneered clickbait.  So before judging it so quickly, look at the system’s history.

Why Clickbait is BAD

But if clickbait finds itself in the annals of journalistic history, then why is it so condemned? There are two reasons for this affront.

  1. We know it’s an advertiser’s devilish scheme for clicks.

Many ads get results (and money) simply by how many times people click on the link.  Those people do not even need to spend more than five seconds on the page without earning a click for the advertiser or blog page.

  1. We know it preys on our mind’s simplest instincts.

Our mind is made to categorize and simplify information into nicely separated compartments to process swiftly and effectively.  With an article like “Here’s why eating chocolate is actually the best thing to happen to you”, our mind knows what to expect, yet it leaves room for surprise even though you already know that the article is just going to tell you that a study done by a start-up research company finds that eating chocolate cures cancer.  Even though we realize that an article is clickbait, we want to know more and our mind and body accept that.

Two years ago, Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote an article to explain why Buzzfeed doesn’t do clickbait. He argues the origins of clickbait begin on a later date: “Clickbait actually has its origins in old media, not the web, and specifically in the don’t-touch-that-dial antics of television and radio.” This matches his more specific definition of clickbait which explains that it’s a headline that under delivers on its article’s intent.

How silly, Buzzfeed, how silly. Instead of lying about Buzzfeed’s ENTIRE internet purpose, he could have instead spun clickbait in a positive light.

Why Clickbait is GOOD

  1. It reaches an audience and does not live on a headline alone.

Ben Smith briefly points this out within his piece from 2014, but should have focused on it more directly.  As he points out, “You can trick someone to click, but you can’t trick someone to share.” The article’s headline may earn views and clicks, but Buzzfeed’s success is much more predicated on its ability to earn shares and likes across social media platforms.  Accept the clickbait nature of Buzzfeed and continue to utilize it effectively.

  1. Journalistic history stands on entertainment and eye-catching titles and now we stand with a different term to explain the natural evolution of the industry.

Just like fancy movie trailers or pretty book covers, the average reader does judge an article by its headline.  If content is non-existent, that headline and article will die a slow death in the slums of the internet.  Readers might miss a piece that could actually have relevance to their needs or wants.

In both cases, clickbait finds itself negatively connoting headlines that have nothing to offer.  For advertisers, writers, bloggers, and the starving artists, finding balance with what clickbait actually is and how to use it or not to use it is the game that must be played.

Interestingly enough, the ironic clickbait nature of this article’s title will probably spawn less clicks than one that is not about clickbait, but if you don’t believe me, check out the research done on the issue here.

Geofilters and You

Within the last month Snapchat has gone and opened the floodgates for anyone to submit a custom geo-filter for their venue or next event. Since launch we have gotten a ton of questions that we want to make sure are addressed and perhaps throw in a few little tips for you when planning your next campaign!

1. What is Snapchat

Custom Prom Geofilter
DJ MattW and Nick posing with their custom filter made by FilterGhost

Snapchat, for those who do not know, is a platform that started in 2011 as a way to send pictures and videos that would disappear in just a few moments. Sure it definitely had a somewhat “risque” past, but it has since grown up to become one of the top publishing and messaging platforms for people ages 12-23. You can send pictures of videos with text, emojis, lenses, and ridiculous “lenses” to people directly for up to 10 seconds before they vanish. Alternatively, you can post the same content to your story where it sits for 24 hours for all your friends to see.

2.Why should I care about it?

Great question, and frankly we don’t blame you for asking, but Snapchat (as cliche as it sounds) is the new frontier. You have a system in place that basically guarantees that your potential client/customer will see your content. You see, I am that guy who hates having notifications. I will always view a Facebook notification in order to make that little red number disappear, swipe away any card on my phone in order to keep my menu clean, and I will do the same to my Snapchat feed and stories. By posting consistently engaging content that portrays an entertaining or educational story, you will have your followers coming back often looking for more laughs, behind the scenes looks, and perhaps even deals on products or services.

3. What is a “geofilter”?

A geofilter is an image overlay that you can put over your “snap” depending on your geographical location. So if you are in downtown Chicago, you can put the name of the city over your snap to show that you are there, or (and this is where you as an advertiser come in) you can have a fence drawn around your next big event and whomever is snapping from inside it can use a filter featuring YOUR brand! Then when it is all said and done, Snapchat will email you helpful metrics telling you how many times the filter was used, and how many times it was seen.

4. Tell me more…

Let’s say you own a bbq restaurant and you have a big pig roast coming up that you want to . You can have a filter with a cute comical pig saying “Big Billy Bob’s Pig Roast 2016.” Anyone at the event can swipe to the left a couple times and use the filter to show their friends how much fun they are having. Alternatively let’s say you are DJing a high school prom. You can have the school’s name on a starry night sky filter with a dancing silhouette filter and “Prom 2016” below it and sell it back to the school for a small profit, or you can throw your logo on there for brand activation and give it away as a value added free add-on.

Metrics from a custom snapchat geofilter
With only 140 uses, this filter reached over 7,000 views.

5. So I should jump on this?

ABSOLUTELY! We have never seen an advertising platform this cheap before. You can spend $100 on design, $10 in getting the filter live, and (depending on the event/use) get somewhere around 200 uses of the filter and reach upwards of 10,000 people (Using round arbitrary numbers here…). For $110 that is insane! We have always been a fan of Facebook’s platform for its power and affordability, but Snapchat has something big on their hands. We already have been working with clients in using Snapchat for brand activation, and we cannot wait to see how this platform evolves!

Instagram is adding an algorithm and IT’S OKAY!

Instagram has not only added 60 second videos to their feeds and view counts to promote a more aggressive approach to the mobile video movement that Facebook started, but now has also gone the ways of their Facebook overlords to implement a *gasp* algorithm! On top of all that, you might have seen a lot of “Turn me on for Instagram notifications” posts in the last 48 hours, and that is the same sort of people who went to beg people to turn on notifications for their business’s pages on Facebook about a year or so ago.

But what is really going on here?

Instagram is avoiding the same problem that Facebook almost hit, and the same problem Twitter is now trying to fix (which might be too late, but we will see). We as social media users are pumping out more and more content each and every day, and there is so much content being pushed out that we as consumers don’t even pay attention as much anymore. We just keep on scrolling.

Twitter currently is toying with possible algorithms and other new features like events and user specific notifications, and honestly people are being too skeptical. While the popularity and importance of Twitter as a platform can be discussed in a whole different blog post, the fact of the matter is that information saturation is a real problem we face, and it is time to streamline what we want.

How Facebook does it… (In simple terms)

Facebook saw the writing on the wall early, and uses an algorithm that places what it believes is most important to you at the top of your feed. They take in information such as your searches, who you talk to the most, what sorts of posts you like/comment/share, and what pages you like. All this information is used to provide you with the most valuable posts possible.

Think about it, if you were to see every post from every friend and page you like on Facebook you would never use the site. You’d be bombarded with Uncle Fred’s political rants, Aunt Sue’s knitting fetish, and tons of crappy “BUY NOW! 10% off ads” from pages who don’t know how to make a proper ad… And at the end of the day Facebook is in business to make money off of ad sales. If you as a user were to leave because you didn’t see any value in returning to the website, they are out of business, and no more Facebook.

So Instagram is doing this for you!

Don’t freak out here. All you will see is more things that you actually want to see at the top of your feeds, and the rest of it near the bottom. No need to freak out and set notifications for all your friends when they post their next Starbucks selfie.

If anything this promotes people to put more thought and effort into their photos and videos. Maybe we will start to see more natural beauty and less sushi pics, more street art and less duck faces, more real people and less latte art. Instagram knows that if they didn’t do something soon, they would be in the same position Twitter is in trying to fight for users to stay, and I can promise you this is for the greater good for all of us.

TL;DR: Watch this video from a good friend of mine Erik Zachary

For those who don’t have the time to deal with my lackluster writing, or would rather watch a video check this out:

Facebook HATES it when you do this…

If you found this post on our Facebook page, consider yourself part of a lucky few! Facebook in the last week have been showing less link posts in feeds and pushing more people to video… Let me explain.

When you post to your business page on Facebook there are a few different types of posts, and believe it or not, Facebook also prefers certain types of posts over others.

Facebook Post Types

  • Text Post – Text posts are pretty self explanatory. Whenever you simply type into the status box (or just enter plain text into the Power Editor because you are cool) with no links, pictures, or any other types of media, it is a text post. On pages these rank the lowest by far as they simply are not intriguing. Please post in a bit more effort than a text post!
  • Picture Post – These posts are identical to a text post, except you are embedding an image directly into the post. This is NOT a link to any other site or image host. You uploaded the photo directly to Facebook.
  • Video Post – Videos are KILLING it right now. Facebook has its sights set on YouTube and are pushing videos to your feed like crazy in effort to keep people on their site longer. Keep in mind that these posts are NOT links to a YouTube video, but uploading the video directly to Facebook. Definitely jump on this if you haven’t already!
  • Link Post – That leaves us with link posts. If you ever link out to a video, picture, gif, article, blog (like how this article was on Facebook), or anything else. It is categorized as a “link post”, but Facebook for some reason doesn’t like these anymore lately.

Facebook obviously wants to keep people on their website, and constantly monitor usage and other analytics to make educated decisions when moderating their user’s news feeds. They absolutely do not show every post your business page posts to all of your followers every time. (Please stop making discount and “BUY NOW!” posts…) They want the user to see just what they want, and reward brands that do so. This is why the more people engage with your posts, the more of your followers will see it.

Right now people are simply highly engaged with videos, and so now they are pushing content creators and brand pages to start posting more of them to help all users on the site longer. Now while a good portion of you reading this right now might be fuming and feeling like ?, if you think about it, this is a great thing for everyone. The more value people find on Facebook, and the more time they spend on it, the more opportunities you have to sell your brand.

Because of this huge push for videos, link posts now suffer. They have been the most utilized post of any page, and this will be a hard pill to swallow, but it is time to think outside the box…

So what should I do?

Besides working on producing some video content, the easiest work around is to link to articles and other pages in the comments of the post. Try your best to use a video clip of some sort, or a picture in the main post, and then direct the viewer to look for the full link in the comments. This seems a little odd and messy, especially considering that highly commented threads now show posts based on “top comments” versus chronological order, but it is the best that we can recommend at the time of this post.

Don’t worry, we are monitoring this heavily and will let you all know how to best overcome this soon. If you have any creative ideas share them in the comments and let us know!

10 February Marketing Ideas

It’s the start of a new month and we’ve got some fresh marketing ideas for you to promote your business. There’s more to February than just hearts and candy! Here’s a list of 10 marketing and blog ideas for February.

 

1. Valentine’s Day Promotions

There are countless Valentine’s Day promotions that you can do this month:

  • Fitness centers: Host a special Valentine’s Day class for couples or a post-Valentine’s Day workout to burn off calories from candy and chocolate!
  • Massage Therapists and Spas: Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to run a special offer on massage services. Couples massages, a day at the spa, and a chocolate facial can all be used for Valentine’s Day promotions.
  • Restaurants: Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday this month and is the perfect time for a couples cooking class! Come up with a special menu of aphrodisiacs foods to ignite some romance in your budding chefs!
  • Flower shops: This is your time to shine! Think outside of the bouquet and offer customers something other than overpriced, out of season roses.
  • Gift and retail stores: Come up with a Valentine’s Day gift guide – it’s the perfect time to promote some new merchandise. Post gift guides on your blog or in an email blast to give customers ideas for what to buy their sweetheart.

2. Valentine’s Day Graphics

February 14 is Valentine’s Day – show your social media and email marketing some love with Valentine’s Day themed graphics. Hearts, candy, and love are good things to use to catch attention from customers! Use holiday graphics to spruce up your Facebook marketing and Twitter profiles but they’re even more useful when combined with Valentine’s Day promotions.

heartgraphic

Need some help with graphics? Contact us for help!

3. Heart Disease Awareness Month

It makes sense that the month of Valentine’s Day is also Heart Disease Awareness Month. If your business is focused on health and wellness, this is a great marketing opportunity for you. Fitness centers and gyms can partner with a local health center for heart disease awareness or screenings.

Host special classes focusing on cardiovascular activity or write informative blog posts about heart health and risk factors. Use this time to market your business by educating your customers to help them lead healthy lives. Any business can sponsor a Valentine’s Day race – there are usually fun runs or 5Ks going on around the holiday and sponsoring one will get your business name out in the community.

4. Black History Month

February is Black History Month and the perfect opportunity to highlight prominent leaders in your industry. Black lawyers, politicians, scientists, artists, educators, and athletes have shaped American society. Take some time to reflect on those who have shaped the your business industry.

5. Children’s Dental Health Month

Children’s Dental Health may sound like a boring topic but it can be a great month for marketing your small business. Dentists can certainly have a field day with this one, but other businesses can use this opportunity to teach parents and students about the importance of dental health. Daycares, fitness centers, and churches can host special classes with families about the importance of going to the dentist. Perhaps one of the parents is a dentist and would like to come to answer questions for kids.

This not only helps your business interact with the community, but it helps local dentists market themselves all while educating parents and children about dentistry. This is a word of mouth referral marketing technique that will give you something to smile about!

6. Ice Cream for Breakfast Day – February 7, 2016

In the middle of Children’s Dental Health Month is Ice Cream for Breakfast day! Everyone loves ice cream! Use this quirky holiday to market your business. Held on the first Saturday of February, this Ice Cream for Breakfast Day can be a fun marketing promotion for your bakery, ice cream shop, or restaurant! Although it is supposed to be on a Saturday, you can do this any day of the week. Invite customers to come in to eat ice cream for breakfast – it’s a fun way to interact with families and do something new to promote your business.

7. Grammy Awards – February 15, 2016

The 57th annual Grammy Awards will be held in February. This is a great opportunity for engaging with your customers on social media. You’ve seen the video of a police officer singing Taylor Swift – get your employees together for your favorite Grammy nominated song and share it on social media!

8. It’s a Leap Year! – February 29, 2016

Every four years is a leap year, and 2016 is one of those. February has an extra day in it, which makes it a great time to remind your followers to do something new and exciting since they have another day they didn’t plan on having…

9. President’s Day – February 15, 2016

President’s Day is famous for sales so use it to your advantage. Most schools are off for President’s Day which makes it a great day to hold a family friendly activity at your fitness center.

10. Mardi Gras – February 9, 2016

Mardi Gras marks the beginning of Lent but down in New Orleans it’s party time! Host a Fat Tuesday party or sale at your business. Get customers in on the fun by giving a discount to anyone who comes in wearing a mask or beads!

Do you have any other good marketing ideas for February? Share them in the comments below!

#Hashtag

The pound sign. The number sign. Tic-tac-toe board. The “#” symbol has gone by many names throughout its 50+ year tenure, admired from afar as an arbitrary button on antique touch tone phones. As useless as it has been since its humble beginnings, the hashtag has recently solidified itself in pop culture and social media as an interactive tool to microscopically view the vast, infinite regions of the internet.

When Chris Messina, a simple Twitter user, suggested in 2007 on the website: “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp (msg)”, the game was changed. Trends and news stories would skyrocket across the World Wide Web in record time, reaching audiences at the very moment that a story would break. It took a simple search of a hashtag to view its analytical results on engagement of fellow tweeters. Although Twitter founder Evan Williams thought it was too technical, he was quickly proven wrong as users found a way to create a more personal conversation on an impersonal platform.

Today, the hashtag ranks among social media professionals’ list of most religious symbols, right behind the holy cross and breadsticks. Marketers and advertisers intend to take advantage of this trend within a trend, as corny hashtags appear across every major television network as a plot twist strikes (ie. #WhoIsA, #OhNoJonSnow, #TrumpSomehowLeadsGOP).

A simple Instagram post proves the importance of the all-praised hashtag. With only just reaching double digits on Instagram, our account cannot be viewed as “Insta-famous,” the phrase self-coined by Instagrammers with 10+K followers on the app who live relatively normal lives but filter their lives with “Lo-Fi” or “Mayfair” or “Perpetua.” No one jumps at the chance to look at what a marketing firm does unless you’re creating provocative ads for Nike. However, the point is that we don’t pride ourselves in the number of followers we have, yet.

But with only 10+ followers on the platform, we turned over 60 likes on a single post. “But how?!” you ask, “I somehow skipped over the rest of this blog post so I have no idea how that could be possible!” One word: hashtags.

Eliix Chicago Instagram Test m
Ah, Chicago, she’s a beaut!

On top of simply being a perfectly edited and snapped picture taken by yours truly (#humblebrag) , this photo contains multiple hashtags that people across the country, NAY, the world would be interested in searching on the application. #Chicago, #WillisTower, #SearsTower, and #Business are all hashtags that garner interest among different groups of people. When people look them up, they see a colorful image that they then click on, enjoy so much, and go on to like it.

The most evident and important thing here is that knowing your audience is key. Understand what they want to see, show them exactly that, and engage with them afterward. These likes turned into several follows which grows that slowly moving presence and leads to better interactions down the road.

Similarly, though, it is necessary to mention that sometimes less is more. You don’t need 10,000 likes if only half of them care about your product or service, whether it be on a personal or professional account. Take the cut and market to the 5,000 who care because then you will have real relationships on a site that we sometimes try to sell something that isn’t truly there.