Currently Viewing Posts Tagged Facebook

Cultivating and Utilizing UGC

In this day and age, people are constantly taking and sharing photos. Thanks to their 8-megapixel smartphone cameras and built in filters, it’s easy to take a glorious picture. But the real moneymaker moment happens when someone shares a photo involving a brand. This is what we call: User Generated Content. UGC is any form of content such as a, video, image or blog post created by a consumer or end-user and is publicly available. Social media mediums have proven to be continuously reliable sources for UGC. This is due to the simple fact that platforms such as Instagram and Twitter are hashtag based and easily searchable; vice versa, users are able to tag brands on posts, sometimes eliminating the need to search at all. Not to mention, everyone’s on social!

UGC posts become a kind of endorsement for brands; with the proper permission brands can repurpose these posts and show them off on their own social media page. “User-generated content as a media channel comprises an increasingly significant share of time that consumers are spending with content overall- indicating that consumers are ever more receptive to it. (Crowdtap)”Here’s how top brands go about acquiring and utilizing UGC.

 

The first step is always getting permission

starbucks

A big name like Starbucks has so much UGC at their fingertips (literally), but they still need to take the appropriate steps in order to share a consumer’s photo.
Often times brands will create campaigns encouraging users to create content
ModCloth2
In August 2015 Modcloth launched a contest on Pinterest “Be Our Pinspiration,” asking users to create a Pinterest board filled with inspirational images and named after the Modcloth campaign. The winner received a gift card and clothing pieces named after them.

 

For brands, hosting contests on Facebook is a simple and easy way to get UGC

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.32.58 AM

Dove’s “Share Your Beautiful Self” promotion asked users to upload a photo of themselves and a friend. Dove turned each entry into an e-card that could be shared with Facebook friends.
But even a simple hashtag search can reveal a plethora of UGC

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 11.47.28 AM

Interlux-on-Instag

Our client, Interlux Paint, receives a lot of UGC from Instagram

 

You can cross promote UGC on other social platforms, like Facebook
1

 

The biggest content drivers are people between the ages 25 and 54 and contribute to 70% of all UGC (SparkReel). UGC continues to dominate the majority of web content, with Pinterest creations up by 75% (Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers). Everyone with a smartphone is a potential content creator and this gives marketers and companies alike a huge pool of content to choose from. Content curation is a vital part in telling the story of your brand, so it’s important to see to what your consumers are saying/posting and being receptive to them. Sharing their posts is a great way of doing just that! Not to mention it’s easy and cost-efficient!

What’s Not To Like?

By now you’ve probably heard Facebook’s co-founder and chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, announced that Facebook is “very close to shipping a test” of a dislike button. This stems from many of Facebook’s 1.5 billion users’ request for a way to articulate negative emotions. After hearing the news, many social media marketers immediately became concerned. However, rest-assured, the dislike button is more than just a thumbs down. It’s a way for users to express empathy for posts that would be awkward to like because of their emotionally sensitive content (i.e. a death or a tragedy). So what does this mean for businesses on Facebook?

 

Uptick In Emotionally Sensitive Content

With the new empathy button underway, marketers might start gearing their content to be diverse in emotional pull so that they can receive empathy clicks,* instead of just likes. Like clicks are a big determinant in Facebook’s algorithm used to curate and sort what users see in their newsfeed. Posts that attract more Likes are placed towards the top of the user’s feed. If there is an increase in empathy clicks versus likes, than Facebook’s algorithm could potentially shift to push the posts with the most empathy to the top of the newsfeed. Which will encourage marketers to seek a new direction in content creation, to appeal to the empathy button.

 

Increased Engagement

Ideally, the empathy button will give users another avenue to express themselves, rather than just limiting their emotions to the restrictive “Like” button. It will grant users the chance to interact with content on an emotional level. From a marketing standpoint, businesses will have to start creating more emotionally pulling content. It’s not that they’ll need to rebrand themselves, but companies and businesses are going to want to keep up with the new trending empathy button and produce posts that will receive comments, shares and…empathy.

 

Less Likes?

Will the empathy button become more important than the like button? If Facebook is successfully able to reel in more engagement as a result of the empathy button, then the like button could potentially yield less weight. Brands will no longer be seeking likes, but rather, empathy. According to Victor Luckerson from Time Magazine, ““dislike” is the way Facebook moves beyond being viewed as a distraction to a destination where people can truly find out about the most important things happening in their world. And that begets more users spending more time on the site, which begets more ads, which begets more dollars for Zuckerberg and Facebook’s shareholders.

 

Are we going to see a new era where empathy becomes more important than the thumbs up on Facebook? Nothing is certain, but what does seem to be a hard-and-fast understanding, is that the “dislike” button will not be a negative form of expression. Rather, it will be more of a compassionate button, which will allow marketers to shape their content so it doesn’t just appeal to users, but is emotionally compelling and more meaningful. What’s not to like about that?

 

  • Since we don’t know if Facebook is really going to refer to it as the dislike button, we refer to is as an empathy button or empathy clicks.

Facebook Quick Tips for Community Managers

Community Managers handling social media accounts for clients sometimes want to find the best and fastest way to zip across all channels. We figured, why not increase your Facebook fitness and share some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way to ‘pump you up!’

Community Managers handling social media accounts for clients sometimes want to find the best and fastest way to zip across all channels.  We figured, why not increase your Facebook fitness and share some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way to ‘pump you up!’

SNL Skit Hans and Franz with Arnold Swarchenegger

Image via Tumblr.com

 

1.  Spelling Fail – How to Edit Post after It’s Out There

Keep in mind; this only applies to posts that have images attached to them.  Nonetheless, good to know when you’re in a pinch and already established high engagement.

Let’s just say you found a tiny little mistake (oops!), well this is how you can fix it after it’s been put out there for the world to see.  The best part is… this also applies for the scheduled posts in your Activity Log.

 Here’s how:

a)  Click on the time stamp of the post you want to edit

Facebook Screen Shot How-To 1

 

b)  Click on “Edit”

Facebook How-To 2

 

c)  Then make the necessary edits in the text box and then hit “Done Editing”

Facebook How-To 3

Huzzah!  All fixed.

 

2. Keyboard Shortcuts for Facebook

Thanks to Mashable we can now do our daily Facebook routine sans mouse.  It’s sort of like playing a game on our keyboard.

Shortcuts are based on your browser so you need to memorize the sequence:

Facebook shortcuts

For the action shortcuts visit Mashable.

 

3. Organize Your Inbox

Want to move messages that you know you’re done with?  Then you can move them out of your inbox and into the “Other” folder. This way you can control how many messages are in your inbox.

Here’s how:

Facebook How To Move Message to "Other" via Facebook.com

Image via Facebook.com

 

Tag you’re it!  What other quick tips do you have to share with fellow social media ninjas? Sound off in our comments below.

Can’t get enough of Facebook tidbits and news from Flightpath?  Have no fear just click here.

Facebook isn’t Real…Why This Matters for Marketers

The Facebook you is the best you possible….You are not writing social media content for people, you are writing content for the people your consumers want to be.

Chances are the person you are on Facebook and the person you are IRL are different animals.

The parent you on Facebook shared the most darling thing your daughter said this morning. The Facebook parent you never yells about putting shoes on to go to school or loses it in a homework battle with your 12 year old.

The Facebook you is the best you possible.

The friend that remembers every birthday. The buddy who always knows what to say to a friend in need. The life of the party, a great entertainer, providing an endless stream of amusing images, videos and random thoughts. The supportive spouse “in a relationship” with the most fantastic person in the world.

You are not alone. This is the life we all lead…on Facebook.

There are more than a billion Facebook Yous roaming around Earth right now and all of us “yous” have a lot in common. We try not to share content that is mundane or even worse, a downer. “On Facebook” is the new “in public” so we all mind our language, and post the best moments of our lives as though we live in some sort of never-ending Christmas card.

We all realize on some level that Facebook isn’t real life, like this blogger who refers to Facebook as Fakebook. But, none of us really want to share all the day-to-day difficulties of life when we can use Facebook and the rest of social media as our happy place, especially when everyone is a little paranoid about employers/bosses/recruiters and worst of all their moms reading their posts.

So what does this mean for the Social Media Marketer You?

You are not writing social media content for people, you are writing content for the people your consumers want to be.

Posts that celebrate the best in people will be liked. Images that depict the positive connections we have with others and our environments will be shared. Videos that were created to entertain friends of friends will be shared, embedded, commented on.

Facebook Yous will never share your ad copy, except for the rare cases when it truly entertains, connects or celebrates. When you are creating your next content calendar for a client, ask yourself if you would share it on your own wall. If the Facebook You is happy with it, the rest of us will be too.

Facebook Gifts – Presents New E-Commerce Opportunity for Brands

Remember Facebook’s Virtual Gifts of yore? When you could send your Facebook friends a “beer”, “rose” or “birthday cake?” Facebook closed its virtual gift shop in August 2011, and has replaced it with the ability to send Facebook friends real beer, roses and birthday cakes (or at least cupcakes). All from the status box on their friend’s timeline.
At this time, the gift selection is somewhat limited. For instance there are only 10 gifts available in the pets category. So, Facebook is going to have to expand their selection to appeal to more buyers. Which is great news for brands who are interested in coming aboard.

Facebook has rolled out another value add for brands. Facebook Gifts, which have been available through chain invites since September, are now available to all users and open for brands to submit products as consideration for Facebook Gifts.

Remember Facebook’s Virtual Gifts of yore? When you could send your Facebook friends a “beer”, “rose” or “birthday cake?” Facebook closed its virtual gift shop in August 2011, and has replaced it with the ability to send Facebook friends real beer, roses and birthday cakes (or at least cupcakes). All from the status box on their friend’s timeline.

So what is the benefit of this for brands? Your brand’s products can be offered via Facebook Gifts, which offers a seamless e-commerce experience and new platform for driving sales. Now, when a user sees a friend announce they are expecting a baby that user can quickly send an appropriate gift without having to leave the confines of Facebook for, say Amazon and perhaps get distracted along the way to purchasing your brand’s product.

Facebook has also done a great job of removing the shipping address barrier of sending gifts to people you are friends with on Facebook, but are not close friends with in real life. The sender doesn’t have to enter any shipping information. The gift recipient is notified via Facebook private message that they have a gift waiting and they are prompted to accept the gift, at which point they enter in their own shipping information. This lowers the barrier to purchase for the gift giver and also encourages surprise, and impulse gifting (it’s a little hard to surprise someone with a gift when you have to text them and request their shipping address).

The social media/word of mouth marketing aspect of Facebook Gifts is also alluring to brands. Every time a user sends a gift, a tantalizingly wrapped gift image appears on the recipient’s timeline by default, encouraging them to unwrap it and reveal what is inside. Senders can opt out of the share. Below is an example of the image a recipient sees on their timeline:

At this time, the gift selection is somewhat limited. Potential senders first land in the “Recommended Gifts” section, which is mostly gifts of food, but also include Starbucks and iTunes virtual gift cards. The user then has the option to navigate into the following gift categories:

  • Food & Drink
  • Wine
  • Fun
  • Home & Kitchen
  • Fashion & Body
  • Flowers
  • Baby & Kids
  • Gifts that Give Back
  • Pets

According to Facebook, there are multiple safeguards in place to ensure that alcoholic beverages are not purchased by or sent to underage users, including carding recipients at their physical door during delivery and barring users with a stated age below 21 from even seeing alcoholic beverages as Facebook Gift options. This could be a great sales platform for those brands in the wine and spirits category.

At this time, the gift selection is somewhat limited. For instance there are only 10 gifts available in the pets category. So, Facebook is going to have to expand their selection to appeal to more buyers. Which is great news for brands who are interested in coming aboard.

So, what brands are taking part in the initial roll out of Facebook Gifts?

  • Apple
  • Baby Gap
  • Harry & David
  • Fab
  • Brookstone
  • Gund
  • Sesame Street
  • Warby Parker
  • And more…

Want to get your brand’s products on board with Facebook Gifts? Just fill out this form to submit your products for consideration.

Interview: Chris Brogan on Podcasting & ROI of Social Media

What I am always trying to do is tie a mainstream, real world metric to these goofy online metrics because I just don’t care how many video views we got, or what our Klout is. What I say is “Did the cash register ring?” If the answer is yes, then we met our goal.

This is part 2 of our interview with author, blogger and social media expert Chris Brogan.

Over the last few years there has been a greater adoption of social media by companies looking to use social platforms to connect with consumers. Chris Brogan has been busy speaking, blogging and advising companies on how to do just that for the last 12 years as one of the biggest rock stars in the social media world.

Brogan is co-author of New York Times bestsellers The Impact Equation and Trust Agents, (both cowritten with Julien Smith) and author of Social Media 101 and Google Plus for Business. Both in his roles as CEO & President of Human Business Works, co-founder of the PodCamp new media conference series and as a blogger himself, Brogan has a long history of shaping the way that companies approach the social web. Flightpath took the opportunity to speak with Brogan about his take on how companies could better utilize social media, measure ROI and just do social better.

In your book, The Impact Equation you have an equation for success that includes platforms, ideas and so forth. What do you think companies are missing as part of the equation?

Brogan: The real hope of the book is letting people know how you get your idea to resonate with people in such a way that they take action. What Julien Smith and I who wrote the book together, found and believe is that everyone seems part of this figured out.

They might have a great idea, but not a big enough platform for anyone to see it. They might have an amazing idea and an amazing platform but they haven’t found a way to connect with people so that people can run with the idea.

I think that getting that whole set of chains to turn the same way and pull the same gear is what I am really working on the hardest.

Flightpath: How have you seen the social space change over the time you have been in it?

What has changed in 12 years is that we humans expect a much more custom, personalized humanized response in business. There was none of this in the 80’s and the 90’s. There was none of us going “Oh man, I didn’t hear back from someone specific at Delta, I got a form letter.” That is just how life was. I grew up with my family yelling at the TV, now everyone tweets at the TV. There are some vast differences, but I think it is all good stuff.

Flightpath: I’ve known you for a long time from podcasting, and think it’s interesting that you are launching a new podcast, The Human Business Way. Within all the forms of social media, podcasting is really the one that never blew up and went so mainstream. So, I think its interesting that you are investing in podcasting as a way to get your messaging out. Do you think that podcasting still has the promise it did in 2006?

Brogan: That is my favorite question so far. This is a really interesting time for this medium called podcasting. When we were at it, I didn’t get into it until like 2006 or 2005, but I know that you were in it before that even and that you have one of the longest running ones in the world.

When I got into this space, I was just like everyone else in that space thinking this is going to be great- we are going to topple TV stations and the radio and the world is gonna be ours and I am going to buy a bunch of stickers, because that seems to be what everyone did.

Then that collapsed because at the time no one had the technology you had to be like a PHD to figure out how to get the podcast onto whatever device. It was just so much work. Now we are in this world because I can record, edit and post from the my phone. The process is just much more streamlined now.

At the same time, podcasting suddenly picked up a lot of news from the strangest of ways. So first off, all the nerds came and made podcasts and life was good for all 3,000 listeners that we shared. Then, the mainstream discovered podcasting and all they used it for was archival distribution of their mainstream junk and that was boring, although it got more people to listen.

Now, these mainstream people who have said F you mainstream and they are becoming apart of this new thing like Kevin Smith and Adam Carolla and every other comic it seems has a podcast. They have brought new attention to podcasting people are seeing that they really can listen to whatever they want.

So, the reason I invested in it is because it is right out of the Impact Equation. It is Contrast, not everyone has this kind of a show. It’s Reach- putting me into a whole new place that I haven’t been, like iTunes. I got an email the other day from a listener saying “This is great do you have a website” and I thought “This is great, I have made it.”

Its one of these things where we think we shouldn’t be doing it, it’s not a great idea because is takes a lot of time.  That is why I am gonna do it. I know it is a way to get more engagement with people.

Flightpath: So the last question is a question that every social media marketer who deals with companies is posed. It is “What is the ROI of social media?” Just how do you answer that question, or do you not- or is it a terrible question?

Brogan: I do it all the time, and I tell you what I do. I say that there is no blanket answer because what you really need to do is always this: you have to say that you are going to tie this activity, this effort, this event to a direct and obvious revenue stream

So for example, if I am helping a beer company sell more beer, then I would do it through Facebook and through the bars. I would choose very specific bars and I would create very targeted promotions for the bars and do all kinds of work to pump that up via the social web. Then I would ask the beer company how many more cases of beer did the bar order this week versus last week and that is the measurement.

What I am always trying to do is tie a mainstream, real world metric to these goofy online metrics because I just don’t care how many video views we got, or what our Klout is. What I say is “Did the cash register ring?” If the answer is yes, then we met our goal.

In ROI, the first question should always be “What is the I?”  If you put no money in and you are wondering where the return is, then you are obviously not doing it right.

Second, if you are saying more what is the time involved to get a yield, then that is a harder question that is like asking how long does it take to grow a garden. To me, there are some different metrics to look at in that case. What I always look at specifically in ROI is a real world number that I can move with an online technology.

 

Read Part 1 of our interview with Chris Brogan here.

Why Awesome Facebook Posts are Your Brand’s Best Mobile Strategy

As brands watch more and more of their traffic come from mobile devices it may be a good time to evaluate what your brand is doing on the one part of your Facebook presence that mobile users can see: Timeline.

Facebook is facing a quandary when it comes to brand pages. While an increasing number of Facebook users are utilizing the platform on their smartphones or tablets, the Facebook tab content that brands spend so much time and money to develop are not visible to these users. We know more users prefer Facebook brand pages to brand websites and we also know that smartphone usage is on the increase.

So what is a brand to do?

Facebook app development remains an integral part of a brand’s presence on Facebook. The brand immersive experiences, like sweepstakes and other fun apps are designed to engage and inspire users to share and they do. But, as brands watch more and more of their traffic come from mobile devices it may be a good time to evaluate what your brand is doing on the one part of your Facebook presence that mobile users can see: Timeline.

The best Facebook brand posts have must-see, must-share content. So how do you take your branded posts from meh to marvelous?

1. Use user generated images in your posts

I know that everyone social media expert on the planet will tell you that social media posts with an image get more attention than those that don’t. But, this advice is a bit different.

Ask your community to share pictures, not highly posed shots of them holding your product at salesmanish angles, but real photos of the sort they probably already have. Pictures of their home, kids, pets and the like- whatever category is relevant to your brand. Use them in all of your posts and you will see interaction skyrocket.

People like to see themselves represented and I for one could go the rest of my life without seeing another stock photo used in a Facebook brand post. We implemented this with a client at the beginning of the year and have seen monthly unique interactions grow from a respectable 6% to a totally awesome 40%.

2. Make your posts relatable

 How many times have we seen a post with copy like this: “It’s back to school time! Like this post if your kids are ready for school.” Ugh, snore. Sounds like the opening line of a very boring PTA meeting.

Take that basic idea and add copy with an accompanying image that the mom you are speaking to can relate to: “Here is Barbara from Poughkeepsie enjoying her coffee in peace this morning. Like this if you are enjoying the silence of back to school time!” It’s better, more from a mom point of view and the consumer you are trying to engage will have a higher likelihood of interacting with the post.

3. Create inspirational branded images

 A lesson we can all learn from the popularity of Pinterest is that inspirational images get shared. That lesson applies to Facebook as well.

Take an inspirational quote about life, home, self-care whatever makes sense for your brand and put it meme style on an image (even better an image shared by a user). Ask your community to share and boom, your branding is out there being shared with a larger audience and is connected with a powerful, inspiring message which is all good. We have been using this tactic for a few months and have had some images shared 20,000+ times.

Creating better Facebook posts means higher engagement from all users, especially those viewing your brand page on a smartphone. Creating killer Facebook apps is still important, but until Facebook allows tab content to be viewed via mobile spending time creating content designed for interaction and sharing is a win.


Leave a comment if you have tips for making the most out of Facebook posts for the brands you represent.

 

Apple to Buy The Fancy? Why Fancy Crushed Pinterest

Why would Apple be interested in buying The Fancy and not Pinterest? Simple. The Fancy has a monetization strategy. Brands are able to promote products on The Fancy homepage, and customers are encouraged to add items the Fancy to a shopping cart and buy directly through the site. The Fancy generates revenue for brands and itself. Pinterest does not.

Business Insider reported over the weekend that Apple is interested in buying The Fancy. If Apple does buy The Fancy, this will be a nail in the coffin for Pinterest. While Pinterest may have the dedication of middle America, an Apple owned The Fancy will have the hearts and wallets of the affluent.

Why would Apple be interested in buying The Fancy and not Pinterest? Simple: The Fancy has a monetization strategy. Brands are able to promote products on The Fancy homepage, and customers are encouraged to add items to a shopping cart and buy directly through the site. The Fancy generates revenue for brands and itself; Pinterest does not.

While Pinterest has proven a great traffic driver, brands are ultimately interested in driving sales. The Fancy was designed with a dual purpose: to drive brand awareness and sales.  Another Business Insider post reported that The Fancy is generating more than $10,000 daily in sales for the brands promoting their goods on the site.

Another great reason for Apple to purchase The Fancy is that both appeal to a higher income consumer willing to pay more for products with great design.

So, why should you as a marketer care about Apple’s acquisition of The Fancy? Months back, we contacted The Fancy and were advised that only a few brands per week receive email and homepage promotion.

At that time, there was a waiting period of a month to schedule a promotion. Once Apple purchases The Fancy, their already considerable traffic could potentially explode among the highly desirable wealthy, design conscious consumer and every brand will want to be promoted there.

If the brand you represent is interested in a promotion on The Fancy, we have a tip from The Fancy founder Joseph Einhorn: make sure you have “wicked” photos. According to Einhorn, photos on The Fancy are everything. Editorial style shots of your product will ensure good sales performance on the site.

Now is a great time to get the brand you represent in line for a promotion on The Fancy, and you will make your client look brilliant for being in early.

Pinterest Brand Pages: Our Favorites

Pinterest is all the rage these days, and for good reason: it’s a social platform that actually offers something new and unique. If you are a brand rep looking for Pinspiration, here are some of the best examples of brands on Pinterest.

Pinterest is all the rage these days, and for good reason: it’s a social platform that actually offers something new and unique. And unlike Facebook or Google+, it really allows brands to get creative with their pages, from layout to content to overall purpose. If you are a brand rep looking for Pinspiration, here are some of the best examples of brands on Pinterest.

 

Coolest Design: Uniqlo


A quickly growing fashion retailer, Uniqlo only sells through its brick-and-mortar shops, which makes its digital acumen all the more impressive. Their website is great, their Facebook updates are fun, and their Pinterest page is staggeringly creative. If you scroll down their page, it animates a la a cartoon flip book, making logos spin, shirts move, and giving off an overall wow factor:

 

 

Funniest Use of Pinterest Boards by Brands: Oreck

 

So… you are a vacuum company and you want to create a Pinterest board, what do you do? Pin pics of messes of course, but how to make a pinnable mess? If you are a pet owner you will appreciate Oreck’s Furry Friends board filled with adorable pics of dogs and cats who fill hearts with happiness and floors with fur:

 

 

Best Non-Profit Brand on Pinterest : ASPCA

 

Of course it helps to have an endless supply of adorable and highly pinnable pet photos at your disposal, but the ASPCA on Pinterest does more than just post cute pics of pets.

They are using Pinterest as a tool to promote pet adoption and further the cause of closing puppy mills. By creating Pinterest boards that balance cute pics with highly shareable text based images, pinning from the ASPCA page is like slapping an end animal cruelty bumper sticker on your Subaru- it let’s everyone who follows you know where you stand.

 


Most Interactive: Bauble Bar

 

Social media, as we all know by now is not supposed to be a soliloquy but rather a conversation. This is always tough for brands. One brand doing a great job is Bauble Bar. This online jewelry retailer scours Instagram and Twitter for fans of their collections who have posted photos. Bauble Bar then pins the fans photo to their Pinterest board, which is the highest form of compliment on Pinterest and goes a long way to building community and customer loyalty.

 

 

Best Celeb Brand: Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart’s Pinterest boards look like what Stewart’s refrigerator would look like, if she allowed magnets on it. As the most followed celeb on Pinterest, Stewart is one to watch.

 

Leave a comment and let us know what Pinterest brand pages you like.

(Dan Brooks contributed to this post.)

Facebook: Passion Speaks Louder Than Clicks

While Facebook has been dominating the news the past two weeks,one side of the social network story that has gone under-reported is the undeniable passion Facebook has created.

While Facebook has been dominating the news the past two weeks – GM saying no mas to $10 million in paid media, the market/investors saying IPNO (no!) to $38 a share and many interesting stories of the personal and financial lives of Facebook insiders past and present – the one side of the social network story that has gone under-reported is the undeniable passion Facebook has created.

Facebook, to the 13-year-old creating his or her account and getting a profile up, is huge: A rite of passage so dynamic, so intense, that if you have a son, daughter, niece or nephew, you wonder if they are even breathing the first few days. In fact, it makes getting the driving permit so yesterday. For jaded investors and longtime social media enthusiasts, Facebook may be easy to discount (crazy hype can do that!) or connect to the beginning of the end – like a replay of the ‘90s dotcom collapse – but given the scale of people who connect through, engage on, and live loud because of Facebook, that couldn’t be more ridiculous.

Simply, Facebook is the passion engine of our time. I am going to keep this simple and single-minded. Take Facebook’s photo uploading and sharing. Billions are uploaded monthly, so that alone emotionally and socially has had a tremendous ripple effect given the old idiom, “a picture says a 1000 words,” in terms of humans connecting. Family and friends smiling happiness or sharing sadness all is second nature because of and through Facebook. The bottom line is, whenever a new technology platform or even a re-defining idea (think: “The 99 Percent!”) enables human passion to flourish in any area of life, there is no looking back.

The way I see it is, scale doesn’t make passion – passion makes scale. Facebook has scaled up so big so fast because of its relentless pursuit of passion. The way they have screwed up – like in the privacy area – seems perfectly normal, given how fast they have moved. Their corrective steps reinforce an ability to listen and learn is why their dynamic growth continues.  Clearly, Facebook understands and practices, maybe better than any company in history, the idea of “Fact Based Passion.”  Introduced at Nabisco in 1994, CEO John Greeniaus espoused Fact Based Passion as connecting data and information to empower human energy and commitment to make remarkable things happen.

So, while I imagine people at Facebook are working hard day and night (especially at their Hackathons) to get people to click more on ads, I believe brands will figure a way to work with them to drive effectiveness and success. People are too passionate about Facebook and about Skittles or Coca-cola or GM to not find a new way to thrive symbiotically. Fan pages prove that today.

I’ll end by reminding us that the DVR didn’t kill television – it just made some brands re-imagine how to message. As Facebook continues to explore new pathways for commercial engagement, the opportunities for brands to leverage all the emotional currency they have garnered will be incredibly exciting and powerful.

IFB & Intel’s Inside Generation Style Show

Unique brand and blogger collaboration between Intel and Independent Fashion Bloggers and how the major techology company was able to market to tech-savvy women through a fashion show.

I had the pleasure of attending the Ultra Book (#UltrabookStyle) Inside Generation Style Show hosted by IFB (Independent Fashion Bloggers) and Intel on Wednesday and was immediately intrigued by the creative approach on how a launch of a laptop was incorporated into a fashion show.


In case you’re not aware, IFB was founded in 2007 by Jennine Tam of The Coveted and is a community for fashion bloggers to share their experiences in the blogging scene, offering resources on how to take their blogs to the next level.  They provide helpful articles, host a community linking group, forums and offer a new platform where they can connect bloggers and PR in a safe and mutually beneficial way.

It was definitely a unique approach to showcase their new Ultrabook through a fashion show that not only had bloggers as guests, but were integrated in the actual show.  Well, we all know that bloggers work remotely and need a computer, so the lightweight laptop seemed to be the perfect marriage, even in the beauty and fashion space.  From a marketing perspective, this was a seamless way to not only reach the bloggers but to leverage their cult following readers.  The laptops were featured in the show on the arms of the bloggers (or in their purses) among other sponsors such as Bauble Bar, Arrojo, Kamali Kulture, Just Fabulous and Orla Kiely.

Source: IFB, Photo by Dustin Fenstermacher

You can watch the show here and see for yourself.  What do you think of this brand and blogger collaboration?

Facebook Timeline: Brand Pages Launched

Brands have one month to monitor their competitors’ adoption of Facebook Timeline and figure out how to make Timeline work for them. Here’s an early look at the approach taken by brands who embraced the conversion to Timeline today.

Facebook Timeline for brand pages was announced this morning on the new platform for breaking tech news- The Today Show. Brands have the option of using Timeline starting today, and all brand pages will be converted to Timeline on March 30th. So brands have one month to monitor their competitors’ adoption of Facebook Timeline and figure out how to make Timeline work for them. We thought we would take an early look at the approach taken by brands who embraced the conversion to Timeline today.


Coca-Cola didn’t remove the post from their Timeline when they updated their cover photo to the new larger image required for the transition to Timeline. The Timeline cover photo was updated at 5:06 am EST, which could make Coca-Cola the first brand to make the switch. Coca-Cola has posts going back to the companies founding in 1886, using Timeline to show off the company’s lengthy history. Timeline makes perfect sense for brands who have been around for a long time, but how are brands who haven’t been around for 120+ years using Timeline?

 

Magnolia Bakery is the New York bakery made famous in Sex and the City. Their approach to Timeline is to make you hungry. By using the Timeline cover photo to show the breadth of the bakery’s line of goods and artistic presentation, they are a great demonstration of how a small business can use Timeline to visually engage consumers.

 

Apps used to reside in tabs along the left hand side of Facebook pages. With the unveiling of Timeline, tabs are a thing of the past. Apps have moved to the front and center of brand pages. Each app is displayed with an image underneath the cover photo, similar to the old pre-Timeline photo strip.

Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation unveiled a cohesive approach to Timeline. Each app’s image coordinates with the Timeline cover photo. Livestrong also puts their message first. Unlike Coca-Cola and Magnolia Bakery, Livestrong opted out of using space within their app bar to promote the number of likes their page has. Instead they are using the space to promote apps where people can invite friends and become involved in the Livestrong cause.

Facebook Timeline for brand pages is just hours old, it will be interesting to see how brands roll out innovative uses of Timeline over the next 30 days.

Facebook Timeline: Add Life Events and Marketers Could Thank You

Facebook Timeline was released last month as an invitation for all of us to share our whole lives (including pre-Facebook lives) on Facebook. What Facebook wants you to include in your Timeline isn’t restricted to your newborn picture.

When you click on a point in the past on your Timeline, you have a number of options many of which are familiar.  You can add a comment in the form of a status update to a point in your past, photo from your 1st grade class picnic or check into the dorm you lived in freshman year of college. These are all variations of the options that users are used to seeing when they create a normal present-day status update. However, there is one new option- “Life Event” that is very different than the rest.

Clicking the Life Event button brings up a list of events that are common to a lot of people’s life stories. Marking the day you had a baby, broke a bone, lost a loved one or changed your religious beliefs are just some of the options Facebook presents.

Social media is supposed to be about transparency and honesty. Although it seems people would be reluctant to share major illnesses they have had in the past, divorces long settled and weight gained or lost in reality this is what Facebook does best. In Timeline Facebook has created an even better space where we can feed the human need to connect and learn more about people we care about, though maybe not enough to actually call.

From a social media marketing point of view, “Life Event” could be a game changer.

Currently advertisers can target Facebook users for ads based on the basic information user’s provide as well as their likes and interests. If Facebook allows advertisers to display ads to users who have had certain life events, or even better- users who have had certain life events within a select time frame, this could be very exciting for brands.

Car insurance ads could be displayed to parents of children they had 16 years back on their timeline and orthopedic surgeons could target those who have broken a bone in the last few months.  Ads could be even more highly targeted, which means higher click-through rates for advertisers and more revenue for Facebook.

Facebook has yet to allow advertisers to target users based on their life events, however if they do look for even more relevant Facebook ads coming to your Facebook profile.

New Facebook Insights Helps Marketers Understand Potential Targets

As many are aware by now, Facebook recently released an update to its Insights product. This was the first update to this section and was, according to the release issued by Facebook, a response to requests from brand marketers for a deeper understanding of the community they were building.

The update was filled with a number of new features, including the new “Talking about this page” metric, which shows first time users the level of engagement each community has, along with its size. However, a little more digging into these updates and one now finds demographic data for the group that Facebook defines as the “reach.”

Reach is made up of consumers who are in some way connected to the page but may not directly be a fan…yet! They may have seen a post in their friend’s feed, or they may have been exposed to an ad produced by the brand’s page. Up to this point, most community managers could easily describe the demographic of their community, but only a handful could define the connections of their community members. This group is what my current supervisor likes to call “the low hanging fruit” of our potential audience – in other words, these are people who we should be able to easily convert to actual fans.

Now I know the whole point is to increase engagement and not the number of fans, so using it for this purpose is contradictory to why the update was released in the first place. But let’s be honest; for now, my clients are still going to look at fan growth as a significant metric of success, so any thing I can use to help me achieve that growth is helpful. Once I have them on the page then I need the second part of the strategy – which is to engage them and get them talking.

So how do we use this demographic information? We can use it in a number of ways, from growing the community to product development. If, for instance, you have a new product idea, you can match it up with this potential audience to see if it would fit in that demographic. If your potential demographic is mostly made up of young woman from 20-35, and you primarily produce product for older children, maybe it would make sense to expand to some products geared towards younger children as well. One way Facebook could increase the usefulness of this potential even more is by displaying top likes of your reach as well and associated interests. This would give us a better idea of their activity and who they are, as opposed to just the demo data.

As the network continues to stress ties with brands and make the platform more useful for marketers, it will be interesting to see what other data they make available that could help us in our campaign planning.

The Flightpath Roundtable: Google+

Google+

Welcome to the first installment of The Flightpath Roundtable, a new feature where we’ll gather various Flightpath employees for a discussion on the hottest topics in digital.

Today, we’re talking about Google+, Google’s fledgling social network. Google+ was launched with much fanfare and expectation, and is perhaps the greatest threat to Facebook’s dominance. But how has it fared so far? We talk Google+’s Circles innovation, how Facebook has responded, and what the future may hold in the social network wars.

The participants in this discussion:

Dan Brooks, Digital Marketing Associate
John Lee, Director of Digital Marketing and Analytics
Cliff Medney, Chief Creative Strategist
John Whitcomb, Social Media Strategist

Dan: So we’re talking about Google+. What’s everyone’s take on where it stands now, whether or not you think it’s been a success up to this point, and will it be a success in the future?

John L: It’s really their second attempt at social media. Their first attempt with Wave just kind of fell flat, which could’ve been caused by the bad publicity they got initially, because of the privacy issues. Honestly, I don’t have a Google+ account. But it’s basically not too different from Facebook. Whether or not they’re going to be able to surpass Facebook, it’s highly unlikely. Google, although they do things very well, I don’t really know where they stand in terms of social media. They’ve been trying to penetrate that market for a long time now, and they’ve kind of fallen short in comparison to Facebook.

Dan: You mention how they failed with Wave. Do you think they’re big enough that they can kind of will this to be a success on some level, and just have it around so that they’re in the space?

John L: I don’t think you can really be in that kind of position where you can just sort of have a piece of it. The way it seems with these social networking platforms, you’re either it, and everyone uses, or you’re gonna die out, like MySpace or Friendster. People need that sort of common platform to share everything, and whether or not people want to use two platforms, I don’t really see that happening either.

Dan: Like VHS versus Beta.

John L: Exactly.

John W: Well, there’s already two platforms that exist too, that people are competing against, and that’s Facebook and Twitter. Google is actually the third major platform that’s coming into play. Twitter is still considered a social network that you use for sharing items throughout your social graph.

Dan: Twitter’s a little different. It’s not as robust.

John W: No, it doesn’t have the same features.

Dan: Well, you’re our social media expert. What’s your take on Google+ so far?

John W: I think it depends on what your definition of success is. From when it started, it quickly grew because of all the press that it got, and one of the main reasons is the Circles feature on Google+. That’s an advantage it has over Facebook. Typically, right now with Facebook, your status update goes out to everyone, and you have no control over who sees what. But with Circles, you really get to pick and choose.

John L: But in Facebook you still have a feature where you can sort of have different groups, right? Where in those different groups, you have your posts and pictures, and select who has access to those. It’s not as well defined as Circles, but…

John W: You can set it up, but it’s very clunky. It’s not very easy for the user to grasp how to use it, it’s kind of hidden behind the actual settings of Facebook. Whereas with Google+, it’s a main component.

Cliff: Isn’t Facebook doing Circles or a Circles-esque kind of thing?

John L: I think they’re trying to refine it.

Dan: I know that there’s a drop-down now. When you make a status update, you can pick who you’re sharing it with.

John L: My wife’s biggest complaint about Facebook when she started using it was the lack of a Circles feature. But I’m sure it’s definitely high on their list in terms of refining it, especially since Google came out with it.

Cliff: And it’s the kind of handle that everyone defines it by. You know, while there may be many other reasons to think that it’s very good or maybe not not so good, Circles is, if not an obvious thing, it seems like a very human thing in a kind of environment or venue that’s sometimes viewed as not-so-human. Things that Zuckerberg did that were just either stupid or viewed as ruthless, insensitive; so to have something as emotionally rich as Circles, which just as a pure play metaphor for your circle of friends – where there was such a cavalier sense of friend-dom to begin with – turns it all on its head to a degree, and re-institutes a little bit of humanity, in the kind of oxymoronic sense, of what social media should always have been.

Dan: I actually made a post about this on Google+. I think the Circles are a great idea, but if I had somebody who I considered a friend, and then I found out they put me in their Acquaintances circle, I’d be kind of offended. [Laughs] You know? And a lot of people kind of agreed with me on that. It’s giving you more control over things, but at the same time…

John W: It’s making you define.

Dan: It’s making you define your relationships.

John W: Right, which can both be good and bad, depending on who the individual you’re defining is.

Cliff: Do we have any cases or situations where friendships have been broken? Where you thought you might have ranked pretty high –

Dan: And then you find out you don’t.

Cliff: [Laughs] Oops!

Google+

Dan: The other thing about Google+ so far, is that I find whenever I login to check, there are like, no updates from anyone. Granted, my network on there is not as big my Facebook network. I think I have like 25 friends on Google+ compared to maybe a few hundred on Facebook, but it’s the same two people posting updates on Google+.

John L: It’s because everyone’s still using Facebook. That goes back to what I was saying about having two competing platforms. Nobody wants to deal with two platforms to get status updates, or check in on what their friends were doing. It’s kind of lame to post things twice on both of them, you know?

Dan: Someone called me on that, in fact.

John L: [Laughs] Yeah. “I just saw this on your Facebook. Why are you posting it on here, too?”

John W: I would agree with that. I even find trouble logging into Google+ on a regular basis. The Circles thing is the big difference, but if Facebook can master the Circles, then people are still using Facebook so often that Google+ will most likely just go off the radar. It already has, in my opinion.

John L: Yeah. There was a lot of hype about it – a lot surrounding the controversy with privacy, but then it just kind of died out.

Dan: Hitwise was saying that usage peaked in July, and then took a dip in August, and it hasn’t hit those numbers since.

John L: Yeah. People were curious and then it’s like, “How is this better than Facebook?” The Circles thing, if they think that’s the winning component, I don’t think it’s enough. Because Facebook is probably going to develop something very similar, if not better.

Facebook

Dan: Social plays more of a role in search now – they incorporate what gets shared in social into search results.

John L: They definitely are. I mean, they’ve been doing it for quite awhile with real-time search results. Having Twitter feeds within their search results, you don’t really see that as often, because they’ve found that not many people actually click on that. But even pages that incorporate the Facebook Like button…is it part of the algorithm? I think somebody from Google actually did admit that it’s part of the algorithm. It doesn’t hold as much weight as a backlink, but social components on a page I think are going to get more and more heavily weighted in terms of how pages show up in search results.

Dan: They have a lot at stake in Google+. Can Google give more weight to Google+ in the search algorithm, as a way of forcing it on the world?

John L: If they want to include that into their algorithm, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did.

John W: But couldn’t they go as far as not only including it, but making it such a major factor that it diminishes Facebook, and they drive users to Google+? I mean, no one regulates them, so couldn’t they basically just change their algorithm, and all of a sudden only Google+ results are only showing up in search?

John L: I think that would be a little too obvious. Google, their whole business is around ads. All they’re trying to do is serve relevant search results to their users, and if they start serving up pages that are heavily influenced by Google+ users, that would sort of contradict everything that they’re trying to do. To be that biased for their own benefit that way, I don’t think it would be good for the user, and again, contradict what their overall mission is, which is to serve up quality information.

John W: So in other words, even though they could, you don’t think they would, because it would hurt their overall search business.

John L: I think so. I don’t think it’s in their long term best interests, just to push a social media platform. They would kind of turn into that ugly, big, evil corporation that they’ve always claimed they don’t want to be.

Dan: What about brand pages? They’ve deleted Mashable’s and everyone’s brand pages.

John W: Well, they’ve made announcements that it’s officially coming at some point. And that’s why they deleted the other ones, because they didn’t want people putting up false brand pages that weren’t officially recognized by Google. Once they get this process in place and they go through, to me, that’ll be the most interesting aspect of what Google+ is – especially from a marketing perspective, is how the brands could use it. If there is still usage at that point, the ability for a brand to be able to target users based on certain criteria by putting their own fans in Circles, and then only sending messages out to just those particular fans – that’s a pretty powerful tool for any kind of brand that’s looking to market, because you have that relevance in the message already. Whereas before you’re blasting out to somebody who likes you, because they pressed the Like button, but they may not be interested in that particular update that you have that day. And so you can better target and make your messaging even more relevant, if that feature comes into play.

Cliff: At the end of the day, how does a company overtake Facebook? These guys seem like they’re not going to be giving up a lot of their lead. What would it take? More than Circles, what could it be?

Dan: If you go back to Friendster, when I used it, I thought it was great. It’s like, “What could be better than this?” And then MySpace came, and that was great, and I thought, “What could be better than this?” And you’re kind of introduced to things, and ways of using it, that you didn’t know you wanted.

John L: That’s very true.

Dan: I don’t know that Circles is that for me yet, but I think it’s going to come along at some point. Either Google+ introduces that new thing, or something else comes along that will take Facebook’s audience away.

John W: I think it will depend on how Facebook fights back to each of them. For this one, it’s very easy, as we mentioned earlier, for them to kind of take this new feature that Google came out with – Circles – and import it into their own system and continue their dominance. If somebody can come up with something that’s truly unique to their experience that Facebook can’t copy, then I think that’s when Facebook fails.

Facebook Friday: Analysis of Facebook Campaigns – Amex makes online shopping something you can truly Like

Welcome back to Facebook Friday, where we look at various Facebook marketing campaigns and examine what went right, what went wrong, and everything in-between. For this particular analysis we are going to be examining the new offering from American Express (AMEX) that integrates ‘Likes” with online shopping.

This is more than just a campaign in the traditional Facebook marketing sense; this offering is an entirely new platform that integrates “Links, Likes and Loves” with one’s AMEX credit card.

The Campaign:

The crux of the campaign is tying in deals and offers to AMEX cardholders’ social activity.

Users are directed to the application, which is hosted on the AMEX Facebook page.

They then enter their credit card number into the application in order to connect their card. Once the user has hooked up his/her card, an original deals list is populated. This list is based on the user’s Facebook activity, pages they have liked or places they have checked into, as well as the activity of their online “friends.” Over time, the deals being shown will continue to be adjusted based on deals they or their friends may engage or share with, as well as new activity within their Facebook graph.

The Results:

While the campaign has only been running for a week, one success factor has been the amount of buzz it has generated. Numerous articles and postings are being written about this new platform with almost all of them positive. As far as actual impact on the users, I have not seen any data up to this point about enrollments or redemption of deals, so it’s hard to quantify success at this point.

According to monitor.wildfireapp.com, the AMEX fan page has not shown much growth, increasing by less than 1% since the new offering launched. However, most of the consumers who could take advantage of this deal would most likely be active on Facebook and probably already liked the page, so this may not be a fair number to represent success.

What Worked:

  • Buzz Generating – As previously noted, one of the keys to this campaign has been the buzz that AMEX has been able to garner because it is such a new and unique technology. It capitalizes on some larger trends in the online space, including social shopping and deals.
  • Simplicity for the User – The ease of redemption is one of the biggest selling points. The fact that you don’t have to worry about printing a coupon or bother with a code – everything is automatically is taken care of – is huge. This is a big point for not only consumers but also merchants looking to capitalize in the online deal space. I would be remiss to mention that AMEX understands this, and actually launched a program designed specifically for small business to enroll and take advantage of these coupon-less offers. It is called “Go Social” and has tremendous marketing and outreach potential. Now businesses or companies have an easy way to handle these specials, and don’t have to worry about integrating their point-of-sale technology and/or training their staff on redemption methods.

    When a user participates in a deal, AMEX simply updates their statement with the credit that should be received based on the deal the consumer opted into.

Where It May Fall Short*:

*It’s probably too early to say what didn’t work for this campaign. However, I do think there is one hurdle that may seriously hinder this campaign.

  • Privacy – One element of all this that I have not seen addressed in any of the online press for this campaign is the privacy issue. I have to be honest – I was so enthralled with this program that it didn’t even cross my mind. But as one of my colleagues said, “It sounds cool, but I am not sure I would want to give out my credit card to a Facebook application.”

    That makes sense; I still know people who have a hard time handing out that kind of information over to Amazon or online retailers, let alone doing it within Facebook and a third party application. I am not sure if the public is ready for this step or not.

Takeaway:

Regardless if you are willing to give out your information or not, you cannot argue with the “cool” factor surrounding this campaign and the utility that it provides. Being able to be presented with relevant deals based on your likes and interests, as well as that of your social graph, brings new meaning to personalization and is truly a smart way of utilizing social network technology and connections. Knocking down a major barrier related to online deal redemption by making it automatic, and not something a user or merchant has to worry about, should help lift the usage numbers and get more people involved. This could have a big impact on the bottom line of AMEX; in addition, individuals who may not have a card, would be encouraged to get one, because it is the card to have if you are active in social.

Now where is that enrollment link…

140 Characters Conference Highlights

140 Character Conference

Held at New York’s 92nd Street Y from June 15-16, the 140 Characters Conference featured speakers from all over the digital landscape giving bite-size 10-minute talks (in the spirit of Twitter’s 140 character short info-blasts) on social media, or “The State of Now.” From world-famous icons like Deepak Chopra to little-known Nebraska farmers, all presenters managed to fit into the theme of the conference and offer unique takes on Twitter, Facebook, mobile apps and what they all mean to the world.

Here are some highlights and our picks for the best speakers:

The Lupus Ladies of Twitter. Far and away, this segment encapsulated everything the conference tries to convey as well as exemplifying the potential of Twitter. Three young women, all with Lupus, took the stage to discuss their condition, how Twitter and social media brought them together, and how they’re using these tools to make a difference. Brenda Blackmon, co-anchor of My9 WWOR-TV’s 10 p.m. newscast, whose daughter Kelly suffers from Lupus and was on the panel, told emotional stories about Kelly’s fight, and the difference the Internet has made in spreading the word. This was real life stuff, and it resonated.

Sesame Street. Sesame Street has always done a great job in creating smart content for both adults and their children, and the same is true for their forays into social media. Hearing Dan Lewis, Director of New Media Communications at Sesame Workshop, discuss how they achieve this balance was fascinating. A prime example: this haiku from Cookie Monster, released as a Tweet and as a viral video. Ironic and smart enough for any English major, as well as educational and just plain funny enough for the 5-year-old in all of us.

Cody Heitschmidt, VP Biz Dev, LogicMaze. In discussing the impact of Twitter and social media on small towns, Cody brought a very honest and down-to-earth feeling to the conference. There was no speak of using Twitter to reach customers, grow a brand or whatever. Instead, Cody talked about how being from a small town, he just was not exposed to different kinds of people or modes of thought, and Twitter has helped remedy this by expanding his world. It spoke to an inherent truth about the good side of social media, which is that it can bring open-minded people together, who would otherwise never meet.

Deepak Chopra. Appearing live via Skype, Chopra gave an impassioned speech on how social media is building “new neural networks for a planetary mind.” It’s connecting us and creating a new consciousness. What we do with that consciousness and with that power — whether to create good or to waste it on nothing but entertainment — is up to us.

Middle School MicroInterns and NY Startups. A group of 7th graders took the stage and performed a play about the role social media has in our lives, and it killed, garnering laughs and offering real insight. But the best part was the Q&A with the students that followed, where they revealed just how deep a grasp young people have of the technology and what it means to properly use it. When asked about how to use Facebook without getting in trouble, one student simply replied, “Be appropriate.” If only certain Congressmen were this smart…

BlogHer Food 2011: Takeaways

This weekend I attended the BlogHer Food conference in Atlanta. I came to the conference to learn more from about food blogging from the agency-side and from a blogger’s perspective, as I write my own food blog. It was a breath of fresh air to step away from the agency side of things and meet with other bloggers to discuss food, recipes and techniques, as well as building a network of friends. I told a couple of colleagues that this conference felt more like a community than a place to network and find leads.

BlogHer Food had various sessions covering topics including recipe writing, social media, branding and search engine optimization. Here are my takeaways from the two-day event:

General Food Writing

  1. Write from the heart. Readers like authenticity. Think of your readers and you will always make the right decision.
  2. According to Amelia Pane Schaffner (@ZTastyLife), when writing a restaurant review,”It’s good to have a balance; excessive ranting is bad. There must be something positive about a restaurant.”
  3. Donna Pierce of @BlackAmerCooks advises food bloggers to be honest and write negative reviews about restaurants.

Recipe Writing

  1. Food blogging is not repurposing someone else’s work.
  2. When adapting recipes, ask for permission from the author/creator of the original recipe.
  3. Useful sites to read for info on ethics and copyrighting : www.blogwithintegrity.com and foodethics.wordpress.com

Social Media

  1. Use social media to promote your brand.
  2. Use the different social media channels effectively.
    • Mrs. Q (@fedupwithlunch): “The power of #socialmedia: you can reach so many, [and more] when you use a hashtag.”
    • Facebook is for conversations.
    • Twitter is for nuggets of information.
    • Be careful when using social media. According to cookbook author David Leite (@davidleite), “It can take years to build a reputation, but it can take two tweets to lose it.”

Search Engine Optimization
This SEO session offered great tips on how to optimize recipes without sounding like a robot.

  1. Have keyword phrases and voice – these are the two most important things about blogging. Write like you are going to write normally and keep your keyword phrase(s) in mind. It will come to you organically.
  2. Want to be seen in Google ? Use Google Rich Snippets, or hrecipe.
  3. Content is king, but structure is queen. All recipes should follow the same structure.
    • Recipe Title
    • Ingredients
    • Directions or Instructions or Method
  4. Name your photos. An example they used is ‘Braised-Lamb-Shank.jpg’.
  5. Optimize your website for mobile using HTML5.
  6. If your blog runs on WordPress, utilize the following plugins:
    • HRecipe
    • EasyRecipe
    • RecipeSEO
  7. If you use Blogger (like me – deecuisine.com), you can optimize your content manually with the HTML editor by effectively using:
    • unordered lists <ul> to list Ingredients
    • ordered lists <ol> to list Instructions
  8. Again, structure is important. It may seem daunting the first time, but after a few blog posts, you’ll get the hang of it.

The closing keynote was inspirational, motivating, and the perfect way to end a conference with these key takeaways, which can be applied to anything beyond a food blog:

  1. Quality is everything and can sell itself. Having quality content will allow you to make a name for yourself.
  2. Stop giving away your value so cheaply.
  3. Think outside the laptop! If you want to be a brand, consider modifying your website to be readable beyond the laptop; use HTML5 so your website is readable on mobile devices.

My favorite quote from the BlogHer Food conference comes from David Leite. “You [food bloggers] are some of the most powerful people in media right now. The first time a blogger posted a recipe from my site I flew into a fury. I wanted to bring out the lawyers I was told very quietly by my publisher — don’t annoy the bloggers. They are too important. But don’t abuse your power. You can use it for good or you can use for evil. You can be seen as great, or you can be seen as skanks.”

Twitter and Social Media Create Community Around Death of Osama bin Laden

osama bin laden facebook twitter

Much has already been written about the death of Osama bin Laden and how the news and discussion of it spread quickly over the Internet. “Twitter traffic spiked to more than 4,000 tweets per second at the beginning and end of President Obama’s speech…announcing the death of Osama Bin Laden,” said Twitter’s Matt Graves. While this is not as high a rate as the Tweets surrounding the Japanese New Year, it is still mind-boggling, considering the time slot (late Sunday evening is not high trafficked real estate for any form of media). But what does all this really mean? Why was the first thought for so many people – myself included – to head to Twitter and Facebook?

At their core, Twitter and Facebook meet a need that most successful brands and products have mastered the art of selling: they give people a place to belong. While everyone is different, we are social creatures by nature. For sports fans, a favorite team is more than just something to read about or watch on television; it becomes something you identify with, and by extension, makes you feel apart of something. People become brand loyalists to things as varied as PlayStation, Original Penguin or Android not just because they like the quality of the product, but also because they gain entrance into a community. With Twitter and Facebook, the experience is pure community in the form of digital socializing. This is not a groundbreaking notion, of course, but understanding what makes them resonate with people offers clues as to why they were destinations when the news broke.

Many sites are saying that the “news” of bin Laden’s death spread on Facebook and Twitter, but that’s misleading. People went to Twitter and Facebook to feel involved and connected to those around them when it mattered most; to see others’ comments, jokes, and opinions, and to share their own. Maybe it’s semantic, but to say that Facebook and Twitter were just places where “news spread” undervalues what Facebook and Twitter bring to the social landscape.

This Earth Day We Encourage You to “Think Global Act Social”

Social media has brought us closer to the planet we love and “live” for! On the day the world comes together for the sake and health of our home- we can all disagree on many things-sport teams, religion, politics, low top/high top Cons, but we can’t argue about where we live, and where despite our differences in opinion this is the place we all call home-it’s the big rock called Earth!

So on this Earth Day, when more of us have come together as one world on Facebook or Twitter, via a check in on Foursquare or checking it out on YouTube, the dreams and needs of Earth will be most likely be fulfilled because of Earth’s community social media revolution. With that: Think Global, Act Social.

There are some great examples of individuals doing just that. Here are some of our favorites from the large well known brands who share the planet to the more cause driven entities we are all in this mission together.

So whether you have already taken part in one of these campaigns or you want to help spread more awareness about this important day through Twitter (#earthtweet), Facebook messages or by writing your own blog entry. Remember that we may be different but we all share the same place so we here at Flightpath encourage you to #ThinkGlobal and put Social Media to work for your planet.

How will you think global and act social moving forward???

The Intersection of Sports and Social Media

This is one of the best times of the year for a lot of sports fans. It is the time when the sweet smell of freshly cut grass fills our nose and the unmistakable sound of the crack of the bat fills our ears. Sports bars will soon be filled with ball fans and millions across the country will join together at their respective club’s ballparks to cheer on their favorite team.

The magic of sports is not one that is best enjoyed alone, although it can be done. The true enjoyment of the game comes from the social aspect of coming together and “sharing” your love and enthusiasm for your game. Yes, we all know Yankees fans don’t always agree with Red Sox fans but the sport of baseball is what brings us together. In fact, one of my colleagues mentioned the fact that sports can take the place of regular social interaction. “It gives you something to talk about with someone who you don’t know and may otherwise have nothing to talk about.”

It is this sharing of your passion and love for the game that makes sports a natural fit for social media. To me, and I think most would agree the main purpose of social media is to facilitate connections by sharing content that others will find valuable. So when I saw a recent article highlighting the MLB Fan Cave and how they proposed to use social it was intriguing.

The MLB Fan Cave is the second part of a campaign that originated last year. Last Year Major League Baseball encouraged fans to compete for the dream job of the ultimate fan. Fans were encouraged to use social channels to explain why they should be chosen.

Mike O’Hara, who was picked from the 10k+ applicants will be manning the fan cave along with his sidekick Ryan Wagner. According to the article the main job of this fan is going to be to hang out in a Manhattan location that is equipped with 15 flat screens to watch all 2,430 regular season games. The two will also be expected to be tweeting from an official MLB Fan account (@mlbfancave ) and not only offer their own observations but also respond to comments and connect to other fans.

The duo will also be authoring a blog and producing videos . In short, they are expected to use all of the major social channels to broadcast their experience and share their opinions and observations of the game. Now of course there are also some additional features such as well-known players stopping by (Joba Chamberlain and others) as well as prizes and contests for everyday fans who visit the physical location.

What makes this interesting to me is that it capitalizes on the very essence of what makes sports social. It allows these two otherwise unknown individuals to share and connect with other fans using all of the tools and from an official capacity of the Major League Baseball Name. It is too early to tell whether or not this campaign will be a home run, but by bringing the traditional offline activity of sharing and connecting around your love for the game to the online social channels that help facilitate connections it is clearly a smart play.

SXSW Crazy Energy One Week, “End of Social Media” the Next…What Gives?

We all know the truth can hurt. We also know it can help. But the truth, whether you can handle it or not, has a lot of shades to it.

Last week’s AdAge CMO column framed a POV on social media that got some of us at Flightpath – and from the post’s comments,  many other digital shops, too – really talking about the state of social media.  Given the recent evangelism at SXSW Interactive, attended by the rock stars of the industry (including our own #AustinSix), we figured why not share!

Below is the beginning of the column by brand strategist Jonathan Salem Baskin. He heralds the end of “a fad. No, not the end of social media, but rather the beginning of the end of social media’s infancy.” (Guess they went for the extra shock value of a misleading title.)

Do Campaign Failures, High-Profile Firings Signal the End of Social Media?

The latest news involving social-media pioneers isn’t good. Pepsi has fallen to third place behind Diet Coke in spite of its widely heralded switch from Super Bowl ads to a huge social charity program called Refresh Project. Burger King has grilled through a couple of CMOs and fired agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky after producing Facebook campaigns and viral videos that got lots of attention while the business witnessed six consecutive quarters of declining sales…

Every CMO should use this occasion to pause and reflect on the assumptions that were behind these efforts, especially if you’re about to roll out a social-media campaign or start giving away content for free. Unfortunately, there are many reasons why you shouldn’t, and may not.

For one of our troops, Michael Liss, it all goes back to Gary Vaynerchuk‘s presentation at SXSW about his new book, The Thank You Economy. Some highlights from Mike’s notes:

This is the beginning of the humanization of business. It’s about hitting an emotional center, not pushing coupons. Social media marketing shouldn’t be about push. You shouldn’t be trying to close in one minute – everyone in social media marketing acts like a 19-year-old boy, trying to close too fast. You need patience – this is a cocktail party, start the conversation, break through the noise. There’s no such thing as a social media campaign – a social media campaign is a one-night stand; this is about relationship-building. Social is about talking to human beings. We’re living in the first time when the consumer can interact with you. It’s accepted for us to go into the conversation.

And then, interestingly enough, Gary predicted this entire debate:

Social media is going to start getting beaten up: Does this really have value? People will start looking at the money they’re pouring into this. The next couple of years might be a bad time for social, like the internet from 2000-03, when people thought the internet was a fad.

(You can read much more about the seven things Mike brought back from SXSW – five extra lbs. not included.)

Flightpather John Whitcomb agrees completely with the notion of “smart social,” as referred to in some of the AdAge post comments. He finds some of those comments  dead on, especially when it comes to ROI:

It’s amazing we still haven’t been able to come up with a system that utilizes social media metrics and quantifies them with actual results tied into business objectives. If this was the case, perhaps Pepsi and Burger King would have abandoned the strategy mid-way or at least tried to tweak it to make their campaign work.

I think the real issue, though, is that we cannot force people to buy anything using any sort of advertising medium. All we can do is create brand awareness, and hopefully drive affinity through the connections we forge on these various platforms with our consumers. But that’s still just leading the horse to water.

The Beginning is Ending, Yeah, Long Live the Ending!

So what to make of this debate? The coolest part of being involved in social media is the constant state of change. Change isn’t just in the air, it is in the DNA. The importance of social marketing (fine, media!) is how it connects people to people, people to brands, and people to opportunity in the most seamless, organic way.

If you believe the reality of “if you build it, they will come,” then you know what the build-out of any new and imaginative field is about: not infrastructure, but possibility.  Brands will take advantage of an ever-growing range of social options because community engagement is as rich a philosophy in marketing as it is in life. Social media will clearly lead brands to people and meaningful revenue to brands in the years to come.

Or, to slip in one more movie quote: “Evolution finds a way!”

Digital Debate: Media Convergence on One Screen

twitter on television

We here at Flightpath usually get along pretty well. We’re all interested in digital media, technology and how the two continue to change and evolve. We go out to lunch, get drinks, and generally enjoy each other’s company (except for that one person here…). Occasionally, however, we disagree on things (Jets vs. Dolphins, Birch vs. Stumptown (both awesome local coffee houses), Brgr vs. New York Burger, etc.). You know how it is.

Today, we’re having a “Digital Debate,” where we’ll offer two opposing views on an issue in the digital world. You decide who – if anyone – is right. In this sparring match, it will be “Smokin’” Social Media Strategist John Whitcomb vs. “Dashing” Digital Marketing Associate Dan Brooks.

The topic: Will there be a one-screen future featuring the convergence of television and Internet interactivity?

John:

As I watched the Oscars and followed my Twitter stream, it got me thinking about how far technology has come. It was amazing that I could connect to other viewers from all over the globe just by searching for a certain topic or hashtag, such as #Oscars or #TheOscars.

My vision of the future, meaning three to five years from now, involves one of convergence. Instead of having to watch one screen and have another to connect to my friends’ opinions on Twitter with my laptop, I will be doing both at the same time on one screen, plus a whole lot more.

Let me indulge you for a minute and so that you can visualize exactly what I am talking about (and make it easier for you to agree with me). It is the year 2014 and you are just settling down for your interactive Oscar experience. You turn on the TV and tune it to your desired channel. Next you bring up your Twitter and Facebook streams and start following the conversations. Since you are a huge behind-the-scenes fan, you have also just downloaded to your TV the behind-the-scenes app, which lets you watch exclusive video that is not available to the general public.

You continue watching the show, participating in the live Facebook chats with the winners and voting in all of the audience participation questions. You change the camera view so you can get a glimpse of the audience, and by clicking on one of the audience members you are instantly greeted with their bio (in case you forgot who they were).

Some of this is already possible, and this year at the Consumer Electronics Show, “Connected Televisions” were one of the largest draws behind, of course, the Tablet craze. But I really do think that this isn’t that far off and we no longer will have to choose between devices, but will have all the options that we currently have on multiple devices on one screen. Oh yeah, and did I mention that this viewing of the Oscars takes place after you have eaten the dinner prepared by your robot butler?

Nice vision, right? Top that, Danny Boy!

Dan:

John is wrong. THE END.

Just kidding. John brings up a good point in that many forms of media have been mixing and converging over the years. Our cell phones are no longer really phones; they’re music players, texting machines and mini-computers. Laptops are recording studios, DVD and movie players, and stereos. But I’m hesitant to lump TVs into this category, especially when it comes to Internet/Twitter/interactive functionality. The reason? The technology to incorporate interactivity and/or the Internet into the television viewing experience has been around for years; it’s been tried, and it’s never worked.

The biggest hindrance to web surfing on television has always been that the web just doesn’t look that good on TV. It’s the same as retrofitting a web site onto on iPad – it doesn’t work. The resolution is terrible and no one likes zooming in and out. Also, with web content on television, it’s really just no fun reading from your couch, which is usually pretty far away from the screen. In addition, no one seems to want a keyboard lying on their coffee table. (And who wants to use a remote to type on the TV? As a gamer, I hate typing messages on the PlayStation Network with my controller, and rarely do I or any of my friends write anything to each other short of highly intellectual quips like, “You suck.”)

But aside from that, even when media companies have tried to introduce web interactivity to TV, it’s been rejected. Remember the great WebTV craze of ’96? You don’t because there was no craze – no one wanted it. Yes, G4’s Attack of the Show does feature some onscreen Twitter messages from viewers, but this is a niche show geared towards tech fans. They’re low-hanging fruit.

And forget Internet or Twitter functionality; this is really all about interactive television, and there’s a vast graveyard filled with failed attempts at interactive television. There was Qube, Videoway, and Time Teletext, among countless others (see Fordham University Professor John Carey’s excellent paper on Interactive TV for more info). They all offered early versions of things that are now routine on the computer – banking, games, brief text news updates – and all were ultimately rejected or failed to make it out of their test markets.

My feeling is that the big change to how we watch TV in relation to the Internet was the adoption of laptops into the living room. Watching the Giants blow a three TD lead in the 4th quarter against the Eagles and want to see if any team has ever choked this badly? Turn right to the laptop and try to find out. (I’m a Jets fan, by the way.) Want to see what people think about Anne Hathaway’s supremely annoying “Woo!” yelp after every introduction during the Oscars? Check the laptop. Just watched a weird Korean horror movie sickly recommended by your boss that you can’t unsee and want to seek professional help? Open the laptop.

I will, of course, acknowledge that there already has been tremendous convergence between television and the Internet. There’s TV content on the Internet, and the TV experience has become more web-like, with Video On Demand, interactive menus and time-shifting via DVR. But I think this might be as far as it goes for TV meets the Internet because ultimately, TV is a passive experience. It’s a one-way street, where you turn it on, sit back and watch. It’s designed to work that way and nothing has ever been able to completely change that.

Checkmate, Whitcomb!

P.S. I have no idea who added that link to John’s “Nice vision” line. No idea AT ALL.

Five Tips to Make a Facebook Wall Post Communicate

Almost anyone’s Facebook wall is a torrent of posts and comments flowing forth at a pace that would make the fastest stream-of-consciousness poet dizzy. And it’s not merely that it’s a stream-of-consciousness medium, but rather, that it’s a stream-of-many-consciousnesses medium. So how does your brand keep up? How do you break into that fluidity and actually communicate?

It’s easier than you might think, but you may have to change or break free from your normal (comfortable) communication style. Being successful with Facebook wall posts requires that you learn some new rules and abandon that me-brand, you-consumer mold. Here’s a few tips to help you get started:

1. Start a conversation. The biggest reason anyone comes to Facebook is for social interaction, so give your fans what they want. Introduce yourself and open up the lines of communication. Start asking questions your fans want to answer. Try asking lifestyle questions, which are much more effective for rallying fans around a brand, instead of direct product or service questions. And get ready to take up the art of active listening.

2. Use their lingo. This requires some study, but the payoff in comments and conversations is well worth it. Scout your own page and learn how fans are talking to each other. This is about both the style of communication as well as the exact vocabulary used. Visit similar fan pages and take notes from pages with lively and active feeds. Just like in real life, it’s much easier to talk to someone who’s on your level.

3. Keep it short. When you have less than 10 seconds to reach your fans, less is undoubtedly more. Opt for short sentences and get right to the point. Don’t worry about being high-brow or wordy. One-sentence posts are actually preferred. Just looking at a short paragraph of text tells readers they have to invest time in reading and responding. That’s a big turn-off to busy social butterflies. It’s better to craft hard-hitting one-liners, so people know right way if they’re interested.

4. Give fans the spotlight. Even though Facebook is social, it’s undeniably a “me” medium, and you’ve got to let your fans have their time under the big lights. Almost everything you post needs to be about them, or they’re just going to find another page that meets their personal-social needs. Keep people on your page by constantly asking for their feedback and contributions. Transform them into resident heroes, sages, entertainers, and comedians, and you’ll build a real community.

5. Broadcast only when necessary. Your business or brand undoubtedly has some news or information that’s important to share with fans. Shout out about those happenings, but limit these posts to the types of announcements which are truly relevant and interesting. A constant broadcast of your brand and its accomplishments, services, features, or benefits runs the risk of boring and alienating fans.