Currently Viewing Posts Tagged social media

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!

Who Won 2015?

Who Won 2015?

 

With 2015 winding down to an end, we just have one question on our mind… which social media platform won 2015? We’ve lined up our top five channels, compared the numbers and weighed the results. While Facebook currently presents the highest amount of active users, Snapchat appeals to a younger generation that isn’t necessarily as active on Facebook. Twitter allows for real time updates with a chance of “going viral.” After only being around for five years, Instagram is currently the fastest growing major social platform, while Pinterest has taken off with the growing ‘do-it-yourself crowd.’ So with all this in mind, who won 2015?

Continue reading “Who Won 2015?”

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.

Which Social Media Network Are You?

Which Social Media Network Are You?

It’s the 21st Century and nearly everyone is using a social media channel. Whether it’s the selfie-obsessed Millennial or your aggressively political Uncle Joe, there’s a social network out there for everybody! Each network appeals differently to each user. Pinterest offers users the ability to discover and bookmark, while Snapchat allows youngsters to share their daily stories through a series of transient photos and/or videos. With an array of unique users out there, it’s no surprise why there are so many different social networks.

Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the social media options? Check out our inforgraphic to see which platform is best for you:

Flightpath-Infographic-Andi-Revised

While each channel has its own purpose, all social networks are extremely useful tools in connecting with others, getting your message out and staying active in the social stratosphere. So whether you’re an avid book-marker or a GIF enthusiast, one thing’s for sure, there’s a social network with your name on it!

Social Media Builds Hype for #MayPac

Mayweather vs Pacquiao

I’ll admit I’m Flightpath’s biggest boxing fan. I attend weigh-ins and fights. I’ve had the opportunity to interview famous boxing personalities. I even have a collection of autographed boxing gloves. Heck, I’ve got boxing gloves on my business card (It’s quite a conversation starter).

Continue reading “Social Media Builds Hype for #MayPac”

Calling All Foodies! @TwitterFood is here!

Exciting news on the social media and food fronts! Today Twitter launched @TwitterFood, a dedicated account that sifts through the thousands of food-related content shared on the social network and shares a curated selection of posts from the general public and food personalities including Mario Batali and Alton Brown.

TwitterFood
While I follow thousands of folks on Twitter, I do see a lot of junk food tweets. It’s great to see the best of the best come through in one handle, and probably it could drive people to tweet more enticing tweets than a random self-promo posts, which I’m guilty of doing. Here we go, I’ll step up my food tweet game. I’m hoping one of my foodie tweets from my foodie account, @deeCuisine, will get picked up so I can have a Twitter moment of fame.

In addition to @TwitterFood, Twitter also has other curated feeds – @TwitterMusic and @TwitterSports.

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.

Pinterest Asking Brands What Features They Want – Pinterest Analytics Anyone?

Buried deep within the Pinterest Help Center for Businesses is a page that may outline Pinterest’s roadmap for rolling out product features for brands.  Pinterest is asking brands to vote for features they are interested in seeing, but as of this writing each proposed feature has less than 90 votes.

Getting inside the heads of the minds behind the fastest growing social media platform has been an interest of marketers ever since Pinterest came out of seemingly nowhere a few years ago. While there has been a lot of speculation about the platform offering brands analytics, advertising opportunities and other tools to make creating and monitoring Pinterest content, Pinterest has remained silent.

Buried deep within the Pinterest Help Center for Businesses is a page that may outline Pinterest’s roadmap for rolling out product features for brands.  Pinterest is asking brands to vote for features they are interested in seeing, but as of this writing each proposed feature has less than 90 votes.

Features Pinterest wants to know if marketers are interested in:

  • Hashtag Searches
  • Business Analytics
  • Scheduled Pins
  • Moving/Editing/Upload Pins in Bulk
  • Nested Boards/Sub-Boards

Hashtag Searches

Pinterest: “Right now, our search does not support hashtags (ex: #hashtag). It’s a feature we know would be useful for pinners and businesses and that we may add in the future. If you’d also like to see hashtag searches on Pinterest, vote for it using the “Me too!” button below.” 

People are already using hashtag searches on Twitter and Instagram (and you even see people use on Facebook even though they don’t work there).

On Twitter, creating a hashtag generates a link so when a user clicks a hashtag they will see all content in which people are using that tag. On Pinterest, people have been using hashtags, though they do not work to create links to other content. Pinterest search is notoriously bad and much of the reason Pinterest search is so bad is because users do not add text to the images they are pinning.

For marketers, this is frustrating because we can’t track content intended for a sweepstakes entry or discussion around our brands very well. So hashtag searches would be a great improvement- make sure you click “Me Too!” here if you would also like to see this feature.

Business Analytics

Pinterest: “Right now, we don’t offer analytics tracking for business accounts.  It’s a feature we know would be useful for business accounts and that we may add in the future. If you’d also like to see this feature on Pinterest, vote for it using the “Me too!” button below.”

There are no Insights for brands on Pinterest. Clients are always dumbfounded by this. Brands are spending time on developing Pinterest followings that they know are effective, because they see the inbound traffic from Pinterest as a referring source Google Analytics. If you have ever had to compile Pinterest metrics for a client report you know what a headache it is. Save your intern from manually adding up likes, comments and repins by voting “Me Too!” for this one as well.

Scheduled Pins

Pinterest: “Right now, we don’t have a way to schedule the time at which a board or pin is published.  It’s a feature we’re thinking about carefully and may add in the future. If you’d also like to see this feature on Pinterest, vote for it using the “Me too!” button below.”

Scheduling content via Facebook’s relatively new tool is useful for brands. However, social media marketing 101 is to post content at the time of day when you get most traction and how do we know when our content is getting the most attention if we have no analytics. This one seems less urgent to me than rolling out analytics and hashtags, but it would be a nice feature to have.

Moving/Editing/Upload Pins in Bulk

Pinterest: There is no way to move, edit or upload pins in bulk right now. We know this would be a useful feature for pinners and businesses and it’s one we may add in the future. If you’d be interested in this feature, let us know!”

So here is my hesitation with this one. While the marketer in me says go for it upload content, content, content! The person inside me doesn’t want to see The Gap upload 700 pins on a Wednesday afternoon and flood my home feed, forcing me to unfollow them. So this seems as though it would only truly work for brands if it was released with a baked in scheduling feature so brands can control the flow of their output otherwise if content from brands gets too high, Pinterest could throttle brand posts out of necessity- Facebook style.

Nested Boards/SubBoards

Pinterest: “There is no way to nest one board within another. If you’d like to show content from one board on another, you can repin the pins from the first board to the second. If you’d be interested in this feature, let us know!”

This one seems like the least interesting idea of all. Creating a Pinterest rabbit hole of boards within boards within boards seems like it may make content more difficult to find- already a huge headache for brands.

What Pinterest should have on this list of proposed features:

  • API Development
  • Promoted Pins
  • Other Advertising Opps.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think about Pinterest’s ideas for the platform, better yet- go here and tell Pinterest which features you would like to see by clicking the “Me Too!”

Interview: Chris Brogan on Humanizing Social Media – Part 1

To me this is the hardest and most difficult challenge, because I have to explain to a business that should you treat customers like real live humans. That you should give them incredible, concierge class service and that should you do this it is going to change so much more than you can measure in a spreadsheet.

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.

Flightpath: One of your gifts, and probably a huge reason why you have become such a force in social media is your outgoing personality and ability to make everyone you talk to feel important. You are also very successful transcribing this emotional connection across social media platforms. So, how do you advise companies to connect emotionally with consumers?

Brogan: The answer to that is a little challenging because when I go in there and tell companies you really have to really connect with emotion, their eyes go up into the top of their heads. They say ‘Oh I thought there was some kind of software we could buy and a switch we could toggle and then we could go back to thinking about our golf game later.’ It’s really difficult because every time I’m telling people that this is a great way to get more value, what I am also saying is that this takes more work.

I had a conversation with a woman who she runs the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center here in New Boston and we were talking about those experiences you have when you write a company complaint, challenge or question and you get a very personal response back.

In her case, a specific kind of ice cream that was supposed to be showing up at Whole Foods that she loved from the West coast and it just wasn’t in the store. So, she wrote the ice cream company and got a letter back from the CMO (this is email not even the social web) but she could tell it wasn’t a form letter- it was a very personal letter right to her. It wasn’t like she wrote it as a woman who runs Microsoft, she wrote is as a woman who likes ice cream. The CMO responded very personally and said ‘Well, it’s a brand new deal and distribution might be a little slow. I’m really sorry but you might want to look for these 4 flavors.’

What came back from this, of course, is that she tells everyone this story. She told me this story. To me this is the hardest and most difficult challenge, because I have to explain to a business that should you treat customers like real live humans. That you should give them incredible, concierge class service and that should you do this it is going to change so much more than you can measure in a spreadsheet.

Flightpath: There is so much process that agencies go through to come up with those canned responses and they all seem to begin with ‘We appreciate your concern, thanks for your input’. So should agencies working on behalf of clients dealing with a disgruntled customer situation use canned responses or are you saying that all social customer service responses be custom?

Brogan: I think that it is so easy to do a hybrid of that. It is so easy to do. You can do 2 or 3 paragraphs of the absolutely canned stuff, and if you add one sentence at the beginning and one at the end it feels very custom. That is what I advise. Now believe me, there is times when there is a canned response required. Say Kindle Whispernet goes down and every Kindle owner cant get get a book or something like that. That is a great time for a canned response.

And that’s fine, but I don’t even believe that volume is an excuse. I think that if it is a huge outage kind of a thing, than that is an announcement not a correspondence. I think that the opportunity for custom is when anything comes outside of the typical workflow. If someone is really mad because they missed their plane that is a perfect time for a personal message. If this person spent the time to complain than they are worth the time to reply to, because what you do next decides where they spend their next dollars.

Flightpath: Marketers of course want to impact purchasing decisions and often the question they come to agencies with is which platform they need to maximize impact. How do you move the conversation away from tools and back to the importance of building human connections?

Brogan: It’s so funny because in working with a lot of people in this space, I always get tool questions. I will be in a roomful of people and I will be saying, “How did your grandparents sell? How did they buy 50 years ago?” and they will be like “What does this have to do with Pinterest?” and I will be like nothing. This has zero to do with Pinterest.

This is not the future, we do not have jet packs. We are not wearing foily costumes. What I need to tell agencies, marketers and business professionals of all kinds is that the tools are always in service of the work and the work is a lot simpler than the fear that goes into the tools.

The reason we ask so many tool questions is we are so afraid of using them wrong. We are afraid of this Brave New World feeling of being on a social platform. But, the more you use the tools to convey real legitimate human experience and the less you use the tools to emulate methodologies that agencies worked on from past experience, the better the opportunity.

The other thing I tell agencies all that time is that your job is no longer to be the voice of the company. Your job is to be the ears of the company and to help the company be their own voice.It is time for companies to reclaim their own voice. So, agencies have this opportunity to be listeners/teachers. Professional listening is a huge opportunity. That is a vast shift from the way that things are going.

Read part 2 of our interview with Chris Brogan here!

Connections 2012 in Indy

Not sexy, but has good ROI. No, I’m not talking about the disadvantages and advantages of an Accounting degree. These are some of the popular perceptions of email marketing. It’s tried and true, but there’s nowhere new to go. Is that true? After going to ExactTarget’s Connections Expo last week, I’m tempted to respond with an emphatic “no.”

Not sexy, but has good ROI. No, I’m not talking about the disadvantages and advantages of an Accounting degree. These are some of the popular perceptions of email marketing. It’s tried and true, but there’s nowhere new to go. Is that true? After going to ExactTarget’s Connections conference last week, I’m tempted to respond with an emphatic “no.”
On October 16-18, over 4,000 email marketers from all over North American converged in Indianapolis for the conference. From the keynote to the panels and talks, three themes emerged that chart the course for the evolution of email. These three themes mark not just trends all email marketers should keep up with, but chances to push the envelope on their campaigns and make their medium a bit sexier.

 

Social ≠ Afterthought

 

We all know social media is huge. Businesses, agencies, and the like are trying not only to figure out the next big social network, but how to monetize it, turning “likes” into dollar signs. When it comes to email, the standard approach has been to place the icons of the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and maybe Instagram). If you find yourself doing that in your campaigns and you believe that’s all it takes to make your emails “more social,” then you’re missing out on great opportunities to do so much more with all of your channels.
Case in point, during the keynote address, speakers referred to ExactTarget tools designed to send Facebook data from a company’s FB page straight over to their subscriber database. With opt-in controls built right into Facebook’s interface, there can’t be a more efficient form of email capture and list building.
However, don’t expect users to agree to give you access to their Facebook data just because they “liked” your page. Remember to create a promotion first. As mentioned at Connections, an increasing number of businesses are opting for everything from random chance sweepstakes to video contests. As part of the rules and requirements for entering, users have to consent to sharing their email address and possibly some demographic info.
That’s just one of many examples mentioned at Connections of how marketers can leverage their social channels to improve the performance of email, especially in the email capture department. One could even see a bump in their list building efforts by incorporating an email capture form onto their Facebook page. If you’re going to do that however, you should put a good effort into…

 

Making Your Email Capture Sexier

 

Okay. So, you’re going to your favorite store’s website because the newest, greatest thing just came out. One component tucked away at the bottom of the homepage catches your attention. It reads “Sign up for our FREE newsletter!” What is your reaction? I can bet it’s not “Whoa! A FREE newsletter? Gimme!” And yet, this is what we see on so many websites.
A number of panels I attended at Connections emphasize the power of the value proposition. Put yourself in the user’s head for a second and think, “Is a FREE newsletter enough to risk getting bombarded by this guy’s email marketers?” Instead, speaker after speaker suggested to us the idea of putting forth an offer. “Be the first to get all the inside deals and sales.” “Only insiders get all the best beauty tips from the pros,” or even “Sign up for our deals and get a 20% off coupon for your next purchase”
Once your email capture efforts begin to take off, pat yourself on the back. However, don’t believe your job is done quite yet. At Connections, another emerging trend impacts the very look and feel of eblast content itself. It’s a factor a lot of us email marketers have taken for granted for years as we thought it would never change significantly: screen size.

 

Have You Met…mCommerce?

 

By far, one of the biggest themes that came up at Connections was mobile, and for good reason. Mobile Commerce, or mcommerce, is a rapidly growing sales channel. iPhones, Android phones, iPads. People are using these and other devices more and more not just to check their favorite sites, but to make purchases. Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru writes that mcommerce is expect to account for $31 billion, or 7% of overall ecommerce sales by 2016. And this behavior crosses over into email. Based on our case studies, one in every three subscribers will open an eblast or enewsletter with a mobile device. Even if the subscriber doesn’t make the final sale on their iPhone, it’s becoming more and more important each year for businesses to reach their customers in a way that adapts easily to that tiny, tiny screen.
Enter responsive design. According to Smashing Magazine, responsive design is “the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.” For example, a two-column layout with 12 point fonts may be perfectly readable on the desktop. In the mobile environment, however, your readers will be squinting and going through the trouble of zooming in to read your well-crafted copy.
For years, this design approach was purely in the realm of websites and landing pages. At Connections, agencies have begun to stress the importance of bringing responsive design over to the inbox. Here at Flightpath, we’ve developed code that allows for responsive design principles to work in the email environment. Never worry again that your sales offer is falling on deaf ears because your customers can’t read it on their Droid.

 

On the Way Back to New York

 

As I stared out at the Midwestern sky through that tiny window on my plane back to LaGuardia, I thought about all the information I picked up that week. Until then, I believed campaigns were tweaked according to well-disciplined A/B testing paradigms that bring modest, but consistent results. While that’s part true, a “bigger picture” view of the trends helps a campaign not only stick out from the rest of the pack, but it pays off significant dividends later on in higher engagement, more conversions, and a “sexier” email channel.

Notes from the Intern – What I learned interning at Flightpath

Find out how it’s like to work with the Flightpath team from our very own Social Media Intern, Beck Delude.

As every college student and recent graduate knows, interning is how you get your foot in the door and learn how it’s like to work in the real world.  Essentially things they sometimes forget to mention in school.  With that being said, our very own Social Media Intern Beck Delude shares her experiences at Flightpath below.


I have been so lucky to be the Social Media Intern at Flightpath in NYC and learn from their brilliant employees. My time spent at the agency has allotted me a vast array of opportunities. Since being here I participated in building social media strategies for several brands, attended BlogHer12, researched relevant news about digital media and went to IFBCon!

Here are some key things I’ve learned here at Flightpath:

  • Think critically about who the brand’s audience is
  • Double and triple check everything you do and then have someone else look over it
  • It’s important to be aware of what others in the industry are doing but to always be original
  • Research is a very important aspect of being prepared

Aside from all the amazing opportunities and all the great things I learned the best part of interning at Flightpath was the people I worked with. Everyone is extremely talented and willing to take the time to teach you what they know.

Flightpath not only offers internships in Social Media but also in Design and Web Production! Check them out and apply here: http://www.flightpath.com/careers/

Photo Journal: Day 2 at #IFBCon

This week it’s not just about New York Fashion Week, it’s about the bloggers. We here at Flightpath are taking you behind-the-scenes of the beauty and fashion conferences this week. We sent our Social Media Intern to check out day two of the IFB conference.

As promised, our Social Media intern Beck will share her thoughts on the IFB conference.  Take it away Beck!


Each year IFB  holds a conference that brings together some of the most successful people in the fashion industry and the bloggers who write about fashion. It’s a two day event and as the lucky Flightpath intern I had the pleasure of attending the second day of the event!

This panel focused on turning your blog into a business. Some of the key points were:

  • Be ok with risk
  • Surround yourself with people who are passionate about the same thing you are
  • Challenge yourself daily

Conferences can be fun too with everyday tips.  Samantha Brown from Style to Hire showed us which pieces of clothing are essential to a complete closet!

Bloggers and writers tackled the topic of Bringing Bravery Back to Blogging. A few things they highlighted were:

  •  Blog like no one is watching
  • Be aware that once you put yourself out there, there will be negative feedback and that’s okay
  • Find fuel in the hate comments, don’t let them bring you down

I had the pleasure of meeting Iman! She is not only a gorgeous model
but a successful entrepreneur. Such an inspiration.

That concludes our adventures at the bigger, better and bolder IFB conferences.  Next up is Lucky Magazine‘s LuckyFABB.

BlogHer 2012: Photo Journal

As you may remember from last week, we were counting down the days to BlogHer 2012 and it finally arrived! We here at Flightpath thought that we should share the highlights in a photo journal. Enjoy!

As you may remember from last week, we were counting down the days to BlogHer 2012 and it finally arrived!  We here at Flightpath thought that we should share the highlights through photos of our experience this past weekend. Enjoy!

A warm (digital) welcome by President Barack Obama to start off the conference.

Samsung was one of the many brands that participated as a sponsor with a showroom to display the new and soon-to-launch products for work and play.

There were floors filled with a variety of brands in technology, fashion, home, cooking and more that offered incentives such as sweepstakes, giveaways and contests. It was the platform for brands to share their elevator pitch and get products into the hands of bloggers, not only for media consideration but as potential new customers.

Me striking a pose as I’m making way through the the crowded floor, but I can’t beat Betsy’s modeling skills…

We think Betsy nailed it with her signature pose and should win America’s Top Social Media Model. Tyra would be so proud. Just an example of how brands had some fun with guests using props for impromptu photo shoots.

One of the many sessions we attended. This one discussed best practices for both bloggers and brands on how to work together for opportunities. As you can see, it was a packed house.

Oh yeah, did we mention how we met Martha Stewart? Brands like Staples and Avery upped the ante by bringing along celebrities to the conference to interact face-to-face with bloggers.

Don’t worry if you didn’t get a chance to attend this year in New York City. They’ve announced that BlogHer 2013 will be in Chicago and we can’t wait to see what’s in store then.

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.

Countdown to BlogHer ’12

Countdown to BlogHer ’12. The Flightpath team will be joining bloggers and brands at this year’s BlogHer in New York City. Find out how you and your brand can leverage conferences such as this one to network and interact with bloggers.

In one week, the Flightpath team will attend one of the biggest conferences that will be taking place this year in New York City – BlogHer.  Thousands of bloggers from all over the country travel to be a part of this major event.

It’s amazing to think that over the years how the blogging community has grown and shown great support of each other.  Women supporting other women, not only in the business of blogging but as marketing professionals as well.  BlogHer sets the stage where brands can interact vis-à-vis with bloggers and receive real-time insight to their products and build a strong professional relationships.  Every year brands, celebrities and influencers offer their expertise during scheduled panels and this year it includes major players such as Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, Christy Turlington Burns and more.

Another growth factor for BlogHer to note is the amount of brands that partake in this conference.  With sponsors like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Hillshire Farm, Dannon, Verizon Wireless and so much more.

If you’re a marketer or a brand that has not participated in BlogHer in the past, our best advice for you is to get your team a pass to attend as a guest and observe.  This will allow you to interact with guests and see what’s in store at the conference to better prepare not only for yourself but for the needs of your client.  It will give you an advantage to plan ahead and see what works and doesn’t work to create a successful strategic plan.  Be sure to check out BlogHer for additional information.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram where we’ll be reporting from BlogHer ’12 conference using hashtag #BlogHer12.

Image Source for Header: BlogHer.com

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.)

Top 3 Things We Learned at Tech Munch

The Tech Munch conference hit the streets of New York and shared insights from both the bloggers and brands on how to work together and how to succeed in the social media space. Here are the top 3 things we’ve learned from Tech Munch.

Last week, we had the pleasure of attending the Tech Munch conference in New York, where food bloggers, writers, editors, foodies and brands unite to learn about the ins and outs of food in the social media space. (And get to enjoy good food and check out a cooking demo or two. Perks!)

The relationship between food and social media is getting stronger and bigger than ever before. We previously wrote about the growing trend of food trucks and how they utilize Twitter to build their voice and communicate directly with their consumers. With events such as Tech Munch show how the two are becoming more and more intertwined.

At Tech Munch, panelists including Food Network, Bake Space (founder and organizer of the conference), Martha Stewart Living, J.M. Hirsch of The Associated Press and more stopped by to talk directly with bloggers about best practices, trends and how to survive in the social media age.

Above: A cooking demo with Alejandra Ramos of Always Order Dessert…and the delicious results.

With a whole day of discussions, there are 3 key things we’ve learned:

PSA for Marketing Executives reaching out to Bloggers

This was a topic that was brought up multiple times: Get to know your bloggers. All you have to do is read their blog since they typically share their personal experiences and latest finds.  NEVER start an email with “Dear Blogger” or “Dear Miss or Sir,” because they will immediately hit the delete button or – even worse – the SPAM button. Make sure you have an understanding of what they are writing about, and approach them with your product accordingly. If you’re not sure, it doesn’t hurt to ask; they are human after all. The more personal you are in the approach, the easier it will be to form a relationship for potential partnerships.

Food Bloggers in the Making

Before you start your blog, make sure you have a clear and concise plan and a voice you want to portray to the public. The one piece of advice that holds true is to find your specialty and create a niche. When editors are looking for sources to cover a new trend, they are looking for those that specialize in that specific category. Make yourself stand out and become a brand so that they can come to you as an expert.

Pinterest, Yay or Nay

Pinterest is still on everyone’s lips and is growing rapidly. It allows the user to showcase his or her personality and ideas through imagery, and the perk is that the pins drive traffic back to the original source. Kate Gold, Social Media Director of Food Network, discussed how they share recipes, beautiful food images and even have curated boards from the community that dictate trends, such as comfort foods. Pinterest adds an element to your site and/or blog and allows the user to get a better picture of your personality and voice.  Do you have to be on all platforms to appeal to everyone? No, but get to know your audience and where they are and you can decide from there if it’s the right move for you or your brand.

 

Top Food Trucks on Twitter: Serving Up a Side of Tweets

Serving up mean meals on wheels is a big trend in the food industry. With the growing population of food trucks, some of them are taking advantage of Twitter to interact with their customers and we’re sharing our top five picks!

We think you’d agree that in the past 2 years there has been a growing population of gourmet food trucks, and it’s just by seeing them in your neighborhood.  We’re fans of getting gourmet bites on the go and really like the fact they take the stigma out of the term “street meat.”  Although, not gonna lie, they can also be tasty after a night out (just sayin’).

With that being said, there are food trucks that use social media marketing to their advantage. Sharing their whereabouts, promotions and just plain old engaging with foodies on Twitter.  Not only making it fun to eat when you visit them, but also fun to watch the personalities behind the truck come alive on Twitter.  Allowing them to build a relationship with consumers and even build a new following through word of tweet.

Here are our top picks for tweeting food trucks to follow as great examples of building a brand voice and serving up great food and customer service on Twitter.

Ben & Jerry’s (@BenJerrysTruck)


Known for their delightful treats, Ben & Jerry’s offers fun flavor mixtures and unique names (remember the headliner Schweddy Balls?).  Their food truck is currently on a US tour serving up free offerings of their new Greek Frozen Yogurt flavors based on your tweets, using “FREE Ben & Jerry’s Greek Frozen Yogurt! Please bring #omgfreebenjerrys to me!”  To explain the example given, this tweet was on Shakespeare’s birthday, and in his honor, Ben and Jerry’s decided to tweet Elizabethan ice cream quips for the day. To eat ice cream or not to eat ice cream, that is the question.

Red Hook Lobster Pound (@Redhooklobster)

Known for dishing out mouth watering fresh lobster from Maine onto buttery rolls, Redhook Lobster Pound has trucks in both DC and NY.  When you have great food, doesn’t it come along with great conversation?  That is exactly what’s going on with Redhook Lobster, only via Twitter.  They not only share the locales of their DC and NY trucks but apparently like to work to James Brown.  Not to name names, but some people in our office like to listen to 98 degrees (not it).

Wafels & Dinges (@waffletruck)

Wafels & Dinges takes Belgian waffles to the next level, offering a variety of toppings to select or by choosing one (or two) of their concoctions on the menu.  We love how they not only engage with their customers, but offer unique ways for customers to receive a free dinge.  Where am I?  Can we have a dinge now?

Korilla BBQ (@KorillaBBQ)


You may recognize the men behind Korilla BBQ from Food Network’s The Great Food Truck Race, and boy, do they serve up some mean Korean BBQ.  The grillmastas have recently made the 30 Under 30: NYC’s Hottest Up and Comers and have big personalities to go with it.  They share a behind-the-scenes look on Twitter along with news and updates on their whereabouts.  Note to self: Don’t get caught sleeping during meetings or it will just go viral.

Big Gay Ice Cream (@biggayicecream)

Due to the popularity of Big Gay Ice Cream truck for not only serving amazing ice cream cones with over-the-top toppings but also for their bold personality in person and on Twitter, they opened a shop in the East Village last summer.  Just by reading  their tweets, you can’t help but feel as though you’ve known them for ages.  If you’re lucky to catch them at the right time, you can even see the fun back-and-forth banter between them and Travel Channel‘s Anthony Bourdain, along with his wife Ottavia.

What food trucks do you follow on Twitter?

 

Header photo by Donny Tsang.

Pinterest – 5 Tips to Get Your Brand’s Pins Repinned

80% of pins on Pinterest are repinned, while only 5% of tweets on Twitter are retweeted. The challenge is to fill pinboards with content that will get repinned. Here are our top 5 tips to get your brand’s image repinned:

Pinterest continues to grow and grow. Many brands are jumping on Pinterest looking to build brand awareness and drive traffic back to their sites. Pinterest can be a easy platform to gain spread brand messaging and product images quickly, as opposed to other social media platforms. 80% of pins on Pinterest are repinned, while only 5% of tweets on Twitter are retweeted. The challenge is to fill pinboards with content that will get repinned. Here are our top 5 tips to get your brand’s image repinned:

Don’t Upload, Pin: When you upload content to a pinboard, you are missing out. If your goal is to get people from Pinterest to your site, they cannot do that without a link. Always pin images from your site instead of uploading. If you want to pin photos that are not on your site, start a blog to hold your photo content and pin from there. This way not only will your site’s URL be featured at the top of the pin which helps with awareness, but users can click through to your site.

Be Bold & Brief: Whether you are creating images for your pinboards or scouring the internet for cool, repinnable images, chose high contrast images. If your image includes text, make sure it is brief and bold.

Pin Faster: By highlighting the text and image you wish to pin and clicking the Pin It bookmarket, the text will automatically be incoporated into the comments of your pin. For pinners pressed for time, this is a valuable tool to use.

Use hashtags: A tip for social media marketing that seems to work everywhere. Hashtags work on Pinterest just like they do on Twitter, adding hashtags to the comments on your pin makes them easier to find in search. Contests are also being conducted on Pinterest using hashtags.

Price it: If you represent an online retailer, always be sure to put a dollar sign in front of your price. This way, your pin will be pulled into the Pinterest gift section, which has a button in the navigation bar on the Pinterest homepage. The price will also appear in a banner across the left hand corner of your image.

Email Marketing: Building Your Email List

All email campaigns start with a subscriber list. With email marketing so popular, most of us are on at least a few of theses lists. You may even be wondering how to build one of your own. Of course, there are plenty of ways, both bad and good, to do this.

This is part of a series of blog posts aimed at raising awareness of email marketing, its advantages, and its best practices — from designing your first eblast to deploying your newsletter to millions of customer inboxes, and beyond.

All email campaigns start with a subscriber list. With email marketing so popular, most of us are on at least a few of theses lists. You may even be wondering how to build one of your own. Of course, there are plenty of ways, both bad and good, to do this. As I mentioned in my last post (“Email Marketing: More Relevant Than Ever”), federal law requires the informed consent of all your email recipients.

So, if you can’t just buy a list from marketers, what are you supposed to do? You make one from scratch. With the right tools and tricks at your disposal, you won’t just have a simple subscriber list, you’ll have a fully engaged email legion of fans for your brand.

Mailing Lists Callouts

Got a popular website? Build a mailing list component. Make it highly visible. Going “above the fold” increases the chances people will happen upon it. Also, make it easy to use. Place as few fields in the component as possible. In the snapshot below, Groupon has a large, intuitive, and simple mailing list callout. The user has to only designate an email address and a city and they’re in. No difficult questions, no invasive requests, no intimidating forms that send their users running for the hills.

By contrast, the Steve Madden mailing list below feels like you’re filling out a tax form.

Social Media and Email

There’s been a lot of talk of social media competing with email as the dominant form of digital communication. In reality, the two are better complements than rivals. If you have a Facebook fan page or Twitter feed with a lot of followers, use it as a platform to encourage them to sign up for your eblasts and enewsletters.

You can even use emails to drive your mailing lists. Include “forward to a friend” links in your enewsletters. Give calls to action to sign up for your list in your company’s email signatures.

Offline Methods

Get in the habit of bringing up your mailing list in 1-on-1 conversations and phone calls with business contacts, but be tactful. In your pitch, make it clear what special offers or value they’re going to get out of your emails. It couldn’t hurt to incentivize them with a free gift upon signing up. For networking events, put a link on your business card to your company’s email signup page.

Welcome Emails

Once you win over email recipients, make them feel valued. Send them a welcome email, thanking them for signing up. Use it as an opportunity to better acquaint your clients and future customers with the goods and services you offer. And of course, let them know what’s in store for them in terms of email content.

And Once You Get Your List…

Email represents another channel to keep the conversation going with customers and/or clients, but once you have them, don’t take your recipients for granted. It only takes one click of the “Spam” button in their email client to end the conversation for good. If you want to keep your subscribers on your list, it is also important to have meaningful, engaging, relevant content for them. Catch my next blog post for best practices on email campaign content.

Interview: Meghan Cross of StyleCaster

StyleCaster recently had a makeover enhancing their news site and social hub for the fashion and beauty community. We interviewed Meghan Cross, Director of Communications, about the new layout, trends and the philosophy behind StyleCaster as told by their fearless leader Ari Goldberg “At one time, content was king; but today, conversation is king.”

Back in the day you couldn’t wait until the latest issue of Vogue to come to your door step, find out trends for the upcoming season and plan accordingly for your fashion and beauty acquisitions.  Nowadays, it just seems like you can get up to the minute news, trends and fads within seconds, catching yourself saying, “Ugh, that was so 20 seconds ago. I’m all about neon right now!”

Meet one of the morning reads in the Flightpath office: StyleCaster.  Their mission? Bring “Style to the People.”  The site has undergone a recent makeover allowing the style community to easily interact with each other, bloggers and editorial staff, taking the power of content and conversation to the next level with a visual layout inspired by Tumblr and Pinterest. Flightpath recently checked in with Meghan Cross, Director of Communications at StyleCaster, to discuss the new and improved Stylecaster and how the site has become a social hub for the fashion and beauty community.

Flightpath: How did StyleCaster come about? Was there a specific inspiration, or a void you recognized in the online space?

Meghan Cross: Since day one, StyleCaster’s mission has been to bring Style to the People. What this means is, we empower people who are enthusiastic about style by giving them a platform where they can not only read content about the latest trends, but they can also be active members of the conversation.

Flightpath: What makes StyleCaster stand out from other sites?

Meghan Cross: With the new site that we launched last week, StyleCaster has become the first place where you can share and discover style alongside premium editorial content. People worldwide now have the opportunity to engage with everyone from bloggers and thought-leaders to designers and retailers in one style-centric environment: StyleCaster.com.

Flightpath: How would you describe the StyleCaster community?

Meghan Cross: The StyleCaster community is a growing group of 2.5 million unique monthly visitors who are engaged, plugged-in, and ready to talk style. They Tweet, Like, Digg, Pin, Poke, Check-in, and – most importantly – check-out what [others are] sharing on StyleCaster. And depending on what they think of those StyleCaster submissions, they Love.

Flightpath: You’re not only the “one stop shop for fashionistas,” but for beauty junkies as well with Beauty High.  Was that in the works from the beginning or was there a demand for more coverage in beauty?

Meghan Cross: StyleCaster introduced Beauty High about a year ago when we realized the appetite for it within our community. Fortunately, StyleCaster’s extremely insightful beauty team was able to create so much compelling content and conversation within the past year that Beauty High has now taken a digitally viral life of its own.

Flightpath: How did social media help you take the site(s) to the next level?

Meghan Cross: From the get-go, our savvy social media guru made sure to leverage our alert Twitter following to build brand awareness and drive readers to Beauty High, through everyday tweets via @StyleCaster as well as our weekly #StyleChat. Every Wednesday at 3pm ET, @StyleCaster hosts a virtual office hours to help you answer all of your style questions, using the hashtag #StyleChat. Given the success of this weekly dialogue (we’ve had everyone from @Bergdorfs and @JBrandJeans to @WhiteGirlProblems co-host!), we have @BeautyHigh kick off their own #BeautyChat this past Friday. Definitely jump in this week for fun tips and tidbits.

Flightpath: You recently held the State of Style summit – can you tell us about it and what you’ve learned from it?  Will you be holding more summits in the future?

Meghan Cross: Sure! StyleCaster held the inaugural State of Style Summit at 92YTribeca on February 7th, just in time to kick off New York Fashion Week. We worked closely with 92Y and Ford Motor Company to provide the counterpoint narrative to Fashion Week. The Summit united the industry’s most inspiring tastemakers, including Lauren Bush, Rebecca Minkoff, one of my professional role models, Tom Florio, and even my former Cornell Professor Van Dyk Lewis, in order to advance the conversation around new media and style. What we learned was that the industry needs a platform to converse. Both consumers and thought-leaders have a true appetite for open dialogues over one-way content. Believe it or not, we planned the entire event in 60 days, so it was exciting to say the least. And given the positively humbling feedback, we will most certainly hold our second semi-annual State of Style Summit in time to kick off September’s Fashion Week.

Flightpath: What is important for both brands and sites to understand about using new media to their advantage?

Meghan Cross: StyleCaster’s fearless leader Ari Goldberg always says, “At one time, content was king; but today, conversation is king.” This gem of a one-liner is what StyleCaster sleeps and breathes when we work with brands, bloggers, fellow publishers, and – of course – the everyday style enthusiast. The goal of StyleCaster’s new platform is to be the homepage of style, where you can have a sophisticated dialogue, with a tone set by our expert editors.

Flightpath: Do you see style and beauty as a breakout social media leader? Like what the automotive category was to television?

Meghan Cross: Style and beauty are visual industries, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the success of Instagram, Pinterest, StyleCaster’s recent launch, and even Facebook tagging, [it’s that] we all love some imagery. Online tools become viral phenomena if they’re visually-inclined, especially if they help us share pictures of the springtime neons our friends are wearing.

Flightpath: Thoughts on Pinterest, the Fancy or other similar user curated photo communities?  Seems like everyone has a heightened style IQ and are only getting more intelligent all the time.

Meghan Cross: That’s definitely the point! Communities where you can share your flare are what empower people to become experts, especially when there’s editorial content to set the tone for the conversation. What I like most about the new StyleCaster.com is that all submissions are ranked by popularity, as decided upon by everyone, so you can really determine what sticks in the style community in a very tangible way.

Flightpath: Where do you fit in with this trend? What does it mean to the style industry as a whole?

Meghan Cross: The front seat at Fashion Week is no longer a coveted spot where one person can sit and set the trends. Susie Q in Idaho with a huge Twitter following can just as easily convince her friends that floral denim is the next best thing. That’s what StyleCaster and Style to the People is all about!

Flightpath: What do you love most about being in the style/beauty business?

Meghan Cross: There is so much budding creativity buzzing about the business – from visual gurus and stylists to designers and every editor in between – that I’m constantly stimulated and entertained. (Plus, at StyleCaster’s HQ, I’m always surrounded by experts who can give me some very helpful tips on a far-too-regular basis!)

Interview: Meghan Cross of StyleCaster

StyleCaster recently had a makeover enhancing their news site and social hub for the fashion and beauty community. We interviewed Meghan Cross, Director of Communications, about the new layout, trends and the philosophy behind StyleCaster as told by their fearless leader Ari Goldberg “At one time, content was king; but today, conversation is king.”

Back in the day you couldn’t wait until the latest issue of Vogue to come to your door step, find out trends for the upcoming season and plan accordingly for your fashion and beauty acquisitions.  Nowadays, it just seems like you can get up to the minute news, trends and fads within seconds, catching yourself saying, “Ugh, that was so 20 seconds ago. I’m all about neon right now!”

Meet one of the morning reads in the Flightpath office: StyleCaster.  Their mission? Bring “Style to the People.”  The site has undergone a recent makeover allowing the style community to easily interact with each other, bloggers and editorial staff, taking the power of content and conversation to the next level with a visual layout inspired by Tumblr and Pinterest. Flightpath recently checked in with Meghan Cross, Director of Communications at StyleCaster, to discuss the new and improved Stylecaster and how the site has become a social hub for the fashion and beauty community.

Flightpath: How did StyleCaster come about? Was there a specific inspiration, or a void you recognized in the online space?

Meghan Cross: Since day one, StyleCaster’s mission has been to bring Style to the People. What this means is, we empower people who are enthusiastic about style by giving them a platform where they can not only read content about the latest trends, but they can also be active members of the conversation.

Flightpath: What makes StyleCaster stand out from other sites?

Meghan Cross: With the new site that we launched last week, StyleCaster has become the first place where you can share and discover style alongside premium editorial content. People worldwide now have the opportunity to engage with everyone from bloggers and thought-leaders to designers and retailers in one style-centric environment: StyleCaster.com.

Flightpath: How would you describe the StyleCaster community?

Meghan Cross: The StyleCaster community is a growing group of 2.5 million unique monthly visitors who are engaged, plugged-in, and ready to talk style. They Tweet, Like, Digg, Pin, Poke, Check-in, and – most importantly – check-out what [others are] sharing on StyleCaster. And depending on what they think of those StyleCaster submissions, they Love.

Flightpath: You’re not only the “one stop shop for fashionistas,” but for beauty junkies as well with Beauty High.  Was that in the works from the beginning or was there a demand for more coverage in beauty?

Meghan Cross: StyleCaster introduced Beauty High about a year ago when we realized the appetite for it within our community. Fortunately, StyleCaster’s extremely insightful beauty team was able to create so much compelling content and conversation within the past year that Beauty High has now taken a digitally viral life of its own.

Flightpath: How did social media help you take the site(s) to the next level?

Meghan Cross: From the get-go, our savvy social media guru made sure to leverage our alert Twitter following to build brand awareness and drive readers to Beauty High, through everyday tweets via @StyleCaster as well as our weekly #StyleChat. Every Wednesday at 3pm ET, @StyleCaster hosts a virtual office hours to help you answer all of your style questions, using the hashtag #StyleChat. Given the success of this weekly dialogue (we’ve had everyone from @Bergdorfs and @JBrandJeans to @WhiteGirlProblems co-host!), we have @BeautyHigh kick off their own #BeautyChat this past Friday. Definitely jump in this week for fun tips and tidbits.

Flightpath: You recently held the State of Style summit – can you tell us about it and what you’ve learned from it?  Will you be holding more summits in the future?

Meghan Cross: Sure! StyleCaster held the inaugural State of Style Summit at 92YTribeca on February 7th, just in time to kick off New York Fashion Week. We worked closely with 92Y and Ford Motor Company to provide the counterpoint narrative to Fashion Week. The Summit united the industry’s most inspiring tastemakers, including Lauren Bush, Rebecca Minkoff, one of my professional role models, Tom Florio, and even my former Cornell Professor Van Dyk Lewis, in order to advance the conversation around new media and style. What we learned was that the industry needs a platform to converse. Both consumers and thought-leaders have a true appetite for open dialogues over one-way content. Believe it or not, we planned the entire event in 60 days, so it was exciting to say the least. And given the positively humbling feedback, we will most certainly hold our second semi-annual State of Style Summit in time to kick off September’s Fashion Week.

Flightpath: What is important for both brands and sites to understand about using new media to their advantage?

Meghan Cross: StyleCaster’s fearless leader Ari Goldberg always says, “At one time, content was king; but today, conversation is king.” This gem of a one-liner is what StyleCaster sleeps and breathes when we work with brands, bloggers, fellow publishers, and – of course – the everyday style enthusiast. The goal of StyleCaster’s new platform is to be the homepage of style, where you can have a sophisticated dialogue, with a tone set by our expert editors.

Flightpath: Do you see style and beauty as a breakout social media leader? Like what the automotive category was to television?

Meghan Cross: Style and beauty are visual industries, and if there’s one thing we’ve learned from the success of Instagram, Pinterest, StyleCaster’s recent launch, and even Facebook tagging, [it’s that] we all love some imagery. Online tools become viral phenomena if they’re visually-inclined, especially if they help us share pictures of the springtime neons our friends are wearing.

Flightpath: Thoughts on Pinterest, the Fancy or other similar user curated photo communities?  Seems like everyone has a heightened style IQ and are only getting more intelligent all the time.

Meghan Cross: That’s definitely the point! Communities where you can share your flare are what empower people to become experts, especially when there’s editorial content to set the tone for the conversation. What I like most about the new StyleCaster.com is that all submissions are ranked by popularity, as decided upon by everyone, so you can really determine what sticks in the style community in a very tangible way.

Flightpath: Where do you fit in with this trend? What does it mean to the style industry as a whole?

Meghan Cross: The front seat at Fashion Week is no longer a coveted spot where one person can sit and set the trends. Susie Q in Idaho with a huge Twitter following can just as easily convince her friends that floral denim is the next best thing. That’s what StyleCaster and Style to the People is all about!

Flightpath: What do you love most about being in the style/beauty business?

Meghan Cross: There is so much budding creativity buzzing about the business – from visual gurus and stylists to designers and every editor in between – that I’m constantly stimulated and entertained. (Plus, at StyleCaster’s HQ, I’m always surrounded by experts who can give me some very helpful tips on a far-too-regular basis!)

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.

Pinterest vs TheFancy: Social Media Marketing for Brands

Pinterest has grabbed the attention (and free time) of women and a lot of interest from social media marketers, but there is another quietly emerging player in the social bookmarking space. TheFancy is a visually stunning collection of the coolest images and products from around the web.

Pinterest has grabbed the attention (and free time) of women and a lot of interest from social media marketers, but there is another quietly emerging player in the social bookmarking space.

TheFancy is a visually stunning collection of the coolest images and products from around the web. Instead of adding images to boards like on Pinterest, users “fancy” images and add them to categories for others to view and “fancy” as well.

Users share images the same way on both sites.  Retailers can add Pinterest and TheFancy buttons to images to encourage users to share, but since both sites are relatively new most images come through users clicking a “Pin It” or “Fancy It” button in their browser’s toolbar.

Pinterest and TheFancy differ in the flavor of what is shared. Pinterest has an undeniably feminine Etsy-esque feel. The majority of Pinterest users are women, and as a result there are a lot of home décor, recipes and children’s product shots shared on the site.

TheFancy has a more unisex, urban, minimalist, high-design feel. The differences between each site’s content are obvious when you look at the brands that have a presence on each. Brands currently on Pinterest: Cabot Cheese, Lands’ End and Paula Deen. Brands on TheFancy: Brooklyn Industries, Williams-Sonoma, and Yves St. Laurent.

If you represent a luxury fashion, home décor, or tech brand then adding products to TheFancy is a smart marketing move, because unlike Pinterest- TheFancy is openly working with brands to drive sales through the site.

On Pinterest, if a user (including the brands that have set up Pinterest accounts) posts a price within a pinned image’s description, the price will appear as a banner in the corner of the image. Pinterest will then automatically pull the pinned image into the gifts category on the site. This is great, however Pinterest wants to keep users within Pinterest and is not at this time making it easy for users to leave the site.

In order to reach the original site to make a purchase, Pinterest users have to click pinned images twice. Some users I have talked to were unaware that they could even do this, since when an image is clicked once users are taken to a page where they are encouraged to like, repin or comment on the image within the Pinterest site. There is no prompt or link for Pinterest users to leave Pinterest and visit the original site. Pinterest has been designed as a social media destination.

TheFancy on the other hand, has been designed to easily move users to original sites for product purchase. When an image is clicked in TheFancy, users are presented with a “Buy It” link on the right hand side. Clicking this link will take the user to the original site where that product may be purchased. This is a great feature since the whole focus of the site is discovering products that you may never come across in a retail store.

Users can also unlock special deals from retailers by clicking “Fancy It” on their product photos. These special deals are typically discount codes that can be used at checkout on the retailer’s site. Current deals offered to TheFancy users are featured within a Deals tab at the top of the page, which makes it easy for TheFancy users to find. There is also an easy to find list of retailers on TheFancy, something which is missing on Pinterest at least at the moment.

TheFancy also seems to be here to stay. With significant investment from the French fashion firm PPR, who owns brands such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, as well as Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey who is also on the start-up’s board. Yves Saint Laurent announced on Jan. 30th that Fancy buttons will be on every page of the brand’s website.

For social media marketers looking to ride the surge in social bookmarking site popularity, especially to promote luxury and boutique brands- TheFancy is one site to hop on.

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.

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!”

Social Media tips for non-profit to corporate brands

This was my second time attending SXSW and I’ve picked up a lot over the course of the four days I was there from corporate culture to development to social media. A consistent theme of SXSW is relevance, transparency, and timeliness in social media. This holds true for advocacy in non-profits and corporate brands.

Non-profits
Social media is shifting the expectations of constituents and their organizations. It is expected that organizations be on Twitter and Facebook. Sure you can have a social media presence, but you must provide relevant information quickly as well as engage in a bi-directional, engaging conversation with your followers/fans/supporters. People expect a dialog and response, especially with supporters of the organization.

Corporate brands
Customer service via social media is growing. Customers expect quick responses, so do not ‘Photoshop your response’ and keep things transparent. Taking three hours to type a response is not the way to go. Don’t have an immediate response? Take the conversation offline, and address the issue publicly by acknowledging you will handle the issue privately via DM/email.

Another side of transparency comes when social media is outsourced to an agency. It is important to let it be known who is the person behind the brand.

Like what Barry Diller said during his interview, “The internet is a miracle. You push a button and publish to the world.” So when you do push that button, just make sure you’re sending a meaningful message because that message has greater reach, and there’s nothing between you and your potential reader. Social media is global.

Seven Things I Brought Back from SXSW (Five Extra lbs. Not Included)

Attending SXSW Interactive felt like being inside a popcorn popper: You ricochet from one idea to another, hurling into everyone around you, energy bursting everywhere. What did I bring back from Austin beyond the 5 lbs I probably packed on? Where to even start?

Attending SXSW Interactive felt like being inside a popcorn popper: You ricochet from one idea to another, hurling into everyone around you, energy bursting everywhere. What did I bring back from Austin beyond the 5 lbs I probably packed on? Where to even start?

It’s a Social, Engaged Community (Duh)
For all the digital landscapes we carve out, there’s nothing like interacting with real people in real life. SXSWi registration was up 40% this year, and it wasn’t small to start with. This was truly a community of passionate people – and truly a community. That conversation on the shuttle, in line, before the panel, at the party was every bit as meaningful, inspiring and enlightening as the biggest keynote addresses. And everyone was open to that conversation.

Be Enchanting
Achieve likability. Perfect your handshake. Achieve trustworthiness. Default to yes. Make sure everything you do is Deep, Intelligent, Complete, Empowering and Elegant. Launch with a story, not a feature set. Empower action. Plant many seeds: Today’s nobodies are the new somebodies, and you don’t know where the people are who might embrace you. Enchant all the influencers: It’s not the top down, it’s the bottom and the middle.

It’s a Thank You Economy, Stupid
Your brand should hit an emotional center and do something that matters, instead of just pushing more coupons. Humanize your brand. Don’t try to close in one minute. A social media campaign is a one night stand – and this is about relationship-building. What’s going to work for you as a human being is going to work for you as a business. We’re turning into a small-town world. Human elements matter. Have a voice and a point of view, and don’t talk like a corporation.

What’s a Social Media Expert, Anyway?
Ask 10 different people what the ROI of SM is, what the value of a fan is, what Facebook strategy really means, anyway, and get ready for 57 different answers.

Open Book Brands
It’s not about apps, technology, campaigns. The brand has to emotionally connect with the consumer. Brands are no longer the mirrors that define us, but have to be magnets that draw us in. They have to deal with us with trust, transparency and truth. Own mistakes, then turn them around. Be genuine and authentic.

Follow Your Curiosity
Barry Diller got into the Internet in ’92 or ’93 because he was intrigued by this new way a screen was being used, and wanted to explore it. “So many people at SXSW are following their curiosity,” he said. “The miracle of the Internet is that it allows everybody who has curiosity to figure out the ideas in their brain, get it together, push a button and get it out.”

Have a Big Vision
The Foursquare founders knew what they wanted to do since their days at Dodgeball. They created the product they wanted to create to make people’s life more interesting, and went where that took them. They’re following their own strong sense of mission, leading always with how they can make their users’ lives more enriched, and doing it as a team.

Sounds pretty easy, right?

Can Social Media Go the Distance this Giving Season?

Thanksgiving typically marks the official start of the charitable giving season.  Bright, poignant, and inspiring campaigns hit the masses, and we all get plugged in to helping meet the needs of others.  But these are not typical times, with the national unemployment rate around 9 percent and other, devastatingly harsh factors like under-employment and geographic pain are taken into account.  So in this state of economic turmoil, what do this year’s giving season campaigns have in store?

The New York Road Runners Club (NYRR) kick-started the season Sunday at the NYC marathon.  They really went the distance, raising over $30 million through this year’s event.  They had hoped to raise $1 Million a Mile, or $26.2 million, through corporate partners and, of course, many of the event’s nearly 45,000 runners.  The NYRR crew kept a running (pun intended) count of individual “fundraising runners” along with the total amount raised by the group.  As I sat watching and cheering the NYC Marathoners Sunday (a shout out to Flightpath founder, president, and serial marathoner, Jon Fox), it was hard not to think the event was a complete citywide take-over—in the best, most charitable way possible. The old idiom, charity starts at home, never rang truer true to me, as a native New Yorker, seeing how much fundraising was linked to this enormous effort.

Over the next couple of months, the web and social media will be working as hard as Jon and his fellow distance runners for all the people in serious need this year.  It’s time for marketers to step up with their best and brightest—and that poses some unique challenges in the digital space.

Internet fundraising has generated strong interest in the nonprofit world over the last decade, but it still lags behind direct mail, events, and other more traditional ways of soliciting donations.  Of the $263 billion that Americans give to charity each year, 5.7 percent is given online, according to Blackbaud Inc.’s (NASDAQ:BLKB) index of online giving.  Of that, less than 1 percent comes from social media, estimated Steve MacLaughlin, Director of Internet Solutions at Blackbaud.

Facing the pre-launch of this season’s campaigns means facing the reality that social media has not been the fundraising salvation getting people through this tough economy.  It has been more effective at “friend-raising,” as in gaining supporters and engaging them in dialogue about a cause, than actual fundraising.  Social media enthusiasts say the medium is in its relative infancy with HUGE potential to become a much more important means of soliciting charitable relief.  So with one of the hardest-hitting campaign essentials taking a back seat, it’s time to recalibrate using a little more insight from Blackbaud:

  • 46 % of online giving takes place in the last three months of the year
  • 30 % of online giving occurs in December alone
  • 50 % of donors will not change their habits this giving season
  • 36 % of American donors will be giving less due to financial limitations

Social media’s definitely not out for this year’s campaigns—NYRR and 45,000 runners proved that Sunday.  But this year is challenging us to rethink how we want to use it.  It won’t be enough to rely on what’s comfortable.  Charitable campaigns that incorporate social media will have to greatly accommodate the giver and leverage the entire medium in a new and unexpected way.  This is bound to get interesting.  So if you feel the urge to “give it up” this year on the social web, know that you’re onto something really big.

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.