The Power of Virility

Digital marketers spend a good portion of their time trying to create something that will go viral. Posting something that is fully branded and getting consumers to repost it again and again and again until it spreads as far as possible is every marketers dream, right? Marketers work hard tracking, searching, and studying viral content in an attempt to fully grasp what makes something go viral. They use all the information they’ve collected to try and scientifically formulate viral content. Meanwhile, some small business owners easily, albeit inadvertently, achieve viral status the good ole’ fashioned way—organically. Take for example Maria Kang, who recently posted a picture of herself and her three little boys on Facebook. The now-famous picture features a very toned and shapely Maria in a teeny sports bra and matching shorts, surrounded by her kids, who are all under 3 years old. Running across the top of the picture is the headline, “What’s Your Excuse” and underneath that is the address to her fitness website, www.mariakang.com. Little did Maria know the picture would soon become very well-traveled! To date, it has been shared almost 16,000 times and it has become the topic of national news. Almost immediately she was being chastised for being egotistical and offensive to other women. While many were outraged by her picture, many others rallied in her support and called her an inspiration. One little picture and Maria Kang had the social media world abuzz!

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While there seems to be a good mixture of both Maria Kang haters and Maria Kang supporters, one thing is for sure—a lot more people now know the name Maria Kang. Whether you find her motivational or narcissistic, the fact is that you now know her. I’m not sure what all the attention has done for her business, but there is an old saying that goes, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity!”

When it comes to going viral, some people say it’s the luck of the draw and others say there is a proven formula. In Maria’s case, it may have been a little of both. But rather than sitting around hoping to get lucky, here are some things you can try to boost your chances of going viral:

  • Provide good content that is worthy of being shared. Make sure it’s something people will want to talk about.
  • Post content that makes the audience feel. Emotion is key in all marketing. This might be humor, motivation, happiness, or any other emotion.
  • Don’t mock viral. In other words, it shouldn’t be the viral ad about a viral ad. Don’t try to make it look like something that has already gone viral.
  • Pay close attention to how the content is distributed. If you can, get social media influencers to post it. If this isn’t possible for you, work with small groups. Send the content to small groups who are likely to share it with other small groups, who will then share it with other small groups, etc. Continuous sharing is the key to viral.

Just so we’re clear on why it is beneficial to go viral, research shows that viral campaigns produce 750% more clicks than banner ads. Just a little something for you to think about…

 

Free $500 Costco gift card??? Yeah, right!

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Ok, so no, these images didn’t come directly from my Facebook Timeline. They came from Google Images. But, this morning I woke up, logged into Facebook, and was bombarded with similar images. My newsfeed was full of people reposting a link to claim a free $500 Costco gift card. Why do people post this junk? Do they really believe that Costco is going to give out thousands of $500 gift cards to people just for posting a link on a social media site? Don’t these people know that things that sound too good to be true usually are! Just out of curiosity, I clicked the link and was taken to this landing page:

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The landing page featured 3-step directions on what to do to qualify for the card. Being the skeptic that I am, I closed out the page and started googling. Naturally, the majority of the first hits were all articles about the Facebook Costco Gift Card “Scam” or “Hoax.” The scam started in the form of an e-mail chain before graduating to Facebook. Also, the value of the gift card changes every time the scam makes it rounds. It’s been $1000, $100, and of course the $500 I saw blasted all over my newsfeed this morning. All those poor unfortunate souls just trying to save a buck click on the link, follow the 3-step instructions, and believe they are on their way to $$$. In reality, they are then asked to provide “Costco” with a whole lotta personal info, and to fill out lengthy surveys. Of course, it’s not Costco running the page, and in reality these poor suckers just got sucked into downloading a Trojan or some other virus. To make matters worse, they are helping promote the scammers malicious agenda by posting it on their social media pages.

Digital media is a lot of things. Unfortunately, one thing it is not is immune to scammers, tricksters, and malicious intent. Scams like this give real promotions a bad name. As a consumer, if you come across a promotion that seems fishy, it probably is. Here are some things to look for to help you differentiate the real from the fake:

  • The first sign is bad spelling, grammar, and punctuation. No business would run a legit promotion with mspilleid wdrs.
  • If the promotion was emailed to you, look at the email address it came from. Is it a legit email address that includes a company name, or did it come from somewhere general like AOL, yahoo, or gmail? If it’s from a general account, it’s a fake!
  • If the promotion was emailed to you, does it claim your email address was randomly selected? If so, it’s a scam. According to consumerfraudreport.org, “There is no such thing as a ‘computer ballot system’ or ‘computer email draw.’ No one, not even Microsoft has a database of email addresses of the type or magnitude they suggest.”
  • Check the company’s website and official social media pages for proof that they are running such a promotion.
  • Look for fine print. Every contest has this to cover their own a$$es.

This particular promotion is running Costco’s name through the mud, but this company is hardly the first to fall victim to such a scam. While it’s usually bigger names that are affected, these types of scams can attack a company of any size. Whether you’re the business owner or a consumer, be weary of the dangers of digital marketing.

Hobby Lobby Inadvertently Proves the Power of Social Media

This week something that took place in my little hometown (well, technically the next town over) of Marlboro, NJ is making headlines in the likes of TIME, USA Today, and The New York Daily News.  The story was also covered by ABC News, Fox News, and The Huffington Post. Even The Salt Lake Tribune picked it up! In a nutshell, a Marlboro resident walked into the craft store Hobby Lobby, which is pretty new to town. A huge portion of the store is already featuring Christmas items. The consumer asked an employee where the Hanukkah items were, and was allegedly told, “We don’t cater to your people.”

I’m not here to discuss religion, ethics, or anti-Semitism. I’m not here to discuss whether or not it’s racist for Hobby Lobby to exclude Jewish items. I’m not even here to discuss what a horrible business decision it was to open a store in Marlboro, NJ with no intention of catering to the Jewish community. Those of you who know the area know what I mean! What I am here to discuss is the backlash this comment caused, thanks to the power of social media. A man named Ken Berwitz posted this on his Facebook timeline after the incident:

In the past few days two different friends told my wife they had gone into the new hobby lobby store in Marlboro, New Jersey and noticed that, although there already was a lot of Christmas merchandise available, there was none for the Jewish holiday of Chanukah (some people drop the “C” and spell it Hannukah. Same holiday).

When one of our friends asked where the Chanukah goods were, was told there wouldn’t be any, and asked why. According to her, the answer was: 

“We don’t cater to you people” 

Understandably irate, she called the home office, and was told, indifferently, that hobby lobby doesn’t have Chanukah on its list of holidays. 

Having heard this, and always wanting to be certain of what I write about, I just called the Marlboro hobby lobby and asked whether it would be stocking any Chanukah merchandise. I was told it would not. When I asked why, the answer – verbatim – was: 

“Because Mr. Green is the owner of the company, he’s a Christian, and those are his values”

FYI, I would guess that, in a five mile radius around that Marlboro store, a solid one-third of all residents are Jewish. But, then again, what is the difference? Since the reason hobby lobby won’t sell Chanukah goods is unrelated to how many Jews are in the area, it wouldn’t matter if the percentage were higher or lower.

The reason is that Mr. green’s Christian “values” preclude him selling anything related to a Jewish holiday – not just Chanukah, but Passover too, based on the call I just made to corporate headquarters.

I have a great many Christian friends and acquaintances. And I can honestly say that I don’t know even one who would ever see excluding Jews as having anything to do with Christian “values”. But, evidently, hobby lobby owner david green does.

Well, here are MY values. I will never set foot in a hobby lobby. Ever. I will be sure to tell everyone I know the reason why, with a request that they pass it along to others.

I have no problem at all with Christianity. But I have a major problem with anti-Semitic idiots. 

“Mr. green” can go to hell.

At the time I’m writing this blog, this September 27th post was shared almost 4,000 times! The story caused quite a stir locally, with every local news outlet covering it. The end result was an apology from Hobby Lobby CEO Steve Green, and a letter to the Mayor of Marlboro. More importantly, Hobby Lobby, which up until now had no intention of carrying Hanukkah items, and has always referred to itself as a store with “Christian values,” is going to now test Hanukkah items in various stores throughout New York and New Jersey.

Again, the point here isn’t whether or not Hobby Lobby was right or wrong. The point here is that thanks to one Facebook post, a national store is considering changing their business dynamic. It might be damage control to try and avoid being labeled a racist company, and it might be a genuine effort to please consumers near each Hobby Lobby location. Either way, the almighty social media has spoken, and the store listened. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms hold a lot of clout. Customers can say whatever they want about any product, brand, or company, and the rest of the world is listening closely. It’s how closely the company is listening that will determine its success.

The Power of Content

Blogging is taking over the world! According to World of Meters statistics, so far today there have been more than 2.2 million blogs posted worldwide. More than 40% of US companies use a company blog as part of their marketing efforts. If you’re in the other 60%, you are at a disadvantage. Frequent, consistent blogging can bring in more costumers, assist in establishing a relationship with consumers and prospects, and increase your marketing reach. Blogging is a sure-fire way to drive more people to your website, and get them there more often. Blogging is becoming so popular and common, that the average person reads upwards of 10 blogs each day! Making one of those 10 YOUR daily blog will connect consumers to your company. Still not convinced? Check out this inforgraphic posted on Social Media Today:

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So, now that you know you should be blogging, what will make your blog successful? Decide what your blog will be about, and make relevant, helpful, frequent and consistent posts. Use pictures and videos. Again, USE PICTURES AND VIDEOS. Posts with pics and vids are more attention-grabbing and are more likely to be clicked on and read all the way through. Make your posts conversational and inviting, and remember to join in the conversation via comments. Use social media to promote each blog entry. Remember, it’s all in the content. Make sure it’s good. Make sure it can be optimized. Make sure you’re talking about something people want to hear. 

The Ubiquitous QR Code: Dead or a Marketer’s Dream?

It seems like every time I turn my head, all I see is a QR code begging to be scanned. I saw one while I was in line waiting to go through security at Newark International Airport. A few weeks ago I was eating at the Cheesecake Factory, and when I flipped my menu over I saw that Coca-Cola had taken out ad space on the back page, which featured a big ole’ Coca-Cola QR code. Then, I went with my husband to get his car serviced and almost walked into a bannerstand with an Audi QR code box. These things are everywhere! So, what exactly is a QR code and how can it benefit marketers?

A QR (Quick Response) code is a scannable 2-dimensional barcode. When scanned, the user becomes connected to the company’s online marketing, such as an app or a mobile webpage. The company then gets a whole wealth of information about the consumer. To be able to scan QR codes, consumers need to download an app that allows them to do so. The idea is convenience—everything the consumers could possibly need to stay connected to the company or brand is practically handed to them after the simple act of scanning. Click here to read a very helpful article on ways to correctly use a QR code to grow your business.

Despite how awesome QR codes can be for marketers (and consumers), they often get a bad rep. While googling around to see what others think of the topic, I came across this picture on someone’s blog:

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So, of course I had to see for myself. Sure enough, when I typed “QR codes are” into google, I got the exact same response. Is it because many companies don’t know how to properly use QR codes? Or is it because consumers don’t see the value and aren’t scanning them? It’s a combination of both. Remember to make it worthwhile for the consumer. Offer them something they want. “Scan this QR Code to receive a 50% off coupon on your next purchase.” “Scan this QR Code to receive free tickets to our next show.” You get the point. Also, remember that people scan QR codes with their mobile phones. Therefore, make sure you’re putting it in a place that makes sense (not a billboard!).

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What do you think? As a marketer, have you ever used a QR Code? As a consumer, have you ever scanned one?

Got Game? Advergame, that is!

For the past few days, three of my right-hand fingertips have been numb, and I feel a burning, tingling sensation whenever I use any of them to touch my iPhone. However, the pain will not stop me. I will grunt and push through. I will, with all my might, make sure that I continue to swipe my finger across that screen in order to… wait for it…

“Twist, Lick, and Dunk” as many Oreo cookies as possible!

Last week I submitted an assignment discussing advergames to my graduate level Digital Marketing class. As part of my research for the assignment, I began playing many different advergames. In case you couldn’t tell, I instantly became hooked on the Oreo Cookie game, and have been playing it ever since. This got me thinking. Video games are more popular than ever now that so many people use their mobile phones to play them. Therefore, advergames seem to make sense. So, what kind of companies can benefit the most from an advergame? As a marketer, is this something you should be looking into for your company

First of all, what exactly is an advergame? Is it an ad? Is it a game? Well, it’s both. An advergame is basically a game built around a specific product or brand. For instance, the game that has my thumbs worked to the bone features Oreo Cookies that need to be swiped in order to twist them apart and lick the crème filling. Then, the cookie needs to be “dunked” into a glass of milk. The game plays on the same ideas Oreo uses in its advertising—creating an emotional connection through the nostalgic way many people eat their Oreo cookies. Considering I don’t frequently buy cookies, but Oreos have been at the forefront of my brain all week, advergames are a great way to reinforce brand recall and recognition. If I was playing the word association game and someone said “cookie,” the first word out of my mouth would definitely be “Oreo.”

A few facts about advergames from the Vision Gain Mobile Advergaming and Ad-Funded Gaming Report 2010 – 2015:

  • The advergaming industry is worth more than $3 billion
  • Facebook advergames have over 1 million monthly active users
  • The majority of advergamers are playing via a mobile phone

Other studies have shown that the 50% of advergamers spend roughly 25 minutes playing. Also, it’s been discovered that the typical advergamer is not necessarily the same demographic as a traditional gamer. Advergamers appear to be men up to 35 and over, as well as women between 35 and 55. Therefore, if your target audience falls in this category, you might want to consider adding an advergame to spice up your next campaign.

A few benefits of advergames courtesy of www.advergame.com:

  • Cheaper than traditional media
  • Longer exposure
  • More engaging
  • Highly targeted brand experience
  • Facilitates lead acquisition
  • Generates more revenue
  • Improves Brand Recall and Recognition

Some brands lend themselves to advergames (CPG, toys, etc.), and others seem to make less sense. Take a step back and really examine your company, brand image, and product line and see if you can find a way to benefit from the trending advergame!

Come back next week to read my discussion on QR Codes!

Smartphone app for…. Homework???

My daughter came home from her first day of school yesterday, and like all teenagers, threw her bag on the floor and ran right for a snack. I asked her if she had any homework, and she mumbled through a mouth full of Pop Tarts, “I have to create an Edmodo account.”

Edmodo? Perhaps I didn’t hear her correctly because her mouth was full?

What in the world is Edmodo?  

Well, for all you other folks out there that have never heard of it, let me tell you a little bit about Edmodo. It’s an “educational”-like Facebook app that enables students to do their homework online. It provides an online community for all of the students in the class, and serves as a platform for teachers to give homework assignments. Students and parents can access the account via the website, www.edmodo.com, or a smartphone app:

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Every student in her school is required to have an Edmodo account, and they are being encouraged to submit all their homework online. Teachers are telling them that they can now do their homework on their phones!

This should be eye-opening for marketers everywhere. Not just marketers who are currently targeting the teen segment. These teenagers are the future, and if marketers can’t speak to them in their language, their brands will suffer. Marketers need to be able to adapt, evolve, and use all current technology to reach future generations. While mobile search has been rapidly growing, it still hasn’t reached its peak. We are getting there though, as we are now entering a time when kids are being encouraged to do their homework on a social media app on their phones! Mobile will continue to grow, and if marketers want to ever be able to effectively reach Gen Z (now or in the future) they better make sure their brands are effectively running mobile campaigns.