Archive for January, 2012
By Chelsea Sontra
If the Obama administration’s media team has a slogan, I’d bet serious money that it is, “Go big, or go home.” I am continually amazed at how extensive their marketing tactics to engage the public are, and they work! Obama’s “cool factor” drew previously politically uninterested citizens into his orbit during his campaign to become president, and his tactics to draw in and educate the public certainly have not lost momentum over the last four years.
For those of you who happened to catch the State of the Union Address two nights ago, you probably noticed the #SOTU Twitter hashtag on your screen. Viewers were invited to tweet their thoughts and opinions on the president’s assertions, with the @whitehouse identifying further and more specific hashtags related to the topics and issues covered in his speech. The interactivity didn’t stop there. Beforehand you could watch behind the scenes videos leading up to the address on the White House’s YouTube channel, submit questions via YouTube’s moderator tool (Obama will answer the top-voted questions on January 30 during a Google+ Hangout), and participate in a viewing party and panel discussion. During, you could view an enhanced version on the White House website (complete with live viewing, graphics, data and stats), while also tuning in on Facebook and Twitter. After, you could pop over to John Boehner’s YouTube channel to watch the Republican Response, submit questions to White House Senior Advisers, translate the speech into other languages via the PBS News Hours subtitle team, and later on the 30th watch Obama’s responses to questions on Google+.
Whew! That was exhausting just writing all of that! But I think you get the point. The White House has got their bases covered. They are utilizing the hottest social media and making sure the effect of the President’s speech lasts past the point of his actually giving it. They are doing this by giving citizens the chance to look forward to further engagement.
Not only is the government doing it big, but they’re also being constant in the seemingly unending flow of communication, while providing ceaseless opportunities for engagement. The hopeful result? Americans are becoming more educated and aware of issues, with the goal being for them to vote for Obama in November.
This shouldn’t be limited to just the political arena. It is because of the government’s incredibly visual social media presence that I think we can truly say it is setting the example for businesses in their approach to marketing. American businesses have the tools to be just as visible as the White House, they just have to seize the opportunities that have already arisen for them on the Internet. It is important for businesses to locate their strengths and play up those on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, and whatever other techniques will make them omnipresent. This is a rather “duh” statement, but many fail to fully cement their businesses in these vital practices. There are hundreds of millions of people on the Internet, and they’re waiting to see you reach out to them in an intentional way.
By Chelsea Sontra
Years ago, in 1967, Stanley Milgram asked the question, “How many acquaintances would it take to connect two randomly selected individuals?” His goal was to find the “distance” between any two people in the U.S. Sending letters to two random individuals, one in Wichita, Kansas, and the other in Omaha, Nebraska, he wanted to see how many immediate links it would take to get the letters to two pre-selected people. One was in Sharon, Massachusetts, the other in Boston.
What were his findings? It only took two immediate links to get these letters to their destination. Later, Milgram would coin the phrase “six degrees of separation,” finding that this was the average “distance” between people in the U.S. What did this mean? Links between acquaintances were many. Particularly with the advent of communication technology within the last half of the century, and the rise in popularity of social media sites over the past decade, the world as we see it within these frames is shrinking. Social links that may have died out a hundred years ago are kept alive and can be easily accessed today.
In 2000, the average degrees of separation between any two webpages was 19. In 2012 there is undoubtedly more data and a greater degree of diversity of information on the Internet, yet the degrees of separation have probably decreased from 19. A common networking principle is, as the number of links between nodes in a network increases, the degrees of separation between nodes decreases, and the value of a network increases. In conjunction with the idea that 45 years later the number and variety of first-name acquaintances has mushroomed, one can conclude that more links coming to your page will allow more people to find you on the Web. These links don’t have to be reciprocal either. It’s as simple as someone liking your Facebook page, following you on Twitter (which may also be linked to Facebook), and posting data that can be obtained via search engines, such as the very blog post I am writing here.
The case in point I would like to make is that whether you are running a Fortune 500 company, or a small business, you have the strength of links to power your brand. All you have to do is find them or create them, and put them into action.
By Chelsea Sontra
That 140 character limit can be so excruciatingly painful sometimes. With Twitter constantly updating it can be a challenge to make a strong visual footprint in the mind of your followers, especially when they are probably following people who have jucier things to say than your business will allow for. You have so much to say, so much content you could post, and yet you find yourself significantly limited to do so. Or perhaps you struggle to find content adequate and catchy enough to tempt the eye of followers and potentials. There is hope for you, dear friends.
Where to start? How about following companies and brands you like? Chances are they may start following you back. Maybe you’re struggling to know who exactly to follow, or are looking for a greater community to follow for marketing ideas and information. Utilize Twitter’s ‘Who to Follow’ feature, which does the work for you by making recommendations based on who you follow and categories you’re interested in. WeFollow and Twellow are also resources that will help you find contacts who are influential marketing contacts and conversationalists.
53% of people use Twitter to promote products, and 50% of reporters say they use it for story ideas. Why not follow suit? Go ahead and use Twitter to keep tabs on your competitors and existing fans. Sound a little sinister? It shouldn’t. Twitter can become your own market research tool by tracking network trends. You want to know what your customer wants, so what better way to achieve just that by getting into the minds of people you’re trying to serve? Admittedly, we often use Twitter to reach a broad audience of people. However, using Promoted Tweets can help your business target a more niche audience to serve their needs.
Don’t be afraid to tweet questions to your customers and clients! Customers love feeling they can influence companies, but someone needs to ask them their thoughts first, and that responsibility lies with the company and their social media producer. And while it’s great to get positive feedback, make sure it’s also useful to you as a company. This can be in the form of posting questions relevant to specific areas being explored in your business. Don’t let people’s responses be the end of the conversation, however; answer back, engage them, and people will be surprised by the personal nature of your tweets. Along those same lines, it is an important consideration for businesses to not get too caught up in self promotion. Sure, you let people all about what you’re up to, but self-centeredness shouldn’t be your aim.
One last key point is to make sure that all this information and ideas coming in through your social media is actually being reported to key players that actually make decisions about the company. People monitoring social media should be regularly checking in to relay information that may not have been seen by big decision makers.
The key to social media such as Twitter is really all about communication, which is exactly what’s being done when you post to it. By being more intuitive and creative, companies will be on their way to reaching more people who can influence the direction of their business by providing valuable content.
By Chelsea Sontra
Each year YouGov has a BrandIndex Buzz, ranking the top 10 American companies. The ratings for 2011 were compiled by asking respondents, “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” Some top Seattle brands are missing from this list, showing how the rest of the country thinks and consumes, apart from the Pacific Northwest. These are the rankings for 2011:
8. Discovery Channel
Are you surprised by any of these?
Your brand is your business, and BrandIndex may be just the marketing and human resources tool you have been looking for. More than being interested in what the top 10 American brands are, you might be interested in BrandIndex to start tracking your own brand’s perception. This can be done on a national, multi-national or global level. You might ask yourself, “How do we compare with our competitors?” BrandIndex allows you to measure yourself and others on quality, value, customer satisfaction, corporate reputation, general impression, recommendation, buzz, and attention. You can also use BrandIndex to get a real-time picture of your brand’s health, as well as that of your competitors. As an online reporting tool, results are instant and updated early. What does that mean for you? Daily updates allow changes in public perception of your brand to be spotted immediately. In this way you can do whatever needs to be done to up your ante or be affirmed that you can keep on doing what you’re doing.
By Chelsea Sontra
YouTube is embedded into our culture. “How can I document this and post it on Youtube?” or some similar phrase has probably run through your mind a time or two. We just want to entertained, and perhaps more significantly we want to be in community. I frequently watch videos posted to this site, and yet I often find myself roaming around a little lost and confused about how to navigate it. Are you in the same boat? Thankfully we have Mashable to set us straight and enhance our YouTube experience. Here are 10 essential tips and tricks:
1. Get social with connected sharing options. If you’re an avid YouTuber who just can’t help but share all the good stuff you’re watching, by all means let less avid people in on the fun! Create an account if you don’t already have one and edit your “Sharing” under “Settings” and broadcast videos you upload, comment, favorite or like for your Facebook and Twitter followers to see.
2. Search in different languages. So, you’re quite the linguist, eh? YouTube has you covered. First, change your language settings, click on the drop down menu at the bottom of the screen, and a keyboard icon will pop up in the search bar once you’ve selected a language with special characters. Now locating your favorite Korean pop star music videos are at the power of your fingertips.
3. Change the size and resolution of videos. Sometimes the quality of a video just doesn’t provide good enough resolution at full screen, so now there is a window that’s larger than the standard size that doesn’t fit the full screen. You can also adjust the resolution count on the bottom right. To always play HD when switching to full screen, go to “Playback Setup” under your “Settings” menu.
4. Save videos to watch later. Watching kitties may not always be the best use of your time in professional or scholastic settings. Click the plus sign on the menu bar at the bottom to “Watch Later” by selecting “Video Manager” from the menu that appears when you click on your username, to watch videos at a later, and more appropriate date.
5. Manage your history. Under “Video Manager” you can find “My Viewing History” to add videos to your “Favorites” or “Watch Later” lists, or even delete them.
6. Speed up with keyboard shortcuts. When watching a video the spacebar can be used as a pause/play button. The left and right arrows work to rewind and fast forward, while the up and down arrows control volume. Home takes you back to the beginning of a video, while end takes you to, well, the end.
7. “Leanback” and enjoy. You can use “Leanback” to browse your playlists, recommendations and featured videos, or to browse channels and enjoy instant search.
8. Get better at search. Use quotation marks to search for specific terms, and add “INTITLE:term” to ensure the word you’re looking for appears in the video’s title. You can add “HD” and “3D” to return these types of viewing, type “today,” “this week” or “this month” to find recent content, add “channels” or “playlists” to return such results, and add “long” or “short” to look for videos over 20 minutes or less than four minutes.
9. Customize your captions. When viewing a video click on the “CC” icon and choose “Settings” to change the default font and sizes, as well as foreground and background colors.
10. Have fun with “YouTube Slam.” Scroll down to the bottom of any YouTube page, click “Try something new” and select “YouTube Slam.” Play nice!
Now that you have the necessary tools, rev up your viewing!
By Chelsea Sontra
Oral communication died a bit with the advent of newspapers and magazines. They became primary sources of information for both general audiences and niche groups starting in 17th and 18th century America. Penny Papers were targeted at more social interests of the middle and lower classes, while Partisan Papers were devoted to the political interests of elite groups. With this break in information presentation, some citizens were resultantly less well-versed in the complicated issues of the day. However, over the years citizens of the United States have become increasingly partial to political candidates who are relevant to “the common man,” while also possessing the knowledge and experience necessary to lead a country.
It is undebatable that with new technology, and therefore new sources of media, there has been an increase in ways in which people are afforded the opportunity to interact with their leaders. The newspaper created the American public sphere, and the telegraph allowed fast transmission of information. But radio and television reintroduced the public to the significance of oral communication. FDR’s fireside chats gave citizens the chance to hear directly from the president, opening up verbal and written correspondence between government and citizens, as well as providing a gauge of public opinion. With TV we get the sense that the president is speaking directly to us, whether it be the State of the Union Address or at any other necessary time.
This weekend NBC and Facebook are taking the relationship between political elites and the common citizen a step further. Together the two will co-host a Republican debate between presidential candidate hopefuls this Sunday, January 8, at 9 PM ET. Not only will viewers have access to the debate on TV, but also both MSNBC.com and Facebook will be streaming it live. Viewers will also be able to send in questions they want the candidates to answer through Facebook. Additionally, real-time interaction will allow for further candidate/citizen communicative engagement. As seen here, politics today are not being presented as issues concerning the elite, but rather made available to everyday American citizens who have hopes for their lives and the future of the country as well.
This is happening just two days before the New Hampshire primary. Perhaps this level of interaction and voicing of public concerns and questions is coming just at the right time. This past week we saw how true the phrase “every vote counts” is, with Mitt Romney just barely squeezing in a win in Iowa over Rick Santorum by a mere eight votes. With the convergence of TV and social media, never has there been a more opportune moment in mass media and political history for voters to get involved with issues important to them.
By Chelsea Sontra
Once you start Pinning, you just can’t stop. I’ve been on Pinterest since last spring, and let me tell you, the love affair is still going strong. Sure, I’ll have lulls in my level of activity, but I always make up for it with an extensive Pinning session.
For those of you unfamiliar with Pinterest you can think of it as a website where all of your bookmarks are compiled into one easily accessible website. Put another way, it is like a limitless bulletin board, but instead of one board full of all your random inspirations you can compartmentalize them and create boards specific to any topic of your choosing. For example, I have a board devoted to DIY projects, one that is purely images of turquoise things, and another with interior design photos that I found to be inspirational, to name a few. The great thing about Pinterest is that for those of you who are very visual, you get to look at photos of things you like rather than words. I’m the kind of person who will be unlikely to try a recipe, for example, unless I have some sort of visual that goes along with it as guidance and a source of comparison. I don’t want to read a recipe and figure out what the finished product is supposed to look like, I want to see it (often artfully photographed on Pinterest) from the get-go and try to emulate it. If that sounds like you, Pinterest is beckoning you.
As far as actual Pinning goes, you can do a general search among one of Pinterest’s pre-set categories and find images relevant to that topic, or you can look for something more specific by using the search box. Have you found something that nobody else has pinned yet? Simply upload the image or post the link and you’ve just made some Pinner out there very happy. Perhaps the best part of Pinterest is that it leads you to websites, articles and blogs you may not have otherwise found. Clicking on a photo takes you to the site it is on, and chances are you’ll end up seeing many more things you like on there, and you may even start following that site on a daily basis (guilty!).
Through visual imagery of what attracts you, Pinterest says a lot about who you are as a person. Don’t you ever get sick of reading about what other people are up to via social networking sites? Pinterest serves as a catalyst for doing things with your life rather than reading about others. Go ahead, reupholster great-grandma’s fraying wingback chair, learn a coiled up-do, giggle at piglets, learn new ways to spruce up your garden, master mixology, desire to go abroad, or do all of the above! With Pinterest the potential is limitless, and the enjoyment you get out of life can be too.
By Lucas Mack
When you look back on 2011, it’s important to take inventory on what worked, what didn’t and what you’d like to do better in 2012. I suggest taking an hour or two and writing this all out, then look it over the following day and spend time thinking about the process that lead you where you were last year and make sure you hit this year hard.
Business is about honesty and being flexible, a lot like relationships. You have a relationship with your company as you do with people. Circumstances change, and we need to adapt and react with a calm, steady attitude that people will be attracted to, both personally and professionally.
At 4th Avenue Media, we’re moving into a new office this year that’s going to help us be more productive and produce better work for our clients. I came to a realization about needing a new space when I did the same reflecting for our company. As the owner, I spend a lot of time doing many things for the company, but making sure I’m working on the business and not just in the business is crucial to our success.
I appreciate all our clients and I want to serve them the best way possible and for me to do that, I have to be the best I can be and ensuring that happens is taking time, reflecting and making changes for the better so we keep growing and so do our clients.
So to all out there making plans for 2012, make sure to reflect on 2011. The best way to know where we’re going is to see where we came from.
Victory to all!