Tweet, Google or Die

I started out in Marketing when this new-fangled platform, Facebook, began to arm wrestle with MySpace for market share of what would become known as the millennial. Today, many of the brands we work with in the fashion, music, food, sports and entertainment industries are chasing after this core group of consumers seen as the “next” baby boomers by the Pew Reasearch Center.  With nearly daily changes in the social media sphere, what do you need to know at a glance to keep up?  I’m about to tell you.

  1. COUNT ON CHANGE MORE THAN THE ADVICE YOU READ

That’s right, even my advice will become out-dated and that’s why I make it a habit to constantly research what’s trending, changing and updating. Having said that, here are my findings this week.

  1. TWITTER: NOT JUST FOR TWEETS ANYMORE

This elusive network has changed since it went online in 2006. In my opinion, their 2014 move to beef up their in-app photo sharing to include multiple image uploading and friend tagging was made to keep them from losing market share to the titans of image sharing: Facebook and Instagram.  Now, they are going after video (even though they already own Vine) and I think it’s a SMART move. WHY? I personally believe that Twitter is the best place to go when you want to be low-pro. Millenials in particular are looking for a place where they can hide from their family and employers to be themselves without restriction. This network is like the new “burner phone” because now that they can get all their needs met on this network, they may start to rely on it over Facebook. Instagram’s fluid posting to Twitter also makes it desirable.

What does this mean for brands? If, as Twitter reports, there are 288 million monthly active users on this network and there are 500 million tweets sent per day, you could reasonably assume that their users are checking in to the app almost twice a day (PS. they report 80% of active users engage on mobile). With the add-on of video services, I would predict that this number goes up and the app becomes more attractive to that generation. This is a network to keep investing content in.

  1. GOOGLE+: DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK, YET

So, having just taken the reigns of the social media platform Google+, Bradley Horowitz somewhat hinted at changes to the tangly, underused network that every Gmail user is instantly and irrevocably signed up for. I have always disliked this facet of Google+ most. The execs at Google, as we know, want to know everything about us and are using your Google+ account as a universal tracking code of sorts to gain insight into YOU. In doing so, they made it compulsory to have a Google+ account which falsely inflates the “profile” of their network. In addition, they tried to make certain ‘signature’ differences such as using the “+1” term to replace “like” and the “+” prefix to a tag instead of the “#” that we were all used to. It seems as though their plan is to demystify the user experience for Google+ (including Hangouts) and spruce up what they are now calling “Google Photos and Streams.”

So what? I don’t know yet! They are doleing out information and updates little by little but I’m not sure what can save this platform which was a latecomer in social media and has more users than we probably know what to do with. Actually, with user names in the estimated of billions and only 540 million active users, it seems they are trying to figure out what to do with us also. One thing is for sure, don’t count them out because they aren’t going down without a fight and since they aren’t tSocialhe IT girl yet they have the most room for growth.

 

Photo from Pixabay.com

8 Content Calendars (and Advice on How to USE All of Them)

I didn’t realize how universal (in the marketing world) the struggle to find the ideal content calendar system is.  We run into this issue with our clients, sure, but we thought it was because there wasn’t an understanding of the marketing process on the client side.  After reading Kevan Lee’s article this month, I realize that there are as many ways to create this organizational tool as there are brands in need of them.  As Lee says, the calendars serve one purpose, to keep you from getting stuck head down in the creation of content and allow you to look heads up at the BIG PICTURE.

Some people are satisfied with an Excel spreadsheet format; perhaps one that helps plan on the different social media channels, others find the need to differentiate between target audiences/personas, while there are some who need to focus on selling periods and production dates.

But, if you ask me, I find Excel spreadsheets to be really icky.  Because things never seem to stay the same in a thirty day period, I prefer something that is easier to drag and drop (without having to reformat)!  That’s why I idolize the Basecamp calendar tool and peddle it like a ladies’ hysteria tonic in the Victorian age.  It wasn’t until I read this article that I realized that similar software exists, like ProofHub, which reminded me of the one that I had abandoned in favor of the Basecamp I love today, Trello.

Still, others prefer to have a tactile calendar.  I’ve even heard of people using wall sized calendar systems, like this one from 17thandRiggs.com (below), that is essentially a huge set of stickers that you put up on your wall and use in conjunction with chalk.  However, there is no need to invest in this type of solution!  As one reader pointed out, the website print-a-calendar.com lets you type in key dates directly into a calendar that you can print out (it can even pop in standard holidays).  Once you have this printed you can pencil in dates and move them around, use color-coded Post-it notes, stickers, etc to plan out content.  I imagine you could even laminate the sheet and use a wet erase marker to present to your team members.

calendar-wall-stickerThe format is NOT as important as the activity of creating a calendar that helps you see the big picture and maintaining it to stay on track to your goals.  Start by plotting out seasonal and annual events be they social, sporting, cultural, or your custom business milestones (semi-annual sales, charity events, quarterly surveys, etc) as suggested in my previous blog on the subject of content calendars.  Whatever you do, remember you don’t have to stick to the same calendar system from year to year.  It is an ever-evolving document and with these 8 suggestions, you are never stuck.

 

Main Image from BufferApp.com, a great resource for content marketers of all stripes

How We Write Boilerplates That Don’t Make Us Cringe

The phrase boilerplates brings to mind a sweaty workshop full of steam where menacing fires surround weary people.  And writing a boiler plate can make one feel like a character out of a Dickens novel.  As a content writer, I see it in a different way.  After talking to a business person for ten minutes about their company I can usually find the ‘flint’ necessary to write a boiler plate with a professional appearance and a bit of warmth.

The original idea with a boilerplate was to have a bit of general information about a notable person or company that could be popped in to any news story to clarify, for the unwitting, what or who was being discussed.  This information now usually exists on the About Us page on a company’s website.

If you research the term boiler plate you will come to find that this should include where you operate, how long you have been in business, what you do and so on.  You will also undoubtedly return with hints and tips about including your awards, accolades and unique product offering or position statement.  The writer may even include examples from huge, well-established companies that are filled with them.

As a new company, you may feel like a waif next to these stuffed and sparkling boilerplates and tend to fluff up your achievements in order to fit in.  DON’T.  A lean boilerplate is still functional and meaningful to the reader.  It is better to add a touch of your company’s spirit to the boilerplate than to convolute it with $5 words and aspirations for the future.

The Marketing Partners at amaraREPS call upon the brand promise that we develop with our clients in designing a new boilerplate.  This is an exercise in which we drill down to what our clients want to be known for, what makes them superb, how they supercede the competition.  We swap out statements like “with a proven track record of XYZ” and “cutting edge blah, blah and blah” to give boiler plates tone and integrity.

Need help constructing your boilerplate? We’d be happy to give you some additional pointers, or some inspiration if you get stuck! Send is a request on our contact form, and we’ll get back to you with some superb ideas!

12 Ideas to Start Your 2015 Social Media Content Calendar

Luckily for American businesses, there are many holidays that trigger content.  When looking to increase the number of blogs, social media posts, campaigns or newsletters you share with your audience, these can act as simple inspiration.  They won’t all necessitate the same actions for all industries, but here are some examples of opportunities for the major calendar dates for you to start marinating on:

 

  1. Monday, January 19 is  Martin Luther King Day.  This is a great day to share a quote that you find inspirational from Martin Luther King.  I love to use goodreads.com for quotes because they pull from a wide variety of sources.  This gem would be a great reminder of the wisdom that the Reverend Doctor shared with the world and could easily be shared on Twitter and Facebook.  “Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”
  2. Saturday, February 14 is Valentine’s Day.  If you’re in the food industry, you better start planning your Valentine’s promotions TODAY!  Popular promotions include pre-fixed dinners, two for one purchases, and freebies all themed to celebrate la amour. Retailers will often offer specialty items or gifts with purchase, even free gift wrapping can be of value.  If you’re a realtor, this is a great time to send a “We Love Referrals” email as a tongue-in-cheek play on the holiday.  Increasingly, there are Anti-Valentine’s Day campaigns as well.  Hello singles mixer!  These may not work for your audience, but you get the idea.
  3. If all else fails, there’s also the long weekend for President’s Day, February 16.  There is a lot of competition with big-chain businesses offering discounts.  You may be able to capitalize on shopping traffic.
  4. Tuesday, March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day.  If you have a retail store, this is a great time to offer a discount on anything green.  People are looking for items in this lucky color to wear or decorate with at this time of year.  Try to start the sale a week before the holiday to maximize the weekend’s numbers.  This is also a great time to create and promote signature cocktails and Irish dishes.  You could even do a giveaway and capitalize on the theme of “luck.”
  5. Sunday, April 5 is Easter.  You don’t have to specifically celebrate the holiday, though! “Spring is Sprung” campaigns are a nice alternative to religious themes.  US schools also usually choose to time their Spring Break around the holiday.  This is an increased time of travel and family get togethers.  Attention!  If you are a travel agent, this means you’ll need to start offering specials in March.
  6. It’s also a time when people do their spring cleaning.  Whether that means cleaning your home and business up in order to donate items to a charity for positive PR or offering to help with a community event for Earth Day on Wednesday, April 22, you can find something worth tooting your horn about this month.
  7. Sunday, May 10 is Mother’s Day.  The MOTHER of all holidays is always the second Sunday in May, but somehow people tend to forget it.  Why not send out a friendly email blast the week before with some sort of tie in to the next week’s holiday. Whether it is a story about your own mother, a friendly reminder to book a table at your restaurant or a line-up of Mom-approved gift ideas, almost all of us have a mother figure that we like to spoil this month.
  8. Monday, May 25 is Memorial Day.  This three day weekend is informally known as the kick-off to summer.  This is a great time to introduce summer fashions or get rid of remaining winter items.  It’s also a popular weekend for a White Party, thanks to Sean “Puffy” Combs.  Start a new tradition with your staff by having a themed office party and share the pictures on social.  Whatever you do, get geared up for the warm weather to come.
  9. Sunday, June 21 is Father’s Day.  Much more toned down than Mother’s Day, this is a great time of year to celebrate manhood in general.  Think tools, barbeques, camping, boating, workshops, Daddy daycare, men’s grooming and so on.  You can put together an outfit grid to display a great Dad’s makeover to share on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook (make sure to hashtag OOTD, short for “outfit of the day”).  Do you offer goods or services?  Consider doing a discount or a two-for-one.  Whatever you do, advertise your special the week before and two days out at least and get your plans finalized by June 1st so you have time to execute them.  If you’ve followed our suggestions, you’re mid-way through the year and you’ve already done 9 campaigns!
  10. Saturday, July 4 is Independence Day.  We are SO lucky that this high holiday falls on a Saturday this year.  Expect big turn-outs in retail the whole weekend long.
  11. Restaurants may be a little light on business this day, why not throw a Fourth of July pre-party on Friday.  This is a great way to juice the lemon.  If you can’t figure out a special for this day, send a simple message to your audience to have a safe and wonderful holiday.  If you’re going to be closed at all over the weekend, send them a newsletter!
  12. Lastly, celebrate YOUR personal milestones!  When did you open your business?  Have you added any staff to your company?  Is there a birthday to celebrate?  Are you opening a new location?  Did you hit a thousand likes on Facebook?  Your communications with your audience don’t always have to be a promotion or sales pitch.  Give people a look at who you are and what you are all about.  This will make them feel like there’s dimension to your company.

As I said before, your company is not a cookie cutter and there is no way to design a one-size-fits-all calendar.  This is just the beginning of a conversation.  Take time to look at a holiday website* and chart out what makes sense for you.  Another great tip that doesn’t cost anything?  Subscribe to a national retailer’s newsletter list today.  Next year, you may be able to use their publishing habits as inspiration.  If you can find a competitor to subscribe to, then do it.  A word to the wise, make these campaigns your OWN.  There is a fine line between flattering imitation and copy-catting, your audience will probably know the difference.

 

Google Search is Getting a New Year’s Makeover

The New Year is a great time to re-do and re-commit. We are going to be sprucing up our website and we are digging in to research on all things digital in preparation for that. One of the “golden standard” practices that may be slipping to silver, or bronze, is keyword marketing. It seems as though Google search is changing its approach to their search ranking and the newest algorithms are stepping away from emphasizing keywords. This is good news for copy writers, who can now write more freely, but how do you keep your place at the top of the list without paying for it?

Read Jayson DeMers’ article on Forbes.com to find out more about the changes and let us know if you have any questions in the comments area below or by participating in the conversation on our Facebook page.

 

 

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