Advertising Thoughts, social media

Let’s Get Social People!

Why are brands so hesitant to adapt to the new era of advertising?

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Since the dawn of time, man has been advertising. It’s a simple fact. In the early phases, man advertised himself for the purposes of procreation. One man would show that he is the best hunter and provider and in turn would likely receive the best mate and produce the best offspring.

As the years went on, advertising took on various new faces, one of which was the promotion of products and services to ensure marketplace survival. At first, shouting, “My fish tastes better than his fish,” and “My wine is better than his wine” took precedence (a tactic still used by many copywriters I know). Eventually, stone carvings and signs were made to convey these same sentiments.

Move forward a few millennia and we reach the advancement of electronic media by way of the television. Alas! Consumers can both see and hear these “talking heads” telling us how dentists recommend their brand of cigarettes.

And finally leap forward a few more decades and we reach the “Social Era” of advertising. Now, our advertisements are not only audible and viewable, but interactive and must cater to the consumer’s every question, comment, and whim. This creates more value and brand loyalty through personal connections between brands and consumers.

The point is that advertising, in all its growth, adaptation, and change, is still one guy trying to “yell” louder than another guy about why their brand is better. All that’s changed is the tools we have at our fingertips to get that message out.

While some brands are taking advantage of the incredible new social media tools, others are lagging behind. So why do some brands fear jumping into this new domain of promotion? Is it the thought that social media is a fad or the fear that they won’t be able to keep up in this seemingly cutting-edge form of communication? If so, maybe you should see this:

Whatever the case, social media is here to stay. Its exponential growth will eventually plateau but is unlikely to experience any kind of “bubble burst” because, well, we are social people and we like to communicate with one another. And as for the fear of jumping into the new media realms, the fact is, there is a conversation going on out there . . . brands can either stay out and let the vicious criticism of online consumer discussions continue unabashed, or they can choose to participate constructively and collect meaningful, qualitative data from the people who mean the most: their buyers.

After all, how are you supposed to tell consumers about your “fish” when they’re fast-forwarding through your TV ads, listening to CDs in the car, and canceling their subscriptions to all their newspapers and magazines? It’s time to get social people!

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Advertising Thoughts, Commentary, Marketing Thoughts

The Personalization of Advertising

In an Exponentially Growing World, Advertising is Curiously Becoming More Personal

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Imagine it is 1905 and you’re on a street corner with a tiny stage set up in front of you.  A man with a wildly flamboyant mustache steps up and starts shouting over the crowd that he’s got a one of a kind product that no one can miss out on.  People ask him questions and he simply dismisses them with a few glittering generalities . . . and like magic, everyone pulls out their cash and begs for the product.

Wake up . . . it’s 2009.

The days of brands metaphorically, or literally, standing on a soapbox and shouting a one-way message at the consumer is over.  Now the roles have been reversed.  Your brand needs to have something interesting and relevant to say when the consumer decides that they will give you some of their time . . . and if you don’t “wow” them right off the bat with believable, emotional and personal information, they’ll move on and both you and your product will be left in the digital gutter.

More and more, brands have become a personification of themselves through the use and implementation of social and interactive media.  But rather than shouting loudspeaker messages, the good ones have become more conversational, relevant, and downright friendly.

Remember that friend you have that walks into a party and just starts shouting.  Everyone looks, but is generally annoyed.  Then you’ve got the other friend, who walks in quietly and confidently, but can sit down, crack a beer, and talk, personally, about what is going on in the world today.  By the end of the night, everyone knows they guy who’s shouting about how drunk he is but they all hate him.  Maybe less people know they guy who’s had a few really interesting conversations, but the people who met him will keep him in mind for their next party.  Brands need to be that guy.

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“9 out of 10 dentists recommend it” isn’t gonna cut it anymore . . . I’m sorry.  But if 9 out of 10 friends recommend it, that’s a different story. It’s a game of sociability and believability.  Brands can’t merely spout off about how great their product is; they have to ask you what you like about them, and what you don’t like.  They have to befriend you and gain your trust.  And eventually, once all the pleasantries are out of the way, maybe you’ll buy.

That’s just the way it is now.  People were worried about the lack of personalization that would ensue from the growth of the internet, worried that it would yield a cold, desolate web-space where no one would want or need to interact anymore.  I think we can all put that theory away for now.  As social creatures we would never allow ourselves to be so utterly confined.  And that’s what we need to remember in advertising.

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Advertising Thoughts, Commentary, social media

Exploring the Functionality of Twitter

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Every night the dream is the same . . . I jump off my TweetDeck into the social network. Hash tags and Retweets overwhelm me as I drown in an endless ocean of vast and relatively meaningless information while that damned blue bird circles above.

And then I wake up.

Twitter is a deep abyss of information that can overwhelm even the most social network-savvy individuals and swallow them whole. @ symbols are thrown around like rice at a wedding. Retweets and trending topics create the most irrational 140 character messages. And individuals follow others for a small number of reasons: possibly in an attempt to grow their own followers, they find the other person interesting and someone they may want to share information with, they’re trying to sell something, or they are just being genuinely creepy.

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With that being said, Twitter is an absolutely useful tool in the technology, advertising/marketing or business industries. Twitter allows for a strong and swift interaction between individuals in respective fields, industry verticals and the business universe as a whole. If you are in advertising and you want to keep up with all of the latest news, then all you have to do is follow a few reliable information sources such as Mashable’s Pete Cashmore, Ad Age, and AdWeek, among others. It’s like RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, but better. Like RRSS. You can also follow individuals in your industry via 3rd party Twitter sites such as twellow.com, which allows you to search “Tweeters” by category. This will allow you to stay updated, and update, within the goings-on of the advertising, and any other, industry. This makes Twitter a very powerful tool when used correctly.

And to get the best use out of your Twitter account, I would strongly suggest leveraging TweetDeck. This is another tool among the many 3rd party Twitter additions, but it is really helpful in being able to see everything going on with your Twitter account. It allows you to see people talking about you, other’s tweets, direct messages, and other stuff, all across one large and efficient board.

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From the brands and celebrities perspective, Twitter gives a more personal feel between them and their consumers and fans by updating followers on what they’re doing, their likes and dislikes in the online community, and even holding contests and giveaways. Twitter has become a perfect arena to hold contests. Brands will have followers retweet a message to all of their followers so that they can win a prize. This blasts the brand’s message across the social webs while also getting fans involved with the brand or product. Recently Apple held a contest where followers just had to tweet the term “Moonfruit” to win a laptop. The idea was simple, easy to do, and got millions of users involved.

From the point of view of the average citizen out in the world who is questioning whether or not they should get involved in Twitter, just ask yourself what would be your greatest reason to join. If it’s for social networking and catching up with friends, I strongly recommend Facebook over Twitter . . . as Twitter will be a passing fad for those individuals who are only there to update friends what they’ll be making for dinner. Facebook has social “fun” covered. But if your reason to join Twitter is for social and business, to network and get your name out there in digital, if you’re in the technology community and find many online articles absolutely fascinating . . . if any of these apply to you, Twitter is a great opportunity to grow your social networking portfolio. But remember that it should be part of a portfolio and cannot be the sole essence of your social media footprint.

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Advertising Thoughts, Commentary, Interesting and Serious

Texts From Last Night

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(248): I let some guy put hot sauce in my asshole for his birthday

Ya . . . You want another shot of it?

(503): I feel like if your cat could talk she would call me a cunt.

Nope, we can’t end with that one . . .

(215): omg i can’t drink anymore.. i just pulled up my dress and started playing with my vagina

There it is!

You’ve just seen a very, very brief summary of the many exciting and wonderfully intelligent comments you’ll find at the website textsfromlastnight.com.

Seriously, one visit to this website and everything horrible that you’ve done recently . . . those few hours of being blacked out on the 4th of July . . . that half-eaten burger you ate out of the trash . . . they’ll all seem like nice moments out of a Disney movie when compared to the stuff you’ll see there.

Is this what our youthful society has come to? A large, social network competition of who can be more disgusting? Simply put . . . it’s nasty.

Degenerates.

Now, don’t get me wrong . . . I’m all about being progressive, moving with the trends and going forward as a society . . . as long as we’re not moving ourselves towards a metaphorical “gutter”. But with the growth of social networks and the fact that those platforms are largely dominated by today’s more technologically savvy youth, everyone has a voice . . . and not only is this voice uncensored, it’s downright promoted.

You could argue that sites like textsfromlastnight.com aren’t hurting anyone in the long run and will run the course of human tolerance until it becomes completely unacceptable . . . and with that point I absolutely agree. It’s just a painful thing to see these future leaders of the business world, tomorrow’s politicians, and even eventual mothers talking about adding a particularly spicy food supplement to their . . . ahem . . . allow me to censor myself.

I’m all for our 1st Amendment rights, in fact I’m one of the biggest advocates. However at some point, these people will have stand face-to-face with themselves and wonder just why in the hell they told their peers and the rest of the world about the time they . . . *censored*

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Advertising Thoughts, Commentary, Marketing Thoughts

Social Media & Advertising; A Brave New World

Thoughts on Social Media . . .

It’s like the Wild West out there right now with the social media revolution.  It’s such a new medium that advertisers are scurrying to find ways to make money off of them . . . but for right now, it’s a media free-for-all . . . the newest but most certainly not the last advertising frontier.

Here are a few of my thoughts on the best ways to move forward with a social media campaign, from the agency perspective. (I bet you can’t guess exactly what all of these respective social media outlets specialize in)

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1. Entertain AND Educate. What is important is to have the right blend of insightful, comedic, interesting, and fun commentary, along with relevant information about your product or service. No one wants to read a bland press release that just talks directly about facts and figures, when they could learn the same thing somewhere else that also has entertainment value.

On the other hand, you can’t simply be entertaining and funny unless that’s all you are promoting. Your content must be relevant to your client/agency/product/service/etc. Believe me, there are a lot of entertainment/comedy sites that are funnier than you . . . so tell your audience something they don’t know about, and if you can, make them chuckle while they learn.

2. Posts, Posts, and More Posts. The key to creating a decent following, and thus, getting the most from your social media campaign, is to be relentless. People expect content. That’s it. They aren’t going to check your site daily if you’re not posting daily. They won’t check your site several times a day if you’re not making the effort to give them new content multiple times daily.

But also refer to #1 on the list: it must be relevant and interesting; otherwise you can post all the content you want, if it sucks, you’re just left with a lot of babble.

3. Site Outside Sources. You know that you’re not the all-knowing, all-powerful Oz. And so does everyone else. Don’t pretend to be by only writing about yourself, your thoughts, and your agency. Things are going on in this world that are much bigger, smarter, better looking, more interesting, cooler, and much, much more exciting than you . . . and if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

Tell your audience about that cool stuff out there (videos, marketing strategies, websites) and what you’re doing to learn from it, catch up to it, emulate it, what have you.

4. Monotony: The Enemy. If there is one thing the internet/social media is not, it’s monotonous. The best part about the internet is that you can find anything new, at anytime, anywhere. So don’t make your audience go chase it down using Google or YouTube. Be one step ahead and be that one-stop source for your fans to get their current information that is pertinent to them.

If you continuously write about the same thing, you will become the after-thought for your audience and will be used as a quick reference from time-to-time when they are looking for the same ol’ thing. In the case of social media, don’t be the tortoise, be the hare. But don’t rest! Slow and steady does not win the race! Fast, cutting-edge, ahead of the curve, no rest, in-your-face, breaking news wins the race.

5. Any Resource, Any Writer. Some may disagree, but a good company blog should use several different writers/voices. This also depends on what kind of blog you are planning to write, but for this scenario, we are going to be blogging for an advertising agency, and an ad agency is nothing without flexibility.

Think about it, an ad agency is full of different departments that are made up of very different minds. There are right-brains and left-brains, intense go-getters and mellow creatives. I don’t think your audience is going to buy the idea that there is some sort of transcendent, harmonious agreement that occurs between these departments at the end of the day . . . as if everyone got together to enjoy a spirited sing-along of “Kum Ba Ya”.

Tell the stories of the graphic designer. Then tell people what the account executive learned from his business pitch today. Then find out what the CEO thinks about this economic crisis we’re in. Then ask the copywriter to reflect his thoughts about Leo Burnett’s newest strategy for the McDonald’s campaign. It’s all good, and it’s all different, and that will build your audience.

6. It’s A Brave New Medium, Attack! Learn from your mistakes. Everyone will make them. That’s what happens when people start trying new things. The only true mistake is to not learn from it.

Things are changing in the world of advertising. How do you gauge the charge for performing social media tasks. It’s possible to trackback how many hits websites get from your respective social media platforms, but can you really put a price tag on the overall branding message that you’re getting from this B2C communication. Not yet? Maybe? Someone out there probably has it right, I’m not sure which one it is yet. Audiences are changing everyday as they become more and more tech-savvy and every medium becomes more consumer-controlled. Social media will tell your audience about your product, in great detail, without the FCC watching, whenever you want to tell them about it, for completely free or very minimal costs. It’s almost risk-free . . . you know, as long as you don’t somehow offend or belittle your audience.

That is not to say that you shouldn’t have some sort of focused plan, with deadlines, forecasts, and goals . . . they are necessary for any marketing plan and are essential for tracking results and, for your agency, billing.

Those are the basics of social media. You get to have fun with it! It’s a chance to inform and entertain. Not getting any return yet? It’s OK; your campaign is most likely free to run. Be a people person, it’s called SOCIAL media. Make connections through Twitter. Let people Digg your articles. Try WordPress so you can blog for as long as you want to. Need new contacts? Find some local businesses through Facebook, Myspace or Yelp. Are you making a lot of cool videos that the world should see? YouTube or FlickR. And link them all together. Everyone out there is on this World Wide Web, and we’re just little spiders creating our own webs so we can catch what we need to survive: new business.

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Boring and Serious

I’m LinkedIn!

http://www.linkedin.com/in/stuhaack

And I’m slowly coming to the realization that as every day passes, human existence creeps closer and closer to a point that we will no longer interact face-to-face.

No no, every human communication will be made through social media.  What’s Stu doing today?  Better check Twitter.  Should I hire Stu?  Let’s go to LinkedIn.

We won’t even have interviews, soon enough.  You’ll learn everything you want to know about a person through the aforementioned websites, along with Facebook, MySpace, and their blog . . .

. . . that doesn’t boad well for me.  Let’s be honest, I’m Rick Rollin’ people via my blog.  I’ll reiterate, this doesn’t boad well for me.

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