For Second Screen Engagement, Twitter Leads the Pack

Last fall my favorite TV show was American Horror Story. I enjoyed all the twists and turns, but more than that, I loved getting together online with friends and perfect strangers every Wednesday night to see how each episode would unfold and talk about predictions for the rest of the series. 

More and more, people are turning to their laptops and mobile devices as a way to virtually gather ’round the TV set and share an entertainment experience. But for brands deciding where to invest their engagement efforts, there are a multitude of options to consider.

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Why Instagram Isn’t a Vine Killer

Make no mistake about it. The launch of Instagram Video (wholly owned by Facebook) is a shot across, if not directly into, the bow of Vine’s ship (wholly owned by Twitter). Instagram’s already established community of 130MM members has given Instagram a major jumping off point for its video feature, which is built into the popular photo-sharing app.

But Vine isn’t dead, and Instagram will not be a Vine killer. In fact, I think Vine offers brands something unique enough that it can thrive alongside Instagram video. 

More after the jump.

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5 Social Media Tips to Ignore

Do a quick Google search or scour the front pages of your favorite social media blogs and you’ll find a seemingly endless array of articles providing you with tips and advice on social media (this blog included). But if you read enough of them, which I do, eventually you’ll see those tips and bits of advice contradict each other.

Don’t post on Facebook more than once a day, or your fans will un-Like you.

Post more than once a day on Facebook to keep your People Talking About This score high.

Photos are the most shareable content on Facebook.

Videos are the most shareable content on Facebook.

Post on weekends because other brands don’t and you’ll stand out.

Don’t post on weekends, because nobody is listening then.

It can become dizzying. It’s not that your favorite social media pundit is lying to you or flat-out wrong. Truthfully, not everyone can be right; but there are certainly areas of gray, and depending on your brand and audience, advice can differ. 

But I have heard a few tips that are just flat-out wrong or at least shouldn’t be followed as if they were gospel. Here are five social media tips you may want to ignore, but you didn’t hear that from me.

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5 Types of Social Media Content Your Audience Really Wants

Why do we follow brands? What’s the point? They’re not our friends. We’re not going to make plans with them on a Friday night or invite them to our birthday parties (though some we would if we could). Why do we let them into a world where we’re sharing and consuming content from the people closest to us? 

Social media has provided a unique opportunity for consumers and brands to connect on a level much deeper than that of a monetary transaction. It may sound obvious, but it’s worth noting that historically, a true fan of a brand didn’t have many options for celebrating his fandom. I could watch my favorite show, but I couldn’t get behind-the-scenes content (unless that too was on television). I could purchase a shirt bearing the logo of my favorite team, but if I wore it in a special place (say I climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in it), how would they know? I'd have to mail them a picture, and even if they received it, where would they share it? The relationship was one-way, aside from the moment when I handed over my money and they handed me the product, or when I sat down and tuned in to my show. 

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Getting the News into “Brand Newsrooms”

Celebrating Oreo’s now-famous twi-jacking (Or is it “twit-jacking?”) of the Super Bowl for the brand’s own milk-and-cookies purposes, the ad business erupted early this year with ecstatic chatter about so-called “brand newsrooms.” While the chatter focused in minute detail on brands and to a lesser extent on rooms, there was virtually nothing about what constitutes news.

Apparently, the ad people peddling brand newsrooms know nothing about news. So the brand newsroom conversation has been ill informed at best and nonsensical the rest of the time.

The focus on news from brands is appropriate and necessary. Brands live in the same digital world as the rest of us. Our world is increasingly dominated by social sharing, driven by content. If a brand wants its stories shared on social platforms – and it does – those stories need to be newsworthy in the most straightforward sense of the term: new and worthy of an audience’s attention. So brands need to master a concept that’s as central to journalism as it is to swapping stories with your neighbor: news value.

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What Billions of Cicadas Taught Me About Storytelling

The cicadas are coming. Billions of buzzing (relatively harmless) insects will descend upon the eastern United States from Georgia to New England in the coming weeks.

If you’re not familiar with them, cicadas are a unique species. For most of their lives, cicadas live underground as nymphs, digging and feeding on roots. After 17 years underground, in the last few months of their lives, they emerge by the billions, seeking high ground (mostly in trees) on which to shed their exoskeletons and emerge as beautiful winged insects. They mate, the females give birth to new nymphs deep within tree branches, and then they die. While their life cycle is unique, cicadas are most commonly known for their mating song, which is sung by the males and is among the loudest of all insect-produced sounds.

Most people are dreading their arrival. Imagine a fly: Now significantly multiply its size and sound and you’ve got a cicada. Oh, and imagine not one single cicada but billions. Plus, when their life cycle is complete, their carcasses will litter the ground. Are you excited yet? I’m going to ask my wife if she’s excited and will check back with you in a minute. Spoiler alert: She’s not excited.

Until recently I shared her sentiments. That is, until a short film by Samuel Orr about cicadas completely changed my perspective, and taught me a lesson about storytelling in the process.

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Not Everyone is a Storyteller

Lately, everyone in advertising has become a “storyteller” specializing in "engaging content." 

This isn’t true, of course. But I understand why everyone’s making the claim: Digital is the only part of advertising that’s growing rapidly; social media is the red-hot center of digital; to make social work, you need conversation-starting (and sustaining) content.

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An Open Letter to Nutella: Why Did You Eliminate Your Greatest Marketing Asset?

My dearest Nutella,

For decades your hazelnut spread has turned everyday consumers into product purists. From brownies and cookies to hot chocolate and crepes, Nutella has been the cornerstone of a delicious treat.

As you’re aware, since 2007, Sara Rosso—arguably your most passionate superfan—has hosted World Nutella Day. She love(d) your product so much that she wanted the world to dedicate a single day—February 5—to embracing it.

What she did was nothing less than astounding. On the World Nutella Day website, Rosso has gathered more than 700 recipes, tweeted and shared on Facebook the favorite sayings, stories and links of Nutella fans and, most important, encouraged everyone to try Nutella just once.

But on May 25, all her hard work will have been in vain. That’s because you inexplicably shut down her tremendous efforts, sending a cease-and-desist letter to her mailbox—the sort of action a brand might take against a brand hijacker, hacker or activist. 

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4 Lessons in Creating Dynamic Social Content

This post originally appeared in our May ’13 issue of “Live Report from the Future of Marketing,” our monthly Post-Advertising newsletter. Subscribe for free here.

Why would I care? Why would I share? These are two key questions that Droga5’s chief creative officer, Ted Royer, says his agency considers when creating social content for brands on Facebook.

Royer and Carlos Figueiredo, associate creative director at Publicis Kaplan Thaler, hashed out what makes engaging Facebook content during a Creative Week panel titled “Newsfeeder: The Most Creative Posts From Facebook Brands,” moderated by BuzzFeed’s CCO, Jeff Greenspan. We've gathered a few of the key takeaways from the conversation for you as well as specific brand takeaways. 

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Why It’s a Mistake For Brands to Ignore Tumblr

Pretend I’m someone who understands the basics of the Internet but has never used a social platform. Now let me ask you: What’s Facebook? What’s Twitter? What’s Instagram?

Most answers, at least from the readers of this blog, would be similar. But I’ve got another question. What’s Tumblr? I would bet that at this point the definitions start to differ. 

“It’s a blogging platform, like WordPress or Typepad.”

“It’s a social network where people share all sorts of content.”

“It’s a website for theme-based GIF repositories.”

For the record, Tumblr defines itself as a platform that “lets you effortlessly share anything” including “text, photos, quotes, links, music and videos.” But the six-year-old content platform is still commonly misunderstood by brands and agencies as it relates to social strategy. Even its self-definition fails to clearly define its focus, its user base or its potential as a place to engage with fans through organic and paid media.

Should your brand be on Tumblr? Let’s discuss.

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