No matter how lofty a brand’s goals are when it uses hashtags, there are always individuals ready to use them to drag it into the gutter.
McDonald’s is on its second go-round with promoted hashtags gone awry, this time with #UnwrapWhatsFresh. The hashtag was created to support McDonald’s new Premium McWrap, which features chicken (grilled or crispy) and fresh vegetables served in a warm tortilla.
The hashtag was promoted on Twitter, but instead of talking about healthy eating, a number of people were tweeting these sweet nothings:
In my tween years I was a huge fan of the WWE (then the World Wrestling Federation). I would watch every episode of Superstars of Wrestling and Saturday Night’s Main Event, among other various WWE programming. I’d watch all the pay-per-views on VHS days later, since my parents wouldn’t splurge to watch it live (I’m not bitter or anything). I’d even watch Talking Wrestlingon the local cable-access channel in Marshfield, MA, which consisted mostly of prank calls and thick Boston accents.
I was a superfan to the full extent of the definition. I begged my parents to buy me championship belts and action figures, take me to local wrestling shows and I was undefeated against my big stuffed panda bear. When Hulk Hogan had his ribs broken by Earthquake, I sent a bevy of get well letters to his hospital bedside. I even got a postcard back. The "writing" looked eerily similar to Arial, but I’m sure it was just coincidence and he wrote it all himself.
Superfans are everywhere. From television shows and video games to automotive and even CPGs, superfans are embracing the brands they love. They aren’t getting the “superfan” title just because they tune in every week or refuse to drink any other kind of soda. Superfans are the rare but powerful fan base that is sharing branded content with friends, creating unique content of its own and providing an authentic endorsement of a product or service that a brand could never replicate.
Brand managers: Are you listening to your superfans? Are you recognizing and rewarding them? Are you embracing them on their own platforms? If not, your brand may be suffering because of it.
Why are craft beer companies so great at telling their stories? Simple: because these scrappy upstarts actually have stories to tell—often they were built from the ground up on the basis of those stories. Companies like Stone Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Company that started small but have grown successful haven’t forgotten the reasons they began in the first place—and it shows.
But now Big Beer is out to eat their lunch: Anheuser Busch InBev, SABMiller and other companies believe they can fool distinguished suds sippers into drinking imitation craft brands by enticing them with brand stories that ignore the companies’ true origins. Will it work? Time will tell, but there's already a great divide between the authentic and inauthentic brands.
Any restaurant is rich in stories, from the founding of the establishment to the experiences of its patrons. Because of that, the restaurant business is an interesting venue for content marketing, social media and brand storytelling.
I like to think that the best part about going out to eat, particularly with friends, isn’t the food (though don’t get me wrong; I adore food). It’s the stories we share and the stories we create. It’s like the times spent with my wife reviewing our plate of nachos in hopes that someday we’ll cull all those reviews into a blog just about nachos (though that’s a whole other story). It’s the times spent with friends catching up and reminiscing about old times.
Restaurants have a unique opportunity to tap into brand storytelling, and there’s a restaurant in the U.K. doing just that.
Unless you gave up Facebook for Lent, I’m sure that last week you saw a number of your Facebook friends’ profile photos (and possibly your own) change to a pink square with an equal sign in support of marriage equality.
The grassroots movement, initiated by the Human Rights Campaign on March 25, spread virally throughout the week, filling users’ news feeds with a sea of red and pink (and other various one-offs). The campaign was timed to coincide with the oral arguments in the Supreme Court over Proposition 8, California’s gay-marriage ban, and DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, a law that denies federal benefits to same-sex couples.
So why exactly did the photo meme spread so quickly? Will this have an effect, or is it more social activism (or slacktivism)? What role did brands play, and was their participation genuine? More after the jump.
I know that at some point in my life I did. I could wait in lines, sit through three-hour college classes and even read a book for hours, all without feeling as though I’d missed out on something. But not anymore.
Today my patience (or maybe it’s just my attention span) has deteriorated to a sliver of what it was. In a normal day at the office, I scan hundreds of tweets and status updates, read (or at least skim) a dozen or so blog posts and view countless Facebook photos, YouTube videos (the short ones), Touts and Vines. I can't stand in line without checking my email, Facebook or Instagram.
I’m not reading books or even long- form articles. I’m busy (at least I think I am), and I don’t have time to read your lengthy e-Book or watch your 60-minute webinar. In reality I probably do have the time, but the advent of social media has changed not only the type of content I consume and where I consume it, but also the speed in which I feel I must consume that content. And by "I," I mean most everyone.
I’m a child of the 80s and a teenager of the 90s. Though my parents didn't spoil me with riches, they did hop on the Internet bandwagon early. It’s a pretty impressive and serendipitous thing, if you knew my parents. I love them dearly, but let’s just say they’re not very tech savvy. Every visit home is a new tech problem I have to fix, which is usually a result of my mom forgetting her password or my dad deleting an icon.
So their buying a viable home computer in the early 90s was a feat; and that they subscribed to Prodigy (before AOL even existed) is hard to believe, but it happened. And so my addiction to the computer and all things Internet was born, and to this day I’m still knee-deep in it, only now I’m getting paid for it instead of running up the phone bill using a dial-up modem.
All this paved the way for the way I use social media today, as a 30-something. But I’m part of just one demographic, and the Internet landscape has drastically changed. The way individuals use social media depends on a number of factors—age, gender, income and even race—and if you’re an advertiser, it’s important to dig deep into the sometimes-subtle differences in the ways they interact with it. What you think you know about the use of social-networking sites and mobile may be far from the truth, and that mistake can cost your brand.
Though it was founded in 2006 (which makes it older than Twitter), BuzzFeed stormed onto the social media scene in 2012, more than doubling its 2011 traffic (per Alexa).
The format is perfect for the way audiences consume and share media today. The content is easy to consume, relevant, entertaining and frequent, as the site posts dozens of times a day. Brands like HBO and Velveeta have even joined in, co-creating content with BuzzFeed. It’s a publishing model that requires lots of staffers and community contributors to keep the content fire hose pumping.
The most effective mass media is the stories we tell and conversations we have with each other. If you don’t believe me, let me prove it to you.
We've all seen an endless number of ads for cars, car dealerships, and the like. If I think really hard, I may be able to remember a few of them. Let’s see… I remember the Volkswagen ad with Kid Vader (but mostly because it was so talked-about, not because I thought it was so effective). I remember the Toyota Celica ads in which the senior citizen sees a parked Celica and yells, “Slow down. This is a neighborhood!” If you gave me 10 more minutes, I could probably think of another three to five, but not much more. Considering how many car ads I’ve seen in my lifetime, that’s a pretty low recall rate, and I can assure you that none of them influenced my purchase decisions.
Television has been “social” for years now, but the rapid embrace of real-time marketing in 2013 (and we’re only two months into it) has shifted social TV into a higher gear.
But the topic of brands reacting to television programming via social channels has been discussed ad nauseam. I’m not sure anyone can write an article lately about social media without mentioning Oreo, and this year’s Oscars apparently invited every brand to the social media party, whether it was relevant or not.
What is largely forgotten in all this is the shows themselves. Social media is fertile ground for television programs to engage audiences not only before, during and after an episode airs, but also during the off-season, making social a year-round commitment. Now that countless brands utilize real-time second-screen tactics, it’s time to investigate which shows and channels are innovating in the social space.