Drive-Thru Marketing: Bite-sized Content for an Impatient World

I have no patience anymore.

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. 

So what does that mean for content marketing?

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Social Media Strategy Step 1: Find Your Audience

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. 

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3 Television Shows that “Get” Social

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. 

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What is Social Media Storytelling?

My parents and many of my friends still don’t understand what it is I do every day. They envision me frolicking in the fields of Facebook and Twitter, swapping gossip and sharing funny memes. They must think I have the best job in the world because my profession is social media—exactly the tool used by everyone else to procrastinate and avoid doing their real job.

The combination of social media and storytelling, the term social media storytelling could be the holy grail of buzzwords. Half emerging technology that everyone said would either rule the world or totally fail, half proven method of transferring emotion and knowledge since the dawn of humanity, social media storytelling is a relatively new and an oft-misunderstood term. Nearly every digital agency claims that they’re “storytellers,” and if the client is interested in a social media activation, then they’ve magically become “social media storytellers” as well.

My mom and dad are clueless about what “social media storytelling” means, and that’s okay. But I fear there are other agencies and brands that are misunderstood, and that can be dangerous for audiences.

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5 Lessons of Effective Editing for Viral Success

An interesting insight into what makes social content effective has emerged, or at least made itself more visible, in the past year or so. Content is king, but editing may be the queen who’s actually running the castle.

Our traditionally analog means of consuming media—television, newspaper, radio, outdoor—are quickly being replaced by digital means. We supplement TV watching with our iPads, get our news in near real time from Twitter, and share life’s moments in an instant on Facebook. Other technologies have allowed fast and easy creation and curating of content, like Pinterest, Vine, Storify, and even something as simple as an Instagram hashtag.

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Marketers Take Notice: Reddit is Very Much Here

From Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dave Grohl to a five-year McDonald’s employee and a valet for the stars, the “I Am A ____, Ask Me Anything (AMA)” section of Reddit takes on people from all walks of life. 

It can be a scary place. No moderator. No filters. Only rule is that you prove who you are. So why would POTUS and one of the wealthiest men in the world spend time answering questions, some intelligent, some inappropriate, from this fairly anonymous yet large (and to a point, influential) digital community? 

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4 Brands Winning Big in Social Media with Surprise and Delight

This past weekend I had the joy of throwing a surprise birthday party for my wife. And by joy I mean massive amounts of stress and that sick feeling in my stomach I get when I have to withhold the truth from my wife (which is infrequent, I swear!).

After I took her out for lunch and a spa treatment, we returned to the house, where the guests were huddling in the rear hallway. When we pulled into the driveway, my wife noticed that one of the trash barrels had been moved to the side porch (to make it easier to clean up after the party). Even though I begged her to take care of it later, she had to put the barrel back in its place. This would mean we’d enter from the side door, not the front door, as had been intended.

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BuzzFeed’s Native Advertising is OMG WIN!

OMG. This may have been my hardest assignment yet. 

BuzzFeed is killing it on the interwebs lately (WIN), and not just because it creates some of the most shareable content around. It’s “killing it softly,” so to speak, monetizing its wildly successful site by partnering with brands to create branded content that people actually consume, enjoy and share with their audiences.

But why was this a difficult assignment? To write about BuzzFeed means one has to peruse BuzzFeed. And when one peruses BuzzFeed, time is sucked into a vortex while one reads journalistic masterpieces like “40 Reasons Honey Boo Boo Became a National Treasure in 2012” and “12 Days of Grumpy Cat Christmas.” Minutes quickly become hours, and deadlines come and go. But Grumpy Cat doesn’t care.

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6 Quick Instagram Tips for Brands

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Instagram is a pretty big deal.

It’s not breaking news but something I thought about as I was going to bed last night. I was about to fall asleep when I realized I hadn’t checked my Instagram feed. I reached from my bed, grabbed my phone and scrolled through the square, filtered photos of people, buildings, foliage, workouts, posters and, of course, food. I commented, Liked and even searched through a few hashtags to find fellow Instagrammers who share my passions.

For the better part of the last decade, I haven’t checked a social media platform not named Facebook or Twitter daily until now. Instagram has quickly become one of the top three social networks, and since photos are more personal than a 140-character statement, it has the potential to connect brands with fans on a deeper level than Twitter.

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When is Manipulation in Advertising Okay?

Manipulation: the action of controlling someone in a clever or unscrupulous way.

It’s a touchy subject, but arguably advertising in its purest form is manipulation. Campaigns want to change behaviour or elicit a response. You can’t argue with that. 

But we’re not in the business of manipulation, are we? We’re in the business of moving and compelling people to engage with, share and advocate a brand or product.

We’re in the business of storytelling.

Meet documentary maker Ken Burns—a master of manipulation through the medium of storytelling. He’s the man behind titles such as The Civil War and Baseball. He argues a good point and one that has inspired this blog post.

Manipulation is present in every story whether we like it or not.

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