Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How to keep your spirits up when times are down

Many thanks goes out to EVP of Talent Zoo, Amy Hoover for putting forth some great advice. As most of you know, the economy has not gotten better as so many others tried to say that it was (June was one of the biggest months of people being laid off!), so Ms. Hoover wrote about how the newly (and not so new) unemployed can dust themselves off and attempt to keep spirits up.
  1. Review your successes
  2. Surround yourself with supporters
  3. Recognize help when it appears
  4. Try new things
  5. Be good to yourself
  6. Set small goals so you can feel a sense of accomplishment
"This is the time to be your own best champion," she says. The article is entitled "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough..."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Five Reasons I Love Social Media

I was asked a question today about why I love social media. Honestly, there are so many reasons and it’s hard for me to choose only a few. So I did what any other social media savvy individual would do, and posted the question on Facebook, Twitter and other outlets. Of course, I got the opportunity to pick and choose comments (and it helps that I had written about most of the topics already anyway) but I was able to use social media to explain through social media why I love social media. I think fellow blogger Jenna McWilliams says it perfect when she says, "Social media is not a trend, but a fundamental human urge to communicate," and now we have more ways to do so.

1. 1 800 Customer Care numbers? Consider it a thing of the past. Remember long, long ago when we had to call that 1 800 number and wait on hold for eternity to finally get connected to someone in another country who was so far from executives that we were sure our complaint or problem would never be heard? Social media has changed that. Now companies have to listen to their customers, otherwise, consumers can broadcast their hatred (or love) of the company through Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and hundreds of complaint websites, among numerous other sites. It’s no longer a one-way conversation. Some companies have even jumped onto the social media bandwagon (as they should!) and created sites to ask consumers to help create and improve their brand (there are so many, but here are two of the most notable, Starbucks' My Starbucks Idea campaign which prompts consumers to share their ideas directly with the company; and Burger King’s WhopperSacrifice on Facebook, where consumers can trade in 10 of their friends for the love of the Whopper).

2. Networking: It’s not just face-to-face anymore. Look at social media this way – imagine all your customers coming together on a daily basis and talking about topics that pertain to you and your company, thereby spreading even more information about your company and gaining more recognition and consumers. I’m a huge fan of networking and brand advocates and social media gives us several more ways to do it. One of my favorite quotes comes from my mentor and good friend, Griffin Farley of 22squared, “Don’t plan for the ones you reach, plan for the ones they reach.” (Check out more on how brands are building advocates in social media on my post on Talent Zoo media’s blog Beyond Madison Avenue, The Friendship Model, Brandon Murphy of 22squared Gives the Down and Dirty.)

3. Being connected (this was the most popular answer I received after posting this question online). When something happens to ourselves or someone we know, instead of keeping it to ourselves, we share it with others through pictures, comments, Tweets, etc. It’s a new way to get news, support, or advice on anything! Not to mention, the best way to learn is through others, so what better way to educate yourself on advertising and marketing than following someone in that field’s blog, Tweets, etc. Who knows, it could even get you a job (Tweeter Neal Schafer had it happen for him after he started his blog and web site).

4. Creative campaigns. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – If I had a TiVo, all I would record is commercials. I like advertising, but not because I want to learn about products, but because I like the creative ways utilized to showcase a product to consumers. And now with social media, they’re becoming even more creative. Viral videos, Twitter give-aways, Facebook fan pages, etc. I can’t get enough! Old school + new school = awesome, consumer-activity-inducing campaigns.

5. The best thing about social media? It is changing the way we think and is growing exponentially. Not one social media professional is sure where these new mediums will lead us, but I can tell you, it’s exciting to see this conversation connection evolution!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Can I do a plug for myself?

I don't hear anyone saying no, so with that, I'm going to direct you to my latest post on Talent Zoo media's blog Beyond Madison Avenue, You're Not on Twitter Yet?

"It’s out there and everyone’s talking about it. It’s been proven to give companies an edge on competition and the ability to form a bond with customers. So why aren’t you involved in social media yet?..."

Twitter, the mother of all networking sites, is the best way to network with people who share like interests. It's not just for someone to tell everyone what they are doing every second of every minute of every day.
Start networking!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Facebook: The end of an era?

Hillary Rhodes from PC World wrote an interesting article today, saying that perhaps Facebook is past its prime. It's funny that I ran across this today, because I started my freelance social media campaign for Dolphin Blue, Inc. and realized that I was primarily focusing on Twitter. My client even asked me if he needed a personal Facebook page to promote himself (he's a major speaker), but I told him he may not get the mileage he wants out of it. I guess what I meant was, not many people use Facebook to the extent they use the rest of social media, such as the similar, but not as controversial LinkedIn, YouTube, Digg, and the mother of them all, Twitter.

Ms. Rhodes lists the reasons Facebook is losing interest and frankly, I think she's right.

1. Facebook veterans are defecting to Twitter

2. People who actually have lives don't use Facebook

3. In the real world, people often have good reasons for losing touch with old friends

4. Having too many friends takes the edge off Facebook postings (both my parents have Facebook pages now)

5. After that '25 things' note, there's not much left to say

To add to Rhodes' column, it's hard to completely be yourself on the internet. A person has to portray a decent image to everyone since they could be your future employer, someone to recommend you to a job, etc. Now, social media is the thing that connects us all and Facebook doesn't always show us in our best light.

How long until Facebook turns into a "remember when" memory? Not sure, but I feel like it's not too far off.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Evian skating past the competition with new ad

Evian's new roller skating baby ads have established new records. The video has interested more than 14 million viewers to find the video online shooting it to the top of the Viral Video Charts.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Southwest Airlines: A Social Media Case Study

Southwest Airlines, in many people's opinions, is perhaps the best airline available to date. They offer the opportunity to choose your own seat, they do not charge for menial snacks and drinks, and overall have great customer service. Now, with the inclusion of social media, the airline just gets better.

Currently, they have a blog, labeled "Nuts about Southwest." It details things such as reports on a plane's newest flight, a rapping flight attendant, a video blog and, of course, your typical blog entries about, what else, flying Southwest.

Southwest also has a company profile on LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, and, the mother of all social media networks, Twitter. What's the biggest benefit to Southwest of being a part of the social media networks? The connection to customers, of course.

According to a post on the Buzz Bin, Nuts about Southwest's Brian Lusk answered this question, saying that the company changed strategic direction on assigned seating and advanced scheduling because of customer feedback through the mediums.

Hubspot.com managed to sit down with Paula Berg, Manager of Emerging Media for Southwest, at a marketing summit in Dallas, to see what Southwest is doing.

Next, I'm interested to see what Southwest does to tie these all together. Perhaps a new commercial with our rapping flight attendant? Or a competition to win a flight through Twitter?

Friday, July 10, 2009

Eat Mor Chikin

Not only do I absolutely love Chic-Fil-A chicken nuggets and those awesome waffle fries, but the advertising and marketing campaign developed by the Richards Group is one of the best around.

The campaign features black and white dairy cows persuading burger consumers to "Eat Mor Chikin." The campaign alone has been around since before 2003 and continues to go strong. They have their own football bowl, the Chic-Fil-A Bowl (formerly the Peach Bowl); cow plush toys; cow calendars; the giveaways; and entertaining billboards; to name a few.

Wikipedia notes a particular billboard in Knoxville, Tennessee, where construction has been ongoing for years, along Interstate 40 and featured an orange (instead of white) background with traffic cones and a cow wearing a safety vest. The text on the billboard read, "CHIKIN ZONE NEXT 3000 MILES."

The giveaways are perhaps everyone's favorite (of course!). Frequently, after opening a new store, the chain will give free food to patrons on opening days. Now, Chic-Fil-A is upping its giveaways, planning one for Labor Day and one for tomorrow. Tomorrow's giveaway is the fifth-annual Cow Appreciation Day, where patrons who dress up as a cow receive a free meal. Each restaurant may serve up to 150 "cows" that are the first to arrive and if a patron does not dress as a cow, but has a cow print accessory, the customer may receive an entree.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The good side of being laid off

I’ll be the first to say that being laid off is not easy. It’s hard on your wallet, your ego, and, most importantly, your self-esteem. Although we have the small comfort of knowing that we’re not alone (the unemployment rate is the highest it’s been since the 1980s), it’s still not easy to cope with.

However, there are some good outcomes and opportunities that come with being laid off. Essentially, getting laid off wipes the slate clean and gives you the chance to make the changes you may have been wanting to make, but haven’t had the time, or willpower, to do.
  1. Reevaluate your job/career path – You’ll get a chance to look at the career path you have been going on, and realize where you’ve truly wanted to be. Most of my friends do not like their jobs, and being laid off gave me the opportunity to objectively look at my strengths and my passions and find a career that fit with those. I reconnected with my mentor and we were able to decide what I was really meant to do and what I would be happiest doing.
  2. Reevaluate your passions – Remember the question, “What would you do if you had a million dollars and didn’t have to work?” Granted, a million dollars won’t give you as much as it would have when you were in elementary school, but it’s a question I’ve always asked myself. Before being laid off, I had no idea what I would do. Now, I know that I love to write. I’ll continue to do that even after I get my dream advertising job.
  3. Gives you a step up on others – Most people don’t look at it this way, but, take a close look and notice that you’ll be more resilient after hitting this huge hump. Next time you hit another hump, you’ll be better prepared, both mentally and financially, than those who haven’t been hit with so many unexpected events.
  4. Network – I’ve always been a big networker, but having so much extra time on my hands meant that I could go to all the networking events, meet new people and actually spend time listening and learning from the speakers instead of asking myself what I could have been doing at work at that moment. This also meant that I was able to meet people who were able to help me with my career, introduce me to prospective employers and lead me in the right direction.
  5. Build upon yourself – Since I was laid off, I’m able to learn more about my writing and ways to improve it, take classes to become a certified personal trainer, and expand my knowledge of my chosen career path (advertising and social media). In other words, now you have a chance to grow your knowledge and make yourself more marketable.
  6. Get organized – Remember when you were working 12 to 14 hours a day and could never clean your apartment? Or catch up with all the paperwork and little extras you’ve needed to do? Here’s the perfect opportunity. And when you get that great job, you’ll be able to focus.
“Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you, they're supposed to help you discover who you are.” – Bernice Johnson Reagon

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Worthy

A heavy component of advertising and marketing campaigns is the commercial. Advertisers strive to make commercials that keep a consumer's attention, give the consumer concise and relevant information in a short period of time (without the viewer having to dig for it) and, probably most importantly, introduce the product and keep it in the consumer's mind.

Since I had to visit the pope and wasn't able to judge at Cannes (haha, I wish), below are the top five commercials that are currently (i.e. within the past week) playing on our TVs that have managed to capture all of the above. These are worthy of a round of applause.

5. Progressive - Great commercials. Yes, at times they can be annoying, but the concept works well and it isn't your typical insurance baloney we're used to.

4. E*Trade - Since the introduction of these at the Super Bowl in 2007, I've been a constant fan. The baby's facial expressions are priceless and the idea behind it is superb. Also, there are outtakes. Everyone loves outtakes.

3. "This is Sportscenter," ESPN - In my opinion, there are not enough of these broadcast. Perhaps the best one of the group is where both Manning brothers visit the offices, but really, I can't choose just one favorite of these.

2. Mac vs. PC - Although I am a self-proclaimed PC, these commercials are great. Instead of your typical listing of the amenities of a computer, we've got two gentlemen who will explain it to you in simple layman’s terms. And even though these commercials have been around for quite a while now, it still doesn't get old. Bravo Mac, bravo.

Drum roll please…and the winner is:

1. Bing, the search engine - To put it bluntly, it's perfect. Each commercial captures exactly what we encounter when we click "search" on other seemingly easy-to-navigate search engines and then gives us a solution; easy and straight to the point. What else could an American ask for?

Keep an eye out for my post, "The Best of the Worst," to see the top picks for the worst commercials on TalentZoo Media's blog, Beyond Madison Avenue.