Marketing Blog | Addison Clark | Richmond, VA

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Congratulations! You've successfully made it through the first full week of 2014. By now you've (hopefully) recovered from the holidays and are getting back into the daily grind. For this week's blog post, we've put together a small round-up of articles we found interesting this week, along with our own thoughts and commentary. Enjoy!

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2013 was a huge year for social media! We've rounded up some of the biggest social media moments from this year.  

1. Oreo tweeted during the Super Bowl. As the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49-ers were going head-to-head in this year's Super Bowl XLVII, a power outage occurred (earning the game the nickname Blackout Bowl). Brands quickly took action to use the blackout to their benefit, but none did it quite as well as Oreo. Regardless of who did it best, the blackout set a new standard for brands to produce extremely timely and relevant content. We saw this continue throughout 2013 as brands drew inspiration from current events like the royal baby, season finales and award shows.

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You've probably noticed the onslaught of all things holiday-related lately. As soon as Halloween is over, if not before, retailers begin gearing up for the holiday season. The Christmas music starts, the fake Santas appear and the quest for the perfect Christmas gift begins. As retailers begin gearing up for the holiday season, so do marketers. But these days there's a lot more pressure on social media marketers as well to prepare for the holidays. Why? Because social media plays a HUGE role in people's purchasing behavior.

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Your social media platforms are not static entities. Like most things in life, they need to be spruced up every once in awhile. If your business is in a rut with your social media presence or has just been flat-out neglecting them, here are a few ways to liven things up.

We have a new question for our Frequently Asked Questions series!

"How many social media platforms do I need to use? How do I choose which ones are best for my business?"

In general, if your business is going to take the leap into the social media world, you need to be ready to set up, maintain, and monitor at least 3-4 social media platforms. You’ll have to be accessible to your clients through a variety of channels to secure your legitimacy and credibility. Also, it can be fun, I promise!

As for choosing which social media platforms are best for your business, I’m going to start off with the answer no one ever wants to hear: It depends. Every business is different, and the number and type of social media platforms you decide to use should be strategically thought out based on the nature of the goods/services that you provide.

I’ve compiled a list of what I believe are the most useful social media platforms for businesses, with nutshell descriptions for each – because I know you don’t have time to sit here are read every fact and statistic out there for social media (but if you want to, here’s a good place to start). So, here we go:

Facebook: Roughly 1 billion active users, used for sharing a wide variety of content including status updates, videos, and photos. Typical post cadence is 5 times per week.

Twitter: Designed for quick, 140-character max updates. 550 million active users. Can post more than once per day (not to exceed 8 times a day).

Pinterest: Heavily visual, fastest growing social media site in the world. Takes the concept of traditional “pin boards” and makes it virtual. We recommend at least weekly usage.

YouTube: Second most visited website in the world. Made to view/share video content. Update weekly or bi-monthly.

Google Plus: Gaining traction due to Google associating search engine rankings to profile pages. Made to post a variety of content; photos, videos, status updates, and links.

Instagram: Another photo sharing site. Take a picture with your smartphone and use cool filters for effect. Displays photos in news feed format, one at a time.

LinkedIn: Strictly professional network, built for recruitment/job searching. Has company page option that is used to communicate with followers.

To choose which social media platforms are best for your business, take a look at what your business has to offer. For example, a restaurant might consider using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. The strategy behind that?

  • Facebook for the multi-functional post ability
  • Twitter to announce daily/weekly specials in short form
  • Pinterest to visually categorize their menu options and make other pinners salivate at their computer screens
  • Instagram to show off new menu item additions in a unique way (i.e. use cool filters to make delicious food photos look even better)

If you know you need to establish your business on social media, but don’t have the time to invest, PLEASE give us a call! Our marketing department thrives off social media, and we’re always staying up-to-date with the latest and greatest platforms/features. Don’t fight it any longer… get social and have fun with it!

Written by: Jocy Vuiller


Five years ago Pinterest didn’t exist. It wasn’t a word, a thing, or even a thought. In the last few years, though, the visual social media site has become one of the most popular go-to platforms in the world of event planning.

With over 25 million users today, most of whom are female, Pinterest has become a hot spot for wedding and reception ideas. In fact, Pinterest estimates that there are tens of thousands of user-created wedding boards across the site, many of which are created by women who aren’t even engaged or planning a wedding.

Like millions of other users, I turned to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration when I started planning my own wedding this year. Throughout the process, I realized that there are many ways in which businesses can utilize Pinterest in the same way that brides-to-be do. Whether you’re planning a wedding or an office event, Pinterest can be a very useful planning tool.

One of Pinterest’s best qualities is that it is visual. By pinning a variety of pins onto a single board, I was able to visualize how details would look together. It was also helpful to have all of my ideas in one place where I could easily share them with family members and vendors, so that they too would have a visual of the look and feel of the event.

Likewise, Pinterest is a great resource for businesses to use in order to gather feedback on projects. Instead of having long meetings to brainstorm and discuss, why not use a visual approach? Pinterest boards are a great way for employees to actually see their ideas coming together.

Another useful aspect of Pinterest is that everyone can contribute. I come from a large family so it was no surprise that everyone wanted to offer their ideas and suggestions during the wedding planning process. Pinterest makes it easy to let others in on the plan. I invited my mother and sisters to pin to my wedding boards. This way, when they came across a cute decor idea, hairstyle, or bridesmaid dress they could pin it themselves.

In a business, getting the staff involved in major decisions is a great way to let them share their thoughts and opinions. Encourage employees to pin their own ideas and suggestions to a particular board.

Pinterest is a valuable resource when it comes to searching for wedding vendors. One of the best things about having so many brides on a particular social media site is that they’re able to share their caterers, DJs, wedding officiants, etc. Many pins are linked to these vendor’s websites, which allowed me to contact them directly.

The next time your business hosts an event, consider creating a board to showcase the event. You can pin pictures of the event’s key speakers and link them to your Web site or to those of the speakers. You can also give your sponsors a little extra exposure by creating a board filled with your sponsors’ products and services. Not only does this showcase the types of relationships your business has, but it provides a great resource for others businesses or interested clients.

Finally, remember, that Pinterest is a public space. I was cautious about pinning all of my wedding ideas on Pinterest, because I didn’t want wedding guests to see all of my ideas before the big day. Pinterest solves this problem by offering Secret Boards that are hidden from the general public. You’ll still have access to all the great features Pinterest offers, but you can keep your ideas on the down-low until the time is right.

Happy pinning!

In my profession, daily use of social media is accepted AND expected. I plan my posts, strategizing for each of our clients in addition to representing our company brand. I get the luxury of both work and play on social media, and I have been involved personally with this form of networking for quite some time. I signed up for Facebook when I first found out about it, back in my first semester of college. It was a time when you were required to have a .edu email address to create an account. I've seen many changes in the social media world since then; the growth and expansion of Facebook, the demise of MySpace, the rise of Twitter, and the power of photos on Flickr and Tumblr, to name a few.

Many people don't think twice about what they're doing on social media. In general, a personal social media account is a space that belongs to the individual. Sure, there are certain unspoken rules that should apply to everyone (don't post pictures of you throwing up on the street corner after a long night of drinking, avoid nude photos- you know, follow common decency). However, being active on social media is so common, no one really considers that certain groups may be getting left out of experiencing social networks to the fullest.

I found an interesting article detailing one profession that walks a fine line in the social media universe, and that is teachers. Not only do they have to deal with constant friend requests from current students, they have to be careful about everything they post in a public forum because so many of their students are on Facebook. Student-teacher relationships are frowned upon in any capacity, and privacy controls can only do so much. Can students and teachers share a particular social media space? That is an ethical question that has led many teachers to seek out other platforms for social media that are catered to educators, such as:

Edmodo - A social learning site that, "provides teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate, share content, and educational applications, and access homework, grades, class discussions and notifications (Edmodo website)." The purpose is strictly educational, and the network provides a safe and secure environment for connecting with peers and colleagues, as well as students.

edWeb - A networking website strictly for educators. Similar to LinkedIn, it offers, "a community to connect with peers, share information and best practices, spread innovative ideas, and provide professional development (edWeb website)."

This doesn't mean that teachers can't benefit from using the typical social media platforms. For example, the article points out that Facebook and Twitter are great sources of technology news that can be integrated into the classroom. However, because teachers feel limited on how active they can be on more well-known social media platforms, opting to join one of these specialized networks is very appealing.

Read the full article here.

By: Jocy Vuiller

As social media becomes more and more integrated into our daily life, our friends have the privilege of knowing what we’re doing at any given moment, what music we’re listening to, what we’re eating, where we’re eating it at, and exactly what our opinion is on that new Parenthood episode. The issue of over-sharing on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has been discussed over and over in the past few years, but what about how we are supposed to respond to all that over-sharing?

Alex Knapp, a writer for Forbes, brought this subject up recently when he saw on Facebook that one of his office mates was listening to a certain band. He looked the band up and began listening to their music. This is when he found himself in the middle of a social media etiquette predicament.

Should he thank his office mate for introducing him to a new band that he really liked? Would that be creepy? Should he not say anything and continue listening to the same music as she did? Would that be even creepier? What if she didn’t know that what she was sharing on Facebook was “public”? What if she didn’t know she was sharing at all?

Knapp woefully wished for a Miss Manners of the social media world to plague with these questions.

Sharing on Facebook has reached a point where not everything that is posted is voluntary. Outsider apps, such as Spotify and Pinterest, will post what song you’re listening to or what recipe you’ve repinned automatically. While most people are aware of their privacy and sharing settings, not everyone is knowledgeable of the fact that the miniscule details of their lives are being posted on the Internet for “everyone” to see.

(“Everyone” as in their office mate whom they added out of politeness, their crush from high school whom they added so they could browse through his/her wedding photos , their best friend’s brother’s girlfriend whom they added because…heck, they don’t even know why they added her!)

Either way, these are the people who are being updated with details of other people’s lives, a little treat they have at their fingertips thanks to a pretty little thing called social media.

How are we supposed to respond to that? Is it simply accepted that everything that is posted on social media networks is meant for public consumption and, therefore, okay to discuss with family and friends? Or do social norms prevail and real life manners apply?

Miss Manners, where are you when we need you?

Facebook & Twitter: How employees can affect you and your business

Recently, a friend of mine asked me a question that has become a very common topic of interest for businesses, small and big alike. I got an e-mail saying that he was interested in the "best practices for putting out guidelines/codes of conduct for employees using social media." After some thought, this is what we have come up with.

There are quite a few things you might want to take into consideration when drafting guidelines for employees. Usually when it comes to larger companies, you want employees to be well aware of how they endorse you. They might think it's okay to represent your brand or logo by making it their "profile picture," or by posting a status about the company. This should only be done in good fashion if it is a company-wide way to get your name out. If that is the case, there should be prior notification via meetings or e-mail, announcing that the company would like employees to post about a specific event or announcement.

Unless you are using employees as a part of a marketing campaign, pictures and logos should not be represented as a profile picture-- simply because of this: I believe Marlboro had this problem years ago when an employee made the Marlboro logo his profile picture, and then had obscene statuses on his profile-- which depicts the company in bad light. They need to remember at all times that they represent YOU!

You might want to consider having all employees have some sort of privacy enabled, and give a seminar on how to use the privacy settings on Facebook. While this can protect them in many ways, this can also protect your company in the future. Especially, with new changes coming to Facebook and Twitter, it would be wise to make settings on personal profiles that allow the user to accept or decline tags where their name is mentioned.

If your company has a crisis team enabled somewhere (there should be at least some small department or code that says if a crisis is happening, here's who speaks to the media, here's what we do, etc), you should make sure this team is well aware of how Facebook and Twitter can be used to your advantage should a crisis appear. Whether the crisis is good (i.e. your company becomes recognized as one of the best for 2012), or the crisis is bad (i.e. your company is under fire because someone has been embezzling money), your crisis plan should implement social media. Taking full responsibility in the light of social media is a great way to gain the public's trust, and keep a good reputation. For more on crisis communications, click here.

Holding annual or bi-annual seminars on social media should be implemented, and employees should be well aware of their role on the internet. Many people tend to easily forget that anyone can see pictures, posts, and personal information if privacy settings are not enabled. This should not discourage anyone from using social media, but instead, should encourage people to be aware of how to use it-- especially when the reputation of your company could be at risk.

With the holidays coming up, internet sales are going to increase dramatically. As people search for the perfect gift for their friends and family, this is the perfect time to take advantage of all of this consumer excitement. Promoting your business towards the end of the year can help you meet those sales goals that you may have missed in months past. Offering holiday specials are one way to drive more customers in, but social media can give you the boost to let more potential customers know about your product in a quicker fashion.

You want your business's name to stick in consumer's minds, and one way to do that is to frequently update your Facebook and Twitter accounts. For instance, many companies might offer special deals to those who "like" their Facebook page, or for those who comment on a specific status. Being creative and flexible with your strategy will set you apart from the rest; staying in contact with your customer's will enable you to create relationships that will last long after the holiday season. Make sure to keep your client's informed about new products and special discounts, and you are bound to make an impression on them that will drive them back to your business. Check out these tips from Sam Cannon of the E-commerce Times. (Click here to see the full article).

1. Use Location-Based Apps

Brands that are already active on Twitter and Facebook will have the most success leveraging social campaigns over the holidays due to their built-in fan base and followers, but brand marketers should not overlook the opportunities that exist within location-based applications such as Foursquare, Gowalla and even Facebook's new "Deals" feature.

Many retailers are already generating revenue by posting daily offers that can be redeemed locally. Adding location-based promotions is an effective way to drive in-store traffic and creates another touch point for consumer engagement.

2. Give the 'Wish List' a Makeover

Finding that perfect gift for someone can be a challenge, and shoppers oftentimes will turn to gift cards as a last resort. As an alternative, consider a new twist on the "wish list" feature on most leading e-commerce sites.

The first step is to make the experience of building the wish list more engaging for the user. For example, instead of calling it a wish list, get creative. If your target audience is made up of music fans, launch a poster or album cover creator -- something that will resonate with consumers and be seen as less of a chore to assemble.

The most important element here, however, is making the wish list easy to share across Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. Enable individual items to be shared with Facebook friends for feedback or one-off "wishes."

3. Create Custom Shopping Experiences Online

Some of the most effective retail marketing campaigns are those that create truly personal connections with consumers. Great examples are those digital experiences that enable shoppers to try things on virtually -- clothes, hairstyles, makeup -- making the consumer part of the brand.

In order to maximize these experiences, take them a couple steps further. After a consumer interacts with the promotion, give them the tools they need to easily share their experience with friends in their social networks so they can join the fun too. Don't forget an enticing follow-up offer to seal the deal -- a promotional code, coupon or other offer that will turn these branded experiences into sales.

4. Use Social Media Channels to Promote Time-Sensitive Deals

Retailers have been extremely successful using social media to broadcast time-sensitive deals as a way to reward their loyal customer base.

Post-holiday, these deal feeds are a great way to clear out the inevitable stack of returned merchandise. So, consider using your brand's Twitter feed (or creating a new one) as an auction mechanism for the post-holiday returns.

5. Be as Clear as Holiday Crystal

It goes without saying that retailers should try to make the holiday shopping experience as stress-free as possible. So when using social media channels to communicate with your customers, be sure to clearly articulate the value.

Be clear about what role each of your social community efforts is supposed to play -- both internally and with your fans and followers. If it's to answer gift questions, then do that only. If there is another effort to address availability of gifts, make sure your team understands that.

Anticipate that if you create the impression or expectation that your social environment can help with holiday shopping, then customer expectations for you to deliver on that promise will likely be higher than at almost any other time of the year.

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