Two-Way Street

PR, social media, events and incentives – Collaboration & communication ideas for demanding businesses from The Castle Group's Mark O'Toole

Posts Tagged ‘social media’

Social Tuesday: old school/new school marketing mix

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 22, 2011

If you see a lot of kids wearing pink today it’s because of “Pink in School.” Pink in School is an anti-bullying initiative run through Facebook. On the initiative’s Facebook page, Pink in School encourages its fans to wear pink on Tuesday, March 22, and to upload a profile picture of them wearing pink or, better yet, the official Pink in School T-shirt to take a stand against bullying and to increase awareness of the issue.

The Pink in School T-shirts are free and provided by Shirts in School, a marketing services company that pays high school and college students to wear T-shirts imprinted with other companies’ messages. Shirts in School started and organizes the initiative as a non-profit version of its services. The concept of Shirts in School is simple and effective. Students sign up on Facebook to receive their free T-shirts; to get paid, they must wear them in school for at least one day. In addition to wearing the shirt, the students must post their photo wearing the shirt on Facebook and other social media outlets, as well as a link to or a post about the advertiser. This way, companies not only get publicity value, but can easily monitor reactions to a campaign based on the posts of the participants and the comments by their friends. The students get paid $ 10 a day and can keep the shirt. Their schools receive an additional $2 as an incentive to support the concept.

Shirts in School’s marketing method successfully combines traditional word of mouth marketing with social media efforts. After the first participants had signed up, the concept “went viral,” says president of Shirts in School Richard Whitney. Now, an average of about 200 students signs up every day. It’s a win-win situation: students get free clothing and Shirts in School gives advertisers access to a highly desirable but hard to reach target group of 14-to-21 year-olds.

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Social Tuesday: With a little help from my friends

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 16, 2011

Social media is becoming the number one crisis communication device. Not only is it used for fixing a damaged image or restarting a career, it also serves as a much-needed platform for gathering information and mobilizing volunteers, as in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake and the Brisbane floods.

Currently, Facebook, Twitter etc. promote and support relief efforts in Japan and help the population reconnect. Many organizations and companies like the Red Cross or Groupon use social media to make support for Japan as easy as possible – some as easy as a mouse click. Spark Energy is adding an additional dollar to its donation to Japan for every person that “likes” one of the company’s Facebook pages by the end of the month. So instead of putting your hands in your pockets, all you have to do is give a thumbs up online.

But social networkers may use all ten fingers to help. Facebook’s online games FarmVille and Café World currently include purchases benefiting Japan. FarmVille players can buy Japanese radish crop and the chefs at Café World can buy Japanese décor. All proceeds go to Save the Children.

As for other information and reconnecting people, social media is in high demand in both Japan and the U.S. Despite blackouts, Japan’s Internet availability fortunately is relatively stable and, without a working phone system, an unmatched device to stay in touch with loved ones. Shortly after the quake, 1,200 tweets per minute were sent from Tokyo alone. Google published a Japanese version of its People Finder (see also last week’s blog entry). Within the U.S., the tsunami’s estimated times of arrival on U.S. shores were available on Twitter before the official government warning. And one of Japan’s top social media companies, Mixi, raised more than $1.5 million dollars for relief efforts in only two days.

Stay social.

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Social Tuesday: Social media boosts fame, helps in crisis

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 10, 2011

Social media and fashion are apparently a match made in heaven. Social media devices like live streaming, Facebook pages, blogs and videos fuel online discussions on brands and designers and result in thousands of new fans and followers. Curve ID jeans, for instance, “cheekily” uses YouTube to demonstrate their product’s effectiveness. Result: Nearly seven million views. Bebe’s new blog earned the fashion brand 66,428 new fans and a sixth-place ranking on fans and followers-surveying famecount.com. Victoria’s Secret invites brides to view – and purchase – the new collection of whites at an online shop, resulting in 69,000 new fans. And Burberry’s fashion show live stream attracted more than 100,000 fans. First place on Famecount goes to Converse, with more than 175,000 new fans. Converse.com not only lets visitors watch videos or shop online, they can also create their own sneakers. Together with its All Star sneaker line, Converse to date has 23 million + fans.

Finding lost persons is the idea behind Google’s Person Finder. Originally created with the U.S. Department of State to find lost persons in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, the website is presently used to help victims of the Christchurch Earthquake. The Person Finder can be found on a website launched by New Zealand’s Earthquake Commission. The site further features reports, videos and information on accommodation, alerts and volunteers. Its users can easily submit important information via Twitter.

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Social Tuesday: It takes two – combining social media for success

Posted by thecastlegroup on March 8, 2011

Hotels in Myrtle Beach, SC are joining social media with a website to compete with travel sites for last-minute offers. On the Myrtle Beach Facebook page, the tab “This Friday” features hotels’ last-minute specials for the upcoming Friday. The “This Friday” tab also links directly to MyrtleBeachHotels.net, a website for last-minute hotel deals in Myrtle Beach. Using social media and their own websites, hotels avoid the 30 percent commission they would otherwise have to pay at a travel site.

Shopping hub Hubzi blends online shopping with social media. While the website serves a similar purpose to Craigslist, Hubzi lets vendors create a profile listing contact information, contact person, ads, and products links or videos to boost the buyers’ trust in them. Customers can post comments and reviews on vendor profiles.

Kraft Foods uses a combination of tweets to promote one of their products. Whenever two people tweet the phrase “mac & cheese” at the same time, both get a link leading to the “Mac & Jinx” promotion, where they are asked to give Kraft their address. The person to submit their info first gets five free boxes of Kraft’s Mac & Cheese and a T-shirt.

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Social Tuesday: Tag the dog – Facebook, Twitter, social media campaign

Posted by thecastlegroup on February 16, 2011

Social media connects friends, coworkers…and pets. To find a home for the cats and dogs that needed it the most, the Oregon Humane Society featured them on Facebook and Twitter. Employing social media yet again turned out to be the right strategy. The pets found a new home, and the OHS Facebook page has presently nearly 13,000 fans.

More than puppy love was shared this Valentine’s Day by the world’s most famous dolls Barbie and Ken. After their divorce in 2004, the couple was “voted back together” in a genius social media campaign by Mattel including Barbie on Twitter (presently 34,227 followers), a Barbie and Ken website and (back then) individual Facebook pages (since their reunion, Barbie and Ken are “on the same page” again, and share 1,738,557 fans!) Least surprised by the revived romance is Mattel. With the Valentine’s Day reunion, the Barbie and Ken Gift Set went on sale, and Barbie’s (and Ken’s) Facebook page turned into an online store. Can’t buy me love?

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Social Tuesday: Super social Sunday, super social week

Posted by thecastlegroup on February 9, 2011

This year’s Super Bowl Sunday showed how social media tie-ins keep brands and products on the consumer’s mind long after the commercials – or the Super Bowl – are over. Ranging from free pizza to winning a Mercedes Benz, in their Super Bowl social media campaigns companies rewarded consumer engagement with goodies. For instance, Budweiser let fans guess the storylines to their three Super Bowl ads on Facebook. Once all three storylines were guessed correctly, an exclusive, internet-only fourth ad was revealed. As a result, online discussions about this year’s Super Bowl commercials increased by 9 percent from last year.

Posting Super Bowl ads on YouTube before airing them also turned out to be a winning strategy for creating a social media buzz: Volkswagen’s “The Force” commercial went viral and got 1.5 million views in the first two days. Another Super Bowl social media winner was Foursquare. The location-based social networking website went global for its first promoted venue and attracted 200,000 football fans, making Super Bowl Sunday their most popular venue so far.

Following the Super Bowl, Social Media Week kicked-off this week in nine cities around the globe. In the U.S., New York City and San Francisco are hosting the global conference that features panel discussions and workshops and connects social media professionals to discuss emerging trends. Read up on the event’s local and global blogs or follow it on twitter to keep up with the latest developments.

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Social Tuesday: Social media for the people, by the people

Posted by thecastlegroup on January 26, 2011

President Barrack Obama successfully used social media as part of his election campaign in 2008. Consequently, the White House is now using social media for political interactions with the public. Last night’s State of the Union Address was live streamed on several online portals. After the address, a series of live online events took place to answer questions submitted via Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

 

Along with the White House, the U.S State Department increasingly uses social media to reach out to the public and is using Twitter to communicate and announce U.S. policy decisions.

 

And last but not least, New York City proudly presents its first Chief Digital Officer. In an effort to boost transparency and communication with the public and businesses, Digital Officer Rachel Sterne is working with Twitter and Facebook to reach out to residents and to make the city’s website NYC.gov more user-friendly.

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Social Tuesday: Twitter, meme, social enterprise

Posted by thecastlegroup on January 18, 2011

Today we discuss “social” social media.

Social media sometimes has a life of its own – and from time to time, it even has the power to begin a new one: Twitter followers of this year’s Golden Globe Awards witnessed the birth of both a mini-meme and a social media star when CNN’s Piers Morgan started a hashtag around the Globes’ shrinking screen time for host Ricky Gervais. It didn’t hurt that Morgan made magic just ahead of the launch of his new Piers Morgan Tonight.

Social media is not only beneficial when it comes to creating a fan base; it enables you to mobilize support for your good cause. After the flooding in Brisbane, Australia, Facebook and Twitter networks successfully rallied volunteers to help the community recover. According to a local social media expert, social media was “invaluable” to inform and connect the residents during and after the disaster.

A great example of target group specific social media use for educational purposes: The British health information provider NHS Choice uses the accessibility of social media to by using an interactive YouTube video to encourage teenagers to use condoms.

Social media is a great tool for reaching out to hard-to-reach groups or communities. Read more on how to use social media for social enterprises.

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Social media, Project Runway and the right accessories

Posted by thecastlegroup on December 2, 2010

Sandy Lish, Castle co-founder, recently attended a meeting with our international PR partners. Read more below.

 

 

Last month, I met with the principals in our international PR alliance, the Public Relations Global Network, four days with our counterparts from around the country and around the world—from as far away as Australia, South Africa and India. As you might imagine, there was a lot of discussion about social media. While nearly every client of every firm has some level of social media engagement or interest, the dozens of member firms unilaterally see social media as a means to an end…not the end.

It’s difficult sometimes to convey that when folks are all abuzz about the latest Facebook app, but let’s travel back to the days when websites were new. (This is about the 10th time in two weeks I have used a cultural reference and massively dated myself, but what the heck….) Companies were building websites and some new websites were, for a while, actually news.  You could announce that “XYZ Company Today Launched its First Website.”  Then everyone realized…if you build it, they may come, but only for a little while. Some websites were cool but not driving business. Others were just the opposite. You had to commit to an overall marketing communications strategy, and then consider a splashy new website (for a fun look at companies’ older-model websites, check out the Way Back Machine) as a tool to apply to that strategy.

It’s the same thing with social media. Building a fan page or setting up a Twitter account is not enough. You can’t just sit back and wait for the customers to find you. The traditional marketing rules apply—you have to reach your audience in a number of ways, creatively, consistently and memorably. Social media is a great way to do that, but it is a strategic element, not the strategy itself. Like “professional media” (my colleague in Sweden tells me this is the term preferred over “traditional media,” which I quite like!), speaking and conference strategies, relationship marketing, events and the many other communications avenues, social media must always map back to the business goals.

On “Project Runway,” Tim Gunn tells the fashion designers to “Use the Bluefly accessory wall wisely” to perfectly showcase their garments. It’s not a mad dash to combine any pair of shoes or purse with any outfit…it’s about being thoughtful and strategic, and keeping an eye on the big picture. I like “Project Runway” (and my 8-year-old daughter does a fabulous Michael Kors impression), so I’ll attempt to apply the fashion analogy to social media. If you’re trying to sell a dress, make sure your tools—color choice, model’s makeup and hair, accessories—complement that dress. If you’re trying to market your product or service, make sure that your chosen social media tools, like your other communications tools, support your message and your strategy.

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BlogWorld observations

Posted by thecastlegroup on November 1, 2010

Castle VP Hilary Allard was a panelist at last month’s BlogWorld. Below are her observations from the event.

I was honored to be asked to present on a PR panel at last month’s BlogWorld event, a blogging and social media conference that attracts more than 3,500 people. There were many inspiring, thought-provoking and surprising insights shared about how the intersection of technology and communication has changed our world.

Here are a few observations from the event:

The impact that technology and social media has made on the lives of military members and their families is profound. In a video introduction, General Petraeus spoke of how the ability to communicate with their families via Facebook, email and Skype has helped military members through the challenges of their separation. A website, ArmyStrongStories.com, provides troops with a place to share their look at Army life. Here’s a post on the site about the Army experience at BlogWorld.

While thought leaders have high-level discussions about social media and the future of communications, the fact is that many individuals – and organizations – don’t know what to do or where to start. The prospect of adding to already full to-do lists is daunting. (More on that in this space at another time.)

Everyone is willing to share. Just as I experienced during the TechMunch summer event in New York, media, brands and bloggers are all willing to share their experience, insights and challenges, putting the “social” in social media. It’s no longer “us against them,” it’s “we’re all in this together.”

Social media has given everyone a voice – and they’re not afraid to use it. Audience members politely yet aggressively (“Pardon me for saying so…”) challenged well-known speakers during one keynote session on politics. My favorite was an elderly woman who stood up and talked about her blogging and participation on Twitter. She clearly was energized by this aspect of her life and the new doors it had opened for her.

Are you involved in social media? If so, has it changed your life, personally or professionally? If not, what obstacles are in your way that are preventing you from engaging online?

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