sxsports SXSWWe’ll be recapping the major themes we saw at SXSW this year in three installments, come back tomorrow for Part II.

In its first year as part of the SXSW Interactive and Film Conference, SXsports shown a spotlight on the growing convergence of sports, technology, innovation, and entertainment. Owners of professional sports teams, media personalities, digital and sports executives came together to discuss every aspect of the sports industry, from developing the in-stadium experience for fans to how leagues are using social media in new ways to tell stories.

With over 30 sessions in 3 days, I wasn’t able to make every #SXsports session but here is my “highlight reel” of the sessions I enjoyed the most. Continue reading

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In a world of Google Glass models, search engine optimization specialists, and professional tweeters, the technology and social media landscape of 2014 presents the workforce with a number of unique opportunities. There’s no denying that social media has become completely integrated into our lives. Almost all company websites direct you to their Twitter stream or Facebook page, and you can’t go to brunch without seeing someone filter and hashtag their french toast. Yet for some, snapping Instagram pics has become their livelihood; enter “Insta-Famous” fashion bloggers. Continue reading

Best Snapchat campaigns

Snapchat is a hip, relatively new messaging app that combines the convenience of photo messaging with the peace of mind knowing your messages are permanently deleted moments later. Brands have recently recognized the new communication medium as an opportunity to use in their marketing campaigns and have began “snapping” accordingly. Continue reading

Best Social Media Campaigns

Another year has passed and social media marketing has become even more important for digital marketers. In 2013, we saw many brands create innovative social media campaigns via multiple platforms and establish new best practices.

Here’s a look at 13 of our favorite social media campaigns from 2013: Continue reading

Running in the Black: Authentic Social Messaging that Scales

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Social has the power to unite people with a common goal. Many times this comes in the form of a national movement or trend, but sometimes it comes in the form of a subtle undercurrent. Reaching out to the dedicated sub-culture is just as important as reaching out to the masses. This week I discovered an example of how one company is connecting with their fan base in big and small ways to do just that.

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hashtagThe first twitter hashtag was introduced just over six years ago on August 23, 2007. Oh, how the hashtag has grown and has become a critical element of engagement for brands to promote participation.

Humble Beginnings
Hashtags had been around before 2007. IRC used them to mark topics and groups that were available across the entire network. So when #barcamp used it in 2007, it was with the same idea: find a way to span the network and quickly find something. Twitter itself caught on in 2009 when they started hyperlinking all hashtags to instantly search on that tag.

                                                  Twitter’s first hashtag

Hashtags can be used for, well, everything. They can create a way to classify posts, functioning as metatags. They are often used to end a post with a side comment or sarcastic twist. But hashtags are most powerful when they facilitate participation, joining strangers together around a central idea, or amplifying an event to a much broader audience.

Spanning the Social Networks
The recent Hood to Coast relay demonstrates how an event can span across several social networks. Using the NIKE running app, you can comment on a Facebook post and the runner’s phone will chirp as you root them on. Friends are checking in at rural high schools at the foot of the Coast Range. Instagram was a popular choice to capture the gorgeous sunrise at the chilly start at Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood. And there were countless Vines of teammates hollering at runners as they sprinted downhill for the first four miles of the race (ouch!).

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And yet, just by participants dropping an #htc13 hashtag on their posts, Hood To Coast teams enabled their posts to be part of a shared conversation online. Postano tied all this together with a social hub that made it easy to follow the race on mobile devices and on the web at home or at work. At Postano’s office in Portland, the social command center wall tracked all the action across 8 large HD displays. Seeing the events unfold with realtime media updates throughout the day from multiple perspectives and teams generated a whole new real-time news experience that focused more on mood and sentiment.

Strengthen the Brand
Taglines make great hashtags. NIKE’s mantra hashtag #skateeverydamnday is brilliant and evocative. Originally launched as part of a campaign in the summer of 2012, it continued to expand building a life of its own. Over a million Tweets and Instagram posts have been tagged with this hashtag and has been translated into many languages for use around the world.  It stands for something and connects so many strangers with a similar core believe together.
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A great tagline interpreted through a hashtag can be inspiring. Questions, statements, and dares are all fair game to get people participating.

An Invitation to Participate
In interior design, people use “mood boards” to help guide their design choices. By putting together different photos, wall papers, colors, furniture, lights, plants, and textures, you get a sense of what the room can be. With hashtag campaigns, brands can create a “mood board” around ideas. Kenneth Cole, with its 30 Years Bold campaign, has recently launched an experience around three separate but related ideas, #BoldFashion, #BoldExperience, and #BoldStatements.

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As part of this campaign, Kenneth Cole is asking fans to tag posts via Twitter and Instagram leveraging one of these hashtags. Winners will be chosen and prizes given to the posts that best exemplify these ideas. Not only are each of the Postano boards unique for each idea, so are the prizes.

Postano can pull together different posts leveraging a common hashtag for a brand or an event. It can even pull together posts not featuring a hashtag and blend them into the board. It can show people the overall mood and look in ways that simple counting posts and likes cannot. (And since you have incredibly powerful moderation tools with Postano, you can shape the mood to something that fits with your goals.)

The hashtag spans across social networks, and lets you show people a different perspective of a movement or a meme. That, in turn, can reinforce your brand or take it to new places. #cool.

sports and social mediaFall is in the air, and with it comes the nation’s annual rite of pageantry and mayhem known as the college football season, which kicks off this Saturday and is sure to be a spectacle across multiple media – including digital and social.

Social media has been a game-changer for all kinds of businesses. This is especially true for sports teams, who seek to deliver real-time engagement with sports fans eager for interaction. Like major consumer brands, many sports organizations have already tapped into the power of social media in order to increase fan loyalty and deliver a significant return on investment.

With this in mind, major collegiate organizations have been learning how channel these dedicated, vocal and emotional fans on social media and leveraging the passion they share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks. Turning that loyalty into ticket, memorabilia and other sales makes it essential for sports organizations to not only be present on social, but also to use fan-generated content to further these goals.

It’s no longer enough to simply push promotions out to social media and passively read what fans are saying. The real opportunity is to channel these interactions into a productive digital activation. Collegiate sports brands must create a powerful feedback loop of interaction between the sports organization and its fans that builds community and engagement.

Embracing Social as a Marketing Channel

It’s hard to imagine that just a few short years ago (in 2009), the SEC actually considered banning social media at sporting events, before adopting a much more realistic and beneficial not-for-profit social media policy – allowing fans to post updates and pictures, as long as they made no money doing so.

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talking2Despite being talked about by marketers for the better part of the last 5 years, social media marketing is just now reaching a point of maturation for many of the large brands. What started with strategies of simply figuring out what to post to get the most likes and followers, many brands are now looking to how they can fully embrace the various social platforms to truly connect with customers and drive sales and revenue. And brand loyalty.

Today’s major question posed by marketers using social is not “how do I get the most likes?”, but rather “how do I connect and engage with consumers in a meaningful way that helps business objectives?”.

In today’s marketing landscape, not only does a brand’s content, advertising and marketing materials have to connect to its audience, it has to inspire that audience to share it, talk about it, and in some cases, participate in the campaign.

Does a campaign become more credible and authentic once the consumer is involved?

It seems the resounding answer has been yes.

 

Creating Inherently Social Campaigns

Many of today’s leading brands realize the need to provide tools for the consumer to take action and participate in their campaigns. It’s not enough to simply promote your own message and creative materials, you have to get your target consumers to also contribute their own content, thoughts and ideas to the campaign.

Amplifying marketing messages and campaigns involves designing your marketing activities to have an inherently social motivator that inspires broader engagement and sharing – which, ultimately, is what ensures success for any campaign efforts.

This means much more than planning a marketing campaign and then thinking that “let’s do something social.” In today’s marketing landscape, simply uploading a television commercial to YouTube is not enough.

Designing consumer-led and driven campaigns that are inherently social means that the core concepts for campaigns must invite customers to share and participate in an experience.

This could mean something as simple as encouraging conversation centered around a branded hashtag (read my 12 tips for effective Twitter hashtag marketing  and 6 Cross-Platform Hashtag Marketing Campaigns) to sourcing content from your community to be used in marketing materials and ecommerce pages.

By doing so, this gives the consumer the opportunity to extend the branded campaign far beyond the initial post or promotion efforts. By offering experiences that customers WANT to participate in, brands have the opportunity to greatly expand the reach of their own marketing efforts – without spending additional budget on media buys and spend.

As brands incorporate social content into all aspects of marketing campaigns this has created an environment where digital marketing has evolved into a customer-led conversation. The fact is, consumers are more likely to believe the review or online endorsement of another consumer over a brand-released marketing message.
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social and retailShopping has always been a social experience. Before the invent of cameras and emails and smart phones and Facebook, people always discussed their favorite stores, newly purchased items and that new line of dresses at the shop in town.

Similarly, the rise of social media platforms did not start people from coming into a store, taking a picture of a beautiful pair of shoes and sending it to their friend. Social media simply provided an outlet for people to share this information with a wider audience. Whether there’s a social community built around your brand, store, products or not, people will always be inclined to share their shopping experiences online.
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Last week Instagram made big waves in the social media and marketing world when they announced they added video functionality. Now, users can upload 15 second videos to the platform. Edging in on Twitter’s popular Vine app, which allows users to upload six-second videos, Instagram videos are providing an interesting option for consumers and brands to make creative short videos .

In a move that heats up the battle between Twitter and Facebook, there has been lots of speculation about what will happen to the two apps and moving forward – and how brands will use the platforms to market to the growing user base.

I previously wrote about 7 Brands Getting Creative on Vine, but this time we’re going to take a peek at the brands who are already entering into the Instagram video marketing world (it’ll come as little surprise, there seems to be a lot of overlap between those doing well on Vine and those trying out Instagram videos):

General Electric

The perhaps surprisingly socially savvy mega company was one of the first brands to upload a video to Instagram. Not surprisingly, GE also made our list is one that also of best brands on Vine.

 

Burberry

Fashion brands have long been know for being among the most innovative, creative and cutting edge industries out there when it comes to leveraging social and digital media to promote themselves. In this case, Burberry was among the first few brands to upload an Instagram video, which was a series of shots of sets, models, close-ups and London’s Big Ben.
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