It was big news in my world when Squarespace ran a Super Bowl spot featuring my adopted home town, and alma mater, Winona.
The spot featured Winona Ryder, who was born and raised in Winona (no, really), seeking the “real Winona”. The spot did feature a few images from Winona, but funny–the first image was of Ryder sitting in Mickey’s Diner in St. Paul, Minn.!
I can only imagine Winonans recoiling in horror as that image hit the screen on Super Bowl Sunday!
The Super Bowl spot actually didn’t perform too well, in the grand scheme of things. It was the 4th lowest rated ad in USA Today’s Ad meter (ouch!). And, many Winona residents weren’t too thrilled with it either, based on this Star Tribune opinion piece!
But, the big story here isn’t what happened in the spot or during the Big Game–but instead, what happened after.
Part of the Squarespace campaign also included, you guessed it, a web site (hello call to action!). The site, welcometowinona.com, included some wonderful photography of Winona and a link to buy a book of photos of the town–with proceeds going to the American Indian College Fund.
Good idea, wonderful integration and helping a great cause, too!
But, like I said, the spot didn’t exactly resonate with many native Winonans, who thought it didn’t accurately depict the town and its heritage. So, Visit Winona (the Winona board of tourism, which, by the way, is one of the best in the state), took matters into its own hands to act on that sentiment, and use it as a chance to attract more people to the city.
The move: Visit Winona developed its own site (using, you guessed it, Squarespace!): welcometotherestofwinona.com.
The Visit Winona site is also full of great photography–but, it featured photos that were generated by Visit Winona staff and actual Winonans. To my eye, the photos on this site are more representative of the city than Squarespace’s site (which looked like photos taken by an ad agency).
And, Visit Winona decided to create a photo book of its own as well. This one will be full of pics from the Visit Winona team and local social media followers. In fact, if you want to get a pic in the book, just snap a photo and use the hash tag #WelcomeToWinona for your chance! All proceeds go to “local initiatives”–what a great idea!
But, Visit Winona didn’t stop there. The site also includes a sweepstakes titled “Find your True Winona!” where folks can win an all-expense paid trip to Winona that includes airfare and tickets to a number of well-known Winona events (Great River Shakespeare Festival, Frozen River Film Festival, etc.). A dozen donuts at Bloedows (best donut shop in MN–no arguments!). 2 flights of beer at Island City Brewing Company. And a series of outdoorsy adventures (climb SugarLoaf!).
All in all, an absolute home run for the Visit Winona team. Outstanding work capitalizing on a big moment for the city.
Never a dull moment in the world of influencer marketing. Last week, Digiday wrote an article essentially claiming that agencies are destroying influencer marketing (influencer marketing agencies, in particular).
This should surprise no one.
These influencer marketing agencies and networks have always seemed to me a little like the former mom blog networks. Transactional–not cohesive or built for long-term impact. Especially not for brands.
So, why would any brand partake? Because they don’t know any better, for starters. But, more so, because they want (or, NEED) influencer marketing to scale. Which, when you say it out loud, kinda seems ridiculous.
You want to “scale” something that is built on developing relationships with actual people?
You want to scale something that is based on creativity and cutting through an increasing impossible social media content landscape?
You want to scale something that is built on TRUST?
Don’t give me this “scale” garbage. Influencer marketing isn’t something you scale. Influencer marketing requires the exact opposite: It needs a lot of care and feeding.
And, one of the core concepts of this all working from a brand perspective is simple: You need to own the influencer relationships.
Not an agency.
I see five big reasons, and they seem fairly simple:
#1: The influencers are telling you they want to work directly with you!
According to the Digiday story, one influencer says “I prefer to have a relationship with a company rather than put in a bid. The networks’ approach “seems a bit impersonal.” That’s not surprising. You put a middle-man in between any two parties and you’re bound to get confusion and frustration.
#2: Direct, fast access
If you’ve worked in IM at all, you know the old adage applies: What can happen, will happen. That’s not to say things go wrong all the time. But, things do go wrong. And, when they do, wouldn’t you rather have direct access to the influencers you’re working with vs. going through an agency that may or may not be your top priority at any given moment?
#3: Long-term contracts, pulling them in closer to your brand
Sure, you could definitely lock-in long-term contracts with influencers using an agency. But, in general, what I hear about agency/influencer relationships is it’s very transactional. They’re looking for that “scale” I mentioned above. Whereas brands should be looking for a long-term partner. Someone they can create content with. Someone they can invite to employee events. Someone they can do media interviews with. This is the future of influencer marketing–and I’m not sure it needs agency involvement.
#4: IM is not transactional, at least it shouldn’t be
According to the Digiday article, there’s been an uptick in solicitations from agencies and these influencer networks. One influencer believes that’s because brands are looking to achieve short-term goals. He’s almost certainly dead-on with his take. Brands are frequently focused on a campaign mentality–and that’s probably no different with influencer marketing. Brands want results by the quarter–and they’re willing to pay for them. Hence the transactional comments we’re seeing in this article. But, what brands should be doing is the exact opposite. Focusing on long-term relationships with brands that include much more than 2-3 Insta posts per month.
#5: I’m not 100% sure IM should really even “scale”
There’s one quote that particularly bothered me in the Digiday article: Kristy Sammis, executive director of the Influencer Marketing Association, said: “Brands are now willing to allocate significant budget to strategic influencer programs. This means they need scale, benchmarks, and guarantees. That’s simply not possible with one-on-one influencer relationships.” It’s great that brands are devoting more resources to IM. But, scaling is something IM doesn’t do well. This is where all the frustration is coming in. And, the comment about “guarantees” is troubling, too. Sure, you can forecast what an influencer might bring to your brand in terms of impressions, engagement and even traffic. But, to “guarantee” such results is absolutely preposterous. I can’t even believe the director of an association devoted to IM would say such a thing.
I saw this post in my feed the other day and it reminded me of a post I had been meaning to write for ages. The title: The top 10 laziest phrases in social content marketing.
But, after I saw this post, I decided to amend that headline. Because there’s only one phrase that can be labeled “the laziest” in social content marketing–and I’m not sure it’s close!
Two words–“Check out…”–has to be the laziest phrase in modern-day content marketing.
I see it used almost daily. And, it’s awful. But, it’s not surprising. Not considering the circumstances. Think about it. The content machine is now in overdrive. Communicators are tasked with coming up with multiple pieces of social content daily.
So, that drives laziness.
Then, consider the fact that many people who are writing and developing social content aren’t even communicators! Sometimes it’s an HR person. Other times, it’s an admin. Yet others, an ops person.
That’s driving laziness.
Finally, social media has, in many ways, chipped away at the art of writing. We see so much laziness in social media content. SO MUCH. And, it’s a product of volume. We have so much content to get out there now (I’m always a huge advocate of “less is more”), that it almost forces laziness in our writing.
Like I said, I’m not surprised.
But, we can do something about this. We can recommit to our writing! Especially when it comes to writing these intro posts that tee up an article we’re sharing via social (see above), because that’s where I see this lazy phrase used the most.
Allow me to suggest a few tips so you, too, can avoid using the laziest phrase in social content marketing history.
1 – Use a quote from the article
Simply pulling out one of the more interesting or compelling quotes from the article can be a great way to tease the post. For example, using the Gravie post above, why not go with — “On average, employers spend 400 hours annually managing health benefits, and that is likely to go up as the complexity increases. Having a good pulse on where you are spending time, money and expertise is critically important to managing one of the most expensive line items on your budget.”
2 – Use a data point as a hook
In many cases, a simple data point is more than enough to pique readers’ curiousities. Again, using the Gravie example, what about — “Employer spend 400 hours annually managing health benefits–do you know where all those hours are going?” Wouldn’t you want to read on?
3 – Think about your post like a broadcast intro
Think about the way broadcasters tee up stories on the 10 pm news. Wouldn’t that be a great way to reframe social posts like these? Again, using Gravie, something like this would work much better than using the dreaded “check this out” language:
Whew–Open enrollment season is now in our rear-view mirror. Now, read how our head of HR, Amy Spartz, believes a healthy post-mortem is essential to making next year’s event even more effective: https://www.tlnt.com/before-open-enrollment-becomes-a-memory-do-a-post-mortem/
Last fall, Popeye’s trolled Chick-Fil-A on Twitter into helping it launch its new chicken sandwich that ended up selling out and causing gun play in stores.
Then, Netflix asked brands for their best x-rated sex tweet in what might be the very best Twitter thread of all time.
And last week, Planters got in on the action when it killed off Mr. Peanut and publicly solicited friends, followers and yes, brands to commemorate Mr. Peanut with tributes on Twitter (and then unveiled “baby Peanut” Sunday during the “Big Game” in what might be the most disappointing spot of the entire event).
These are all moves that are part of a growing trend: Brands using other brands to gain awareness and engagement via social media marketing. Some may argue it’s an odd move (I’ve been one of those people in the past), but it may actually be turning out to be a shrewd strategy. After all, just look at the #RIPeanut hash tag for a minute. Many of the tweets with the most engagements come from other brands paying tribute to Mr. Peanut–like this one from Nesquik.
Just look at @MrPeanut’s Twitter feed and you’ll find an almost limitless stream of brand tweets with similar levels of engagement. The feed from Jan. 22-24 is literally full of these tweets–too many to count, really. And, during the “Big Game” they once again found a way to engage with brands–but not humans.
Now, some folks may argue this brand-to-brand interaction on Twitter is meaningless. It’s not strategic and it’s not driving toward brand goals. I used to be a skeptic when it came to this stuff, but I’m starting to see a semblance of value. Why? With one simple tweet, Planters drummed up millions of impressions and hundreds of thousands of engagements–much of it on the back of other brands.
Budweiser, Oscar Meyer, Shake Shack. The list goes on and on and on. Each one with thousands of engagements and most likely much more than that in impressions. Plus, in the cases of Planters and Netflix–it’s highly entertaining!
How many of you have went back and read all the brand responses to Netflix’s initial tweet? They’re funny, right? So yeah, brand-to-brand tweets can sometimes be annoying and in some cases, childish even. But, used the right way, they can also drive big results.
Want another recent example? Look at Olay and what they did during and after the “Big Game.”
Their outstanding #MakeSpaceforWomen hash tag attempts to raise $500,000 for Girls Who Code. Noble and worthy cause, right?
Not surprisingly, they saw a ton of tweets during the Big Game, and on Monday. But, they also found time to retweet and engage with a host of brands including Mattress Firm, of all brands.
You also had a number of brands like Budweiser tweeting (supposedly) on their own volition. Again, brand-on-brand interaction.
The list goes on and on. This is not a one-off situation. Brands engaging with other brands is a definite strategy at this point. The only question is: Do you think it’s a viable one?
For the last few years, I’ve been developing a “Social Media Trends” presentation in January that I’ve now given more than 20 times. While I don’t proclaim to be a trend-spotter, I do keep up with social media trends each week–mostly because I have to! For this blog. For the Talking Points Podcast. For my class at the University of St. Thomas (which starts next Monday!). And, for the Talking Points e-newsletter (sign up here).
This year’s edition made its debut two weeks ago as I presented at the Communicators Connect group in St. Louis Park. I’m hoping to give this prezo a few more times here in Q1 (if you’re interested, shoot me a note at email@example.com — my speaking fee is usually minimal, or zero!).
With my trend decks, I focus on more pragmatic trends, if that even makes sense. I’m looking for trends that will actually impact most of us. And, trends that aren’t the “same old, same old” that we see in so many other posts (if I see another post that says video is a trend in 2020, I WILL SCREAM LOUDLY!). As I look ahead to 2020, I saw nine realistic social media trends ahead:
1 – Brands will have to better prepare for the Internet Flash Mob
2 -More brands will “challenge” followers on TikTok (but then what?)
3 – Community management makes a comeback
4 – The beginning of the end for the newsfeed
5 – Brands will stop measuring “engagement”
6 – Less is (Way) more when it comes to social content
7 – Internal influencers > external influencers
8 – Companies will start more podcasts that compliment traditional tactics
9 – Employer brands go mainstream on social
Here’s the full deck, if you’d care to review. I’ll be monitoring these trends throughout 2020–should be interesting to see where we land in December!