By Jamie Jackson
I love Instagram. I really do. It’s fun to post pictures and to get a sneak peek into strangers’ lives (why is this not a weird statement anymore?).
Instagram is a popular social media outlet for personal use, however, it is also becoming popular among companies for branding and marketing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business (or even your personal account).
Use brightly colored and well-lit photos
An attractive photo stream doesn’t usually involve unedited, dull pictures. Starbucks’ Instagram feed is full of colorful and attractive photos.
However – not all black and white pictures should be thrown in the trash. Leon Bridges’ photo stream has some great examples of how black and white pictures can still be great for Instagram.
Leon is an R&B artist embracing soul music. These black and white images line up perfectly with Leon’s personal brand and the subjects he sings about.
Instagram is effective when people follow you, and you gain followers by giving people what they want. On Instagram, that means aesthetically pleasing photos.
No one wants to see another ad on Instagram. Sure, if you’re a clothing store, post pictures of new arrivals. If you have a great new product, it’s okay to feature it in a post. But Instagram shouldn’t be used as an online store. Try something like this:
Tell stories. Show consumers the faces behind the name.
You are more than an ad agency or a boring, unoriginal company. Show the fun! Unless you really want people to think you’re a boring, unoriginal company – in which case, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.insta
If you use Instagram, actually USE it
Post consistently. Don’t post once or twice, or for a season. If you put an intern in charge of the account, make sure someone else takes over after they leave.
Consistency is key in posting and branding. If you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, use the same for Instagram. Use your same logo as the profile picture, link to the same website, use the same voice and use your brand. Instagram provides a unique opportunity to tell your story solely through pictures. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Steward them well.
By this, I don’t mean try to use modern slang just because it’s used by young people. You risk misusing or misunderstanding words and phrases, potentially losing credibility and followers. Instead, follow current trends and try to stay fun. This post from McDonald’s is a great example.
Celebrate things like hump day. Be relevant in your posts on holidays or during big world issues. This might seem like it won’t affect sales, but an online presence that seems real and personal is so valuable to a company – especially with younger people.
While Insta is more fun and exciting than a lot of other tools, it’s still very measurable and very valuable. Do it better by evaluating your efforts with Instagram analytics tools. Instagram is great for reaching younger audiences and telling your story with photos. Evaluating any social media effort is a chance to show the C-suite their money is being used well. It also gives coordinators a chance to change their efforts as needed depending on what works and what doesn’t. Evaluation helps to refine and target your audiences and determines if you are indeed reaching them. All efforts are wasteful if not evaluated frequently.
Social media is a wonderful branding tool when used properly. Millennials grew up with this stuff, so employ some of them to help you navigate new waters. It’s worth it. Speaking of social, you’ll want to follow IPR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.
By Hank Kellerman
You’ve seen it in cartoons: A freshly baked pie is steaming hot and placed on the window sill to cool. The tantalizing aroma begins to drift around the house and finds a hungry character. With a quick flick of it’s cherry scented finger, the character slowly floats up a bit and begins to follow the wonderful smell.
Simply put, this is a great example of inbound marketing. In recent years there has been an explosion of inbound marketing across all types of businesses, but more specifically smaller businesses. Inbound marketing is the process of developing online content that is compelling, informative and fulfills your audience’s hunger for the product or services they want or need. Inbound marketing focuses on bringing customers to you versus having customers go out looking for them. This can be done in a multitude of ways, but some of the more common methods include blogs, social media discussions, forums and SEO optimization.
Before you jump head first into the rapid currents of inbound marketing, strap on some water wings and follow these guidelines for developing an inbound marketing strategy.
Develop Buyer Personas
How do you know and write for your audience? If you just write about topics without the proper research, you could fail to reach your desired audience. One tool that can help you create some excellent audience-specific content are your buyer personas. Buyer personas provide the inside scoop about what your customers are like. They can tell you numerous demographic and psychographic details such as their age, income, hobbies, day-to-day activities and more. Developing buyer personas enables you to accurately create specialized online content to address questions and topics focused to your customers.
SEO and Keywords
Most people know it is extremely difficult to show up on the front page of Google. Google uses digital spiders to crawl across the Internet and search for the most relevant content on that matches the needs of the search query. To get on the front page, your content must be optimized for search engines by using keywords.
There are a multitude of tools that can be used to find keywords, including the Google Adwords Keyword Planner and Long Tail Pro. These tools help you search for relevant keywords with regards to your topic and also can show you things such as how often a certain word is searched every month, its keyword competitiveness and other sites that use this keyword. If you find the right keyword and include it in your content’s titles and main body paragraphs with great surrounding content, your page will be much more likely to rise from the depths and find itself on the first page of Google search results.
Content is Key
This phrase has been uttered by marketing and public relations professionals millions of times. It also has never been so true. Creating compelling content that is relevant to what your consumers are searching for is only the beginning. For a successful inbound marketing strategy, your content has to be better than great. It has to be amazing.
Anyone can write a blog post about how to rebrand a business, but it takes a talented individual to write an in-depth, informative and star-studded post. You need to create content so great that other sites want to back link (the process of other sites linking to your post or site) to it. This also aids in the chances of your site being found organically by search engines. Search engines will view your site as having more credibility with more back links and, in turn, will lead to your site appearing higher up on search engine results pages.
How Do You Put This All Together?
Grab your mixing bowl and get ready to bake that aromatic fruit-filled pie that will have your audience flocking to your content. Do your research. Developing buyer personas, finding relevant keywords and writing amazing content all take time and effort. Spend the time to develop these three items and get ready to watch your consumers come to you. The world of marketing is changing rapidly, and the power of the Internet makes it is much easier for your consumers to find you on their own time than it is for you to reach out to them. So what are you waiting for? Start doing your research and that content-rich pie sitting in the window will be too irresistible to pass up.
by Andrea Mason
In case you somehow missed it, Marvel and Disney are releasing “Avengers: Age of Ultron” tomorrow. That’s right, you have less than a day to prepare for its awesomeness. Over the last decade, Marvel has built an incredibly strong brand. It continues to strengthen in the midst of the film’s release with different promotions, merchandise and capitalizing on a minor crisis. Let’s take a look at a few ways Marvel is achieving this:
Making the most of a minor crisis
Marvel planned to release its first trailer for the movie during an episode of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” last October. However, according to Variety, an internet troll beat Marvel to the punch, leaking the trailer before it was scheduled. This was not good news for Marvel because there was already a strategic plan to release the trailer. Still, Marvel was able to turn the crisis into an opportunity by posting a tweet that just said, “Dammit, Hydra.” This simplistic tweet–a nod to Captain America fans–received more than 30,000 retweets and 20,000 favorites. Marvel played off of this misfortune and blamed it on the fictional antagonist, which is quite genius.
Reaching out to women
Oddly enough, a mega-franchise like the Avengers hasn’t resonated with female audiences as well as the studios wish. Marvel knows how to change that. Cinema Blend explains that for “Age of Ultron,” Disney released one of its largest licensing programs ever around the film. If you see Iron Man, Thor or Captain America on packages of Sage Fruit, Conagra, Crunch Pak or Chobani, that is Marvel’s strategy to branch out to the female audience. All those products have a significantly high female customer bases (65-67%).
Gillette Razors from Stark Industries
Marvel teamed up with a number of well-known brands to promote “Age of Ultron.” The Mary Sue lists a few of these brands like Harley Davidson, Gillette, Doritos and Audi. Gillette unveiled a clever campaign with different men’s razors that resemble Avengers characters. With young men being the film’s biggest audience, this partnership makes a lot of sense. Even though these products aren’t real, the idea of using a superhero razor could bring out that inner 9-year-old and make shaving more enjoyable.
Marvel’s brand is well established, but the studio is successfully promoting the movie and continuing to create lasting impressions. Let’s just hope the movie lives up to crowd expectations.
by Jonathan Haile
James Bond is known to drive Aston Martins. In doing so, Astons became the “heroes’ cars.” Jaguar, another English luxury automaker, doesn’t want you driving its rival, Aston’s. That means if you’re not the hero, you must be the villain. In recent years, the company has done an excellent job playing with that brand strategy, featuring popular actors we recognize as movie villains in a series of ads. The company is not really out to incite global mayhem, but inspire you with a bit of fun.
I sat in Jaguar’s gorgeous F-Type Coupe at this year’s Kansas City Auto Show, and I’ll be the first to admit that the car caused me to smirk, villainously. I wished there was a key fob close by so that I could drive it out of Bartle Hall. I love Jaguar’s ads, but it wasn’t until this week that I realized the brilliance of the automaker’s strategy.
A brand is what the customers and audiences think
I started a free online marketing course, and in a short period of time, I have heard a lot about branding, strategy and messages. The instructor, in a series of videos, explained something I wish I had realized,”The real definition of a brand is whatever the customer thinks it is.” She hit it on the head with pinpoint accuracy. We all have perceptions of a brand. Our experiences with the brand shape those perceptions. It was shown, over time, that Jaguars were the cars of the mischievous, so sitting in the F-Type, I wanted to cause some trouble. That can make things tough for PR and marketing folks.
The Challenge, The Solution
More than 6.6 million people like Jaguar on Facebook. That’s a lot of differing opinions and expectations. Therein lies an exciting challenge. How do you help the customer understand the brand as you see it? The answer isn’t villainous mind games, but creating a solid brand foundation.
Whether you are branding a start-up or re-branding a well-established company in need of updates, there are questions marketing and PR pros must consider. Here are a few:
- Why does the company exist and who is it meant to serve?
- How is the brand positioned in the marketplace?
- What are the competitors doing? What will you do differently?
More specifically for PR folks, how will we communicate with the people who matter most? What tactics should we implement? When the brand is established, the communication needs to be consistent and built to help the company achieve its objectives.
Jaguar, founded more than 90 years ago, isn’t really set on blowing up major cities and manipulating world leaders. Its corporate values are integrity, understanding, excellence, unity and responsibility. That said, it’s a British luxury car company with competitors. When you consider the association between Aston Martin and James Bond, you forgive Jaguar for playing the anti-hero.
by Kristina Keeling
Product placement in television has become more important to marketers because of the way people are watching television. Viewers are able to skip over commercials and enjoy shows without any interruptions. Product placement advertises to consumers subliminally, if done correctly. However, marketers are becoming more aggressive with product placement promotions to reach their audiences.
How does it work?
To put it simply, product placement is when a company pays to have its product showcased on a television show or in a movie, but a lot more goes into product placement than we think. The film, “Man of Steel,” had more than 100 product partners, earning close to $160 million before it hit theaters. Product placement is also in books, video games and even on YouTube. When done successfully, product placements can have lasting impact on viewers. Some agencies actually specialize in product placement promotion because of high demand.
HERO, an advertising agency in Los Angeles, specializes in product placements. Its clients have placed products on well-known shows, such as “Two and a Half Men,” “Glee,” and “The Good Wife,” just to name a few. Its website states that “the brands in a viewer’s favorite shows have a much higher likelihood of becoming that viewer’s favorite brand.”
House of Cards
The Netflix original series “House of Cards” is notorious for its not-so-subtle product placements. The series had such an overload of notable products that the Los Angeles Times said, “House of Cards? More like House of Product Placement,” mocking the hit TV series for its poor use of product placements. The very first sentence of the first episode referenced a Toyota Prius. Netflix spent a total of $100 million producing the first season, but offers no disclosures of any paid product placement, only crediting the product partners by saying all logos were “used with permission.”
Now that “House of Cards” is in its third season it is confirmed by Advertising Age that Anheuser-Busch is the exclusive beer brand for the series, along with Samsung being the tech-of-choice. Anheuser-Busch is not paying for this placement however, but rather supplying production with its product. Samsung also offered its customers Netflix subscriptions when buying select Samsung products. It is rumored that Coca-Cola, Dell and Nike are all working with “House of Cards” for similar deals.
The Emmy Award-winning series, “Modern Family,” now on its sixth season, is another show littered with product placement. Steven Levitan, executive producer and creator, said the show turns down about 90 percent of its product placement offers, and for a good reason. ABC wants to stay true to the characters on its show. The Toyota Prius, an environmentally-friendly car, appeared on the first season, driven by Mitchell Pritchett, who is an environmental attorney. It wouldn’t make sense for him to drive a gas-guzzling truck.
“Connection Lost,” a recent episode of “Modern Family” has sky rocketed to the top of the list of brilliantly used product placement. The episode was shared with viewers entirely through Claire Dunphy’s MacBook Pro. In the episode, Claire is trying to find her daughter after having a huge fight, but she is stuck at the airport and has to use Facebook, iCloud, the app, Find Your iPhone and FaceTime to track her down. The episode didn’t feel like one long commercial, cleverly blurring the lines between entertainment and advertising.
Is this all too much?
Products are everywhere. Your favorite character is going to have to make a phone call or use a computer for research, so why not have them use an Apple product to do so? What do you think? Have “Modern Family” and “House of Cards” gone too far with product placement? Let us know in the comments below.
by Jonathan Haile
Stock photos are obviously staged, somewhat awkward and often very expensive. There is rarely anything unique about them. The same thing can be said about promotional campaigns for upcoming movies. There is usually a poster, then a teaser, then a trailer, and finally TV and print ads. The funny thing is that when stock photos meet film promotions, you find a fresh way to get people interested in your movie. Kudos to marketers behind Twentieth Century Fox’s new film, Unfinished Business.
About the film
In the movie, actors Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco (playing an inexperienced business pro named Mike Pancake) head off to Europe, bidding to win the business of a huge client, but the trip goes awry. With Vaughn at the helm, you can expect this won’t be a film for families.
The images, available for free on Getty Images, are perfect spoofs of easily recognizable stock images. In the series of photos, you’ll see Vaughn, Franco and Wilkinson (clearly Photoshopped) looking positive and productive, and positioned to exude ideal business professionals in their ideal work environments. While a lot of companies aim to be more appealing to the public with senses of humor, it’s not hard to imagine seeing this on a website soon.
Why this is great
As I touched upon above, movie promotion involves a formulaic process. The process is the most effective way to get people into theater seats. That’s why studio films make money hand over fist, and independent films don’t. The process is boring, but marketers do a lot of things, big and small, to energize the campaigns. My favorite example is (bear in mind, for a television show) HBO’s placement of a giant dragon skull on an English beach; a promotion for its hit series, Game of Thrones.
Granted Fox’s use of stock photos is significantly smaller, in scale and effort, than a beach dragon, doing something new is always appreciated by marketers and film fans, alike. Will the movie be good? That remains the big question, but in the meantime, I’ll continue to commend whoever thought of this idea. I hope those looking for business-related photos on Getty Images are doing double-takes and laughing at what they find.
by Andrea Mason
If you’re like me, you’ve flipped through the television channels and a commercial for Calvin Klein comes on with Justin Bieber in his underwear, accompanied by Lara Stone. You may wonder, with an exasperated sigh, “What is Bieber doing now?” The answer is that Justin and Lara are promoting the campaign, My Calvins. Though is it actually helping the brand?
Recognizing the brand
What do celebrities and companies have in common? They are both looking to gain publicity and brand recognition.
As many consumers and fans are aware, Beyoncé is the face of Pepsi. This gives Pepsi the advantage of attracting Beyoncé’s fan base. This ongoing partnership that began in 2012 helped Beyoncé appear at the top of Forbes’ Celebrity 100 list in 2014. Beyoncé is a very well-known celebrity who creates a positive reputation for herself, Pepsi and the other brands she promotes. Putting two well-known brands together, such as Pepsi and Beyoncé, is bound to generate recognition.
Celebrities cost money
Celebrity endorsement is nothing new. A company’s main goal is to increase sales. Some brands even feel the need to take on more than one celeb, such as Nike using Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and a long list of other athletes. After surveying a group of consumers in 2014, Ace Metrix found that 55 percent believe celebrities are actually a wasted investment due to the damaging impact they can have when promoting a product or service.
Although Jordan retired in 2003, which is more than 10 years ago, the Air Jordan’s Brand is still a highly sought out shoe. When thinking about the investment Nike pays, Jordan still receives an estimated $90 million a year. This is obviously a lot of money, especially if you add Jordan’s $90 million to the other salaries of athlete endorsers who partner with Nike. It is evident that the money Nike funnels into these partnerships exceeds some companies’ worth. A brand has to go through an immense amount of research and planning before a company decides to hire a celeb endorser.
The importance of credibility
Consumers buy a particular product or service for many reasons. The Ace Metrix research study also found that 57 percent of consumers are more willing to buy a product or service they see advertised, if there are statistics with supportive evidence.
For example, during the 2015 Sunday Super Bowl, one commercial that stuck out was T-Mobile’s ad with Kim Kardashian as its celeb spokesperson. Kardashian tries to gives some information to back up her message by saying, “Each month millions of gigs of unused data are taken back by wireless companies…” Though, knowing her reputation for celeb drama, viewers likely wonder if she’s really that credible.
By Amanda Moore
CoverGirl is a cosmetic line sold across the United States. You have probably seen countless commercials about their different types of make-up, trying to persuade you to use their newest lipstick or their age-defying foundation. CoverGirl is well known for their many celebrity endorsements including Ellen DeGeneres, Sofia Vergara and Pink. Celebrity endorsements aren’t anything new, but CoverGirl has now taken a new spin on it. Check it out:
CoverGirl’s new commercial “#GirlsCan” goes beyond the products they sell. It features eight different women celebrities speaking out about the stereotype that girls can’t do certain things. “Girls can’t rock. Girls can’t be strong. Girls can’t check. Girls can’t be funny. Girls can’t rap. Girls can’t run the show. Girls can’t dance crazy. Girls can’t!” One celebrity, Queen Latifiah, talks about how she was told she couldn’t rap or own her own business, and now she has done both. The message is that women can do anything they want when they don’t limit themselves to other’s expectations, and why should they?
Going against the grain
Covergirl’s idea to promote they empowerment of women is amazing. It’s not often that companies address stereotypes head-on. This commercial was a risk for CoverGirl because women are subjected to many other commercials, magazine ads, etc., filled with beautiful women with flawless skin and perfect bodies. This CoverGirl commercial shows that women can use their products and be themselves; they don’t need to look like the perfect women in the other advertisements. In the commercial “BE YOU” flashes, and that is important. Being yourself is what makes you beautiful, and to embrace that is a powerful thing. Self-love creates confidence that can’t be torn down, and to have a company advocate for that is extremely refreshing.
Thank you, CoverGirl for going against the grain to help encourage girls to follow their dreams. Women need to forget these stereotypes and do what they are passionate about, regardless of what others think we can and can’t do. Even if someone says “Girls can’t,” you can prove them wrong by showing them #GirlsCan.
Image via: CoverGirl Youtube
by Jessica Smith
I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, bored with what I saw until I encountered a tweet from Aerie, the sister company of American Eagle Outfitters. Aerie announced that there will be no more supermodels and no more retouching its girls in its advertisements. Anti-Photoshop? Suddenly, I am intrigued.
Will I no longer have to stare at Barbie-esque women who inevitably make me jealous as I feed my online shopping addiction? I made it my mission to discover if this was as real as Aerie claimed and indeed it was. “We left beauty marks, we left tattoos, what you see is really what you get with our campaign,” Jenny Altman, Aerie brand representative said on Good Morning America. “We’re hoping to break the mold and that real girls everywhere will start to embrace their own beauty.” Aerie definitely broke through the clutter of flawless supermodels with lingerie ads that feature real women with curves, wrinkles, stretch marks and a little belly fat.
These minor flaws can have a major impact on young women. Flipping through typical lingerie catalogs (ahem, Victoria’s Secret) can ultimately have damaging effects on young women’s body image. Aerie has given young women the opportunity to see people like themselves labeled as beautiful and sexy. The campaign is focused on instilling self-confidence in young women. After all, isn’t that how it should be?
Shop for the #real you
Aerie introduced a bra guide to accommodate online shoppers. All you have to do is click on your bra size and the guide will show real women wearing bras in your exact size. This new addition to the website is great. Ultimately, we want to purchase lingerie that looks great on us, not lingerie that looks great on supermodels. But wait, that is not the only new addition to the website. Women from across the U.S. now have the opportunity to be featured on the website. All you have to do is share a photo through Instagram or Twitter using the #AerieREAL tag.
A refreshing step outside
Aerie took a brave step outside of the lingerie drawer with this campaign. Women from all over the country have applauded and shared their excitement on Twitter (including me). Every woman is beautiful in their own unique way; it is refreshing to see this acknowledged by a popular lingerie brand. I have my fingers crossed that other brands will decide to follow in their footsteps.
Photocredit: Huffington Post
by Jonathan HaileOver the last few years Old Spice has developed a reputation for releasing strange advertisements. I use “strange” loosely. They might be that, but they’re also unquestionably entertaining. We have to wonder who is coming up with this stuff in the meetings.
The odd mix of commercials started with the Old Spice Guy, played by former NFL wide receiver Isaiah Mustafa, and then turned into spots featuring comic actor Terry Crews. They evolved, yet again, into commercials featuring NFL players like Ray Lewis, Greg Jennings, and Wes Welker. These muscle-bound caricatures added to the winning formula for the company’s commercials: always funny, highly recognizable, and shareable. The Old Spice Whistle is also unmistakeable.
But Old Spice went a different route for the new year. It seems like Old Spice has stepped outside of the box (if it was still even in it). The latest advertisement, a spot showcasing a new line of body sprays, is garnering many differing reactions. Judging from Twitter, some viewers say it’s hilarious, others say it’s creepy, but I would venture to say it’s a bit of both. If you haven’t seen it, check out these mothers’ reaction to the body spray transforming their teenage sons into men in Old Spice: Momsong.
In case you missed it on television, Momsong has over 1150 shares on Facebook and 300 retweets. Like the spots before it, I would say it is highly shareable content. It has been viewed on Youtube over 1 million times, but with site’s lack of constant updating, who is to say it hasn’t been viewed a handful more times?
Public Relations students will also notice that the company’s Facebook and Twitter cover photos are now pictures of mothers looking concerned for their teenage sons, with a new slogan that says, “Spray goodbye to boyhood. Smellcome to manhood.”
What do you think? Is it creepy? Is it funny? Did your mom react the moms in the commercial when you started wearing Old Spice body spray? Or is it simply a successful mix of traditional and social media? Tell us your thoughts.