Home Runs & Goals With Sports Campaigns

Football, hockey, basketball, baseball. We watch sports like it is the only thing in the world that matters. From die hard fans, to the occasional channel surfers, sports is at the heart of Americans. Game time brings people together. Marketers are fully immersed in this reality and are finding themselves pushed creatively to present sports fans with new and engaging campaigns constantly, especially at the peak of the sports seasons. With the kick off of baseball season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs, my 2 favorite times of the year, I thought it’d be a good idea to take a closer look at some of the current and most successful marketing and social media tactics being utilized.

MLB-Always Epic

The MLB, in an effort to lure in young fans, under the creative direction of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos (part of the Interpublic Group) has coined the phrase “Always Epic”, replacing the old theme “Beyond Baseball” for this new round of marketing tactics. The previous campaign was noted for its traditionall use of media and marketing tactics, but this new campaign will tap into social and digital media in the hopes to appeal to the younger crowd.

So why take a sport that prides itself on being an American tradition and change it’s entire image to appeal to younger Americans? Well, this is just my opinion, but when I go to a baseball game (I’m 22 years old) I go with a big group of my friends and we go to kick back a few beers, scarf down some hot dogs, enjoy the sunshine and hang out with our friends. When you look around at a game, a good amount of the fan base is just like me and my friends. Tickets are a decent price for a typical home game and it’s summertime…of course the MLB is going to attract a young crowd looking for something fun to do on a warm summer night. It makes perfect sense for the MLB to change up their target audience for this new campaign.

What does this new campaign have to offer? Well, for starters it is going to take on a whole new look. Where the old spots featured videos of a glimpse into real action games and celebrated the traditions and charm of the long lasting American tradition, the “Always Epic” theme will play off humorous vignettes of today’s most popular players. Fans will also be invited to visit the campaigns microsite ,and tweet your thoughts about the campaign and during the games using with the #MLBAlwaysEpic hashtag.

In an extended attempt to make baseball seem cool and appealing to younger fans, and incorporate social media, the MLB network has created the MLB Fan Cave, which will share the thoughts of fans through twitter @MLBFanCave, an active blog, and through Facebook, video clips, and appearances on the MLB network.

NHL—It’s Stanley Time!

It’s that time of year again where hockey fans alike put on their most intense game face and fully commit to every second of every game. Yes, that’s right. It’s the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The “History Will Be Made” campaign, in collaboration with Young & Rubicam, proved to be highly successful last year, drawing in more than 302 million viewers for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, is back!

The campaign has kicked it up a knotch, as the NHL and NBC Sports Group have joined forces to extend the campaign across tv, print, radio, digital/social media for NBC, NHL and Versus, online, in arena, in store, and mobile platforms. The campaign, back and even better then last year, hopes to drive audience viewership and connect fans with the players on an emotional level. The hope is that this will inspire fans of all ages to post their own versions of the TV generated spots on YouTube and initiate social media conversation.  As an avid hockey fan (GO RED WINGS) I can relate to intense and emotion filled reality of the playoffs.  Like last year, fans will be urged to download the original music composed for the campaign from the NHLs Facebook fan page. Fans can also chose from 63 of the greatest moments in NFL playoff history, matched up head to head in an interactive bracket, and vote for their favorite on the NHLs microsite, History vs. History. ..perhaps first playoff hat trick of Wayne Gretzky’s career?

The first 2 spots, “Mess” and “Wish” already debuted in March and an additional 20 spots launches yesterday with the start of the playoffs.

 

Sports sure know how to create some great ads.

GO TIGERS. GO WINGS  ❤

Tigers LogoWings Logo

Building a Home for Hip Hop

So I’m not a huge hip hop fan, but I came across this online video ad. Thanks to the creative efforts of Global Hue, this short video features a classical music conductor, lost in the urban streets of the Big Apple, only to find his way and break out into a crazy hip hop musical masterpiece. Made in honor of of the talented world of hip hop, this ad for the National Museum of Hip Hop definitely does a great job at impacting the viewer with it’s straight forward tag line “Help build a home for the classics of hip hop.” I thought it was a creative approach to online video advertising. What do you think?

Social Media in 10

So you are, let’s say, a small business owner and with all the new social media buzz circling around, you decide it’s about time you implement a social media plan. It can be hard, as a small business without the budget to bring in the social media experts, to figure out the do’s and don’ts of setting a plan in place.  What social networks should you tap into? What tactics should you explore? What should you avoid? All these questions need answers before you can plan and execute a successful social media campaign.  If it were as easy as making a Facebook page and Tweeting, then anyone could do it.

Social Media

I’m going to break it down into 10 tid bits of advice to take into consideration when tackling your first social media plan.

1.     STRATEGY: Define your objectives & establish your goals: Every good plan starts off with a strategy.  Write out a clear purpose for your social media plan and clearly articulate your purpose and vision.

2.     TEAM: Even if you’re a small, local business, you cant possible manage an entire social media plan by yourself. Delegate a few other people to help manage your plan. Identify who does what, clearly, so nothing in the upkeep of your social media presence goes over looked. Social media isn’t something you can learn over night so invest in the proper resources for additional training on the subject. Attend workshops and conferences, listen to podcasts (so helpful) read blogs by the pros.

3.     LISTEN! If you are going to have a social media plan you NEED to know how to listen to your audience. Where are your customers?  How are they engaging with each other and brands online?  How do they want to be involved with brands? Your first instinct may lead you to an answer like “Well, they are obviously all on Facebook.” WRONG. Take the time to do your research.

4.     FOCUS: If your social media plan stretches across 10 different social media platforms, chances are you are going to have a very touch time keeping track of everything. Once you figure out where your audience is, concentrate on creating a strong presence there. Prioritize what areas of social media are most important to your brand and focus on those. A strong social media plan isn’t necessarily one that integrates every single platform from Facebook to Flickr…its one that picks a few platforms and excels at utilizing them.

5.     THEME: If your social media plan is going to tap into, for example, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, then make sure the 3 relate to each other in some way.  The worst social plans are the ones that are so jumbled and busy that they forget to carry a common theme centered around the brand’s message. WWE did an excellent job of this with their “Stand Up For W” campaign. Everything their audience could, from uploading videos on Youtube voicing your support, to making “I’m Standing Up for WWE” their Facebook status, tied in together in supporting their “Support for WWE” theme.  Create a story and create a voice for your brand.

6.     COMMUNICATION: I’ve talked about this before in a previous post, but communication is key! Once you have your social media plan up and running, you MUST establish a relationship with your followers. This is like the follow up step to Listening. Once you know where your audience is and what they want, start to involve them in your brand. Let them know you are listening to them by tweeting back or following up to their comments or suggestions on facebook.

7.     LINK: Make sure to link everything together. A person browsing your Facebook page should also be able to get to your Twitter, YouTube channel, Linkedln, Website etc…Consider creating a landing page. Here’s a great article on Copyblogger article outlining the basics of a landing page.

8.     SEO OPTIMIZATION: Make sure your website is optimized for online and mobile browsing. Make sure each page has a share button (Facebook Like, Twitter tweet this, Digg etc) and make sure each page is optimized with the right tags and met tags. Optimize your site with keywords (Google Keywords is a great tool to help with this). Make sure the links to your social media profiles are clearly displayed. YOU need to be in control of your own online presence. Get informed! Check out the Google Webmaster Blog for some great SEO tips.

9.     METRICS: Define the metrics you will use to measure your social media success. You need to have a way to measure your plan’s success and failures so you can adjust accordingly.  You can use Google Alerts to monitor search terms. Use site analytics to measure where your traffic is coming from and Klout is great for monitoring your Twitter influence.

10. GO FOR IT!!! Social media takes work, attention, patience, and the willingness to put the time and resources into your plan to achieve success. Once you have your plan defined and your platforms up and running, a social media plan can prove to be extremely beneficial.

 

 

 

The Future of Advertising: Online Video

The other day I was asked what I thought the most influential emerging technology was for advertisers and marketers.

That was a week ago…I think I finally have an answer

Even though online video isn’t a new technology I think it’s one that has advertisers have just recently begun to tap into more. Video advertising will be at the forefront of the online sector this year. This advertising opportunity will prove to be beneficial to media buyers because it contains less clutter, there’s better consumer targeting technology, and a lower cost of production when compared to television.  Online video advertising will also experience massive growth opportunities this year as the shift from offline to online activities continues as well as the explosive growth in mobile and social platforms and formats.

I can see more advertisers utilizing online video for the following reasons (in a nut shell)

  • mobile video will take off
  • branded entertainment and interactive advertising will continue to expand
  • online video can be shared across social media platforms creating even more buzz and video sharing, there’s the potential to target maximum reach on an enormous scale online
  • video search will improve, new online video destinations (other than YouTube) will become accessible to advertisers
  • media buyers may consider moving big budgets online if the consumer potential is greater (ex: to reach young consumers)
  • YouTube will continue to seek out premium brands and advertisers
  • the web will begin to challenge traditional TV and I can say that because I basically watch all my shows online now for lack of time to watch TV
  • real time biding

I’d like to elaborate a bit on what real time bidding is real quick, because I recently just found out myself…

With the recent advancements in broadband and Flash video capabilities, bringing real time video advertising to consumers is more important now then it’s ever been. It’s all about one simple concept…getting the right ad, in front of the right person, at the right time. This is no longer a game of luck: Will that shoe fanatic be on the web when my shoe store banner ad is running along top of yahoo shopper’s homepage. But rather, it’s a game of strategy and defining a target (regional or internet based), then finding that target (IP data parameters), and placing the ad in front of them.  The targeting parameters create impressions and each ad impression is sold to the highest bidder based on who the individual ad is being served to.  An ad buyer, creates a platform or an ad audience (travel, fashion etc), then they can value each opportunity in that audience to buy an impression, in real time. And there you go ladies and gentleman…Local Advertising.

By defining a targeted audience you get the results you want by bidding your ad in real time. Having that targeted audience allows online video advertisers to get better results by bidding their ad, a better ROI, and overall boots success of the ad.

And there we have it. Online Video Advertising…the online advertising of 2011

Talk, Chat, Communicate, Converse…However you say it, IT’S KEY!

With more and more companies investing time and resources into learning how to successfully utilize tools such as facebook and twitter, it’s no doubt that people are really starting to get a hang of the whole social media craze.  Now that companies are tapping into social media to reach consumers these social platforms are becoming a key component in the identify the consumer’s perception of a brand. Gathering consumer insights and behaviors from social media communities is quickly becoming a viable alternative to focus groups. As social media analytics evolve, brands are able to tap directly into consumers behaviors, thoughts, likes and dislikes.  Knowing how to speak the consumer language is more important then ever! Brands who have a social media presence need to actively build a rapport with their consumers in a way that gives consumers the feeling they are being valued and listened to.

Having an active social media presence goes beyond just using social media to promote your brand. From my own observation it seems like a lot of companies are using social media as an ego boost…like a popularity contest. In some cases, it seems to be about who has the most Twitter followers or who has the coolest interactive landing pages, but it goes way beyond that.  A brand’s Twitter or Facebook page is just the first step to achieving social media success. What’s the next step? Communication and building a relationship with your consumers.

communication

WHY?

You know that old saying, “Communication is key”…well whoever said that was absolutely right! The continuous emergence of various social media channels, from Facebook to Twitter to even Youtube, serves as an outlet for consumers to express their opinions, concerns, and feedback about a brand or product. This serves as an opportunity for the brand to then continue the dialogue with their consumers and create a period of interaction…COMMUNICATION. When a brand takes the time to interact directly with consumers and addressing their comments, it not only creates a personal level on communication (as the brand is addressing each specific consumer individually), but it shows the consumer that the company is actually dedicated to their consumers and isn’t just about the popularity contest I brought up earlier in the post.

HOW?

Now the question of how to address consumers might arise. How a brand can make their consumers feel valued can manifest itself in several strategic ways…digital, branding, and conversation engagement.  The brand could respond to a consumer comment as simply and quickly as a Twitter or Facebook reply, or get as fancy as a as digital video response, direct emails, or targeted mobile ads.  A study by 360i found that 43% of tweets are conversational “@ replies” and 24% are conversational status updates and comments on Facebook.

COMPANIES THAT DO IT RIGHT

Let’s take a look at some companies and brands who know how to converse with their consumer. Companies, such as Meijer, Kodak, and Best Buy, utilize direct communication to address consumer concerns and comments via Twitter or Faceook. These 3 brands are wonderful at communicating with as many consumers as they can. If you look on their pages you can see that if a consumer asks a question or addresses a concern, there is a response from the company.  Some responses offer advice, other product info or coupons.

Sometimes brands are caught in a sticky situation and have to find a way to address negative consumer comments. That’s where good PR and analyzing the situation and the best way to handle it come into play. A good example of this is how Groupon will address all the negative feedback from their Super Bowl commercial. This PR pro has some insight on that. This is the simplest way to communicate with consumers and let them know you really care.

WRAPPING IT UP

It’s a simple fact that when brands and companies communicate it’s a win-win for everyone.

  • Consumers feel valued and are more likely to establish a brand loyalty
  • Brands, products or services have a change to engage in conversation to promote  and brand themselves, get a message across, address consumers concerns/opinions/satisfactions, and learn from their consumers.

Social media conversation is a way for brands avoid bombarding consumers with irrelevant messages because they are starting a discussion about specific things at a specific time. KEEP IT RELEVANT! The ability to sustain a meaningful dialogue with a consumer is a way to study consumer behavior and a significant way for marketers to capitalize and learn from the 2 way conversation!

Brands Go Social for the Super Bowl

As the mother of all TV programming approaches, yep that’s right the 2011 Super Bowl, marketers are utilizing more than the $3 million 30 second TV spot. With social media campaigns backing most major brands, this year social and digital media will be a game changer for Super Bowl ad campaigns. The brands that think they can only rely on “let’s do a Facebook contest” won’t stand a chance against the innovative social media approaches some brands are carrying out.

Two of the leading brands in this Super Bowl social media craze are Mercedes and Audi. Both have unveiled high-profile social media contests with prizes to die for. So what do you have to do to win an exhilarating R8 drive at the Audi sports car experience in Sonoma, California or a brand new Mercedes-Benz ? You have to be the best at using social media to socially and digitally tout the foreign brands before and during the big game.

Let’s take a closer look at these’s brand’s tactics:

Mercedes-Benz: They launched “The World’s First Twitter-Fueled Race” (catchy copy). The contest will award 2 new cars to a pair of social media geniuses. The team that garners the most Mercedes tweets, Facebook “likes” and other social media and digitally related instances by game day WINS! Sounds like a pretty good deal to me…tweet away people!

Audi: Audi’s approach is aimed at saying goodbye to old luxury and hello to Progressive luxury. Their contest, “The Audi Prgressive Luxury Trade Up” Twitter contest invites people to compete for the most creative definition of Progressive Luxury by including the hashtag #Progressls and the http://audi.us/ProgressIs URL in their tweets. The top 10 tweets are awarded old luxury prizes with a chance to trade up to new luxury prizes. The grand prize is R8 drive at the Audi sportscar experience in Sonoma, California where winners will enjoy the ultimate in progressive luxury and a $25,000 donation by Audi in their name. The hashtag will also make an appearance in Audi’s 60 second game day commercial, making social media history.

Both these social media campaigns are innovative, exciting and successful at getting consumers involved in the action. I’m excited to see the winning results.

Facebook Finding Missing Children

Facebook is now exploring ways to be a part of the emergency broadcast system. The social networking giant recently teamed up with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Users can now sign up for AMBER alert, allowing them to be informed when a child goes missing in the state he or she resides in. So far 53 AMBER pages have been set, one for each of the 50 state in addition to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

Here’s how it works: Each state has its own Facebook AMBER alert page which will alert page fans about the missing child once the police department receives and enters the information and posts it to the page. The fan pages will contain the missing child’s picture, name, age, a description and any other information that may be useful to the case. The company has actively been working with state and local agencies to help create the pages and insure their upkeep and accuracy and to maximize their full potential.

Although the idea of linking missing person reports to social networking sites isn’t a new one, Facebook has taken it to a new level. Myspace had an AMBER alert app years ago and Twitter accounts related to missing persons bulletins have been credited with locating missing children, but with Facebook’s 500 million users the alert potential is much greater and Facebook’s user base is now much more diverse.

The Facebook alert system has made sure not to alert just any random user, much like how the radio and TV broadcast systems operate, but rather only those who have opted in to the alerts by “liking” an AMBER alert page. Facebook wants to make sure that the people using the alert system are those that believe in it’s purpose and will actively help spread the alerts virally by posting in on their walls, status, or to other social networking sites like Twitter.

The AMBER alert website claims that so far, 525 children have been recovered as a result of the Facebook pages. The site also states that the first 3 hours a child goes missing in the most critical and using social media is proving to be an effective tool in spreading the alert at a rapid rate.

Facebook said they will be donating 50 million advertising impressions to help publicize this new system and its important cause. If the system’s success continues, the Facebook – AMBER alert partnership could serve as a model for state’s and the government in alerting people of other emergencies in the future.

I think this partnership is a wonderful step in using social media for a greater good. It creates awareness of the emergency quickly and gives hope for finding more missing children quicker.

A New Place For Q & A…Exploring Quora

I’m sure you’ve heard about the website, Quora, which has recently made it’s way into the news and online media. Being THE hot, new buzzed about online tool, I’ve decided to check it out! It’s recently exploded among the social media junkies, reporters, industry pros and the tech savy crowd  as, according to their website, a “continually improving collection of questions and answers.” It was founded in April 2009 by Adam D’Angelo, who was previously CTO and VP of engineering at Facebook, and Charlie Cheever, who led Facebook Connect and Facebook Platform.

blog picture for quora

  • Quora is a website where you can ask questions and receive an answer back from community members, kind of like Yahoo Answers. But, here’s what makes it better. Quora is much more than someone asking “Q) I have ate two whole tangerines in about two hours what will happen to me?” and some one coming back with a sarcastic response like A) “That all depends on whether you swallowed any seeds. If you did, be very careful not to eat any dirt or drink any water for the next two weeks.” And yes that was a real question and answer…don’t ask how I came across that one.  Anyways, like I was saying, Quora does more then just asking a question and getting a slew of ridiculous responses back. It’s a database of knowledge created by people, for people with an additional opportunity for anyone to collaborate and start a discussion and gives users a chance to offer their expertise and opinion while striving for consensus.
  • It provides a platform for social and interest-driven real time content: Quora allows you to follow other community members with similar interests as you and ask them questions directly. Also, your homepage provides a feed that shows you new topics you or those you are following may be interested in.  As soon as I created my account it gave me the option to connect through Facebook and Twitter so I instantly had several people, and topics to follow right away, making it’s interface more like that of a social network.
  • Quora posts your name to your answer: This is another reason why there is so much press around the site right now. High profile people who have extensive knowledge about a topic are contributing their knowledge and opinions to questions. It makes the content more trustworthy then Yahoo Answers or Wikipedia for example.

I’m still in the test run phase of Quora, but I’ve managed to set up an account, follow a few interesting people ad topics and even voted on some good answers. I have yet to ask a question, but when I do, I’m anxious to see the responses I get. It’s definitely a website worth checking out. I think you’ll be surprised at what you can find on there. For now you can follow me here on Quora.