Anna Curtis

Yes And: Improv + Advertising

5 days. 40-plus hours. Hundreds of speakers and sessions to choose from. Social Media Week Chicago was a whirlwind of learning, exploring, networking, and more learning. There were many moments that had me dreaming of next year’s event, but one session that stuck with me as an advertiser was Yes, And: What social media, brands and advertising can learn from Chicago’s improv and comedy roots.

At its core, improvisational theater is based on group acceptance – saying yes and accepting everything that happens on stage. This concept has evolved into “Yes, And” – everyone accepting what is happening (saying “yes”) while the skit expands and develops (saying “and…” then adding a new idea to the conversation).

The “Yes, And” ethos sets everyone up for success and guarantees that a sketch builds the momentum it needs to succeed. But it also sets me up for success in the office. Brainstorming? Collaborating with a client? Spit-balling solutions? Choosing a place for lunch? Don’t shut people’s ideas down. Add to and improve them with the “Yes, And” technique.

Don’t stop the idea – take it further and let it evolve from something that may be mediocre into something that is fantastic. Become comfortable with making mistakes and feeling a bit defeated. In the end, the idea you come up with may look nothing like its original seed, but that’s the point. Great things never came from comfort zones.

Amanda Eggert

Social Media | Governor’s Small Business Summit

I was recently asked by long-time client, Travel Wisconsin to put together a breakout session on social media for the 2014 Governor’s Small Business Summit. A social media breakout session is always a tall order because inevitably you have an audience that spans novice to expert. Unknowingly, I found myself approaching the deck through Aristotle’s three methods of persuasion: ethos, pathos and logos. (Tangential history lesson: Some 2,400 years after Aristotle’s death, these principles are still the backbone of oral and written communication.) Plainly defined:

  • Ethos: An appeal to the authority or credibility of the presenter
  • Pathos: An appeal to the audience’s emotions
  • Logos: An appeal to the audience’s logic

Every summer from age 16 into my college years I worked at my father’s lawn and landscape company answering phones and processing. I was able to see the inner workings of a small business and relied on this anecdote to establish credibility alongside my 6+ years of experience working in social media for Laughlin Constable.

I kicked things off with a simple premise: Customers are far from rational. Most people lack the motivation, time, or information to make a purchase decision based on function alone, so they rely on other factors, factors they might not even be consciously aware of: emotions. For example someone might feel safe in a Volvo, energetic while drinking a Coke or excited in a BMW. At the end of the day people are emotional creatures and therein lies the benefit of social media: a relationship building tool.

Let me tell you, humans as irrational creatures wasn’t a tough sell on a crowd of small business owners, but to appeal to logic I shared a few compelling stats laddering into the question of “Why Social Media?”

  • 53% of consumers report that they will purchase a brand’s product or services after following them on Facebook
  • 47% of consumers are more likely to visit a brand’s website and 35% are more likely to buy from a brand after following them on Twitter
  • 21% of Pinterest users have purchased something they found on the site

With the stage set I took the audience though Laughlin’s 3-step approach to social media strategy: plan, build and engage. We talked content creation, channel management, reporting, social advertising and beyond. At the end of the day I was reminded of the need for agencies to ruthlessly simplify. Put it into laymen’s terms. Provide a visual. Read the room and rely on your principles of persuasion.

LC_SocialMediaProcess_Overview

Sources: Twitter, The Next Web, Gallup

Sarah Van Elzen

The Rise and Fall of Social Networks

I’m big on predictions. I only wish I was better at making them… In fact, I’m not a gambler. However, what I will put my money behind is that every social network will have its time. Just like a rising star, consider the 2013 Best Actress Jennifer Lawrence. Will she be the next Meryl Streep or only have a short run in the public eye? The rise and fall of social networks follows the same trend as celebrity airtime – quick adaption and (sometimes) quick to fade away.

Facebook recently announced that they have 680 million daily mobile users, which surpassed the amount of desktop users. Now, Facebook desktop use will never completely vanish. However, this ebb and flow of use based on technology is something to consider.

For someone like myself, who fits in the “social media evangelist” segment, the surplus of social media platforms has my activity quite fragmented. The “social” folder on my iPhone is packed, so packed that I have a secondary “social’ folder for back up and still continuously delete apps to remain organized and focused.

The focus is fuzzy. When I engage, I think twice about where I share. Even though Instagram touts their 80 million users; I’m actually more connected to my followers there than Facebook, where I have more reach. Has Instagram figured it out? Or do I just gravitate to that platform because it’s more intimate? Facebook has become a giant where everyone from high school, work and college has access to my posts. Yes, I love conversation with all my connections, but I prefer to have it with my tight knit group of friends.

So how long can this last? Can my friends keep navigating from one social network to the other? Vine has become popular and the interactions there deem even more meaningful because the connection set is narrower yet.

Now what does this mean for brands? Well, Facebook is never going away, so if you don’t have your strategy locked down there, work on that NOW. The ability to reach a mass audience and run a promotion while showcasing your brand is best done on Facebook. However, brands need to learn to be more nimble. What I mean is, play with new platforms. Get your name out there and dedicate time to finding out what works best for you. This is especially important for brands that want to connect with social evangelists like me and get their foot in the door at the head of the game.

Where are you at with your social strategy? Are you invested in one platform or two? When you’re making your plan of attack, make sure you consider the newbie platforms and the giants. Feel free to comment below with questions or thoughts and I’d be happy to provide my recommendation.

David Rathsack

Social Media and Beer: 3 Lessons for the Beer Industry

Living in Milwaukee has its perks. One being the beer, they don’t call us brew city for nothing. Recently I attended the PR + Social Media Summit at Marquette University. Naturally one of the sessions revolved around how social media is being used in the craft beer industry.

Like all effective social media campaigns, everything comes back to strategy and authenticity. I think panelist Mike Thiel, marketer for Goose Island hit the nail on the head when he said “For every beer that we’ve sold, we don’t do it through big advertising budgets…Everything we’ve done is through one taste at a time. So the way that we view social media is that is an opportunity to reach every customer, one point at a time and help tell a story.”

With that in mind, below are three authentic social media lessons the beer industry could learn from:

Show Personality
Whether big or small, craft or domestic, local or import – beer companies need to determine what their story is and how they want to tell it. Putting a personality
to a brand is one of the easiest ways to build relationships with customers. Beer companies have an amazing opportunity to profile their brew masters and provide insight into why their employees have a passion for their job. If the story surrounds sustainability or other goodwill initiatives, tell consumers why your company cares about that specific cause by sharing a personal connection story. Whatever the story may be, showing personality develops trust with an audience,
online or off.

Infuse communication with packaging
Often times when we think of social, we assume Facebook, Twitter and email are the only ways we can communicate with our customers. We need to break that mold and think about how we can integrate our offline and online communication. For example, Milwaukee Brewing Co. is integrating QR codes on all of their packaging. Although the fad for QR codes may be dying, I still feel they can add value if used appropriately. I honestly can’t speak to where @MKEbrewco is directing user engagement, but for a company that has branded each product with a unique personality, this is a phenomenal opportunity to continue the story and track analytical data for each product.

A picture is worth a 1000 words
Let’s face it, we are a visual people. When we find something we like, we want to see more of it. Today we are seeing more and more companies including visual components to their social media posts. Our consumers expect us to be at the same level as they are, and with the emergence of tools such as Instagram, they have become amateur photographers. According to panelist Dan Murphy, Milwaukee Magazine Brew City writer, “A few bars around [Milwaukee] have done a nice job with Instagram….They’ll take a picture of a new barrel that comes in and post it. I mean, to the beer geeks, it’s beer porn.” Breweries have the opportunity of providing a “sneak peek” at a new products or packaging before hitting the market as well. Recently Blue Moon Brewing Company gave their Facebook fans the opportunity to help brew the newest seasonal beer: Caramel Apple Spiced Ale.

By the way, if you haven’t heard of Untappd yet – I suggest you check it out if you want to try new beers and bars near you.

Casey Flanagan

Look Again, There’s A New View

Habits change behavior and behaviors change culture. The small stuff changes the big picture. And the big picture is changing right now… for pictures.

An Instagram may be worth more than a thousand words because it’s not just a photo, it bears the photographer’s mark and personal taste.

Take a moment to think back to the days of 35mm cameras. It wasn’t that long ago. Your pictures taken with film were likely posed. Carefully. Not doing so would be wasting film. If the picture was of any real importance, there was likely a version taken immediately before or after it – just to be safe. It was impossible to know if you “got it.”

Today, we’re taking multiple shots from multiple angles and then running the result through eighteen filters to see how we like it best. Because we can.

I’d bet that the framed photos in homes across America have gotten a lot more interesting as a result. And that’s where the small stuff starts to affect the world around it. If our personal art is getting more interesting, shouldn’t our advertising follow?

The ability of bland work to blend in is increasing. Boring can’t even be forgettable if it isn’t noticed in the first place.

Interested in more stuff I find interesting? Follow me @casey_flanagan on Twitter.

Abi Naumann

Why you shouldn’t be surprised about Facebook + Instagram

It’s probably safe to assume that by now you’ve heard the breaking news about Facebook acquiring Instagram for a whopping $1 billion in cash and stock.

A short matter of minutes after the acquisition was announced Monday morning, the interwebs were a flurry and Twitter was trending with chatter about the merger. Many were shocked, but if we reflect back on the relationship between Facebook and Instagram this acquisition should come as no surprise.

Facebook is currently the largest photo-sharing site in the world. In fact, an average of 250 million photos are shared on Facebook every day.

Facebook’s recent release of enlarged photos, milestones and cover photos in the Timeline roll out demonstrates their belief in story telling through rich media. Pair that with ongoing upgrades to their mobile application, which emphasize check-ins and location-based tagging within status updates. And voila! It’s easy to see how Facebook could benefit from a location-based photo-sharing platform. Sound familiar?

Cue Instagram.

Instagram, a social media darling formerly powered by a strong staff of six, was valued at a mere $100 million just one year ago. Earlier this year their value tripled to $300 million. And mere days ago it jumped again to a valuation of $500 million.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook chief executive, explained his jump to the $1 billion acquisition in his own Facebook post,

This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.

Believe it or not, Facebook and Instagram have been deep in discussions for quite some time now. Last August, Facebook shared plans about the addition of a photo filter application on its mobile application. There were even statements made about Facebook’s failed attempts to acquire Instagram last summer.

This time around, Facebook learned their lesson and made Instagram an offer they simply could not resist, and we couldn’t be more excited. The best of mobile photo sharing is yet to come. We’ll just have to sit tight and stay tuned. In the meantime, continue snapping candid photos of your food and friends, apply whimsical filters, and share on.