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.

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.


Sources: Twitter, The Next Web, Gallup

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.

PR + Social Media Summit | Key Takeaways

Last week, a group of Laughlin staff attended the daylong PR + Social Media Summit, which focused on the convergence of strategic communications and social media.

While I found the entire day to be insightful, a few of my favorite presentations included Chris Barger’s ‘From Planning to Execution, the Story Behind GM’s Social Media Success,’ Jess Berlin’s ‘From Cirque du Soleil to American Eagle Outfitters: A Social Media Comparison’ and Augie Ray’s Glimpse Into The Future of Social Media, which LC’s @SarahVanElzen wrote about here.

A few key takeaways:

  • Don’t feel like you have to come up with a really big idea. You often find that the simplest ideas take off + drive engagement. (via @AlKrueger)
  • Redefine “influence” – treat everyone as if they have thousands of followers on Twitter / friends on Facebook. You can have the most impact in the small communities. (via @CBarger)
  • Shift from “Big” to Local >> Less expensive, less national push, but more directly effective. (via @CBarger)
  • Listen more than you talk, answer more than you promote and above all provide value. (via @CBarger)
  • Make ALL your content searchable – but more importantly, shareable. (via @CBarger)
  • Unexpected happenings can become the best part of your social media campaign – leverage them. Example: American Eagle’s “Denim Song”  (via @JessBerlin)
  • GET TO KNOW THE PEOPLE THAT LOVE YOUR BRAND! *all caps is necessary (via @JessBerlin)
  • What can your brand offer that users didn’t already know? Offer your social communities exclusive content. (via @JessBerlin)
  • The sharing economy is about to explode. Old: they sell, you buy + own / New: they own, you rent / Future: you own + rent (via @AugieRay)
  • Be real. Advertising cannot save brands that are inauthentic. (via @AugieRay)

Want more? All of the speaker’s presentations are available on SlideShare. Check them out here.

Did you attend PRSMS last Tuesday? I’d love to hear your thoughts + key takeaways @ckostrivas





Twitter Follower Clean-up. Social Media Needs Spring-Cleaning Love Too

In order to keep Twitter as useful as possible, it’s necessary to get rid of Twitter spam and clean up your followers. While spring-cleaning is already on our minds, what better time? There are an overwhelming number of Twitter follower clean-up tools to choose from, so I tried out a few and gave a quick recap on each below.

Free Twitter Follower Clean-up Tools

  1. TwitCleaner – The report is sent out via direct message a few minutes after connecting TwitCleaner to your Twitter account. The first line of the report I received read “256 of the 658 Tweeps you’re following are potentially garbage.” The report proceeded to break down users by Potentially Dodgy Behavior, No Activity in Over a Month, Not Much Interaction, All Talk All The Time and Little Original Content. Within each category are subcategories that break down users even further.
  2. Friend or Follow – Simply type in your Twitter username and click “submit” and you’ll be taken to the report. The dashboard shows following, fans and friends. Within each category, you’re able to sort by username, name, location, followers, following, last tweet, and account age.  It even allows you to export the results in CSV, and is my favorite dashboard from an interface standpoint.
  3. Tweepi – After connecting the application to your Twitter account, you’re given the option to flush, reciprocate and clean up. You are then taken to a dashboard where you have the ability to unfollow, safelist, add to list, view additional information or respond to the particular user. You’re shown the number of followers and tweets, the user’s Klout score, and time of their last tweet. I felt as though this was the most comprehensive free Twitter cleaner tool.

Looking for additional free Twitter cleaner tools? Check out TwitBlock, The Grim Tweeper, Tweeter Karma and Just Unfollow.

Paid Twitter Follower Clean-up Tools

  1. Refollow – After allowing access, you’ll be taken to a dashboard with countless sorting capabilities such as previously followed, never followed, and with or without picture. You can even run keyword searches. You’re provided with a free trial, and then required to upgrade to a paid account which runs anywhere from $5/month to $100+/month depending on your needs.
  2. UnTweeps – This Twitter cleaner provides the ability to generate a list of Tweeps you’re following who have not updated their status in a particular number of days. You can create a white list in order to add the Twitter users you’d like to keep regardless. If you use UnTweeps more than three times per month you’ll need to purchase an account, which is about $5/month.

If you don’t already, I’d also recommend taking advantage of Twitter Lists. It helps organize the tweets from users you’re following. You’re able to create both public and private lists, or just follow lists that others have already set up. Listorious is a great place to start if you want to search existing lists.

Do you know of any Twitter cleaners that weren’t mentioned above? I’d love to hear from you. Tweet me @ckostrivas