Project: Make a video to show at a fundraiser to support a county’s homeless pet shelter. Challenge: Do it with almost $0 budget and limited time. That was the situation facing the DuPage County Animal Care & Control (DCACC) Foundation, for which I serve on the Board of Directors. How did we do it? Well, that’s a lesson in how to create a video… and how to do it without even using a video camera.
First, let’s look at the video. And I dare you not to start crying.
A little background. The DCACC homeless pet shelter is an agency of the DuPage County government. However, the agency is not tax supported and is funded through the sale of rabies tags, fines and, most importantly, donations. Our super talented Foundation Coordinator, Kristie Lecaros, and I were chatting about our annual fundraiser and we both agreed that a video would be the ideal vehicle to help tell the story of the shelter and how the Foundation helps make it possible. But we didn’t get anyone stepping up to the plate to create a professional video for us either by donating services or sponsoring. The fundraiser was coming up quickly and there was limited time to patch together random video segments on file into something show-worthy. Now what?
Luckily, Kristie keeps a huge inventory of photos of our adoptable homeless pets and their success stories. She had run across Animoto.com on the web, an online video creation tool that has a wide variety of templates and background music to help you create a video using your digital photos or videos, audio and text for only a few bucks… even free for short videos. Plop and drop your content into the template, pick your soundtrack and let the Animoto magic begin. The results speak for themselves.
Animoto offers a Lite version for free which has limited backgrounds and tracks available. You can upgrade to Plus or Pro which offers more options and features, with plans starting at just a few bucks a month.
Then upload the video to your YouTube account and get the word out!
As a sci-fi and superhero fan, I was definitely anxious to attend the Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) at McCormick Place. But as a mobile marketing expert, you can imagine that I couldn’t attend without noticing how C2E2 used mobile apps and more to promote and manage their event.
C2E2 MOBILE APP REVIEW
When my badge and welcome letter arrived prior to the expo, C2E2 included QR codes to direct attendees to their official C2E2 mobile app, as well as the website address. Native apps for iPhone, iPad and Android were available. What I really liked is that they included the QR code on both the welcome letter AND the badge. So if the two pieces got separated, which is likely if people just grab their badge when heading out the door, attendees could easily download the app while onsite.
Once downloaded, the iPhone app was simple and easy to navigate. It included a search function, a home screen with connections to every aspect of the expo, FAQs, shuttle info, informational messages and more. With the geeky crowd this event attracts, they had to have their mobile A-game going and their mobile app met the challenge.
Lessons for events and trade shows:
Make sure you remind attendees to use your mobile app multiple times.
Use a QR code to make it easy for attendees to access your app.
Use native apps so that Wi-Fi connections aren’t necessary to access onsite.
SOCIAL MEDIA REVIEW
One of the features of the mobile app was connections to social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. With as visual as this event is, with everyone wanting to share photos with their favorite characters (both comic and human!), Instagram was a perfect fit. The Twitter feed popped up automatically and had a Compose Tweet feature. Facebook, you had to log in to get access (didn’t bother).
Overall, C2E2 did a terrific job. Now if I could just get R2D2 to follow me home from C2E2…
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In our post What is a Social Media Calendar?, we talked about how creating content to share on social media and elsewhere is the new marketing paradigm. But I’m sure that many of you are wondering how to create content. But before we get going with how, let’s talk about what content marketing is.
What is Content Marketing?
Content marketing is creating and sharing useful, entertaining or newsworthy information with your publics (stakeholders, colleagues, industry and community), customers and prospects. The theory is that by doing so, you become a valuable resource and gain top of mind awareness with your audience. This information can take the form of press releases, blog posts or reports.
These documents or links to them can be snail mailed (less likely these days), emailed or shared on the social networks. Usually they are offered free or as an incentive to opt-in to an email list. Note, however, that if the content is news or press releases about you and your company, it is always offered free without an opt in requirement.
Before you get to writing content, you need to have a place to put it. Best option so it’s searchable on the web is to create a blog. No, you don’t have to be blogging every day or make your living blogging. But a blog platform is the easiest way to enter content that doesn’t require a lot of continuous programming.
WordPress.com is a free blogging platform that you can link to your website. However, if you do plan to post advertising on your blog at any point in the future, you’ll need to use the WordPress.org version. It’s free, too, except that you have to pay to host the blog. It is worth it. Plus, you blog would be YourBlogName.com as opposed to YourBlogName.WordPress.com and you’ll retain more control. Transitioning from the .com to .org can be a huge investment. (Trust me, I know from personal experience.)
If you are offering content as an incentive to opt-in to your email list, do not post it on your blog. Rather, distribute it only to your opt-in subscribers via email.
But then you’re sitting in front of your blank computer or tablet screen. What should I write content about? There are two main types of content that you create: planned and reactionary.
Planned content is information that you’ve decided will important to your audience. It can be news, announcements or advice.
Reactionary content is information you create in response to happenings in your company, industry, community or world.
I’ve created a FREE You Are Newsworthy cheat sheet to give you ideas for creating content. (I practice what I preach.) To get yours, just enter your email address in the following box and click Sign Me Up! IMPORTANT: If you’ve already subscribed to our email updates, you’ll be receiving a special email with a link for your free download. So watch for it!
At the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau Social Media Summit, got requests from some of the attendees for a template for organizing social media activities. But in reality, creating a social media calendar is the endgame. It all starts with a plan.
What is a social media plan?
A social media plan is setting standards and procedures for the following activities on the social networks:
As an example, I have a goal for a certain number of website visits and email subscribers to be achieved by the end of each calendar year. Social media helps me achieve both by driving traffic to my website and subscription opt-in areas.
This is a continuing effort. But all marketing is a continuous effort. This is the problem I’ve noticed with many small business folks in particular. They treat social media like a one-and-done project. There’s no easy way to break this to you: Once you get started on social media, you’ll be doing it… forever (or until the world figures out something new to replace it). So here’s a cold, hard fact you’ll need to accept (and it’s tweetable):
So here’s my action plan and calendar–my habit!–for getting closer to my website visit and email subscriber goals. You don’t need to have a blog to follow a similar strategy. You can schedule posts with links to your website content, news stories, whatever.
Create 1 blog post per week (or a special email to subscribers) for each of my blogs to post on Monday morning. Email alert about post (or special email) is sent to subscribers on Tuesday morning.
Retweet link to each blog post 1 time per day for the 5 weekdays. I schedule those retweets at the same time I write the blog using Hootsuite and strategically schedule those using Tweriod as my guide for optimal times to tweet.
I also schedule the link to the new posts to my Facebook page (NOT personal account), Google Plus page (again NOT personal page) and LinkedIn profile through Hootsuite, but do that only once on the day the new blog post is published. These networks are not like Twitter. Multiple posts of the same link look spammy. Then, since Google Plus does not allow scheduled posts to personal pages, I post a link to the new blog post on my personal page early in the week sometime.
If you are using the paid Hootsuite version (about $10/month as of this writing), you can visualize your scheduled social media activity in a familiar calendar type grid. But for small businesses, usually the list of scheduled posts (as shown above) is sufficient (and FREE). However, even in the free version, you can get a calendar grid of your past scheduled activity either by day, week or month.
In the Hootsuite Calendar View, you can also click on any of your messages to see what the message was and to which networks you posted it.
Even better is that you can get reports and analytics in Hootsuite on how many people clicked on your posts in list form (as shown) and pretty graphs that will impress whomever you need to impress.
What’s not in this calendar is monitoring your social media feeds, interacting with your followers and creating content. That is another habit you need to put into your regular daily calendar. Set aside no more than 30 minutes per day during your work week (whatever days those are for your business). That 30 minutes should be spent:
10:00 Answer mentions and direct messages first. (May not even take 10 minutes.)
10:00 Scan your most important feeds ONLY on the most relevant social media network(s) for your business.
10:00 Schedule post re helpful articles, announcements, links to your content, etc. for the following day at times when your audience is likely to view them.
So what should I post on social media? The answer to that will be different for every business. This will take more than the 30 minutes per day to keep up with social media. However, like your social media calendar plan, creating content to share on social media must become part of your regular marketing activities. This is becoming the new marketing paradigm.
It might be worth your while to invest in an outside consultant to evaluate what types of content would be easiest to develop and most effective for your business. Many businesses are sitting on a goldmine of material and just don’t know how to utilize it to their advantage.
In a following post, we’ll discuss some content creation ideas to get you started. So stay tuned!
Quick: What’s the phone number of your best friend? I’ll bet that many of you couldn’t answer that question. That’s okay. Even Einstein allegedly couldn’t remember phone numbers either and questioned why he needed to remember something if he knew where to look for it. Well, guess all of us are becoming like Einstein since we rarely remember phone numbers these days either. Why?
As mobile phones evolved into smartphones, phone numbers were sorted like a phone directory, in alpha order by the name you entered for it. So when I want to call this or that person, I just look for the name and hit the Call button. Or, with a quick voice command, I could just ask Siri on my iPhone to look it up for me and call. (She could also look up a number for me on the web, too.) So once the numerical phone number is actually stored in the phone, it becomes irrelevant to me.
As insignificant as all this sounds, the implications can be far reaching and can impact marketing. A little blast from the past will explain.
PEnnsylvania 6-5… oh… oh… huh?
One of my must-read articles in promotional products industry magazine, Advantages, is my friend Joe Haley’s Blast from the Past. Monthly he dredges up some of the kookiest ads, news items and products from the ad specialty industry’s past. Sometimes it has me giggling about it for days. (Thanks, Joe!)
In the April 2013 edition, he featured a vintage 1954 ad for a promotional phone book cover. In the ad, a ponytailed gal is calling the company featured on the book cover and says, “Hello Pine 3121? Here’s an order for you…” Those of us of a certain age (ahem!) will remember the days when phone numbers were prefixed with a word representing a certain telephone dialing area. This classic Glenn Miller illustrates. Thanks to my parents who were regular watchers of Lawrence Welk, I actually remember it.
People would dial the first two (three in earlier systems) letters of the exchange and then the rest of the numerical digits. All number calling (ANC) was introduced in the late 1950s. Actually, it was a great mnemonic device to help remember a string of seven digits.
So back in the day in advertisements, the prefix word often was incorporated into the marketing. For those of us in the Chicago area (and, again, of a certain age), probably one of the most remembered of these was Boushelle at HUdson 3-2700. To this day, many Chicagoans can still remember the ad (and sing the phone number), but Generation Y will be totally befuddled as to what that means. (Interesting side note: During the ad, he talks about using biodegradable cleaning. That was 1978, way ahead of the green movement. Yay, Boushelle!)
But what did this letters plus numbers dialing connection system require? It required that letters be assigned to each number of the phone. I bet you’re now thinking, “Ah, so that’s why.”
Even though All Number Calling has been around for over 50 years, we STILL have letters assigned to the numbers on the phone keypad. Why? Well, in the not so distant past (barely 10 years ago), we would use our mobile phone keypad to create text messages. We’d hit each key a certain number of times to get the letter. For example, if I wanted the letter “c,” I’d hit the number 2 three times. Oh my, how did we put up with this? What a laborious process!
So What Do Phone Number Systems Have to Do with Marketing?
A lot! Let’s see how this is changing how we present our phone connection information in marketing:
Companies with vanity numbers (e.g. 1-800-Whatever), may soon find themselves as dated as the old Boushelle commercials.
Speaking of 800 numbers, with nationwide calling plans based on minutes and VoIP calling (i.e. Skype, Google Voice), will those even be needed? They were only applicable within the home nation anyway.
We can now connect with a phone number via QR codes and within apps. For example, on my GoDaddy iPhone app, it has a “Call Us” menu item which dials the phone for me. I don’t care what the number is, just connect me! A feature that should be in any app built for customer service.
In the Siri and Google Glass era of voice commands, I can let the technology dig up the digits and dial.
I recently dumped my landline phone for a MagicJack which I can use anywhere. Plus, I’m saving a bunch on my phone bill. Took me a while to cut the cord since I worried about people being able to connect with me. Then I had to analyze my usage. I spent a grand total of less than 1 hour calling out on that line per month. And the inbound calls were telemarketers and people trying to dial that number as a fax since that’s how I used to use it. I have a new phone number and I couldn’t care less, especially since most of my contacts are made via email and text, with phone calls being set up as appointments. (A whole ‘nother subject near and dear to me. Click to read my post on that.)
So do you think we’ll be less attached to our phone numbers in the future? Share with us in Comments. And don’t forget to sign up for more mobile marketing news and trends in our free email updates. Enter your email in the following box and click Sign Me Up! to get started.
An NFC tag (or sticker) contains a microchip that can cause an NFC-enabled device to execute a variety of tasks when the device either touches or is placed within a few centimeters of the tag. The device communicates with the NFC tag by radio frequency. Common applications for NFC tags include payments (very popular use), changing of device settings (volume, turning functions on and off, etc.), and launching calls, programs, information transfer and websites. The possibilities for “wave and go” transactions, check-ins and data distribution and exchange are fantastic for use at events. As you might expect, NFC requires some hardware investment, mainly for chips, to implement.
By contrast, QR codes are activated by a visual interface (such as an app) that scans the checkerboard-like code with a mobile device’s camera and executes a function such as launching a website, dialing a phone number, sending a text message, or transferring information to the mobile device. A QR code does not require a communication connection (like radio frequency for NFC tags) to work. Other than the cost of printing QR codes, these codes can usually be generated for free on a number of QR code generator sites and the only hardware required is users’ phones.
There are a number of issues that need to be considered when integrating NFC technology into your marketing:
iProblems. iPhones up through generation 5 do NOT include NFC capability. One of the estimates I saw of American smartphone ownership held by Apple’s iOS operating system (prior to launch of iPhone 5) was in the 35% range, with Android operating system phones (all brands combined) comprising around half of the smartphone ownership pool. So even if a next generation of NFC-enabled iPhone bursts onto the scene, you will be alienating a large chunk of smartphone owners by only offering NFC tags as a way to connect or provide information. Not every iPhone owner will flock to get a new NFC-enabled phone.
Expense. Currently, the cost to buy generic NFC tag stickers in retail is around $1 to $3 USD. If the NFC tag is used on a one-to-many promotion such as a sign at a trade show booth, the cost is almost a non-factor. However, if you plan to distribute products or promotions with NFC tags, the cost can run up quickly. As a side note, at present, very few promotional products actually offer NFC chip options.
Security Issues. Because of the communication aspect of NFC tags, information transfer security could be a factor that most marketers will not wish to deal with.
I think my bias against NFC tags, at least right now, is pretty obvious. But if it makes sense for your particular market and purpose, just make sure that you’ve considered all of the above issues and that you’ve provided an alternative way to connect by providing—you guessed it—a QR code and your printed website address or contact information.
April 1 is more than just April Fool’s Day. It’s also the beginning of Distracted Driving Awareness Month to alert drivers about the foolish–make that deadly–decision to text or talk on a cell phone while driving. The statistics are alarming for BOTH talking AND texting as shown in this infographic from the National Safety Council.
Wow! Slower reaction times for cell phone users than people with .08 blood alcohol limit? 21 percent of crashes in 2010 attributable to cell phone use? Whether handheld or hands-free, drivers talking on the phone can miss up to 50 percent of their driving environment due to “inattention blindness?” Drivers on cell phones are 4 times as likely to be involved in a car crash?
These are frightening stats. But we’ve always been aware of the dangers of inattentive driving. Check out this educational vintage video from the NSC from 60 years ago (makes me feel like I’m back in grade school):
With the seriousness of this situation, Distracted Driving Awareness Month in April should make all of us take a good look at our own driving habits (according to the NSC, 2 out of 3 of us drivers report talking on a cell phone while driving in the past 30 days). And it’s a great opportunity for you to integrate PSA (public service announcement) type advertising into your marketing plan, especially if you’re in one of these businesses or departments:
Auto Sales and Rentals
Auto Repairs and Parts
Human Resources (especially those whose businesses have fleets of vehicles)
Mobile Phones or Phone Services
High Schools and Colleges
The NSC has a host of tools and reports to help you with your campaign:
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On April 3, 2013, our friend the cell phone will be celebrating its 40th birthday. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
In February 2013, cell phone inventor, Marty Cooper, formerly of Motorola, was honored by the National Academy of Engineering for leading the team that developed the first cell phone at Motorola in 1973 in Schaumburg, Illinois. One more great thing to come out of the Chicago area!
The cell phone that Cooper and his team developed was the iconic “brick” phone which launched the handheld device era. Weighed a couple of pounds (Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick is running through my head right now) and would cost you a few grand to get one (not to mention the service costs). Prior to that, mobile phones were limited to equipment that could be installed in vehicles (that’s what made them “mobile”).
Let’s look at this timeline (with thanks to Wikipedia):
1973. First handheld cell phone device (“brick” phone) is introduced by Cooper and his team at Motorola.
1978. Analog cell phone service is introduced in the Americas.
1991. The 2G (second generation) digital cell phone service is introduced in Finland.
1992. First SMS (short messaging system) or text message is sent on December 3.
1993. IBM introduces the “Simon” phone, possibly the world’s first smartphone with multiple functions including phone, pager, fax, calendar, clock, stylus, touchscreen, predictive typing (like iPhone auto correct) and apps you could access with a memory card. (Does anyone else besides me NOT remember this?)
1998. First downloadable content (ringtones) is available.
1998. First mobile payment trials in Finland and Sweden.
1999. First full Internet service on a phone introduced in Japan.
2001. First 3G pre-commercial trial network launches in Japan to handle higher demands for data and speed. 3G uses packet switching whereas 2G used circuit switching. (Dear God, please do not make me explain the difference. Too much engineer speak. But here’s a good 2G vs. 3G explanation from Engineers Garage.)
2009. Sprint begins advertising 4G service. 4G eliminates circuit switching altogether and all streaming media, including calls, is over VoIP (voice over Internet protocol).
2010. Amazon Kindle and Apple iPad introduced with embedded wireless Internet.
2013.Google Glass debuts, a wearable eyeglasses type device that allows texting, email and videochat via the Internet.
You know what’s even more astonishing? Is that my husband and I had a bag cell phone (a brick-like phone in a camera style bag) in the early 1990s and we were paying about $200-$300 a month for around 30 minutes of voice calls. Yikes.
Got an early cell phone story to tell in celebration of its 40th birthday? Share with us in Comments at the bottom of this page.
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For the uniformed, this means “laughing out loud” and “winking.” Much to the annoyance of English composition purists everywhere, text messaging is rewriting (pun intended) the way we write… and communicate.
Linguistic expert John McWhorter, from Columbia University, noted in a TED 2013 talk that texting more closely resembles spoken language when compared to written. He also contends that the tools we’ve used to communicate via the written word–pens, typewriters, computers–can’t keep up with the pace of the spoken word. But texting language, well, that comes close. (Wired, March 1, 2013)
And McWhorter has a most elegant term for our communication via text: fingered speech.
Wow, I love that term! That’s exactly what it is. While text language does include actual words, much of it is symbolic. But when you get right down to it, writing, formal or informal, is also just symbols. The acid test is whether it communicates.
Texting can mirror our in-person interaction faster than any email or written word. Let’s look at the example text from the beginning. McWhorter calls “lol” a “marker of empathy of accommodation.” And if you need a translator for that, try, “Hey, I’m laughing with you.” Adding the “;)” symbol for winking suggests agreement with an inside joke or some subtext between those communicating. Don’t we do this in person… and understand? Of course we do. Let’s also consider traffic signs. Drivers understand most of those (or we hope they do), even if they don’t include words.
So many people are still struggling to learn this new foreign language. Evidence? In a search I did in 2012 on terms close to text dictionary (and that actually included the word dictionary), it turned up over 149,000 searches monthly in the United States alone. Impressive, but add to that all searches looking for related terms including text language, text translator, texting shorthand, texting slang, text acronyms, text symbols, texting abbreviations and text talk which were over 3,800,000 searches per month just in the United States. I’m sure there were related search terms I missed in my study. But let’s look at that total. A bit under 4 million people per month in the United States alone are, in some way, trying to figure out this new way of communicating. (Yes, a good deal of that total might be parents trying to decipher their kids’ texts.)
What’s more staggering is that this is an estimate of those who are trying to figure it out. This doesn’t include the “texting natives” (Generation Y and younger) who use text language daily. Rough estimates of text messages sent in 2012 were upwards of 9 trillion (mobithinking.com). I’m guessing quite a few of those were sent by native speakers of fingered speech.
So do you speak finger? Should you? Discuss in Comments below.
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Social media and mobile marketing expert Heidi Thorne, Thorne Communications LLC, will be presenting a session titled Twitter Strategies to Grow Your Business at the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau 2013 Social Media Summit, March 21, at the Doubletree by Hilton Chicago-Alsip. This session is designed for those who have some experience using Twitter, but want to optimize their experience. Heidi will discuss the use of hashtags and hashtag communities, searches and chats to help marketers connect with valuable prospects and strategic partners.
The Chicago Southland Social Media Summit is a one-day conference for businesses wanting to know how to make social media work for them. This year they are offering two different tracks designed to deliver immediate value for both beginner and advanced social media users. The beginner track is for those that understand the importance of social media, but might feel overwhelmed on where to start. The advanced track is geared for those who are already utilizing social media, but need assistance on how to take the next step.
The summit is open to all types of businesses: hotels, attractions, restaurants, chambers of commerce, municipalities, park districts and professional services.