Category Archives: Client 101

Client 101

6 Things to Know About FTC Disclosures When Working with Influencers

Written by: Allie Wester
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Earlier this summer, the Federal Trade Commission updated their Endorsement Guides FAQ for disclosures in digital advertising. This new document helps provide additional clarity into their 2013 Disclosure Guide, which is a bit ambiguous.

In blogger/influencer brand partnerships, it’s always best to make disclosures clear and conspicuous. If you’re not sure if something is clear and conspicuous, take a step back and look at the content through the eyes of a consumer who doesn’t work in the advertising/marketing industry. Assume this consumer has no idea that bloggers, YouTubers, Instagramers, Viners, etc. get paid by brands to market on their behalf. Is it 100% clear that the content is a partnership with a brand? If not, then you have some editing to do! If it is… good job!

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Here are some general guidelines that bloggers/influencers and marketers should follow when working on sponsored content:

1. Make sure to clearly disclose relationships in blog posts.

Again, make sure the disclosure is clear and conspicuous. You can say something like, “This post is sponsored by Brand X,” or “This post is in partnership with Brand X.”

2. Disclose relationships in individual social media posts, too.

Typically, influencers promote brand partnerships on social channels that complement their primary channel (such as their blog or YouTube channel). These complementary social channels include Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. If the brand is mentioned in text (e.g., calling out the brand’s Twitter handle) or image (e.g., the product is visible in the Pinterest image), disclosure needs to be included in that individual piece of social content, too.

Linking to a blog post with disclosure is not sufficient. What if someone never clicks on that link?

3. #sp and #spon are not acceptable disclosures on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, etc. Use #ad instead.

Many bloggers use #sp and #spon as disclosure. This is a common mistake. The FTC Endorsement Guide cites #spon as insufficient and not clear. A consumer may not realize that #spon or #sp is shorthand for “sponsored.” I see their point here; even I, a marketer, read #sp and think, “Spelling error!” (Elementary school essay flashbacks…)

The easiest solve is to use #ad. It uses the least amount of characters and is undeniably clear. For a softer approach, you can disclose in context such as, The easiest BBQ brisket, in partnership with @BrandX: [LINK].”

4. Don’t put #ad in the first comment on Instagram.

If multiple people comment, then it will get buried and no one will see it. It needs to be in the description.

5. On YouTube, make sure disclosure is stated verbally both in the video and in the description.

Make sure that the disclosure is featured in the description above the fold, before the “Show More” link. Additionally, disclosure should be stated verbally at the beginning of the video, since YouTube videos are often embedded and a consumer may never see the description. And, as the FTC says, it’s even better to disclose multiple times throughout the video.

6. If you’re working with a blog network, make sure they call out the brand name in the disclosure. 

Some blog networks have bloggers disclose with a simple “This post is sponsored by Blog Network X,” without any mention of the brand name. The consumer may think Blog Network X is a neutral third party, so it is not sufficient. The brand name must be mentioned.

For further insights and guidance, visit:

FTC Endorsement Guides FAQ

.com Disclosures: How to Make Effective Disclosures in Digital Advertising

Just When You Thought You Knew Everything About Hashtags…

Written by: Rita Mogilanski
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You may be surprised to learn that there are very specific and different rules for using hashtags on each social platform. This red, yellow, and green guide will explain how lenient and indulgent one should be when including hashtags in a post.

  • Red = Steer clear of using hashtags
  • Yellow = Use hashtags sparingly
  • Green = Go hashtag crazy.

FB logo Facebook
Red. Stop. Move away from “shift” and “3” keys. Hashtags should not be a priority on Facebook. When applicable, tag a partner page instead of using a hashtag. Hashtags should only be implemented when it complements a call to action as part of a larger, cross-platform campaign.

Twitter logo Twitter
Yellow. Twitter is the birthplace of hashtags and still their most natural home. Tweets with hashtags get two times more engagement than tweets without, and 55% more retweets. However, using MORE than two hashtags in a tweet actually decreases engagement by 17%, so use them wisely.

YouTube logo YouTube
Green. Feel free to go hashtag crazy. Hashtags (in the tagging section) on videos are important for search and discoverability. Use at least 3 tags on videos to increase the likelihood that users will find your content.

GPlus logo Google+
Yellow. Like YouTube, Google+ is a platform that is important for search. Google will automatically tag certain posts with relevant and popular hashtags. Hashtags can also be added to comments on a post. It is often good practice to tag or add search terms used for paid SEO and webpage strategies on Google+ posts as well. Use one or two hashtags that will help users discover content.

Instagram logo Instagram
Green. Instagram is home to #ThrowbackThursday, #TransformationTuesday, and other alliterations that allow users to post baby pictures. #There #seems #to #be #a #hashtag #epidemic #on #Instagram, but believe it or not, these people have the right idea. Hashtags are the primary way to find and browse new content on Instagram, and data has shown that interactions are highest on posts with 11+ hashtags. While over-hashtagging is distracting and considered poor etiquette, do not hesitate to include as many hashtags as are relevant to the post to increase discoverability.

Tumblrlogo Tumblr
Green. Like YouTube, hashtags are hidden on the back-end on Tumblr. This allows users to post more hashtags that cover all the aspects of the content. Use 9-12 terms that are both specific and general to completely represent the post content and the interests of the audience. Just remember that only the hashtags that are entered into the tag section will be clickable and searchable.

Pinterest logo Pinterest
Red. Believe it or not, hashtags may harm the reach of content on Pinterest. Clicking a hashtag will actually take you away from the content on the page, and to a list of all posts using that hashtag. This means that you will end up driving users to a list of other similar brands and competing content. Keywords, without a hashtag attached, are a better way to label content and help users discover it.

Vine logo Vine
Yellow. Like Instagram, hashtags are really the main way to find content, and like Twitter, Vine features trending hashtags and topics. It is best to include any and all relevant hashtags, but over-hashtagging isn’t proper etiquette. #DoItForTheVine

LinkedIn logo LinkedIn
Red. LinkedIn is unique in that the platform does not support hashtags at all. They are not clickable or searchable. A hashtagged word will just show up as normal text, and what good is a pound sign if doesn’t automatically hyperlink? Steer clear.

Prediction: Perceived Personalization

Written by: Eric Fransen
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It was sometime between my first battle with an Uruk captain and overthrowing my first war chief that I realized something was special about Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. While the gameplay itself was fantastic, it was something in particular about the game’s enemies that struck me. Each Uruk had a unique name, appearance, and set of weaknesses, strengths and fears. Each Uruk had its own personality that was only present in my game. If I fell in battle to one, he made sure to let me know the next time I saw him — in alarmingly specific detail.

This is all thanks to Monolith’s Nemesis System. What the Nemesis System has managed to accomplish is something extraordinary — and noticeably lacking in many other of its AAA game brethren: perceived personalization. It wasn’t a matter of going after these Uruks because the game said I had to — I went after them because I wanted to. For sweet, sweet vengeance. It was no longer purely a game mechanic. It was personal. It was as if I KNEW the Uruk and he existed purely to antagonize me and make my life more difficult. All of this made it that much more satisfying by the time I was able to exact my revenge by parting his head with his shoulders.

So what does this all have to do with digital marketing? Everything.

You see, Monolith has stumbled onto something utterly brilliant. Mechanics that go a long way in making you, the consumer, feel like you’re having a completely unique experience. At its core, the Nemesis system is essentially a bank of possible names, attributes, personalities and sound bytes that combine to form randomly created characters. But it’s how it all comes together to form a cohesive experience that’s where it really shines.

You could apply this same logic to attributes in product design, custom web experiences, or experiential events. If you feel like you’re the first and/or only person to experience something, how much better of an experience is that compared to a one-size-fits-all approach? By creating something truly unique, you’re creating social currency and empowering your consumers to speak on your behalf.

But why perceived personalization? Isn’t it just personalization? Yes and no. Yes, the experience is unique and personalized to me, the end user. But where I see the differentiation is the fact that it’s unique without any additional input from either the development side OR the user side. It’s a highly sophisticated automated system that makes me FEEL like it’s built specifically for me. That’s the magic. And something I believe we are going to start seeing even more in 2015.

The Anti-Facebook? Meet Ello

Written by: Tom Edwards
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With the recent shift towards a reach and frequency model and organic reach hovering at 3% (with plans to go lower by the end of the year), Facebook has now created a void in the social networking eco-system.

fb-organic-reach-blog

This is what maturing enterprises do. They refine and evolve and sometimes this change has significant ramifications on existing best practices. Facebook is still an incredibly powerful digital platform. I would no longer classify it as a “social network” at least from a brand marketing perspective. Facebook has moved away from KPI’s such as engagement to focus on becoming a highly effective direct response tool.

Facebook-Reach

We are currently at a significant cross-roads from a social marketing perspective. The mantra of reach through engagement is really only applicable on Tumblr & Instagram (for now). Twitter is shifting towards an algorithm driven approach to showcasing tweets in your feed and organic reach has continued to decline and it will be interesting to see how much of the feed is “real-time” moving forward.

twitter

With all of this movement away from what made social… social, you should expect to see new platforms emerge that essentially provide what Facebook used to be, an actual social network.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 18.33.14

One such platform that is starting to pick up momentum is Ello.

ello

“Ello is a simple, beautiful, and ad-free social network created by a small group of artists and designers” according to the founders. It is designed to be an ad-free digital zone.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 19.08.45

One of the selling propositions to join yet another network is the fact that they state they won’t sell data to 3rd parties.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 18.33.39

The core of the experience is similar to what you would expect, it supports GIFs, comments on posts and reply directly to friends. You also have insight into how many people have viewed a post but there is nothing revolutionary with the platform, it simply is what Facebook used to be.

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This is still in it’s early stages and is very similar to the early stages of the social networks that came before it so there are still some elements that need to be refined but there is a need for platforms such as Ello that provide an alternative to the increasingly ad driven models and allow for more organic connection and discovery of content.

Screenshot 2014-09-25 18.53.10

Be sure to sign up for an invite.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360

The Marketing Arm Digital – September 2014 Newsletter

Written by: Larry Weintraub
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We published our monthly newsletter! Check it out below, and to see it in all its glory with working links, click HERE.

Sept-Newsletter.2014

How To Make Trends and Influence People

Written by: Eric Fransen
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One of the proverbial Holy Grails of social marketing has been to get your brand to trend on Twitter. It signifies scale and social value of your brand, it’s easy to explain, and not everyone can do it. Or can they?

First, let’s begin with some definitions.

What does it mean to trend on Twitter?
It means appearing in the top trends box on Twitter’s home page and mobile app. The trends are tracked and viewable at a global, national and city level.

What are trending topics?
Trending topics represent what people are talking about the most at a given time. But it’s not just a traditional word cloud, tracking individual words — rather, Twitter uses an algorithm to identify the larger conversations related to topics and distill them down to hashtags and keywords. By clicking a trending topic, you can see all related tweets, profiles, and headlines.

How does something become a trending topic?
The most certain way to trend on Twitter is to pay for it using Twitter’s Promoted Trends product. These opportunities are offered once per day at a fixed rate — typically $100,000 – $200,000 for 24 hours. While this is a surefire way to get your brand in front of the massive Twitter audience, what we’re discussing today is how to do it the old fashioned way: organically.

There are a few things to note about organically trending topics. 
First, there’s no telling how long or short their time to trend is going to be. I’ve seen trends last less than 20 minutes and up to a majority of the day. It really comes down to the size and nature of the audience that’s engaging — that is, fans of One Direction and Justin Bieber are incredibly passionate and show up in the millions to create organically trending topics quite frequently.

Second, a big part of the algorithm that causes content to trend is based on two things: frequency and volume over time. That is, the more people are tweeting about a given topic in a shorter amount of time, the more likely that content is to trend. This is why you see topics related to live television like sports and The Voice trending — the viewership is so massive and active on social media that, at any given time, thousands upon thousands of conversations are occurring about these cultural events.

So, what does this mean for me and my brand?
When it comes to trending topics, there’s a lot to do with chance — right content, right time — but there’s an equally important part that can be affected with the right strategy to put your best foot forward. Here are a couple thought starters that should get you on your way to your first trending topic.

1) Live Events
What better way to replicate the momentum achieved by a live television or sports event than to create one of your own? I’m not saying you need to produce a television show or host the next Dodger game. Quite the opposite, in fact. You can create an online event targeting a smaller but passionate audience. The most common example of such an event is a Twitter Party — an event hosted by a popular Twitter personality, centered around a hashtag, and designed to get their audience talking about a topic. Another type of live event that I have personally seen success with is a live trivia event. Working with a gaming client, we devised a program that offered up high value prizes to the first Twitter follower to answer each of a series of increasingly difficult trivia questions using a designated hashtag. We hosted a similar event for four weeks and organically trended three of the four times.

2) Mass Appeal
Don’t have the means to make an event of your own? You can try appealing to the masses with something that holds a universal truth or can be entertaining to everyone. A program I created for the same gaming client was designed to tap into the passion around nostalgia for a particular franchise and the result was the topic trended within the first 10 minutes of publishing the original tweet. It comes down to understanding your audience and their motivations. What are they passionate about at scale?

Google’s Updated Search Algorithm Puts Greater Onus on Social Content Marketing

Written by: Eric Fransen
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What’s changed?
Google recently announced significant changes to their legacy algorithms — Hummingbird, Panda, and Penguin, which impact 90% of the world’s searches — that took the war against spam links and black hat SEO to new heights. At its core, the change is putting a much greater emphasis on content relevance and quality by stripping out bad searches (keyword stuffing, duplicate content, and hyperlink manipulation) and clearing the lane for the good stuff.

So what does this mean for digital marketers and brands?
The bottom line is this: great, relevant content will prevail over all else. No longer will marketers and SEOs be able to stack the deck to artificially inflate the presence of bad and/or irrelevant content. If the ever-increasing demand for original, quality content wasn’t already apparent — this is your wake up call.

The good news in all of this is, if you’re already creating engaging, high quality content for your marketing campaigns, this is some of the best news you’ll hear all year. With the clutter out of the way, your content stands that much greater of a chance of being discovered by your intended audience.

As a brand or agency, there has never been a more important time to focus on the creation of original content in real time. By reacting to global events and trends quickly in an authentic manner, you’ll not only ensure your content is original and fresh, but you’ll be poising your content (and brand) for discovery. And the changes to Google’s algorithm have cleared the lane of clutter to make a clearer path to the top of the search engine results pages.

New Instagram Business Tools

Written by: Tom Edwards
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Instagram recently announced they are taking major steps to enable brands by providing greater insight into the performance of both organic and paid content. These tools are a welcome addition to the highly visual platform and will create tighter alignment with business goals as it pertains to tracking impressions, reach and engagement.

Screen Shot 2013-10-03 at 4.35.56 PM

The tools are built around three primary areas of account insights, ad insights and ad staging.

Account Insights – Account insights is the primary dashboard for mapping performance and engagement of organic content. This includes insights around the weekly performance of content, aggregate impressions over time as well as additional insight into the brands audience.

Here is a screenshot from the Instagram Blog highlighting account insights

Instagram Business Tools

Ad Insights – Ad Insights is the campaign performance hub for Instagram paid media that houses brand analytics (impressions, reach and frequency). Instagram, similar to parent company Facebook, are heavily focused on reach and frequency vs. engagement as a primary value proposition for brands. The Ad Insights dashboard is a quick and easy reference against the current campaign goals and all of the data can easily be exported for additional client reporting.

Q3 brand campaign

Ad Staging – One of the more exciting tools, especially for Social Agencies that partner with Media agencies on behalf of their brands, is the Ad Staging option. This tool will allow cross functional teams to collaborate together to preview, save, and collaborate on ad creative.

These tools will be made available to all Instagram advertisers and will enable tighter campaign integration as well as invaluable data around how the brands target is engaging and interacting with both organic and paid content. Building recommendations on a strong data foundation is a key to maximizing the impact of a visual content strategy.

Follow Tom Edwards @BlackFin360