Sunday, November 25, 2012
It’s probably not fair to blame the fall of Hostess, maker of the Twinkie and thirty other brands, on marketing. There were numerous reasons why it was in and out of bankruptcy for years until the bakers union strike took the final bite out of the company.
Still, you don’t need to cut people’s pay and benefits if you are making tons of money. And if you have a product people love, and good marketing… you will make money. You could say that times have changed and that Twinkies aren’t exactly the healthiest of snacks, but what about Oreos? Double Stuf Oreos? Healthy?
Some of you may remember that I previously posted on my Facebook page about how much I love the Oreo page. After I heard about the demise of the Twinkie, I thought it might be interesting to compare the wonderful Facebook campaign for Oreos (over 30 million likes) with the one for Twinkies. Or more precisely, the one that Hostess never did for Twinkies.
Aside from the mentions of Twinkies on the Hostess page (404,000 likes), here are the Twinkies pages I’ve been able to find:
Twinkies Auto-Generated Facebook Page with Wikipedia Entry (71,000 likes)
Twinkies Community Page (25,524 likes)
Twinkie (9600 likes)
There are also some recent pages like R.I.P. Twinkies 11/16/12
What a mess! This is a product that has a lot of interest from users of social media, but Hostess never made an effort to direct all this traffic to a single brand page… and then build it up. They wasted an incredible opportunity to market their product. Interestingly, Hostess did do a Wonderbread Page (29,510 likes)
While Nabisco-then-Kraft-now-Mondelez went to town with the Oreo, they haven’t ignored their other brands, like Ritz Crackers (911,000), Triscuit (509,000), and Chips Ahoy! (838,000). Recently Mondelez embarked on a very special campaign to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of the brand. They created a campaign called a “Daily Twist,” which they posted each day to Oreo’s Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest Pages, in addition to Oreo.com. Each whimsical graphic focused on an event of the day, like the Mars Landing, Elvis Week, Gangnam Style, Carmageddon 2, The Refs Return, all submitted by their fans, and memorialized in Oreos. The campaign encountered controversy with their gay pride day “Twist.” The image of a six-level cookie colored like a rainbow went viral, with 14,800 shares and 87,000 likes, but there were some anti-gay people who said they wouldn’t eat any more Kraft products, displaying an ignorance of the company that owns Oreos along with their intolerance. There also were complaints from people who were upset that Mondelez wasn’t going to be selling six-layered Oreos.
The campaign culminated on October 2nd with the final ad created in a temporary ad agency on Broadway and 46th Street in Times Square. The ad was created in real time from submissions made in person and on social media during the morning The three finalists were put up on a billboard and on Facebook so that the fans could vote.
So there you have it: a tremendous amount of energy and creativity invested by Mondelez in social media on the Oreos brand, resulting in over 30 million likes on Facebook, and a tsunami of attention through social media. Whereas with Hostess you had no effort and a pathetic Facebook presence.
If Hostess would have worked harder on social media, would it have kept them alive? It’s hard to say, but it sure demonstrates how lazy the people were who were running the place. Maybe if they were paying attention to marketing Twinkies, the bakers wouldn’t have had to take all those cuts.
It’s impossible for me to say how much money Mondelez has made from its social media work with Oreos, because it is a mega-corporation with a zillion brands. But they obviously think it’s worth it, and there’s no question that they have got a ton more people talking and thinking about Oreos through this campaign, as I am right now.
Personally, I must admit that writing this post has made me ravenous for Oreos. And I’m going to feel really good when I buy my next package. Go gay pride!
Monday, November 19, 2012
I’m always pushing the idea of Shareable Squares, but what I haven’t talked about is the use of other people’s images. There are questions like: “Can we be sued for using a photo we find doing a Google search? What is okay to use and what is not okay to use? What constitutes the legal “Fair Use” of other people’s copyrighted material?”
Anybody who tells you that there is a simple definition of Fair Use is wrong. There are four main requirements that you have to fulfill in order for something to be deemed Fair Use, and the problem is that they are all open to debate. When copyright holders sue, sometimes judges rule one way and sometimes they rule the opposite way. Here are the four categories (with more than a little help from Wikipedia):
1) Will it impact copyright owners’ ability to make money off of their original work? How can we establish what impact we may or may not have on the copyright holder’s profits?
2) How much of the work is used? Sampling bits of music--like a James Brown yell--used to be legal but now it isn’t. Copying an entire movie from a DVD to watch on your iPad is illegal, but copying a whole movie on your DVR is fine. Clear?
3) Is it transformative or merely derivative? Does it change the work enough that it brings something new? There are numerous examples of people clearly transforming other people’s work where they lost in court, notably Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster.
4) Facts and ideas are separate from copyright; only their particular expression can be copyrighted, but there are situations where in the public interest that certain copyrighted information can be circulated. Who decides?
So what do we do?
Personally I try to get my hands on as much stuff as possible that is legit. All the art on CreaTTor.com is available for commercial use, and there is a lot of free stuff on Kozzi.com too. Most of the pictures you see me use are from CreaTTor, like this one.
I’m always on the lookout for free stock photos. I’ve also found some Creative Commons stuff on Flickr that is okay for certain kinds of use too; it might be only for non-commercial purposes. When I know I’m going to make use of something for a long time--like the graphic of the woman filmmaker above--I buy the rights from a stock photo company. (In this case it was iStockPhoto.)
But I have to admit that on many occasions I have used other people’s photos: I tell myself that I’m not making money off of them, I always change or add to them in some way, and would happily take them down in a second if somebody had a problem with them. Still I’ve always wished I had the money to buy stock photos or use my own all the time. I love stock photos.
But recently something came up that might hold the answer to this problem:
The massive success of Pinterest suggested that you can use any picture or video on the web as long as it’s linked back to its source--and this included sources that didn’t have the rights to the photos or videos themselves! What a concept! And nobody sued them for trillions of dollars. Pinterest may very well have resolved the issue of using images on the web. Don’t just take stuff--send people to the original. If we are very fastidious about this, maybe it will be okay. Look at this picture.
As you can see I put the name of the website on it and when you click it, it takes you there. Is this enough to protect me legally, even though I’m not curating it on Pinterest? I don’t know; I’m not a lawyer. But I think that the issue may have evolved from the near impossible task of deciding whether the use of a photo qualifies as Fair Use, to one of: “How is this use different from what is being done a quadrillion times on Pinterest?”
If that turns out to be the case, it would sure make everything a lot simpler for everybody.
Get that bit.ly link on the photos you borrow for Facebook use, everybody.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
I hate to say it, but my beloved Shareable Squares are getting their asses kicked by lowly Status Updates. Sometime in September people started noticing that their Status Updates were getting a higher “Reach”; in other words, more people are seeing them. I wrote about this before, and at this point there is so much evidence that you can’t deny it.
Reach is the number of people you see under your post as “[ ] people saw this post.” If you hover your mouse over it, you’ll see a breakdown into “organic,” “viral” and, if you promoted the post, “paid” reach. I’m sure you’re thinking that “organic” is the number of fans, but it doesn’t say fans it says “people,” and according to Jon Loomer, that includes non-fans. “Organic means the unique number of people who saw your post in the News Feed, Ticker or on your page itself--but it includes non-Fans. If you want to know how many fans saw your post, he shows you how here. (In addition to the change with images, total reach is way down for nearly everyone.)
Basically this turns upside down everything we thought we knew about the Facebook computer algorithm. You used to get superior reach if you used pictures, followed by videos, status updates with links--and status updates were the lowest possible rung. Who would guess that suddenly the unpopular kid at school is suddenly the prom king? Why? Nobody understands the mysterious Facebook algorithm.
People are going so far to avoid pictures that they are removing the little thumbnails that turn up when you do a link. They hit the “x” so they can have a pure status update.
So…does this mean we should all stop using Shareable Squares? I don’t think so and neither do most other people. Reach is only one metric; engagement is another, and to me, that’s more important. Even if your post is shown to less people, if it’s good, and sent out at the right time, the ones who do see it will respond quickly. A quick response has always meant that it gets shown to more people, and that will mean more comments and shares. All evidence says that this is still true.
Definitely a great question may be just as good at eliciting a response, and if you start with more people you are ahead of the game. Also, you can put in a few dollars now and then for promoted posts if you think you have something strong. I promoted my post about the notifications feature for $5 because it was important for me to get the word out.
My advice is to do a mix of Status Updates and Squares and see how it works for you. Experimentation and watching the results is always the best way to approach the forever shape-shifting Facebook.
Until Facebook throws us the next curve ball--which we know they will--this is the way to go.
Sunday, November 11, 2012
Think about all the ways marketers try to get your attention: TV, radio, magazine and newspaper ads, email blasts, billboards, posters, telemarketing, direct mail, promotions, those horrible gated ads you have to click through before you’re allowed to see content online. If you live in New York City, you see posters while you wait for the subway, posters inside the train, and even the Metrocard has ads on it.
It’s damned annoying
My job for thirty years as a movie publicist and marketer was to create all kinds of stuff to get your attention. Articles in newspapers, reviews, TV bookings, posters, trailers, websites, radio and TV spots, quote ads, parties, stunts, promotional items, award campaigns. We were the very experienced experts making all this crap that you potential moviegoers were supposed to see over and over and over and over until you gave in and said, “All right already! I’m going to put it in my Netflix Queue! I’ll watch it on VOD! I might even go to the theatre!” Or maybe all the marketing will be able to accomplish is to give you some vague awareness laying dormant in your brain until you are choosing a movie to watch on an airplane.
This whole traditional marketing deal is one way and top down. We create all our stuff and we push it on you. And if our marketing stuff is good, it works.
The problem is when we take our one way marketing mindset and we bring it to social media. Because social media is not about the marketers--it’s about the consumers. People don’t go on social media to be sold stuff; they go there to connect with their friends, discover things, and share them. They can be connecting, learning and sharing with their friends, or they can be doing it with strangers who have a common interest. We could bond with all the people in the world who like “Moonrise Kingdom,” are concerned with climate change, or are interested in my ideas about Facebook marketing.
Our job as social media marketers is to get people together in an online club--i.e. a Facebook page-- to talk about a movie or any product, and then light a fire under the conversation so it keeps going. This is a two way thing, it’s all about dialogue, and the only way you can have a proper dialogue is if the page is authentic. This is crucial. You can’t have a club that is composed of people who aren’t interested. So getting lots of people to like you as a favor doesn’t do you any good. Your friends’ friends and relatives may love you, but they may never see your movie, and if they do, they might not like it. Your Facebook page is for people who are somehow interested in your movie--either they’ve seen it, want to see it, like the director or actors, are very involved in the topics or issues it addresses--something.
Rather than responding to marketing stuff created in traditional marketing, people seek us out. Let’s say you go on your Facebook page and notice that “[insert your friend’s name here] likes Junior’s Cheesecake.” And you go, “I love Junior’s Cheesecake too! It is really tasty! ” So you head over to the page and like it. Of course at that point you are pretty much done with Junior’s Cheesecake as far as Facebook goes. You aren’t crazy enough about Junior’s that you want to hear about it five times a day, and the Junior’s messages are competing with the amusing comments your friends are making. When you joined, you were an authentic Junior’s Cheesecake fan, but now you are clicking the unlike button.
But what if everything you get from the Junior’s Cheesecake page is hilarious? And only one comes a day? You aren’t on Facebook that much so you only see it now and then. If it’s a really good one, you might hit the like button or even share those posts. They are not ads; they fit in with everything else that comes your way. And as you already like Junior’s Cheesecake, the constant mentions might influence you to eat it more, and if the pictures you’re sharing are delectable, they might make your friends hungry too.
You have to find the people who care about your page, and a good way to start is to not see them as customers but to see them as you. Think about how they might want to be approached. Depending on who you are and what your film is, it might be relatively easy or it might be really hard. It probably will take some time. But once you have collected your fans, you have to treat them the way you like to be treated on Facebook. They don’t want to be notified about every city the film is opening in. You might care a lot about things like that, but these are strangers. If you want to hold onto them you have to give them things to discover and smile at. If they are interested and entertained, they’ll let their friends know about it.
Friday, November 09, 2012
Facebook used to have a Recommendations Box on all fan pages, but after awhile this disappeared for every page that didn’t list a physical address for their business. So if you don’t want to let people know where your office is--like for example you live there-- then you don’t get a Recommendations Box.
However, there is a workaround for people like that, and I just did it on my page.
Select “Edit Page” and then select “Update Info,” and fill out a physical address for your business. It won’t work unless it is a real address, so put yours in there even if you don’t want it to be seen. Do not unclick the box that says “Show the map on the page.” If you do you won’t get the box. The map will turn up on one of the tabs at the top of your page. If you have enough tabs, hide it at the bottom.
Then go back and put something more general in your address. I used “Dumbo,” which is the ridiculous acronym that some real estate person came up for my neighborhood, which, for non-New Yorkers, means “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass” I know this is digressing from my topic, but if there is an overpass, where else can you be but under it? Argggh! Also, being near the Brooklyn Bridge side of Dumbo is nicer, but I suppose they thought that Dubbo was even dumber than Dumbo.
Okay, I’m back to the post about the recommendations box again. When you click the Save button, Facebook will say something like it doesn’t approve, but ignore authority and click save anyway. And it will work, aside from the fact that it won’t auto-generate recommendations for you. As you can see from this graphic, my recommendations box sits empty and forlorn, waiting for you to take pity on it. I hear that it separates “recommendations from friends” from straight “recommendations,” but as I am deficient in the recommendations dept., I can’t speak about this with authority.
I got this tip from Facebook maven Jon Loomer, but I have looked and looked and can’t find his post on the subject. (Maybe it’s in Dubbo somewhere?) So I will give you a tip that you can learn a lot from reading Loomer, and I will be mentioning him regularly as he knows his stuff, is very thoughtful in his opinions, and a good writer too.
Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Here’s some very good news: Facebook is rolling out a new option where your fans can see ALL of your posts. By selecting “Get Notifications” in the dropdown menu under the “Liked” button, everything you post will show up in their timeline. Not everybody has this feature yet, but I do, so please select it on my page. : )
On my page, I’ve created a graphic that you can copy and pin to the top of your Facebook Fan Pages. My advice to create something like it—or copy mine off my page--and use the “Promote” button to get the word out to all your fans.
Make sure you send it only to your fans; don’t include friends of fans. While it says that it will cost $5 or $10, you can stop it anytime you want, I have often reached more people than their estimate by only spending $3 or less. You need to experiment. In any case, if you can convince a large amount of your fans to select this, it would be a game-changer for your page.
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
When I told my artist friend Jeff Scher about Shareable Squares, the first thing he said was that faces were always better than images of anything else. That made immediate sense to me. There’s a reason why people put people’s faces next to quotes in social media, and it’s more than just celebrity. Michael DiBiasio had great success with his squares, and it wasn’t because everybody knew the young people in his family. Advertising also tells us that when people look directly into the camera, it’s even better. So keep that in mind as you experiment, and see if it improves your results.
The other thing Jeff and I talked about was size and scale. In early live television drama, directors like Sidney Lumet, Arthur Penn, and John Frankenheimer realized that a 21-inch TV screen was hardly the best medium for epic movie-making like “Lawrence of Arabia,” so they made frequent use of close-ups. If our work is going to be seen in a 403 x 403 pixel square, shouldn’t we think the same way? Shouldn’t we crop our photos as tightly as possible? I’ve already said that the type should be bold, so that’s in keeping with this idea.
On the other hand, if you can’t see the photo very well, then you’re more likely to click on it so that you can see it. Every click you get will score points with the Facebook computer algorithm. Personally my approach is to always go with the best content possible and trust that more people will like, share and comment about it.
From now on, whenever possible I’m going to try to get faces in my squares as large as possible. Try it yourself and let me know what kind of results you’re getting
Monday, November 05, 2012
If you only read this blog and don’t go on my Facebook page, you won’t know that I recently published an article in the Columbia Journalism Review about my early days as a publicist. You might learn a few things about how the business operates… and some people have told me they find it funny too. Check it out here.
Sunday, November 04, 2012
Ten days ago, I met my long-time friend, artist/animator Jeff Scher, for breakfast in a coffee shop near where we both live in the Dumbo neighborhood of Brooklyn. In 2009, I’d made a brief YouTube documentary about Jeff. I made it in large part because I think he’s a genius and was very curious to see how he creates his extraordinary films. Here it is:
Unfortunately, the studio you see in this video was completely trashed by Sandy. This is what it looks like today:
I spent a few hours today digging through the wreckage trying to help him salvage some things. It was heartbreaking for me to see thousands of his beautiful paintings destroyed. He was philosophical about it. For him it was all about his movies, and all--or at least most--of the films and videos were safe.
We should all count our blessings. I live a block or so away from Jeff and came out of Sandy completely unscathed.
My previous conversation with Jeff gave me a lot of exciting new ideas for the work I’m trying to do here. I will write about it soon… just not today.
Friday, November 02, 2012
You’ve probably seen codes like the one below and even downloaded a Smartphone App to read them. They’re called QR Codes, which stands for “Quick Response.” QR Codes are internationally standardized codes that can store website URL’s, text, phone numbers, and email addresses, among many other things. What you might not know is that you can make as many as you want absolutely free. There are many sites, but I recommend QRStuff, because it has a very nice feature for Facebook Pages. Select “Facebook” and then “Facebook Like” and fill in the blanks.
QRStuff generates this code instantly:
If you download a free QR reader for your iPhone, Android or Windows Phone and scan the code, you’ll see it doesn’t just take you to my page… it takes you to this:
People can like your page in one click and use the link to go to the page. Or if you prefer, you can send people to the URL for your Facebook page, blog or anything else.
You can put your code on posters and business cards, and QRStuff even has a direct connection to Zazzle where they can make you buttons, bumper stickers, and various styles of shirts. Not a bad idea to walk around a film festival with a button that makes liking your page so easy.
You can subscribe to QRStuff and get all kinds of additional features, like the ability to get high resolution files, analytics and reporting, and the ability to change your URL’s for the same code.
This is definitely worth checking out as another way to facilitate getting likes for your page. I’m definitely going to put a QR code on my next business card.