Facebook Frustrates Brands by Cracking Down on Unpopular Ads

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Facebook has seen a lot of news stories in recent days, but probably the one that would have the biggest impact for Facebook users is that the social network is now limiting the number of posts in your news feed that come from web ads.

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How will this effect brands that regularly employ Facebook, like Campbells Soup picture above?  Well, it is a frustrating matter, but brands will now have to work harder to create more interesting content to have their posts show up in Facebook news feeds.  According to the Facebook blog:

For years, we have given people the choice to hide an ad so they no longer see it in their News Feed. We’ve also looked at these hides and used them as a signal that other people on Facebook might not want to see that ad. Now, we are going a step further by taking into account the specific reason they didn’t want to see that ad, and use that as a signal to inform whether or not we show the ad to other people.

Brands my find themselves pulling away their ad spend from Facebook and onto new platforms as they feel they are getting less reach on their advertising campaigns.

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The way it works is like this: if an ad is getting consistent negative feedback from users, the ad will start being consistently hidden from news feeds.  This will clearly frustrate brands who will not see their ads reach the amount of people they would like to reach while motivating them to work hard to create ads that will not be hidden.  What will be more frustrating to advertisers is that Facebook will not tell them which of their ads are being hidden and how that is affect their reach.

As someone with intentions of going into the social media industry I find this an important development in my views on how to use Facebook for adverti

Girl Scout Get Tech Savvy with Selling Cookies

Girl Scout cookies are an 800 billion dollar brand and now they’ve gone digital so you can buy all your Do Si Dos Thin Mints and Samoas online.

Girl Scouts are no longer relying on word of mouth to build buzz for their brand of sumptuous cookies.  They now have a strong presence across social media networks including Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

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The Girl Scouts currently have 267,000 followers on Facebook with another 43,000 on Twitter.  Their Pinterest and Instagram accounts boast 21,000 followers.

No wonder the Girl Scouts are getting even more tech savvy with selling.

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Now..under the new digital cookie program.  You will be able to order girl scout cookies on your phone via mobile app or through a girl scout personal website.   The girls can either choose to sell their cookies view mobile app or website. They cannot choose both.  Then they create profiles or personalized sites that will allow them to take and fulfill orders.

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The Girl Scouts of America have already been working to join the social media conversation.  Most recently, they released an animated thin mint video do get in on the conversation around Saurez’s World Cup biting incident.   The video shows a Somoa cookie biting into a thin mint.  This video went on to get 1 million Youtube views.

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Girl Scout cookie were originally sold in 1917 to raise money for a girl scout troop in Oklahoma.

On a personal note, I am extremely excited for this.  Nothing like a fresh box of Girl Scout cookies will make my day.  Who cares that each cookie is about a million calories.  I love my thin mints, my Dosi Dos and my Samoas.. And who doesn’t delight in opening a fresh box of Peanut Butter sandwiches or ordering a new box of Caramel Delites.  Most recently I’ve come under the spell of Dolce De Lech.

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Kudos to the Girl Scouts of America for making the buying of Girl Scout cookies easier, while turning Girl scouts onto digital entrepreneurship.

Check out their digital cookie intiative here

The Most Instagramed Place in the World?

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Instagram just posted the most popular locations that were posted to instagram in 2014.  So what came in at first place? 

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Disneyworld.  The ten most instagrammed places are as follows:

  1. Disneyland — Anaheim, Calif.
  2. Dodger Stadium — Los Angeles, Calif.
  3. Times Square — New York, NY
  4. Siam Paragon (shopping mall) — Bangkok, Thailand
  5. Gorky Park (amusement park) — Moscow, Russia
  6. Musée du Louvre — Paris, France
  7. Red Square — Moscow, Russia
  8. Madison Square Garden — New York, NY
  9. Yankee Stadium — New York, NY
  10. The Dubai Mall — Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Disney World to me makes a lot of sense.  Lots of happy memories.    Disney is such an iconic brand with tons of memories families create when they come to Walt Disney World. What better way than to capture them and share them on Instagram.

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Times square makes a lot of sense to me.  New York was most recently named the capital of the financial world, according to the Global Financial Centres Index which is published every six months. Plus, visually, the Big Apple has so many photo opportunities. Broadway. Billboards. Energy.  This completely makes sense to me.

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I also understand the fact that the Louvre, Moscow’s Red Square and Madison Square Garden also made the list.  I even understand why the Dubai mall made it.  These are popular tourist destinations, with Dubai especially taking off as tourist destination in recent years.

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The one that had me scratching my head was Dodger’s Stadium in Los Angeles?? The Dodger ONLY play 81 home games a year.  While other destinations on the list are open year round.

While I don’t necessarily get it, I do understand how photos at baseball games may make social media photo ops.  Looking at my most recent media photo postings, I saw a photo of a Mets game I went to, a close shot of the field.

I am not the biggest user of instagram but I certainly follow it in the news media. Most recently a new application called Instatake has been catching buzz. The app simply allowed you to download anyone’s photos onto your computer by simply entering their users name.

This caused quite a stire in the news media, and managed to ruffle Instagram’s feathers…Subsequently InstaTake was forced to be taken down, posting this message up in its place:

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The other major newsworthy event on the Instagram front, is that the photo sharing application finally debuted video advertisments after much testing and direct work with brands.  On instagram, brands are given 15 seconds to get your attention.

Some of the brands that have already jumped in on the action include Disney, which used the 15 second platform to promote the new film “Big Hero Six”.   Lancome used the 15 second ads to promote new makeup products.  And Activision used it to promote its new Call of Duty video game.

Unfortunately this is something expected, as Instagram needs to make money, but a lot of people will be mourning the loss of Instagram without the ads.

Check out the ads here.

The Power and Popularity of Pinterest

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While it may not be generating as many headlines as Facebook, Twitter or Snapchat, after seeing so many innovative campaigns on Pinterest, i thought it would be interesting to look at the enormous potential of Pinterest right now and show how some brands are using Pinterest to promote their businesses.

It’s clear from the statistics that more and more brands are turning to Pinterest and realizing its potential to attract users through its visual search and virtual pinboard.

Pinterest was launched only four years ago in 2010, and since then it has attracted 57.9 million monthly users, mostly women 16-34 years old.   Three quarters of its activity takes place on the mobile phone and the content includes images, of personal likes, similar to a digital scrapbook.

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Among the brands starting to use Pinterest and all of its unique features include Uniqlo, the fast fashion clothing store which has created a Pinterest board with long vertical ads that you scroll down seemlessly.

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Verizon Wireless has recently been using Pinterest to promote its free NFL smartphone Wallpapers in conjunction with their NFL partnership.  They are letting users choose their favorite wallpapers from their favorite NFL teams to then download an NFL smartphone wallpaper directly to their phones.

2014-11-02_21-24-23Jetsetter is a vacation flashsite that asked users to create their ultimate destination pinboard.   And the winner of the contest would also win a free vacation to one of four possible destinations.  That campaign increased its pinboard follower base from 2,000 people to 5,300 people in just a couple of weeks.  Over the course of the campaign 1100 people pinned over 50,000 images trying to earn the get the pinboard with the most followers.

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Nordstrom most recently incorporated most pinned items on their Pinterest board onto their store displays as part of their Pinspiration campaign.

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I wanted to conclude this post with my own experiences using Pinterest. Even though I have a Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Instagram, Google+ accounts along with many different chat apps like Whatsapp and Line, I actually DO NOT have a Pinterest account.  But I recently helped my mom curate a Pinterest board that “slightly” exploded in popularity.

Because my mom loves to cook and I love technology, when I was home visiting her for the holidays she asked me to help her set up a Pinterest board with all different recipes that she had been collecting in a book over the years.  It took a couple minutes to help her set up an account and before long we had pinned dozens of recipes with her reflections on her virtual Pinterest pinboard.   Most of the time was spent helping her collect her thoughts on each recipe captured by a caption below the list of ingredients.

The most popular post on the Pinterest board came from an idea my mother had to create homemade Peppermint Bark as Christmas gifts.  She had seen these “beautiful peppermint bark chocolates” being sold at William Sonoma and thought they would be easy to make herself.  The recipe was rather simple.  She just melted white chocolate that she bought at the grocery store in a saucepan.  Then she poured the melted white chocolate into a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil.  She bought a bunch of candy canes, unwrapped them and put them inside a plastic bag.  She then took a rolling pin and crushed the candy canes into little pieces.  She then sprinkled the pieces of candy cane over the melted white chocolate and let cool.  When the chocolate cooled, she broke the ‘peppermint bark’ into rough shapen chunks and wrapped them in decorative boxes.

Within minutes dozens of people were pinning her recipe about peppermint bark onto their own pinterest boards.  And in a short while the recipe was repinned onto 318 other Pinterest boards and got 53 likes.  You can visit her board here!

Great Ad Campaigns That Got in on the Halloween Social Media Conversation

I always like to see what  different brands are doing during the Holidays.  From Instagram, to Twitter, to Facebook and Vine, to Pinterest and most recently Snapchat, brands are getting creative with their Halloween marketing.  Here’s a selection of cool Halloween campaigns.

Through the miracle of the moving image, see how today’s @OreoLab nomster was born!

A post shared by OREO (@oreo) on

Last year Oreo created a mashup of popular horror movies and released a Vine.  This year, Oreo celebrated Halloween by releasing a bunch of short movies on Instagram called the “Laboratorium”.  The Oreo brand used animation to create experiments on Oreo cookies creating what they called “nomsters” inspired by popular Halloween monsters.

Disney came out this holiday with a rendition of One Republics hit song featuring celebrated Disney Villians.  Familiar faces like Cruella De Vil, Maleficent, Scar and Jafar populated the music video with the caption “Disney Villain-loving teens ask themselves: is Scar the most evil Disney Villain? Watch their version of “Counting Scars,” inspired by OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars.”

The viral youtube video racked over a million views.

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Arby’s this year decided to create #trickormeat offering customers free bacon to their orders if they said trickormeat when they ordered their meals..  This was an interesting way to participate in the social media conversation around Halloween.

If you’re not getting bacon, you’re doing Halloween wrong. #TrickOrMeathttps://t.co/iI7n4qQQw7 — Arby’s (@Arbys) October 28, 2014

The campaign ran actively across twitter with one tweet racking up nearly 3,000 retweets and favorites.

2014-11-02_2-00-56Target went to Instagram for a virtual trick or treat experience.  A fictional neighborhood called Halloween Hills was created. Users got to choose between selecting a “trick” or a “treat”.  Those who selected treats got things like Halloween themed recipes.  Those who chose “tricks” were led to fun do it yourself projects.  The campaign was also put onto Pinterest and ran on its own blog. The campaign racked up 5,000 Likes on Instagram

What kind of potion do you want me to make you? Comment with #SPKsour or #SPKsweet and I might send ya a message. 😉

A post shared by Sour Patch Kids (@sourpatchkids) on

Sour Patch Kids created a series of videos on Instagram . Each of the 9 second videos were a bunch haunted house themed clips starring the Sour Patch Candies themselves.   The campaign was pushed across all of its social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter to its Instagram page. One of the captions from its Facebook page read

Sour then sweet is SO much cooler than trick-or-treat. Get to my Instagram NOW or you’ll miss the awesomeness!!!
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Perhaps the campaign to get the most attention was SnapChat’s very first ad.  The ginormous social network is currently valued at 10 billion dollars, but so far has served us up NO ADS. Not until Halloween. Snapchat’s first ad was an ad for the film Ouija that hit theaters on Halloween Night, and opened to number one at the box office with an approximate 12 million dollar gross.

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How effective was the media campaign on Snapchat for the film – one can only presume it helped a lot. Speaking from my own first hand experience as a Snapchat user, I immediately noticed the ad, and was immediately aware of the film.  In fact a couple friends mentioned to me that they had seen the trailer for Ouija on Snapchat.  One can only imagine just how many people saw that ad, givem the hundreds of millions of daily Snapchat users.

Well, those were my favorite, but there were many other brands capitalizing on Halloween with cool and creative campaigns, and here are some I’ve chosen as runner ups…in terms of creativity and the ability to get in on the social media conversation around Halloween.

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….those included a cute Capital One Video that ran on Vine and received over 178,000 views.

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… and a bunch of Slim Jim videos inspired by popular horror movies like Saw, Paranormal Activity, and Scream in a search for the most Killer Snack.  Above is a short video they ran on Facebook called the Slim Jim Chainsaw Meatsacre.  That video racked up over 26,000 views and more than 100 likes on Facebook.

… Chobani Yogurt took the prize for least scary Halloween ad –but most adorable — with a Youtube video featuring dogs dressed up in Halloween Costumes eating Chobani yogurt.

PepsiMax took home top prize for the scariest Halloween campaign with a YouTube video that involved Scary Pranks, Clowns and creepy Monster Masks.

Happy Halloween Everyone!!

Is Facebook Really in Trouble with Trendy New Social Network Ello?

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Recently, my Facebook feed exploded with comments something along the lines of “Anyone have an Ello invite??!!”

Ello?? What?? Why don’t I know about this?? A simple search on the web for the word Ello brought about hundreds of articles from Forbes to USA Today talking about the latest trendy social network, and everything you needed to know about it. ELLO!

According to the NY Times, Ello has grown from 60 users to 1 million users in three months.  What’s more staggering is that there are currently 3 million – yes 3 million – people on the waiting list to get an Ello invite!

Ello was profiled in Fortune, National Public Radio and TechCrunch among many, many places. News and blogs were reporting that Ello was getting 40,000 new users to sign up every HOUR of every day.  Even Jimmy Fallon weighed in on the pros and cons of joining Ello.

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I admit I was CURIOUS. The idea of an anti-Facebook social network was pretty exhilerating.  The premise of Ello was the sites like Facebook collected all of your data, your purchasing habits, your ethnicity, your age — everything and then sold it to advertisers so that they could put sponsored ads in front of you.  That is the Facebook business model. The premise of Ello is the exact opposite of Facebook – a social network with no ads, no data mining. Thus earning the nickname the “anti-facebook”.

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Aside from the lack of ads and data mining, Ello is basically like Facebook — you can post status updates, photos of your friends.  You can comment on friends posts.  There’s also a section called “Noise” that lets you showcase online art.

So naturally, after reading all about Ello, all over the web, I decided to sign up.  And this is the message I received.

Ello has gone viral and we are temporarily freezing invitations for new users. This allows us to make sure that Ello remains stable as the network continues to grow. Check back here for updates — we promise to give you more invites as soon as we can!

I found this pretty surprising because, you would think, that any company that is trying to start up a social network would be trying its hardest to sign up new users.  And how many companies out there want to be the next Facebook?? And how many companies would love to have the amount of traffic headed to their site and a tidal wave of publicity in the news headlines referring to it as the potential NEXT Facebook?

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But apparently, Ello wants to do it right. They want to have the critical internet infrastructure in place so that when people sign on, they will not have trouble loading pages and experiencing a lot of glitches on the website.  They want people to have a seemless experience.

So while I can’t tell you what it’s like to be an Ello user, since I’m still waiting for an invite, I have been reading about the waves of news articles about Ello in the past month.  That includes the fact that it has already raised 5.5 million dollars from an investment firm.

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The CEO of Ello Paul Budnitz has already hit the media circuit, commenting on how he feels about Facebook, telling Re/Code in a Q&A “We are not here to compete with Facebook. We don’t actually consider Facebook a social network. We think of it as an advertising platform. We’re doing our own thing. When we started creating Ello we actually tried to erase anything we knew and start from scratch and just tried to build what we wanted.”

All I can say is that people have constantly been talking about what would happen to Facebook if someday everyone decided to flee Facebook and go to another social network?  Just like what happened to MySpace a few years back.  Facebook would collapse just like Enron — only without the scandal part.

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Remember MySpace?  It happened to them. Perhaps that is little of what is driving the hoopla around Ello — that there could be a new Facebook Killer.  But speaking as a marketer, Facebook allows companies to target people in the digital space.  At the same time Advertisers are getting fed up with Facebook because over the past couple months they have seen a dramatic dip in the amount of users they reach.  But obviously if Facebook falls apart at the hands of new social networks like Ello. Then where are advertisers to go?

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I honestly don’t think Facebook is going to fall apart. I feel it is too big of a company with too much money that will put too many resources behind not allowing themselves to fall apart.  As sad as it sounds, I think they will do everything they can to make sure Ello does not succeed.  In fact, they’ve already launched a new ad free social network called Rooms that is a throwback to chatrooms of yesteryear that is gaining traction.  Facebook is also acquiring companies like Instagram and Whatsapp for billions of dollars so that if people start to flee Facebook in large numbers, they will continue to thrive.

I don’t believe advertisers will stop using Facebook to advertise.  As long as it is a way to reach people across the digital space, I feel they will continue to use Facebook.  But, instead of solely relying on Facebook for social media advertising, I do think we will see more companies creating their own advertising websites, or microsites, to push their own products.

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EA Games successfully did this recently by pushing their advertisements from Madden 15 to their own microsite called The Giferator, where you can create your own GIFs of different football players on different teams.

Anyway, getting back to Ello.  I don’t know if I’ve peaked your curiosity on Ello, but I’ll leave you with Jimmy Fallon weighing in on the pros and cons of Ello

PS – A month has past since I’ve signed up and I have only gotten a few e-mails from Ello telling me to hold tight, that a new round of email invites would be coming soon. You can give it a whirl at this link .  Good Luck!

Update – I emailed my blog post to the Ello CEO and asked for an invite. And the next day I had an Ello invite in my inbox!! I will keep you posted on my experiences using Ello.

Female Empowerment in Ads in the Social Media and Digital Age

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Because my plans are to go into marketing specifically advertising, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to publications like AdWeek and Advertising Age to gleam some of the most creative ads that I could.  When I mean creative, I’m talking about ads that really manage to leverage the power of social media advertising and create a sense of internet virality.

Verizon Wireless managed to tug into the heartstrings of people worldwide with an advertisement as part of their Powerful Answers campaign, with a strong message to encourage young girls to enter into STEM fields, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematical fields.

Days after the ad hit youtube, it racked up millions and millions of views. In fact, nearly 4 million people have watched the ad.  It really hit me how viral this ad became when I saw it even show up on my Facebook feed when a friend of mine saw it and retweeted.  When I checked Twitter, I saw hundreds and hundreds of conversations around this ad about its powerful message. The ad was then prominently featured on Good Morning America and national publications like The Huffington Post and Slate magazine.  The goal of the campaign was to break the gender barriers for women, to believe in their own thinking and get them to enter fields in STEM.

This is a far cry from ads of incredible sexist ads of yesteryear include the famous Delmonte Ketchup ad, that said opening Ketchup bottle was so easy that even a women could do it.  Of course the year this ad came out was 1953, but in this day and age one can only ask the question – What were they ever thinking??

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With a caption below it that read ““We’ve make it so easy to open our ketchup bottles even women, with their weak fingers and stupid not-man brain, can open to access our quality vinegar-tomato puree.””

The InspireHerMind campaign has been so successful that Verizon has launched series of Smartphone wallpapers based on the campaign, challenging girls to explore new fields and follow their passions

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It’s even spawned a series of women empowerment ads from other brands including one from Proctor and Gamble Dove commercial “Fight Like a Girl”.

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The focus of the “Like a Girl” campaign by Procter and Gamble was to change the connotation of what it means to “Fight Like a Girl” Dove aimed to reframe the saying as no longer an insult but an expression of strength.  The message proved to be powerful and was prominently featured in advertising week the week it was released.

The success of these campaigns brings to mind some questions.  And this might sound callous or heartless, but the bottom line for companies using advertising is to sell more product. So usually when you see an ad for Verizon, it is talking about the power of their wireless network.  Usually when you see an ad from Proctor and Gamble it is touting the modern convenience of one of its many products including Dove soap.  So one thing remains to be questioned.  Will these types of empowerment ads actually translate into increased market share for the companies?

My answer to that is I think they will. Companies can benefit from a lot of goodwill that these types of ads create from the consumer’s perspective.  People might associate Proctor and Gamble or Verizon as big greedy corporations and refuse to give them their business.  Ads like #InspireHerMind inspire hundreds of thousands of conversations and goodwill for the companies that will ultimately help contribute to their bottom line.

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I imagine that the Inspire Her Mind Campaign from Verizon and the Fight Like a Girl campaign really resonated especially with parents, moms and dads with little girls of their own.  I don’t have kids but I do have a six year old niece who I love and love to spoil.  She loves ballet and she wants to be a ballerina.  After thinking about this topic of empowering young women in the digital age, I told her that she didn’t have to just be a ballerina, she could also aspire to be a Mathematician or an Astronaut.

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Well, little nice didn’t know what an astronaut was so I explained what exactly an astronaut was to her.

“Astronauts get to fly too the moon,” I said.

After thinking about my explanation she responded.

“I really don’t want to be an astronaut”

The way she said it was so cute, and it gave me a laugh.  But with empowering ads like these now entering the social space, and resonating with the public and the media, one can only wonder if in a couple years she may rethink her aspiration.