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Marketing Monday: Pregnant Chicken

There’s nothing quite as unifying as humor when it comes to shared experience. Last year, when I was pregnant and dutifully reading pretty much everything I could to prepare for the new baby (little did I know, all that reading doesn’t necessarily prepare you for reality, but at the time it made me feel like I was accomplishing something). Along the way, I found a LOT of blogs that were helpful, but probably the number one find in terms of both helpfulness and hilarity was Pregnant Chicken.

Pregnant Chicken has multiple contributing writers, but there’s definitely a uniform “style” of writing that’s equal parts funny and helpful. For instance, they have a collection of articles on “Scary Stuff” that you may encounter while pregnant or while your baby is still young. Being able to access a sense of humor while still being serious/acknowledging the scariness isn’t easy, but the writers of Pregnant Chicken are able to navigate this balance (and add a bit of levity to things that are typically tough to talk about).

Other articles you may encounter on their blog include “20 One Handed Snack Ideas” and, one of my favorites, “10 Things Never to Say to a Pregnant Woman.” In other words, topics vary from real life tips to just for fun. Another classic is the “No Really, How Big is Your Baby?” Growth Chart, using such comparisons as “Regretful Smurf” and “Chicken Nugget.”

10 Things to Never Say to a Pregnant Woman

They also have different giveaways throughout the year, typically the entrance “fee” is your email address, and for “extra” entries, you have to do things like share the giveaway on Facebook, tagging three people on the giveaway on Instagram, and other things that grow either their followers or the followers of the giveaway affiliates.

What really got me hooked on Pregnant Chicken was their social media presence, namely Facebook and Instagram. In other words…it was the memes.

As I mentioned in a post this fall about the loneliness of life with a newborn baby, it feels nice to know that other people are going through/have gone through the same thing you’re going through (it’s also a bit of a sanity check). It was a bit of a relief to see memes that were so relatable, and funny/self-deprecating- it made me think, “Okay, maybe I’m not totally terrible at this after all.” Topics include all things parenting: sleep deprivation, tantrums, phoning in household chores, diaper blowouts-the less glamorous side of things (because we love our babies, but it’s okay to have a laugh or two at the expense of a child…or yourself).

Any business can benefit with the mindset of having a sense of humor and not being afraid to say what everyone is thinking…. then again, we may be a little biased about that.

How Short Videos Tell You More

Most people hesitate to do video because they are worried about having to create 1) long narratives with 2) high production value.

That said, we’ve noticed a cool phenomoenon: very short videos in places you aren’t expecting them.

I first noticed this while online shopping. When I look at clothing websites, a lot of them have short videos showing how the clothing drapes and moves, which is really helpful. It also helps higher quality items stand out in a sea of cheap clothing websites where people don’t feel the get what they are paying for. Here’s an example from Universal Standard:

Product Video Example From Online Store from Nicole Ouellette on Vimeo.

I was telling a friend about this short video observation and she mentioned online dating websites adding short video formats as part of profiles and she was considering trying it. Of course, this made me think about this:

Really though, it’s daters answering questions, which can honestly give you a lot better idea of what they will be like in real life than tons of verbage in a profile can.

Vine (8 second videos) have gone away and with Instagram allowing 60 second (or less) videos, it might just be that the internet is a big experiment in the ideal length of short videos and what they can accomplish in that time. How short is too short? What kinds of information can be shown that would be difficult to show in another medium? I personally think we are just getting started.



Nonprofits can also benefit from using short videos. This example is from Friends of Acadia sharing the conditions of the trail at the Jesup Path. If you check out their video archive, you’ll find their weather related updates about trails and conditions are fairly short (less than a minute in length). Maine Coast Heritage Trust uses short videos in a similar way. (These videos all use raw footage- no editing, and no one having to worry about talking for the camera).

Wyman’s of Maine (the blueberry factory where Kassie worked in high school) shares a lot of short videos like these, sharing how to make smoothies and other treats using their products. Yes, there is a bit of production with this video, but you’ll notice there’s no one talking in front of a camera, and the editing can probably be done using a relatively inexpensive service.

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NYC uses short video clips to offer glimpses of the space, discussions with authors, and closer looks at exhibits. Their video archives have a mix of short videos and longer form (up to 10 minutes).

If you have a cool product, a cool location, or a mission that supports cool activities, short videos are a marketing tool that you can definitely use. Short and sweet applies to online video, and your projects too.

Where else have you seen short form videos? Are you planning on using these in your marketing?



The Time My Phone Spied On Me

Moments before Thanskgiving Dinner this year, I almost threw my phone across the room with the intent of shattering it into a million tiny pieces.

Earlier that day, I’d been having a conversation in our living room about carpet cleaning while the baby was doing some tummy time. The rest of the morning was a whirlwind of running a 5k, showering, and getting the baby ready and out the door to be with family, so when I had a moment to sit down, I decided to check Instagram (instead of watching football). As I scrolled through my feed, I saw an ad. Not unusual, but this was an ad for a carpet cleaning service.

Between all the craziness of the morning, I hadn’t had a chance to search online for carpet cleaning services, nor was I particularly interested- what I had said was “It probably wouldn’t hurt to buy some carpet cleaner.”

My kneejerk reaction was to destroy my phone (I have a serious distrust of robots/A.I. on a good day). Instead, I was informed by someone that I simply had to turn my microphone off for certain apps (the same ad appeared in my Facebook newsfeed, but I assume that was because Instagram and Facebook are connected). Anyway, it turns out that on iPhones, you have to go to Settings > Privacy > Microphone, and see what Apps have Microphone on. It turns out, I had both Facebook and Instagram on, as well as Snapchat.

Facebook vehemently denies that it uses our microphones to listen to us. Well, what they actually said was “…it would only use the microphone on someone’s cell if the app had permission to do so and if the user was engaging in a microphone-specific activity.” In this post from Marketing Land, Facebook addresses allegations that it was using the microphone to target ads, which they continue to deny (I haven’t found anything mentioning whether Instagram might be listening, though…).

To be fair, you have to give these apps permission to use your microphone, so it’s not like it happened without an opt-in. The tricky part is, certain features of these apps require microphone use to use, and it doesn’t disclose any other stuff that the microphone could be used for.

For instance, I allowed Facebook to have microphone access because in order to record a live video from your phone, you obviously need to utilize the microphone so people can hear you (unless, for some reason, you’re doing a “silent film” style live broadcast). On Instagram, if you want to do Stories (the little 24 hour posts), you have to enable both camera and microphone access.

Now, I’m not opposed to giving these apps permission to use my microphone so I can record video or posts of my child hiccupping that are probably only endearing to me personally, but it would be nice to know what exactly this permission entails (like, trying to get me to hire a certain carpet cleaning service, which may actually work, but that’s besides the point).

Moral of the story: read the fine print, and if there is no fine print, maybe think long and hard about what you might be giving permission for. This could all be paranoia/speculation, but regardless, it was fairly creepy.

Check out our related post, Is your phone listening to you? for additional slightly creepy info.

Reconnecting with the World via the Internet

I didn’t realize how lonely the first month after having a baby really is. Sure, you have the company of the baby, but for someone who is used to being around other people on a daily basis and having some form of adult human interaction, it can be a shock to the system (in addition to the other stuff that comes with having a baby, which I won’t go into here).

While it has gotten considerably easier to find our groove over two months, a huge part of my rediscovered happiness has been found online. In addition to streaming a lot of Bravo and Netflix, and consulting Dr. Google at least once a day for 4 weeks, the internet has actually helped me step into my new role.



Without being as cliché to say “find your tribe,” there can be a sense of “these are my people” when you connect with the right groups/people/apps.

Private Groups. One of the biggest things online that helped me feel connected was private groups. A few of them are directly related to “mommy stuff” and another is a fitness accountability group. People post daily about challenges/victories, offer advice, and are overall supportive. The groups I like and participate in have a few things in common:

  • There’s no judgment. Mom-shaming is real, and from what I’ve seen it tends to come from other moms. The mom groups I like participating in are honest and not critical of each other’s parenting choices. I won’t go into detail my feelings about this, but when people come to a safe space to vent or genuinely ask for help, the last thing that makes them feel “connected” is getting criticized.
  • It’s honest. The groups I like are the ones that really capture the “win some, lose some” essence of everyday life. It’s not always Instagram worthy, but it’s still nice to share. For instance, one mom had gotten glammed up, just because, only to have her kiddo spit up all over her outfit. Some days I work out in my living room in baggy t-shirts and boxer shorts. The point is we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
  • It feels like a conversation. After all, that’s why I sought out online groups in the first place. The best groups encourage others to post and it’s not all dominated by one person (but there usually is some sort of moderator who keeps things going if needed).

If you can find a group with a common interest, join up! If you can’t find one…create one 🙂



Events on Facebook. Another way to stay connected is looking at the events on Facebook. One of my friends actually pointed out Emlen Family Doula’s new Postpartum Support Group that meets every first and third Sunday. Without Facebook, I never would have known about this delightfully local and incredibly relevant/helpful event.

You can search events locally, by event “type,” and Facebook will also let you know if you have a few friends interested in a nearby event (which may or may not feel a little bit creepy). This example is more of an intersection between online and “real life” but it helped me feel connected to other people in a meaningful way.

Hobbies. For me, working out has always been something that brings me joy. Using the power of the internet to read blogs from some of my favorite fitness people (Hungry Runner Girl, Carrot’s N Cake) helped me feel someone connected again. That, and I was able to stream some easy post-partum workouts to get my endorphin level back up before getting the doctor’s clearance to resume a more intense program. For other people, connecting with a hobby online may mean perusing through Pinterest or writing blog posts of their own.

Entertainment. My postpartum period was not all productive (actually a small percent of it was). Most of it was spent catching up on Bravo TV, checking out some new Netflix shows (American Vandal satisfies my love for true crime and comedy). Another source of entertainment was Instagram. There are a lot of funny/absurd memes about parenting- and complete randomness- that ate up more of my time than I’d care to admit. Strange as it may seem, these memes actually made me feel connected to the outside world because it helped me remember that it everyone struggles- but sometimes you just have to laugh about it.

Turn it Off. Honestly, sometimes it’s all a bit overwhelming and you just have to step away from your phone or computer. Maybe make some tea, go outside for fresh air, read a book…we all need a break every now and then! Sometimes the most important connection to focus on is the one with yourself.

I’m happy to slowly be reconnecting with the world, online and off… and I hope this post helps at least one other person do the same.



5 Ideas for Instagram Marketing

Instagram, like any good social media platform, has in the past 6 months-year added a few new features, which most businesses approach with caution at first. As businesses/people have gotten more comfortable with marketing on Instagram, I’ve noticed a few interesting ways that people are using Instagram to connect with followers and current/prospective customers.

Here are the five different things I’ve seen on Instagram lately:

  1. The Instagram Takeover. A “takeover” is giving someone else control of the business’s Instagram account, usually for a day but it can also be a weekend. An Instagram takeover usually happens with someone who is sort of related to your business/industry. For instance, Wyman’s Blueberry allowed a food blogger to take over their Instagram page for a whole week. What I noticed in this takeover was that @holly_tasteandsee stuck to on-brand recipes (meaning she integrated Wyman’s products into her takeover posts). It gave Wymans followers something new to look at, and it gave both @holly_tasteandsee’s and Wymans exposure to new audiences.

If you want to try a takeover for your business, find someone who is relevant to what you do (i.e. food company and food blogger, business letting an employee takeover posts, etc), and create parameters with that person if necessary (this could be called common sense, but may still be a helpful conversation to have).



2) Featuring another person. In March (Women’s History Month), Rustic Arrow Maine had “Women Wednesdays” where they featured a local female entrepreneur on their Instagram. It featured a photo of the woman, a caption that included her Instagram handle, and a brief description of her work/business. This type of feature gives you more control than a Takeover, while including other people in your post. This gets attention for their business, too, while creating something new and fun for your Instagram page. Following general rules of social media etiquette, remember to ask a person before you feature them on your Instagram page.

3) Multiple picture post. This Instagram update is great news for those who want to create larger updates like new products/meals etc, but don’t want to overwhelm followers with several different posts. The catch is that all must be in square shape and will receive the same filter. People will be able to see that there are multiple photos in a post, so you don’t have to worry about them “missing out” on the other images in your post.

Garnier and many other Instagram sponsored ads will use this technique as it gives you more bang for your advertising buck. This product image was actually the last in the post- the preceding images were all happy looking women with different hair colors/textures.

4) Use of a specific hashtag to promote a contest (and sharing participant’s photos that came out well). Downeast Magazine is well known (at least, to me) for doing this sort of thing. They request that users tag them and use a specific hashtag, and share some of the content on their own page (after asking permission and using correct attribution). This is a tool called “User Generated Content,” which has become a buzzword in marketing over the past couple years. The idea is to encourage users to share something- in this case, a photo that represents #Mainelife.

Downeast Magazine has quite a few contests/user engagement ideas if you go to their Instagram page. Right now, they are in the process of sharing 40 items from “The Great Maine Scavenger Hunt,” featured in the print magazine. Another thing that is worth pointing out- in the caption for the post below, they say “See our website for more info about entering the hunt,” so if increasing website traffic in an organic, natural matter is something you’re trying to do, promoting content on Instagram is a clever way to do that.

 

5) Unique use of Bookmarks. Seabags Maine, a company that makes bags out of recycled sails. They recently used the new bookmark feature in Instagram (similar to Facebook’s ‘save for later’) to create a contest. They created a “puzzle” and posted one piece at a time (out of order, of course) and gave specific instructions about how to enter the contest. They also accepted the first 5 to respond as winners, which could have encouraged more participation (people may see this and think “I have a shot!” vs. “there’s no way I’ll be the first person to respond so why bother”).

Have you seen any interesting things go by on Instagram that could be useful for businesses (or is just cool in general)? Let us know! 

You Don’t Get to Copycat Just Because Someone Already Invented the Wheel

Social media platforms have been ‘borrowing’ each other’s features since the beginning.

The latest instance involves Snapchat’s famous disappearing Stories feature being used by Instagram, and now Facebook.

How Facebook Is Trying To Be More Like Snapchat

A couple weeks ago, I’d noticed the Facebook Messenger App had a new feature called “My Day,” which is basically a way to chronicle your day in photos/videos that disappears after 24 hours, similar to Instagram and Snapchat stories. I noticed a few of the people I’m connected to on Messenger had tried it out.

Yesterday, if you were on the Facebook app (i.e. not on a computer), you may have noticed a few small circles at the top of the page before your Newsfeed starts. On the farthest left, there is a circle with the folded up paper airplane which has come to symbolize Direct Message in social media-world (direct message = a private convo). The next circle is for you to add your own story, and the farther out ones are for your friends stories.

Facebook’s Story feature comes with a lot of the same tools as the original on Snapchat: fun filters, the ability to draw, geofilters…but they don’t have the ability to FaceSwap (which still appears to be unique to Snapchat) or do the fun slo-mo videos. Business Pages are not allowed to use Facebook Stories at this time. (For more information on the similarities and differences between the app, check out this article from TechCrunch).

Regardless of your opinions on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, or any of the social media platforms, the way they utilize popular tools from one another more or less successfully calls to mind an old saying: “You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.” I’m pretty sure this isn’t meant to encourage straight up copying another business, but finding inspiration here and there.

How You Can Not Reinvent The Wheel Without Taking Someone Else’s Wheel

The key to it all: Think inspiration, not duplication. For instance, if you’re trying to come up with a design for an email newsletter, one way to get ideas is to look at what other businesses are using (looking within your industry can be a good starting point). After doing some research, you’ll have a better idea what your own taste preferences are, like if you prefer a fancy header, want to include exclusive new deals every month, dislike sans serif fonts, etc. You aren’t necessarily looking for a template to straight up copy.

The same goes for website design, ideas for social media contests, etc. There’s nothing wrong with doing some research and finding inspiration, but take some time and effort to make it unique to you and your business. Just because the wheel has already been invented doesn’t mean you don’t need to offer any creative input. Make it your wheel before putting it out in the world.

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