social media

Live Videos and Products

This post is a continuation of our live video series. Check out last week’s post on non-profits and live video

When it comes to live videos and branded content, video streaming for businesses that sell products seem like a no-brainer. There are many different ways to use live video for these businesses, the most popular being product demos and launches. In other words, it’s easy to create a live video around a physical product. The goal, of course, is not simply to do it but do it well. The point of live streaming is not to create an infomercial or a commercial- this is about marketing, not advertising. Here are some examples of companies that have used live streaming for their product based businesses without phoning it in:

Barkbox is a subscription service dedicated to dogs (they send accessories and treats). I suspect their success on Periscope has a lot to do with their primary material: puppies. Since they can’t talk and share their feedback on BarkBox products, the marketing team shows various dogs enjoying their goodies from the box. The target market is dog owners, preferably the type who can be moved into purchase by adorable puppy videos.



Doritos used Periscope to create excitement around their product  “Doritos Roulette.” They created a contest involving Periscope, Twitter, Vine, and YouTube. The contest itself seemed a bit complex to me, but maybe I’m just not that passionate about my snacks. Doritos has a pretty big following on social media, so the contest had high volumes of participation. Below is one of the tweets from Doritos announcing the contest:periscope_doritos

The rules for participation felt like a lot of hoops to jump through (again, not a dedicated Doritos fan) but it still had a lot of participation.

Adobe used Periscope for a 24-hour broadcast leading up to the release of Creative Cloud last year. The @CreativeCloud channel shared inside looks at the software and discussions with employees. Throughout the day, the Adobe Periscope channel followed various employees across the world while discussing/demonstrating the different components of the new product. Adobe took their product launch and made it into something more, something that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from them. The 24 hour broadcast was an interesting innovation, too. Most channels won’t have broadcasts that go for that long- although this was a bunch of smaller streaming events from the same channel rather than one continuous stream, it was still a unique use of the app.

adobe_stream

BMW (and any car company, really) uses live streaming video to roll out new models (pun intended). Last October, BMW used Periscope to stream the live launch of the M2, and it was a huge success (they gained about 3,000 new followers). They already have plans to use this method for new model launches this spring. Rolls Royce was a slightly earlier adapter,  as spokesperson Gerry Spahn  explained: “Given how stunningly beautiful the car is we wanted to share it with as many people as possible. Today that means live streaming.” Bingo, Gerry.

You may ask yourself ‘If I’m a small business though, what am I supposed to do?’ Try taking some pointers from Miami Candy, showing how to make candy kabobs with their products.

(PS I can’t screenshot the broadcast and the name of the broadcast so I picked to screenshot the title while it was loading.)

candykabobperiscope

How to do my own candy kabobs? Don’t mind if I do.

What can we learn from these examples?

1) Know what your customers want to see. Yes, it helps to have an amazing product that everyone wants to see, but if you can’t make it interesting, then what’s the point? Each of the companies mentioned above has a different formula for their live streaming stories. BarkBox uses puppies and puppies enjoying products, which makes sense considering their customers. Adobe recognized that it’s customers are probably interested in learning more about how they can use Creative Cloud and other products, so that’s what they delivered. Before you start streaming, think about what your audience is interested in.

2) Announce in advance. You’ll notice that most of the examples above use One of the keys to any event is to make sure you give people enough time to plan their attendance. Adobe used their blog and social media to get the word out about the event, and the Doritos post above was shared 5 days before the event. If you can, be as specific as possible about the date/time for followers to tune in.

3) Customer service on a new level. One of the more popular components of Google Hangouts on Air and Periscope is the ability for audience interaction in real time. People who are watching can send comments and questions, which is a great opportunity for a Q&A around a new product/use of a product. This article from Hubspot has some tips on responding to questions as they come in. For brands with lots of followers, broadcasts are likely a whirlwind of activity and might require an extra person to help facilitate the stream. Responding to questions and comments is a recommended best practice in live streaming content.

4) Have fun. Like Barkbox showing puppies, you can show people using your own product in a fun way. You can take people behind the scenes or give them tutorials like Miami Candy. The point of live videos is to make your business interactive in a way that people will want to buy from you- build trust, tell a story, and don’t be overly aggressive with the sales pitch.

Non-Profits And Live Video

This month’s upcoming email newsletter is going to be all about live video. Click here to subscribe if you want to learn more!

As non-profits increasingly use video to tell their story (or have individuals try to tell another story as in the Planned Parenthood controversy), live video is going to play an increasingly important role.

Live videos have a couple things going for them:

  1. They are not expected to be highly edited or scripted, meaning production takes less time.
  2. They are transparent, as the people in live videos are not only off the cuff but responding to online or real life commenters as the comments are made.



Live Video For Donors

So I’ll admit it, I couldn’t find any non-profits using Periscope to solicit donations. There are certainly ideas out there of how it could work but no compelling example.

Sometimes though, innovation starts in the business world. And while you may be thinking that you could broadcast a live event or founder question and answer or someone/something your donations have helped, you may be thinking “Building goodwill makes sense, but where does the money come in?”

This:

cash-me

Since people are watching from their phone, they are also paying from their phone. Services like Cash.me were the missing link for me to ‘get it’ in terms of how people can make actual money on Periscope. So why couldn’t someone, live watching you rescue a whale or give a child a pair of shoes, send you money while watching your non-profit doing real work in real time?



Live Video For Colleagues

It’s, of course, easy for non-profits to go right to the donors as a first audience. As a money grubbing capitalist (something I say mostly jokingly), it is certainly where my mind goes first!

But lots of non-profits work with other organizations or have an occasion to get colleagues together. It made me think of how the City of Vancouver, despite being large, can have citizens involved in it’s initiatives via live video on Periscope. They used Twitter to talk about it:

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They used Instagram to talk about it:

instagram-periscope-vancover

And I’m sure they used other social media to talk about it. If you missed talking about it and wanted to, I dare say it was your fault. 🙂 So Periscope could be used to get all your colleagues in the ‘same room’ in a way that’s both easier for everyone.



Live Video For Who You Serve

As a non-profit, you also have a group of people who benefit from your work. And while we saved this important group for last, I am sure you can also see opportunities with educating those you serve about the work you’re doing with them so you can do it better.

The Mayo Clinic has a lot of informational videos (I missed the live #colonoscopy- ‘bum’mer). They get major points for educational content and hashtag usage.

mayo-clinic-periscope

Interestingly, they videotape their radio show as well, showing how you can have the same content be in multiple formats to ensure it reaches a large audience.

(In putting out these blog posts, I don’t want you to read this and think “Sigh, one more thing we have to do.” Instead, this is meant to inspire you to think “Oh, this would help us solve X issue” or “We’d do Y better with Periscope”.) Like everything online, Periscope is a tool in the giant hardware store that is the internet. And with that in mind, we’re working on a series of these posts about live video so stay tuned! In the meantime, are you brave enough for live video? Let us know!

This month’s latest email newsletter will be all about live video. Click here to subscribe to it!



Marketing Leaps With Leap Day

The internet may be freaking out about the Oscars last night (yay Leo!), but it’s also freaking out about the fact that today is Leap Day. For instance, Google changed it’s homepage to this rather adorable animation of leaping bunnies:

LeapDayGoogle

Why does February 29th cause such a commotion in the online world? Part of it is probably loosely related to the scarcity principle. To oversimplify, something feeling more attractive because it is rare and doesn’t occur often (in this case, once every four years). It’s not like other holidays that mark tradition or the anniversary of a significant event, it’s simply a day that doesn’t happen very often. As a result, many organizations use it as an opportunity for customer engagement. You might have noticed Facebook trying to encourage you to post a status update about Leap Day (below) or that a trending topic on Twitter is #LeapDay. I can’t put my finger on why it causes such a buzz besides being the double rainbow of the calendar year.

FBLeapDay

Some businesses are taking the “You have a whole EXTRA day to do things!” approach to Leap Day (which works if you don’t try to get existential about it). This article from a marketing firm in Pittsburgh used this approach to create a list of 29 Ways to Use Leap Day to Improve Small Business Marketing, including things like order business cards, update content on your website, clean out your inbox, and so on. Others are simply using it as an opportunity for customer engagement on social media- there have been many a “We’re curious- how are you planning on spending your extra day?” posts. The “Extra Day” posts seem to be more popular among businesses that offer services rather than products.



Other businesses are using Leap Day as a day to offer discounts or special contests. Some are creating 29% off discounts, like this sponsored ad from my Instagram, or this tweet from Old Navy. The “29% off” approach works better for businesses based in products. This 29% flash sale creates also plays on the idea of scarcity, since there’s a limited window to make a purchase and sometimes it’s “While supplies last.”

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LeapDayON

My favorite ad that I’ve seen today came from Skydive New England (because…”leap”). I did not enter this year, because I’m still lukewarm about the idea. Perhaps I’ll be ready by next February 29th…

Skydive

Some restaurants, like the Hard Rock Cafe, offer free birthday meals to Leap Year babies (like my aunt, who has yet to hit adolescence). Many restaurants offer special Leap Day deals in general, if you’re inclined to go out and celebrate. In the meantime, I’ll be mourning the death of Leonardo DiCaprio memes.

RIP, Leo-Oscar Memes.

RIP, Leo-Oscar Memes.

So if you are presented with a unique opportunity, like you have too much cheese pizza on hand, you have a special visitor coming in for ‘one night only’ or simply you got an extra day in February, take advantage and have some fun.

And if you want to offer something semi regularly but not quite yearly, consider using a leap year or an Olympic year or other event at a set once-every-full-year interval and commit to it like these businesses have done… and your marketing may help you leap ahead. 

Google+ Communities

gettingingoodwithgoogle-buttonIn an effort to make Google+ a more “social” network, Communities were formed in 2013.

Communities are similar to Facebook or LinkedIn Groups: they are organized by topics or general interests. From a marketing perspective, Google+ Communities are an underutilized tool for starting and participating in conversations that matter.

What are the benefits of being an active community member on Google?

One thing I’ve noticed about Communities is the global exposure. When you look at any given page, it’s unusual not to see at least one post in a foreign language that isn’t spam). It’s an interesting reminder that social media is far-reaching and that we really do have a unique opportunity in front of us.



Wait a second, my business doesn’t need to market globally. True, but the point of a community isn’t to sell- it’s to exchange information.  This article from Social Media Examiner suggests “As you discover communities where your target market is located, join them and listen in on what they are saying.” In doing so, you discover what your target market has to say about your industry. There may be trends in questions or concerns, which makes great blog post or newsletter material. In other words, it’s a chance for you to research potential customers, and even help them out from time to time.

By contributing to conversations that are related to your industry, you show others that you’re knowledgeable and ideally trustworthy/helpful. Occasionally this does translate into sharing your own material if it’s relevant and can help solve a problem. For instance, if someone posts a question asking about finding the right hashtag for a Twitter post, I could respond with a link to this blog post on that very subject.

googlecommunitiesexample

A screenshot of Communities that Google thinks I would enjoy. This is just a small slice of the topics available- you can even join one of several communities about Grumpy Cat.



What if the community you want/need doesn’t exist?

If you want to start your own community, the steps are pretty straightforward. You get to set up the rules and facilitate conversations among community members, but aside from that, it’s relatively hands-off.

Below is an example from The Marketing+ Community Page is full of people sharing articles and other helpful information about social media marketing (new features, tips they have found to be helpful, etc).

When you set up a community, you have a few decisions to make. Will it be public or private? If it’s private, will it still appear in searches? What are the rules for participating in this community? The description and rules will be displayed on the left sidebar of the community page.

exampleabout

You can post in your own community from time to time to start a conversation (if you have some questions for followers, this is a great way to get them answered), but the ultimate goal is to create a community built around user-generated content. Below is an example post from the Marketing+ Community from KeyMedia Solutions. You may notice that this is an article from their own website, but a) it’s relevant to other community members and b) isn’t overtly selling anything.

examplepost

Communities are another one of those online resources that may inspire new ideas or ways to connect with your businesses. You may also forge some new connections with people you would never have met without this tool. Whether you decide to use communities for business or for fun, they’re unique educational and networking opportunities.

grumpycatcommunity

And, just for fun…here’s Grumpy Cat.

If reading this has made you realize you need help with Google+, click below to learn about a service we think may be a great way for you and your business to start on Google+:

giwg_more



Where To Find Hashtags

Something about seeing the pound sign in front of a word can make the smartest of us feel a little stupid. Is this something I should know? Is this another language?

Hashtags help us organize information. Nothing more and nothing less.

Let’s say you posted a picture of kittens on Facebook you want to help find homes for. Now in the caption you could say “These Maine coon cat kittens were born in January. They have arrived at the Hancock County SPCA animal shelter very recently. If you know of someone looking for a kitten, send them over!”

While this is a fine caption (and you probably tagged the animal shelter’s Facebook page so people could easily get in touch), how will this picture be found on Facebook by potential adopters? Also some people may be saying ‘maine coon cat’, ‘maine coon’, ‘coon cat’ or some variation.

Searching for ‘maine coon cat’ will bring up any post with those words in it. It will not necessarily bring up pictures of coon cats looking for homes. By putting #mainecoon and #adoptme into the search, I am suddenly getting much more relevant results.

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So hashtags aren’t meant to be confusing or exclusive but the opposite of that. In particular, hashtags help with organizing groups of information in what is often limited space.

The pet thing is one application of hashtags but no doubt in your industry or interests, you can think of ways a hashtag would help you either get your information in front of the right set of eyeballs or curate useful information.

Alright, so I’ve convinced you to use a hashtag (or several). How do you know which ones to use? You have some options.

Option 1: Make Up Your Own

We’ve heard about this going badly but don’t let this stop you from starting your own hashtags! Just 1) do your research to make sure your hashtag doesn’t have a previous history and 2) make sure you communicate this new hashtag to the people you want to use it.

The way I’ve seen this be really successful is at conferences. Joomla Day UK is coming up soon and people are already tweeting about it:

joomladayukhashtag

Once the conference is in full swing, attendees and interested people will be able to follow what’s going on in an organized way.

Option 2: Ride The Trends

Most social networks that support hashtags will have a list of what’s trending on that network. Here’s an example from Twitter (well, the day I took this screenshot anyway):

Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 1.18.51 PM

Now if you don’t necessarily want to talk about something trending but want to talk about a popular hashtag in your niche, you can use a resource like Hastagify.me to look up the popularness of certain hashtags:

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As you see, #mainecoon is the most popular hashtag so if we were limited on space, we’d want to pick that one and ride that popularity trend.

Option 3: Go Tried And True

hashtags-of-central-maineThis is the internet equivalent of buying a classic pair of dark jeans or a crisp white shirt.

Hashtags for days of the week (ex #WCW for ‘woman crush Wednesday’)
Hashtags for (some) industries (you can look yours up on the Google)
Hashtags by geographic area (You can see, stage right, some popular hashtags in my corner of the world when I took this screenshot.)

If you want to completely overwhelm yourself or really geek out researching popular hashtags, this post is for you: https://www.marketingtechblog.com/hashtag-research-tools/

Is it important to get hashtags exactly right? Probably not. But as you start using them and getting more confident, you’ll see which ones work well over time. #seeyouonline #social #marketing #goyou

(Pro Tip from my Instagram enthusiast husband: Have a note on your phone with all the hashtags you use in it… then you can copy and paste the whole thing into Instagram and just delete the ones you don’t need.)

Snapchat for Businesses 2.0: An Update

One of my first blog posts at Breaking Even was written almost 2 years ago and dedicated to one of my favorite apps of all time, Snapchat. Although my excitement towards app has arguably waned, it’s made some significant changes in this time period, and people have had time to find ways to use it as a marketing tool. I mean, even The White House is on Snapchat now. As we’ve discovered with Constant Contact vs. Mailchimp, nothing is permanent when it comes to apps, marketing, and social media (basically, the internet). The almost two year mark seems like a good time for a Snapchat for Business update:

1. Discover. Since we last talked about Snapchat for businesses, Discover is probably one of the biggest changes. Comedy Central, CNN, Wall Street Journal, Buzzfeed, People, and National Geographic are a slice of the brands you’ll find in Discover. One of the theories behind Discover is that it’ll encourage younger generations interested in the news and current events by delivering it to them in this medium. For example, if you’re looking at WSJ’s story, if you swipe up, you can read the full article associated with the snap.

What the "Read the Whole Story" process looks like.

What the “Read the Whole Story” process looks like.

2. Tell a story. When I first wrote the Snapchat article, stories either weren’t an option or I hadn’t figured them out yet (sorry guys). Most businesses use stories as a way to share content with anyone who adds them on Snapchat. These can be a series of stills or videos that anyone who follows you can view. For instance, I follow the Whole30. Since they are a brand built around a specific diet/lifestyle, they share content that’s related to food, cooking, and motivation. The most recent story was a video message from founder Melissa to those who started a January 1st Whole30 to “hang in there” (anyone who’s done the Whole30 knows the first week is often the most difficult to get through). Using stories in this way allows you to connect with your followers in a unique way, and with this example, I’m sure the January Whole30-ers appreciated the boost.

3. Build your following. Whether you’re a business or individual, Snapchat now lets you generate your own personal snapcode (basically the same thing as a QR code). Some people use their logo in the little ghost silhouette (individuals often use their face).

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Unless you have an individual in your contact list, adding someone on Snapchat can be difficult. Without this or a snapcode, you have to know someone’s exact username in order to add them. If you misspell or have any sort of typo, you end up following the wrong person. It ends up being confusing and/or embarrassing. A lot of businesses have not only created Snapcodes, they share them on their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, so people can easily find and follow them.

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I found the Whole30 Snapchat account after they shared their snapcode on Instagram.

4. Delegate. This article from Forbes brings up something businesses might find useful: relinquishing power of the business Snapchat over to employees. The pros: employees are at the “front lines” and can deliver real time content with greater ease than their managers (in theory). Cons: since it’s “real time,” you’re investing a lot of trust in other people. Giving this access to employees might mean a brief training on what to share/what not to share, but if done correctly can result in some popular snaps (think “behind the scenes” and product launch material).

5.  “Take risks, try new things, and put a human feel on it” – Christina Coy, marketing manager of Pie Five. It’s unlikely that your Snapchat content is going to be used in other marketing channels (unlike Facebook or Instagram, where you can use images and videos across channels and in future marketing efforts). So, if you’re going to use Snapchat, you might as well have fun trying out some new marketing tools. It’s a low risk way to see how people respond to new marketing ideas, for instance, 16 Handles noticed that consumers responded more to their snaps featuring cartoon characters eating their products, as opposed to messages about the benefits of froyo. In other words, it’s simplified A/B testing.

An example of marketing from Kit Kat (I didn't know there were different flavors until seeing this...)

An example of marketing from Kit Kat (I didn’t know there were different flavors until seeing this…)

6. For businesses interested in metrics, Snapchat doesn’t have the metrics one might find desirable. It’s based on private interactions, so you can’t forward or share someone else’s snap (that would entirely defeat the purpose). Discovery messages can be saved or sent to friends, but as mentioned before, these are big brands that bought into this. If you’re into marketing with more concrete metrics (i.e. not just how many people opened a snap story), this probably isn’t the best medium for you to experiment with.

In 2015, businesses have poured into the Snapchat marketing world. It’s still a unique way to foster relationships with consumers, although it lacks the ability to be far reaching (i.e. no ability to share or “re-snap”) and provide concrete metrics. Unlike Ello, this former-fringe network is earning it’s place among the larger social media networks, and I’ll probably have to write another update in two-ish years.