Holidays on Social Media: Celebrate or Skip?

Reading tip for this one, click the hyperlinks to see effective holiday examples.

Billboards with Christmas ads in November. Magazine print ads for Independence Day sales. Radio spots from florists for Mother’s Day. Holidays and marketing have been BFFs for decades, but social media (being the rebel child that it is) flipped marketing on its head when it comes to holidays.

From National Pizza Day to National Best Friend’s Day (Jane & Lily 4-ever), there is a designated day for almost every thing and every interest. Does that mean that your business should to participate in every trending celebration day?

nothanks

A brand interjecting themselves in a conversation, especially a trending one, that isn’t a clear and relevant fit is one painfully obvious way of looking desperate for friends on social media. Making the effort to create copy and images for a holiday is time consuming, so the ROI should be worth the time invested. Let’s do a pop quiz to illustrate the point, shall we? Number 2 pencils not required.

Question #1:

Should a fitness club participate in National Ice Cream Day?

Answer:

Nah. Is there an opportunity to talk about burning calories after indulging in ice cream or rewarding yourself with ice cream after a tough workout? Sure, but it isn’t worth the real estate. Instead of fighting for space among businesses that have a clearer connection, use that day to share a fitness tip or showcase one of your members. That will have far more meaning with your followers.

Question #2:

Should a pet food company join in on Taco Day?

Answer:

Ah, if it includes a wiener dog in a taco costume, then 100% yes. If not, hard pass.

Question #3:

Should a small, local retailer plan social media content for Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday?

Answer:

A tricky one! The answer depends on whether your marketing goal for the season is foot traffic or online sales. Pick a goal and pick a day. Don’t do both – it would be like wearing your Halloween, Christmas and New Year’s Eve outfit all at once. It’s too confusing.

Question #4:

Should a non-profit organization chime in on Martini, Pina Colada or National Beer Day?

Answer:

No, no, and no. Social media content for non-profits should always show donors what their donations are funding, and it should never be alcohol.

Question #5:

Let’s turn the tables here. Should an alcoholic company participate in National Nachos Day (November 6th)?

Answer:

Oh, yes! Actually, we should move International Beer Day (August 4th) to November, so they can be celebrated annually on the same day.

Questions to ask yourself before joining any trending holiday…

  1. What does my audience want to see?
  2. Is this genuine to my brand’s voice?
  3. Would this content fit into one of my content buckets?
  4. How can creating content for this holiday support my larger marketing goals?
  5. Can I provide sound rationale for spending time and effort of this holiday post should a CEO, board member, etc… ask?

Feeling a little unsure of your answers or ready for next steps? Let’s talk!

Mother’s Day Mishaps: Social Media Etiquette to Make Mom Proud

Mother’s Day is one of those holidays that brands should be extra thoughtful and considerate in their social media content marketing. They should not allow themselves to be blinded by dollar signs when they find out that U.S. consumers spent a crazy $21.4B last Mother’s Day. I wonder how many runny eggs, cheap chocolates, and carnations that is.

Every year, people love to highlight the most powerful, creative, funny, and touching Mom’s Day ads. Check out these lists from HubSpot, Verily, and Campaign. All of these examples are different. Some are tearjerkers, while others are corny and hilarious, but there is one thing that they all have in common. Did you catch it?

Not one ad pushed their agenda. No hard sales. No capitalizing on the hundreds of hours mom busted her ass at work to put food on the table, countless dishes she washed or tears she wiped away. Let’s talk about how you walk the line between appropriately promoting your business and pissing off moms everywhere.

1. All moms are created equal.

This is the starting point for any Mother’s Day campaign. Mom does not mean stay-at-home wife and mother of three. Being a mother can look a million different ways and social media managers need to take this into consideration. From expecting moms to dog moms and moms who lost to moms who adopted, do not alienate or offend any of these amazing people.

2. It is the thought that matters.

I think I picked weeds for my mom as a kid for Mother’s Day and I’m sure she put them in a vase and gushed over them. I even recall trying to make a dollhouse for my stepmom one year and never finished it for her, but she never held that against me. Looking back, she was probably happy that I didn’t finish it!

Either way, the thought was genuine and easily recognized as such. If your business wants to push some money-making deal, your audience will see the thought behind your BOGO or 20% off offer. Don’t try to make a buck off of mom. It should be a day of honoring and giving back to mom. Seventh Generation had a great example of this a couple years ago. Be respectful and the sales will follow organically.

3. Show your human side.

Regardless of the size of your business, what you sell or your marketing budget, be true to the human nature of the day. It isn’t appropriate to push a self-serving agenda. Your brand should treat moms how you want other brands to treat your momma.

Still unsure of your campaign? Scroll to the bottom of this list for epic Mother’s Day marketing fails. I mean, whoa, don’t do that. Even a little. Ever.

Need help with your Mother’s Day social media campaign? Email me at kristina@ littleenginesocialmedia. I’d love to make sure that you don’t muck it up!

 

4 Ways Brands Can Use Instagram’s New Slideshow Feature

Instagram launched a new feature this week that allows you to upload up to 10 photos in one post. It is a swipe-to-view slideshow. Personal translation: I can now show close-up shots of my beagle’s precious ears, eyes, whiskers, and tail in one post – oh boy! Hopefully brands will utilize this new update in a more productive way. Here are four ideas to get you started.

1. Before, During and After

You no longer have to rely on a video or collage to show your work in progress. This works beautifully for nonprofits wanting to show the progress of their good work. For example, as a Social Media Manager at MiracleFeet, I’ll be using this feature to show kids before treatment, during the casting, and the happy after photo with one upload. Love it!

India before and after TW

2. In the Making

Similar to the above, but with more of an emphasis of starting from scratch and ending with a finished product. I’d like to see a brewery use this idea for crafting a new seasonal ale. This would also work well for restaurants, cleaning services, contractors, etc…

3. Zoom Out

For a more artistic (and mysterious!) approach, take a series of photos that start crazy focused in on something and zoom out with each new shot. Envision a gorgeous, intricate flower at a nursery: at first you just see vibrant colors, then a hint of a petal, and finally the whole bloom to announce hydrangeas are on sale.

Flower collage

4. Events

You no longer have to worry about picking your 1-2 favorite photos from an event to share. Highlight your event by sharing photos in order, so fans can experience set-up to after-hours. We will certainly see this used by brands and celebrities this Sunday for the Oscars.

Add those hashtags and get posting. #Slideshow already shows over 70k posts. So, what are you waiting for? Get started, ‘Grammers!

5 Social Media Tactics to Boost Creativity

The dreaded blank page. All that white space. It’s the stuff of nightmares.

horror

Whether you are a content creator, community manager or author, it is your job to transform all that white space into a spellbinding, revenue machine.

Easy, right?

No. This is what turns my hair gray. Why do we put ourselves through this? Simple–the light bulb moment is unbelievably satisfying. This moment isn’t always going to happen at your desk or your usual writing spot at your home. Time to pack up and head out in search of your next ah-ha moment.

1. Hit the Gym

This could actually be going for a run, using the elliptical in your house or lifting weights at the gym. Fresh oxygen will flow through your noggin and breathe new life into your ideas.

TIP: Keep your phone handy with a notes app open or bring a notepad and pen, so you don’t forget any of your ideas.

2. Visit an Animal Shelter

This may seem like an odd choice, but hear me out. All those furry babies have a story that is usually written on an info card or you can ask an employee or volunteer. Their history, attributes and quirks can be thought provoking for authors to big brand copywriters. If you’re looking to get away from a clinical or traditional approach to brainstorming, this option could be for you.

TIP: Be sure to leave a donation before you go! Better yet, if you’re a responsible human being, take a pet home and love them forever and forever.

3. (Nerd Alert) Go to the Library

Remember those big structures with shelves of books? Those are libraries and they are filled with light bulbs just waiting to be turned on.

TIP: Don’t immediately go to your genre. If you write for a realty company, hit up the fantasy section. Write romance? Grab a few pop culture magazines. This will force your brain to really think outside the box.

4. Word Race at a Coffee Shop

Grab a buddy for a fun brainstorming session over a cup of Joe. Come prepared with 8-10 questions related to the content you need to write on individual note cards. Let’s say you need to create content for a rental car company for a summer road trip campaign. Here are some sample questions you may ask:

  • What do people love about road trips?
  • How could things go wrong on a road trip?
  • Where did you travel as a kid?

note cards edited

Put your note cards face down on the table, set your phone to a 30-second timer, and flip over a card. You both write as many answers as possible per card. The person with the most answers at the end of the game gets a drink on the loser. Either way, you walk away with a stack of content ideas.

5. Go Camping

Ah, the great outdoors. Relaxing, but it also forces you outside your normal routine. You have to build a shelter, start a fire, and cook a meal on a stick. Think about your content needs and ask yourself how your brand could be used to help or what trouble your characters could get into while alone in the woods.

TIP: Take lots of photos. Take photos of your campsite and things you see when you go for a hike. You can reflect upon these images later for more ideas.

Get your butt out of your chair and go find your next light bulb moment. Be sure to share it with me when you do!

When to Shut Up on Social Media

Many brands and organizations decide to go dark, or stop posting, on social media in the face of a national or global tragedy. Just a couple years ago, most brands and organizations would have come to a screeching halt on social media in response to a terrorist attack. Sadly, numerous tragic school shootings and bombings have occurred over the few years and we’ve become desensitized as a society.

When I woke up to the news reporting the Brussels bombing, I immediately opened my laptop to reschedule my organization’s content for the day. It wasn’t even a question for me. I’m not going to ask people to donate to the nonprofit I work for when so many people are grieving or terrified.

When I checked Twitter I was shocked to see how many, if not most, of the brands I follow were tweeting as usual. Hot deals to travel ads (but really?!) were all up in my timeline. So, it made me think, “When should a brand go dark on social media these days?”

Some have argued that stopping our daily routine is letting the “bad guys” win. I give zero f**ks about the bad guys. I care about the people who were killed, injured or traumatized and all their friends, family and community that were impacted as result. I care about being respectful to them and I want my brand to be respectful to them. With that in mind, here are the things you should consider when questioning if your brand should seize social media activities.

Move your content or handle with care.

In most cases, your content should be easily moved to another day with no repercussions. On the day of the Brussels attacks, charity: water actually paused their 10th anniversary celebrations for World Water Day. I can imagine what time and effort went into developing that campaign, so I find their decision incredibly honorable. If they can shift a whole campaign for a day that only comes once a year, you can hold off on your daily, regular content.

charity water

Sports teams are a good example of posting as usual, but with added sensitivity. Sports bring people together. The Carolina Hurricanes played the night of the Brussels attack, I know Caniacs would have been dumbfounded if the team wouldn’t have live tweeted the game. It was also their annual St. Baldrick’s fundraising event, which gave people a reason to celebrate something uplifting. Although, they did not acknowledge Brussels on social (that I saw), they did have a moment of silence in the arena. Well played.

The news has stopped their daily coverage.

If news programs, like the Today Show or Good Morning America, are doing nothing but reporting a tragic event, then you know that event is top of mind for most people. Your audience most likely doesn’t want to hear about your upcoming book release, sale or restaurant menu special.

Your brand ties into the event.

Even if it is a distant relation, you should go dark on social media if there is a tie to the event. Hotels, airlines, hell, even a suitcase company, shouldn’t be pushing out content after an an incident at an airport, for example. It’s so incredible insensitive.

Going dark on social media doesn’t mean you should disregard engagement or ignore customer care issues. You should stay active, alert and aware of when it is appropriate to start posting again.

My thoughts and prayers are with Brussels and those impacted by this devastating event.