Finally a Facebook Update Worth “Liking”

Facebook Contest Rules Update

facebook-changes-contest-rulesBy now, we are all used to Facebook’s continuously changing rules and regulations. Recently Facebook has finally made some changes that have some of us in the social media world rejoicing.

A few weeks ago, Facebook announced that they changed their guidelines for running contests through community or brand pages. Up until recently, brands were required to use a 3rd party application to accept votes or entries into contests. Now, brands can officially run those contests you’ve seen: “comment on this post and win a free pony” or “like this post and we’ll give you a car”.

What does this mean?

  1. Likes and comments can now be used as entries mechanisms for contests.
  2. Brands can run their own contests directly on their timelines without using 3rd party apps that many fans don’t like.
  3. Creating and running contests that are directly on the timeline are faster and easier then creating a tab every time. This means more contests and more engagement from fans.

What this doesn’t mean:

  1. 3rd party apps aren’t going to die. Large level contests and sweepstakes will still need the content tracking that right now only apps can provide.
  2. Anyone can run a contest on his or her page. These guidelines are only meant for brand or community pages. So don’t try and run a contest to get rid of that old couch no one will take!
  3. Require people to tag themselves in content as a means of a voting mechanism.
  4. Require people to share photos or content on their own pages or a friend’s page.

Frankly, we have been waiting forever for Facebook to make these changes! We can’t wait to utilize these new rules for our clients.

3 CPG Social Media Campaigns That Are Doing Something Right

CPG Brands that are doing marketing right

The Consumer Packaged Goods or CPG market is a booming one. Valued at approximately 2 Trillion dollars, as a marketer it can be a bit overwhelming. Although the CPG market is somewhat saturated, some companies have gone above and beyond to make their product stand out using social media. Here are three brands that we believe are using social media to their advantage.

  1. Skittles: The Skittles Facebook account is unlike anything I have every seen before. They have really tapped into their particular audience and it is working. They currently have more than 25 million people on their page, and 90k+ people talking about them. How did they do this? They engaged their consumer by making 5822_10152475790858475_474397604_ntheir page fun.  For the Skittles social accounts its not about the sale- it’s about the experience. They currently have an ongoing campaign called My BFF (best fan forever). This campaign allows fans to post a picture of themselves with Skittles on the wall to have the chance to be featured as the BFF for the week. This is a simple, and cost effective way to get consumers actively engaged and talking about the brand. Not only do they upload a photo of themselves, but they take the time to pose with the product-brilliant.
  2. Dove: By now, most people have seen Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches on Youtube, if you haven’t you should really check it out.  The premise was to ask women to describe themselves to a sketch artist, and then to have a stranger describe that same person. The outcome was that most women described themselves in a less attractive light.  Dove is a brand that represents real women, and strives to make women all over the world recognize their own beauty- the real beauty sketches campaign really exemplified this. The real beauty here lies within in the reach of this campaign. Not only did the video itself get 55,201,018 views, but Dove also cross promoted the campaign with the hashtag #WeAreBeautiful starting multiple conversations on Twitter. This campaign worked because it started an honest conversation, and gained the trust of the target audience.
  3. Murphy’s Oil Soap: I know,I know Murphy’s Oil is what your Grandmother uses to clean her floors- they certainly cannot be well versed in social media. I’ve  gotta4f3d9d23f09808f93f44ce9f497578a1 say  they have surprised us all. This past April, Murphy’s Oil teamed up with the Arbor Day Foundation to host a really cool Pinterest fundraising campaign. Murphy’s Oil created this Pinterest page with the intention of donating $1 (up to $20,000) to the Arbor Day Foundation for every repin. Not only did this campaign helpraise money for a worthy cause, it also created brand awareness and loyalty.

Although the CPG market can be difficult to navigate, many companies are beginning to see the value in a well organized social media campaign. If nothing else, social media and word of mouth marketing help to get your brand’s name out there. If you’re lucky enough to be as successful as these three campaigns, you will surely stand out.


One Crazy Campaign + One Clever Contest = 11K Entries

Social Media Campaign for Better than Bouillon

Secret ingredient Social Media CampaignIf you haven’t noticed, we get a lot of gratification out of successful campaigns that are dead on strategically. So we just have to brag about the totally awesome Social Media campaign we just finished for one of our favorite clients, Better Than Bouillon. The campaign concept dramatized what our current fans have been telling us all along about Better Than Bouillon: it is their secret ingredient in their cooking arsenal for more than just soup and broth recipes. Using integrated implementation tactics engage fans, expand the audience and generate a ton of buzz for the brand. The creative campaign was able to really drive home the ad message but beyond that we had a ton of fun with our fans, giving away lots of really awesome prizes! Here is how the whole thing went down:

Social Media Infographic for Better than BouillonResearch: Consumer insights from research that was conducted profiled Better than Bouillon’s target audience as self-styled home chefs or casual cooks who think of Better Than Bouillon as their “secret ingredient.” To this audience it is almost a “badge of honor” to know about and use Better Than Bouillon and they are only willing to share their secret ingredient with those who they know will truely appreciate it and use it well. Comprehensive research showed that while brand awareness of Better Than Bouillon is low to moderate, when consumers try Better Than Bouillon, they genuinely enjoy the product and its many benefits and in turn become loyal customers.

Campaign Objective: 
To drive household penetration in an effort to increase trial stimulation, ultimately gaining new users and creating sales growth.

Strategy: Generate trail stimulation by encouraging social sharing and giving away product.

Creative Messaging: Better Than Bouillon is the secret ingredient that makes you a better cook because it adds flavor to any meal, not just soups/broths/gravies.

Implementation Tactics: Show consumers that they can achieve quality and taste of a gourmet meal without the gourmet time, using Better Than Bouillon as their flavor agent. Reintroduce the audience to the everyday uses, general values and most importantly original creative uses through the following tactics:

  1. Content – Included unique ways to use the product, new recipes, general cooking tips and sharing user generated secret tips submitted in giveaway
  2. Campaign Imagery – Infographic, Pinned Image, Profile Pictures – Creative executions that drive the campaign message
  3. Giveaway – Fans were encouraged to share their secrets for a chance to win samples, coupons and super secret prize packs. There was even a chance to taste a brand new flavor, not available in stores.
  4. Facebook Ads – Invited new fans to sign up for the giveaway for a chance to win, generating awareness and new fans.
  5. Blog Features – Encouraging bloggers to share their unique way of using Better Than Bouillon and hosting giveaways on their blogs for their fans.

Results: Social Media Campaign Results

  • Generated over 11K entries
  • Audience Growth over 12K fans
  • High quality user-generated content
  • Created high quality consumer interactions

When Food Brands Go Social—Photo Sharing Platforms Become Your Best Friend


With photo sharing becoming all the rage, it is time for food brands to get serious about serving up delicious photos with social media.  It is no secret that on social networks, photos are all the hype.  There are even social platforms like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr that are completely photocentric, and a multitude of sites and apps like Fiddme, and Foodspotting that are strictly food-based. Why then do some people overlook the value of these graphics and have what seems like endless amounts of text with no images in sight?  It’s time to feed the photo frenzy.

BTB1Photo sharing is powerful and sure to increase engagement on social outlets, especially when it comes to foodtography. There is no better way to market food than visually, so food brands should have a social content strategy that is very heavy with imagery. Food photos are captivating and among the most highly shared visual content, so surely this is an area where food brands can finish strong. For one of our food branded clients, Better Than Bouillon, we use photos on social to compliment the recipes we share. Often generating a huge buzz, we have audience members responding with comments, culinary success stories and recipes of their own.

Visual marketing can be a very influential tool within the Food and Beverage Industry; it fosters more engagement than your average textual post because you are showing and not just telling. People like to see what they are getting, not told. It gives followers a chance to see the end product and it gives viewers ideas about different ways they can enjoy the product.  Show off your product, include pictures with recipes, people enjoying your product or lifestyle photos that convey your brand’s personality. You’ll have viewers drooling over these photos and the best part is, photo sharing sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr are fairly low maintenance.  Yes, it is important to keep your content fresh, but beyond the upload and minimal copy, users do most of the work by commenting, sharing, and repining. BTB2

It is likely that your food brand already has a presence on many of these photo sharing platforms, whether you like it or not, your brand has probably been hashtagged. Users upload millions of photos to social sites daily, if you search your brand on these sites you may be surprised as to what you find. If you are not using this to your advantage, then shame on you. It’s a chance for marketers to interact directly with users of their brand and many followers are often very clever; finding new ways to use your product, many you may have never even thought of yourself. It’s also a way of giving your brand a social presence by becoming part of the conversation and making your photos their delicious inspiration.  So foodies, get on board with this trend because it is officially The Age of Photo Sharing. It’s really a no brainer.

The Customer Is Always Right… Except When They’re Not

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The customer is always right! Always. Or so the conventional wisdom goes. However, we all know that sometimes customers ask for things that you just can’t do. How far do we bend to accommodate them? Is there a point where it’s OK to let a customer go? Or are they always right no matter what wild things come out of their mouth? I recently was faced with this dilemma on one of our client’s Facebook pages.

The client, Better Than Bouillon (BTB) is a brand of food bases that can be used to make soups and other delicious dishes. It’s very good (no really, it is), but it’s not for everyone. A fan named Bobbie posted a link on the BTB wall last week. The link was to a blog post talking about how the ingredients in BTB aren’t natural enough. This put me in the unique position of having a dissatisfied customer who’s request (more natural ingredients) is borderline impossible. BTB can’t just overhaul their entire supply chain and manufacturing process because Bobbie asked for it, no matter how great of a guy Bobbie may be. The “customer-is-always-right” mentality is suddenly at odds with, well, reality.

One of the first things every brand needs to learn is that you can’t please everyone and trying to do so is counter-productive. In this case, I would never succeed in convincing Bobbie that it’s OK to eat processed food. Better Than Bouillon is not unhealthy, but it is a packaged, store-shelf product. There is a demographic of food consumers that simply won’t eat packaged food products no matter how healthy they may be. That’s fine, but these people are not our target market. So this is what I said to Bobbie:

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I was understanding toward his right to not use our product, offered to discuss specifics if he chose to deliberate more and then made a gentle suggestion about another BTB product he might not have been aware of. What I didn’t do was jump into a discussion of the general healthiness of processed food that would likely have been a lose/lose for both of us. It’s tough to acknowledge, but sometimes the best thing a brand can do is be amicable and let a disgruntled customers go.

Social media campaigns are like traditional advertising campaigns, but more FUN!


You might not relate a social media campaign to a traditional ad campaign, but the two are more similar than you know. Think of routine content and engagement as brand awareness: great for pulling new audience members into the community. However, a continuous stream of company info and press releases will quickly bore your audience. A social media campaign, much like a traditional advertising print campaign introduces an exciting and new ad message that is on-brand and part of a larger strategy. 

Due to the social and fun atmosphere of social media, social networking platforms are well-poised to be a part of a campaign strategy. We at The Cyphers Agency love social media campaigns and have found them to be extremely effective, but only when used strategically and part of a larger plan. We run campaigns for many of our clients, including one just recently launched for  Better Than Bouillon. We’ve built their social media presence from the ground up and campaigns are a big part of our strategy for the brand.

For this particular campaign, we listened to our audience. They had described Better Than Bouillon as the secret ingredient of their cooking — more than just a product for soups, broths and gravies. Our audience members use it for so much more and are proud of the recipes they’ve developed around our product. We wanted to capitalize on that idea and the concept of a “secret ingredient”. The “Secret Ingredient” campaign invites audience members to tell us their secret tip for using Better Than Bouillon and enter for a chance to win one of several prizes we are offering.

The concept is fairly simple, but it builds the idea that Better Than Bouillon is an essential part of any cook’s arsenal, the ace in the hole to make any dish taste good. Asking users for how they use Better than Bouillon gets our fans thinking creatively and provides us user-generated content that we can share to inspire different uses of the product. It’s on brand, thoughtful, part of a larger strategy and will keep our audience engaged.

The art of running a social media campaign is that it must be a part of a larger strategy with its own ad message. Doing giveaways, promotions and offers are great incentives to get your audience interested. However, you must have a strong foundation to build the campaign upon. It’s also a pretty good idea to hire professionals to do the strategizing, creative thinking and management for you. I think I know the name of an agency with a good AMAZING social media team somewhere around here…..

It’s the Little Wins that Count

Every blog placement, Twitter interaction and Facebook conversation, while they may seem small, are little wins that intertwine your word of mouth efforts to increase brand awareness and help propel your client to the next level.

When you start working with a brand in the very early stages of a marketing campaign, you quickly realize that it’s the little wins that give you the encouragement and motivation to keep you and the campaign going. For those of us who work on the social media side of the campaign, it can be a daunting task to break through the Internet chatter with your brand’s message. Whether you’re reaching out to people on Twitter or through a blogger outreach effort, it’s a super noisy Internet-world out there. But every once in a while, you connect with a member of your audience. Whether it’s through a popular, mainstream website or blog or just an everyday customer who has something nice to say about your brand, every tiny win is a step towards greater success.

Last week, I found out that due to our blogger outreach efforts, a popular beauty blogger was going to feature a review of a client’s product. As I pulled up the blog’s homepage, my heart jumped for joy when I saw the familiar name and logo of my client at the top of that blog. This wasn’t the first blog placement we have secured for this client, but it is still incredibly rewarding to see the results of your efforts working one small placement at a time.

Every blog placement, Twitter interaction and Facebook conversation, while they may seem small, are little wins that intertwine your word of mouth efforts to increase brand awareness and help propel your client to the next level. Even the big brands that boast million-dollar advertising budgets started out with a tiny budget and small campaigns. Growing a brand takes time, hard work, dedication (and a lot of coffee). Cherish the little wins and remember them once you make it big because it’s the little wins that make you and your brand who you are.

Facebook Inspiration: Sharpie

Sharpie Social Media

This week I’m loving Sharpie’s Facebook page. Maybe I am just biased, considering there is little more that I love than a nice, fresh, inky black Sharpie. But that aside, here’s the good and bad of what Sharpie’s social media team is doing.

Sharpie Social Media

Here’s what I like most:

Brand Tone and Voice – The content on the page is always in line with who Sharpie is as a brand: fun, outgoing, and creative.

Media – Pictures galore! A ton of their content is visual, again reinforcing their brand. Plus, it’s more interactive in terms of engagement.

Mini-campaigns – They don’t just maintain their page. Campaigns are a great way to increase fan interaction, as well as get new fans. It also helps with shaking up that online content. Right now, they’re partnering with Lava Lamp to give away a custom designed Sharpie lamp. Weird, but I sort of want one…

Not Overtly Promotional – The best brands don’t need to shove their products in your face. They just need to get you to identify with them. Plus, Sharpie does a great job of featuring the capabilities of their products without saying “Buy this now.” Here’s a good example.

Here’s what I think they could work on:

Answering Posts – They’ve got a pretty passionate following. A little “hey thanks, we love you, too” a little more often could go a long way. The simple solution is to comment on people’s wall posts. Don’t just ignore the positive! Give them a reason to post again. And again. And again.

Links – I hate long links. They are ugly. They make the page look messy. Shorten those links, please!

Fragmented Online Experience  – I took a gander at Sharpie’s Twitter presence, and although good in content, not good visually. It doesn’t have the same feel as their creative and explosive Facebook page.

Facebook Timeline for Brands: The Good, The Bad, and the Promising

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It’s here! Marketers have been destroying their manicures for months now in anticipation of Facebook Timeline for brands, and what that will mean for their social media strategies. Now that it’s arrived, we know the answer  – a whole lot, if you’re willing to do it right.

Changes Coming Sooner than Later

Brands can opt into Timeline now, but it will be rolled out permanently for all Pages on March 30 – pretty soon! The biggest changes are the addition of the large Cover Photo (like Timeline for personal pages), new ways to feature content, and the Private Message capability between brands and users. Some challenges we’re presented with are the reduced visibility of tabs and the elimination of default landing pages for new visitors. Of course, the head honchos at Facebook think these elements are worth eliminating in favor of an approach that brings content like the Info section, photos, and apps front and center. Not to mention the new ways that ads will allow Facebook admins to more easily get their content in front of their fans. For all the details, Mashable has the complete guide to what’s new and what to do with all of it.

Reinforce Creativity and Strategic Messaging

One of the greatest strengths of the new Timeline for brands is the potential it holds for brands to get creative and use both the Cover Photo and content on their Timeline to communicate strategic messages. For example, we love Captain Morgan’s cover photo, and how it merges with the Profile Picture perfectly. The brand has clearly taken the opportunity to use the new space in a way that they couldn’t have with the old Pages.

Likewise, Burberry is maximizing their entire Timeline with lots of large, beautiful images. While they were sharing this kind of content before, it’s easy to see how Timeline so seamlessly lends itself to this type of multimedia-heavy approach to Facebook engagement. It’s been transformed from just another Facebook page to a truly Burberry branded destination.


On the other hand, it’s evident that this change is not just another tweak. The Facebook folks made much ado in their announcement on the 28th about the new Timeline’s focus on storytelling. Timeline for Brands isn’t much different than Timeline for individual Facebook users, and there’s a reason for that. Facebook envisions a platform where brands interact with their customers just like people do with each other on Facebook – listening to each other, swapping stories, sharing content that they really think those that are tuned in will appreciate.

If you’re a business that embraces social media not just as a marketing tactic, but as a way for a business that already values their customers to scale that approach, this change should be exciting for you. But if that’s not you, Timeline isn’t going to revolutionize the way you market with Facebook. In fact, it could present challenges. Check out Macy’s – a brand with a solid social media approach and nearly 5 million likes. They’ve updated their Cover Photo, but it’s nothing exciting. It’s nothing that they haven’t already done before. So far, none of their content seems to be capitalizing on the new capabilities of Timeline.

Still, it’s worth noting that they did take advantage of the opportunity to tell the story of their brand, going back to 1858. One of the best things about Timeline for businesses is the opportunity to tell their “life story.” By showing how small Macy’s started, and how far it has come, Macy’s really reinforces their brand and allows Facebook fans to connect with that emotional sell. I’m excited to see if they will eventually bring more of that into their Cover Photo and their newer content.

Overall, we think that Timeline for business is a good move by Facebook. While it might take all of us a while to transition and get used to these changes, it’ll provide so many more opportunities to reach, converse, and interact with customers in a way that more strongly reinforces a brand identity as a whole.

Old Spice Guy Wins the Hearts of Many, Including Ours

Do you remember the off-the-wall Superbowl ad featuring a suave, manly man describing the manliness of Old Spice? (If you don’t, the ad is embedded below.) At that point the advertising campaign was good – witty, memorable, and on-brand. But this week, the campaign evolved into one of the best advertising campaigns we’ve seen in a while.

The now-famous “Old Spice Guy” begun answering questions and comments from users that were submitted via Facebook, YouTube, and other social networks. The videos were hilarious, personal, and on-brand. See an example below. Most importantly, it wasn’t just one or two videos – over the course of two days, the team created over 100 video responses, which ended up generating well over 4 million views (and they are continuing to rise!).

Here are a few facts about the campaign:

According to Google, there have been over 7,000 blog posts written in the past week that contain the words “Old Spice Guy.”

The Old Spice Channel is now the #2 most-viewed sponsor channel on YouTube, with over 61 Million views.

The online campaign strategically responded to influencers online. The Old Spice Guy responded to celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher, Alyssa Milano, and Kevin Rose. But he didn’t forget about the little people either, and made sure to answer plenty of comments from average joes. This made sure that the messaging was authentic and engaging, but also sure to reach millions of people.

Here are some impressions from our team about the campaign:

“The pure volume of videos (183 in two days!) is astounding!” – Lucas

“The consistency of hilarity in the videos is amazing.” – Jocelyn

“The frequency of videos, at times, was mind-boggling – as fast as a video every 5 minutes. When you think about the fact that each video required finding an appropriate comment to respond to, thinking of a response, filming a take (probably several), some quick edits, and uploading the video, this is a very impressive statistic. And they kept it up hour after hour, for two days straight.” – Bailey

“I know it’s subjective, but I honestly want to go buy Old Spice body wash now. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I feel like I owe the brand for all the laughs they gave me over the past few days. Maybe it’s because I want to be like  that guy Isaiah Mustafa. Maybe it’s because I’ve always liked Old Spice, and this will just push me over the edge. Either way, this is great advertising – not because it is entertaining or well-produced, but because at the end of the day, it makes me want the product being sold.” – Andrew

“Blatant Old Spice promotion. The videos are anything but subtle, and the blatant promotion fits with the personality of the campaign. As a viewer, I was content with the promotion because it was a small price to pay for such hilarity.” – Anna

If you are interested in exactly how this was orchestrated, here is a blog (from ReadWriteWeb) post that explains how Wieden and Kennedy (Old Spice’s Agency) created such a phenomenon: