Social Spotlight: Denny’s Grand Slam

Social Media and Denny's Grand Slam

This week’s social spotlight is for all you college fans out there. Last Monday night, Florida State beat out Auburn in the Rose Bowl. Auburn fans were left defeated, frowny faces and declarations of disappointment were trending all over social media. Denny’s offered this piece of consolation to all the devastated fans:Social Media and Denny's Grand Slam

The image depicts Denny’s locations between California and Alabama, because what better to heal a broken heart then some Eggs Over My Hammy? We always love a well-executed real time marketing strategy. Well played, Denny’s. We consider this a social media Grand Slam!

March Madness: What does it mean for marketers?


marchmadnessThe month of March brings many exciting things: warmer weather, St Patrick’s day, the first day of spring, and of course March Madness. For many of us, March Madness is the time of year when our officemates bet against each other, and all of our sitcoms are talking about brackets. But to marketers, March Madness means opportunity.

Over the last 75 years, the NCAA has turned a simple college basketball tournament into a household name. Today, March Madness is one of the most sought after sports broadcasts for marketers, pulling ahead of the NBA, and the MLB. Huge companies like Dove and Capital One are now harnessing March Madness themed campaigns to promote their own products. This incredible accomplishment has many people asking how did they do it?

Here are a few of the marketing 101 tactics that the NCAA has used to create success.

  1. Brand Yourself: The NCAA has effectively made non-fans care about basketball. In an
    attempt to reach a larger audience, they created a strong brand identity for the tournament. Using catchy alliterations like “March Madness” “Sweet Sixteen”, “Elite Eight”, and the “Final Four” brings life to the tournament. The success of the NCAA is obvious to big brands like this year’s leading sponsor, Capital One. They have launched a March Madness campaign using TV spots, online spots, print, digital and social media. The ads will feature Alec Baldwin and former NBA player Charles Barkley promoting the Capital One Venture card within a framework of the March Madness tournament. Capital One is using the hashtag #rallycry to get fans on Twitter talking about their favorite teams. capitalonemarchmadness
  2. Get Digital: It is no surprise that more and more consumers are engaging online. Last year, The NCAA saw 2.2 million unique visits to their website during the tournament. In addition, March Madness generated nearly 3 million tweets, and currently has a Facebook following of 410K. By incorporating digital media into their traditional marketing plan, the NCAA was able to generate a huge amount of online buzz. This online presence translated into a large amount of revenue. Last year alone, March Madness brought in $60 Million dollars in online advertising for
  3. Generate Passion: Although not everyone can incorporate a game into their marketing strategy, it is clear that adding a competition engages consumers on a whole new level. March Madness brackets attract bothdovemarchmadness hard-core basketball followers,and non-fans looking to add a little chance into their lives. This year, Dove launched their Dove Men+Care March Matchups. The campaign will mimic a March Madness Bracket, matching up things like Cable TV VS Buffalo Wild Wings. Each contender is a prize packet, with the final prize being a trip to the real March Madness Final Four. The Dove campaign combines and element of surprise and chance to have their consumers consistently engaged for an extended period of time.

We all know there is never a magic formula to a lucrative marketing campaign, however the NCAA is using a successful strategy that can be applied to any industry.

In keeping with the times we have decided to create our own Cyphers Agency bracket facing off different elements of the advertising industry. Stay tuned for updates!



Sandy and Social Media


I don’t know about you, but I think social media has made disasters way more interesting. I don’t want to make light of nature’s fury; hurricanes, earth quakes, torrnados, they’re terrifying events. But with Sandy bearing down on my house this week, experiencing her in real time, with half the Eastern Seaboard, was fascinating.

Leading up to Sandy, there was plenty of humor making light of the potential disaster, as only the internet can do. It started with the obligatory joke Hurrican Sandy Twitter account. Mitt gave some good advice on how to weather the storm for the 1%.

Tracie Egan Morrissey at Jezebel tells her Sandy story poeticality through gifs. I even shared my own master plan that didn’t quite work out.


It was all fun and games, but as Sandy made landfall, the tone shifted. The sarcasm dried up and people became serious and thoughtful. We shared information, news and pictures, some fake, some terrifyingly real.

As power started to go out, Twitter became our one connection to each other. I huddled over my phone watching the updates, chatting with friends and playing word games. David Carr for NYT has a great piece describing the role Twitter played during Sandy. Read it, it’s fascinating.

Social media served a bigger role than just staying connected. Maybe news outlets turned to Twitter to break stories as more people were without power. Emily Rahimi runs the New York Fire Department’s Twitter account and became a lifeline to New Yorkers that couldn’t get through to 911. Rahimi posted updates about the storm and alerted dispatchers of people that needed help. It was pretty incredible what she did.

It’s a cliche to say that technology is bringing the world together, but every time there is an event like Sandy, I’m reminded just how small our world has gotten. And how interesting the people I share it with are.

Crisis Communications and the Power of Social Media


If you’ve been around in business over the past five years, you already know that it is imperative for your brand to have an online presence on the social media stage.  If you’re just now joining the social media scene, you will soon learn that social media isn’t just for teenagers or a way to connect with friends; it has an incredible amount of power that you can use to your brand’s advantage.  Whether you are a newbie or a seasoned pro, it’s especially important to know how to harness the power of social media in the event you have a communications crisis.

It’s bound to happen: an angry customer posts a less than positive comment on your Facebook page, an ugly Tweet goes viral or perhaps a situation at your headquarters creates a frenzy of negative press.  No matter what happens, in the event of a situation like one of these, you will need to act quickly and in a world where breaking news is old news five minutes after it occurs, social media can become your best friend.

Have a good team. If you have an experienced agency with a team of A-List social media experts, such as The Cyphers Agency’s Push-n-Pull team on your side, then you needn’t worry and we will fight the good fight for you.  We’re equipped with years of experience and plenty of computers to ensure that we don’t miss a beat.  But while we might be able to tweet in our sleep, we recognize that it’s not second nature to the rest of the universe.  Consider this your personal guide to the basics of crisis communication management in social media.

Build relationships. It is essential to continually build relationships with your users long before (and after) you think a crisis might occur.  By having the support and foundation of a community of believers, you have an immediate support network in place.  Granted, some will probably desert you in a time of tension, but others will stand behind you in the midst of an emergency, helping to relieve the negative sentiment and emotions of other audience members.

Create a social media policy. Again, this is something that should already be established and function as the foundation of conducting your business online through social media.  Having a policy will help you set the tone, voice and messaging basics that are easy and quick to implement when you need to act in a stressful and time-sensitive situation.

Clear, concise, consistent messaging across all communication platforms. No crisis or emergency is really ever planned.  But when one does happen, there’s an immediate flurry of activity.  In the midst of that, ensure you gather your communications experts and establish a single, clear and concise message that you will deliver across all of your communications platforms, including social media.  Doing so will ensure you spread a common message with the same tone and voice across all channels, keeping your brand consistent and your customers informed.  Last spring, a rogue tweet from a Red Cross employee was accidentally sent via the Red Cross’s Twitter account and not the employee’s personal account.   The organization quickly responded to the situation through its social media platforms with a short and concise message, with even a bit of good-humor.  While the situation wasn’t swept under the rug, it was handled swiftly and properly, allowing the organization to get back to business.

Pick and choose your battles. Think of your social media platforms as an extension of the customer service department.  Sometimes a customer is intent on just being angry.  Keep a cool head and try to distinguish the legitimate complaints and concerns that you can help resolve and engage those customers, rather than spending time or energy on someone who just wants complain.

Act quickly within the first 24 hours. The first 24 hours of an emergency or crisis are crucial in establishing the image and providing the information your customers can expect from you in the midst of the turmoil.  Whether it’s a natural disaster or an image/brand crisis, be ready to respond and make a public message to ensure your customers that you are aware of the situation and working towards a resolution.   When BP found itself in the midst of the Deep Horizon drilling incident in the spring of 2011, it took one full week for the oil company to make any official statement on social media.  The company lost not only its credibility in how it handled the situation from a communications perspective, but it also lost a considerable number of consumers because of their failure to act.

Many organizations that have successfully handled communications crises through social media in the past use decision trees help simplify the process.  The key to remember is that in the event of a crisis, keeping your trusted customers informed should be a priority.  Push out information as soon as you can and keep them up-to-date; your customers will appreciate the personal effort and respect you show them.  So next time you think tweets are for teenagers or Facebook is just a place to find old friends, think again because it could just be the tool you use to save your business and your brand.

The Revolution is Over. Now the Fun Begins.

Last year, Apple built Twitter sharing directly into the operating system of the iPhone and iPad. In the iPhone’s Settings app you can directly log in to your Twitter accounts. Once that’s done, you can tweet pictures and links without having a stand-alone Twitter app installed on your phone. Apple just announced that the newest update to their desktop operating system, OSX, will also be getting built-in Twitter support. Microsoft has built Twitter and Facebook into their new mobile OS and it will be coming to the desktop with Windows 8.

The interesting part isn’t that tech manufacturers are building these services into their products. It’s what this shows. Twitter and Facebook used to be small parts of our lives. Fun distractions. That’s not the case anymore. With the ubiquity of cellphones and wireless internet, social networks are becoming completely integrated into our day-to-day. Having a Facebook is no long weird or cool. Not having one is weird and makes you the friend who never knows what’s going on. Every commercial has a suggested Twitter hashtag. Every news anchor has their Twitter handle on screen. What I’m saying is, the social media revolution is over.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that social media is on its way out. Far from it. What I’m saying is that the days of social media being an early adopter phenomenon are over. Social media is a thing of the masses and this is when the real fun begins. The time is better than ever to be a marketer using these tools. Just look at all the changes that have been happening with the platforms.

Facebook just rolled out Pages Timeline and Twitter overhauled their whole website to make it more ad friendly. Both are getting ready to jump head first into mobile advertising and both of them are in great positions to do that. And the best part? They aren’t just focusing on traditional ads, but are putting an emphasis on storytelling (They’ve been reading our blog). Facebook is launching Sponsored Stories and Twitter added their Discover tab.

Get excited everyone. Social media may be starting to mature, but that’s not a sign of things slowing down. The tools are being improved, the strategies are being refined and the audience is bigger than ever.

Storify: Create Stories Using Social Media

What’s happening? This is what Twitter asks you every time you go to post a new update. Often what’s happening is that I’ve found an awesome picture on the internet or I need to inform the world that I just ate a delicious Five Guys cheeseburger. Sometimes though, what is happening is also happening to a number of other people around you. You’re at the Woman’s World Cup championship, or in the middle of a nationwide protest, or just watched the final space shuttle launch. It’s becoming more and more obvious as Twitter’s ubiquity grows that there is content being created that is worth finding, archiving and organizing in to stories. Enter: Storify.

Storify is, according to their blog, “a company building tools to help journalists, bloggers and experts curate the real-time Web.” You log in a click “Create Story.” You’re presented with a two column web app that lets you search Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google and other places for content. The content that comes up can be dragged into the second column and ordered into a flowing story of tweets, updates and pictures. It’s awesome. It’s been used to track the protests in Egypt, showing updates from real people, reporters and commentators as things progressed. Here is one of the Joplin tornado, following updates as they tornatdo touched down, as it was going through the city and finally as people started reacting.

Storify has personal uses as well. Last weekend was my friends’ wedding and I used Storify to collect tweets and pictures from the days leading up to the wedding and then the wedding itself. It’s a fun archive for the bride and groom of what friends were saying that day. You could even having a running Storify of your favorite tweets about a particular subject or that you think are funny. The possibilities are almost endless. Storify is the perfect example of how big an impact social media is having on how we communicate, both about our lives and about what’s happening in the world around us.  Are the two even that different anymore? Or is it all one flow of news, data and vicarious experiences that are forming our global culture? #deepthoughts

Reality Check About Location-Based Marketing

A new Fast Company article reports that the average revenue bump from location-based social media campaigns (Facebook Places, Foursquare) is about 2%.

“Aw drat, guess we should throw in the towel on all that nonsense and start stapling fliers to telephone poles!”

Well not so fast. Foursquare launched in March 2009 and Facebook Places launched in August 2010. These are new services being used by a niche audience. Should we be surprised that deals on Facebook Places aren’t bringing in epic 76% revenue bumps? It’s an unfamiliar form of advertising with a small audience. We should set our expectations accordingly and continue to learn while we still have room to make mistakes.

And like the article says, “there isn’t necessarily anything risky for offering a check-in deal through Foursquare or Facebook,” so why not give it a shot?

Strayer University Grows Their Online Presence: A Case Study

Strayer U Blog

Strayer University is an educational institution with over 80 campuses across the nation. The University provides a quality education to working adults in both online and offline atmospheres. In 2009, Strayer University came to The Cyphers Agency seeking to increase their online presence and lead generation numbers.


Strayer University’s only online presence was on MySpace, and that presence wasn’t in tune with their overall University brand. Even more so, their web site didn’t serve prospective students but rather, existing students. How could they grow their student population if their potential students couldn’t find out any important information? This, married to poor search engine optimization, resulted in low numbers of leads, ultimately impacting the University’s growth. That was where we came in.

Plan of Attack

We focused our efforts on blog creation and social network development. Our goal was to create an active online community by engaging with existing and potential students on our blog and social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Strayer U Blog

The blog was built as part of a microsite created specifically as a lead generation tool. All of our online ad efforts were directed to that site, helping potential students locate any necessary information they might need to learn about Strayer and the opportunities they could grasp there. Students were also able to input information about themselves should they want a Strayer University representative to contact them. The blog provided a chance to create fresh content (helping with SEO), as well as give users valuable information about being a student at Strayer University. It didn’t hurt to have content to share on social networks, either.

Strayer U Facebook

In addition to sharing this blog content, we were active on Strayer’s social networks, especially Facebook. Students were (and still are) able to get their questions answered, whether it’s something as simple as needing to know who to contact to sign up for classes or a more crucial issue like financial aid. While we were charged with maintaining the page, we focused on grooming a community that interacted with each other. Students were always happy to answer each others’ questions, diffuse a difficult situation, or just cheer each other on.


In less than a year, we were able to make real progress and establish some positive results for Strayer University. Awareness levels increased, as evidenced by the nearly 33 million impressions we delivered. Even more so, leads generated from our efforts have converted at higher rates than any other initiative or ad program within the University.

We are continually growing Strayer University’s online presence. Their social networks have grown – over 8,500 and growing – to become beneficial, if not crucial, spaces for students to interact.

Sighting: Promoted Tweets


I saw this the other day when I logged in to Twitter: a promoted trending topic. I knew that Twitter had rolled out a promoted tweet platform, but didn’t expect it to come in this form. I grabbed a screenshot and tucked the occurrence in my mind for deep thought.

More than anything, I think I was surprised to see a promoted tweet as a trending topic. Will companies be able to purchase trending topics? How did that work? As an agency who works with a variety of clients, purchasing “ads” on Twitter would seem like a great option.

But I had to ask myself… What are the bigger implications of promoted tweets? Does it take the power away from the voice that Twitter users have?  Does it change the dynamic of the unique online community? Does it disable companies from having real conversations with their customers? If a topic is promoted, is it really “trending”?

I’m curious to see how promoted tweets or trending topics become integrated in the overall system. But I’m also curious to see how it going to affect the community. What do you think?

Cut the Crap – No More Lofty Social Media Terms

Picture 7

So we’ve been just as guilty as the next for using those lofty and abstract social media terms that drive everyone mad: transparency, engagement, content generation, conversation monitoring, blah blah blah. I think it is time we all shut up.

I don’t mean that we stop talking about social media or social influence marketing. I just think we need to re-evaluate the way we speak about it. We (as marketing professionals) need to move from the general to the specific and actionable. We need to move from “motivational speaker” to “business coach.”

Step back for a moment.

While we’ve got more and more people jumping at social media, we’ve also got some seriously bad lingo that follows. Let’s look away from jargon and look to stimulating specific, strategic social media dialogue. Saying that each client is different doesn’t cut it anymore. Let’s take these lofty ideas and break them down.

There are countless more ways to impact your audience: Need a flashmob? Don’t know how to pitch bloggers? Want to see how geo-location features can help your business? Need some social media resources? We try to give you resources to see how social media really works, and if you can’t do it yourself, well, that is what we are here for.

Setting Proper Expectations & Follow Your Plan

As an agency, its important to take a look at what is on our plate and strategize. Who is the client? What do they need? Are we working with a Business to Business (B2B) client? We can use social media tactics to locate key influencers in that company. Working with a Business to Consumer (B2C) client? We can locate their audience online by doing an in depth online audience scan and find their consumers, whether it be on blogs, forums, or Facebook, and leverage that community.

So can we please stop talking about lofty, abstract social media terms? Let’s cut to the chase and get working.