Social Media in the News – July

Another month has come and gone! Summer is flying by, and just like the weather, the social media world is also heating up. Here are the top social media headlines you may have missed from July!

Twitter updates security: Twitter released a password protected data dashboard that allows iStock_000033924868_Smallusers to privately manage their account. The dashboard has information about account history, blocked accounts and devices that are authorized to use the account.



Facebook restricts videos: Marketers and content creators now have more control over who watches their videos. Facebook already limits who can view the content based on location and language, and has added filters based on gender and age.





YouTube is bigger than cable: YouTube is officially bigger than any single cable network. Its growth rate shows no signs of slowing down, upping 60% year-over-year.




Send money over Facebook: Facebook’s messenger app now allows its users to send money to one another. Since the messenger app can now also be used without a Facebook account, these new features should equal new opportunities for the social media brand. Are you ready to hand over your bank info to Facebook?


Google removes pop-up “download app” ads on mobile: Google recently found that the ads asking users to download their app instead of viewing a page on a mobile browser will, more times than not, caused the user to abandon the page all together. In response, they have decided to remove the ad format, and recommend that everyone follow their lead.

What is all the Fuss About Going Viral?

Going Viral with Strategy

Let’s face it, every brand wants a piece of that social media gold: the coveted viral content. We have clients ask us all the time if we can make their stuff “go viral,” and our answer is of course, as long as the content is strategic!

strangers-840x550Going viral is one of those buzz phrases that you hear people throwing around.  It sounds great to shoot for 28 million views in a day, but when the goal of going viral clouds the marketing strategy, it could actually have the opposite affect for your brand.

If you were online at all in the last few days, then you probably heard something about the Strangers Kissing Video. Let me ask you something- do you know what brand made that video? Probably not. This is because poorly branded; off strategy content regardless of reach, just doesn’t work. I will say though, despite the fact that there isn’t a clear strategy, I did like it. 28 million views on Youtube in just a few days is impressive and shouldn’t be overlooked! For the record- the company who made the video is “Wren,” a  high end clothing brand.

All too often we find marketing 101 being brushed aside side in order to shine in the social media spotlight. Just because something is social, doesn’t mean that it can be void of all strategy. If you are looking to create a great piece of online content, go back to the basics and ask yourself: what are our marketing objectives and goals, and does this content help us reach them? If the answer is yes, then go for it! If you have to ask whether or not the content is strategic, then it is time to go back to the drawing board.

If you want to see a viral video that has clear strategy- check out the Motorola “Lazy Phone” series.

Make It Worth Watching

It always amazes me when I hear people talk about leveraging the power of YouTube to “go viral.” But a lot of brands don’t want to step up and create content that will actually work on YouTube. Instead of the short, funny video with a subtle underlying ad message, so many companies end up creating an 8.5 minute history of their brand. (And they wonder why it only gets 12 views).

If you’re a brand and you want to make YouTube work for you, you have to be prepared to create content that works on the platform. The shorter the better. The more shareable the better. And that ad message of yours, you’re going to have to find a way to work it in without smearing it across the screen in the most boring way ever.

A local law firm was bold enough to do it the right way. Their recent series of YouTube videos are, short, to the point and most importantly, they’re shareable.

Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh

Here at The Cyphers Agency, we like to take social media marketing pretty seriously #yesifacebookforaliving. Sometimes though, usually on Fridays #TGIF, we can’t help but sit back and laugh at this digital world we have helped to create #whatdohashtagsevendo
#rememberwhenitwasthepoundsign. If you haven’t already, take a look at this video about #hashtags. Hopefully you get a kick out of it too. #happyfriday #socialmedia4life.

Why YouTube is GREAT for Food Brands

youtube-logo-05We’ve already talked about how social media can be a food brand’s best friend. Pinterest, toted as today’s most highly visual platform, is taking the food industry by storm. With it’s visual focus and ability to instantly connect users with recipe inspiration, cooking tips and creative approaches to meal prep, Pinterest is a foodie’s paradise. Similary, YouTube can be just as strategic of a tool if used as part of a larger marketing plan. We often recommend incorporating it into our clients’ social media marketing strategies when we feel that their products and services lend themselves well to a video platform.


Kraft, one of the food industry’s powerhouses, established the Kraft Cooking School channel on YouTube in 2007. Housing tons of recipes, three minute how-to videos with cooking tricks and entertainment tips and inspiration, it’s a one-stop shop for making tastier meals for your family. The foundation of Kraft’s channel is not focused on its products. Rather, the channel is built upon the greater strategy of empowering at-home cooks.

Green Giant foods, known better as the Jolly Green Giant, uses its YouTube channel to house commercials and as the platform for their Giant Surprise Talent search, as well as recipes. But more importantly, especially for a food brand, the channel takes viewers on a tour of the farms and valleys where Green Giant foods originate. From the growing process to when the products depart the farm packaged and ready for retail, these videos connect viewers with a story that is more than what you find on the grocery store shelf.

gatorade 09Gatorade, the most world-renowned sports drink, uses their YouTube channel, What’s G?, to showcase their incredibly motivational commercials, as well as interviews with professional and collegiate athletes. The channel also features commentaries on high-profile sporting events such as the Super Bowl and NCAA March Madness. In keeping with their overall image and message of the drink that will help you perform at the elite level of professional athletes, What’s G? leaves viewers with the motivation and inspiration run their fastest and play their hardest.

Whether your brand is a sports drink, frozen vegetables or everything under the sun, a YouTube channel, if used effectively, can be a powerful tool in your marketing strategy. Allowing your consumers the opportunity to take a peek inside the brand and put a face and voice with the brand allows a stronger connection and loyalty to your products.

From Love to Bingo in 873 Images

This is something you don’t see everyday, a tear-jerking ad from Getty Images. AlmapBBDO spent 6 months culling together more than 5,000 images from Getty’s archive to make this stop-motion ad. It’s awesome, please watch it. Random tid-bits: The final image count used in the ad is 873 and, according to Jason Fox, if Getty had to pay their own fees, the image rights for the spot would have been $2,000,000.

How To: Create a Viral Video

This past weekend the internet was abuzz about a certain workout video, featuring UFC fighter Chuck Liddell and his girlfriend exercising. Why was the video so popular? Maybe people want work out tips from a UFC fighter? Or maybe it’s because Chuck and his girlfriend are completely naked.

It turns out that this is a viral video created by Reebok to showcase their new ZigTech shoes. We really like the video (for marketing reasons only!) and think that several lessons can be learned from Reebok:

1. Be controversial, but not offensive – the video has the private parts blurred out, but besides that doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

2. Seed the video with influencers – in this case, TMZ was the perfect outlet for the viral video. It gave the paparazzi-like video some credibility, and was a huge catalyst for reactions and the spread of word of mouth.

3. Don’t push the product too hard – the video doesn’t focus on the shoes, which makes it more entertaining for the viewer and less likely to be an obvious contrivance. Rather, let the buzzers (like us)  speak about the product afterward.

We think that Reebok successfully garnered buzz around the brand and the product (ZigTech shoes). The video might offend some, but those aren’t the people that Reebok is trying to please. All considered, we think this was a great execution. However, we’re going to have to watch the video a few more times just to be sure 😉

Public Outbursts Make for An Interesting Week in WOM

I never pay too much attention to tennis, and I knew if anything noteworthy happened at the Video Music Awards, I’d hear about it for weeks following, so I missed both Serena William’s and Kanye West’s outbursts on National television. Thanks to my Twitter-addiction though, I knew about these celeb slip-ups within minutes of them happening.

At the US Open Tennis Semi-Finals, Serena Williams went a little overboard when confronting a line judge. Okay, she went WAY overboard, apparently saying “I swear to God I’m [expletive] going to take this [expletive] ball and shove it down your [expletive] throat, you hear that? I swear to God,” to the line judge.

Slapped with a $10,000 fine and tarnished reputation, the tennis star apologized today on her Web site.  Unfortunately for Serena, an apology  won’t undo the 869,160 views on YouTube and the influx of Twitter conversation about the attack.

Yesterday, one day after Serena’s tantrum, Kanye West made an even bigger scene at MTV’s Video Music Awards Show. Ripping the microphone from the hands of Taylor Swift, who just won an award for Best Female Video, Kanye told the crowd “I’m sorry, but Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” While there’s speculation that Kanye and MTV did this a publicity stunt, Beyoncé’s shocked reaction and Swift’s hurt face show that maybe, just maybe this is real, unscripted television.

I haven’t counted the publicity-stunt idea out. After all, year-after-year the VMAs have given us something that makes for good conversation and goes viral. Kanye’s outburst got people talking since it happened, and actually generated nearly 300,000 Kanye tweets in the hour following.  If negative attention is what he wanted, Kanye sure is getting it. On Twitter I’ve seen a plethora of tweets having expressing hatred toward Kanye and/or showing support of Taylor Swift.

There must be something in the air this month that makes for some high-profile blow-ups. Or maybe Rep. Joe Wilson payed Kanye and Serena to take the spotlight away from his “You Lie” outburst in the middle of President Obama’s address to Congress last week.

Not ALL of America’s celebrities, politicians and athletes are acting out-of-line this month and generating unpleasant word-of-mouth for themselves. Beyoncé did the right thing and gave Swift the attention she deserved while giving her time on stage to make an acceptance speech.

And after his through-the-legs hit that took him to the US Open finals, Roger Federer doesn’t need to make an outburst to generate some word-of-mouth for himself.

The lesson we can learn from Serena, Kanye, Rep. Wilson, Beyoncé and Federer is: Whether you’re doing something good or doing something bad, social media doesn’t leave much room for hiding. The same goes for business, whether it’s a good deed, great tennis move or drunken outburst,  it only takes one move to make you the next trending topic.

United Airlines- Too Little, Too Late

Social media empowers companies to connect with customers. It enables companies to listen, respond and promote itself, among a plethora of other things. Social media, however, also empowers customers to get back at brands, as we’ve seen this summer in the United Airline’s “United Breaks Guitars,” debacle.

Last year, when United Airlines’ workers broke musician Dave Carroll’s $3,500 Taylor Guitar, the airline refused to compensate him for the damage. The repairs cost $1,200. In a final offer, Carroll even said he’d accept $1,200 worth of flight vouchers, in compensation for repairs. United Airlines still rejected the offer.

Fed up with nine months of battling with airline representatives, Carroll realized he was not going to win the battle. During his last call to United Airlines, he made a promise to do something that would cost more than the guitar’s worth to company’s reputation.  In fact, some claim that what he did could have cost United Airlines $180 million. His weapon for bringing down United? YouTube.

Not only did the musician use YouTube to trash United’s reputation once, he did it twice. And he plans to do it a third time. His first video now has more than five million views, and the second, released two days ago, has surpassed the 100,o00 mark.

Of course, United contacted him immediately after the first video, offering compensation for the broken guitar. But it was just too late.

There are two important lessons to learn from this.

First, web-savvy customers have the power to use social media just as effectively as big brands do. Two videos can be detrimental to your online reputation. And if the customer causes a big enough stir, the story will get some play time outside of the social media realm.  When Google-searching “United Airlines,” on the first page you’ll see Carroll’s “United Breaks Guitars” videos. On the first page of the “Southwest Airlines” Google search, you’ll find Southwest’s blog “Nuts About Southwest,” which is  highly interactive and an example of outstanding social media execution. Lesson learned? A customer who knows a thing or two about social media can trump your company’s social media efforts.

Second, customer service is still king. With a pretty impressive following of 31,000 on Twitter, and a meager Facebook presence, United Airlines is doing OK on social media. Social media provides a platform for a brand to listen to and interact with customers online. Listening online, though, is not enough. Social media isn’t the end-all be-all. Brands  need to focus on a comprehensive strategy. One that includes social media AND outstanding face-to-face customer service. United Airlines didn’t do that, and now it is the one paying the price.

The Benefits of Advertisements, Years Later

Do you ever wish you could get more out of those old advertisements for which you paid so much money? They were so darn expensive, and now they are just sitting in storage, collecting dust! Once again, social media is here to the rescue. Here are some great reasons to put your old ads online:

  1. Search Engine Optimization – Adding content to social networks can do wonders for your search engine optimization.  For instance, when we add pictures to Flickr or video to YouTube, we make sure the content is tagged with the right keywords. We also make sure that descriptions and titles include the brand name, keywords and links . All of these things increase the amount of content a company has on the web, and therefore increases the search engine optimization.
  2. Another way to reach your audience- Just because there are 240 million Facebook users doesn’t mean you should focus all of your attention on that medium. Yes, uploading multimedia to Facebook is an great way to provide your friends and fans with content, but plenty of people use flickr and YouTube on a daily basis.
  3. Increase online footprint- The more content you are putting out on the web about your brand, the more users are going to find you, and the more comfortable they will be with your product or brand.
  4. Provides opportunities  for two-way communication – Uploading multimedia is great way to incite commentary and get feedback. Having imput can help brands track the success of their marketing efforts. Knowing that your customers think “This commercial is hilarious,” or “This ad stinks” is valuable knowledge. And unless you are sitting on the couch next to millions of TV viewers, you can’t get that kind of feedback with traditional advertising.  In addition to getting feedback, sites such as YouTube and Flickr also allow opportunities for brands to join the conversation, by talking with viewers or answering their questions.

Robert Andrew Salon & Spa, a client of The Cyphers Agency, has a  Flickr account that we set up for them.  As you see circled in the screen shot below, the brand is mentioned several times for one picture. We have hundreds of pictures uploaded to the Robert Andrew Flickr account. With every single picture tagged and described appropriately, viewers are exposed to the brand name more frequently. The particular set of pictures featured below was viewed more than 40,000 times!

If you’re thinking that 40,000 views is measly compared to the millions of views you can get through advertising on television, you’re right–if you’re just comparing the numbers.

People are opting into the brands message, they are actually interacting with the content (instead of sitting on the couch with glazed eyeballs), and you (the brand) can speak directly to them. Their comments also give you insight into your target audience, and their behavior (clicks, time spent on page, what sites they came from) is highly track-able which also contributes to further understanding of your audience. You don’t get any of that with a TV ad. Unless it’s that old TV ad that you just uploaded to YouTube 😉