5 Cool Creativity Tools for Social Media Visuals (Conclusion)

Social_media_visuals_2In part two of this recent segment on the Jim Blasingame Show, we take a look at some of the amazing tools available to quickly and easily create visuals for social media posts.

In part one, we talk about solutions like Canva, and here we discuss a simple resource I wish I'd discovered years ago—PlaceIt.Net.

Along the way, Jim and I joke about how much harder it was to whip up creative assets back in the day. Check it out:

5 Cool Creativity Tools for Social Media Visuals (Conclusion)

Approx. 4 min, 20 sec




It’s the biggest buzzword in marketing today—but also the most over-hyped.

Indeed, for all the promise of “content marketing,” it’s not as easy as it seems. In a recent poll, a full 43% of B2B marketers, for instance, cite content marketing as an effective tactic for lead generation. But 43% also say it's also one of the most difficult.

It's also not always as effective as you might believe. According to eMarketer, developing the right content for the right audience is a major factor in why content marketing efforts fail to get desired results.

Indeed, despite today’s emphasis on all things digital, 84% of marketers develop old-school print brochures as #1 in their lead generation efforts.

Not that that's bad. Print does have a place as a delivery mechanism for some forms of content marketing—if anything, it's gained more cache in the digital age. But it's just one of many.


In this recent appearance on the The Jim Blasingame Show, I attempt to demystify content marketing.

Here in part one, I share five of the most effective types of content today, starting with the kind of video content consumers spend 6 billion hours per month viewing—and the kind up-and-coming-brands like Poo Pourri and BetaBrand (above) are using to break into the big time.

Some of the other top content forms will obvious to you, others maybe less so. Either way, any conversation with Jim means you’re going to have some fun along the way.

Of course, since Jim’s show is targeted to SMBs, our conversation is focused more on marketers who hope to gain traction in the marketplace without big-brand budgets.

But as you'll hear, whether it's big brand or small, one thing is clear: For all the time and money spent developing content to draw in prospects, a growing number of marketers are realizing they most overcome one cold, hard fact: Nobody anywhere is waiting around for your content.

This audio Q&A might help you find new ways to change that.



(approx. 6:16)


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Farewell Q&A with NY Times Ad Columnist Stuart Elliott (Concl): Uncertainty Certain

Can someone who has never worked in advertising really cover it?

Or is it even better that way?

In the conclusion of my recent "exit interview" with legendary New York Times ad industry columnist Stuart Elliott, we discuss what it was like to cover such a idiosyncratic industry without much first-hand experience in the business. 

How did being one step removed hinder - or help?

As Elliott says goodbye to the Times, we'll get his views on that topic.

And we'll try one last time to get his predictions for what's next in the world of advertising. His response is worth noting even for those of us who do work in this crazy, wonderful industry.


(Approx: 3:29)

Listen to Part One here: What I Saw at the Revolution

Listen to Part Two here: The Rise & Risks of Content Marketing

Listen to Part Three here: Change is (On) the Air


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Farewell Q&A with NY Times Ad Columnist Stuart Elliott (Pt 3): Change Is (On) The Air

By now, we're all familiar with the rapid rise of the Internet, the mobile revolution, the emergence of social media and more.

But beyond the technological changes and what they mean to the way we connect with consumers through new platforms, there is the impact of societal changes on how we reflect consumer sentiment back to them.

After 25 years of covering the advertising industry for the New York Times, Stuart Elliott says he never could have predicted that television advertising would be so much less lily white, a little less nuclear family.

In part three of an expansive "exit interview" I conducted with Elliott just weeks after he announced his retirement in December - he points to how ad agencies used to pretend they were bigger, until that became a liability, and why brands had better keep up with demographic trends, or risk being left behind.


(Approx: 3:53)

Listen to Part One here: What I Saw at the Revolution

Listen to Part Two here: The Rise & Risks of Content Marketing


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Farewell Q&A with NY Times Ad Columnist Stuart Elliott (Part 2): What I Saw at the Revolution

Content marketing may get a lot of buzz these days - but it's as old as advertising itself. 

In part two of my conversation with longtime New York Times advertising columnist Stuart Elliott, we continue to talk about how social media has paradoxically fueled growth in television viewership - especially for events like the Super Bowl.

But as part of this wide-ranging farewell Q&A with Elliott - who retired in December after nearly 25 years of covering advertising for the Times - we get into sponsorship advertising, as well as so-called content and video marketing.

Surprise: None of this is future-forward at all. Indeed, it's a return to the golden age of advertising. But while it sideswipes the problem of ad-skipping technologies and an ever-expanding universe of digital distractions, it comes with some considerable challenges of its own.


(Approx: 5:40)


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Weird Al's Internet Onslaught - Brilliant Social Video, or Just Old School PR? (Video)


Is Weird Al's social success streak really everything it's made out to be?

Much has been made about how Yankovic has been releasing a new song and video every day for the last several days to build buzz for his latest album, "Mandatory Fun."

Here's the thing: I am not sure I would have heard about it at all, if not for the media coverage.

It's true that "viral" is an outcome, not a strategy. And here, the whole point was indeed to create a multiplier effect by leveraging unpaid media coverage (and its attendant online commentary) to build buzz.

This may just be an example of how this all works. And chances are, there's a lot more going on than just social virility.

That said - I love the video above. Reminds me of what a modern-day "School House Rock" might be like in the digital age.

And hey - who couldn't use a few reminders on avoiding "Word Crimes" in our real-time, online stream-of-consciousness?

Read more, here.

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George Takei's New YouTube Series Launches with aLook at Google Glass (Video)


I guess it's just a 'Star Trek' kind of week around here.

First, that funny teleportation prank designed to promote the DVD release of 'Star Trek Into Darkness'.

And now, a new YouTube series from Sulu-turned-soc-net-celeb.

I met George Takei at a luau in Kauai last November - super great guy.

And I'm glad to see him continue to conquer the socialsphere, this time through a branded content initiative from AARP. Heck, he even works in a jab at William Shatner.

This new project is meant to expand AARP's reach with both older audiences (who make up the fastest growing segment of social media users) and young.

But what's your take on 'Takei's Take': "Oh My," or "Oh Brother"?

Do you think this works? Do you think it will help with AARP's brand positioning?

How are you & your brand/clients using online video?

Please let us know!

And read more about the series, here.


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First Ever Zombie Attack on Twitter: A 'Walking Dead' Case Study (Video)


Who says zombies don't have social lives?

Adweek has this great case study on how French televison network NT1 used social to promote the premiere of "Walking Dead" in a tough market for crazy-ass TV shows (video above).

The effort, from an agency called Darewin, involved a #WalkingDeadNT1 hashtag that people were advised against using. To which thousands promptly did just that, subsequently finding themslves attacked by zombies via Twitter, Facebook and blogs.

According to Adweek, this er, viral campaign infected 30,000 users in under two weeks, with 550,000 exposures tallied.

Then again, are tweets like "Aaaargh" any more brain dead than most of the other posts you read these days?

But what's your view: Is this one lively campaign - or is it DOA?

Read more here.


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Digital Marketing: 5 Top New Year's Resolutions


It's 2013: Do you know what your digital marketing's up to?

Here are five quick resolutions for the new year. Like lots of behaviors, these are practices we know we should keep - like eat less, move more - but rarely do. All of us are guilty of bypassing these common sense rules from time to time.

So if we do just five things this year, let's resolve to:

5. Not Ask How - Ask Why

I said this in a recent post on social media trends for 2013. But it's really true of anything we do. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a million times at agencies and client-side brands throughout the land: Let's do "X" - insert your digital buzz word du jour here - not because "X" is central to a brand's objectives, but because it's considered cool. But saying "we need a mobile/social/viral strategy is akin to saying "we need a brochure strategy," or a radio strategy, or a signage strategy. These are channels & platforms, not strategies. First figure out what you have to accomplish, then decide which approaches and channels will get you there. It's so simple, yet we all get caught up in coolness from time to time.

4. Know thy customer - and thy channels

On that note, as I write in my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND, insight comes before inspiration. Today's most successful digital marekting initiatives typically don't come from a great idea for some hip new experience, or a me-too approach to major trends. Instead, they start with consumer insights culled from painstaking research into who your customers are, what they're all about, how they interact with consumer technologies, and what they want from the brands they know and trust. Just look at the work Unilever's done over the last few years with the Dove brand's "Campaign for Real Beauty" and all its crazy ass work for Axe - including everything from QR code peep holes in bathroom bars to faux "Shower Together" PSAs. These marketers have a firm read on their customers and the channels with which to reach them. In 2013, look for social + mobile + local to be a key to accomplishing this.

3. Always commit multi-plat-fornication

Innovate through as many channels and platforms that make sense for your strategies and audience. It's what MTV calls "multi-plat-fornication." As I show in the book, MINI USA has made an art form of this, using insights on its "fun-tech" loving audience and how they congregate online to use numerous approaches - branded games, especially, but also things like RFID-based key fobs that enable roadside billboards to call out to passing drivers by name - to actually enlist customers to market the cars for them. And Coca-Cola has raised the bar over the last year, with everything from branded iPhone apps to the Polar Bears' social stunt at the Super Bowl to its Kinect-Powered Vending Machine, to a magazine-ad-turned-mobile-stereo-speakers and much, much more. Small wonder the brand has been named "Creative Marketer of the Year" for the 2013 Cannes International Advertising Festival. 

2. Honor traditional as the sizzle to digital's steak

It's heresy these days to point out the obvious. In a fragmented media universe, the channels that still attract any semblance of "mass" are more powerful than ever - with TV being exhibit A. For all our gadgets, we're watching more TV, not less. And whether it's "Walking Dead" or "Dancing with The Stars," TV has communal power like nothing else. As a result, many of today's most innovative integrated campaigns use traditional advertising - old school TV, print, radio, etc - to build awareness and then point consumers to deeper, richer, more meaningful experiences online, or via mobile and other digital platforms. Again, Coca-Cola's Polar Bear stunt at the Super Bowl immediately comes to mind, attracting over 9 million consumers who spent an average of 28 minutes with the brand. And Doritos has effectively done all this in reverse every year, with its Crash The Super Bowl user-generated ad contest - with the chance to work with director Michael Bay at this year's bowl.

1. Never put "buzz" before "business"

Obviously digital marketing is about endless and innovative experimentation. If it were as easy as creating any old viral video, branded game, or mobile app to generate enough buzz to bring in business for our brands, we'd all be rich. For many lifestyle brands, this kind of experimentation is enough - especially in categories where an aura of hipness is a prerequisite for sales success. But while there is obviously a lot of fun and games in all this fun and games, it's important - critical - that we approach digital initiatives with specific objectives in mind (see resolution #5).

As Harley-Davidson's global CMO Mark-Hans Richer puts it to Ad Age, "This is a new gold age for marketers. The shackles are off, and the possibilities are nearly endless. If we aren't conducting radical experiments, trying new ways to engage our targets and adding value to them, then we're not doing our jobs."

But, he adds, "It's not about chasing the buzz; it's about chasing the biz." Marketers who get this formula right - by fueling innovation through substantive consumer insights - weill thrive in the on-demand era.

Those who don't will have to settle for some fun - but ultimately fruitless - experiments.

Here's to a blockbuster 2013 for us all.

Top 10 Social Media Initiatives 2012 (Video)


This list may spark a Twitterstorm all its own.

We know some people are going to disagree with our list.  Indeed, in some quarters, the fact that we didn’t include Kony 2012 is going to be enough to send some in the socialsphere over the edge.

It is, after all, arguably the most astonishingly successful social media effort ever. And everyone is reverse engineering the campaign to see if they can replicate it.

It’s just that ultimately, we found certain aspects of the effort unsettling for reasons we haven’t quite taken the time to fully puzzle together in our own minds.

But the other, far more important reason: This particular list is for brand-oriented social initiatives versus cause-oriented efforts (or political, for that matter - which would have resulted in the Obama campaign's inclusion).

GenWowAwards-logoAnd in that regard, like a few of our Top 10 lists so far this year, it is one that is dominated by Coca-Cola. It's no wonder the brand has been named the 'Creative Marketer of the Year' for the 2013 Cannes Festival.

So: Here’s our list. If you agree, let us know. If you disagree, make your own list and share.

10. Social Media Street Fight: Duke It Out for Your Dream Mustang

Mustang’s not horsing around when it comes to social media.  

9. ‘Dance Cam’ Mobile App Lets You Create Music Videos on Phone, Share & Vote Via Facebook

Not only fun, but serious blackmail material, too.

8.  Pepsi Next Internet Taste Test

Move over social celeb-crazy Old Spice Guy. Comedians in this campaign impersonate consumers who Like the brand, based their sure-to-be-embellished Facebook Profiles

7. Dove Lets You Give Facebook Ads A Makeover

Turn downer beauty ads that feature negative or unrealistic imagery into uplifting ads that eschew beauty industry stereotypes.

6. DKNY Fakes Social Buzz to Spark The Real Thing

Why go to all the trouble of building social media buzz when you can just fake it and achieve the same thing?

5. Unpretentious App: Mitsubishi Drives Down Your Most Obnoxious Facebook Friends

Obliterating your most annoying Facebook friends? Yeah, there’s an app for that.

4. Let’s Eat Together: Coca-Cola Happiness Truck

A new twist on sharing a Coke and a smile.

3. Project Re:Brief from Google & Coke

A mobile-meets-social take on Coke’s classic “Hilltop” spot. Oh, and winner of the 1st ever Cannes Mobile Grand Prix.

2. Mercedes Launches ‘You Drive’ – A TV Campaign You Drive, Via Twitter

Call it a crowdsourced cliffhanger.

1. Coca-Cola’s Polar Bears React to Super Bowl (Even Other Ads) Live Via Social Media 

Brought the ad bowl to a whole new level of social interactivity.  Oh and attracted 9 million viewers who spent an average of 28 minutes with the brand.

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