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Pokemon Go, A Marketer’s Dream

Remember back in the days of Foursquare when you could build customer loyalty with marketing promises like “the Mayor drinks for free!” or “show us your check-in for a discount on your purchase?” It’s time to gear up for the next round of location-based marketing meets gamification. Except this time, the game part blows pretty much anything else we’ve seen out of the water.

I’m thirty-nine, and when I was growing up, we didn’t have a Nintendo. We had a computer, and a 300 baud modem, so while my friends were playing Nintendo, I was dialing into a local BBS to play Risk. (I know, I’m a nerd.) I tell you that to explain that up until yesterday, Pokemon means nothing to me outside of what I pick up here and there as my sons talk about it.

That changed on Friday when our 22-year-old designer mentioned sadly that she couldn’t find any Pokemon in our office and that her boyfriend was debating about upgrading his phone, simply because his current phone kept crashing while he tried to play the game.

That caught my attention enough to make me run some searches and to get caught up on some of the Pokemon Go related news. I scanned through some of the same stories most people have seen: the one about the Pokemon Go player who found the dead body, the one about the armed robbers who used the game to lure victims to secluded areas, and the many stories about Pokemon Go players who are suddenly finding themselves getting way more exercise than usual.

The one that caught my eye though was a stream of Tweets from someone who lives in what used to be a church, and who quickly figured out that the Augmented Reality game still thought it was still a church and had set his home up as a Gym. The resulting stream of Tweets as he and friends discuss and post pictures of the stream of players outside his home started sparking ideas.

It was shortly after reading that story that I started hunting down some stats and learned that in a matter of days, Pokemon Go had been installed on more Android devices than Tinder has and that it’s just shy of surpassing Twitter usage as well.

 

Pokemon Go to Overtake Twitter

Source: SimilarWeb

Not bad for a few days work.

I ended up downloading the game myself on Sunday morning. The experience was both addicting as a player and inspiring as a marketer. After a day’s worth of playing, I found myself awake at 2 am writing this article as I sorted through the various ways businesses could leverage the game’s popularity as part of their marketing efforts.

I admit that my experience with the game was lukewarm at best from my home. I snagged a few base level Pokemon while wandering around our rural 22-acre farm, but with no Pokestops or Gyms located within walking distance, the gameplay didn’t last long. It was later that day when I picked up a few Pokemon in the sound booth of our church and the parking lot and drink aisle of Walmart that I started to see the potential.

Since we happened to be driving our two nine-year-old sons to summer camp a few hours away that afternoon, I decided to check out the mapping overlay of the Augmented Reality side of the game. As we made the journey, it was fascinating to see what locations were tagged as Pokestops and Gyms while driving through small towns in rural Pennsylvania. Libraries, churches, monuments, and fire halls lit up the screen with Pokestops, which give players the chance to snag extra Pokeballs, eggs, and supplies when they are close. Gas stations, libraries and coffee shops often turned up as gyms, as did a raceway, a ball field and a school playground we passed. Since users need to visit gyms to “train” their Pokemon and join teams to defend local gyms and earn game credits, it’s not unusual for these locations to see a sudden influx of daily visitors.

Since players can take screen shots of the Pokemon they spot and capture in the wild, it should come as no surprise that social media feeds are filling up with pictures of Pidgeottos in the park,  Rattatas on the rail and Krabbys in Woolworths.  It should also come as no surprise that Millenials are cheering brands like Woolworths that have smartly jumped in on the fun with appropriate responses.

Woolworths Pokemon Go

Source: Woolworths’ Facebook Page

It should be playing on the mind of every marketer that Pokemon Go just might bring the world some of the best marketing tie-in potential we’ve seen in ages. Clearly, it’s possible this will turn out to be nothing more than a fad that will run its course in a few weeks or months. Even if that turns out to be the case, it is no less true that businesses who are quick to act can reap the rewards. Savvy business owners who make use of geo-targeting, existing email list segmentation and good old fashioned word of mouth could pick up some excellent foot traffic and loyalty points in short order.

With that in mind, here are ten quick and easy ways to consider getting a marketing boost from Pokemon Go.

First, download the game. Spend a few minutes playing it and check out the area around your business to see if there are Pokestops or Gyms located nearby. Look out the window and watch to see if you notice clusters of people wandering around staring at their phones, turning in all directions. If any of these are the case, you are probably located in a good spot to consider a little Pokemon Go marketing.

IF You Are Lucky Enough To Be a Gym Location

1. Consider taking advantage of the location and putting in the effort to dominate the gym, making sure your trainer name is the business name. I promise, players will notice, and you’ll get cool points.

2. Encourage team spirit by offering a discount or deal to members of the team (Red, Yellow or Blue) currently dominating your location. Maybe a 10% discount, a free appetizer or even a T-Shirt or drawstring bag with the gym location/business name.

3. Set up and advertise a set time for teams to meet and train together. Use your Facebook account or email list to throw a “Pokemon Go Trainer Party” at 7 pm on a slow night. Offer a discount to groups who show up to play, or just set up a reserved space for players to sit, meet and compare notes.

If You Are Lucky Enough to Be a Pokestop

4. A Pokestop can be hit by a player approximately once every five minutes. That makes it a perfect spot to circle back to, or hang around while hunting Pokemon. Consider adding some outdoor seating in good weather, or sun or rain coverage to players who may wish to congregate. Better yet, put up game themed signs inviting them in. Wouldn’t it be a shame if your outdoor patio filled up with customers who could refill their Pokeballs and berries while having lunch?

5. Besides simply inviting players in, consider figuring out a quick and easy way to monetize them. If you are a public library or a public park that has a Pokestop on your premises, set up a bottled water and snack vendor in that location. It won’t take long before enterprising kids recognize a Pokestop across the street from their house and sets up a lemonade stand that does killer business.

6. Look for the opportunity to pay to offer premium items at your location. Currently, players gain access to more advanced items as they level up, but it would make sense for Niantic to allow a Pokestop sponsor to offer a higher volume of premium items.

For Both of the Above and Everyone Else

7. Buy and deplore lures to attract foot traffic. A lure costs about fifty cents to deploy and attracts extra Pokemon to a set spot for thirty minutes. Parents are (rightly) fretting over their kids being drawn to a lure by those with nefarious purposes, but trusted businesses who advertise lures in advance could tie into the idea of player parties or discount options, or just enjoy the potential for extra business.

8. Be on the lookout for in-game Advertising opportunities. It may not be long before the game allows businesses or even individuals to buy the right to be a Pokestop or a Gym. I also wouldn’t expect to wait long before having the option to throw an Augmented Reality billboard into the game. Expect the folks at Niantic to monetize the game further through sponsorships, specially themed game items and other opportunities.

9. Encourage check-ins via Facebook that include pictures of Pokemon being caught in or around your location. Highlight the best catch of the week on your page, or gamify it further and run a leaderboard at your location with prizes given at certain intervals. This idea could work extremely well for libraries, public parks with visitor centers, large retail outlets like malls and cafes in heavily trafficked areas.

10. One of the biggest draws to the game is the increased physical activity that comes from chasing down new Pokemon with friends. Players get notices of nearby Pokemon and must walk, sometimes half a mile or more to get close enough to catch the new character. Another feature, which allows players to incubate eggs received at Pokestops, requires users to walk 2, 5 or 10 KM to trigger an egg hatching. Consider mapping out a walk designed to lead players past Pokestops, Gyms, and locations where you’ve set up a lure, using your business as the final destination. Require a certain number of players to show up together and award the one who scores the highest ranking Pokemon during their walk with a free item or discount.

Have you played around with any other marketing integration for Pokemon Go yet? Have a favorite personal story or experience while playing the game yourself? Share it in the comments below.

Video: The Intersection of Social Media, SEO & Content Marketing

Often in online marketing, there are silos of social media, SEO, and most recently, content marketing. All of these pieces should work together like clockwork, according to Michelle Stinson Ross, who at the time of the video shoot was at Authority Labs but is now the founder and principal consultant at Firestarter Social Media. As she explained to us at Pubcon in Las Vegas, each of these areas acts as a mechanism to drive another area. In other words, they are all part of the digital marketing ecosystem.

Whether marketers like it or not, they will never grasp the big picture by looking at only one of these areas. Marketers often like to specialize in something like SEO or social media, which is okay. But, the two work together naturally, and in order to truly market effectively, the parts have to mesh.

Another problematic issue with the digital ecosystem is analytics. Again, so often, marketers take the time to create the content, promote it on social, and optimize it for the search engines, but then neglect to track its performance. According to Stinson Ross, marketers have to pay attention to what is driving traffic and converting in order to keep your business up and running. She advises marketers watch referral sources, and even beyond this, track the further shares and engagement. Check out this video to hear more of her explanation:

If you need some direction with your online marketing strategy but feel you are missing one of the pieces of this ecosystem, contact SugarSpun Marketing, and we’ll be happy to help.

Video: Why Businesses Should NOT Neglect LinkedIn

Is your business taking advantage of LinkedIn? According to Sean Jackson, a founding partner of Copyblogger Media, businesses should tap into this social media platform due to its high value. SugarSpun Marketing had the opportunity to catch up with him at Pubcon in Las Vegas and hear him explain how LinkedIn consists of people and businesses (with incomes!) that are looking for business solutions. These are the people that are key influencers when it comes to making purchasing decisions. Read more

5 Steps for Building Your Holiday Marketing Strategy

As hard as it is to believe, the holiday season is upon us. Christmas trees and other decorations are already gracing homes, stores and places of business. Though a busy time of year, it holds excitement as well as opportunity, if businesses embrace it. The following steps should help your business effectively take advantage of the holiday season this year.

1) Develop a Strategy

In order to take advantage of this opportunity, businesses, first of all, need to develop a campaign strategy. While some strategies will carry over from year to year, each season offers new ideas and trends. It’s also important to think about how your holiday campaign will tie into your overall marketing strategy. In other words, even if you come up with a really creative idea, you don’t want consumers to know you only for your Christmas campaign. For this reason, it’s very important to look at the big picture.

What do you want to accomplish this holiday season? Are you going to target one specific holiday or the season in general? Although the focus is typically on December 25th, businesses could actually utilize Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, New Year’s Day, as well as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Are the ideas flowing yet? These questions and thoughts should get you thinking about what your needs and goals are, and this is the perfect starting point for creating a strategy.

2) Create a Theme & Stick with It

After you’ve developed your strategy, you’ll need to choose a theme. For instance, if you send out marketing materials and other promotional items, they should contain a common theme. The content you create, and we strongly encourage an aggressive content marketing approach, should also share this theme. It’s understood that most consumers are looking for coupons and discounts during the holiday season. But, if you can create content around why a particular product or service is exclusive, priced a certain way, or is something that provides value, you have the opportunity to stand out.

Also, as you select a theme, it’s important to understand what your target audience is paying attention to. How are they engaging with your brand? Are they gravitating toward images, video, etc.? These answers will play a vital role in theming your campaign.

3) Utilize Social Media

Just as with your other marketing strategies, social media is a must. Remember the genius OfficeMax Elf Yourself campaign? This came out several years ago but continues to receive incredible responses each year. So often, marketers get caught up in the “all about business” mode. The holiday season is the perfect opportunity to break free from this and incorporate some creativity and holiday spirit.

What social channels is your audience using the most? If it’s Pinterest, for example, then look at what they’re pinning and tailor content to match it. Whatever channel that you use, provide meaningful content that your audience will want to engage with.

In addition, with social media, it’s important to stay “in the know.” By doing this, you have the opportunity to jump on the latest trends and even boost them for your own benefit. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to launch a Snapchat campaign, but it does mean you should pay attention to the trends your audience is embracing and adapt your strategy accordingly.

4) Don’t Forget to Be Accessible

As you roll out your campaign, remember that, in the digital age, you have to comply with where your audience may be interacting with you. Is it social media? Is it through a traditional advertising channel such as television? It may even be on a mobile device.

As you plan your strategy, create content that you can distribute across multiple platforms and channels to ensure simple accessibility. This step again allows you to embrace your creative juices. For instance, if your audience mostly connects on social media but your message is long, write a blog post with all the details but tease the content on social media in the form of an image or video. Even if your audience is active on social, no one has time for a long message.

In summary, be accessible by practicing smart marketing.

5) Share Holiday Cheer Too!

In all the hustle and bustle that is the noise around the holidays, it seems that the little things mean the most. When you go the extra mile by sending a card, offering candy at your brick and mortar, and other thoughtful shout-outs and merry treats, the impact is felt.

Online, brands can extend this cheer too by offering coupons, opening up and sharing an inward view of holiday traditions like a holiday luncheon, as well as many other tactics to showcase your brand’s personality. All these little acts of kindness reinforce that there are humans behind your brand. It strengthens relationships too, which in turn, often results in building influencers and brand advocates.

If you want to go beyond these steps, Marketing Land has a preparation guide outlining 28 helpful tips that could be very beneficial to your holiday efforts.

Regardless of what your holiday campaign involves, remember that it is the holiday season. I say this because, just as people often neglect the social side of social media, the fun and cheery part of the holidays is often an afterthought. This, however, is what makes the holidays exciting, even for marketers. So, take advantage and enjoy! 🙂

 

Marketing to Millennials: 4 Tips for Your Brand

It’s hard to believe how drastically social networks like Facebook have evolved since their debut. I’m dating myself here, but, when I first created an account on Facebook, it was only designed for college students. In fact, not every college or university was even involved at that time. We all know how the network has transformed itself to include multiple generations today. However, as the demographic gets “grayer,” the youngsters are less involved.

According to eMarketer, the 65+ demographic will increase more than any other demographic on Facebook through 2016. Interestingly, as this trend happens, the 18-24 crowd will decrease on Facebook. Intriguing data, huh? This chart from Sprout Social shares even more insights into Facebook’s demographics:

Sprout Social Chart

What’s happening is the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y, is getting their social media desires filled on other networks. Pew Research defines this age group as the 18-34 group. Some of this shift is probably due to the fact that their parents and grandparents haven’t made it to these new channels yet.

Still, these trends pose quite the challenge for marketers, especially since activities of the upper and lower ends of the millennial group are likely very different. Some marketers may think they’re in the clear and that they don’t need to reach this crowd since their products and services are for older age groups. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but in a few years, this millennial crowd will be your target audience, so it’s important to do your homework and be ready to capitalize when the time is right. Otherwise, negativity could be associated with your brand leaving you with even bigger problems.

It’s a competitive game, but connection and engagement are possible. The following tips should help:

1. Think before You Speak

A prominent characteristic of the millennial crowd is its strong ability to be heard. For the past ten years or so, we’ve been hearing how blogs, forums, and social networks are outlets for ALL voices. Marketers have embraced and encouraged a two-way communication channel in order to engage, gather feedback, and ultimately, be better marketers.

But, these voices mean that we, as marketers, have to be on our A game. Hasty doesn’t work. Somewhat relevant content will not do you any favors. And complete misses will be damaging. These reasons are why it is of the utmost importance to take a breath and think through what you’re posting before you hit “Enter.” This doesn’t mean that you can’t piggyback on a relevant newsy trend, but it does mean that you have to apply smart marketing. If you don’t, the voices could come back to haunt you.

2. Don’t Be a Friend Instead of a Parent

Who remembers a parent in school that tried too hard to be a friend? It doesn’t work, does it? You can be a cool parent without crossing over that line. The same logic applies to brands connecting with the millennial crowd on social media. Don’t be the brand that uses “wicked” methodologies to try to connect with your audience, because it won’t work.

A brand can be relevant and current without forcing it. By being true to your brand, you show credibility and consistency. If you do this, the lingo and pop culture reference will happen naturally.

3. Be Short, Sweet, and to the Point

Do you ever wish for a simpler life? I’ll admit that I do. Unfortunately, for the majority, life has us on the fast track. In other words, you have very little time, if any, beyond fulfilling your needs and maybe dabbling into your wants. This means that, even when you have a minute to play on social media, you don’t want to take the time to read a paragraph from a brand or watch a 10-minute video. You want something quick and easy to digest that provides a solution, answers a question, or that is just helpful information.

This is where marketing skills really come into play. If you have a lot of information to share, tease it. Give your audience a reason to dig further, which is what you want anyway.

4. Don’t Lump Millennials Together

This is a serious mistake that marketers tend to make since the millennial age group covers quite the range of ages. At the lower end, this group includes people still college. And at the upper end, it could include people who are married, with children, and with a decade+ experience in their careers. Simply put, you need more in your toolbox than just emojis.

It requires you to do market research and segment within this audience. There will be times that there will be crossover, which will make your job a little easier, but often, the content will need to vary and be customized per segment.

In summary, marketing with social media channels was never easy, but it has definitely gotten more challenging as society, businesses and consumers have evolved. Today, consumers, especially millennials, are complex. Yes, this means marketing is tough, really tough. But, it’s not impossible. Brands like Ford, Pepsi, Doritos and more are doing it wonderfully.

If you think about this evolution, that many of us marketers advocated by the way, the expectations of millennials are not surprising. Millennials want more than a logo, they want human elements, and they want to be part of your brand experience. Isn’t this what marketers preach all the time? Sounds like we need to step up our game to practice what we preach.

Social Media Misconceptions: Setting the Record Straight

With a society consumed with social media, one would think it would be relatively understood. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Many people and businesses are still struggling to not only digest what social media can do, but also to develop an effective strategy that adapts to continuous changes on each platform.

Social media is powerful and can be used as a primary marketing tool, which means it should be understood. To avoid falling for misinterpretations and some outright untruths, watch out for the following misconceptions.

Using ALL social media channels will make my business better – you can’t go wrong with more, right?

False. Time and time again, businesses jump on the social media bandwagon and embrace blogging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Foursquare, online review sites, Quora, Vine, Instagram, and any other new platform that comes along. First of all, before you embrace the “tools,” you need to develop a social media strategy that outlines what they will do. For instance, you shouldn’t use Snapchat just because it’s new and exciting. You create a strategy based on market research around where your audience is, then you determine which tools will help you connect further with them.

Secondly, if you create a strategy that involves all the channels listed, you also need to have the team to support it. You have to be realistic in creating your strategy and know what you are capable of taking on. If you embrace too much at once and aren’t able to enforce it, your business will suffer as your audience won’t know what to expect.

So, I can just play on Facebook and Pinterest all day, huh?

Once again, the answer is a strong “No.” Let’s think for a minute – if it really were this easy, don’t you think a lot more businesses would be doing it and doing it well? Being effective on any social platform requires a strategy and an action plan. This action plan involves daily implementation on a variety of levels. Furthermore, all this implementation needs to connect back to the strategy which defines why you’re doing it. This allows you to be able to measure what is working and what is not.

Push out continuous content so no one will be able to miss us

This is a big negative, yet countless people and businesses continue to misuse it. The main problem with this is that businesses could be viewed as spammers for continuous content pushing. News publications have even had this issue due to pushing out their own articles repeatedly. Apart from the spam issue, people may stop following you. Audiences follow brands for particular reasons, but if you post too much, consumers will turn a blind eye to it.

Each brand varies in terms of how often it should post content, but again, if you have a solid strategy that you’re following, the plan will be clearly outlined.

Social media only benefits marketing

Really? Are you kidding me? While social media provides an incredibly valuable tool for marketing efforts, the benefits far exceed the marketing department. As we know from an individual perspective, social media touches almost every area of our lives. The same is true for a business. Social media impacts customer service, recruiting, human resources, internal relations, public relations, as well as many other areas.

Social media truly influences the business as a whole, just as other marketing elements do as well.

Also, in talking about roles, social media does NOT replace traditional marketing. Since social media is perceived as being “free, easy and fun,” it is often thought that other marketing methods are irrelevant. But, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Social media offers another tool to add to the marketing mix, but it is not a standalone toolbox. It is most effective when it is used in conjunction with other marketing tools.

High numbers mean success

Not necessarily. There are some brands that the numbers do speak to the strategy and work they’ve put into it, but this isn’t always the case. Think about Twitter, for example. If you have a 1,000 “egg heads” following you, it doesn’t exactly indicate your social media strategy is paying off. In this case, it would be better to have 500 people from your target market as they are where the real value lies in terms of interactions.

Because people do look at numbers, it is often important that businesses invest some money into building up their following periodically. Numbers can impact credibility, but they don’t guarantee success.

These are just a few of many misconceptions about social media out there. To protect yourself and your business, consider your own goals before falling prey to the latest misconception floating around.

 

Should You Outsource Marketing Services?

In the last 10 years, social media marketing has become a huge opportunity for businesses of all sizes. From mom and pop shops to Fortune 500 companies, marketing strategies are turning more and more to social media. In fact, it was projected that 70 percent of companies would increase their digital marketing budget in 2015. This trend is expected to increase in coming years.

One of the downsides to social media, however, is the amount of time needed to maintain a presence. This means more work for you and your team. The question is, should you keep it in-house or should you outsource marketing services? As with most decisions, there are pros and cons to both sides. At SugarSpun Marketing, we get it – we’ve worked with all types and sizes of companies. No one company is exactly the same as the next. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together some facts and tips you’ll want to keep in mind as you plan your marketing strategy and budget.

Outsourcing Infographic-01

4 Ways to Create Buzzworthy Content (Butter Recipes Included!)

I was moonlighting as a server for a friend’s rehearsal dinner, passing around trays of artisan deviled eggs, when I heard, “Oh, this is my childhood, right here,” referring to the bread and butter table. That table was the pride and joy of Jen, SugarSpun’s fearless leader. She had artfully set the table with bread and baskets, Pinterest-worthy (she did write the book after all!), to display the four types of butter she had whipped together for the event. In fact, the butter table became the buzz of the evening.

“Did you try the butter table?”

“You have to try this butter!”

“Oh, this one is my absolute favorite.”

The guest who was marveling over the brown sugar and cranberry butter was also the most ardent proponent to other guests. “Oh, you haven’t tried the bread and butter table? Well, let me take you there.”

Now, I promise there is a point to this story beyond making you hungry. It’s very clear that every business on social media wants their content to be buzzworthy. Everyone wants their content to be shared and talked about on other platforms. So, how is it done? Here are four ways we believe create buzzworthy content:

1. Create a campaign with hashtag

Whether your campaign is for Twitter or Instagram – or both – hashtags can be the way to get buzz. Hashtags, although sometimes annoying, are fun. They also create organization.

Charmin’s #tweetsfromtheseat campaign is one of the most creative (and brave). For more ideas, visit Hubspot’s The Rules of Twitter Hashtags: Hits and Misses from 7 Big Brands.

2. Take advantage of timely events

A few weeks ago, Jen wrote a blog on small businesses geared toward the Firefly crowd. With the 10 year anniversary of the movie Serenity and the recently available internet show, Con Man, it was a timely piece. Yes, we all knew about these events long beforehand and were waiting for the release of the show with excitement. We’re mildly geeky that way.

When we posted the blog post, we boosted it specifically to Firefly fans. The resulting shares and likes were even higher than we anticipated! This is what can happen if you take the time to plan content around an event, season, or any other time-oriented happening. It resonates with a passionate group of people and has the potential of going viral.

3. Discuss a hot button issue

People on social media love to have opinions. Relating your product to a hot button issue can help boost the buzz. Understand that you have to use caution if you decide to take this approach. It’s a spontaneous approach that doesn’t allow time for careful planning and vetting.

Many brands have jumped on a Twitter trend thinking they are making great use of their marketing skills only to have it backfire on them. On the flip side, some brands have been able to have great success. As a general rule, just be smart when executing this idea and try to avoid topics like politics or the Lamar Odom saga.

4. Think outside the box

As in the #tweetsfromtheseat example, Charmin brilliantly used potty humor that was just the right amount of outrageous without stepping over the line. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Toilet paper isn’t sexy, but Charmin has made it fun.

The point is to make your brand more relatable rather than just being another company online. Make use of content that will cause your audience take a second look.

In summary, the main goal with buzzworthy content isn’t to have things go viral, though it’s nice when they do. Instead, it’s to have your target market talking about your business and sharing it with other people. You want people to say “Oh, you haven’t tried (your company here)? Well, let me take you there.” Social media is all about word of mouth marketing. Creating a buzz around your content is the perfect way to do it.

Now to take care of the hunger pains I created…

Buzzworthy Butter

The bread and butter table really was fantastic. You can check out our photo of the table, as well as other photos of SugarSpun happenings, on our Instagram page @SugarSpunMkt

The butter recipes are simple to make, especially if you have a food processor. Bring one pound of butter to room temperature per recipe.

 

Lemon Rosemary Butter

Ingredients:

1 lb of butter (4 sticks), room temperature

Zest from one lemon

Leaves from 1-2 sprigs of rosemary

Directions:

Put all ingredients into processor and pulse until well blended.

 

Chive Butter

Ingredients:

1 lb of butter (4 sticks), room temperature

1 small plastic packet of chives, finely diced

Directions:

Put all ingredients into processor and pulse until well blended.

 

Roasted Garlic Butter

Ingredients:

1 lb of butter (4 sticks), room temperature

2 heads of garlic, roasted

Directions:

Put all ingredients into processor and pulse until well blended.

 

Cinnamon Brown Sugar Cranberry Butter

Ingredients:

1 lb of butter (4 sticks), room temperature

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 Tablespoon brown sugar

3-4 Tablespoons finely chopped dried cranberries

Directions:

Put all ingredients into processor and pulse until well blended.

 

 

 

The FTC Targets Social Media with Updated Guidelines: What Marketers Need to Know

In 2009, the FTC rolled out some guidelines to accommodate the world of new media. The online marketing sector raised many questions and concerns at the time but has learned to work with the recommendations. But, the FTC isn’t done with this area.

The commission recently updated its guidelines and now calls for “clearer” disclosure of influencer/brand relationships. To be fair, the primary message the FTC is trying to send hasn’t changed. The challenge is that, as the commission is being more specific, online marketing, and especially social media marketing, becomes a lot harder.

Understanding the Guidelines

This information can be a lot to digest and is already bringing anxiety to the marketing community. But, it’s important toBrian Clark understand, first of all, that these are guidelines. They aren’t rules or regulations. As Brian Clark, the CEO of Rainmaker Digital and founder of Copyblogger Media explained to us, endorsement guidelines were around even before the Internet existed. Yes, the Web and social media have complicated these areas since the online arena isn’t as clear as mediums such as radio and TV. But, the intent of the FTC to protect human interest still exists:

The Guides, at their core, reflect the basic truth-in-advertising principle that endorsements must be honest and not misleading. An endorsement must reflect the honest opinion of the endorser and can’t be used to make a claim that the product’s marketer couldn’t legally make.

In addition, the Guides say if there’s a connection between an endorser and the marketer that consumers would not expect and it would affect how consumers evaluate the endorsement, that connection should be disclosed. For example, if an ad features an endorser who’s a relative or employee of the marketer, the ad is misleading unless the connection is made clear. The same is usually true if the endorser has been paid or given something of value to tout the product. The reason is obvious: Knowing about the connection is important information for anyone evaluating the endorsement.

Say you’re planning a vacation. You do some research and find a glowing review on someone’s blog that a particular resort is the most luxurious place he has ever stayed. If you knew the hotel had paid the blogger hundreds of dollars to say great things about it or that the blogger had stayed there for several days for free, it could affect how much weight you’d give the blogger’s endorsement. The blogger should, therefore, let his readers know about that relationship.

Another principle in the Guides applies to ads that feature endorsements from people who achieved exceptional, or even above average, results. An example is an endorser who says she lost 20 pounds in two months using the advertised product. If the advertiser doesn’t have proof that the endorser’s experience represents what people will generally achieve using the product as described in the ad (for example, by just taking a pill daily for two months), then an ad featuring that endorser must make clear to the audience what the generally expected results are.

The Enforcement Factor

This is the area that is of the biggest concern for many marketers. How will the FTC enforce these guidelines? Realistically, it would be next to impossible for the commission to monitor all this activity online. Still, this doesn’t mean that they should be ignored. While we may not agree with the guidelines, it is important that marketers take them seriously.

Rebecca Lieb “FTC or no FTC, disclosure is always important. It doesn’t help brands in the long run to be suspected of trying to trick or dupe consumers,” Rebecca Lieb, recognized marketing author, speaker and principal of Conglomotron LLC, explained to us.

“These new FTC guidelines could also be termed “best practices” for marketers to operate effectively, as well as transparently, on social media. Upfront disclosure is always preferable to accusations of intentionally trying to hoodwink an unsuspecting public.”

In the past, entities like the commission would focus on large brands to showcase their authority. Small businesses shouldn’t sit idly by though. Any business could fall under scrutiny.

The Threat to Social Media

Another extremely challenging area for marketers with this update to the guidelines is how the FTC is asking the disclosure take place. Twitter, for instance, has a strict character limit. Still, the guidelines say: “…a disclosure on a profile page isn’t sufficient because many people in your audience probably won’t see it.” As a result, the disclosure would need to happen within the 140-character limit tweet, which may take away from the message.

According to Clark, a corporate Twitter account can freely promote its own products and services. But, disclosure does need to be apparent when the promotion is coming from an employee.

Correct tweet: I’m so proud of all the new features in our <cool product>.

Incorrect tweet: Check out <cool product>.

“When you’re promoting a client, or a company you have an investment in, or a product you’ve been paid to pitch (even as an affiliate), you have to disclose, period,” he went on to explain. “That’s always been the law in earlier mediums, so it’s consistent. It’s just that we’re all the media now.” (Emphasis added.)

Despite the extra effort on the part of marketers, this update is not likely to impact social media adoption by businesses. Social media is simply a natural part of the marketing mix, and its benefits outweigh these additional challenges.

Takeaway

While these guidelines aren’t exactly welcome to the marketing community, the industry needs to be prepared to take these on just as it has other challenges. Lieb reminded us that there were similar outcries when the FTC challenged email marketing and search advertising. The FTC lays out these types of guidelines to encourage the industry to self-regulate. The changes aren’t wanted, but marketers will find a way to continue connecting with their target audience, even if it requires multiple tweets to get a message across.

Most importantly, marketers need to stay educated on these issues. Change often brings new challenges, but by staying informed, it’s possible to turn these challenges into opportunities for you and your client.