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Dear #hashtag user,

I’ve noticed recently that you are quite the fan of this clever linking device. However, I think that you misunderstood its purpose of functionality. You see, the hashtag was created as a method to “tag” tweets, essentially adding organization to the clutter that consumes the Twitter-sphere.

For example, if I were hoping to connect with people in the fashion industry, I could search #fashion and, immediately, thousands of tweets would show up that include the same hashtag. By searching #Obamacare, I can access the opinion and news results of all who are discussing the controversial matter.

Upon conception, the hashtag was (and still is) a brilliant piece of digital creation.

However, I have noticed that you, Mr./Mrs. hashtag user, have used this tool completely out of context. The hashtag is no longer a method of organization, but is now a form of language that is substituting complete thoughts.

Examples include:

“Looking forward to my trip to the Bahamas. Is Friday here yet!? #excited #cantwait”

or

“This weather is killing me! All I want to do it go for a run, but I can’t in this rain. #RainRainGoAway”

What, on Earth, has the use of these hashtags accomplished? Personally, I am a fan of how GIZMODO phrased its frustration, stating, “But at their most annoying, the colloquial hashtag has burst out of its use as a sorting tool and become a linguistic tumor—a tic more irritating than any banal link or lazy image meme.”

Now, I’m not calling you lazy. No, this annoying use of the English language is not lazy. However, these simple misapplications of a hashtag have turned into a much larger infraction.

Recently, you have begun using hashtags as a way to self promote, hoping that the more hashtags you use in a post, the more likely you will acquire new followers. Your thought is similar to the practices of SEO – use key words and hopefully show up in search results.

A word to the wise? When you do this – people like me will ignore your post completely.

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This is merely a desperate attempt at being seen. Seriously? How many people are searching the hashtags #orange or #thegreatpumpkin?

So, I beg of you, Mr. or Mrs. hashtag user. Think before you # it.

Don’t believe me? Then check out this video of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon. They have no qualms about showing you how stupid you sound when misusing hashtags.

I have been a mobile customer with Sprint for the past five years. As a college graduate with only $200 to my name, I was enticed by the cheap plans that promised unlimited data and text messaging. Yes, that meant unlimited Facebook and YouTube access for approximately half of the cost that Verizon or AT&T could promise.

Then, to make things even better, Sprint announced that it would be the main sponsor of NASCAR {Insert redneck jokes here.} According to Sprint, there would be a ton of perks as a mobile customer if you were a NASCAR fan: exclusive content in related apps, behind the scenes action, and improved mobile service while at the track.

So, while I have not always been pleased with the service or data speeds that Sprint can provide – I have stuck by their side.

However, there has recently been a constant debate in my household as we plan to finally merge our cell phone plans onto one family plan: Which is better – Sprint or Verizon?

There’s no doubt that Verizon has faster data and better service, but you simply can’t rule out the competitive pricing of Sprint or the NASCAR partnership. (Seriously, I can hear the redneck jokes from here…)

So, how did we solve the debate? Simply put: the customer service I received or didn’t receive via Twitter.

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Sprint Cup race in Bristol. With around 100,000 race fans in attendance, it’s doesn’t surprise me if I can’t get service on my phone, even if Sprint tells me I should. However, when I looked over at my friends phone to see that their Verizon service was running just as strong as ever, I became instantly frustrated with Sprint. My reaction? I did what any civil 20 something would do and I tweeted about it.

Sprint Customer Service

Now, let me tell you why this response only infuriated me.

1. It was sent to me the next day – when the race was over and I was home.

2. Sprint is the main sponsor of NASCAR! The events that they put their name on is part of a multi-billion dollar sports industry. So, how on earth would somebody responding to me via Twitter have absolutely NO idea where Bristol is located?

OK, now that I got that out of my system. Let me share with you the response that Verizon provided another day or two later.

Verizon Customer Service

While I admit that the response is less than clever – it is still a response. It shows that Verizon not only monitors the conversation that people are having directly with the brand – it is also listening to what others are saying. If nothing else, Verizon took an opportunity of frustration and turned it into a time of research.

I inevitably clicked that link. And because of that, I will inevitably switch my service to Verizon.

So, who still says social media is stupid? Because, for Verizon, a simple tweet that took 30 seconds to write earned them a new customer.

Seriously, Sprint, share your marketing plan with the rest of your company.

First there was Vine, and now videos on Instagram. Video is the direction social media is heading in.  People use social media to tell stories—personal stories, celebrity stories, as well as brand stories. The option to be able to use a fifteen second clip to animate a story, brings the story to life and gives it an element that didn’t exist with a photo alone.

How is this different from Vine, other than the video length? Instagram filters, which held much of the platform’s appeal, can be incorporated into your video. The new feature gives you thirteen filters to choose from, as well as cover image options to use when your video is not playing, to keep your Instagram content beautiful and personalized.

Consider some of these options as a marketer when utilizing Vine as part of your content strategy:

Showcase and/or demo products

Video is great way to showcase something about your product that a consumer wouldn’t know by looking at a picture. Think technology. You can showcase a lot more about a complicated gadget with video than you can with just pictures.

Give zealots a behind the scenes look

Show them your office! What goes on behind the scenes? Your most passionate followers want to know everything about your brand. Videos are an interactive way to give them this inside look.

Showcase brand personality

Emotions are hard to convey in photos alone. Think about how easy is it to convey humor in a photo. Videos add an element that allows brands to show consumers who they are.

Encourage engagement

Think emotional advertising. If your products are vacation homes, what’s a more engaging message: a picture of the beach, or a family playing on that beach?

Instagram videos add a brand-new artistic appeal to what you are able to create on social media. Check out Instagram’s promotional video for the new feature to get a glimpse of the possibilities.

goods-60-rewards-pop_5728Earlier this year, Marriott International, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, Starwood and Delta – among others – effectively devalued their customer loyalty programs. They now require more points, and sometimes more cash, in order to obtain a reward room.

As a result, customers have reacted negatively. Surprised?

Consumers view loyalty rewards as ‘bought’ or ‘earned.’ Certainly, not a reward. And, companies are increasingly analyzing the return on such programs and determining the investment is not there. So, they reduce the benefits and their customers become more disenfranchised. Exactly the opposite reaction desired of a ‘reward.’

Zealotry Marketing flips the concept of loyalty. Instead of discounts or rewards following frequent purchases, consider the benefits of engaging the consumer in more collaborative, meaningful and personalized ways that enrich their experience and deepen their understanding of your brand. Examples? Tastings; behind the scenes tours; exclusive seminars/discussions; advance previews; sampling; private communities.

Savvy media types have long understood the value of “advance staging” – of cultivating a smaller, but fervent group to ‘leak news’ and be positive ‘plants in the audience.’

Delight your Zealots in advance, instead of trying to buy their continued loyalty. The investment is less and the return is greater.

Screen Shot 2013-04-01 at 1.33.06 PMClient CURE Childhood Cancer has a lot of amazing supporters. And one of GRM’s favorites is NFL Linebacker Gary Guyton. For Gary, watching kids fighting cancer truly touches his heart. He’a a Zealot for sure. That’s why Gary has rallied some of his NFL friends and joined forces with CURE for their May 5th event Lauren’s Run & CURE Annual Picnic.

Lauren’s Run (the annual 5K, 2K, and Tot Trot) begins at 8:00am at Concourse Office Park in Atlanta, GA. Following Lauren’s Run, all race participants are invited to the CURE Annual Picnic. There, your family will enjoy lunch and an abundance of games – including the Gary Guyton Flag Football game. Just look for the Flag Football registration table at Lauren’s Run check-in to sign up for a time to play. The football game is free – all you need to do is register for Lauren’s Run. Click here to sign up and support this worthwhile cause. Keep your eyes peeled for GRM – we’ll be there on race day!

Check out some of the great commercials we filmed with Gary and 11Alive. It was a fun day on set for all of us – and the kids.



Recently, Pinterest announced its own Web Analytics tool for owners of verified Pinterest pages.

“Bloggers, businesses, and organizations often ask us, ‘what are people pinning from my websites?’ These website owners help create the content on Pinterest and we wanted to help them understand which pieces of content people find most interesting,” says Pinterest. “[This is] a first step towards doing just that. Web Analytics gives site owners insights into how people are interacting with pins that originate from their websites.”

Pinterest Analytics

Prior to this, Pinterest page owners relied on third-party apps for measurement data.

For those who have a verified website, you will now have access to:

  • How many people have pinned from your site
  • How many people have seen these pins
  • How many people visited your site from Pinterest
  • Most repinned pins
  • Most clicked pins
  • Most recent pins

To get started, just follow these steps:

1. Get early access to Pinterest’s new look.

2. Make sure you have a verified website. If you have a website listed on your profile with a check mark next to it, you’re verified. If not, follow these steps to verify.

3. Once your website is verified, go to the top right menu and click on Analytics.

4. Start exploring! Change your date range to see how things have changed over time or download your analytics to sort through the data on your own time.

Super Bowl Sunday is an ad junkie’s dream. It’s one of the only times of the year that the general population actually looks forward to the commercial break. As for GRM, our eyes were certainly glued to the set. We asked some of our team to share with us their top picks. Here’s what they had to say:

April Voris
Tide: “Miracle Stain”
My pick is the Tide miracle stain. It was not only entertaining, but was relevant. It was over the top, but if you are a sports loving obsessed fan (like I am with the REAL TIDE!) then you can highly relate to the comedy of the whole thing. And the payoff was classic and a brilliant way to bring you back to what was being advertised and you actually remember the product. What a concept.


Mike Tyre

Wonderful Pistachios: “Get Crackin'”
Funny, entertaining. Identified product with being fun and lively. Yet, also got a major point of difference – pistachios have to be cracked. They almost always come packaged still in a shell. They played that up in a fun way.


Amanda Kirkland
Kia: “Space Babies”
A commercial filled with baby animals. Come on. How can you NOT love it? The spot actually started out a bit slow for me. But as soon as they hit the montage of astronaut babies screaming as they penetrated the atmosphere, I was chuckling along with the rest of my living room full of twenty-somethings. The spot ended perfectly, with a nice shot of the third row backseat. Plenty of space for more babies in the Kia Sorento!


Sarah Crytzer

Taco Bell: “Viva Young”
I am in LOVE with this clever ad by Taco Bell. Known as a place to get a fourth meal, the company added a whole new dimension to the campaign when they released this commercial during the Super Bowl. Think a fourth meal is only for 20 somethings? WRONG! These old folks show us that it doesn’t matter what your age, you can enjoy Taco Bell (and a night on the town) even in your 80s! I admit, every time I watch this video I literally LOL. Genius marketing, with almost 1.2 million views in a week to prove its brilliance!


Alan Whitley
Mercedes-Benz: “Soul”
As both an ad guy and a fan of the violence and mayhem of football, I see the Super Bowl as two awesome pinnacles in one. It is a contest between the two best American-style football teams on earth, and a contest between advertising agencies that will attempt to set new bars for communication. My top of the heap was the Mercedes CLA spot that featured a pale Willem Dafoe as old Scratch himself. For me, it was the kind of spot that belongs in the Super Bowl. It was memorable for the right reasons, made the right point, showed the product a lot. Basically, it made us lusty for a CLA, which is the exactly what it should have done. Also, it’s just plain fun to spoil Satan’s fun.


Jennifer Germain
Budweiser: “Brotherhood”
Heartfelt! It really evoked emotion. Love. Who doesn’t want to be loved? And the bond between those who love. Plus, I’m a native of St. Louis and am proud of my hometown; the hometown of Anheuser Busch!


Jan Sharrow
Dodge Ram: “Farmer”
I found this very patriotic; more-so than the jeep spot. The photography was beautiful and it was very well written. If the Dodge truck is tough enough for our farmers, that says a lot for the truck.

I’m always on the look-out for smart brands. Brands that bring something new to the table or brands that do an amazing job engaging their Zealots. When I first stumbled upon Warby Parker I knew they were someone to take note of.

What’s Warby Parker?
HTOWP is a vintage-inspired eyeglass company based in New York City, known for their online sales program. While selling eyeglasses online doesn’t seem like the smartest business model, WP has thought it through. As a potential costumer, you simply pick out 5 of your favorite frames and WP ships them to your home for free. Your instructions? Wear one pair each day so the people who see you the most can give you feedback. Then, pack all 5 frames in the box and mail them back – shipping covered by WP. If you found a pair you like, simply order that frame with your prescription and the glasses will be custom-made for you. Sounds like a pretty pricey product, right? Not at all. Each complete pair of glasses costs $95. Plus, for each pair purchased, one is donated to someone in-need. Talk about making your customers feel good!

Get Social
Warby Parker has a strong social presence – both on and offline. When WP sends your Home Try-On kit, you’re encouraged to share pictures on the Warby Parker Eyewear Facebook Page. So not only can you to get feedback from your friends, but you can get feedback from the WP community as well.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 2.31.54 PM
For those of you addicted to 140 characters, give WP a Tweet. Even with an average of 3592 Tweets to @WarbyParker each week, they do an amazing job of interacting with their followers. Here’s my friend’s interaction with WP. In fact, it was her posting on Twitter/Facebook that first introduced me to the company. See? Engaging your Zealots truly pays off.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 2.59.15 PM

WP has also thought about their more traditional customers, making their frames available in 12 showrooms across the US as well as on the traveling Warby Parker Class Trip. Visiting 9 cities over six months, this school bus full of frames is touring the US, with members of the WP team posting pictures of their journey along the way. Simply put, this campaign it’s buzz-worthy and fun.

Screen Shot 2013-01-30 at 2.46.59 PM
After all this research about Warby Parker, I think it’s about time to get a new pair of glasses. Stay tuned.

Let’s be honest with one another – Facebook has never been known for its search capabilities. With such poor results, it’s inevitable that marketers have questioned if social media advertising is truly the best option, especially when it comes to ROI.

On average, Google reaches 90 percent of Internet users, while Facebook only reaches 51 percent. On top of that, Google has an average of 0.4 percent click through rate, Facebook only .051 percent.

However, advertisers need to fret no more!

Facebook has announced Graph Search, which Mark Zuckerberg has claimed will be “a great leap forward for search.” Hoping to overtake Google, LinkedIn and Match.com, users will soon be able to ask Facebook for their friends’ preferences before making decisions on restaurants, vacations, career choices, and maybe even life partners.

Some analysts are saying that Graph Search has the potential to close the gap between Google and Facebook by creating a feedback loop between advertisers and Facebook users. For example, if a business has the most “likes” it could ultimately be at the top of search results. With this being a criteria for higher search rankings, Facebook is hoping that advertisers seeking greater Graph Search results will purchase more ads.

Facebook has yet to release any advertising products that Graph Search will provide down the road, but what they are promising to its users is in-depth personalization and an ability to solve questions to answers that you would not expect the internet to solve for you.

So if you asked me, I would simply tell you that the ability to accurately microtarget in an advertising campaign could possibly result in some of the greatest opportunities companies have ever seen. Good move, Facebook. Let’s see what you do with this brilliant platform.

Recent blog from Harvard Business Review expounded the virtues of CEOs using social media. They cited several facts, some of which don’t exactly make the case.  For instance, LinkedIn was the most used medium (26% of CEOs surveyed), however only 4% use Twitter.  Another study predicts CEO use of social media will rise from 16% to 57% in the next 5 years.

Old+School+RocksBeyond “keeping up with the Jones,” here’s a take on why involvement in social media makes sense for CEOs.  Now. Two “old school” reasons:  building trust and gaining insights.

First, social media is about accountability if nothing else. Where does “the buck stop” in a company?  With the CEO of course.  Companies that engage in social media are 82% more likely to be trusted.  Want to be trusted?  Want to convey authenticity?  Play in social media.

And, CEOs love insights … into their customers, how their products are perceived and “what could be.”  Social media, unlike any other media, offers the opportunity for spontaneous research.  Without the recruitment, the staging or the pretense.  Most importantly, the CEO that engages in such forums, not only gains a new appreciation about his customers’ perceptions, he will gain brownie points in terms of referral.  How likely will a customer tweet or post an online discussion they have with the company’s CEO?  How will their followers view the company?

As CEOs discover that social media offers traditional tasks they personally value, more will jump on the bandwagon.

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