You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘social media marketing’ tag.

Guest Relations created a program in September 2009 to honor the courageous fight of children with cancer.  CURE’s Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time initially featured the personal story of 30 children.  Promoted in social media and other online communications, the program has grown over 5 years to feature nearly 400 children.   The campaign has raised to-date  $1,017,291 towards research aimed at solving children’s cancers.

The Atlanta Journal-Constution recently featured the program.



For 30 days, they shared their stories: the athlete who didn’t let amputation keep him off the lacrosse field, the kid who inspired people even as he lay dying, the sisters who share a bond more profound than blood. Their stories were different — the same, too. Each is young, and has cancer. Some have licked the disease, and are in remission; others remain in a literal fight for their lives. A few have lost that fight.

In September CURE Childhood Cancer, a Dunwoody nonprofit, featured nearly 100 youthful cancer patients in a month-long fund-raiser, Kids Conquer Cancer One Day at a Time. People who visited the organization’s web site could read each child’s store and make an online contribution.
The goal: raising $200,000 to fund childhood cancer research. What it had raised by month’s end: $214,000.

The money will help bridge the funding gap between fighting adult cancer and childhood cancer, said Kristen Connor, CURE’s executive director.
“We don’t (spend) anything to prevent childhood cancer,” she said. “I think that’s wrong.”  Less than 5 percent of the federal government’s annual total funding for cancer research is dedicated to various forms of childhood cancer, according to the National Institute of Health.  At the same time, said Connor, cancer is the No. 2 killer of American youth, defined as newborns to 21-year-olds. Only accidents claim more young lives.
Childhood cancer often isn’t the same as that afflicting adults. Grown-ups, for example, may contract cancer of the lung, colon, breast. Children are more apt to develop cancer in soft tissues, or in growing bones.  About 14,000 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. The National Cancer Institute estimates that 1.6 million men and women will be diagnosed with cancer this year.

For Connor, the numbers are more than an abstract. Twelve years ago, physicians diagnosed her son, Brandon, with neuroblastoma, a cancerous growth on his spine. The boy was a month old, and she was terrified.  The cancer has been in remission for nearly a decade, and Brandon recently celebrated a birthday. But the experience so profoundly changed his mom that Connor gave up her career at an Atlanta law firm to lead CURE.  “Brandon was lucky,” she said. “But a lot of others haven’t been.”

Some struggled against a disease that proved too much for their young bodies. Silas Edenfield was 3 when physicians diagnosed him with type IV hepatoblastoma, liver cancer. The boy, who lived near Savannah, underwent six surgeries over a 16-month period. He faced chemotherapy, blood tests and hundreds of nights away from home. In May, 10 days short of his fifth birthday, Silas died.  His is one of the stories on CURE’s site. By then end of September, people who’d read his story online had contributed more than more than $2,000 in donations in his name.

Other stories show that cancer is not insurmountable. Sean Dever was 11 when he developed osteosarcoma, bone cancer, above the knee. Surgeons removed the cancerous segment, then reattached the ankle and foot to his knee, rotating the joint so it serves as a new knee. Colleges are recruiting the Marietta resident, now a high school senior, for their lacrosse teams.

Consider the stories of Olivia and Elena Tate. Gwinnett sisters, each was diagnosed with cancer. The diagnoses came five years apart, and on the same day.

April 2, 2004: The Tate family was on vacation in Florida when Olivia’s parents noticed their 2-year-old daughter was tilting her head to one side. She stumbled when she walked. When the child started holding her head and vomiting, the Tates rushed her to a hospital. A CAT scan revealed a brain tumor. A helicopter took her from Florida toChildren’s Healthcare of Atlanta where Olivia underwent surgery to remove the tumor. Eight follow-up visits showed no recurring tumors, and the Tates relaxed — until a ninth checkup in 2008 revealed another tumor.It was removed, too.


April 2, 2009: Elena, 10, had been complaining of severe back and leg pain. Leukemia, her doctors said. Since then, Elena has run the gamut in care: chemotherapy — her hair fell out — spinal taps, blood transfusions. She underwent a bone marrow transplant last year and is in recovery.
Their stories, shared online, had raised $4,200.

In an interview last week, both girls said they feel great — happy to be at home, and in school. Olivia, now 11, is in the fourth grade; 14-year-old Elena is a ninth grader.  School, Olivia said, is “good. I think I need to study a little more.”  Elena, who wants to be a marine biologist, has her hair back.  It’s a red tangle. She also has regained something else.“I’m feeling confident again,” she said.  “Everyone has been there for me.”


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”


“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.

photo copy copy

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.


Retailers are constantly working to stay ahead of the social marketing curve. Whether they’re using Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram (to name a few), they are thinking of new ways for their products to get in front of a large audience. Better yet? To get in front of a large audience at minimal cost.

Over the years, Facebook has proven to be a productive way of referring customers to your website.

The formula: Interesting Images + Engaging content + Links = Increased Web Traffic

However, there is a limitation to what Facebook provides. Once the platform introduced the People Talking About This metric (PTAT), it shortly became no secret that when a brand page posts something, only a small percentage of its fans will see the post. You are required to solicit engagement from your fans, or actually pay money, to reach a more reasonable percentage of your followers.

Oh, bah humbug!

But, wait! That’s the beauty behind Pinterest. It’s a visually stimulating and free website that allows you to promote your products to thousands of people. Not to mention, that people who are using it are searching for ways to be inspired.


Don’t believe me? A recent research study conducted by BloomReach showed that Pinterest traffic spent 60% more than traffic coming from Facebook and converted to a sale 22% more than Facebook.

We recently put the numbers to the test for one of our retail clients by working with a popular fashion blogger. She simply took a picture of a cute monogrammed tumbler, posted it to her social channels, and allowed us to also use the image for promotional purposes.

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 11.40.11 AM

The key to success was not that we simply used Pinterest – but that we partnered with an influential women in the blogging/Pinterest space. Through this partnership, we were able to reach people who were our client’s target customers, but may have never heard of our client’s brand.

Here are some top line results from the Pinterest/Blogger partnership:

  • The image was repinned 1,100 times in a two week period
  • Referral traffic accounted for 50% of total website traffic
  • In a 30 day period, 49,940 website visits came from Pinterest
  • The product pictured above received 65,633 page views in that same 30 day period
  • The client received the highest monthly website traffic in the store’s history

Wow! Those results obviously made for a very happy client.

Curious at how Facebook compared to the Pinterest giant? Through posting the same exact image on our client’s Facebook account, we were able to garner just over 1,000 website visits. Hm, seems pretty obvious to me that Pinterest won this battle.

Game. Set. Match.


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.


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.


Haven’t you heard!? A lifeguard in Florida was fired for vacating his zone to save a man drowning in unprotected waters 1,500 feet south of his post. The young man worked for Jeff Ellis and Associates, an aquatic safety contractor.

Naturally, this decision has created a serious uproar online, sending Twitter and Facebook into public disapproval. In fact, if you search “lifeguard” on Twitter your timeline will be updated on a second by second basis with hundreds of tweets sharing the news story and opinions on the situation.

The overall consensus? The general public is outraged that a man who reacted on his instincts and training to save a dying individual would be reprimanded, rather than celebrated!

A spokesman for Jeff Ellis and Associates said in a statement that “We have liability issues and can’t go out of the protected area.”

This burst of social media presence is not uncommon. In fact, if the news is worth knowing, it will be shared. That is the brilliance, yet fear that all companies are aware of in today’s day and age. Or are they? Jeff Ellis and Associates should have considered this before they took action on Tomas Lopez, the lifeguard who was terminated. Before any decision is taken publicly, a company should always weigh decisions and strategy based on the potential viral reaction and impact.

Take the story posted by ABC News as an example. Less than 24 hours after the article was posted, it had over 1,400 Facebook shares, 392 Tweet shares, and 240 comments. You could also go to Fox News’ Facebook page to read about the story. In only four hours after posting, the story had received 694 comments and 432 shares.

As you can imagine, very few comments included terms of endearment and support of the aquatic safety company. Rather, people shared their outrage in the company, stating things like, “This is what happens when you put making money before saving lives.”

And if that wasn’t enough, news commentators and influential professionals started to comment on the issue. For example, Craig Button with The Sports Network tweeted the below message to over 20,000 fans:

Realizing the outcry through social realms and the backlash it was having on the company, Jeff Ellis and Associates attempted to save face by offering Tomas his job back. Tomas’s response was a big fat, “NO THANK YOU” that only fueled the flames of everyone who believed the man was doing the humane thing, backfiring again for the aquatics safety company.

The lesson learned for all companies, whether small or large? Take a step away from policies, rules and regulations and put yourself into the general public’s shoes. Ask yourself, “How could this be perceived by an individual who does not understand the legal jargon associated?” Even if the legality of the situation cannot be avoided, taking the precautionary step can at least prepare you for an adequate public address and response to critics. Because today, destroying a company’s reputation is as simple as 140 characters.


Follow us on Twitter