Favorite Brands on Twitter

Twitter can be a tricky for brands, finding what content suits your audience the best takes time, planning and commitment to a solid strategy.

We think these brands exemplify using Twitter perfectly; some are always on top of current events, and some are just down right hilarious, but all three know what appeals to their audience. So without further ado, some of our favorite brands on Twitter:

Oreo
They must have one killer graphic design team because they are constantly tweeting new photos based on current events with the famous cookie added in.

The newest addition to this Twitter strategy is their use of Vine, which they used on Halloween to create #OreoHorrorStories, parodies of famous horror movies with Oreos as the star – with titles such as “The Spilling” and “Night of the Bitten Cookie.”

But the one tweet that perfectly illustrates their use of current events is this one from the Super Bowl this past year:

Image via Twitter

Image via Twitter

Taco Bell and Old Spice
Both of these brands use wit and humor to reach their primarily male-dominated, twenty-something audiences. This interaction between the two accounts is a great example of using humor in a way that appeals to your audience:

Image via BuzzFeed

Image via BuzzFeed

 

Remember, what works for one brand does not necessarily work for the other. The best way to tackle Twitter is to think about who makes up your audience and why you are tweeting to engage them, then go from there and plan your strategy. It takes patience and commitment but it can pay off in a big way for your brand.

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Light Up Night

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things will be a regular series devoted to the places, things, and people in and around the city of Pittsburgh that all of us here at Yearick-Millea love.

The holiday season in the city of Pittsburgh officially kicks off tonight with the 53rd annual Light Up Night. The event just happens to be one of my favorite things about Pittsburgh! The entertainment and the spirit in the city that night have always impressed me.

Growing up near the city, I can remember coming into downtown year after year with my family to celebrate. Dinner, followed by viewing the holiday displays in the Macy’s windows and the PPG Wintergarden are always included in the fond memories that I have of each Light Up Night. And it wouldn’t be a Pittsburgh celebration without fireworks at the end of the night!

Click for image source

Click for image source

Of course certain aspects have changed since I began going to the event, like the ice skating rink at PPG Plaza. It’s worth coming down to see, even if you don’t skate, if you’ve never had a chance to see it at this time of year. The Holiday Market in Market Square has also been a popular addition – with such a wide variety of vendors for those unique gifts on your shopping list.

Best of all, almost all activities during Light Up Night are free! There is something for everyone – families, college students, and adults – so make sure to check out the event and start a new tradition for you and your family!

Where have all the W’s gone?

Be honest, when was the last time you typed “www.” when visiting a website? Better yet, when was the last time you said “dubya dubya dubya dot” when telling someone a web address?

Click for image source

Click for image source

Back in the early days of the Internet, the W’s (preceded by http://) were necessary for Internet browsers to know that you were trying to access the World Wide Web and not one of other protocols, such as FTP or SMTP.

In this digital day and age, many people consider the W’s to be a waste of time to type and a waste of ink to print. Increasingly, web developers are setting up websites so that you can enter a domain name with or without the W’s, and most browsers will automatically redirect you to where you are trying to go. So, you can just type in Twitter.com to find out what shenanigans your friends are up to, or ESPN.com to check the score of the Penn State game.

Recently, I’ve been noticing a trend in magazines, commercials, and all over the interwebs, in which the W’s are being left off of URLs. The question is, is there an official style rule to follow when you’re writing copy for an article, a news release, or an ad?

To find out, I had a quick Facebook chat with AP Stylebook to see what they had to say. It turns out there isn’t an official style rule…yet. For now, they recommend writing out the full URL, including “http://” if it is part of the published website address.

I prefer to drop them. What about you? Do you still type in and/or write out the W’s?

How To: Ask for Customer Feedback

Previously, we wrote about writing great customer testimonials; now we are going to discuss how to go about asking for the customer feedback you need to write these testimonials.

No matter which method you choose to solicit feedback – be it surveys, feedback forms on your website, directly reaching out, etc., there are a few ways to increase customer participation in giving feedback:

  • Make the process simple and easy – by assuring your customer that it takes no time at all and providing a quick link that does not ask for tedious information.
  • Personalize the experience – this is especially important for directly emailing or contacting your customers for feedback. Make sure the email says “Dear [First Name]” not, “Dear Valued Customer”, greet the person by name via phone call and provide information about the service or products they have purchased from you.

    Click for image source

    Click for image source

  • Welcome any type of comment – ensure that your wording suggests you are open to all types of feedback, positive or negative.
  • Ask leading questions – if you choose a survey, ask open-ended questions about specific aspects of your service or product. For example, if you sell cupcakes, “Which flavors did you wish we had…” will be more constructive than, “What would you like us to do differently?”
  • Call to Action – Actually ask your customer to give you feedback, don’t just include a link in an email and hope it catches their eye.
  • Incentivize – If you have tried all of these tactics and still aren’t getting anywhere – consider offering a reward of some sort: a gift card or a percentage off of services or products.

Most importantly, thank them! If a customer takes the time to give you this valued feedback, promptly thank them for their time and direct them to where they might see their review. You may want to consider offering a discount on a future purchase as a sign of thanks as well.

A word of caution: These tips are only for soliciting feedback for your own purposes, such as marketing pieces, not asking for customers to review you on a third-party site. If you are going to ask customers for reviews on a third-party site, be sure you understand the rules and regulations of said site beforehand; for example, Yelp does not permit businesses to ask for reviews, even if you don’t imply they should be favorable.

 

Social Media Case Study: Breathe Pennsylvania

The Challenge:
In the spring of 2013, Breathe Pennsylvania, a non-profit organization that helps residents of southwestern Pennsylvania achieve and maintain optimal lung health through education, prevention, awareness and direct services, underwent a full rebrand. The rebrand included a name change from Healthy Lungs Pennsylvania to Breathe Pennsylvania, new logo design and the launch of a brand new website. With the help of Yearick-Millea, Breathe Pennsylvania decided to leverage social media to promote both the new brand and awareness of their existing programs and services to a wider, online audience.

The Audience:
Breathe Pennsylvania’s primary target audience consists of men and women, ages 21 and over, in the Pittsburgh-metro area. This area is made up of 10 counties including: Lawrence, Beaver, Washington, Greene, Butler, Allegheny, Armstrong, Westmoreland, Fayette and Indiana. The men and women targeted may suffer from a form of lung disease or have family members who suffer from lung diseases including asthma, COPD and tuberculosis.

The Strategy:
In an effort to reach the largest number of potential audience members possible, we proposed an integrated social media campaign that included Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Flickr and a blog on BreathePA.org. The key strategy behind this social media campaign was to grow Breathe Pennsylvania’s online audience while promoting awareness of existing programs and services that had been offered by the organization to the residents of southwestern PA under the Healthy Lungs Pennsylvania name.

bpa case studyTo do this, we implemented a content strategy that included a mix of clinical information on lung diseases like asthma, COPD and tuberculosis as well as information specific to Breathe Pennsylvania’s extensive programming and service options. In addition to this content strategy, we also implemented a Facebook advertising campaign that was designed to increase the Facebook audience size while also driving traffic to BreathePA.org*.

The Results:
The social media campaign launched on June 1, 2013. Since its inception, the strategy has expanded to include sharing general health and wellness information in the form of Weekly Wellness Tips and interaction with like organizations through Facebook shares, retweets/mentions on Twitter and +1s on Google+. As a result, the online audience has continued to grow steadily and engage with the different types of content.

Results by the numbers (June 1, 2013 – November 1, 2013):

  • 1,000 new Facebook fans
  • 83.2k reach (unique people, fans and non-fans, who saw content posted on Facebook)
  • 9% average engagement rate per post on Facebook (ratio of engaged users to reach)
  • 56 new Twitter followers
  • 22 mentions on Twitter
  • 28 retweets on Twitter
  • 42% influence rate on Twitter
  • Social media has resulted in 52 visits to BreathePA.org* and 335 page views.

*BreathePA.org did not launch until October, 2013.

Public Relations 26.2

Earlier this month, more than 50,000 runners completed the New York City Marathon. As a former marathoner, I can tell you that most of those competitors could not have completed the race without dedicated adherence to a few core principles, including several that are common to a successful public relations campaign.  Here are a few rules to live by for both:

Click for image source

Click for image source

    • Have a plan.  On the surface, it’s simple.  If you want to complete a marathon, you have to run.  A lot.  But that’s not all it takes. To do well – and avoid being bored out of your mind – you have to mix fast runs with slow ones and longer runs with shorter ones, all while managing your rest and nutrition.

Variety is critical to a successful PR campaign, too.  The best plans integrate multiple tools, from basic news releases and case studies to social media, trade shows, event planning, and industry or community outreach.  Mixing in components from complementary disciplines such as advertising, SEO, and direct or e-mail marketing can accelerate results, too.

  • Be consistent. Success in marathon training and PR requires steady effort.  If advertising is the “hare” in marketing, PR is the “tortoise.”  Many times, results don’t often come quickly or easily, but if you put in the work every day, they’ll be real, rewarding and easier to sustain.
  • Rest to recreate.  Experienced athletes know they can enhance their training by regularly engaging in “active rest,” whether it’s a long walk in the woods, a lazy swim in the pool or a leisurely bike ride through the park.  Marketers can actively rest to refresh their “PR muscles,” too. When you need a break, browse a magazine you’ve never read before, watch a quirky documentary on Netflix, or visit a local museum or art gallery. Savor the rare chance to clear your head.  It might be just enough to spark a new idea or two.
  • Keep a log book.  Whether you’re tracking miles to run faster or monitoring media placements to boost a product launch, success almost always increases motivation.  When you’re managing a PR campaign, identify a few key metrics; then measure your progress against them. Doing so adds personal satisfaction to your work and builds momentum for your entire campaign.

There are several other parallels between marathon training and a successful PR campaign –celebrating your successes is another – but the four I’ve mentioned here can provide the guidance you need for the long run.

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things: Restaurants

Our Favorite Pittsburgh Things will be a regular series devoted to the places, things, and people in and around the city of Pittsburgh that all of us here at Yearick-Millea love. Our first post in the series is by our Account Coordinator, Stephanie.

My favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh is eat! I love cooking but I also like to mix it up by trying new restaurants and since new restaurants are cropping up all over Pittsburgh lately, this is the perfect place to do that.

For the past few months, I’ve made it my mission that every time I go out to dinner, I go somewhere I’ve never been before. This is starting to get hard though, since I’m developing favorites. Some of my current favoritesphoto

  • Gaucho – an Argentine restaurant in the Strip District. I studied abroad in Argentina when I was in college so this restaurant brings back a lot of great memories. It’s relatively cheap, the staff is fun, and most importantly for me – their chorizo is amazing.
  • Union Pig & Chicken – You can’t go wrong with BBQ. The joke back at home was always if I was coming to the cookout, you needed to throw an extra rack of ribs on the grill just for me, so you can imagine how perfect this place is for me! Bonus: they have a delicious habanero hot sauce, it’s hidden away in the back though, so make sure to ask for it!

Next up on my list is Meat & Potatoes before a show at the Byham later this month. Any suggestions of places I should add to my list?

Why You Should Hire an Agency to Handle Your Social Media

Previously on this blog, we discussed what social media marketing is and what you need to know to begin to integrate it as part of your company’s promotional strategy. But what happens when you decide to take the leap? Who should be tasked with creating content and editorial calendars, scheduling posts and interacting with audience members? Whose job is it to oversee everything? How do you keep everything organized and track the results?social-media-logos

Social media can be one of your strongest marketing tools – So it shouldn’t be left to just anyone. While your 20-something intern surely knows how to use Facebook and craft the perfect tweet, he or she probably doesn’t know enough about your brand to create the unique voice and personality that will speak on behalf of your company. On the other hand, you and your marketing or PR department may be too busy to dedicate the time required to launch a full-scale social media campaign resulting in sporadic posting or lack of engagement. This is where the social media agency (or social media department within a marketing agency) comes in.

So, why should you hire an agency to handle your social media?

Technical Expertise: You may know how to use platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for personal use, but the way these tools are used for business is drastically different. An agency with a social media team has the expertise to help you leverage a platform to target your specific audience, determine the types of content your customers prefer and establish protocols for maximizing the number of customers who see and engage with your content.

Insight into Trends: Social media is constantly changing and agencies make it a point to stay up on the latest digital trends, platforms and features that could be beneficial to your marketing strategy. An agency can help you dissect what’s new and how it can impact your social media strategy.

Access to Paid Tools: While all brands have access to many of the paid tracking and reporting tools for social media on the market, these tools often come with a hefty price tag and can be tough to navigate without an in depth knowledge of social media. Agencies not only have access to these tools, but they also have the expertise required to create comprehensive reports that can be tailored to meet your business objectives.

While everyone likes to think that they’re superman, the truth is, many business owners simply don’t have the time to properly run a social media marketing campaign on their own – By hiring an agency to handle your social media marketing campaign, you’re freeing yourself up to focus on other aspects of your business. Have questions about social media marketing and launching a campaign for your business? Let us know!

Lululemon’s Image Problem

It’s been a rough year for Lululemon, the Vancouver-based yoga retailer. First there was mass recall of sheer yoga pants, now their Dallas store has gotten them back in the news for all the wrong reasons.

Let’s look at the problem and how Lululemon reacted.

From Business Insider:

 “Lululemon Athletica is in hot water after one of its Dallas stores posted a sign appearing to mock a charity that helps battered women.

 “We do partners yoga, not partners card,” the sign read, referring to the Family Place charity’s “Partners Card,” which costs $70 and offers deep discounts at 750 area stores — not including Lululemon — to help raise money for womens’ shelters…

Paige Flink, executive director of the charity, said she was offended by the sign at the store in Dallas’ NorthPark Center because she felt it was mocking the charity. She personally asked the store to remove it and management told her the store might remove it by Monday.”

 

This incident has caused quite an uproar on social media, with many people posting that they will never purchase from Lululemon again. An apology was posted to the Lululemon Athletica NorthPark Facebook page on Tuesday:

lulu1

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While an apology is nice, it’s important to note that the response came from Lululemon’s corporate headquarters in Vancouver, not from the Dallas store itself. You can see this from the tag produced by Facebook’s location enabling service. It has also been reported that the store’s manager has offered the employees of The Family Place free yoga, even though it can be noted here that the executive director of the Family Place made it clear that funding is the best way to help the charity.

So, what can you learn from Lululemon’s fiasco?

First: Think it over – while signs being witty are wonderful, and even signs that push the boundaries can work if that is appropriate for your audience, always remember not to make fun of other businesses, people or, in this case, charities.

Second: Act quickly – The store should have removed the sign as soon as they were aware of its offensive nature (though I’m not sure how they didn’t realize it was offensive prior to putting it up) not waited 3 days to remove the sign.

Third: Apologize (the right way) – Lululemon should have had the store manager apologize, not their corporate office. It makes it appear that the store manager does not take responsibility for what happened, when it was clearly a message created solely for their store. I would have also recommended a donation of monetary value – not yoga.

 

What do you think Lululemon could have done to handle the situation better?