Prediction: Budweiser Clydesdale Commercial Will Drop Out of Top 5 in Super Bowl 50

In 2014 I predicted that Budweiser’s Clydesdale “Puppy Love” would be the winner in ad rating polls like USA Today Ad Meter and SpotBowl.com in this blog post: “Shakespeare Predicts ..” I based this off of my research with Michael Coolsen that analyzed two years of Super Bowl ads. We found that the key to Super Bowl ad popularity is whether it tells a story or not.

Why is being popular or likable important? Even with over 110 million viewers, paying $5 million for 30 seconds is only a wise investment if the Super Bowl ad can deliver social media buzz, media coverage and be remembered over time which can come from ranking high in the Super Bowl Ad ratings polls.

For Super Bowl 50, I have to predict that the 2016 Clydesdale commercial “Not Backing Down” will not win. It may even back down the charts below the top 10. Budweiser has had a good run with Clydesdale Super Bowl ads finishing  in the top 5 of USA Today’s Ad Meter 8 times in the last 10 years. Most of those Clydesdale ads told full stories with the horses playing staring roles. In the two years they dipped below the top 10 (#17 in 2011 and #26 in 2012) the Clydesdales were not main characters and the ads did not tell compelling complete stories.

Watch the last 10 Budweiser Clydesdale Super Ads below and make your own prediction. Why were these ads in the top 5 all year’s except the two? Which ads tell full stories and star the Clydesdales and which do not? What about this year’s ad?

Our research was based on Freytag’s pyramid (see end of post) that divides a story into five parts called acts (like a Shakespearean play). These acts form a dramatic arc or plot: Inciting Moment, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Moment of Release. We found that ratings were higher for commercials that follow a full five-act story compared to those that did not. The more acts commercials had (3 versus 2) the higher the ratings.

UPDATE: “Not Backing Down” Finished 28th in the final USA Today Ad Meter Results. Watch the top finishers including Hyundai, Heinz, Doritos, Honda and Toyota told stories.

2016 Clydesdale “#NotBackingDown” Ad Meter #?

This spot has a lot of “Not”s. “Not Ponies,” “Not A Hobby,” “Not Small,” “Not Sipped,” “Not Soft,” “Not Imported,” “Not A Fruit Cup,” But this is not a story and not a winning super bowl ad. I like the music and look, but the Clydesdales and Plot take a back seat to product shots and bold brand bragging that most people will not like in the ad polls.

2015 Clydesdale “Lost Dog” Ad Meter #1

This spot has it all. It stars the Clydesdales, has a puppy and most importantly tells a full five act story that draws the audience in and was number 1 in USA Today Ad Meter.

2014 Clydesdale “Puppy Love” Ad Meter #1

This spot stars the Clydesdales and tells a full five act story that pulls us in with rising action, climax, falling action and resolve. It was number 1 in USA Today Ad Meter.

2013 Clydesdale “Brotherhood” Ad Meter #1

Again, this spot stars the Clydesdales and tells a full five act story. Its official title was “Brotherhood,” but in the Ad Meter poll it is called “Horse and Trainer Reunited.” It was also number 1 in USA Today Ad Meter that year.

2012 Clydesdale “Return of the King” Ad Meter #26

What happened here? This stop starts out saying “Based on a True Story,” but doesn’t tell a full story in the commercial itself. This spot picks up after the end of prohibition and simply shows a lot of people celebrating. Even though the Clydesdales are delivering the first cases of Budweiser in years, they are really not the main characters. They take a back seat to an extended celebration of the brand and no tension rising to a climax, falling action or resolve that is needed to draw us in and like the spot as compared to others. As a result it dipped down to number 26 in USA Today Ad Meter.

2011 Clydesdale “Old West Elton John Feeling” Ad Meter #17

Why did this ad dip down? This commercial down introduce characters and starts to build some tension as the Old West Outlaw walks into the bar. We get somewhat of a climax when we don’t know if he will shoot the bar tender for running out of Budweiser. But there wasn’t much character development for viewers to get sucked in. And even though the Clydesdales delivered the beer, they were not the star. We see only glimpses of them running to deliver that case of bottles. Instead of the music adding to the build up of the story like other spots, this one ends old west people signing Elton John as a punchline to a joke. This spot was number 17 in USA Today Ad Meter.

2010 Clydesdale “Fences” Ad Meter #4

This spot stars the Clydesdales and tells a full five act story. “Fences don’t come between friends” It was number 4 in USA Today Ad Meter that year.

2009 Clydesdale “Circus” Ad Meter #2

This spot stars the Clydesdales and tells a full five act story again. It was number 2 in the 2009 USA Today Ad Meter poll.

2008 Clydesdale “Team” Ad Meter #1

This may be a Rocky spoof, but it was a full story and stared the Clydesdales and the Budweiser Dalmatian. It was also number 1 in the USA Today Ad Meter poll.

2007 Clydesdale “Street Dog” Ad Meter #2

We can see these earlier Clydesdale commercial made the Budweiser Dalmatian more of the star, but the dog is was another brand spokesperson the audience could be drawn into and their was a full story built around them. “Street Dog” was number 2 in the USA Today Ad Meter poll.

2006 Clydesdale “Young Clydesdale Dreams Big” Ad Meter #2

A classic full five act story build around a young Clydesdale dreaming to pull the Bud cart some day. This Budweiser ad was number 2 in the USA Today Ad Meter poll.

What do you think? Can you see how the 2016 Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl commercial is more like the 2011 and 2012 spots when they dipped down to 17 and 26 rankings versus the 8 other commercials that were all in the top 5? What is your prediction? Perhaps they have another Clydesdale spot that will surprise audiences on Sunday …

“Freytag’s Pyramid” illustrates the five act plot structure popularized by dramatist such as Shakespeare to reveal the power of story. Use this to judge for story:

Super Bowl Ads, Super Bowl Bowl Commercials, Super Bowl XLVIII, USA Today Ad Meter, Spotbowl.com, Freytag's Pyramid, Shakespeare, Dramatic Form, 5-Acts

Celebrity Bowl: More Marketers Than Ever Turn To Celebrity For Super Bowl Ads, But That’s Not The Whole Story.

Last year (2015) was the year of serious ads that some dubbed “Dadvertising” for the number of spots honoring dads. As I have scanned the latest news in the past week about the Super Bowl of Advertising and read and watched the spots that are out from marketers across a wide variety of industries I have noticed a bigger trend this year. It looks to be the year of celebrity appearances in Super Bowl ads. It’s the “Celebrity Bowl.”

Ad Age reports there were 19 celebrities in Super Bowl spots in 2013, 26 in 2014, 28 in 2015 and 2016 we are already at 33 celebrities with more sure to come as more spots are revealed. Even one of the user-generated spots from Doritos this year has a celebrity thrown in it. And some advertisers are using several celebrities in single spots. The BMW Mini Super Bow ad above features six celebrities including Serena Williams, Harvey Keitel, T-Pain, Tony Hawk, and Randy Johnson.

Why are so many Super Bowl advertisers turning to celebrities? Is this a winning tactic? Celebrities can attract an initial level of attention and may bring their own social media followers with them. Even with last year’s Super Bowl being the most-watched broadcast in television history (over 114 million viewers), paying $5 million for 30 seconds is only a wise investment if the Super Bowl ad can deliver social media buzz, media coverage and be remembered over time.

The competition to attract these views is getting fierce. YouTube says that last year, people watched 1,600 years of Super Bowl ads on YouTube and nearly 40% of that viewing time happened before the game. Google reports a 5X growth in worldwide search for the Super Bowl on YouTube in the month of January. How can marketers capture some of these views? They need more than a celebrity or two, to stand out in the ad polls and generate lasting buzz. They need to build a story around the celeb.

Super Bowl Ads

Story could especially be needed this year with the high amount of celebrity clutter. Out of the current known advertisers 18/38 are said to be using celebrities. Does using a celebrity stand out if nearly half of the marketers are using them as well?

Last year the top 10 spots in USA Today Ad Meter had no celebrities in them. They were just good stories. Over the years you will notice Super Bowl spots with celebrities in them at the top and the bottom of the polls. The ones that we like such as Coca-Cola’s Mean Joe Green spot told a good story with celeb. Budweiser has made their own celebrities out of the Clydesdales.

My research with Michael Coolsen found that the more complete story a Super Bowl commercial tells (in Five Acts) the higher the commercial performed in Super Bowl Ad Ratings Polls. We found that other factors like sex appeal, humor, emotion, animals or celebrity didn’t matter. They appeared at the top and bottom of the polls with no discernible pattern.

What is the secret ingredient to helping ensure a Super Bowl commercial is liked and talked about? Remember studying five-act Shakespearian Plays in high school? There was a reason Shakespeare was so popular and why he used to tell a story in five acts. It is a powerful formula that has drawn people’s attention for hundreds of years.

Freytag's Pyramid

The ads that tell a more complete story using the dramatic structure of Freytag’s Pyramid are the most likable in Super Bowl ad ratings polls. Shakespeare mastered this five part structure including an exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and final outcome. Last year’s “Lost Puppy” had all five acts and not only performed well in the advertising polls like USA Today Ad Meter, but won in social media buzz as well.

According to video analytics firm Unruly, Budweiser had the most-shared ad on Facebook, Twitter and blogs for the 2015 game. Bud also had the most Twitter mentions during the Super Bowl broadcast according to social media data firm Brandwatch.

Super Bowl Ads

The other winners? Research from AdKnowledge shows the brands above that won in terms of YouTube views and sentiment. These brands were also at the top of the ad polls and did not simply feature celebrities – they told good stories.

In this year’s “Celebrity Bowl” Super Bowl Advertisers who want to rise above the clutter, should tap into the celebrity of Shakespeare.

2016 Update: 153 Tool & Resources To Improve Your Social Media Strategy.

Here is my year end list (by category) of social media strategy tools and resources. I start with my big picture strategy book that lays out a process for developing a social media marketing plan followed by all the tools and resources you need to create and execute your own plan.

Social Media Strategy Book

1. Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution: bit.ly/QuesenberrySM

Social Media Marketing Strategy Keith Quesenberry Amazon #1 Business Marketing

Social Media Monitoring & Metrics

2. Addict-o-matic: addictomatic.com

3. Brandwatch: brandwatch.com

4. Cision: www.cision.com/us/social-software

5. Critical Mention: www.criticalmention.com

6. Hootsuite: hootsuite.com

7. How Socialble: howsociable.com

8. Iconosquare: iconosquare.com

9. Klear: klear.com

10. Lithium: lithium.com

11. Meltwater Ice Rocket: www.icerocket.com

12. Nielson Social: www.nielsensocial.com

13. Oracle Social Cloud: www.oracle.com/us/solutions/social

14.Radian6 (Salesforce): exacttarget.com/products/social-media-marketing/radian6

15.RankSpeed: rankspeed.com

16.Row Feeder: rowfeeder.com

17.Simply Measured: simplymeasured.com

18.Social Mention: socialmention.com

19. Social Bakers: socialbakers.com

20. Social Blade: socialblade.com

21. Sprinklr: www.sprinklr.com

22. SumoRank: sumorank.com

23. Sysomos: www.sysomos.com

24. Trackur: www.trackur.com

25. Visible Measures: visiblemeasures.com

26. Unruly: unruly.co

Online Data Collection & Analytics

27. AlexaL alexa.com

28. Consumer Barometer With Google: consumerbarometer.com

29. Compete (Millard Brown Digital): compete.com

30. Cyfe: www.cyfe.com

31. Databoard for Research Insights: think.withgoogle.com/databoard

32. Display Benchmarks: richmediagallery.com/tools/benchmarks

33. Google Analytics: www.google.com/analytics

34. Google Mobile Planet: think.withgoogle.com/mobileplanet

35. Google Trends: www.google.com/trends

37. iSpionage: ispionage.com

38. Keyhole: keyhole.co

39. Kiss Metrics: www.kissmetrics.com

40. Kred: kred.com

41. Klout: Klout.com

42. Mention: en.mention.com

43. Nexalogy: nexalogy.com

44. Omgili: omgili.com

45. Quantcast: quantcast.com

46. SEEN: seen.co

47. SEMrush: www.semrush.com

48. SharedCount: www.sharedcount.com

49. Shopping Insights: shopping.thinkwithgoogle.com

50. SimilarWeb: similarweb.com

51. Soovle: soovle.com

52. Talkwalker Alerts: www.talkwalker.com

53. Tweetreach: tweetreach.com

54. Twitter Advanced Search: twitter.com/search-advanced

55. YouGovProfiles: yougov.co.uk/profiler#

56. YouTube Analytics: www.youtube.com/analytics

57. YouTube Trends Dashboard: youtube.com/trendsdashboard

Social Media Research

58. Affinio: www.affin.io/

59. Forrester: www.forrester.com/social-media

60. Gallap: www.gallap.com

61. Global Web Index: www.globalwebindex.net

62. Kantar Media SRDS: srds.com

63. Nielsen Social Media Reports: www.nielsensocial.com

64. Pew Research Center: www.pewinternet.org

65. Roper Center: www.ropercenter.uconn.edu

66. Simmons: simmonsssurvey.com

67. Social Explorer: www.socialexplorer.com

68. Social Media Collective: socialmediacollective.org

69. Social Technographics Profile: www.empowered.forrester.com/tool_consumer.html

70. Statista: www.statista.com

Social Media Content Creation Tools

71. Adobe Kuler: color.adobe.com/create.color–wheel

72. Canva: www.canva.com

73. ContenIdeator: contentforest.com/ideator

74. Design Seeds: design–seeds.com

75. Easelly: www.easel.ly

76. Emotional Marketing Analyzer (Advanced Marketing Institute): aminstitute.com/headline

77. Google Fonts: www.google.com/fonts

78. Google Image: images.google.com

79. Grammarly: grammarly.com

80. Headline Analyzer (CoSchedule): coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

81. Hemingway Editor: hemingwayapp.com

82. Over: madewithover.com

83. Pictaculous: pictaculous.com

84. PicMonkey: picmonkey.com

85. Piktochart: piktochart.com

86. Pixlr: pixlr.com

87. Recite: recite.com

88. Word Swag: www.wordswag.co

89. Yost: yoast.com

Social Content Scheduling & Automation

90. Buddy Media: www.exacttarget.com/products/social-media-marketing/buddy-media

91. Buffer: bufferapp.com

92. Chartbeat: chartbeat.com

93. Contentgems: contentgems.com

94. Crowdbooster: crowdbooster.com

95. dlvr.it: dlvr.it

96. Edgar: meetedgar.com

97. HubSpot: hubspot.com

98. IFTTT: ifttt.com

99. Later Bro: laterbro.com

100. OptinMonster: optinmonster.com

101. Outbrain: outbrain.com

102. Post Planner: www.postplanner.com

103. Short Stack: www.shortstack.com

104. SocialOomph: www.socialoomph.com

105. Sprout Social: sproutsocial.com

106. Social Warefare: warfareplugins.com

107. Thunderclap: thunderclap.it

108. TweetDeck: about.twitter.com/products/tweetdeck

109. Uberflip: uberflip.com

110. Woodbox: woobox.com

111. Zapier: zapier.com

112. Zendesk: www.zendesk.com

Trade Associations, Awards, Conferences

113. Brand Innovators: brand-innovators.com/events

114. Content Marketing World: www.contentmarketingworld.com

115. INBOUND: www.inbound.com

116. INTEGRATE: imc.wvu.edu/integrate

117. Online Media Marketing Awards: www.mediapost.com/ommaawards

118. Social Media Marketing World: www.socialmediaexaminer.com/smmworld

119. Social Media Strategies Summit: socialmediastrategiessummit.com

120. Social Media Week: socialmediaweek.org

121. Summit: summit.adobe.com/na

122. SXSW: sxsw.com

123. SXSWedu: http://www.sxswedu.com

124. The Webby Awards: www.webbyawards.com

125. The Shorty Awards: shortyawards.com

126. The Mashies: mashable.com/mashies

127. Word of Mouth Marketing Association: womma.org

Social Media Channels

128. Overdrive Interactive’s 2015 Social Media Map list of social media channels & categories.

Social Media News & Insights

129. Chris Brogan: http://chrisbrogan.com/blog

130. Jeff Bullas: jeffbullas.com

131. Content Marketing Institute: contentmarketinginstitute.com/blog

132. Convince & Convert : www.convinceandconvert.com

133. FTC Disclosures: http://1.usa.gov/1eBRixc

134. Gartner Digital Marketing: blogs.gartner.com/digital-marketing

135. Grow: www.businessesgrow.com

136. Hubspot’s Inbound Hub: blog.hubspot.com

137. Marketing Profs: www.marketingprofs.com

138. Mashable Social Media: mashable.com/social-media

139. RazerSocial: www.razorsocial.com/blog

140. Social Media Examiner: www.socialmediaexaminer.com

141. Social Media Explorer: www.socialmediaexplorer.com

142. Social Media Marketing Magazine: www.smmmagazine.com

143. Social Media Today: socialmediatoday.com

144. Social Mouths: socialmouths.com/blog

145. Social Media Law Bulletin: www.socialmedialawbulletin.com

146. YouTube Video Creators: www.youtube.com/videocreators

Social Media/Marketing Podcasts

147. Content Inc.: contentmarketinginstitute.com/content-inc-podcast

148. Content Pros: convinceandconvert.com/podcasts/shows/content-pros-podcast

149. Social Media Examiner: www.socialmediaexaminer.com/tag/podcast

150. Social Pros Podcast: socialpros.podbean.com

151. The Business of Story: convinceandconvert.com/podcasts/shows/business-of-story-podcast

152. The Marketing Companion: marketingpodcasts.com/the-marketing-companion

153. This Old Marketing: contentmarketinginstitute.com/pnr-with-this-old-marketing-podcast

See The Forest for the Social Media Trees

“See the forest for the trees” is a saying that means getting caught up in the details and failing to understand the bigger picture. With all the new social media channels vying for our attention these days it is easy to get bogged down by all the particulars and immediate demands. Yet being able to discern the overall pattern or vision from the minutia of specific social media options and tactics is a valuable skill. Strategy – taking a broad, long-range approach and thinking systemically – is a very valuable skill. A 30,000 foot view, not a 3 foot perspective is what is needed to plan and marshal organizational resources to meet and exceed business goals.

How valuable is strategic thinking? A global study of over 60,000 managers asked them to access over 20 leadership practices (such as innovation, persuasion, communication, results orientation) and 20 measures of effectiveness (such as future potential, credibility, business aptitude, people skills). “Having a strategic approach” was seen as 10 times more important to effectiveness than other leadership behaviors and nearly 50 times more important than tactical behaviors. Another study asked 10,000 senior executives to select the leadership behaviors most critical to organizations success. “Strategic” was chosen 97% of the time.

Most people may agree that strategy is very important yet thinking strategically is not easy. Strategic thinking is especially hard when immediate demands are often rewarded over long-term vision and planning. Yet seeing the forest for the trees is a leadership quality necessity for social media success. When faced with 800+ social media sites, apps and services – a lot of trees – being able to focus on a long-term approach is the only way to see the path to reach your ultimate business or organizational goals.

Many marketers, advertisers, public relation professionals and entrepreneurs are jumping into the social media race, but they must be in it for the long haul to see real, lasting results. They must take the time to take a step back and see the big picture through a strategic social media plan. Trying to apply old marketing control strategies in this new consumer controlled social media environment does not work. Social media marketing is a different game with different rules.

Sure, there are plenty of tips. A Google search of “social media marketing tips” returns 135 million results. But very few tell you to do the same things and what worked for one business will not exactly work for others. For marketers and advertisers to succeed at social media integration, they must first start in a place rooted in their distinct situation and drive a strategy of choosing social platforms and creating content based on their business objectives, marketing strategy and target audience. This can be accomplished by following a 5-step process:

  1. Define current business and social media situation
  2. Create a big idea and plan integration
  3. Selection social media channels
  4. Integrate non-marketing social media activity
  5. Finalize social media plan and sell

That is what I have detailed in my new book Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution. It is a roll up your sleeves roadmap to sound social media strategy that draws from the best in academic research and professional business practice. An approachable text to teach my social media marketing students, it lays out a method that cuts through the hype and sets a strategic mindset to take advantage of the exciting opportunities of social media. This text provides the context, process and tools needed to create a comprehensive and unique social media marketing solution.

Are you having trouble seeing past the trees of social media channels and tactics? Perhaps you need to take a step back along with my students and invest some time into getting above the forest and plan a path for long-term strategic success. Do you see the value in strategic thinking? How can you take the time to make it happen?

Marketers & Advertisers: Give Up Control To Regain It.

It is hard being a marketer or advertiser these days. It feels like everything you were taught about marketing and advertising has been turned on its head. Most of the core principles, whether you practice the Four P’s or the Four C’s are about marketer and advertiser control. Yet, the problem today is that the marketer, their advertising agency, and PR firm have lost a lot of control over much communication about the brand.

With the rise of social media the power of the consumer’s voice is now equal or even more powerful than the brand’s voice. Consider the fact that consumers’ trust other people’s opinions online much more than any brand messages you can publish in ads or on the web. As mobile use increases, the consumer’s voice will only get more powerful, more immediate, and more frequent. Customer service departments know this very well.

Social Media Marketing Advertising Public Relations Strategy Keith QuesenberryWe are in the midst of a consumer revolution where the marketer, advertiser, and PR professional are no longer King. Content is King and consumers control what content is viewed, shared and created. Does this mean marketers, advertisers, and PR pros should simply give up? Not in the sense of throwing in the towel, but they need to understand one key lesson for today’s social media environment: Learn to give up control of your brand to regain it. Click To Tweet We may no longer be able to control much of the brand talk online, but we are able to influence it if we switch from our old traditional, mass media control model to a new social media engagement mindset.

A shift in mindset of this magnitude is not easy. The shift to Integrated Marketing Communication was relatively easy in comparison. We simply had to start working with and unify disciplines, partners and channels such as advertising, public relations, direct response and Internet (interactive). But now the consumer is also creating brand content. You can’t have conference calls with consumers and send them your brand standards, marketing plans and creative briefs.

If you want to find your brand these days you must be willing to loose it. This doesn’t mean that social media marketing has no strategy. On the contrary, strategy is even more important. More and more CMO’s are shifting budgets to social media yet most still struggle with integration of social into their traditional marketing, PR, digital and advertising efforts. Others struggle with focusing a strategy in social with such a dynamic environment and simply end up chasing the hot new social channels as they come out.

If you struggle with integration, if you’re missing focus and simply feel social media is out of control, it may be time to take a step back and look at the big picture. Reset your mindset about marketing, advertising, PR, and digital control. Take a 30,000 foot look at your brand, situation, and at what works and doesn’t work in social media to develop a framework that will work today with Facebook and Snapchat and will work tomorrow for what ever new network or mobile app comes out of the tech corridor.

A basic social media strategy framework:

  1. Identify your business goals, marketing strategy and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  2. Determine your target audience, discover where they’re talking online and what they’re saying.
  3. Engage the target on their social platforms with meaningful branded content in a way that leverages each platform’s key capabilities.

This list is incomplete, but it gets you started in a place rooted in your unique situation and drives a strategy of choosing social platforms and creating content based on your business objectives, marketing strategy and target audience. For a more comprehensive look and process for social media strategy I have written Social Media Strategy: Marketing and Advertising in the Consumer Revolution. It will take any marketer, advertiser, PR pro, digital consultant, entrepreneur, or student through a simple step-by-step process to developing a truly integrated and enduring social media plan.

Press Release 2.0: How Your News Release Should Evolve For Digital Media.

The first press release was written in 1906 to announce something newsworthy. Over the years PR professionals developed a standard format to obtain earned media publication in newspaper, magazine, radio and TV news. Like any industry the rise of digital and social media has changed best practices in this discipline. In this article you will learn the new standards and best practices for digital and social media optimized press releases.

The traditional press release was mailed, faxed or emailed to editors and journalists consisting of:

  1. A Headline to grab attention of journalists and summarize the news.
  2. A Dateline for the release date and originating city.
  3. An Introduction Paragraph that provided quick answers to who, what, when, where and why.
  4. The Body with further explanation, details, background, and statistics.
  5. A Boilerplate with short about copy on the organization or company.
  6. The Close was a symbol that meant the release ended.
  7. Media Contact Information included the name, phone, email and address for the PR or media relations person.

An example of a traditional press release template is pictured below.

Today’s press releases must include more to be effective. Digital assets, quality links, headlines, and calls to action should all be designed for easy sharing on social networks and be optimized for online search. The main difference in a new digital or social media release is that it doesn’t necessarily mimic a complete news story like previous traditional releases. Instead it provides more components or raw ingredients to put together a story in any format or to be shared on various social networks.

In 2006, Shift Communications developed what they call the Social Media Press Release with the template seen below. It includes a series of bullets with quotes from senior executives and multimedia elements such as logos, photos, PDFs of key materials, links to podcasts, and an annual report or PowerPoint.

The template above is still relevant, but Shift suggests some updated features including:

  1. Sharing Buttons for various social channels at the top of the page right under the headline
  2. Multimedia that now emphasizes using short video.
  3. Varying Viewpoints from other perspectives that make it more social.
  4. A Link to an Official Press Release because some prefer the facts in one easy-to-read place for new aggregators to pick up easily.
  5. Twitter Conversations curated to showcase what people are saying about the news on Twitter.

An example of these new features can be seen below.

When writing IR Magazine suggests that …  new media press releases should be tailored to various audiences like wire services and social media… Click To Tweet Therefore, communicating with bloggers is not the same as communicating with traditional media. Most bloggers who think you are pushing biased information will turn against you. The first step is to know the blogger you are targeting. Read their blog, get a sense of what they care about and start a conversation. Establish a relationship first and start with an interesting news item that may not directly relate to your company, then ensure the release links back to your organization’s main website as long as your content is good. Don’t let a person excited about your press release be disappointed by your site.

Press releases now need to be optimized for SEO. Write your release around three keywords or phrases that are important to key audiences. Keywords should be included in the headline and subheads at the top and in the body of the release. Sprinkle keywords throughout the release and add hyperlinks to help people find related content and provide support. SEO optimized releases help you get ranked in news search and editors may contact you solely based on your press release being properly optimized and relevant.

Catherine Spicer of PR Newswire focuses on what is not needed. She argues that it is also time to leave behind some conventions of the traditional news release. Writing “For Immediate Release” was intended to tell journalists when the story could be published, but now when a press release goes live online, it’s assumed that it is ready for immediate use. You may also want to stop using “Embargoed until XX:XX.” With so many news sites competing to break the stories first these days, embargoes are not always honored. Closes with a “###” are outdated as well. Readers today will more likely think the pound sign is a hashtag for tweets. The press release dateline now should always include a year. Thanks to website archives and search engines, press releases are now discoverable for an indefinite amount of time.

Victoria Harres also of PR Newswire suggests:

  1. New releases should focus links on relevant metrics that count such as tracking online reads, social shares, and content popularity.
  2. Releases should be used to publicize other organization content. When something interesting is published on your blog, website or YouTube channel use a release to drive brand exposure, social shares, media pickup, and brand discovery.
  3. Improve SEO by answering questions. Search engines try to deliver results that answer searcher questions. So write press release headlines that highlight the questions the release answers.
  4. Use keywords for SEO, but use language that relates with the target or it won’t get read or shared.
  5. Remember that the press release today reaches much more than the press. Press release strategy should strive to reach editors and journalists, but also influencers, investors, employees and consumers.

What new press release standards and features are you practicing for digital and social media?

What Hollywood Pitches Can Teach Us About Storytelling, Social Media Marketing, and User Generated Content.

In Daniel Pink’s book To Sell Is Human, he references a study by two business professors who analyzed the Hollywood pitch process to discover how writers got their movie and TV series ideas approved by producers. What they found can help improve our social strategies.

Keith Quesenberry Social Media Marketing Content Marketing Strategy Advertising PRThe researchers observed that the most successful pitches didn’t push their idea on the person they were trying to convince. Instead, the “seller” invited the “buyer” in as a collaborator. The more the buyer was able to contribute, the better the idea (product) became and the more likely it would be approved (bought). One of the producers told the researchers, “At a certain point the writer needs to pull back as the creator of the story. And let [the buyer] project what he needs onto your idea that makes the story whole for him.”

I’ve written before about the power of story, my research in that area, and how to leverage storytelling in social media strategy. Yet, here I want to focus on collaboration. It is important to tell your organization or brand story and ultimately we all want to sell something, but don’t be too “pushy.” Invite the consumer in to tell their story and help expand upon your brand story to make it more of their own. When they start feeling like it is more of their own they have already bought in. So when you do present them with a sell message it is seen as more of an opportunity than a hard sell.

In social media, inviting the consumer in as a collaborator is called user generated content (UGC). Not only is this good for the user, but the content they create is more convincing than your own content. Research has found that 66% of consumers rely heavily on user generated content when making purchasing decisions Click To Tweet and 65% of consumers trust word-of-mouth on the Internet (UGC) more than content produced by advertisers.

Surprisingly, 51% say user generated content is more important than the opinions of their friends and family, and far more trustworthy than website content. How much user generated content is there? Researchers estimate that 25% of search results on brand names return user generated content from review sites, blogs, and social media updates. So how do we invite consumer social media collaboration? I’ve collected some ideas from Social Bro, Sprout Social, and HubSpot.

Here are 6 strategies to increase your user generated content:

  1. Share consumer comments, photos and video. It amazes me when I see awesome brand fan comments and photos and the brand does nothing. I ran an experiment once where I posted some positive comments and photos directly to various brands on Twitter. Two responded, but one ignored me. Don’t miss out on this easy opportunity, if you see a fan compliment your brand or share photos and videos using your products or services thank them and then share the content to your own followers. Fashion brands and GoPro are good at doing this. For the super contributors consider sending special offers and gifts as a reward.
  2. Reward fans by featuring their content in your advertising. When I was an advertising copywriter I always got a kick out of seeing my ideas and lines on TV, billboards and in magazines. Most consumers feel the same way. Plus, UGC is more believable, so including it in your advertising could make the advertising more believable. Doritos turns UGC videos into Super Bowl commercials every year and gets a lot of press for doing it. Of course, before placing that fan photo in your next print ad always get permission.
  3. Make user generate content part of a competition. Sweepstakes and giveaways are tried and true marketing methods, but instead of simple entry forms suggest users submit a photo, video or quote. Starbucks challenged consumers to decorate the Starbucks white coffee cup and post on social media. The winner’s design was turned into a limited edition reusable cup.
  4. Crowdsource ideas for new products, services, designs and ad campaigns. Who knows better what they want than your customers? Why not ask them? In the process they will generate a lot of brand content that will help get your organization noticed. Fiat Brazil crowdsourced a concept car design and now collects ideas for new car features via Facebook and Twitter. Dell’s IdeaStorm has collected over 20,000 ideas and implemented over 540 of them.
  5. Create a specific user generated content campaign. Ask for content by creating a campaign hashtag and promoting it on your social channels, but also in ads, in-store, and on packaging. Under Armour has #IWILL. Tourism Australia gets amazing photos and videos from all over the country. Photos they could never afford to take on their own. They post on their Facebook “Tourism Australia’s official Facebook page. Post your best photos to our wall to give us permission to share.”
  6. Just ask a questions. Perhaps this suggestion is the simplest, but it is a basic social media engagement strategy that we should not ignore. In Daniel Pink’s book he also cites research that says people are more likely to support something if presented with a question. Instead of telling them the benefits, asking a question makes people come up with their own reasons for agreeing or believing in what you are selling. GRK Greek Kitchen asks simple fun questions to encourage response such as “fill in the blank,” and “what is your favorite flavor?” A nice big brand example of UGC is the “Share a Coke” campaign where the brand produced Coke bottles with customers’ names on them. Customers were asked to share the pictures of their personalized coke bottles on Twitter and other social media platforms. Coca-Cola attributes the UGC campaign to a 2% increase in U.S. sales after over a decade of declining revenues. Also check out Pantagonia’s Worn Wear website and Tumblr blog where they ask for and feature customer’s stories about their well worn Pantagonia clothing.

How is your social media pitch? Are your being too pushy or are your letting consumer’s in on your brand story? Leveraging user generated content could mean the difference between a social media flop and a block buster response.