Blog Archives

Keeping Up with the Olympics, but Not in Real Time

Let me be honest. I’ve watched less than 30 minutes of the Olympics. And I know I’m not alone. An informal poll I took of friends and family shows that roughly half are in the same boat as me and, according to the Hollywood Reporter, Nielsen reported 20.8 million viewers on the evening of Feb. 12 – a 29 percent drop from the comparable night during Vancouver 2010.

While viewership is down, however, everyone seems to be talking about the Olympics – Germany’s attire at the Opening Ceremonies; the Russian Police Choir totally nailing Daft Punk; some guy named iPod winning gold with a trick called the YOLO flip. So where’s the disconnect between interest in the games and actually watching them?

In 2012, Darren Burden, the general manager of news and digital publishing for Fairfax, posited, “News you read is different than news you say you read. The former is driven by what you want or need to know and the latter by what you want your friends to think.” While Burden had a point, I believe there’s something more than that going on here.

We’re inundated by interesting content from a multitude of print, broadcast, digital and social channels. We constantly struggle to consume it – and comment on it – in real time. However the benefit of so many channels is a repackaging of the content into memes, snackable videos and short comments – a sort of “content once removed” phenomenon. To riff on Burden’s quote, “News you read is different than news you can talk about. The former is driven by what you actually need to know and the latter by what you can learn from what your friends read.”

Going back to the Olympics, I don’t feel like I’ve missed anything by not paying close attention to the games, or the direct coverage of them, because 50 percent of my friends and family have been. And by extension, their Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines and Tumblrs have been full of photos of door-smashing bobsledders and videos of skiers being taken out by Imperial AT-AT Walkers. So while I didn’t catch the Opening Ceremonies live, I know that Germany may or may not have been making a statement with their uniforms and the Olympic rings may or may not have failed to light (depending on where you watched).

And I know that whatever happens this week, I won’t feel left out if I don’t catch it in real time.

Super Bowl Social and the Curse of the Second Album

On February 2, the Super Bowl descends upon New York. Pressure is building. Expectations are high. New York City is setting her table.

Sure, it’s the premier sporting event on the NFL calendar but Super Bowl XLVIII also marks the anniversary of Oreo’s pivotal blackout tweet (hard to remember we’re talking about a single tweet) responsible for “the next Oreo” battle cry bouncing around Madison Avenue.

Every major live event – be it music, entertainment or sports – provides a stage for brands to reach consumers. The recent Grammy’s proved no exception, and Arby’s arguably “nailed it,” capitalizing on a fortunate wardrobe choice by Pharrell Williams with a simple, sophisticated message:


The tweet even attracted kudos from Pepsi and Hyundai with responses that were both clever and classy, as reported by Adweek’s David Griner. That’s 83,741 retweets and 48,902 favorites, as of January 30.

But, back to the Super Bowl. In the competitive battle for social media glory, there are effectively two camps: those agencies with major brands as client/s that are looking to leverage a paid TV spot in the Super Bowl with social execution and those that are looking to piggyback on real-time social discussion on behalf of their client/s.

In the paid corner: Brands pay a reported $4 million on average for a 30-second spot (here’s a list of who has bought what in the Super Bowl according to Advertising Age), and that doesn’t include the sizable budgets needed to concept a killer Super Bowl spot, pay for stellar talent and production. The list goes on and on.

In the earned corner: The cost to have your real-time social team plugged in and ready to leap is miniscule in comparison. Sure, there’s work involved in having a solid social strategy in place including a crystal clear understanding of brand messaging and a lean, agile approval process, but as we’ve seen with the Oreo and Arby’s examples, there’s only so much content preparation you can do.

The standout performers from this month’s Golden Globes, as rounded up by Digiday’s Saya Weissman, were L’Oreal and Citi Bike. Their tweets were cute and on brand but felt “canned,” and the results – 9 retweets/14 favorites and 92 retweets/71 favorites, respectively – show it.

Perhaps what Oreo and Arby’s have demonstrated is that the only real way to make a huge impact using social media is to have a crackerjack copywriter that knows your brand at the ready to create quick, smart quips aside a robust monitoring system and streamlined approval procedure.

In any case, the eyes of those interested in marketing and advertising will be on Oreo, eagerly watching its Twitter and Instagram feeds to see what it serves up this year. In the cutthroat world of Super Bowl marketing, let’s hope it’s not the Lemmings to their 1984.

Marketers: Think Twice Before Sending a “Super” Tweet this Sunday

It’s been almost one year since Oreo came up with “The Tweet Heard Round the World.” When it comes to social media marketing, we still hold the Oreo example up as the Gold Standard – the cream filling of the crop if you will. The reason why shouldn’t be surprising. Since last year’s blackout-induced tweet, brands and individuals alike have tried to jump on buzz-worthy topics in an attempt to become part of the conversation in real-time. And, by and large, they have failed. Today’s call to action? To quote former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, “Don’t press send.”

As an industry, can we agree to be more judicious in our use of real-time marketing? Let’s not try to force lightning into the bottle. Examples of #TwitterFails are so common that BuzzFeed could have a section dedicated to them. And it isn’t limited to sporting events or real-time news.

AT&T was forced to apologize for a fairly innocuous tweet in remembrance of September 11. SpaghettiO’s raised the ire of the Twittersphere when it asked followers to “take a moment to remember #PearlHarbor.” While neither brand tweet was offensive, the general feeling was the brands were using national tragedy remembrances as marketing hooks and inserting themselves into conversations where they weren’t a natural fit.

This is a call to action to rethink real-time tweeting and consider your long-term marketing strategy instead. What is my bigger brand message? Does this ladder up to a longer-term strategy? Does it make sense for my auto/soda/beer/dog food company to be tweeting about Peyton Manning shivering in the cold? If the answer to any of those questions is no, don’t press send. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, “better not to post a meme and be thought a fool than to hit send and remove all doubt.”

So to all of the marketers and brand managers and social media teams and anyone else who will be watching the Super Bowl and waiting for this year’s magic moment, take a moment to learn from those that have come before you. That doesn’t mean scrapping your social media strategy altogether, but be aware of the pitfalls of jumping into situations with content that isn’t true to your brand. Everyone wants to be the next “dunk in the dark,” but no one should risk being the next #TwitterFail.

Ten Seconds Or Less

SnapChat is like The Little Engine That Could. Its rivals pulled out all of the stops to buy it, duplicate it, replace it and eradicate it – yet the network is still popular.

What’s interesting about SnapChat is its perception, which, for lack of a better term, snaps back and forth in terms of good and bad press.  The early days of SnapChat led many to believe it’s purely an app for all kids to “sext.” And every few weeks, there’s some sort of SnapChat privacy story – various articles on how safe those snaps are (or aren’t,) an actual data breach, or how legal the content of snaps may be.  In a post-Snowden world, these types of privacy breaches would be a kiss of death. Yet the network continues to persevere for its users.

Last week, SnapChat’s founders were on the cover of Forbes’ 30 under 30 – among other things, sharing how Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg essentially bullied the founders to sell to him or face extinction through Facebook’s version of the app Poke. As we now know, Poke fizzled and SnapChat thrives.

Now the startup, like many other networks in the space, is looking to monetize through advertising.  Yet the network needs to find a genuine way to make these ads happen, with content that people actually want to see.  HBO, always one of the boundary pushers in new avenues for social advertising, launched a SnapChat account tied to its popular show “Girls.” The extension is perfect for the show, as one can easily imagine the characters attempting to decipher what their potential suitors are implying by snapping emojis of pandas and guns.

While many critics, professional and amateur, are quick to remind everyone that SnapChat’s founders each passed on more than $750 million in Zuckerberg’s buyout offer, the network’s popularity among users is as great as it’s even been.  It goes to show that a brand can overcome bad press and a potentially bad reputation by sticking to the company’s brand and messaging. Yet so far, SnapChat may need to work on its sincerity when accepting its flaws, and there have been more than a few instances recently.  One could chalk up this up to the brashness of Silicon Valley hotheads – call it growing pains. Finding your voice and credibility is not easily done in today’s hyper reactive world – particularly when there can be so much on the line – and minor stories can explode into “national scandals.” That’s not to say every brand can survive bad press; it requires buzz, a dedicated following and a little bit of luck – but it is indeed possible.

We’re looking forward to following SnapChat’s business evolution in the coming weeks and months.

The Holy Grail of Social Media: Creating Relevant Content in Real Time

The curious thing about social media marketing is that there is no right way to do things. There’s no wrong way, either. It’s still very much the Wild West – with no Sheriff in sight.

I wrote earlier this year about the Oreo “Dunk in the Dark” tweet as the most-talked-about branding execution of the Super Bowl. This one tweet in fact amplified the conversation around “Real-Time Social Marketing” – with nearly every conference of the year including some panel discussion about the hot topic.

However, real time marketing isn’t new; we’ve just never had the tools to make it as easy as it is now. If anything, Disney recognized the power of original, brilliant real-time marketing during major events – including the Super Bowl – before social media existed. For instance, the “I’m going to Disney World!” spots, which would air immediately following national sports championships with in-game footage and jubilant cry, represents a simpler era in real time marketing. 

Times have changed, and it’s now much simpler and less expensive to create content in real time that can be buzz worthy. Yet, as brands try to insert themselves into the conversation of non-branded events, one has to ask if they should. Everything from the birth of Prince George, to the anniversary of September 11, to the finale of Breaking Bad sees brands trying to catch the lightning-in-a-bottle effect that Oreo captured in February. Such activity begs the question though: What is the exact relevance?

I’m not suggesting brands should stop, because it’s well known they won’t. Brands must, however, think about what makes sense for what it already stands for as well as its target demographic. Like PR, there is a time and place to be part of the conversation, but it shouldn’t be for every single event. For instance, Chips Ahoy tweeting about The Walking Dead just doesn’t fit in.

What might make more sense is for Hyundai, which is a sponsor for The Walking Dead, to tweet about its car and marketing campaign tied to the show. While Chips Ahoy is trying to be a part of the buzz without being an official sponsor, it doesn’t come across as an authentic, unique and relevant integration. Instead it feels like a brand forcing itself on you and, in some circumstances, embarrassing themselves.

At the end of the day, the Holy Grail of digital, social, and really all marketing/PR initiatives is to achieve the “viral” recognition – for the right reasons. So very few achieve it, and more brands achieve it for the wrong reasons.  While that doesn’t mean not to try, it needs to be an acceptance of all the varying factors that play into viral success – many of which are completely out of your control. There is no one formula for success (or failure) but with a little bit of luck, you might just pull off something amazing.  

Facebook follows the trend and launches clickable hashtag

This Post comes from Melanie Seasons, Community Innovation Director at our sister agency Eulogy! London. Melanie covered the news of Facebook introducing the #hashtag, and how it can benefit brands. This post was originally shared via E!’s blog.

Facebook announced that it will launch a hashtag functionality, allowing users and brands to join in wider conversations and see trending topics around the globe.

Adding the “#” symbol in front of a word or phrase, will turn the text in to a hyperlink and bring up a separate feed of what other users are saying about the same topic.

This will be visible for all Facebook users and brands, even those that are not connected to a user or following a certain brand. There will be an option for users to opt out of the trending activity in the privacy settings, if they do not wish to join wider conversations.

The hashtag was originally launched on micro site, Twitter and is also present on Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, Tumblr and LinkedIn.

Unlike Twitter, the Facebook hashtag will not be available for brands to use as an advertising tool and pay for promoted trends or tweets. This could however, roll out in the future after users and brands become familiar with the new tool.

What are the plus points?

We think this could be a great opportunity for brands to join in natural conversations such as #Father’s Day or #Christmas and have their products seen by new customers. It could also open the doors for people to ‘like’ new brand pages while increasing engagement on statuses as people have a shared interest in the topics being discussed, so are more likely to interact. And from a storytelling point of view (so important for brands), it will hopefully keep users inside Facebook for longer as they explore trending topics and read news articles relating to their shared conversations.

What are the drawbacks?

There are potentially a few. Generally, any changes to Facebook are often met with scepticism. While it’s not a totally alien process, users do not associate the function with the platform. If promoted trends do launch on Facebook in the future, brands could face further criticism on their content appearing in personal news feeds and trending lists.

What do we think?

Criticisms aside, we think this is a great function for Facebook to introduce. Hashtags have become centric to social behaviour. Once the initial launch negativity wears off and users become more familiar with the action, it will be largely accepted and a great opportunity for brands to be seen organically and not hidden outside the main newsfeed.

What’s next? With Facebook finally joining the hashtag club, it can’t be too far away to see an aggregator that measures the volume of hashtags being used on all social platforms at any given time.

SXSW 2013: Hey You—I mean, Hey Big Fish

South by Southwest is finally upon us. We at DGC know that conference attendees have a hearty appetite for the latest and most innovative social media technologies. In fact, many of the social apps we all know and love were first introduced at SXSWi, including GroupMe, a group messaging app that later sold to Skype; Foursquare, a location-based social network; and even Twitter, just to name a few.



If you’re not able to attend, there’s a new tool that can still put you at the heart of SXSWi’s social conversations without ever having to leave the comfort of your room. Say hello to Hey Big Fish, a new web app that helps identify the trends, people and topics that carry the most influence at a large event, like SXSWi.

Hey Big Fish helps users discover the hottest topics, trending news and field experts by analyzing Twitter activity, measuring influence based on peer engagement and showcasing a ranking of people, topics and content in a simple dashboard.

The app helps those at the conference  too by finding people with whom to interact and allowing them to discover the topics and influencers that matter most to them.

Here are some tips for how to best use Hey Big Fish:

  • Click here to access the mobile Web app:
  • Use the platform to discover the most buzzed-about news in general or on specific topics of interest, such as Web design or big data.
  • The platform will help you learn who is the most influential on specific topics
  • Start a conversation with someone new
  • See where you rank in the SXSWi pond and track your rise as you engage

While Hey Big Fish is still in its infancy, we’re excited to see this app take off with a little earned media. Bottom line, use Hey Big Fish to join the conversation via any relevant SXSWi hashtag (#SXSW, #SXSWi, etc.) and track your influence—or your brand’s influence—at the event.

You can bet we’ll be tracking DGC’s influence! Will you? Let us know in the comments below.

Super Bowl XLVII – Cut the Lights, Cue the Tweets

Super Bowl hype has become almost formulaic over the years. In the weeks leading up to the actual game, many marketers release their TV spots in increments online for everyone to get an early look. Then there’s the game, which always has an exhilarating halftime show. The commercials are discussed ad nauseum for days afterward. It’s clear the formula is working. This year the Bowl didn’t break its own record, but still reached the 100 million viewer threshold. The only real variable is the game itself, which was another exciting finish featuring the extremely rare voluntary safety play.

When the lights went out in the third quarter,  we reached uncharted territory; the largest event of the year was put on hold due to a power outage, and the networks, players, fans in the stands and the viewing audience were scratching our heads. Some ads like Bud Light’s Lucky Chair were run again to fill the gap. Many took to social networks.

My personal Twitter feed was full of jokes – the most common being Bane / The Dark Knight Rises references, Beyonce’s “second” performance, and crude Ray Lewis jokes – but the tweets that stood out the most were from brands.

oreo tweet

Oreo stole the show by following the brand’s “Whisper Fight” spot with a tweet that perfectly inserted their product into the immediate chaos of the blackout.  Other kudos go to Audi, PBS, and Tide. I’ll even give credit to Calvin Klein, though that Vine was for a different target audience than the one I belong to, but I digress.

While massive marketing events like the Super Bowl seem so planned out from every possible angle, the lesson learned – for PR professionals, advertisers, social media gurus, and others, is to always be ready to make the most of the unexpected and quickly adapt to the unknown. Of course,  that is much easier said than done but these brands showed us it’s possible, and can help change brand perception with just 140 characters and a mouse click.

Let the countdown for Super Bowl XLVIII begin. We hope MetLife Stadium in New Jersey can withstand the high power consumption that the Super Bowl demands.

Timehop: A Walk Down Social Memory Lane

timehopSocial media content is always begging the question, what’s next? Tweets, videos, Instagrams, blog posts, it’s all very real-time. Rarely is there a look back, unless it is part of a year in review style piece that we’ve seen all too much this time of year.

But nostalgia is powerful. It brings back memories, emotions, and can remind you of the good and bad times in your life as well as helping inform your future decisions. The proliferation of online content makes it easy to revisit days, months, and even years gone by.

There’s an app called Timehop I’ve been using for a while that I wanted to share. Formerly known as “Four Square and Seven Years Ago,” this app digs into your old tweets, Facebook pictures, check-ins, images taken on your phone, and more to give you a glimpse into your online activity on this particular day through the years.

It makes it easy for me to go back and see what I shared on this day last year, the year prior, all the way back to my social media infancy six years ago and see what (regretful) shenanigans I was up to in college.

A lot of my shares are related to music, sports, or TV. Most mornings I check in with TimeHop to see where I was mentally and reflect on how different I am now.

Using TimeHop makes me think more now before I share. For example, do I really need to tweet about Bruce Springsteen every day? While I stand behind every Springsteen tweet I have sent, there are times after TimeHopping where I ask myself “Was I thinking before I hit tweet?!”

We’ve got to go Back to the Future

We’re in the business of reputation and software like Timehop allows seamless access to your past like never before. It provides a history of not just your reputation today, but your reputation from years back. For some, that can be dangerous territory (thankfully, I’m pretty clean.)

For brands, Timehop can serve as a way to easily access stories and work shared over social in the past making the life of a community manager easier. Perhaps there are opportunities to revisit that content and update it for today, or even use it as a reflection piece? If you’re in the business of predicting trends, how did you do?

Timehop also breathes pragmatism into a somewhat overused buzz word in “Big Data” by allowing brands to tap into users’ archives of shared content. Did you tweet about going skiing last winter? A ski company could offer you a deal on another trip. Got a new iPad this day last year? iPad case companies could suggest you buy a new case. The issue of privacy obviously comes up, but there’s certainly an opportunity if it is done in an authentic manner.

As with many tech products, you only get out of it as much as you put in. For those that invest the time, Timehop offers a unique look down social-memory lane that can help you improve your content moving forward. Download Timehop for iPhone [non iPhone-users can still use the e-mail version.]

A Social Media Life – Through the Lens of Vizify

Earlier in the year, we were introduced to Vizify, a content aggregator that visualizes who you are through the content you share on your social networks.

Seems simple enough – with so many social platforms for you to express yourself, and with digital data doubling every two years, this tool lets people easily “see” the highlights.

We were reminded of Vizify through Twitter’s 2012 Year in Review, a comprehensive look back at what made news through the year.  The two tech companies have worked together to create a “Your Year on Twitter” feature, showcasing the words we tweeted the most. Some of the highlights won’t surprise you – mine certainly didn’t – but what was interesting to see was the volume with which things were tweeted within a specific time.

Below is a snapshot of @digennaro’s twitter through 2012.

While most of our words fit within our vertical, notice how all of our 63 #CannesLions tweets were within the month surrounding the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity?

Facebook also rounded up their biggest trends – and yours – in one handy place, with their “2012 Year In Review” while Google showed us what the 10 most Google’d things of 2012 were (cue guilty curiosities about Whitney Houston, Gangnam Style and Kate Middleton).

While we at DGC enjoyed taking this look back at our social chatter (and are upset at the lack of “Call Me Maybe” search queries!), we also used this opportunity to become more familiar with Vizify for our personal presences.

We like Vizify’s capabilities but believe some of the features in terms of images and quotes could use some tweaking before it becomes the “digital version” of yourself.

What do you think? Try it out for yourself and let us know in the comments!


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