The Rise of Content Marketing

Last week in JRM 327 we were privileged to listen to Creighton grad Danny Schreiber speak about his content marketing work at Zapier. Considering I’ve applied for several content marketing internships for this summer (which to be honest has snuck up on me like some demonic spirit out of Paranormal Activity), Danny could not have come at a more perfect time. After providing us with some background information, Danny highlighted the distinct differences between journalism and content marketing. With experience in both of these fields as well as the Creighton degree that is forever engraved on his LinkedIn account (paper résumés are on their way out anyways), Danny was clearly a credible source. In his own words, content marketing differs from journalism in that it is “measured extensively, promoted exhaustively, and SEO’d meticulously.” Yet more importantly, he outlined seven steps to producing a content marketing platform that is unique, measurable, and successful.

1)   Identify a specific topic.
2)   Determine different types of content to use.
3)   Search for ways to weave promotional material within content.
4)   Set up a simple editorial schedule.
5)   Measure gains and losses.
6)   Promote again.
7)   Always look for ways to do more.

In order to better understand what each of these steps mean, I did a little research about this budding business tactic. In essence, content marketing blends marketing, journalism, and technology to engage with customers without blatantly pestering them with traditional sales techniques. I now present to you my three favorite content marketing campaigns that I have stumbled across.

1)   Charmin: SitOrSquat

When you have to go, you have to go. Just a simple fact of life. Thanks to Charmin’s quirky app, the search for respectable public restrooms in the most trying of circumstances is no more. SitOrSquat allows you to locate and review restrooms so you can enjoy taking care of business in a cleanly manor. It even connects you to Facebook in order to maximize interaction, although I must admit I probably don’t want everyone knowing I need an app to make it to the loo.

Image from blog.clientheartbeat.com

Image from blog.clientheartbeat.com

2)   Orabrush Tongue Cleaner: Bad Breath Test

Although I find the spokesperson for this video to resemble an annoying knock-off of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother, I cannot deny that he does an excellent job in proving the purpose of a bland product with seemingly limited potential. The Orabrush is used to polish your tongue, and thus eliminate the true source of foul breath. That being said, I know several people who will be receiving an Orabrush from yours truly this holiday season.

Image form wired.com

Image form wired.com

3)   DollarShaveClub.com – Our Blades are F***ing Great

Shaving sucks. I hate it, especially considering my razors grow dull with ease as I peel my pathetic attempt at “facial hair” off my baby face twice a week. Fortunately, DollarShaveClub.com has got my back. It delivers high-quality razors to your doorstep for as little as $1 a month. And this video – well, it’s hilarious to say the least. In fact, I am seriously considering making an investment in DollarShaveClub.com to help out my bank account.

Image from thenoobdad.com

Image from thenoobdad.com

These three examples, all of which are funny, fresh, and feasible in their own respective ways, helped me to better understand Danny’s presentation on content marketing. It also opened my eyes to the creative possibilities that can stem from something as simple as basic hygiene products. I truly look forward to learning more about content marketing as it continues to grow in popularity. Now excuse me while I go brush my tongue and trim my “sideburns” in the Harper Center restroom.

The Field Trip I Kind Of, Sort Of Played Hooky From

Last week in class, we were privileged to have the opportunity to visit the Nebraska Humane Society (NHS) to listen to Creighton JM&C alum Elizabeth Hilpipre speak about her work. Unfortunately, my 1999 GMC Jimmy decided to take a day off, leaving me stranded on campus. So you must forgive me if my comments on NHS’s social media engagement are distant, distorted, or quite possibly wrong in every way, shape, and form. But hopefully that is not the case.

NHS’s online presence is strong. With approximately 6,300 tweets and 7,300 followers on Twitter and over 50,000 likes on Facebook, it’s clear that Elizabeth is thorough and consistent in her work. There are two active Twitter accounts  (@NEHumaneSociety and @NHSCats) and a Facebook page. The first thing I noticed about its Twitter account was the little puppy peering through bars like a falsely convicted prisoner. This image alone is enough to make any animal-lover drop the task at hand, and drive like Ricky Bobby to retrieve his or her new best bud. As I proceeded to scroll through the account’s tweets and photos, there were three reoccurring themes that stuck out to me, all of which play off of each other.

(1) The cute factor

Dogs and cats are cute. Everyone knows it, and very few people are capable of rejecting the “puppy face” when it’s actually on a puppy. The cute factor makes the viewer say, “AWHHHHH, THAT’S THE CUTEST PUPPY I’VE EVER SEEN! I HAVE TO HAVE HIM/HER NOW.” This is the attention-grabber that hooks viewers. It’s powerful, yet simple eye-candy.

(2) The guilt trip

While most dogs and cats possess some degree of the cute factor, abandoned dogs and cats are cuter. A lot cuter. Furthermore, we as humans are inclined to feel guilty that a creature that cute and innocent looking could be so unfortunate as to not have a true home. Thus, it only makes sense that NHS would encourage people to adopt by carefully guilt tripping its viewers via social media. Pretty straightforward but here’s an example.

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Image from @NEHumaneSociety

(3) The follow-up

Lastly, I noticed that NHS likes to interact with people who have adopted from them using “Follow Up Friday”. People can get a shout-out from NHS by posting a picture of their NHS alumni with #FollowUpFriday. This is an excellent way to show that NHS cares not only about the animals it cares for, but also the people who adopt them.

All in all, Elizabeth’s approach to social media is spot-on. Although being guilted into adopting a pet might come off as annoying or desperate to some, it is essential to keep the mission of NHS in mind – to give abandoned animals a loving home. And for that, I commend Elizabeth and the rest of NHS for their work. For those who are still opposed to pet adoption, maybe this will help. Now excuse me while I go adopt a dog.

21st Century Cartography: Twitter Mapping

To reiterate myself from previous posts, Twitter is definitely my favorite social media site. Thus, I’m confident that I am able to pinpoint several, if not all, of the six Twitter conversation crowds that have been defined by the Pew Center (what a strange name) in its Internet Research Project. The six archetypes are divided, unified, fragmented, clustered, in-hub & spoke, and out-hub & spoke. “But, Jack, what in the world does that mean?” I’ll tell you. Of the aforementioned media structures, here are the four that rule my Twitter feed.

Unified: Tight Crowd

For the record, I’m not and will never be a Minnesota Vikings fan. But judging by the amount of Vikings fans in South Dakota, I might as well be from this mystical land of way too many lakes. Needless to say, my Twitter feed is packed with Vikings chatter. No matter how horrible the Vikings perform each year, the same diehards stay true to their beloved purple and gold. How they do it, I will never fathom. Sunday after Sunday, year after year, this tight-knit group of fans takes to Twitter to cheer for, rant about, and cuss out their doomed professional football team so everyone can witness their excruciating pain. Ultimately, the rest of us are left dumbfounded as to what mysterious personality trait or, quite possibly, birth defect fuels the fiery passion of this surprisingly loyal fan base that refuses to accept any outsiders. The Vikings faithful is the epitome of a tight-knit, unified crowd.

Fragmented: Brand Clusters

There are two brands that immediately come to mind when I think of Twitter brand clusters – Apple and Starbucks. For Apple, I am primarily referring to the rise of the iPhone. There was a period in time not that long ago when ditching your dinosaur of a flip phone called for an announcement on Twitter. This was done by simply tweeting “#TeamiPhone”. While I certainly did not use this ridiculous hashtag when I made the leap from the Stone Age to the 21st, plenty of people did. My guess would be they were trying to connect with their fellow iPhone “teammates”, but what do I know. Another example of a brand cluster on Twitter is Starbucks. I think it safe to say that the average female I follow has tweeted about her tall, half-caff, soy latte at 120 degrees (yes, that’s real) at some time or another. This just goes to show that social media truly has the power to unite complete strangers over something as simple as cup of coffee.

In-Hub & Spoke: Broadcast Network

It’s March. And with March, comes madness. The season finale of college basketball is finally here, which means avid fans of the game like myself are bound to tweet about the nonstop entertainment that comes from 68 teams with a common goal – winning a national championship. While I like to flatter myself by thinking I know a great deal about basketball, there are in fact individuals out there who analyze this sport for a living. This is their time to shine. Nowadays every major sporting event provides an opportunity for celebrated sports analysts like Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless, and sports media outlets like ESPN and Fox Sports 1 to release trusted information for all to consume. Because these famed Twitter identities receive higher levels of replies, retweets, and favorites, there is very little audience interaction. In essence, this Twitter crowd is composed of the most elite sports analysts who prefer to interact with one another.

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Image from @RealSkipBayless

Out-Hub & Spoke: Support Network

When you enter Creighton’s Brandeis Dining Hall, the TV in the entry way can often be seen flaunting this mediocre lunchroom’s social media shout-outs. The vast majority are comments about last night’s artery-clogging late night meal, or today’s macaroni and cheese. However, once in a blue moon, an especially unsatisfied and/or repulsed student calls out @CreightonDining for all to see. Whether it’s the undercooked omelets in Brandeis, the ridiculous meal exchange prices in Skutt, or the caterpillar in the Becker salad bar (my personal favorite), these confrontations are always awkward and amusing. However, @CreightonDining is usually pretty good about handling the issue at hand over social media. This characteristic classifies @CreightonDining as a support network structure, at least to some extent. In sum, a portion of its Twitter activity is comprised of customer satisfaction.

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Image from @DoubleGfor3

As you can now see, twitter mapping is important for several reasons. It allows us to recognize which types of users are inclined to interact with others outside of their crowds, and which ones are not. It allows companies to decide where they should promote their products and services, and where they should not. And lastly, it allows us to pinpoint trends and points of interest using social media demographics. Overall, this was an intriguing study that will likely be utilized for many years to come.

The Backup Screen

Aside from sports, I don’t watch that much television. For TV shows I’m a Netflix guy mainly because I dislike planning my day around the boob tube. However, it is always hard not to tune in when my Twitter feed is blown up with information about a show or event. That’s when the element of curiosity enters the room and proceeds to taunt me like Richard Sherman. And if I’m doing something important like studying or eating white cheddar popcorn, chances are I’m going to pause the task at-hand to get up and turn the TV on (our remote is broken). This development in social media usage is easy and effective for any televised occasion, especially when holiday-esque events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics roll around.

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That being said, I definitely participate in this second-screen trend. I usually find it worthwhile to check out the variety of reactions and comments that are tweeted by the accounts I follow. At the same time, I usually tweet once or twice during a game – maybe even three times if I’m feeling especially outspoken. My most recent second-screen Twitter activity was during the Creighton game earlier today. McDermott tied his season high of 39 points as the 18th ranked Bluejays thumped the 6th ranked Villanova Wildcats. Although I only tweeted once, I easily could’ve tweeted enough to lose a substantial amount of followers considering how exceptional we played in the biggest game of the season thus far. I also keep close tabs on the team’s Twitter account so I can see the game-day graphics and promotional material I put together.

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As great as this trend is, there is one major drawback that comes to mind. Unfortunately, it facilitates cyber conflict, especially among rival fans and players. Because social media is so dangerously accessible, infuriated viewers can post their unfiltered thoughts in a matter of seconds for all of humanity to see. Thus, athletes are frequently force-fed excessive amounts of explicit hate mail. Besides this, I think this phenomenon is a valuable promotional tactic that can be utilized by just about any show, event, or company to increase viewership.­

A link to the game-day graphic I threw together yesterday afternoon… http://instagram.com/p/kfQDStAsL0/

And more on this trend. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffbercovici/2013/10/10/the-second-screen-phenomenon-is-much-bigger-than-twitter-and-facebook/

Why Wasting Time Online is Hardly a Waste At All

I have always spent a considerable amount of time online. But how much of that time is spent in a productive manner is certainly up for debate. I joined Facebook my sophomore year of high school, and Twitter the following year. Like many people, these two sites comprise the vast majority of my non-academic online activity. However, I have recently started using LinkedIn, which I find myself checking almost just as frequently in order to increase my connections and endorsements. While I have been encouraged by my professors to utilize other social networking sites like Google +, Instagram, and the uncomfortably feminine Pinterest, my interest in doing so is currently nowhere to be found (I have a feeling it will turn up soon though).

While the majority of my time wasted online comes from social media, I have always been inclined to excessively Google miscellaneous subjects. In my mind, this rather meaningless hobby has had more of an impact on my life than any social media site has had to date. This trend started when I was in sixth grade, also known as the Era of AOL Instant Messenger. I have been a basketball fanatic since day one, so naturally I spent a great deal of time reading about my favorite players like Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade. But I didn’t stop at player statistics – soon I was researching their hometowns and neighborhoods. Part of the reason I sought out this information was due to its foreign nature. As a Caucasian youth growing up in the bland ole state of South Dakota, I found the gang violence, drug trafficking, and poverty of some of these areas to be intriguing. It was a way of life I had never been exposed to (thankfully), and it helped me develop a newfound level of respect and appreciation for some of my favorite world-class athletes who had triumphed trying circumstances to reach the pinnacle of the sports world. As you might imagine, this interest in various sociological environments was eventually appeased – although I still find this subject to be very interesting today. And although I cannot confirm that it has helped me in any tangible manner, it opened my eyes at an early age to the intricate diversity of our world. In doing so, I have grown to take immense pride in my ability to relate to and sympathize with others.

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This phase of online wandering paved the way for my next subject of recreational research – art. My first passion, before basketball, was in fact drawing. My artistic pursuits evolved from Calvin and Hobbes-inspired cartooning at a young age to realistic drawings of just about anything and everything early in my high school career. I took every drawing class available, and practiced religiously at home. By sophomore year, I was set on becoming an artist. I was confident in my abilities, and wanted nothing more than to advance my artistic capacity. However, my parents were wary, as they did not want their first-born son to surrender his promising academic potential for an unstable future as a starving artist. While I spent most of my time searching countless artists and their work online, I eventually began to explore career alternatives in the creative industry. Fortunately, It didn’t take long for me to pinpoint advertising and graphic design as my niche.

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Yes, social media is essential, especially in my field of study. And contrary to popular belief, wasting time on it can be beneficial. However, this pastime cannot compete with the personal knowledge and growth I have acquired from countless hours of simply Googling whatever sparks my interest.

A look at two of the NBA’s premiere guards and the harsh environment they escaped… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cydAKyfJoOE

And some facts about the site I am most scared of joining. http://socialmediatoday.com/gillpolard/1839431/5-pinterest-stats-consider

Social Media Evaluation

So I googled my name. The results weren’t all that exciting. My Facebook came up first, followed by a comment on CU Confessions about my friend and I being “the hottest roommate duo on campus” (obviously a joke). Other relevant results included this blog and a cross country profile from high school that I definitely did not make, along with a Prezi on Hamlet I did for an English class. Pretty random stuff.

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That being said, I need to step my social media presence up. I am consistently active on Twitter, but for some reason my account did not come up. Yet for now, I’m perfectly fine with that. While I can see how Twitter is a valuable networking tool, I personally feel that in this point in my life that is not what I need to use it for. For me it is simply recreational. I have just under 400 followers, which isn’t too shabby if you ask me. In order to make my brand more professional, it is essential that I do away with the procrastination and finally make a LinkedIn profile. In my opinion, this is the most important social media tool a college student can utilize.

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My Klout score was a 28, which wasn’t exactly a surprise considering I’m only active on two social media sites. 62% of my social media activity comes from Twitter, while the other 38% is from Facebook. I’m curious to see how this score will raise as new Google +, Instagram, and LinkedIn accounts are factored in.

 

Why Klout isn’t all it’s chalked up to be… http://www.forbes.com/fdc/welcome_mjx.shtml

And how college students like myself can get the most of Twitter… http://www.business2community.com/social-media/5-ways-college-students-can-professionally-use-twitter-to-grow-their-personal-brand-042626#!ufDol

 

In One Sentence – Me

In my mind, accurately summarizing the person I am is challenging. But in one sentence? Now that’s just nonsense, plain and simple. How am I supposed to jam 19 years of existence into one measly thought? I almost convinced myself that this was a meaningless activity, especially considering I’m still quite unsure of whom I truly am. Additionally, I have a tendency to be long-winded and wordy when I write because my jumbled thoughts have a way of spilling out of my fingertips. Once I start cruising through a sentence, it is often tough for me to decide when to hit the brakes. Making matters worse, I am extremely indecisive (if only you could witness the struggle I must combat in the Taco Bell drive-thru). Thus, I was slightly concerned that devising a meaningful, yet concise personal sentence would fall somewhere between the categories of rocket science and Guitar Hero on level expert. Much to my surprise, this was not the case.

After giving it some more thought, I realized there was one personal trait of mine that helps garner my success despite some of my aforementioned shortcomings. Since I was in diapers, I have always paid great attention to detail. When I was three years old, I had a collection of matchbox cars. For some reason, I found great joy in lining them up around the edge of the coffee table to form a perfect square. My grandpa noticed I always made sure they were as even and straight as possible, so he began shifting the cars slightly when I wasn’t looking to see if I would notice. Time and time again, I did. Every single time. From that point on it was readily apparent to my family that they had a perfectionist on their hands.

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Now there are numerous other examples of my perfectionist tendencies, some of which might come off as surefire acts of OCD; but in the words of Kevin Hart, “ain’t nobody got time for that.” That being said, my personal sentence must somehow correlate with my quest for perfection in just about everything I do. Although this personality trait can be restricting at times, I have come to realize it is a great asset to possess. In the world of journalism where the power of credible information triumphs all, it is essential that technology and social media be utilized as accurately and effectively as possible. As simple as these budding practices may seem, sloppy and unfiltered information that is presented for all of humanity to digest can lead to serious trouble. We see this occur time and time again, with everyone from celebrities to sixth-graders.

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Luckily, the importance of accuracy will always remain the same in my field of study: advertising and graphic design. As a visual communications major, information must be clear and concise so the audience can receive the intended message. Thus, I am confident I will be able to succeed in this line of work because my work ethic simply will not allow me to settle for “good enough”. Rather, I will never stop working to reach perfection – that is, my personal vision of perfection, although I’m well aware this will someday undoubtedly become ‘my boss’s vision of perfection’. Nevertheless, I have come to understand that there is nothing wrong with being a perfectionist as long as I identify in advance what constitutes perfect so I can set my eyes on the prize. With no further ado, my personal sentence goes like this:

I am constantly in search of achieving my own vision of perfection in everything I do. 

For my fellow perfectionists, this is worth a glance. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/06/why-perfectionism-is-ruin_n_4212069.html

And here’s something you can certainly shake your head at – the biggest social media blunders in the business world at 2013. http://www.businessinsider.com/10-worst-social-media-marketing-fails-of-2013-2013-11?op=1

Hold the Mirror Pics, Please

The social media site I have the greatest presence on is without a doubt Twitter. My tweets are a way to express my opinions on whatever is currently occupying my scattered brain. Occasionally I will quote my friends if they say something funny or stupid. Some people have told me my tweets are very funny, but I like to assume those people are lying to keep my ego down. I made my account private in high school because family members (both immediate and distant) were spending way too much time sorting through and criticizing my tweets; that grew old rather quick. In addition, I knew I would likely need to make my account private when I began searching for employment. So for the sake of this class, I will probably just create another account. While I do have a Facebook account, I barely use it at this point. I haven’t posted a status in close to two years, but I check it occasionally to look at photos of family and friends or photos that I have been tagged in.

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That being said, there are several aspects of social media I dislike. I don’t like “selfies”, especially when a mirror is included. My hatred for this type of post is exemplified when the aforementioned mirror is found in a gym. Nothing says, “Hey look at me, I’m a tool!” more than taking a mirror pic at the gym. Another thing I dislike about social media, specifically Facebook, is random friend and follower requests. Now I know it may be rather difficult to believe, but you have to trust me when I tell you I’m not nearly as cool as I appear. If we haven’t met in person, chances are we probably don’t need to be meeting online. Fortunately, nothing about social media, including these two pet peeves, make me nervous. Ironically, I just did a speech last semester for COM 152 about social media addiction and the fear of missing out (also known as FOMO). Fortunately, I do not possess either of these conditions.

Although I once worshipped Facebook and wanted absolutely nothing to do with Twitter, my favorite social media site is now definitely the latter. Furthermore, I am looking forward to joining LinkedIn because I’ve been thinking a lot about internships and career opportunities this year. Also, I am pleased with the amount of blog posts we will be having. I made a blog for the class “Introduction to Mass Communication Technology” my freshman year, but we weren’t assigned that many posts. I returned to this blog over fall break because I had absolutely nothing to do, but after I few posts I parted ways with it once again. I have come to understand that blogging is surprisingly hard to do on a regular basis, at least in my opinion. In essence, that is what I would like to get out of this class – a solid LinkedIn profile and an impressive blog, both of which I can use as powerful networking tools as well as ways to demonstrate my strong written skills. Overall, I am looking forward to this class and its variety of outcomes.

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And for more on social media…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/annoying-facebook-behavior_b_4081038.html

http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/20-critical-dos-and-donts-of-linkedin-networking.html