Monday, March 26, 2018 by Shayla Price
5 of Our Favorite Easter Eggs Hidden on the InternetEaster egg hunts aren’t just offline. When it comes to having fun, there’s enough room to spread the excitement online. But in a different way. In this case, Easter eggs are hidden messages or secret features embedded in your favorite products or websites. Some are easy to spot, while others will have you doing a little research to find them. “Easter eggs are fun and produce a ‘WOW’ effect. This delight forms a memorable connection between the brand and its users through a shared understanding not privy to everyone,” writes Ryan Hoover, founder of ProductHunt. Join the fun and make brand-specific secret messages for your consumers. Get inspired to create your own Easter eggs with these five examples below.
1. Coca-ColaTraditional Easter egg hunts are all about creating memories with your family and friends. On a Saturday afternoon, you get together to find treasures hidden around your yard or in the community. That hunt brings you joy and inspires you to keep searching for the concealed egg. When it comes to online Easter eggs, the same principle holds true. Your goal is to recreate a setting where consumers can locate undisclosed messages. Before you start developing a full-blown plan, it’s important to note that your Easter egg doesn’t have to be elaborate. Don’t try to build an entire treasure map for your consumers. Keep it simple. You can aim to place messages in unlikely places. Sometimes the obvious is harder for people to find. For instance, Coca-Cola designed their logo within their website’s source code. It’s a unique way to brand themselves. Plus, it’s a neat way to hide an Easter egg in (almost) plain sight. Use your existing resources to create special Easter eggs for your followers. Create a secret code with your tweets, or place odd images around your site. Your business can bring the tradition of the Easter egg hunt online. Work with your team to brainstorm ideas that match your consumers’ interests.
2. GoogleEaster egg hunts offline aren’t always about the actual hunt. If you participate in a community gathering, you usually get opportunities to participate in other activities. There’s the musical chairs game, the face painting by local artists, and the photos with a big bunny. These interactive experiences become etched in people’s memories, and they love sharing these happenings with others. In a similar way, your online Easter egg should be a shareable moment. You want consumers excited to tell their friends about it (or at least give their friends clues to find it on their own). That’s why Google’s word search is so cool. When users search for the word “askew,” the page actually demonstrates the word’s definition. The page slightly tilts. Try it and see it for yourself! Are there ways for your team to hide Easter eggs in your product? Can you tweak your code to perform a specific action? These types of Easter eggs add relevancy to your product. It shows your brand’s personality and that you can have fun with your customers. Moreover, it gives your fans a shareable moment. They will feel inclined to tell your latest secret to others—meaning more audience engagement for your brand.
3. BuzzfeedNostalgia is big business these days. From retailers to television networks, companies are rekindling the past for their consumers. These brand campaigns trigger the good ol’ days. Taking a trip down memory lane can lead fans to think about their first crush or their first school award. The brand’s main objective is to attach that consumer’s joyous feeling with their product. Lisa Hephner, vice president of knowledge at PaySimple, offers her take on the subject: “Just remember, the key to a successful Easter Egg campaign (as with a successful Easter Egg confection) is to leave a good taste in your customers’ mouths that will not only strengthen their loyalty to your brand, but will also encourage them to share their experience, and high opinion of your company, with others.” The Konami Code is a cheat code that appeared in 1980s video games. By pressing the sequence [up,up,down,down,left,right,left,right, B, A] on the game controller, users could enable a cheat or other effects. BuzzFeed brought the nostalgia of this cheat code to life. To access their Easter egg, visitors must type the code on their keyboards. Go ahead and try it now! It’s your turn to give consumers the chance to reminisce. Explore your options to lean on nostalgia for your next Easter egg.
4. Black Acre Brewing Co.While Easter eggs reveal secret messages, you also may approach it as a way to joke with your customers. It’s another opportunity to spotlight the human side of your brand. Whether it’s on Twitter or a commercial, companies are designing unique ways to add humor to the customer experience. There’s the fast food chain Wendy’s roasting their followers and competitors. And then there’s the candy bar Snickers with their “hangry” campaign. Humor lightens the mood. It’s a vehicle to draw awareness to your brand. So sprinkling a few jokes or comedic moments in your Easter eggs makes sense. Check out Black Acre Brewing Co.’s Easter egg. When prompted about age, visitors have two options: I Am Under 21 or I Am 21 Or Older. By selecting the former option, viewers get entertained by a dancing He-Man loop. Be careful about how you insert humor into your Easter egg campaigns. Stay away from controversial topics, like religion and politics. You want nice, family-friendly comedy. Ready to get some laughs? Start writing down your best jokes for your Easter eggs.
5. Google ImagesThe foundation of Easter egg hunts centers around fun. You want people to appreciate the games and gain excitement. In business, we refer to this journey as the customer experience. Companies strive every day to develop campaigns to satisfy their audience’s needs. When proposing ideas for your Easter eggs, step into the customer’s mindset. Think about building an experience that will delight them. You may even need to build an entirely new feature from scratch! Google Images highlights this approach with their hidden game. If you type “Atari Breakout” into the image search bar, the game pops up for you to play. Whether your Easter egg hunt is difficult or easy, you want the reward to be worth it. Olsy Sorokina, a contributor to the HootSuite blog, agrees: “A big reason behind the Internet Easter eggs’ appeal is the same one that drives kids to search for painted eggs and candy—the thrill of the hunt, and the reward that comes at the end.” Make your Easter egg an integral part of your customer experience. If you got the resources, build something new for fans to play.
More Fun OnlineWho said Easter egg hunts were only for kids? You can create online fun for consumers of all ages. Write a hidden message in your website code. Tweak your product to perform a secret action. Or develop a new game for your audience. Create your own adventure. Happy hunting!
Thursday, March 15, 2018 by Shayla Price
5 April Fools’ Promotion Ideas for Your Online BusinessLet the pranks begin! It’s that time of year again. April Fools’ Day is the moment to give your brand a playful attitude, while driving traffic to your business website. “Marketers are typically a creative bunch who spend much of their time finding ways to position products or services to their audience, so why not take advantage of April Fools’ Day to not only have a little bit of fun, but to draw attention by making others see a not-so-serious side of the brands we represent?” writes Michael Ellis, marketing and public relations consultant. Do something different this year. Check out these five examples for your April Fools’ promotion ideas.
1. ExpediaApril Fools’ Day is a celebration of jokes. And as an adult, it’s one of the few times in the year where you can be a kid again. With that childlike spirit, your team can create hilarious pranks on your consumers. One approach is to use your imagination. The challenge is to not only think outside the box, but also to dream up an entirely new box. So, don’t limit your ideas to something practical. You can completely develop a new universe, like the comic books. The unbelievable is ripe for a good laugh. The Expedia team accomplished to do just that. With the ongoing talk of space travel, this traveling site thought it would be fun to create flights to—you guessed it—Mars! Expedia spoofed their own promo language, using “No Interplanetary Booking Fees!” The details of the eye-catching prank also included hotels on Mars, savings over $3 trillion dollars, and a limited-time sale for the entire Earth. Your team can take a similar route. Experiment with ideas in science fiction movies or combine two unlikely subjects into one crazy product. It’s not always about being laughing-on-the-floor funny. Crafting up the impossible also makes for good consumer amusement.
2. Bloomingdale’sLaunching a new product is a huge endeavor. Your team coordinates with marketing, sales, and product to execute a flawless campaign. And it makes sense! You’re putting in the work to get more customers. Elliot Volkman, a digital marketing manager at Blue Acorn, provides his perspective: “Beyond optimization tactics and amazing designs, one of the most effective ways to drive customers to buy from an eCommerce site is through marketing campaigns. From personalized emails to connecting social media posts with a specific holiday, brands can enter organic conversations that their customers are already having." This same technique is useful for your April Fools’ prank, too. If time permits, you can develop a new product along with its own marketing campaign. Yes, I mean the works! Be audacious with fake press releases, customer testimonials, and online advertisements. Bloomingdale's accepted this challenge by developing three fake fragrances. The retailer took it a step further with an actual video. And of course, their team posted the video ad on Facebook where it received 38,000 views. Do what you do best. Launch a product from scratch and build a campaign around it. For this April Fools’ Day, your business can drive engagement with your fake products.
3. LeadpagesThe trickery of this day isn’t fun if you’re doing it alone. When pranking your customers, you can up the ante by getting the entire team involved. Do you remember slumber parties as a kid? Everyone dreaded being the first one to fall asleep. If you dozed off, your friends would put toothpaste on your face or spray silly string all over your body. It was hysterical because it was a group effort. The sleepy person wore it as a badge of honor, too. Work with your team to build the ultimate prank for your customers. Pool talent from each department to create a comical treat. That way, it’s not just marketing stuck with developing and producing the joke. In 2017, Leadpages achieved a skillful April Fools’ Day promotion. They created a landing page with a video introducing a fake product. The software company used assets from multiple departments. Plus, they added team member’s kids! Participation from your entire team makes the prank fun for your staff as well as your customers. Don’t leave anyone out of the April Fools’ enjoyment.
4. Hamburger HelperSome of the best pranks aren’t about tricking your customers. Instead, try spotlighting the foolishness within your brand. Comedians are masters at performing self-deprecating jokes. They might talk about their weight gain or emphasize their large nose. Making fun of your weaknesses lets customers know you’re aware of your problems. It also makes your brand appear more human. But don’t fall into the trap of misleading your customers. You’re not in the business of defrauding your audience on April Fools’ Day. Rather, you want to entertain them: “Your goal for April Fools’ is to prank and entertain people, not deceive them. So whatever your plans are, make sure that those who experience your prank would “get” the joke. The humorous aspect of your April Fools’ campaign must be obvious and transparent,” states Francesca Nicasio, Vend's retail expert and content strategist. You might have to go beyond your comfort zone. For instance, if you sell one-of-a-kind art sculptures, why not try being a sculptor for a day? Posting your funny works of art will make consumers laugh. Someone may even purchase one! The Hamburger Helper brand dropped a mixtape titled Watch the Stove on April Fools’ Day. The catchy beats and funny lyrics had consumers in awe. How can your team step out of its comfort zone? What will get consumers laughing at and with you? That’s a good starting point for creating an epic promotion idea.
5. National GeographicThe media’s role continues to evolve in consumers’ lives. A few decades ago, people trusted news stations to deliver credible information. Nowadays, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s fake. Consumers second-guess everything from the weather to groundbreaking inventions. So this upcoming April Fools’ Day, you may veer away from spreading any fake news. As an alternative, you can focus on distributing funny news. It doesn’t have to be anything too outlandish. It can be something nonsensical. Look at the National Geographic example below. On social media, the cable network announced that they would stop publishing nude animal photos. Also, don’t execute on poorly planned promotion ideas. Give your team the time and resources to do it right. Jean-Philippe Maltais, president of Wakonda Marketing, gives the following advice: “Plan early so that all the elements are in place on the big day. Planning is the key to executing your elaborate joke successfully. Make sure your post has the right social sharing buttons so it’s easy for your audience to share your content online.” If you can, avoid fake news. Take another path with funny news that relates to your brand.
Celebrate with JokesEveryone deserves a little laughter. This April Fools’ Day, your brand can bring the giggles and the smiles to your consumers. Make an outrageous, fake product no one could believe. Invest in your prank with a full-blown video advertisement. Or publicize a funny breaking news story. Be silly. Add humor to your marketing.
Wednesday, February 21, 2018 by Shayla Price
How Bloggers Can Defeat Writer's BlockWriting isn’t simple. It takes time and involves lots of conscious thinking. And as a blogger, you can feel stuck in a rut. Sometimes you probably get frustrated at the thought of crafting another blog post. That’s okay. Many bloggers like yourself struggle with writer’s block. Henneke Duistermaat, a copywriter and business writing coach, gives more insight: “Writing is hard work. There’s no doubt about that. But you can make it even harder by accepting writer’s block. Don’t become a tortured genius. Choose to get on with writing. Experiment. Find out what works for you.” Ready to face your fears? Here are five ways to overcome writer’s block.
1. Review Your Past Writing AchievementsBloggers live on the edge of perfection. You want every post to reflect your brand flawlessly—the headline, the images, and the stories. In the attempt to be perfect, you can easily get trapped in your own mind. Rather than posting your blog post, you may delay the publication date for several weeks. On top of that, doubt can slowly creep into your soul. You start asking yourself: Is this post good enough? Will readers really enjoy it? Should I start from scratch? To get out of this slump, it’s important to recall your past writing accomplishments. These accolades showcase how great you truly are. Awards, certificates, and positive comments are all reminders that you can achieve success. So take a quick inventory of what you’ve achieved within the last few years. For instance, your blog may have won first place in a competition. That takes hard work and talent. Use that excitement to fuel your next project. Right now, you may feel unworthy, but you do have what it takes to produce compelling work. And don’t forget to take a step back and be thankful for your current writing journey. Your blogging matters, and writing is one piece of the puzzle. Move beyond internal conflict by looking at your past success.
2. Practice Free Writing When PossibleWhen you sit down to write, it can feel like a chore. You’ve got a specific topic and an outline to help guide you. However, this method can restrict your thinking. Following a strict writing routine can become stifling. You may lose your sense of creativity and possess no desire to write from your imagination. Give yourself the flexibility to think outside of the box. Free writing is a technique where you write without worrying about the spelling, grammar, or topic. You’re writing with no fear. And that can be exhilarating! The aim is to put words on the page. You can come back to correct any mistakes during the editing process. It’s all about releasing your mind from the burden of writing. Jeff Goins, best-selling author of four books, offers his viewpoint: “Start somewhere, anywhere. Write a few lines. Say anything. And see what happens. Don’t think about it too much or make any fancy announcements. Just write. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or presentable; it just needs to be written.” Also, switch up your writing utensils. If you usually type, use a pen and paper. Stop editing while you write. Enjoy the freedom to make errors without judgement.
3. Spark a Conversation With a FriendInspiration comes in many different shapes and forms. It’s time to ditch the closed-minded attitude and gather new ways of thinking from external sources. When you want to boost your writing skills, try talking with a friend or two. Ask them about their day and their thoughts on random subjects. It’s a chance to travel in someone else’s shoes and learn from their daily experiences. You’ll pick up on what makes them happy and how they solve conflicts. All these intimate details are optimal for knocking down writer’s block. You also may want to make an effort to watch your favorite television shows. Creativity can flow from simply admiring characters on the screen. Maybe you’ll get inspired to create a suspenseful cliffhanger or build your own content series. If you’re not a TV fan, read books and articles in different literary genres. Exploring outside of your normal reading habits gives you the courage to do something out of your comfort zone. So instead of writing the same old serious video script, consider publishing a funny vlog. Pick up a new book or start chatting with a close friend. You can break through writer’s block with the help of another perspective.
4. Eliminate Any and All DistractionsWriting is an art form that needs your undivided attention. Multitasking as you write can destroy your focus and drag you down. Think about all the distractions that occur while you’re writing. The phone rings and it’s the dentist office reminding you about an upcoming appointment. An email lands in your inbox and your beloved brand gives you a store discount, leading you down a black hole of shopping for two to three hours. These distractions keep you away from your writing. While you may have bought an awesome new pair of pants, you still haven’t made progress on your blog post. Before you disconnect from the world, you should assess what time of day works best for you. Uche Ibe, a blogger at We Love Singing, explains: “One simple way to do this is to try writing at various hours throughout the day, gauge your focus and energy levels, and compare what you wrote. If you find that you struggle to write in the morning, then it’s probably best to make time for writing at night.” Carve out time in your schedule to write. When you create time blocks, you have room to focus only on writing and nothing else. From Slack notifications to unexpected errands, it’s difficult to write with constant interruptions. You can make writing a priority with a dedicated schedule.
5. Start Dancing Around Your RoomPhysical activity spawns innovation. By moving your body, you open the door to expanding your mental energy. Then, there’s more room for you to write with a clear mind. Stanford University researchers found that “study participants who went for walks saw an 81% increase in tests measuring divergent thinking, a thought process associated with creativity in which you generate lots of ideas.” That’s huge for doing something as simple as walking! Fuel your brain by taking a walk around your block or even jogging for a few minutes at your local park. Not only do you reduce the pressure of having to write, you also add a healthy routine to your lifestyle. Of course, you probably want to kick it up a notch. So turn up your music and dance in your writing space. No one will judge you. The objective is to relax and to have fun. By not scrutinizing your every move, you can bring in positivity and combat writer’s block. Whether you exercise, dance, or just walk, a little movement can go a long way. Blast a few tunes on your iPod and get moving today.
Conquer Writer’s BlockWriting is a mental task that requires hard work. It’s no surprise you may feel depleted and experience writer’s block. Move past this hurdle by looking back at your past writing achievements for inspiration. Gain a new perspective by calling a friend. And of course, regain your energy with a little movement, like dancing or walking. Eliminate your fears. You can conquer writer’s block. Did you like this post? Check out these articles:
Thursday, February 8, 2018 by Shayla Price
7 Social Advertising Pros and Cons for Small BusinessesReady to take your small business to the next level? Social advertising may be the channel worth your investment. Even if you’re a novice in this space, there’s an opportunity for you to earn brand awareness and new customers. “One of the fascinating things about social advertising is that there is virtually no limit to your ability to scale. You don’t have to wait for someone to search for your targeted keywords. You don’t have to wait for someone to run your promotion or read your blog. If you want to reach 50,000 people in one day, you can,” says Warren Jolly, the CEO of adQuadrant. Before you make this critical decision, it’s important that you know the pros and cons. Here are a few you should consider.
Social Advertising ProsThe advantages of social ads make it easier for you to connect with your customers and gain brand recognition. Explore these pros to boost business growth.
1. Pinpoint Specific AudiencesIn traditional advertising, brands take wild guesses on reaching their target audiences. Companies receive broad ranges about demographics, like "women from ages 18-35" or "household income $75,000-$100,000." While that strategy may have worked in the past, it’s not suitable in our current market. Today’s consumer is seeking products and services geared to their specific needs. And for small businesses, that means advertising must be spot on! Social advertising gives brands the flexibility to pinpoint audiences. Not only can you narrow down a consumer’s age and gender, you also can zoom in on their multiple interests and geographical locations. Below is an example of how Facebook’s ad platform allows you to define audiences. This specificity ensures that your team only targets people that fit your consumer profile. As a result, customers only see ads that meet their needs, and you save money connecting with the right consumers.
2. Enjoy Success, Even With Limited BudgetsAs a small business, especially if you’re brand new, it’s key that every cent impacts on your bottom line. You can’t afford to spend wastefully. Well, there’s good news! Social advertising is cost-effective and can fit any budget. You control on whether you want to pay thousands or just a few hundred. It’s always good to have a plan when working on a limited budget. Brian Peters, digital marketing manager at Buffer, offers his advice on getting the most from social advertising: “One of the biggest opportunities for so many brands with limited time and resources is to simply boost top performing posts from their page. Not only is this the most inexpensive form of social media advertising, but it also provides brands with a way to reach a new customer segment that they might not have been able to with traditional ads.”
3. Track Campaigns With EaseNot too long ago, business teams didn’t have precise metrics for their old-school marketing campaigns. They learned something worked when people walked into their stores. This outdated method doesn’t give companies the luxury to adjust their ads. With social advertising, tracking campaign results is painless. Small businesses know exactly how their ads are performing because data happens in real-time. You can use this information to make better decisions. Let’s say an advertisement lacks engagement. It’s possible for you to pause the campaign and revamp the design midway. Or if a campaign boosted revenue by 20% in May, you can kick off the campaign again in November for the holiday shopping season. Monitoring campaign performance is essential. When measuring advertising success, look for opportunities to customize the experience for your audience.
4. Increase Brand VisibilitySocial advertising is a gateway for introducing your brand to new audiences. Rather than waiting for consumers to visit your site, you’re meeting them on their turf—social media. When engaging with your audience, it’s vital that your ad doesn’t appear out of place. Instead, you want to add to the ongoing conversation on each channel. “Realize there’s several different types of paid advertising you can choose from on social media. Not every type of ad will work for your brand. However, one of the best techniques to follow when creating paid content is to seamlessly blend into feeds, walls and timelines,” explains Alex York, a senior SEO specialist at Sprout Social. Let your brand personality shine through in your advertising. You can include GIFs, memes, and funny quotes to capture consumers’ attention. Being relatable and likeable increases your odds of getting seen.
Social Advertising ConsLike any channel, social advertising has its drawbacks. It’s up to you to figure out whether they outweigh the pros.
1. Prepare for the Learning CurveWith an uncharted path, you’ll face difficulty at first. This same notion is true as it relates to social advertising. There are a variety of platforms with their own specific guidelines and best practices (check out our guides to advertising on LinkedIn, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram). So you may encounter a steep learning curve. But don’t let that hinder your team. You have a few options to keep moving forward. For example, you can hire an agency that specializes in social advertising to create and run your campaigns. Or you can employ a skilled freelancer who can advise your team on the best course of action. Another option is to actually invest in a current employee. There are lots of online courses that can speed up the learning process. Plus, each platform offers knowledge bases for users, like the Instagram Help Center below. It’s never too late to learn a new skill. Take the necessary actions to make social ads work for your small business.
2. Stay Ready for the CompetitionMore than 4 million businesses pay for social media advertising on Facebook. It’s likely that your competitors are also attempting to gain consumer traction with social ads. Since the competition isn’t going away, your team must constantly differentiate itself in the marketplace. That translates into creating unique ads, catering to new niches, or even bumping up your ad spend. This type of advertising requires patience. You’re aiming for long-term success, not short-term wins. Arnie Gullov-Singh, the former chief operating officer at Polyvore, provides more insight: “Social advertising is an effective way to get consumers to engage with your message in a thoughtful and organic way. Social ads create stronger long-term value as the content continues to get amplified across consumers’ networks.” Prepare to address the nonstop pressures of competition. Work with your team to find innovative ways to set your brand apart from others.
3. Brace for Negative CommentsSocial media is well-known for getting consumers excited about your brand. However, that attention isn’t always supportive. Some people will make it their mission to publicly humiliate your small business. Be proactive and set up a crisis communication plan. When irate consumers invade your Facebook ad, instruct your team to record their concerns and respond politely in a timely manner. The worst thing you can do is completely ignore your customer base and never address their issues. You can transform any negative comments into positive feedback. For instance, if you notice consumers expressing grievances about a particular ad, reconsider your business’s approach. Maybe it’s time to change the ad copy or use a different image. All consumer engagement won’t be favorable. And that’s perfectly okay. You can use it to your advantage by turning those gripes into strengths.
Take a Step Towards Social AdvertisingIf you’re new to social advertising, it can be quite intimidating. Yet, it’s crucial that you examine the pros and cons for your small business. The goal is to attract new consumers and boost your revenue. Learn how social advertising can fit into your marketing and sales strategy.