Category Archives: marketing

Introducing…c21’s first Vlog

A video blog or video log, sometimes shortened to vlog, uses video to convey a message or story. Vlog’s often combine embedded video with supporting text or images that are eventually posted to a personal blog, or YouTube channel, Vimeo, etc.

YouTube currently ranks among the top three most-visited sites on the web. With over 1 billion unique visits per month, it reaches more Americans ages 18-34 than any cable network. More than 100 hours of video are uploaded every 60 seconds, and over 6 billion hours of video are watched each month.
The inclusion of video to a marketing strategy could be the missing link to what connects a business or organization to its target audience.

With that in mind, c21 has launched an in-house video marketing suite featuring the latest technology including a high quality camera, lavaliere mic, state-of-the-art lights, software and more to accommodate our client’s latest video needs.

To see our capabilities, check out our first vlog where we examine, “What makes a video go viral?”

INTEGRATE 2014 Recap

INTEGRATE 2014

Each year West Virginia University hosts the INTEGRATE conference for Communications professionals. Next year’s conference will be May 29-30, 2015.

One of the ways the c21 team keeps up with the latest strategies in communications is by sharing best practices with one another. At least once a quarter, the team hosts internal Lunch and Learn’s where we share ideas and concepts gained from conferences, seminars and webinars we’ve attended.

I attended the INTEGRATE 2014 conference hosted by West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. I’m currently pursing my master’s degree in integrated marketing communications (IMC) from the university and each year the WVU Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) graduate program hosts the INTEGRATE conference, where more than 200 communications professionals attend innovative workshops and breakout sessions, and participate in thought provoking discussions about IMC trends in our industry.

The IMC graduate program is offered exclusively online and allows communications professionals to re-align their marketing activities to ensure a constant flow of information to consumers from a variety of media. Most IMC students, like myself, are able to continue to work full-time while earning their degree.

The students earn a practical, customizable graduate education that is designed to equip them with the skills to emerge as leaders in the field and immediately apply what they’ve learned to their professional lives. The program is taught by a diverse faculty – from marketing directors to academics to entrepreneurs – who are recognized leaders in their fields.

During the c21 Lunch and Learn, I shared a few of the best practices and most creative IMC campaigns with the team. Even though I’ll obtain my degree this December, I’m definitely looking forward to attending the conference again next year. CLICK HERE to check out some of the thoughts I shared with the team.

Starbucks Brings Your Coffee to Life

Whether you are a coffee drinker or not, Starbucks has launched a very cool mobile app today that brings its holiday red cups to life. Yes, you read that correctly. Starting today, the holiday red cups come alive with an augmented reality app for smartphones (for both iPhones and Androids!).

Since I’m a green tea drinker myself, I don’t normally frequent Starbucks that often, but I do find myself very curious to try this app out. The app allows you to scan five Starbucks holiday characters on red cups and 47 other in store items, like bags of coffee and displays, and watch as they come to life.

To make it even more interesting, those who activate all five characters can qualify to win an as of right now unnamed prize. If you know me, you know I’m competitive and I like to win, so I just might change up my morning routine and stop in for Starbucks this week to check this out.

What about you? Do you think the augmented app is the wave of the future or a waste of marketing effort and money?

Watch the demonstration video here.

– Telleen Anderson-Lozano

Google+ brand pages – will they be worth the wait?

Ever since the search engine giant, Google, launched its new social media platform in June, c21’s clients have been asking, “How do we get on Google+?”

In the profound words of Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre, “Hold up, wait a minute.”

In July, Google+ opened the floodgates for folks like you and me to compartmentalize our friends, family members and coworkers into those now-famous concentric circles; but Google+ hasn’t allowed companies to take advantage of the new site…yet.

Initially, marketers were anxious to leverage the site for both companies and consumers.  A few brands came out of the gate with profiles, like Sesame Street.  Lacking a policy for businesses, Google+ gave the boot to those early adopters, including my childhood friends, Bert and Ernie.

Google’s product managers responded to booming business interest in a post last month, indicating that we will see brand pages by the end of 2011.  In the meantime, they have granted beta brand pages to a few, select companies, like Ford.

While Google+ perfects its brand pages, anticipation is building in marketing departments across the globe – for good reason.  Interactive experts predict that brands will be able to measure consumer interaction on Google+ pages using the widely acclaimed Google Analytics – providing valuable social media ROI.  In addition, it’s expected that Google will give companies greater search engine exposure by highlighting a company’s Google+ page in search results.  Most importantly, Google+ allows users to segment other users through circles, providing marketers with the ability to hyper-target posts, and yes, even Google Ads.

When Google+ finally raises the veil on its brand pages, c21 will provide clients with a full update on how to establish a corporate presence on the social media site and what the new rules mean for pay-per-click advertising and consumer interaction.  Until then, logon to Google+ and add the c21 team to your circles: Sharon, Marlena, Renee, Anna Ruth, Telleen and Karla!

– Anna RuthAnna Ruth Williams

Facebook Advertising: Target, Test, Tweak

In this advertising age, businesses are taking full advantage of Facebook, targeting consumers with those short, attention-grabbing ads strategically placed on the right side of the screen.

It’s obviously not a coincidence that you see an ad related to the interests you’ve listed, the region you live in and/or your age and gender. You’ve offered up the personal information on this popular social networking platform and now, companies are coming after you easier than before. I’ve fallen for it, clicking on ads aimed at my interests including photography, sports and boutique shopping. Check out modcloth.com – we were introduced through just a single click. My wardrobe (and checkbook) can now thank Facebook advertising for this discovery.

For most companies, Facebook advertising is smart and reliable, producing quality results. In fact, eMarketer predicts “ad spending on Facebook will rise to $2.19 billion in the United States this year, and just over $4 billion worldwide – both more than double last year’s figure.”  But, if you’re going to advertise on Facebook, do it right. Glancing at my own profile, I do have to question why…oh WHY was I targeted for this ad on a sunny Friday afternoon?  Headline: Give Single Dads a Chance; Copy: Browse faithful and devoted single dads in your area seeking a second chance at love on Single Parent Meet. Now, I have to admit, the good looking guy in the photo caught my eye (hello baseball cap!), but I can’t say I clicked on it after reading further. The idea of baby mama drama does not appeal to me at this point in my life and neither do ads that entice me to buy dentures, kayaks or NASCAR t-shirts.

Here are some pointers one must keep in mind to receive maximum benefit through Facebook advertising:

1.       Target the right demographics – From age, gender, location, relationship status, interests and more, you can specifically target how your ads show up.  Be anything but broad.

2.       Be reasonable with your budget – When setting up any online advertising campaign, make sure to set a reasonable daily limit to test your ads. Pay close attention to CPC (pay per click) and CPM (pay per 1000 impressions) to determine what kind of response is most important to you. If you want to drive website traffic and conversions, choose CPC. If you’d rather pay for overall exposure and reach a larger portion of your targeted audience, choose CMP.

3.       Review performance and adjust as necessary – It is important to monitor your ads daily. If an ad is underperforming, try switching out the image or tweaking the overall message. With time, you’ll learn what works best for your business, but a simple call-to-action message is the best way to start.

– Alex

Social Media & Marketing Campaigns: Keeping Japan Connected

Last week’s earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan, leaving behind grieving loved ones, homeless families, destroyed businesses and a nuclear emergency.  Within minutes of the deadly natural disaster, #Japan became a leading Twitter trending topic as loved ones turned to social media to find one another.  Since then, some of the world’s largest corporations have employed marketing campaigns to help the Japanese people communicate with each other and the rest of the world.

It seems like every time I load my Twitter feed there is a new story on social media pitfalls and marketing mishaps, so let’s take a minute and spotlight some innovative uses of social media and marketing that are keeping Japan connected in the wake of last week’s tragedy.

  • Google People Finder – As the death toll climbed into the thousands and with hundreds of thousands of Japanese declared homeless, Google launched a Crisis Response page for global citizens to find government information, make donations and more.  They also launched a People Finder page where loved ones can look up missing persons and enter information about people they know. There are more than 140,000 records on the site.

  • Miswasa Air Force Base Facebook Fan Page – After land lines and cellular phones went down, the military personnel at the Miswasa Air Force Base turned to the base’s Facebook page to communicate with soldiers’ families in the United States.  The fan page jumped from about 1,000 fans to 4,600 in a matter of days.  Thousands of military families have used the page to offer prayers, find loved ones and learn about relief efforts.

  • Mixi – Lesser known in America, Mixi is one of Japan’s largest social networking sites.  Since its inception in 2004, the site has gained more than 25 million users who engage in “community entertainment” – sending and receiving messages, writing diary entries, commenting on other entries and inviting friends to join.  Following the mega-quake, Mixi’s leadership added a donation button for users to click when they log in to their account.  In just two days, the site raised $1.5 million for a Japan relief fund.

  • AT&T, Verizon & Sprint – On Monday, AT&T announced that customers in the United States and Puerto Rico would be able to call and text to Japanese numbers for free through the end of March.  Shortly after AT&T’s announcement, Verizon tweeted that it too would offer free calls and text messages to Japan. Sprint ultimately joined the bandwagon as well, offering free services through April 10.

— Anna Ruth Williams

Top Ten Most Interesting Facts from #SoCon11

Last Saturday, the Center for Sustainable Journalism hosted the fifth annual SoCon – a conference that brings together Georgia’s brightest social media experts and practitioners.  Each year communications 21 sends team members to SoCon to learn the latest tips and trends so that we can help our clients execute innovative online marketing strategies.  This year, I was joined by hundreds of attendees from a variety of industries who came together to learn and network during the jam-packed day of speakers and sessions at Kennesaw State University.  And trust me, there was a whole lotta tweeting goin’ on!

I learned new ways to utilize QR codes, the latest facts on broadband usage and how to get the biggest ROI out of social media programs.  So without further ado, here are the Top 10 Most Interesting Facts from SoCon11:

1.       By 2015, more people will be accessing the Internet through mobile devices rather than laptops and PCs.

2.       Millenials engage with 6 to 10 peers before making a consumer decision.

3.       Currently, AT&T employs 40 people whose sole job is to tweet.  But that’s not enough – they’re hiring an additional 40 tweeters in 2011!  Here’s an example of a tweeter: @ATTSusan.

4.       By encouraging Facebook fans to use the “share” feature, rather than the “like” or “comment” feature, you can increase your number of brand impressions.

5.       Thirty five percent of mobile users have apps on their smartphones, but only 24% actually use the apps.

6.       A majority of Americans are now using mobile devices as their primary mode of checking the news.

7.       Job seekers are now including their social influence (i.e. number of Twitter followers, number of foursquare mayorships, etc.) in their cover letters when applying for jobs.

8.       The vast majority of Fortune 1000 companies are either already implementing social media programs or are working on pilot programs.

9.       Globally, the Android has surpassed the iPhone.

10.   QR Codes are most popular in Japan.  In fact, Japanese farmers are using QR Codes to label their produce so consumers can learn about the farm that grows the fruits and vegetables.

Thanks to all of the talented speakers who shared their industry insights, especially Ford’s Sam De La Garza for providing these sweet Ford Fiesta T-shirts!

Speaking of T-shirts, one conference attendee came ready for the session on QR Codes led by Atlanta’s own, Kellye Crane.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s SoCon.  In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter!

— Anna Ruth Williams