Memorial Day: To Tweet or Not To Tweet

By: Kalyn Schieffer

Many people take the long Memorial Day weekend to unwind with friends and family, and for some people that means unplugging from their digital devices and social media profiles. However, not everyone takes a break from their news feeds and posting. Like with many other holidays, brands try to take advantage by posting ads or updates related to the occasion. In recent years, there has been controversy on the web as to whether brands should refrain from posting on national military holidays including Memorial Day.

It’s no secret that the majority of the American public respects those who serve and have served in the armed forces. This respect carries over to brands who show support for the troops and veterans as well. Over half of the respondents to a survey conducted by the Bob Woodruff Foundation agreed that they support “brands that support veterans.” Several major brands are frequently recognized for supporting the armed forces including Home Depot, USAA and Walmart. Their activity on social media platforms has certainly helped companies show their support on holidays such as Memorial Day.

 

Phoenix post

Looking around at the variety of posts surrounding the holiday, companies chose to either promote products around the family, friends, backyard barbeque aspect of Memorial Day, or show their respect to those who have served our country. Many bloggers and social media analysts believe that companies should refrain from any promotional posts in order to avoid disrespecting the meaning of the holiday and any online backlash that could follow. Advertisements and posts that focused on honoring and commemorating the troops garnered much more positive feedback from users. A post with a simple message thanking the men and women who serve our country without any promotional messaging is what brands such as Kay Jewelers and the University of Phoenix have done in the past.

Many brands have also opted to create posts that encourage followers to give back or get involved with organizations that benefit the troops. This Memorial Day, The Wounded Warrior Project

memorial day picshared a post on Facebook that asked followers to honor veterans by donating, accompanied by a photo of an injured veteran. Petco has also posted photos of injured canine heroes

with a link to vote for the Hero Dog Awards. These posts and others similar to them show that these brands realize that for many Americans, Memorial Day stands for much more than a summer kick-off party. If a company can’t find a way to genuinely show their support without inserting promotional content in a post, the best policy may just be to log off and take a social media moment of silence.

Brands with an obvious military connection such as the National Guard have provided some of the most genuine and meaningful tributes on social media during this holiday. Other brands and have showed their support simply by sharing the content posted by the US Navy, Army, Marines and many others. This Memorial Day, the National Guard changed up their commemorative post by creating a Vine with a 360 degree view of a soldier standing in various historical spots such as the Arlington National Cemetery and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The Vine managed to show respect and commemorate fallen heroes and gain attention all in five seconds. By finding new ways to use social media in a respectful way, companies and brands can collect positive feedback.

Memorial Day may be seen and celebrated differently by different people but showing respect should be a given. The way that brands both big and small choose to celebrate the holiday online can have a significant impact on their public image. Some companies will create new ways to bring attention to organizations and veterans in need while others will simply thank our military for everything they have sacrificed.

What were some of your favorite Memorial Day 2014 posts on social media? We would love for you to share! Feel free to comment or tweet to @CasterKalyn or @CasterComm.

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From Twitter to Instagram: Meet the New Faces of PR Campaigns

By: Kalyn Schieffer

Chances are, if you own a television or computer with Internet access, you have heard of Taco Bell’s outrageous new breakfast menu. The fast food chain is making a huge push to dethrone McDonalds as the fast food breakfast king with a sizeable and varied PR campaign called “Wake Up Live Mas”.

The TV advertisements attacking McDonalds have generated quite a bit of buzz on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook where they are also posting contests for their followers. These social media sites have helped connect and engage a large digital audience who can quickly spread the word about Taco Bell’s new menu items.

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Taco Bell is just one of many companies who have integrated social media into their PR campaigns. Most, if not all of the big name consumer brands have found ways to reach the millennial generation by showcasing their products in places where they will encounter the most traffic. For many of today’s businesses, Facebook and Twitter accounts are a necessity when trying to connect with consumers. These sites allow them to post photos as well as constant updates and even promotional deals. By giving customers the option to “like” or “follow” their business on social media, they are giving customers an inside look into company news.

With all of the different social media sites, it makes it easier for customers to voice their opinions, good or bad, sometimes making it difficult for companies to control their online image. For instance, Budweiser and other alcohol beverage producers have faced issues with social media and the legal drinking age. Due to the issue of verifying followers’ ages, social media sites have created roadblocks when it comes to advertising space. Budweiser and other major brands have launched campaigns promoting responsible drinking and have used social media to promote the use of designated drivers.

In addition to these campaigns, Budweiser has used Facebook and Twitter to hold contests that are linked to some of their commercials. For example, their 2013 Superbowl ad asked viewers to share names for a newborn Clydesdale foal on social media. This generated over 60,000 tweets, Facebook posts and other comments online. By engaging with customers on these online platforms, major companies are able to both generate buzz and control the conversation during campaigns.BudweiserFoals

By creating a hashtag or topic on Twitter or Instagram, many companies, like Taco Bell, have been able to generate huge conversations and publicity that takes less effort and money than other traditional PR tactics. Media and PR teams for these companies can measure the amount of buzz just by looking at data for the hashtags associated with their brand and make necessary adjustments in messaging.

Another way social media is changing PR campaigns is by streamlining key messages. Hashtags, along with the 140 characters maximum for a tweet, have changed the way products are advertised. Everything is quick and to the point, which is what Twitter and other social media users are looking for. Modern users are impatient with regard to the way they expect to consume information on social platforms. They want to be able to scroll though their various feeds and take in the news in a matter of minutes. By streamlining important messages, companies are catching the eyes of consumers and ensuring they know what is new or important with their brand and make necessary adjustments in messaging.

Now before I go Instagram a picture of my Taco Bell Waffle Taco, what companies do you think have excelled at integrating social media into their PR campaigns? Let me know what kind of companies you enjoy following on social media and if their promotional deals and photos draw you in like Taco Bell has done to me.

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4 Quick Tips for Hosting a Twitter Contest

By: Allie Herzog

Twitter can be a great place to run a promotion, while also gaining added exposure for your brand or product.  If you’re thinking about running one, here’s some tips to get you started.

1) Develop a unique hashtag (#) to track participation, entries and engagement.  Make it catchy, memorable and short enough so that you’ll still have some characters left to add a message around it.

2) Cross-promote the giveaway on other social networks including Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. There’s a good chance that you have at least a slightly different following on each social network, so promoting across all channels will greatly increase your exposure and reach.

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3) Ask bloggers, brand advocates and other partners to help spread the word across their networks, too. Everyone loves a giveaway, so make sure you are asking your community to help spread the word for you, thus offering their own networks the opportunity to take part.

4) Keep it simple! Don’t make the barrier of entry too difficult or require too much thought.  Remember, Twitter is the place for short and sweet, so people might not enter if it requires too much effort.  Asking for a tweet response or a re-tweet is generally the standard for Twitter giveaways.

Seen any good Twitter promos lately?  Let us know in the comments…and stay tuned to the @castercomm feed for announcements on some fun upcoming client giveaways!

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