Category Archives: Content Tips

Washington Food Security: Fellow Cause Evaluation

By Sarah McCaffrey

To better understand our strategy at Washington Food Security as a resource for hunger elimination, I’d like to evaluate the Washington Food Coalition’s web and social properties. I’ll begin with a few notes from last week and continue with this week’s questions: Do they follow content calendar? How many people contribute? What’s their message, and who are they trying to reach?

Washington Food Coalition


The WFC landing page is cluttered and confusing. The tab navigation is fine, but the tabs compete with a large line of text above and embedded video below. This is followed by a short two column layout describing their work and membership, then a large three column layout of sponsors’ logos. To the right they include social buttons.

The blog link redirects externally to blogspot despite their web site being equipped to host a blog, which seems amateurish for a twenty-year-old nonprofit, but I do not mean to be dismissive. I am sure they are working with what they have. I doubt their page managers are specially designated or hired for the role. Regarding blog content, they update a few times a month with event announcements and local news coverage of the same.

I do not think the WFC follows any particular content calendar. They cover information as it presents itself, not with any intention to communication a particular message. No calls to action, no targeted content, and no interaction to invite engagement. The blog and social channels are trying to reach preexisting followers looking for information and updates that pertain to them. Their message is simply, “Here is the work we are doing,” which works in that context but does not reach their content marketing potential.


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Quora – A content helper

Quora, while not directly a social media tool it does help with one important task: Generating content. When you sign-up with Quora they ask you to choose five general categories and then five more sub categories to generate a feed much like twitter. Once you are logged in you will see things that may be of interest or you can search for articles.

How is this different from Google or twitter? Well Quora is based on the idea of people asking and answering questions, so the content has a different feel than what you get in a Google search and because they are not searching the entire web, just their own content you get a broader set of search results, which in turn helps generate more ideas for your own content.

ConserveAqua is struggling with content when in Seattle water seems to be endless.  After searching for conserve water on Quora I quickly saw questions that people are asking about water conservation – these are the questions we should be answering on our blog. Now the answers on Quora are not very thorough or vetted like Wikipedia, but we are using it for ideas not for content.

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Can an Effective Social Media Campaign Save Jones Soda Co.?

jones holidayJones Soda Company, the once popular Seattle beverage brand has fallen on hard times.  However, you probably wouldn’t know that based on recent activity on its social media channels.  It has a focused and active online marketing strategy, befitting its image as the beverage of choice among the young and hip.  The strategy puts the customer front and center on its website rather than relying just solely on connecting through conventional channels, e.g.: Twitter, Facebook, Google+.  If you evaluated its strategy only on the measure of followers on Twitter or likes on Facebook you would conclude it was a mediocre effort of an uninspired campaign.  No doubt, having over 1 million likes on Facebook is nothing short of amazing for a company that only did 17 million in revenue last year, but even Sunkist has over 3 million.

First, some context.  Jones Soda Co. is not doing well financially. The company has been through a rough couple of years with revenue dropping from around $40 million in 2007 to under $17 million in 2012, taking an almost $3 million loss. It finished last year with a devastating “delisting” on the Nasdaq with its stock hovering around 40 cents from a high of over $30 in 2007.

What Jones Soda is Doing Well with Social Media

The company is active on Facebook and Twitter and promotes its various brands, new product launches and event campaigns through these channels, actively engaging customers on a daily basis.

It has developed a customized social media strategy on its website that encourages fans to post photos of their favorite moments with Jones Soda.  It’s looks like an impressive effort that has a lot of potential, but hard to tell how active fans are and if there is any dialogue between fans and company.

What Jones Soda is Not Doing So Well with Social Media

Some of the content is dated. In fact, a huge disappoint occurred earlier today when I visited the blog page. The last entry was from 2012 promoting the movie, “Snow White and the Huntsman.” The entry before that one was from September 2011.  Having old content is sometimes worse than not having it at all, especially for a brand trying to seem trendy, young, fresh and in the moment.  Fellow TMMBA colleague, Pranav Nambiar’s blog article on which social media strategy works best, cites a study that concluded “blog content posting” as the most important tactic to use for effective B2C campaigns. If this is true, Jones is making a big mistake by not updating its blog content. I even went so far as to tweet the company with the following exchange occurring:

jones soda

While I can forgive the obvious error in grammar (it’s Twitter!), I don’t think the tone was the best way to answer a customer. Granted, I was kind of being a jerk by pointing out the old blog, but the answer back should have been more playful and should have not taken 5 hours to respond.

Social media IS marketing and when cuts happen, marketing budgets are often the first to go and the case with Jones is no exception. Jennifer Cue, Jones Soda’s current CEO, stated in their 2012 Q4 earnings call that, “During the latter part of 2012, we needed to align our operating expenses to the company’s capital resources and the size of its current business. We eliminated top-heavy corporate overhead along with marketing expenditures that did not fit our brand image.”  This all happened around the time the blog entry stopped, which is probably not a coincidence.

Can social media save a company? Probably not. Can it add value to a cohesive and structured marketing campaign? Absolutely.

You wouldn’t think I’m a fan based on my most recent post (yes, shameless plug) trashing the soda industry on GeekHealth!  But, I truly hope Jones Soda Co. is able to weather the storm and make it, as I AM a fan (who DOESN’T like Tofurkey & Gravy Soda?!) and occasionally enjoy their products—especially on an Alaska Airlines flight!  If you are a fan as well, help them out by following them on Twitter and like them on Facebook!

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How Office 365 Leveraged Bloggers For Their Product Launch

Great summary from the Social Media Examiner about how Microsoft worked with a key audience group to get the word out. Very applicable for our projects – Understand who your audience is, and include them in your process.

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Why Your Mobile Marketing Campaign Won’t Work

If you look at the timestamp of this post, you’ll realize I’m typing this from class, sorry Andy. A lecture topic reminded me of this insightful article on The author, Carmine Gallo, argues that the “throw it on the wall (or window) and see if it sticks” campaigning is what too many companies are doing. In order to be successful with a mobile campaign the one, overlooked aspect on the campaign would seem to be the most intutitive: you need make sure your front line employees actually know about the campaign and can help spread the excitement to get customers to start engaging.

Why Your Mobile Marketing Campaign Won’t Work

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Social Media Strategies: Puget Sound Energy & aFitness App

After my power went out during a storm last winter, I tried going to the Puget Sound Energy website to see if I could find any estimates for restoring power.  I didn’t see anything relevant and I also tried calling, only to encounter a long wait.  I was pleasantly surprised to find PSE on Twitter with regular updates and assisting customers:

Looking a little deeper, I found PSE slides titled, “Social Media Strategy: A Phased Approach”.  My takeaways are the following steps:

  • Listen – practice familiarity with tools to discover and connect with the customer.
  • Engage – create and manage sources of content to share with the customer.
  • Evaluate – utilize web analytics and metrics from social media to measure progress for business objectives.

At a high level, this isn’t so different from the approach taught in the first few classes.  Our focus in class is campaigns, which is a contrasting point and deeper level of granularity that concentrates on specific goals.  One way to think of it is that a campaign is an iteration of executing the strategy.  Building on the PSE phases above (Listen, Engage, Evaluate), our team has performed more designing up front by defining specific goals and planning the social media content.  We also continuously use social media metrics to help shift our efforts for engagement.  This results in a short ‘Evaluate’ phase since we have good awareness of our progress throughout the campaign.

The PSE slides are worth a look.  They show what tools they use and how.   Also notice the consistency across their content sources, such as facebook, YouTube, and flickr.  Finally, I notice some branching out by creating an entirely separate facebook page for energy efficiency.

Hope this is helpful to your social media strategy.  Please share your strategy tips by leaving a comment below.

-Bruce on behalf of The Comrades

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Social Media Theater

this post was modified from the original post on my personal blog

For additional context to this post, see the post below on How to get more likes on Facebook

If your entire goal online is to get “likes” or more ambiguously, “generate social influence,” you’ll fail miserably. Or worse, you’ll need to create terrible music videos on youtube and risk both your online and offline respectability.

“If social media content is created and nobody sees it…”

What’s not as intuitive about social media is that while you need content that “doesn’t suck” you also need some audience from which to spread it. The old adage, “if a tree falls in the woods…” applies here. For the aspiring social influencer, if nobody sees your content then the answer to the riddle is “Yes”–it might as well have never existed. Social media, like a live play, requires audience.

The currency of audience…

The quickest way to make a million dollars, is start with 100 million dollars. Instinctively, if you have a pre-existing audience, your social media content will have more leverage. So, if you don’t have a 100 million dollar audience, let’s use the analogy of a live play and walk through how you can get audience.

In order to put on a live play, you need four critical components.
1) You need a stage (platform)
2) You need actors
3) You need a script (content)
4) You need an audience

At a bare minimum, you need these pieces in order to create something that has value. The costumes, lighting, music, is all fluff– or rather, improvements to the “content” component.

In the context of both social media and live theater, the four elements: platform, actors, content, audience are all inter-related. For example, to make the most out of your “space” you need to pick content that works well in that space. For the best delivery of your content, you need have the right “actors.” etc.

So, where should you start? In social media campaigning, people often start with “audience.” (Like my page, like my campaign, like my project!!). This is wrong. And it’s annoying. Don’t promise people you’ll have something of value for them, instead work on creating something of value.

Let’s reshuffle the components of our performance in the order of social media importance.

1) Content
2) Actors
3) Platform
4) Audience

If you build it they will come…

Before I digress, please note that I’m not saying “Just throw your content over the fences and people will find it.” In fact a better way to look at these components is as an equations:

Content + Actors + Platform = Audience

Therefore, the only way to maximize your social media campaigning is to grow (or improve) your content, your actors, and your platform use.

Maximizing your social media campaign involves maximizing the individual components (content, actors, platform) in ways that don’t diminish another component.

If you create the best live play the world has ever seen and everyone who is anyone has heard raving reviews your only going to get 100 audience members a night if your space only holds 100 people. Conversely, you could have the best script in the world and if you put bad actors on the stage people aren’t going to like it (think back to your high school Shakespeare performances).

Social media is often a one man show

You might be wondering why I’ve included “actors” as a component or resource of social media. Considering your social media campaigns, often these involve one person writing or creating content and publishing it to facebook, twitter, or blogs. Quite simply, this is just a one person show.

Outside of my work I volunteer with a “fringe” (that’s an artistic way of saying low-budget) theater company. This “fringe” company performs new plays written by recent college graduates, casts non-professional actors, and performs in a basement theater. It’s a great experience. Now, one of the problems with this company (and most “fringe” theaters) is that they need to market shows that nobody has ever heard of, written by someone they’ve never heard of, to be performed in a space that very few people have ever heard of. Getting audience is tough. There is, however, one tried and true way getting audience. Don’t create a one-man show! Cast a show with as many actors as you can (without diminishing your content or use of platform). Actors are proud of their work. And most of them have friends who are also proud of their actor-friend’s work. It’s not a coincidence that when the “fringe” company performs a show with 15+ actors, every show is sold out but when they put on a show with 5 (or less) actors the performances have a half-empty audience.

To say it more firmly, if your doing a social media campaign for a project (or company) nobody has ever heard of, and you aren’t a crazy famous celebrity, then create a campaign with a huge cast of characters. Get lots of people with passion to help you create and give life to your content because they will be proud of it and their friends (audience) will be proud of it too.

All the worlds a stage…

So finally, if you made it this far in the post, please leave a comment letting me know how much you “liked” it.

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Hubspot’s 20 Fresh Stats About the State of Inbound Marketing in 2012

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5 Ways to Enhance Your Facebook Timeline Page with Images

Good summary from the Social Media Examiner:

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Facebook and Hubspot Webinar on Facebook Engagement

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Facebook Timeline for Brands

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50 Branded Facebook Cover Photos

50 Branded Facebook Cover Photos via Bullet Keles

View more presentations from Bulent Keles

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61 Inspiring Facebook Page Headers

via Bruno Fridlansky on

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What should I blog about?

WordPress Blog set up – Check.

Now what?

Coming up with content ideas can be a major roadblock for businesses.  One way to generate new ideas is to ask yourself some questions.  Using a question as the basis of a post can stimulate ideas and help you generate the 200-500 words you need.   Here are some example questions to ask yourself?

  1. Why did my group decide to support this cause?
  2. What are some other great articles or web sites that describe the cause we are supporting?
  3. Who are some people that support the same cause, and why are they behind it?
  4. Has there been any recent news about your cause?  What is your reaction to that news?
  5. Have any other people or companies that support the same cause done anything really interesting lately? Is there news about them that you would want to comment on?
  6. Do any organizations that support the cause you are supporting have any upcoming events? Have they recently had an event? If so, will you go to it? Did anyone recently host an event? If so, did you go?
  7. Are there any videos on YouTube that support your cause? Can you embed them in a blog post and explain why the video is important?
  8. Is anyone you follow on Twitter writing any interesting blog posts that you want to recommend?

These are just 8 quick ideas to drive your content and editorial calendar forward.  Once you publish the blog posts, it’s easy to post them to Twitter and Facebook and drive more traffic to the post.

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