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How to organize a conference in 2014

Posted by Katie Unger on April 17, 2014 in Marketing

Hosting a conference in today’s modern times can seem daunting, but with ample planning and attention to simple details, you can succeed in organizing, marketing and executing your event.

While your main form of promotion for the conference may be brochures, mailers and social media, consider creating a standalone website, which allows you to tailor the site to the event theme and thus strengthen branding. If it is a recurring event, keep the site active year round and post updates and news. A standalone event website can also increase your SEO, especially if you provide a banner or links to the event site on your main web page.

For registration, use an online registration tool such as Eventbrite, which provides easy ticket and event management. The built-in analytics allow you to track which promotional efforts are directing the most traffic to the registration site. For day-of registration, use a tool such as Square, which can be connected to any smartphone or tablet to take credit card payments. Have an attendee list ready, which can be provided by Eventbrite, and make name badges using Eventbrite’s name badge tool. Bring a label maker so you can print name tags on the spot for those who register at the door (and so they don’t have to use handwritten name tags).

One crucial aspect of both the promotion and execution stages of your conference is creating a hashtag to represent your conference – something easy to remember and type. This will allow attendees as well as people not at the conference to follow along and virtually connect with one another. It will also help your event to be searchable and visible on social media platforms, creating a simple way to share updates and track feedback and opinions on the conference. Throughout the conference, remind people through signage and slides to use the conference’s hashtag with their tweets, Facebook posts and other social media updates. Set up a scrolling screen to display tweets with the conference hashtag.

At the conference, make sure you have free (and fast!) Wi-Fi. Your Wi-Fi should be designed to accommodate the maximum device load at any given time; plan for each attendee to bring at least two devices (laptop and smartphone). With this number in mind, you may want to set up more than one network depending on the number of attendees. Think one high-quality network for every 150-200 attendees. You also need to make sure you have plenty of power strips – line them up at every table and have extras ready for the attendees who need to charge up their devices during sessions or workshops. This may seem like a small detail, but the convenience of charging will make a huge difference to attendees.

One final thing to keep in mind is a follow-up survey or evaluation. Platforms such as Survey Monkey allow users to easily set up and send out an email survey to lists or groups of people. Use these surveys to get feedback from your attendees on what they liked or didn’t like, what they learned and things they would change. Listening to feedback and implementing changes can add to your success for your next conference.

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The next level of social media interaction

Posted by David Bartscher on April 11, 2014 in Social media

Customer interaction through social media platforms gives users a greater sense of connection with the company. Whether it be through social media contests, answering questions or a simple shout-out, people thrive for these types of social interactions. According to a recent study by the market-research firm Ipsos, 52 percent of consumers are motivated to stay connected with a brand by contests.

Taco Bell’s recent ‘Breakfast Phone’ campaign is a great example. The fast food chain sent 1,000 highly influential Twitter users “Breakfast Phones” (see photos and a story) to utilize in Taco Bell’s social media contests. The Samsung T404G phones received calls and text messages that gave directions for the next social media challenge for a chance to win prizes.

These social media challenges were a way for Taco Bell to start promoting its new breakfast menu on Twitter.  The influencers in turn spread the word and generated a lot of buzz on social media hyping up the new menu.

Challenges included answering a question, posting a picture, sharing a Taco Bell related meme, etc. on social networks using the companies-related hashtags.  For every challenge, a select few phone holders were selected to win prizes.

Taco Bell truly engaged with their social media followers to make the contest fun and personal.  The selected phone users were consistantly being involved in the Taco Bell brand, which made them fans of the whole campaign.

Social Media Contests for Marketing

  1. Know What’s Popular. The type of social media contests that work well are the ones that are constantly changing.  Do your research and then tailor your contest accordingly.
  2. Stick to Your Guns. Will this campaign benefit your brand? If the answer is yes, it is important to know what your brand is aiming to achieve from the contest.  Don’t get lost in the end goal you set at the beginning of the process.
  3. Research Your Social Media Influencers. Taco Bell didn’t just pick 1,000 random Twitter users, it strategically chose 1,000 Twitter users who have a big following. Why target 10,000 people when you can target 10 people who each have 1,000 followers?

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The Secret’s Out – the New Social Media App

Posted by Katie Unger on March 26, 2014 in Social media

Instagram shows your whole network how much fun you’re having. Twitter announces your thoughts or whereabouts to your followers. Facebook shows your “likes” and highlights to all your friends. But what if we took away the name attached to your information – what if there was an app that simply allowed you to speak your mind, anonymously? The newest social media app does just that.

Rightly named “Secret” takes a different approach to sharing. Instead of posting updates with your name attached, this app allows you to publish your stories “semi-anonymously,” meaning your name is not included but the post only goes to your contact’s feeds. Your contacts can see that one of their friends posted it – just not which friend it was. The main idea is to get people to be more “real” online.

Founders of the app, Chrys Bader and David Byttow, believe that anonymity may be the answer to making that happen. Under a thin layer of anonymity, they think people will be more likely to share what’s on their mind.

The app also has a feature that allows your thoughts to spread. When your friends “love” a secret, it will appear on the newsfeeds of their friends, and so on. In this way, the secrets that many people identify with could end up spreading far and wide.

The idea of the secrets spreading is interesting. If this gains popularity, it could be a subtle tool for social media marketers to post secrets pertaining to their demographic, their products or their services and monitor how far it spreads and how many people contribute to the spreading.

Of course, with anonymity comes a risk of misuse. The creators are working to prevent this app from being shut down like other anonymous apps before it. The app is designed to be a safe place for thoughts, and the “semi-anonymous” nature is intended to provide a buffer from the app getting out of control.

Using Secret for Marketing

There are several things your brand can do to avoid misusing this app. Avoid mentioning individuals and competitors and do not promote any potentially inappropriate or harmful secrets. Though the app is anonymous, your email address and phone number are attached to your account. Maintaining integrity is always your priority, so do not promote or post anything that you would not post with your name attached.

Rather, to use the app successfully, you can post facts, tips or anecdotes related to the interests of your demographic or to your product. Keep a watch on how far the “secret” spreads and use this information to gauge your public’s interest. This app has powerful potential, and it will be intriguing to see how useful – or harmful – it can be.

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How Community and Technical Colleges Should Use Social Media

Posted by Taylor Thomas on March 21, 2014 in Social media

There are thousands of community and technical colleges in the United States, so how can administrators and marketers make their school stand out from their competition to reach their target markets? Here’s how community and technical colleges can use social media effectively:

  1. Use targeted marketing. Avoid a one-size-fits-all-approach in which you blast the same message to all your target audiences through all channels. Instead, use each social media platform for different purposes. For example, Pinterest could be used as a showcase for student projects and activities, while Twitter could be beneficial when announcing upcoming events for the entire school.
  2. Don’t be a used car salesman when promoting your institution. The best course is to provide value in the form of information or entertainment to your audiences. For example, rather than saying “Sign up for Health 101,” try talking about (and show examples of) how the class has benefited students.
  3. Be accessible to students. Although it would be helpful to have a large department to run social media effectively, you can get by with one or two dedicated rock stars. Simply putting up a page on Facebook isn’t enough these days. Active, frequent communication and moderator participation are key to engaging your current, prospective and former students.

This was our strategy when we consulted with Madison Area Technical College. Contact us to learn more about using social media tools to promote your community or technical college.

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Facebook: the best personalized newspaper?

Posted by David Bartscher on March 14, 2014 in Social media

In early February, Facebook introduced a new data-driven mobile application to the market called Facebook Paper, which attempts to deliver exactly the information you want to see based on the stories you click.

Facebook Paper is not only a new app for checking out your Facebook news feed, but a new way to discover and consume compelling news media content from outside sources.

The content is  a mix of recent and popular posts from the profile pages of Facebook’s favorite publishers, curated by a small but powerful editorial team within Facebook.

The simple interface eliminates buttons and menus and creates a new user experience much different than traditional social media apps. Another example is the tilt-to-explore feature, which allows you to see the whole image by tilting your mobile device.

Users are able to customize their own paper by choosing nine out of the 20 different categories, or mini-magazines as they’re called, plus your Facebook news feed.

The mini-magazines include the following:

  • Headlines: essential news and analysis from the world’s best sources
  • Tech: understanding today’s startups and tomorrow’s innovators
  • Planet: adventures in science, sustainability and the natural world
  • Pop Life: celebrity chatter, deals and the lowdown on TV, movies and tunes
  • Score: sports news and commentary from journalists, fans and athletes themselves
  • Creators: visual delights and inspiration from designers and artists around the world
  • Flavor: fresh tastes, recipes, culinary news and food-related travel
  • Exposure: breakthrough images and photojournalism from independent, agency and magazine sources
  • Ideas: a daily, in-depth look at one standout idea, event or personality
  • Enterprise: news and insights about companies, global markets and savvy investing
  • Equalize: news for women and men, creating a level playing field
  • All City: urban arts, sports, music and style
  • Well Lived: what’s trending in destinations, activities, fashion and culture
  • Family Matters: empathy, advice and hacks for life with babies, kids and teens
  • Cute: adorable animals, cuddly babies and all things “awwwww-some”
  • LOL: laugh-out-loud funny people, late night TV clips, viral video and podcasts
  • Glow: style, substance and beauty that’s more than skin deep
  • Home: beautiful interiors, decorating ideas and DIY projects for home and garden
  • Pride: there’s strength in community

FOR CONTENT MARKETERS:

Here are some tips for getting your content to appear in a Facebook Paper feed:

  • Find out what posts are most “liked” and create similar content.
  • Focus on long-form content and video, when possible.
  • Include (high-quality) imagery, because the Facebook Paper app highlights the story with an image.
  • And as a universal principle for content marketing, create content that is valuable, informative or entertaining to your audience.

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Twitter marketing during TV events

Posted by Brian Lee on March 5, 2014 in Marketing, Social media
Simpsons Oscar selfie

I feel bad for the people who have to manage the Twitter accounts of major brands during live events like the Super Bowl and the Oscars because it can’t be easy to stay on your toes for 3+ hours.

For example, you never know about the spontaneous things that happen, such as the safety during the first quarter of the Super Bowl or Ellen ordering pizza during the Oscars.

Here are my recommendations for tweeting during TV events:

  • Prepare tweets for every scenario. For example, “tweet XYZ if team 1 leads at halftime,” or “tweet XYZ if movie 3 wins best picture.”
  • Monitor trending tweets, hashtags and Twitter accounts relevant to the event (e.g. actors during the Oscars).
  • Like in crisis communications, create a list of everything else that could happen, from loss of power (2013 Super Bowl) to wardrobe malfunctions to flubbed lines to inadvertent product mentions, and then prepare tweets for them.
  • Have a small team accessible (e.g. same room, conference call, Skype, etc.) that can make quick decisions on what to tweet for everything else that happens.

Now here’s a list of some of the good and bad tweets during these recent TV events:

  • I wasn’t impressed with JCPenney’s tweeting with mittens stunt, in which the company purposely put out tweets with typos before revealing that it had been wearing mittens while typing. Sure it got people talking about the brand, but I’m anxious to see Q1 results if sales of mittens actually increased, because that’s the true measurement.
  • On a related note, congrats to Kia, Snickers and Doritos for tweeting back at JCPenney on the fly (e.g. Kia’s “Hey @jcpenney need a designated driver?”).
  • Ready for a shameless tweet? Try Papa John’s “Frozen wins, only at the movies. Our fresh, NEVER Frozen hand-tossed original crust pizza wins every time. #betteringredients.” I mean, really?
  • I liked Pizza Hut’s “Did someone say pizza? We got you” in response to Ellen wanting a pizza delivered.

Here’s my favorite tweet, although it did occur two days after the Oscars. This comes from @TheSimpsons, who wrote “.@TheEllenShow Oscar® Selfie: A wider view. #thesimpsons”

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Pivoting your brand

Posted by David Bartscher on February 28, 2014 in Branding

Kia recently introduced its 2015 Kia K900 luxury sedan, while Cadillac is trying to appease young people with its new logo. Both brands are facing uphill battles as they begin the early stages of re-branding themselves in the auto industry.

For example, Kia is known for selling economy cars ranging from $14,000-$25,000. Kia has now brought a $65,000 luxury sedan, the Kia K900, to the market. Here’s the Super Bowl commercial:

One of the biggest challenges Kia faces is getting traditional luxury shoppers to consider its brand in competition to the luxurious cars of BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

It’s not enough for a company to say it’s now in a different market segment. The company also must change consumer perceptions and experiences with the brand.

One way Kia may be able to do this is by promoting test drives and having consumers rate their experience either through their own channels (e.g. Facebook) or through Kia’s channels (e.g. collateral, commercials, etc.). The third-party endorsements could go a long way.

Meanwhile, Cadillac is taking a different approach in its campaign to re-brand its image. Rather than coming out with a new model to re-brand itself, Cadillac decided to come out with a new sleek logo (top right) to appeal to younger demographics.

The challenge that Cadillac faces is trying to no longer be recognized as a manufacturer of cars for older people; rather, to be thought of as a sleek car for younger crowds.

I think the logo is more appealing to a younger demographic and is a step forward, but Cadillac must do more in its re-branding efforts. For example, it’s going to have to appeal to early, influential adopters within YP crowds. It also may need to position itself as having cars with cutting-edge technology. Finally, it’s going to have to deal with its price points, which may be too high for younger drivers.

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Welcome Taylor!

Posted by Brian Lee on February 18, 2014 in Revelation

Taylor Thomas started this week as the new PR counselor at Revelation. Similar to Brian, she comes from a sports PR background, having worked at places like the Big Ten Conference and the University of Illinois.

Taylor will work on our clients’ local and national PR efforts as well as manage their content marketing and social media.

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How AEC marketers can use Twitter?

Posted by Brian Lee on February 14, 2014 in Social media

Twitter is about creating conversations between people. In most industries, including AEC, conversations are often the result of sharing value with your connections.

In my opinion, one of the easiest and best ways to share value is by creating relevant content for your connections. The content can take the form of photos, videos, podcasts, white papers, articles, presentations and the like. For example, you could report on industry trends using an infographic.

The key is to reduce your non-value tweets–such as press releases, new hires, awards, etc.—because seriously, your prospective clients don’t care. Think of the person in a networking event or a party who does nothing but tout how awesome they are. Don’t you want to avoid this person? Now think about the person who tells jokes or has captivating anecdotes. He/she is the one you want to hang around.

Twitter also can help you find out what topics and trends are worthy of being the basis of your content. Search relevant hashtags (especially from industry conferences), follow other industry leaders and see what your connections are discussing.

Don’t hesitate to share relevant content from other people. Some marketers suggest a 3-to-1 or 4-to-1 ratio of sharing others’ content-to-sharing your content; however, my experience has led me to believe that as long as you’re developing original, relevant content, you don’t need to follow any ratios.

Of course, we’re just providing you a snapshot of what you can (and should) do on Twitter, especially as part of a comprehensive content or in-bound marketing campaign. But this is certainly a good first step.

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Welcome David!

Posted by Brian Lee on February 11, 2014 in Revelation

University of Wisconsin senior and Life Sciences Communication major David Bartscher has joined Revelation as an intern. In addition to his strong writing background, David also has experience in video production and social media management.

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