Category Archives: Offerings

Branching Out

Facebook’s had one expensive 2014. This Tuesday, the social networking behemoth shelled out $2 billion to acquire Oculus VR, a virtual reality goggle maker whose wares have yet to be released to the public. Of course, $2 billion is a bargain when compared to the $19 billion that Facebook paid for WhatsApp last month. While Facebook’s purchase of Oculus has been likened to eBay buying Skype, the WhatsApp investment seems sensible, if not a bit pricey. But the buyout I’m most excited about?

Back in January, Facebook gobbled up link-sharing service Branch for an estimated $15 million. Chump change, when you think about it. If you’re unfamiliar with Branch, it’s a New York City-based company that “builds social products to empower conversation.” Most recently, the company launched Potluck, a nifty little app designed to distill and disseminate the news. It works like this: you see a title, you swipe through three bite-size slides on the subject, then, if you want to learn more, Potluck links you to a third-party who addresses the topic in detail. As its name would suggest, Potluck brings lots of easily digestible content to the table that you can in turn share with friends inside the app.

According to Branch founder Josh Miller, Facebook has asked him to “build Branch at Facebook scale.” What I think, or at least hope, this means is that my NewsFeed will be less cluttered with provocative headlines from the likes of Viral Nova and tickld.com memes in favor of quirky news articles and useful content from reputable news sources. And if I can share that content? Even better. In November, Miller put it this way: “Nobody wants to talk about news on Instagram. Nobody wants to learn about the government shutdown on Snapchat, because that’s where you’re trading selfies with your girlfriend or posting photos of the sunset.” If Miller and his team of link-sharing enthusiasts are successful, $15 million could be a very small price to pay to make Facebook the single best platform for people to talk about the news.

Digital Content Strategy

How Buyer Personas and Keyword Research Inform Content Strategy

Keely Saye walks through a proven process for developing a digital content strategy in this presentation delivered to the Columbia, South Carolina chapter of the American Marketing Association.

Five Things We Learned While Watching the Oscars

On Sunday night, a few of us WECO folk (and 43 million other viewers) gathered around the television for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. In the midst of our appreciation of the cinematic arts, Jared Leto’s age-defying appearance (he’s 42, just by the way), and the frivolity of awards seasons, I’d like to think we learned a few things.

1. At the Oscars, there is such a thing as a free lunch. Or, at least, a free ad.  

Halfway through the rather lengthy ceremony, host Ellen Degeneres joked that attendees must be starving. She then brought out three pizzas from LA-based pizzeria Big Mama’s & Papa’s. While Brad Pitt passed out paper plates and stars rummaged through their pockets to rustle up tip money for the bewildered-looking delivery boy, Coke enjoyed a bit of free advertising. Although Pepsi replaced Coca-Cola as this year’s exclusive non-alcoholic beverage sponsor of the Oscars, all three pizza boxes prominently bore the Coca-Cola logo. Ad Age reports that PepsiCo has “brought the situation to ABC’s attention” and the network is “investigating the incident.” I’d like to think that, somewhere, there’s a caffeine-fueled Pepsi exec throwing a Wolf of Wall Street-sized temper tantrum.

2. When Ellen talks, people tweet.

Ellen DeGeneres broke Twitter. Well, not really. But, after she asked Oscars viewers to retweet a photo of her surrounded by a dozen Hollywood A-listers, over 3 million people did just that. The increased

photo-sharing traffic even caused a “brief service issue” for Twitter. In a later portion of the televised event, Ellen gleefully announced that the website had temporarily crashed because of her request. She then added, “We really just made history. We’re all winners tonight.” Even Twitter. According to Bloomberg News, the temporary disruption brought the microblogging site “tons of publicity.”

3. Straw Poll: Our entire office has a crush on Lupita Nyong’o. You should too.

Resplendent in a custom pale blue Prada gown, Lupita Nyong’o took the stage after winning Best Supporting Actress for her role in 12 Years a Slave. In an acceptance speech both humble and triumphant, Nyong’o captured our hearts and earned our respect as an actress and artist. Watch her speech here, then click over for The Atlantic’s assessment of her perfection.

4. John Travolta is bad at names. Just ask Idina Menzel.

After John Travolta butchered the pronunciation of singer Idina Menzel’s first and last name, he “created a new standard for superstardom: You’re no one until you’ve had your name mangled by a confused, squinting John Travolta.” So says Slate magazine, whose name garbling widget has gained major traction on Facebook and other social media outlets. Try it here.

5. And, in fifteen years, Jennifer Lawrence will be a dead ringer for Hillary Clinton. Biopic in the making: 

 

 

Two Key Marketing Lessons From Architecture School

I didn’t go to school for this.  At least, it wasn’t my degree. But as my professional studies and experience in marketing have expanded, I’ve realized my time at the Clemson School of Architecture was far from wasted.

Two particular strategic approaches instilled there carried over beautifully:

1) Flip it upside down.

In Architecture, that literally meant pick up the volumetric shape you’ve been crafting, invert it and set it back down – wrong side up. Then, try to learn something you hadn’t noticed before.

In Marketing, it means second-guess your assumptions. So your consumer definitely wants X and always needs Y? Periodically lay that certainty aside. First find, then look and think from, the polar opposite viewpoint. Buyer? Become a seller. Passionate? Role-play apathy. You may be surprised what insights you’re missing.

2) Every touchpoint is an opportunity.

In Architecture, on presentation days, professors would provocatively tear off portions of student work and sling them to the floor. “Irrelevant,” they’d mutter. This meant your overarching concept needed to more distinctly affect that element. Otherwise, it probably needed to be eliminated completely.

In Marketing, your brand is only as strong as you push it. Inventory your web of external communications (don’t worry, everyone else’s is just as tangled), and rethink elements that don’t jive with your organization’s driving attributes. Bear in mind, it’s rarely just your print ads and Christmas cards that need a fresh look. Your automated service reply emails, staff LinkedIn pages, and office lobby count too.

Once you’re finished and feeling really certain about things, flip it sideways.

Architectural Model

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration Everywhere

While waiting in the examination room at my eye doctor, I noticed the archetypal medical poster on the wall depicting normal and abnormal conditions of the eye, complete with cutaway illustrations of eyeballs and eyeball parts, with precise labeling and detailed information. This observation inspired me to create my own poster — but for type-geeks and non-type-geeks alike. – RE