4 Lessons Marketers Can Learn from Local TV News Reporters

This post was initially published on BostInnovation on July 28, 2011. To read the original post there, click here. Today – thanks to social media, smartphones and other new digital communications platforms and tools – what the savviest of consumers are asking of their favorite brands is almost as much as they’d expect from


The Importance of LinkedIn Recommendations

Given my outgoing personality, my obsession with the latest news and the fact that I’ve always been an early adopter of new communications tools, it’s no surprise that I’ve been enamored with social media from the get-go. I can’t tell you how excited I was to launch my own blog in early 2004, where I’ve written nearly


10 Ways to Succeed as a Copywriter, Parts 1-10

If you’ve been reading this blog for the last few months, you know I’ve been writing a series of posts on copywriting. Similar to the approach I took with my series on social media, I’ve looked at copywriting from a 30,000-foot level, focusing on the principles you need to be mindful of if you want to


10 Ways to Succeed in Social Media, Parts 1-10

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you already know about the  “10 Ways to Succeed in Social Media” series of posts I started writing on January 13 of this year and recently concluded on April 5. But what you wouldn’t know is how much I’ve been looking forward to stringing these posts together into one


The Importance of Character in Social Media

By now, most people involved in marketing, advertising and PR have put aside any skepticism they may have had about social media and are using such online communications vehicles as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to reach out to and engage with others. They’re finally realizing that — as I’ve said before here on this


Why Periscope is the Next Big Thing in Social Media

Send to Kindle

As social media becomes less of an afterthought among brands and more of an essential ingredient in the marketing mix, it is increasingly difficult to stand out on these online channels.

There is only so much attention from consumers and customers to go around, after all, and the social streams are overflowing with content in all shapes and sizes.

So unless you want to be like the wallflower at the dance, being boring is not an option on social media. Even if you’re a B2B brand in technology, a regulated brand in healthcare or the biggest brand in an industry of one, there are simply no excuses not to be sharing a deep repertoire of content on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and everywhere else your audience is hanging out online.

And I mean everywhere. If your customers and prospects are spending time on Pinterest and Instagram, you need to establish your own solid presence there. Same goes for Vine, YouTube, Tumblr and Snapchat. Be there or be square.
Industry events and developments. Company updates and corporate culture. Promotions, offers, news and opinion. What you share is important, but sometimes where – and how – you share it is of even greater significance.

That’s where Periscope enters the picture. Launched on March 26 of this year, this live video streaming app owned by Twitter recently eclipsed the 10 million user mark and reports that over 40 years of video are watched per day. To say that Periscope is kind of a big deal right now would be an understatement.

Of course, you can and should use other channels to share your videos, but to ignore Periscope is to overlook an unparalleled, unprecedented way to connect with people in instantaneous, unfiltered fashion. The brand that uses Periscope comes across as both transparent and authentic, unafraid to cede control of the conversation and willing to share its true identity. Greater trust, better business and a stronger bond between those on either side of the medium is a likely result.

To use Periscope:

1. Download the app to either your Android or iOS device.
2. Log in with your Twitter user name or phone number.
3. Adjust your settings.
4. Set your notifications.
5. Look for people to follow.
6. Prepare to broadcast your own videos live.

It really is that easy.

You can use Periscope for everything from streaming breaking news to giving your audience a behind-the-scenes tour of your office. You can conduct interviews on Periscope, give product demonstrations, take surveys, you name it. What’s streamed on Periscope is limited only by your imagination.

Here are three great examples of videos created with Periscope.

1. Ryan Pinkham’s Live Tutorial

Constant Contact’s Ryan Pinkham used Periscope to record a live tutorial from his desk entitled, Email Design Mistakes Your Readers Hate. He also turned his broadcast into a blog post and archived his recording on YouTube to give his content an indefinite shelf life.

2. Michael Hyatt’s Blog Commentary

Another excellent example of Periscope use is author and speaker Michael Hyatt’s discussion about his original blog post called No, You Don’t Have to Work 24/7 to Succeed. In the blog, Michael also mentions that he broadcasts on a daily basis during the week at 12:30 p.m. CDT.

Keeping a regular schedule like that is a great idea, regardless of what you’re going to cover, as an audience can grow accustomed to tuning in to watch you at the same time every day.

3. An Interactive Tour with the Mayo Clinic

Finally, the Mayo Clinic’s interactive tour of its Rochester, Minnesota campus was originally streamed on Periscope, like the two other videos above. This “after-hours, behind-the-scenes” tour has also been subsequently uploaded to YouTube.

Unfortunately, you can’t watch a replay of someone else’s Periscope video after 24 hours unless they’ve repurposed it elsewhere such as YouTube or Vimeo.

That same inconvenience, however, helps spur real-time viewership, creating a sense of urgency every time you see the words “LIVE on #Periscope.” Chalk it up to the fear of missing out.


Given its immaturity, Periscope is a relatively unproven app, of course, but that certainly hasn’t stopped many brands from having jumped on the Periscope bandwagon, tooting their own horns and throwing any fears of revealing who they are as people to the wind. If you haven’t already, now is the time to try the next big thing in social media.

Note: This post, “Why Periscope is the Next Big Thing in Social Media,” was originally published on ClickZ on September 15, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on September 22, 2015 here.

10 Lessons Learned About Social Media From My Parents

Send to Kindle

When I give presentations on social media, I often refer to Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People. After all, so much about social media is about building strong relationships with others. And that’s what Dale preached as well as anybody, especially in this classic book.

Yet I really only have to look as far as my parents for reference in this case. They may not be on social media, but so much of what I’ve learned about interpersonal communications I’ve learned from them.

And that’s what it all boils down to on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the like. The most successful business people and brands on these channels are those that have a knack for engaging effectively with others as human beings.

Sure, it doesn’t hurt that they have either a wealth of knowledge and expertise or a line of ridiculously cool products and services. When all is said and done, however, they are simply themselves – which just might be their most endearing quality.

They are like my parents, in a way, who are nothing if not the real deal. Ages 84 and 90, respectively, my mother and father have always been as authentic and unassuming as they come, people I look up to as the embodiment of character in every way, shape and form.


Specifically, here are the lessons I’ve learned from my parents that can be applied to activities on social media by individuals like you and me as well as small and big brands alike.

1. Be trustworthy.

This should go without saying, of course, but when it comes to sales and promotion, even the best marketers have a tendency to push the edges. Don’t even think about it on social media. Everything should be kept on the up and up. We’re not making deals here. We’re making friends, followers and fans.

2. Don’t brag.

If honesty is the best policy, so is modesty. No one likes braggadocio. A small shameless plug every once in a while is okay. Your audience should be made aware of your strengths and accomplishments. But the more you talk about others, not yourself, the more inclined they’ll be to pay attention to what you have to say and to eventually do business with you.

3. Stay positive.

Remember that nobody likes a complainer. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the Internet and not real life. There’s no difference anymore. Lift people’s spirits with your hope and optimism. Look on the bright side of life. See the glass as always half full. A positive attitude makes everything a lot easier not just for you, but for those around you.

4. Ask questions.

My parents are great conversationalists, always showing concern for what another person has to say. That’s why they’ve had so many long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with others over the years. They know that people are happy to share how they feel with you – and that they’re even happier if you actually take an interest.

5. Share.

I was taught as a child not to be selfish, to share with others, especially if they were less fortunate than me. While this notion that “sharing is caring” was ingrained in me at an early age, it applies to everybody on social media today. News and opinion, knowledge and information, activities and whereabouts. All of this is great fodder. All of this is what people and brands alike are expected to dole out to their friends, followers and fans.

6. Don’t knock others.

If you don’t have something good to say, don’t say anything at all. I can’t be the only one who heard this as a child. Such timeless advice applies to practically every opportunity we have to say something publicly. What you express on social media ties back to your brand. People want to feel good about their interactions with you, not deflated because you’re a downer.

7. Be empathetic.

If you’re there for your audience, they’ll be there for you. Listen to what they have to say. Respond in a supportive, timely fashion. Put yourself in their shoes. What can you say that will make them smile? What can you do to add dazzle to their day? What do you have to offer that will help them get more out of life? An empathetic ear and a kinder, gentler voice will go a long way toward winning over your audience.

8. Play fair.

If you look at social media as an extension of who you are in real life, this lesson is one of the most important. Be a good sport and don’t cut corners. Don’t step on any toes to get to the top. Be someone others can look up to for your values, principles and moral code. Play well with others. Corporate citizenship counts.

9. Take pictures.

When I was a kid, my dad loved his slide projector. That and stacks of photo albums were how our road trips, family reunions, summer vacations and campouts were documented. Pictures brought us together. And while they’re obviously still kind of a big deal, pictures aren’t just for families to share in the privacy of their own homes anymore. They’re to share with everybody on social media.

10. Look up.

As much as my parents appreciate what I do for a living, they’re the first ones to remind me to look up from my electronic devices as often as possible and to enjoy real conversations with real people. I can’t argue with them. Not only is it healthy and refreshing to go unplugged, it’s actually where most deals are made. Take your online relationships offline. Have lunch together. Play golf. Take a good long walk. Talk to each other face to face. Social media should be a complement to everything else you do as an individual or a brand, not the be-all and end-all.

Note: This post, “10 Lessons Learned About Social Media From My Parents,” was originally published on ClickZ on August 12, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on August 24, 2015 here.

10 Ways to Find Common Ground with Your Social Media Audience

Send to Kindle

True story.

I was having lunch with a colleague of mine a couple years ago or so, and as I began to take pictures of the food on my plate he asked me why I would do such a thing. I explained to him that food was a huge draw on social media, and that the restaurant where we were eating might reply to me if I tweeted about it, as might my followers. I was as convinced then as I am now that it’s a myth that no one on social media cares what you’re eating for lunch. After all, everybody likes food.

While there’s an art and a science to success on social media, there’s also a certain psychology of which brands should take note.

If you can identify your audience’s hot buttons and trigger points – that is, what’s going to capture their attention and cause them to respond – you can increase the chances of your social media activities resulting in more revenue as opposed to simply more effort on your part.

Of course, the majority of your content should be focused on your products, services and industry. But a portion of your posts should stray beyond those parameters every once in a while, highlighting your employees and corporate culture. The brand that portrays itself as interesting, entertaining and fun proves it has a personality, not just a pulse.

Which topics and themes are popular with almost everyone? What can you say or show that will resonate with practically everyone within ear- or eyeshot?

Here are 10 ways to find common ground with your audience on social media…

1. Love

What the Beatles sang in 1968 is still true in 2015 in real life (IRL) and online, too – “all you need is love.” And by love, I mean love in all its incarnations. Heartfelt romance between two people is one thing. But brands can also show love for those who work for them, their customers, their families and friends. Gratitude. Fondness. Appreciation. Praise. Love in the broadest sense is what we’re celebrating here.

Example: NHL

2. Recognition

If love is too strong, at the very least you can acknowledge the presence of your audience. Surprise and delight them with free swag. Treat them like VIPs. Provide them with a discount. Give them a shout-out. Move them to the front of the line. Even if what you have to offer is only a favorite, like, reply or retweet, your followers and fans will be grateful for the nod.

Example: Earl of Sandwich

3. Food

You don’t have to be a restaurant to share pictures of food on social media. Everybody eats. But don’t share just anything that’s on the plate in front of you, anytime, anywhere. If you’re enjoying a gourmet meal on a very special occasion, that’s a moment to seize. If there’s an opportunity to associate your brand with food in any way, shape or form, take advantage of it and take plenty of pictures.

Example: WSM Partners LLP

4. Sunsets

It’s something everyone can relate to, something everyone likes. No one can deny the magnificence of a colorful sky when the sun disappears below the horizon. No one can complain about seeing a beautiful sunset. One of the most popular images in our personal feeds should make at least an occasional appearance in yours.

Example: Carnival Cruise Line

5. Humor

As I’ve written before here on ClickZ, “many brands are going out of their way to let their hair down on social media, taking great pains to reveal their lighter sides.” The last thing they want is to be perceived as uptight and self-centered, unable to take – or share – a joke every so often. Humor shows you’re human, not some stiff corporate logo. Smile and the whole world smiles with you. Clown around from time to time and you’ll have your followers at your feet.

Example: State Farm

Go from BBQ bench-warmer to grill master this Fourth with these tricks to make your burgers the Most Valuable Plates. Happy Independence America!

Posted by State Farm on Saturday, July 4, 2015

6. Current Events

Many trending topics are related to what’s happening in the news. A big game. Political elections. Awards shows. Celebrity gossip. National holidays. The whole world is paying attention. And sharing their opinions with hashtags. This is your chance to not just weigh in with timely, relevant commentary, but to newsjack the story, injecting yourself into the global conversation in order to be seen by a much broader audience.

Example: Goose Island Beer Co

7. Weather

Small talk can be a big deal on social media. No, really. It’s actually a great way to break the ice and strike up a dialogue with someone you’ve met for the first time. Ask them how the weather is in their neck of the woods. Tell them it’s raining cats and dogs where you live. You never know where the conversation is going to lead.

Example: WCVB Channel 5 Boston

Bryan Farr shared this great lightning photo from the Andover area. Please share your weather photos with us by…

Posted by WCVB Channel 5 Boston on Tuesday, July 15, 2014

8. Inspiration

People use social media for a number of different reasons – marketing, sales, networking, entertainment, gossip, news and information, you name it – but everyone could use a lift now and then. Pump up your audience with motivational sayings and stories, anything you can think of that fills them with confidence, boosts their egos, inspires them to achieve more than they could imagine and helps them to enjoy life to the fullest.

Example: ASICS

9. Selfies

I’m not going to lie. Selfies are kind of a big deal right now. Take them. Share them. Ask for them. As I’ve written before here on ClickZ, “The selfie has gone from a silly little trend to a mainstream phenomenon, something almost everyone has embraced”…. Selfies aren’t going anywhere soon but onwards and upwards.

Example: Nathan’s

10. Pets

There’s a reason pet ownership in this country has more than tripled since the 1970s and that more than 60% of U.S. households today include at least one pet. Dogs, cats, fish and ferrets. Pets are wildly popular. Employee pets. Customer pets. Ordinary pets. Unusual pets. Include them in your content stream and you’ll get plenty of likes, favorites and retweets, never mind all the oohs and aahs.

Example: Steelcase Store

Note: This post, “10 Ways to Find Common Ground With Your Social Media Audience,” was originally published on ClickZ on July 14, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on August 17, 2015 here.

How 10 Beer Brands Rock the Social Media Scene

Send to Kindle

As the number of breweries in the United States continues to grow rapidly, so does the number of beer brands that are establishing a presence on social media, especially craft beer brands.

Beer. It’s not just for the barroom or the ballgame anymore. It’s not just for radio and TV anymore, either.
Beer has never been more ubiquitous. People are coming together for a cold one or two in real life and sharing those same experiences with their audiences on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine.

Talk about social drinking.

But seriously, it’s only natural that beer is making such a huge splash online. Beer is part and parcel of so many happy occasions and celebrations, the good times of our lives that we can’t help but want to share with the world out of pride and posterity. And today’s digital and mobile technologies make it so easy to do so.

Here’s how 10 beer brands are rocking the scene on social media…

1. Budweiser

“The King of Beers” may be one of the oldest beers on the market, but it’s as cool as its competition on social media, as over 40,000 followers on Instagram would likely attest. Here you’ll see plenty of beer bottles posed to perfection and shiny, happy people toasting to good times, each pic accompanied by a short, catchy caption that may inspire you to throw one back yourself.

#NationalBurgerDay means it's #NationalBudweiserDay.

A photo posted by Budweiser (@budweiser) on

2. Schlafly Beer

Raising money for a charitable cause while enjoying a new, limited-edition beer? Yes, please! With over 40,000 fans on Facebook, here’s guessing this fundraiser for baseball slugger Matt Holliday’s Uncork for a Cause charity was a huge success. Good for Schlafly Beer. And good for everyone who participated in this unique cause marketing initiative.

We made a Red Lager for Matt Holliday's Uncork For A Cause charity benefiting Siteman Cancer Center. The event is…

Posted by Schlafly Beer on Wednesday, May 27, 2015

3. Allagash Brewing Company

Even if you drink wine, not beer, these two beers might appeal to you. Brewed with grapes and “special wine yeast,” Victor and Victoria are being introduced here on Facebook in a rather impressive photo collage that includes both the red and white products themselves along with a team shot in the vineyard of the some of the players involved.

Have you tried Victor and Victoria yet? These beers are each brewed with either 350 pounds of freshly picked Chardonnay…

Posted by Allagash Brewing Company on Monday, June 1, 2015

4. Stone Brewing Company

Excellent branding. Excellent pose. Even if that keg was empty, it still couldn’t have been too easy to capture this moment on camera.

5. Pabst Blue Ribbon

Like Budweiser, here’s another classic beer that’s been around the block more than a few times. But also like Bud, it tweets like a millennial. This tweet features a ridiculously cool shot of a skateboarder going vertical with a tall boy of PBR placed perfectly in the foreground. Their four words: “Pabst does the trick.” My four words: Pabst gets social media.

6. Jack’s Abby Brewing

It’s not always about the beer, as this family-owned brewery in my neck of the woods (Framingham, MA) demonstrates here on Instagram. In this case, it’s about a pair of “flippy-floppies” with a built-in bottle opener.

Limited Edition Jack's Abby flippy-floppies w/ bottle opener drop tomorrow! Available in sizes S, M, and L.

A photo posted by Jack's Abby Brewing (@jacksabbybrewing) on

7. Michelob ULTRA

It’s only six seconds of video and simple six words, yet this Vine has been looped over 350,000 times (and counting). To say it’s to the point would be an understatement. It’s everything you could ask for in your own brand’s marketing outreach – attention-getting, well-targeted and strategically sound.

8. Great Lakes Brewing Co.

Many of those who are uninitiated to social media don’t understand how much you can get across in 140 characters or less on Twitter. Yet if you’re sharing the story of your business in a video such as this one, the possibilities are infinite. Great lakes. Great stories. Great tweet, indeed.

9. Lagunitas Brewing Company

Sharing the label of an upcoming, new release in this update, Lagunitas establishes both strong brand recognition and a feeling of exclusivity among its fans on Facebook. While this pic may not be as exciting as seeing a tall glass of the beer itself, for a serious beer connoisseur, it’s actually more revealing.

Here's a lil peek of our new #CitruSinensis packaging. The latest in the limited #OneHitter beer series shipping out soon to the real cool bottle shops near you.

Posted by Lagunitas Brewing Co on Thursday, May 28, 2015

10. Dos Equis

Like many of this Mexican beer’s ads, this tweet captures “the most interesting man in the world” in an unusually comical situation, in this case behind a heaping pile of paperwork on the day that income tax returns are due. He doesn’t always appear on social media. But when he does, he’s a riot.

Note: This post, “How 10 Beer Brands Rock the Social Media Scene,” was originally published on ClickZ on June 16, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on June 23, 2015 here.

Happy 90th Birthday to You, Dad!

Send to Kindle

Father and SonToday, August 6, 2015, my Dad is celebrating his birthday. But this isn’t just another birthday for him. This is his 90th birthday. That’s right, my Dad is entering his 10 decade of life here on earth.

It’s hard to believe.

Wow, Dad, so many memories. So many good times. So many accomplishments. So many games of Cribbage.

You, Dad, are a modest, unassuming and relatively quiet man, but to me, your family, relatives, friends and colleagues, your character has always spoken volumes. You have always been someone others can trust. A real man of your word. You have always been caring and kind to not just those who know you, but to even complete strangers. You have always treated everyone with the utmost respect. And because of all that and for countless other reasons, you have always been looked up to and admired not just by me, Mom, Tom and Cathy, but by everyone who has ever had the pleasure of knowing you.

You are not just my Dad, you are the quintessential role model.

I used to belong to a public speaking group called Toastmasters. One of the speeches I wrote in Toastmasters was about my Dad. In fact, he’s actually heard me give this speech twice, once at Toastmasters and a second time at his 80th birthday party. And then less than three weeks ago, at our annual family reunion, I read the following part of it to him again…

As I approached college age, I became a rebel of sorts. I listened to loud music, stayed out late and hung out with a rough crowd. Yeah, my late teens meant not always getting along with my Dad. In retrospect, he had every reason to disown me — which, of course, he didn’t, thankfully.

Instead, Dad demonstrated great patience. And stick-to-itiveness. In fact, I’ve never seen him give up on anything or anybody. He has taught me the virtues of being honest, loyal, conscientious and persistent. He has been generous when others may have chosen to be greedy. He has always said, “What can I do for you?” when others might have asked, “What’s in it for me?” He has always spoken softly and carried a big stick. And some of that, I hope, has rubbed off onto me.

And so, as a tribute to my Dad, and all Dads everywhere, I would like to quote from a book by Leo Buscaglia entitled Papa, My Father, A Celebration Of Dads, in which he speaks about his late father. My dad’s still alive, thank God, and this excerpt does not relate specifically to him, but it does serve as a rather eloquent pronouncement of what my dad means to me.

“Papa never climbed Everest or made the Guinness Book of World Records. He never read the classics or saw an original painting by Braque. He was proud, self-taught, and left no debts. If he had any hidden dreams, other than of being a good man, a committed father, and a loving husband, no one ever knew about them. If deep regrets, fears, or personal doubts tormented him, he never stated them. I am aware that years of having known and loved my father have transformed him from Papa, the simple human being, into Papa, the near saint. And I’ve come to the conclusion that there is nothing wrong with that.”

Happy Birthday, Dad. Happy Birthday to the “near saint” to me, your family, your relatives, your friends and everyone who has ever known you. I love you.

How 10 Nonprofit Brands Roll on Twitter

Send to Kindle

Branding. Marketing. Selling. There are countless reasons why you would use social media for business. And if you’re a nonprofit organization, one of those reasons would be fundraising.

In fact, as direct mail, telemarketing and other traditional methods of acquiring and retaining donors give way to digital communications, nonprofits of all shapes and sizes are jumping on the social media bandwagon. And many of them are working the crowds on these online channels as well or even better than their commercial brethren.

Not only are they on social media to ask for financial support, they’re on it to mobilize their advocates, recognize their volunteers, illustrate their needs, report on their progress and much more.

Good for them. And good for the worthy charitable causes they represent.

Here’s how 10 nonprofit brands, in no particular order, roll on Twitter…

1. Operation Smile

The before-and-after picture included in this tweet is not just a moving testament to the transformative work done by Operation Smile – which provides cleft lip and palate repair surgeries to children – but also a powerful appeal for support.

2. Rainforest Alliance

One of the slowest moving animals on the planet, a sloth like this is easy prey for jaguars, not to mention hunters. It’s got enough decreasing its chances for survival, never mind the fact that its habitat is threatened by deforestation.

3. Robin Hood Foundation

Donors want to know that their money is being spent wisely. They want to see the results of their financial support. Which is exactly what the Robin Hood Foundation does here in less than 140 characters, recapping the year with a link back to its most recent annual report.

4. Room to Read

Don’t be surprised to see this organization that focuses on literacy and gender equality in education tweeting in near real time about a natural disaster. Because the Nepal Earthquake had such a big impact on the communities it serves, Room to Read has good reason to be all over this story, even going so far as to set up the Nepal Education Fund.

5. Gates Foundation

Add an image to a tweet and the chances of it being shared increases. Here’s a great example. Not only does the Gates Foundation illustrate the potential result of donor support, they include a personalized messaged from Bill Gates himself and not one, but two strong calls to action. No wonder they received so many RTs and favorites, not to mention how much money they may have raised for their cause with this one tweet alone.

6. Central Park Conservancy

Besides the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping others, there are many benefits to supporting a nonprofit organization. Some are exclusive to you and other donors, while others may be available to the general public as well. In this case, the Central Park Conservancy is announcing one of its many free tours. Wish I were there!

7. RED

Of course, the primary goal of most nonprofits is to raise funds. But that’s easier said than done on Twitter, as many followers, even if they support you, will shy away from a direct pitch. That’s why I like this tweet so much in which RED offers their audience a nice choice of Mother’s Day gifts in support of the fight against AIDS. It’s a win-win proposition.

8. The Jimmy Fund

Emotion goes a long way on social media. People are pumped to see the lengths others will go to fight for their rights, demand justice, provide shelter to the homeless, feed the hungry, save animals from suffering or, in The Jimmy Fund’s case, conquer cancer. Followers are more likely to get behind a cause if you can strike an inspirational chord in them.

9. Christopher’s Haven

Thanking their donors, whether it’s everyday people like you and me or wildly popular celebrities like Chris Pratt and Chris Evans, is something nonprofits can’t do enough of, as Christopher’s Haven does so perfectly in this tweet which just so happens to have been retweeted more than 2,000 times.

10. World Wildlife Fund

Having a legion of followers is one thing. Getting them to pay attention to you is another. Ask them anything. Stimulate audience engagement by posing a good question, as the World Wildlife Fund demonstrates here with this true or false pop quiz.

Note: This post, “How 10 Nonprofit Brands Roll on Twitter,” was originally published on ClickZ on May 19, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on May 28, 2015 here.

10 Ways to Humanize Your Social Media Brand

Send to Kindle


A critical mass of brands, businesses, marketers and corporate executives may have a presence on social media today, but that doesn’t mean they have a clue what they’re doing on these online communication channels.

Sure, some of them may be thriving in the space, attracting a loyal following and carving out a reputation for sharing timely, indispensable content that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

However, an overwhelming majority seem to fall into one of two categories of still doing it wrong. Either they don’t know what to say so their collective silence is deafening, or they’re broadcasting the same old promotional messages over and over again so they sound like a cacophony of carnival barkers.

Many of them seem at a loss on how to strike a happy medium with both their content and cadence, missing countless opportunities to connect with their constituents and earn their unconditional support.

Of course, being creative, entertaining and informative can go a long way toward helping you build a big audience on social media, but simply being yourself may be the easiest way to score points there.

Here are 10 ways to humanize your social media brand and win over the crowds on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like…

1. Don’t be a Stranger.
Don’t hide behind a corporate logo and post in anonymity. Put a collective face on your brand by making it abundantly clear to your audience that there are real people behind the scenes. Your interests and emotions count as much as the facts and information. Show that you have more than just a pulse, show that you have a personality.

2. Talk in the First Person.
Your social media accounts are run by human beings, not logos. So talk that way. Refer to your brand in the first person – the collective “we,” or if you’re your own boss, “I,” – not the name of your company. Be available, responsive and conversational. If you personify the qualities you admire in a best friend, you’ll not only spark more meaningful engagement, you’ll build a lot of trust.

3. Avoid Corporate Speak.
Forget the buzzwords and jargon. You don’t have to impress anyone with your vocabulary. This is your chance to come across as the colleague next door, someone who’s as down to earth as they come. It’s okay to talk business. You certainly want to establish yourself as a credible authority. Just be sure to speak in layman’s terms, not yours. Small talk can be a big deal on social media.

4. Address Others by Name.
Whether you have space limitations or not, heed what Dale Carnegie wrote in his bestselling book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Don’t cut characters at the expense of the sound your fans, followers and friends want to hear. Cut somewhere else. Names are that important.

5. Share Content in Real Time.
Most of us schedule at least some of our posts in advance using automation tools. That’s how we maintain a consistent, ongoing presence across the social landscape. But planned content shouldn’t make up the majority of your stream. The more extemporaneous you can be, the more props you will earn for your timeliness and authenticity.

6. Show and Tell.
As a copywriter, I hate to admit this, but even the best written content can’t always capture the right tone of voice. Personality, mood, context – none of that’s easy to get across in words alone. Pictures of whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, are more realistic, intimate and explanatory. Video is even better.

7. Have a Sense of Humor.
As I wrote recently on ClickZ, no brand wants to be perceived as uptight, old-fashioned and out of touch. Yet far too many of them remain reluctant to share anything more than everyday news with their followers, never mind a chuckle. Remember, laughter is the best medicine for a lot of things, including a business that’s stuck in a rut on social media.

8. Help Others.
You may think it’s old-fashioned, but don’t forget the golden rule. There’s a lot to be said for doing good. Give someone your attention and you’ll get theirs in return. Provide them with your assistance and they’ll be grateful forever. Don’t just share your own valuable content, either. Share others’ as well. This will be taken as a sincere form of flattery and go a long way toward showing them you’re genuinely paying attention as opposed to simply automating your feed.

9. Listen and Learn.
Not everyone realizes you don’t have to say a thing on social media to reap some of the benefits of it. You can’t empathize with your constituents if you don’t understand them. Monitor what people are saying about you and your brand. Keep an ear to the ground and take feedback seriously. Hang on the words of others and you’ll learn a ton. Respond in kind to them and not only will they put you on their radar, they’ll be thankful for the attention and likely reciprocate.

10. Admit Mistakes.
When all is said and done, don’t forget that to err is human. Not that you want to make any mistakes. Of course not. But if they’re honest, harmless blunders and goofs, you shouldn’t have to lose any sleep about them. Spelling, punctuation, good grammar and accuracy are of utmost importance. There are no excuses for inattention to detail. But if you drop the ball rarely, not regularly, most people will be quick to forgive you if they even notice at all.

Note: This post, “12 Social Media Posts That Are Funnier Than Yours,” was originally published on ClickZ on March 24, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on April 28, 2015 here.

12 Social Media Posts That Are Funnier Than Yours

Send to Kindle

shutterstock_218873764It may sound like a cliché, but it’s absolutely true. Laughter is the best medicine.

Laughter is good for your health because it’s known to lower blood pressure and stimulate the release of endorphins, a powerful set of hormones that can actually get in the way of pain and may even lead to euphoria.

Laughter is good for business, too, because if people are smiling, they’re usually less guarded and more agreeable.

Of course, marketers who know this go to great lengths to develop campaigns that are infused with a strong dose of humor. In seasoning their ads with reasons to snicker and snort, they’re putting customers and prospects in the mood to buy without employing anything even close to a hard sell.

You might say they’re laughing all the way to the bank.

That’s why so many brands are going out of their way to let their hair down on social media, taking great pains to reveal their lighter sides. If the cool kids have a sense of humor, then so do they. No brand wants to be perceived as uptight, old-fashioned and out of touch.

It’s too bad more brands didn’t take themselves so seriously on social media, especially B2B brands, which even in this day and age remain reluctant to as much as crack a smile.

Yup, as long as they’re in good taste, funny posts win on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and perhaps every other social network but LinkedIn, which is probably a little too buttoned up for laughs. Here are 12 good examples…

1. Ben and Jerry’s

Besides mouth-watering shots of its frozen treats, this legendary premium ice cream brand’s sense of humor is one of the key ingredients of its engagement strategy on Instagram, as indicated in the puns used to call attention to Chunky Monkey, just one of its many popular flavors.

Call us nuts, but we’re bananas for riddles. Name that flavor!

A photo posted by Ben & Jerry’s (@benandjerrys) on

2. Hanes

A nice example of thinking outside the box, Hanes flaunts its creativity with this shot of a T-shirt that looks like it was gored by bull horns. It’s edgy for a relatively conventional brand, but well within the bounds of good taste.

3. Bissell

This well-known manufacturer of vacuum cleaners and floor care products has been around for forever (well, since 1876), but this user-generated-content (UGC) campaign has 2015 written all over it. Good for them. And good for animal welfare, too. They’re donating $1 to the BISSELL Pet Foundation (up to $50,000) for every post.

4. Lowes

This Vine includes six seconds of hilarity as well as words to the wise from Lowes, the giant home improvement store chain. First and foremost, it’s entertaining, but it’s also very educational.

5. Dunkin’ Donuts

Dunkin’s Donuts wasn’t alone in newsjacking this viral, washed-out photo in late February. Apparently more than 10 million tweets mentioned #TheDress. This post is a great example, though, of the fun this iconic brand has on a regular basis not just on Instagram, but all over social media.

Doesn’t matter if it’s blue/black or white/gold, they still taste delicious. #thedress

A photo posted by dunkindonuts (@dunkindonuts) on

6. Citrix Go ToMeeting

Leveraging the kind of catchy, provocative hashtag you might see as a trending topic on Twitter, this clever tweet shows an otherwise serious brand going out of its way to make you laugh out loud.

7. Coors Light

Beer brands are notorious for incorporating humor into their marketing, advertising and social media activities, and this post, a newsjacking nod to #EmployeeAppreciationDay, is no exception.

8. Charmin

When it comes to bathroom humor, Charmin may have cornered the market. Seriously, this toilet paper brand knows how to work the crowd on Twitter with a continuous series of puns, double entendres and zany one-liners – tagged #tweetfromtheseat – such as this one about the Apple Watch.

9. Microsoft Dynamics CRM

As both a way to capture your attention and underscore the importance of its “real-world” sales solutions, Microsoft Dynamics shares this short, comical parody video of a sales superstar in action.

10. Ellen DeGeneres

With over 40 million followers, Ellen ranks 10th on the list of Twitter’s most popular accounts, outranking the second TV host/comedian on the list, Jimmy Fallon, by over 18 million followers. So if you want to learn how to tell a joke in 140 characters or less, learn from the best. Follow @TheEllenShow. http://twittercounter.com/pages/100

11. CBS News

So much bad news is reported by not just the local, but the national TV networks, it’s not only refreshing, it’s riveting to see when one of them files a funny story such as this one about a “koala car-jacking.”

12. Old Spice

This classic brand of grooming products for men is yet another funny account to follow on Twitter. Many of their tweets are bold, irreverent and more than just a little bit amusing, like this well-crafted, well-timed tweet on Presidents Day.

Note: This post, “12 Social Media Posts That Are Funnier Than Yours,” was originally published on ClickZ on March 24, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on April 7, 2015 here.