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


10 Ways to Find Common Ground with Your Social Media Audience

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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

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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!

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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

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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

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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

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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.

What I Write about Social Media in 140 Characters or Less

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I live and breathe social media. I blog about the subject. I give presentations about it. I help clients with it. And occasionally I write about it in 140 characters or less on Twitter. For example:

Social Media: 15 Ways You’re Doing It Wrong

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Facebook was founded in 2004, Twitter in 2006. Even Instagram’s been around for almost five years. So you can’t say this stuff is new anymore.

For some strange reason, however, more marketers and brands than not are still struggling to make heads or tails of social media. Whether they’re surprisingly misinformed or just plain lost, they’re wasting their time and missing the boat. They’re failing to take advantage of what may just be the biggest revolution in communications since the printing press.

To say that’s unfortunate would be an understatement.

After all, done right, social media marketing can be a big game changer. It can be an incredibly effective way to attract the attention of your target audience, engage with them and curry their favor. Far too many go into it without doing their homework, though, their false assumptions and inexperience undermining any chance they have for a successful social media program.

Are you making these same mistakes? Are you doing it all wrong despite your very best intentions? You most certainly are if anything that follows sounds even remotely familiar.

1. You don’t have a plan.
The last thing you want to do is overlook the first thing you should do. Take pause before launch to map out the route you’re going to take on social media. Identify your target audience. Research the competition. Determine your objectives. Choose your tools. Develop your content. Then act accordingly. Eat. Sleep. Tweet. Repeat.

2. You’re working alone.
While no one is saying you can’t be a hit as a solo act on social media, your chances of success are much greater if you belong to a team. There are only so many hats one person can wear well. Strategic direction. Writing. Design. Marketing. Branding. PR. Web development. Analytics. You name it. You’ll make a much bigger impact if you divide and conquer.

3. You’re not a writer.
Of course, you’re not writing the great American novel. Far from it. But the importance of quality content can’t be emphasized enough. Even in 140 characters or less, punctuation, grammar and word play reign supreme. Think like a good journalist or copywriter. Better yet, hire one.

4. You’re spread too thin.
While it’s good to be in more places than one on social media, don’t get carried away with the notion. It’s better to be active on one or two channels than to be conspicuous in your inconsistency on a handful. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Fish where the fish are. Strike a happy medium between quality and quantity.

5. You’re a one-trick pony.
Of course, what might be even worse than being all over the place is being painfully predictable. Putting out the same kind of content in the same place day after day is of little interest to those on the receiving end. It’s boring. It’s monotonous. It’s an easy way to lose an audience.

6. You’re not posting in real time.
One of the biggest distinguishing characteristics of social media is its real-time nature, the fact that it makes it possible for users to connect with one another instantaneously. Canned content written and scheduled in advance will only get you so far. You’ll have greater influence on your constituency if you share extemporaneous news and commentary on at least an occasional basis.

7. You’re not being yourself.
Don’t try to fake it till you make it. Keep it real from the get-go. Transparency and authenticity are not an option on social media. Offer your opinions, not just the facts. Win friends and influence people with refreshing candor. Mean what you say and say what you mean. Put a face on your brand every step of the way.

8. You’re not listening.
Don’t be the account that only talks about itself. Don’t be a self-centered know-it-all. Pay attention to what others are saying not just about you and your brand, but about their own products and services, too. Mine the media for knowledge and expertise as much as mentions, questions, criticism and praise. Thank people for sharing your content and don’t forget to return the favor.

9. You’re erratic.
Whatever you’re doing on social media, do it on a regular basis. Disappear for even just a few days and you’ll be testing the loyalty of those who follow you. Your content stream should serve as a virtual extension of you and your brand, leaving an indelibly consistent, not scattershot, impression on your audience.

10. You’re careless.
Written communications is far more informal than it was back in the day. But that doesn’t excuse you from making typos or blatant grammatical mistakes. Some colloquialism and slang is called for on social media. But so is some measure of decorum and professionalism.

11. You’re no fun.
A good sense of humor goes a long way on social media. Accounts that are spirited, playful, irreverent, even mischievous (in a good-natured way) tend to be popular. Don’t hesitate to share a few laughs with your followers and fans. Social media works best for brands that take their products and services, not themselves, seriously.

12. You’re as bland as milk toast.
It’s much better to be safe than sorry on social media, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out on a limb once in a while and express your creativity. Be colorful, not controversial. Bold, not brash. Avoid arguments at all costs and always take the high road. But show you have more than just a pulse, show you have a personality.

13. You’re not sharing any pictures.
It’s no secret that visual content on social media commands attention. It really doesn’t matter what kind, either. Stock images. Candid shots. Video. Instagram. Vine. Complement your words with pictures in any way, shape or form and stand out amid the clutter.

14. You’re not paying to play.
You may have the most compelling content imaginable, but you still may not be seen by enough people on social media. Organic reach is down. Attention spans are short. The best laid plans can easily go astray without putting at least a small budget behind your efforts.

15. You’re ignoring the numbers.
Branding is important, but like any other form of marketing, social media marketing is all about the results. Establish your goals and develop a methodology for measuring your performance. As Stephen Covey wrote in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, “begin with the end in mind.”

Note: This post, “Social Media: 15 Ways You’re Doing It Wrong,” was originally published on ClickZ on February 24, 2015 here and on the Overdrive Interactive blog on March 3, 2015 here.