social media

Who Doesn’t Love a Baby Video?

We chose each element of this maternity services video—the voice, the script, the visual look, the music, the animation effects and the custom baby photos shot by our partner, Tami Wilson—to depict the extra attentiveness our client brings to their patients.
Within the first few days of posting the video on their Facebook page, it had more than 2,000 views.
What ways have you used to incorporate videos and photos into your social media strategy to increase engagement?

Marketing Madness: Part 3—Beware of Entertainment as a Strategy


People increasingly want to be entertained as part of their communication fare. While there’s a place for this, we caution companies about heading too far down this road unless entertainment is their core business.
This is particularly true in businesses and services that are seen as serious, dignified and honorable. When we look for a doctor, we don’t want him/her to treat our situation as light or humorous. Competence and humor can be at opposite ends of the spectrum.
While today’s consumer may crave entertaining messages, companies need to think twice before stepping into this realm. It’s possible that lots of clicks and shares of a humorous video can actually be a bad thing, telling the wrong story about your company.

Marketing Madness: Part 2—Why Counting Clicks Could Be Your Most Deadly Strategy


It’s time we challenge the prevailing idea that online traffic necessarily equates to loyalty and purchases.
Make no mistake: You can create content that goes wild on the social media meter, but that does nothing for your brand image or customer loyalty. We’re not saying you shouldn’t pay attention to clicks and shares and traffic, but that it is often not put in its rightful place as an indicator of traffic—rather than an indicator of loyalty and relationship.
Ultimately, your digital strategy should build relationships that result in revenue for your company and benefit for your client. Getting the customer to your website is the first step.
But the next and vital steps are helping them see how your product or service would be valuable to them, which in turn will generate sales.
Stay tuned for more in our series on Marketing Madness.

Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities Campaign

The Oregon Alliance of Independent Colleges & Universities is taking a proactive stance to show how private colleges benefit students, communities and their state. We’ve worked with them to make their case and bring their messages to a variety of media—from video and social media messaging to handouts and easy reference wallet-sized cards.


OAICU Infographic

OAICU Wallet Reference Card

OAICU Value Proposition Brochure

OAICU Facebook Graphics

Combat Negative Publicity

Is your company misunderstood? Are myths about your industry hurting your own organization? When the media doesn’t report your story accurately, ask yourself these questions:

  • Have you simplified your message down to its essence?
  • Is the message relevant? 
  • Is your message being delivered in a compelling, memorable way that stands out from your competitors’? 
  • Are you reaching the right people? 
  • Are you delivering it over and over? 

Being proactive in telling your story is imperative when your company’s story isn’t understood.

Need some inspiration? >>

A national association used this video as part of a campaign to refute some of the myths about private higher education.

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This app was developed to pair with a national association's video to get their key messages into the hands of policy makers in a mobile-friendly format.

Executives for Hawaii’s largest health plan used this PowerPoint presentation to personally take their message of innovation to community leaders.

A state-wide association takes their message to the people in this video that showcases little-known facts about their organization. The video serves as a versatile and ideal tool for social media, websites and presentations.

Step Up Your Social Media

Social media is about sharing content in different formats—words, video or photos. So the first step in any social media strategy is to create quality content that your customers are interested in—and delivering it in a way that is share-worthy. Here are five tips to improve your chances:

  • Use quality photos that are better than your competitors.
  • Use video.
  • Make your videos entertaining—when appropriate.
  • Make your writing better than your competitors. 
  • Provide useful content that isn’t just about your company. 

If you’re serious about social media, commit resources to monitor the conversation so you know what the crowd is saying about you.

Need some inspiration? >>   

This short video brought a powerful response when shown to policy makers and stakeholders—and went viral among other state private education associations. It shows how complex messages can be simplified using an animated video technique.


We use our blog to provide short, easy-to-read tips on how to improve a business’s marketing and communications.

Even a simple but entertaining e-card like this—posted on your social media channels and website—can increase views.

10 Things You Can Post on Social Media


Not sure what to post that will interest your followers? This list of 10 ideas from Michael Hyatt can get you started.

  1. Share a resource. You can point people to a news item, a blog post, a website, a software tool or anything else you think would be helpful to your followers. Share the link to the resource.
  2. Repost another’s post. Occasionally, you will read something from one of your friends or someone you follow that you just have to share with your friends.
  3. Make an announcement. Whenever you post something new to your blog, select winners in your contest or start a new business, tell your followers and provide a link for more information.
  4. Reveal something personal. This is what humanizes you and makes you real. It is also what connects people to you and builds trust.
  5. Ask a question. One of the beauties of social media is that you can crowd-source your research. Use the “wisdom of crowds” to do everything from finding a great restaurant to solving a specific problem.
  6. Provide a discount. If you have an opportunity for your followers to get a deal or save money, share the love. Just be careful you don’t use this as an excuse for spamming your followers.
  7. Reply to a question. Remember that first and foremost, social media is intended to be social. It’s all about the conversation. This means you need to reply to questions people ask you if you are to be taken seriously.
  8. Report what you are doing now. This is something that also humanizes you. If you are doing something particularly interesting, share it with your followers. It’s often useful to include a link to a photo.
  9. Offer your congratulations. Use social media to celebrate the accomplishments of others. Don’t make it all about you. Be generous with others and you’ll find it comes back to you.
  10. Wish someone well. Whether it’s a simple “happy birthday” or  “congratulations on your promotion,” social media provides a way for you to call attention to the people you care about.

3 Ways to Help Your E-message Get Read

Using targeted email, e-letters or e-blasts to get heard? Then you already know that unsolicited messages, or those that you initiate, play by different rules than messages that readers seek out.

Here’s why. Today’s email reader:

  1. Decides within the first few seconds whether to keep reading. So if it isn’t relevant or looks too overwhelming—with lots of grey text and no visual interest—your reader won’t go further.
  2. Doesn’t want to work hard to see if there’s something of interest to him or her.
  3. Gets too much communication. If the spam filter doesn’t filter it out, they’ll attempt to triage it quickly—based on those first two to three seconds. First impressions are everything.
  4. Scans, rather than reads. And does so in this order:
       •  Pictures
       •  Headlines
       •  Subheads and captions
       •  Bulleted lists
       •  Last of all, blocks of text
    If you can’t interest them with the first few, they won’t go further.

Today’s e-communication has to get past obstacles to get read. Here are three tips:

  1. Get the reader’s attention and keep them from leaving. Make an offer, offer content they relate to or show a picture the reader will connect with.
  2. Make it easy for them to find what they’re looking for. Don’t bury it inside long paragraphs, but giving them directional signs—like captions, subheads or bulleted lists.
  3. Make a call to action that’s easy to spot. Link to more information, a phone number or an email address.

Remember that when you initiate the communication, it’s up to you to make it interesting enough for the reader to commit time to it. And that begins by knowing how your readers will take in information and what obstacles will prevent them from getting your message.

A Police Department Using Pinterest?

You’re kidding. That was my response when Duane Hallock, a fellow communicator and marketing strategist in Kansas City, posted a link to the Kansas City Police Department’s Pinterest pages. I had to visit, and was pleasantly surprised at the useful content that ranged from boards featuring missing persons and women police officers to resources for people facing serious issues—all useful content for their community.
What other surprising ways have you found that businesses are using Pinterest?

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Celebrate Your Milestones

A company milestone—whether it's an anniversary or a major achievement—is a not-to-be missed opportunity to:

  • Inspire more loyalty in your customers.
  • Help employees become more purposeful and focused.
  • Reinforce culture. Encouragement and increased sense of purpose is a great motivator. 
  • Improve employee engagement. Want to improve service or quality? Celebrate employee successes to reinforce the behaviors you prize. 
  • Make work more meaningful. Employees who are inspired by the grander purposes of their work will do better work and be more loyal.
  • Reinforce brand messages. Been around 100 years? Talk about the ideas that made this milestone possible, and your vision for the future.
  • Encourage high-level goals. Employees focus on the ideas leaders and organizations talk about. 
  • Make other necessary communications serve a dual purpose—like pairing the celebration message with a community benefit report or holiday greeting card, for example.
  • Thank your customers, volunteers and the people who made you successful.

Need some inspiration? >>

This short video uses an anniversary to showcase how the organization benefits the community—while acknowledging the role of the community in the success. The message becomes “look what we did together” rather than “look what we did.”

A hospital’s deeply held values are brought to life and tied to the celebration message in this video.

This video recognizes employees, physicians and volunteers by showcasing White Memorial Medical Center’s employees sharing what it means to work there.

Combining a holiday message with a centennial message is a good way to stretch your marketing dollars—and stand out from those dull pre-printed greeting cards.

The Single Most Important Social Media Strategy


YouTube? Photo sharing? Social bookmarking? Twitter? Facebook? Pinterest? Let’s face it. Very few organizations have the resources to be all-in even the top five social media sites.

So what’s a business to do?

There’s one strategy that trumps all other social media strategies, and that’s this: the creation of relevant, fresh, quality content. Pure and simple. Social media is about sharing ideas that people find interesting, useful or entertaining. It doesn’t matter how many videos you post or how often you post on Facebook if you have nothing of importance to say.

So take a moment and set aside the angst about which social media options are right for you and ask yourself this one question: What content can we offer our readers that would make them want to come back for more?

Once that’s decided, you can more easily evaluate the various platforms to see which work best for your customers and your content.

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What We Like About "God Made A Farmer"

Sometimes you don’t have to talk about your product or service in detail, you can just evoke a feeling—and that’s what this Ram trucks Super Bowl ad does so well. Here’s how we call it:

Yes, on the artful, arresting and evocative use of still images.

Yes, on the voice of an American legend, Paul Harvey.

Yes, on a message that speaks to something deep in each of us—our need to celebrate honorable work.

Yes, on their creative way of engaging social media by connecting clicks to donations.

So what do you think? Was there a Super Bowl ad you liked best?

Should your hospital use Pinterest?

Pinterest can help put a personal face on health care—connecting with consumers on health-related matters. While it isn’t where consumers go for serious medical content, users spend time with Pinterest in the same way they read magazines—looking for inspiration and ideas.

With that in mind, here are some Pinterest boards hospitals might consider creating to start engaging consumer networks:

  • Popular baby names
  • Creative baby announcement
  • Best gifts for patients
  • Healthy tips
  • Healthy recipes
  • Healthy snacks children will eat
  • Newborns (baby picture, interesting newborn shots)
  • Encouraging words
  • Healing design (architectural images)
  • Recommended books on health
  • Hospital gala ideas
  • Causes
  • Inside the hospital (hire a photojournalist to capture engaging photos of people that depict the messages you want to convey)

For more inspiration, check out how other hospitals, like Rex Healthcare , Baylor Health Care System and the Cleveland Clinic are using Pinterest.

Like all social networks, Pinterest needs to have a steady supply of fresh content. So before adding this to your social media channels, think about how you might engage talent from throughout the hospital. Perhaps you have a creative dietician who’d like to be responsible for healthy recipes, or an OB staff member with expertise in photography.

Before heading down this road, make sure you check Pinterest’s latest guidelines for business—which has ever-morphing rules about self-promotion.

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Why Your Website Strategy Must Include Video


Video is the communication medium of choice for consumers—as evidenced by the skyrocketing popularity of YouTube as a search engine. Online video viewers will reach 169.3 million this year, according to HubSpot, and 53% of the population and 70% of Internet users will watch online video in 2012.

An internal Facebook study revealed that posts that include video generate 100% more engagement than the average post.

And a study by Forrester Research states that including an online video on your website increases the probability of converting a visitor into a client by sixfold: while 20% of visitors to a website will read the content, 80% will read the same content when paired with video.

It all makes sense, of course, because video steps up the visual, auditory and emotional response of the message by adding motion and sound—and can now be so easily shared. In addition, video increases web traffic, viral sharing and enhances Google rankings.

To play a successful role in your communication strategy, videos must be a part of a larger social media strategy. They must have content that the crowd hungers for and should be distributed through numerous channels. A video's ability to spread depends on the content and the conversations you’re already having with your constituents, of course, so recognize that successes will build as you become more adept in this changing world of communication.

How to Train Your Employees to Use Social Media


Some organizations hire outside firms to manage their social media—while others use their own internal employees. Given the wide range of capabilities typically found in a company, the latter will require both training and clearly defined policies.

This Mindflash infographic shows the kind of social media training your different employee types should receive.

A 12-Word Social Media Policy

A few weeks ago, we offered a list of elements to include in your social media policy. But for a short, easy-to-recall guideline, you can’t beat the clever 12-word policy offered by Farris Timimi, MD, medical director for the Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media.

  • Don’t lie, don’t pry

  • Don’t cheat, can’t delete

  • Don’t steal, don’t reveal

He elaborates on this in his blog entry—which is worth visiting—reminding us that the same “rules that apply to offline behavior apply to online behavior. The difference is the platform online can leverage a mistake to a much wider audience.”

What embarrassing social media mistakes have you seen in business?

How to Deal With Negative Social Media Comments

Social media is about conversations—not one-way messages. But what does the communication professional do in the face of negative comments?

Start by determining if the comment is:

  • A troll—someone who lives to bash?
  • A rant?
  • A joke?
  • Factually incorrect?
  • Factually correct?
  • Likely from a rival?
  • Merited?

Each of these types of comments require a different response. Here are some options to consider:

  • Ignore the comment. If it’s obviously ridiculous, it will be clear to other readers.
  • Remove the comment. Use this when there’s clearly no benefit to engaging in a conversation, if it’s inappropriate—or if it’s anonymous. You’re not required to provide a platform for someone who won’t even identify him/herself.
  • Take the conversation off-line. Use this to explore the problem and resolve it for that individual, if it’s likely an outlier rather than a frequently occurring event.
  • Correct the facts. Use this when the facts are likely to change reasonable readers’ opinions.
  • Explain the facts. Use this when background might be helpful.
  • Restate your position. Sometimes there’s an opportunity to convey your core values in a comment.
  • Fix the problem and report on the improvement. Nothing encourages loyalty like an organization that is truly trying to improve, and willing to listen to its customers.
  • Apologize. We all make mistakes. Sometimes owning them and offering a heartfelt apology is all a person wants.
  • Commend the post. Use this when the feedback has been helpful, and has resulted in an improvement.

The Air Force has a good Web posting response assessment that might trigger your own internal policies. 

What effective responses to negative comments have you seen?

How to Create Your Company's Social Media Policy: Part 2

This time we’ll continue with our list of some of the items you might want to include in your social media policy.

11.  Support claims with data, when possible.

12.  Stay within the law on copyright, trademark or other legal matters.

13.  Use impeccable grammar, a polite tone and accurate facts.

14.  Don’t take a public position on things that aren’t approved by your management.

15.  Don’t engage in controversial conversations.

16.  Don’t use the company brand to endorse a personal opinion or cause.

17.  Remember that once something is posted it is public, so think carefully before posting anything.

18.  Don’t participate in personal social media interactions during work time.

19.  Don’t post work that is a product of your company and display it as your own work.

20.  Don’t develop your own blog or website that promotes work similar to what your employer pays you for.

As you develop guidelines for your official social media commentators, remember to clearly identify who can post comments and to outline how negative and anonymous posts should be handled.

What would you add to this list?