Here’s lookin’ at you, GIF.

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Post by @LaurenVosbein

In 1987 JPG and MOV met over drinks. Text showed up. Pixels were exchanged, data was written, one thing led to another, and before we all knew it the GIF was born.

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Yep, the little hybrid file that’s not quite an image and not quite a video has been around awhile, yet sprung back to life recently in a renaissance to claim our hearts, make us laugh, and in some cases – of which I am proudly exempt- pee our pants. With its emotional nature and quick wit, the GIF has struck up a modern romance with social communication and brands should take note.

Why it works:

The GIF is quick. Period. In a world of Google Fiber and 4G, our patience for slow is low. (Get outta here, rainbow wheel!) For better or for worse, we’ve reached an age where fast is expected and anything less than now draws out a yawn. So when it comes to the content filtering through our daily social feeds, we’ve got just enough time to absorb a photo, read its caption and move on. The time for posts sans image has come and gone, and our patience weans even for the effort of clicking on a video file, waiting for it to load and watching it play. Enter: a bite-sized story on a 3-second loop embedded into our feeds (automatic play). We’ve got time for that.

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The GIF is emotional. Sorry Smileys, we love you, but your cute faces no longer say it all. GIFs convey a mood with movement. They are reactionary responses to a friend’s comment, a big announcement, or the small events in our lives. Need to get up early? Cue a Ferris Bueller grimace. Waiting too long for a friend to show? Cue Honey Boo Boo pout. Reacting to a huge celebrity announcement? Cue:

Eva Mendez and Ryan Gosling are having a baby?!

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The GIF is funny. (Arguably it’s winning feature.) Tell me the last time you looked at a GIF and didn’t laugh out loud or at the least crack a smile. When a single moment captured from a popular TV show, movie, or news clip is cut, looped, and captioned to deliver a poignant reaction to an unrelated context, humor is inevitable. The effect is funny! Not to mention highly contagious, which means sharable content.

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Why brands should take note:

Relying on your audience to share your content is an obvious goal. What’s more sharable than a GIF? It’s quick, emotional and funny. And it’s growing daily in popularity. For most of its life, GIF has called Tumblr home, and yet in January GIF spread its wings and joined the Pinterest club. Just this month it got the keys to Twitterdom.

These large, social platforms inviting GIFs into their worlds, only proves their value to the social sphere. GIFs are a great vehicle for brands to lift the corporate veil and show their fans some personality. Bravo to the brands that have already adopted the GIF (Fiat, Wendy’s, Bud Light); we like your style and applaud your savvy ways.  Catch our attention? Check. Make us laugh? Check. Seem a little more human and a lot more hip? Check.  Here’s to the brands that show some skin and let the human behind the logo shine. And here’s to the GIF for delivering value in a way we want it. Brands and GIFs should meet over drinks; there is a lot of ROI to be shared.

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Are we too dependent on our technology?

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Post by Nate Ludens

According to the Google search I just did, Voltaire said it first: With great power comes great responsibility. Usually we hear this quote from a Jedi, a title fighter, or a team that just won the Stanley Cup, but not this time.

I’m aiming that quote right at you, Mr. or Ms. Technophobe.

Each of us know a certain someone who’s glued to their mobile device(s) 24/7, tweeting, instagramming, and snapping away. You know ‘em. I know ‘em. And hey, I’m guilty sometimes, too. It’s no secret that we love social media here at Digital Royalty. By now, there’s hundreds of entries on this blog and other pages around the web about the power of social communication. We have unprecedented access to our favorite TV shows, sports, and news updates, which is great. Hey, if social media can swing elections and overthrow governments around the world, it can certainly make or break a much smaller business like a restaurant.

Speaking of, I recently read a disturbing article about a restaurant in New York City that grew tired of seeing poor reviews about their slow service. They staffed up, and even trimmed the menu down to try and make some changes. According to the patrons, the service was still too slow. So the restaurant owners hired a firm to review their surveillance tapes to see what changed over the last decade, and why they were seeing such an increase in attitudes about their service. Savvy move, if you ask me.

Their findings were pretty eye-opening. Turns out, the problem wasn’t a lazy wait staff, slow cooks, or a spike in business that added nearly an hour to the average dinner sitting – it was you and me! Customers are busy taking selfies with their dinner dates, reading online reviews, texting friends for recommendations, and checking in on Foursquare – all from the dinner table. Patrons are the ones slowing down the service team by their dependency on their phones - and on average, ordering their food a full 21 minutes later than they did a decade ago. Can you believe it?

This isn’t just an isolated instance, and many restaurants are taking note. Another article highlights a restaurant in Jerusalem that gives you 50% off your bill if you turn off your phone during dinner. The owner is pleading with his patrons to socialize in person and enjoy the full dining experience, then power on and share the story after dessert.

Like I said, with great power, comes great responsibility, and we have a responsibility as the social/digital generation to be aware of our dependency on technology and use it for good. At Digital Royalty, we sometimes put all our phones in a box or in the center of the table when we have team meetings, to keep us from getting distracted by the constant Twitter notifications and influx of Snapchats. It’s our way of holding ourselves accountable for the times when we shouldn’t be on our phones.

Do you think we’re abusing our power? What measures do you take to get a date, a spouse or your children to turn off their devices and tune in to the moment?

Taking Twitter Analytics to the Next Level

Post by @ChelseaHartling 

Have you seen Twitter’s brand new analytics dashboard yet? If not, you’re in for a treat, because it now details ALL of your tweet activity and is specifically designed to help you optimize your brand’s performance on Twitter. We constantly geek out over rad analytics tools, and this dashboard highlights exactly the type of metrics that set our social media hearts on fire. Plus, it will help brands improve their content strategy and drive more consumer engagement. Props, little Twitter birds. You done good.

Here are some of the best features of the new interface:

1. Total impressions:

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With the impressions metric, you can now see how many times a specific Tweet has been viewed on mobile and desktop, the total impressions of a Tweet, as well as an hour-by-hour breakdown for the first day of the Tweet. (Excuse us while we nerd out.)

2. Total engagements:

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Now you can see the engagement rate (aka, how many RT’s, @replies, favorites, and clicks it received) for every single post, both promoted and organic, without having to manually check your feed. This will be very helpful for determining what copy/content makes the biggest impact on your audience and will help brands develop a stronger content strategy that offers the most value to their followers. Big win.

3. Comprehensive tweet analytics:

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The age old question, “what content performs best?” is finally answered with this feature. Now you can see which Tweets performed the best and drove the most interaction with your followers. Take Tweets with an App Card for example: now you’ll see how many times people clicked to install your app or opened it. This metric also provides how many follows you received or how many profile views came from a particular Tweet. That’s some next level analytic data, yo.

4. Exporting your data.
In addition to the web interface for all Tweet activity, the CSV export tool shows you data for up to 3,200 Tweets and includes a breakdown of all impressions and other engagement numbers. This will be extremely helpful for analyzing past tweets and campaigns.

Bottom line, this new dashboard takes Twitter analytics to the next level and we’re stoked to dive in and get our hands dirty. If you haven’t played around in the new platform, check it out by visiting analytics.twitter.com and let us know what you think!

Social Community Management Tips: Tried. Tested. Shared.

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Post by @itsmeltuvell What’s the ULTIMATE goal for brands and social marketers? If you didn’t answer that with “a loyal, engaged community,” you might be missing out on a huge opportunity through your community management strategy. We’ve had our head in the game for 5 years (or 35 if you agree that social years are like dog years), so here are a few of our tried, tested, and true tips for rocking social community management.

1. Stay relevant. If you’re still marketing to your followers on Myspace, then we got problems. Building brand advocates and influencer’s starts with taking advantage of the conversations that are already happening online. There are so many opportunities & platforms to jump into conversations and engage with your audience using social – they’re talking to you, and you need to be where they are.

2. Get creative. Here’s an example of excellent listening and engaging that proves a little goes a long way. Don’t be afraid to get creative with how you interact and engage with your audience and let your personality shine through.

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 3.11.05 PM 3. Don’t “set it and forget it.” Social never sleeps, and a recent study shows that 53% of users who tweet at a brand expect a response within one hour. If you schedule your posts in advance, that doesn’t exempt you from keeping your finger on the pulse and monitoring the conversation. It’s still moving, even if you’re not.

4. Read before engaging. One mistaken hit of the favorite button could land you in hot water. Although someone might tweet that you’ve made a “Top 10 List,” it could be a list of the top 10 worst brands ever in existence. Do you really want to be favoring that type of content?

5. Address the negative head-on. If you delete or hide a negative comment, it looks like you have something to hide, and likely someone will call you out, creating a bigger issue. Lean into the discomfort and own it. Your audience will appreciate you more for it.

6. Make sure to acknowledge the positive, too. A simple “thank you” goes a long way in the social world.

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7. Remember the “Golden Rule” (of social media, that is). Not familiar? Let’s review: delivering value when, where, and how your audience wants to receive it. Know your target audience so you can provide them your unique value offering with each post.

8. Be human. Getting too technical or being overly salesy can turn your audience off because it comes across as impersonal. Like we always say: Humans > Logos.

Have more tips to add to this list? Share them with us on Twitter.

World Cup Brand-Off

Post by @AlanaGolob

The World Cup may not begin until Thursday, but the showdown to win over football (soccer) fans around the world is well underway. The competition is fierce and brands are pushing the boundaries this year by essentially creating high production short films for their commercial spots. It’s not a surprise that brands are going all out, given that more than 3.2 billion people watched the live coverage of the 2010 World Cup, which was a 32% increase from 2006. It’s been entertaining, to say the least, to witness the heated competition between brands as they fight for viewership. Here’s a snapshot of the brand front-runners thus far. Although their products appear throughout each video, you forget you’re watching a commercial because you’re drawn to the compelling content – something each of these brands did so brilliantly.

Nike: “Last Game” 

With no surprise Nike came out of the gate strong in May with their “Winner Stays” video featuring Renaldo. Well, they are back and even stronger with their new five minute completely animated film, “The Last Game” that is already approaching 1 million YouTube views in the first 24-hrs.

Beats by Dre: “The Game Before The Game”

One of the most impressive campaigns (with more than 7.2 million views) I’ve ever seen is the campaign by Beats. It was visually stunning with Rio as the backdrop, included cameos from celebs/personalities, like Serena Williams and Nicki Minaj and beautifully showcased different pre-game rituals from people around the world. Well done, Beats, and thank you for the goosebumps.

Adidas: “House Match” 

“House Match” took the more humorous (and shorter) approach featuring current and past stars including, David Beckham who match-up against each other in Beckham’s home – which includes the destruction of his stocked trophy case. The video has already accrued more than 10 million views on YouTube since it was published on June 6th.

How do all these campaigns translate to social? It’s simple. Social has been the driving force for these campaigns leading up to the World Cup. With ad buys, athlete support, media coverage, and most importantly, outstanding content – these campaigns are making a huge splash amongst soccer and non-soccer fans.

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Here’s a quick glance at World Cup conversation volume thus far and how it continues to increase as we approach the end of the week.

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If you haven’t watched the new #WorldCup on Twitter video published by Twitter, I would recommend it. “Love every second.”

With the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ just days away, I look forward to what each of these brands have in-store for football fans around the world.

Back to Social Basics: Surprise and Delight.

Post by @ChelseaHartling

When you think of a brand that just nails it on social, what comes to mind? For us at Digital Royalty, one of the things we really tune into are the brands that do a great job of listening and connecting with their audience. Your engagement factor is often times what sets you apart from the rest, not to mention the fact that it’s also one of the best ways to build brand loyalists. Taking the time to build genuine connections is an underrated component that brands sometimes overlook in their social content strategy.

Embassy Suites recently saw a guest tag them on Instagram in a pretty funny post. His faithful Embassy Suites pen bit the dust after two years of consistent daily usage – anyone who has a trusty pen knows that the struggle is real. He took a photo and tagged the brand in a witty display of satirical devastation:

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It would have been so easy to overlook something like this, especially for a big brand. The differentiating factor here, is that Embassy Suites saw an opportunity to connect with this person through a surprise and delight, so they sent him a personalized note with a box of brand new pens. The result? One happy camper who took to the social space to sing Embassy’s praises.

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These are the types of situations that give brands the opportunity to go back to the basics of social. Something so simple like this helps build brand loyalists and makes a big brand like Embassy Suites stand out in the sea of sameness. Sometimes we just need to take a step back from our long list of marketing ploys and remember what social communication is all about: listening, engaging, and making genuine connections with your audience.

Reminder: social media, isn’t media at all – it’s simply communication, and truthfully, this type of engagement speaks volumes.

An Open Letter to the Twitter Mute Button

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Are you there, Twitter? It’s me, @chelseahartling.

Have I told you lately that you’re one of my favorite social platforms? I mean, I loved you before hardly anyone even knew about you, and besides Facebook you’re the longest social relationship I’ve ever been in.  You’ve given me an outlet to use my voice, and you constantly give me fast access to current events and up to the minute information on what’s happening all over the entire globe. In a generation where social media is the great equalizer, there’s no one like you.

My recent affinity for you comes in the form of your new Mute button. I think it’s brilliant. We all have friends or family that we follow on Twitter who annoy the living daylight out of us – but what can you do? You can’t unfollow your brother for tweeting too much about his love for a sports team you disdain. You can’t tell your best friend to shut up because her relentless tweets with cryptic Marilyn Monroe quotes overlaid on top of sunset pictures are driving you up a wall. You just have to take a deep breath and silently scroll past these posts without making a scene in order to preserve friendship and family ties. It’s a hard knock life for a Twitter addict.

But then you come to the rescue with a Mute button. Finally, a solution for all those people who constantly post deep and cheesy song lyrics, traumatically ruin TV finales, or #OnlySpeakInHashtags, without having to cut ties or offend people you actually enjoy in real life. It just seems so logical to me.

Some people wonder how the Mute button might affect brands. How will they continue to quantify reach if they get muted, or worse, not even know how many people have muted them? As long as you’re continuing to implement the golden rule of social media (providing value when, where, and how your audience wants to receive it) you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. Of course, promoted tweets won’t be affected by the Mute button, so brands will continue to have to pull out their wallets if they want to ensure their most important content is being seen – but that’s becoming a norm across most platforms that we’re just going to have to come to terms with (looking at you, Facebook). #MakeItRain

The feature is still brand new, but I’m excited to see the potential of how it progresses. Maybe one day we’ll have the option to Mute for just a set amount of time (how great would it be to mute those people who live tweet TV shows or sports games you have to watch on a delay, just for one day?). Hopefully some day soon we’ll also have access to some analytics around this so brands and community managers can transform their content strategies to provide even more value to their followers. We’re only just scratching the surface with this update, and I truly believe it has the potential to change and redefine the space as we know it. Exciting!

In short, dear Twitter, props to you for having the guts to give the people what they want: a useful feature that will encourage others to use their online voices for good. #Winning.

Jump high-five,
@Chelseahartling

PS. Check out Amy Jo Martin’s recent interview with Fox News TV on how brands can avoid being muted, here.

Last Minute Mother’s Day Gift

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We love our moms and we know you do too. BUT, don’t you sometimes wish you could put your mom’s social media usage on timeout? Us too. We’ve seen everything from accidental Facebook shares, to tweets that should be @replies. Hashtags? Don’t even bother! So, in honor of Mother’s Day and to show how much we care about all the wonderful mothers in our lives, Digital Royalty University is offering a helping hand.

For the next two days, you can give your mom free social media classes! Just add your selected courses to your cart (after you shop here) and on the checkout screen enter the code “helpmymom“. The price will drop to $0. It’s our way of saying thank you!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Hey Graduates! How Does Your Personal Brand Look?

Post by Sara Farr

This week Digital Royalty’s very own Nate Ludens gave priceless advice to a group of advertising and PR students at UNLV. It was similar to the speech he gave to my class last year, which helped to translate my dream of working with social media from merely dreams to a reality. As a college student, and soon to be graduate, hearing from an industry professional is very valuable way to see a different perspective from some of the things you have learned in class and from textbooks.

As graduation season is upon us, it is important to work on (be aware of) your personal brand before diving into the sea of job applications. From Nate’s presentation, here are 7 important tips to help graduates establish a strong personal brand while preparing to join the work force.

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1. Never burn a bridge.

No matter what happens, how you feel at the time, try to be cool because you never know where that person is going to end up. Keep in touch, too, because at the end of the day, your reputation is a huge part of your personal brand.

2. Google Yourself. Future employers probably will.

Be aware of everything that you currently use and it’s appearance to the public: Facebook, any blogs, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. People may Google you before you even get the chance to hand them your resume. Your online reputation is often your first impression, so make sure it’s a good one.

3. Create a blog or use Tumblr to show / reflect a portfolio of your work.

The content and layout are completely flexible and controlled by you – not Facebook, for example. It can be a great tool for showing future employers examples of work that you have completed – and linking to it, if it’s still online.

4. Learn to grab a screen shot.

Get this app: JING by Techsmith.com. It’s free, and it’s great, takes screenshots to the next level. Screenshot your work just in case it gets edited or un-published down the line.

5. Make your resume a PDF.

A PDF is consistent and able to be read on anything.  Just say NO to Word, Pages, and Publisher resumes.

6. Follow the company you’re interested in on social networks.

“What’s easier than that?” Nate says. “It shows you’re paying attention, in even the smallest way.” You may get valuable insights into the company’s culture, or just a great conversation starter for those awkward silences in job interviews or waiting rooms.

7. Hustle. Show that you’re hungry.

Come early, and stay late. It makes the difference because it illustrates your work ethic. Employers want to hire people who can think on the fly and solve problems. If you’re late or leave early, you can miss out on opportunities.

[edit: Digital Royalty University's Personal Branding course is currently half-priced - only $20 for an hour of detailed case studies and direction for anyone building their online reputation.]

A Google Game-Changer

Post by @AlanaGolob

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Over the past couple of years technology has continued to shape how students process information and learn about new subject matters. It’s even impacted our business model with the evolution of our online education platform, Digital Royalty University, which has allowed us to scale our content to brands and individuals around the world.

Today marks the 21st anniversary of “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day” – but today, it was much different than the previous 20 years. For the first-time ever, Google partnered with Forbes and a variety of companies to take the experience online. Using Google Hangouts, Google delivered 18-virtual field trips for students around the country to “visit” inspiring workplaces. Field trips included a session from the NASDAQ floor to an inside look at the career of a filmmaker. Our partners from the Chicago White Sox (Nicole Saunches) and LPGA (Tina Barnes-Budd) were amongst the participants in a session on a career in sports marketing.

These virtual field trips bridged the barriers for students who may never have the opportunity to visit the inside of a Bulls locker room or travel to the LPGA Corporate Headquarters in Daytona. Students were able to ask these experts questions and gain valuable insight and inspiration for their future careers. Classrooms outside of the main participants could also tune-in and ask questions through the Q&A feature within the Hangout. It was really special to see the students get excited about participating. Not to mention, the professionals loved it just as much as the students. Equal value exchange.

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Imagine if this technology existed when we were in school? Would you have been inspired to explore another profession? Today made me even more excited to see where technology takes us and shapes the future of education. Thank you, Google for inspiring us all.