Cause marketing: Who’s doing it right from a millennial’s perspective

It’s no big news that cause marketing is in right now. However, companies need to be vigilant about how their cause-marketing-related messages come across to consumers. Growing up around constant advertising, the Millennial generation has been conditioned to ignore and filter out messages from companies, resulting in a bit more cynicism than our predecessors. This cynicism gives us the ability to know if a company actually has good intentions or just wants to stay in the market with a false “do-gooder” appearance. I loved this article from DigiDay, talking about how cause marketing has been a little of “too much of a good thing” recently, or as some call it “causewashing.”

The companies that are correctly using cause marketing (no BS motives detected) are either: 1) essentially the ones that created the movement in the first place or 2) are dedicated to their causes without making it their only marketing strategy. When corporate social responsibility has been built into the core of a company’s brand identity, we’re all about it. The ultimate key to cause marketing is transparency about the cause and what exactly the company is doing it for it. Unfortunately for some, donating a mere 5% of proceeds to an obscure charity isn’t good enough anymore; we want to see real change from a company if they claim to have an impressive CSR policy.

Brands doing it right:

  • LUSH Cosmetics: LUSH is one of my all time favorite cosmetic brands and they are champion cause-marketers. Their charities directly align with their products in such a way that the product is made to work with the cause itself. For example, they are combating and bringing awareness to animal testing and harmful cosmetic ingredients simply by selling their products. While their whole business platform is a cause in itself, they also sell Charity Pots where a percentage of proceeds go to a specific charity.
  • Patagonia: Patagonia is one of the most transparent brands out there and they’re dedicated to their causes without making it their only marketing strategy. Most recently, they created an entire support campaign for Standing Rock, featuring almost no branding at all. This Standing Rock feature was the homepage for days. Patagonia has mastered the cause/product/content marketing balance.
  • Toms: Even with some recent backlash, the Tom’s brand story comes across as genuine and well-intentioned. In my opinion, Toms is one of the top brands that started this recent cause marketing trend in the first place. The Tom’s website incorporates photos of the children they assist on almost every page and the Toms employees giving them away, which is key. Consumers see the Toms brand actively working to help the cause themselves, not just a check sent in the mail. The One-for-One business model and tagline was crucial in the success of this 2006 startup. Consumers feel as though they have personally helped an in-need individual and changed a life by purchasing shoes for themselves.
  • Alex and Ani: Alex and Ani has so many things going right for them. All of their jewelry is eco-conscious, meaning both the materials used and production methods are sustainable. All of their products are made in America, which is a cause in and of itself. They also feature several “Charity By Design” collections, where a portion of the sales are donated to specific charities. Even with the various aspects of an amazing cause-marketing platform, they barely advertise it.
  • KIND: I really like KIND because they have really integrated their brand identity around just the name itself and I love their message. The food is kind for your body and the brand encourages kindness in the world. The Kind Foundation aids those superheroes in local communities that genuinely care about helping other people.

Pro tip: Never post anything like “For every Share, we’ll donate…” I hate this. It sounds like you are withholding money that could be doing the world a lot of good ransom for likes and shares. If you are that desperate for engagement, I would much more respect a company that would post something like, “We have this amount of money and we want to know who our customers want us to give it to! Vote here!” Voting or commenting allows you to reach your audience and fosters engagement, without seeming like you’re withholding money just for attention.

Here’s an infographic from an AdWeek article that I found to really ring true, at least in my opinion.

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March 12, 2017 AdWeek Article by Emma Bazilian

Wendy’s is savage and Twitterverse loves it

I know I’m not the first person to acknowledge how Wendy’s Twitter account is hilarious, but I wanted to address how I love it as a digital marketing strategy for the company.

Wendy’s understands who Twitter users are and how they utilize it as a platform. While there are Twitter users all over the demographic spectrum, the most active users are the millennial generation and younger. Millennials were the innovators that first made Twitter successful in its launch in 2006 and continue to consider it as one of their favorite platforms. Millennials largely use Twitter to: 1) talk about politics 2) complain about things and 3) share jokes and memes. Wendy’s marketing team has gone with #3 and ran with it. 

The overarching goal of a social media campaign is to create an online community around your brand, where you can facilitate discussion about the brand in a positive light. Nothing gets millennials talking more than a savage fast food company tweeting insults and “clapbacks” about its competitors. This clever use of brand personification makes millennials want to be Wendy’s best friend. This guy even wanted to hookup with Wendy’s, to which they replied “We are literally a restaurant.” 

If you haven’t seen Wendy’s Twitter yet, here’s one of my favorite videos that compiled the best of the best examples of Wendy’s tweets:

Insta the travel guide: Atlanta edition

I love doing “Insta the travel guide” posts for two reasons. 1) I get to spread the word about how one can use social media platforms to your advantage while traveling! 2) I try to convey to the marketing world and business owners the importance of the use of social media platforms to reach certain markets. For many like me, if we can’t find your business online, we can’t find your business in person.

My first blog post ever was about how I used the Instagram account, ATL Bucket List, to make the most out of my summer in the city! Now, I wanted to do a separate post about my favorite places I found through Instagram! ATL Bucket List and the Atlanta Places tag were great places to start, as well as stalking friends’ and family’s  accounts! Here are my top 9 places in Atlanta!

1. Murals: I am the most stereotypical millennial and loved the murals. They are all over the city and this Instagram account tells you where they all are! My friends from school came to visit and I dragged them all over the city to see them. This particular one is in the heart of the Edgewood neighborhood and definitely my favorite of the ones we saw!

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2. Jackson Street Bridge: This was by far the hardest place to find because most people don’t like tagging its exact location, but I found it! This bridge has the best cityscape view in the city (that I found so far)! Hopefully this helps someone else who had seen it pictures, but couldn’t find it!

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3. High Museum of Art:  I don’t live under a rock. I had heard about the High before, but the photos in the Places tag made me want to go! I wouldn’t say I am “into” art, but I loved exploring this place!

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4. Chattahoochee Coffee Company: In the back of a gated apartment community, there is the cutest coffee place with the BEST view in Atlanta (ITP!) Pull up to the call box, say “Coffee!” and they’ll buzz you in!

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5. Atlanta History Center: While the museum itself was very interesting, the best part is the Swan House out back and its gardens! I had seen photos of this place and had to find it. It’s absolutely gorgeous and a must-see while in Atlanta! It was once owned by the (very rich) Inman family in the 1930s. Today, it’s known for that the Hunger Games was filmed there!

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6. Sweet Auburn Curb Market: Definitely one of the coolest places I’ve been! Sweet Auburn Curb Market was started in 1918 after the Great Atlanta Fire of 1917, as part of the area’s revitalization efforts. Today, you can find really affordable produce and meats, as well as shop at various food court style restaurants! I highly recommend Bell Street Burritos, a local business similar to Barberito’s and Moe’s!

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7. Monday Night Brewing: Although one of the big three breweries in Atlanta, I initially found Monday Night through a friend’s Instagram and I had to go see the tie wall! While I wasn’t the hugest fan of their beer selection (I’m not a fan of really hoppy beer), it has a great atmosphere and hilarious tour guides. Tucked away in West Midtown, this a must try for a fun evening out!

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8. Midtown: Midtown is an obvious must-see, but a picture with the sign in Colony Square is a must-do while in Atlanta! Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

9. Georgia Aquarium: This one is cheating because I interned there this summer and I didn’t find it on Instagram, but it is definitely an Atlanta must-see and their Instagram is always on point. One of my favorite things I’ve ever done was getting to take a yoga class in front of Ocean Voyager! Processed with VSCO with se2 preset

The best thing that has ever happened to me in my life was catching this cutie’s attention and snapping this awesome picture of our staring contest! I love beluga whales.

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These are my top 9 spots in the city! What are your favorite spots in Atlanta?

Insta the travel guide: Philly edition

In any industry, the most powerful marketing tool has always been word of mouth recommendations. As consumers, we trust our friends’ opinions. If they have a great experience, we expect the same. In our social media driven society, it’s only natural that word of mouth has gone digital. Instagram has made it extremely easy to share our ideas with our friends and strangers by simply uploading a picture and a caption. It’s my go-to travel guide because I tend to like seeing the sights and experiencing the cool, local stuff instead of the tourist crazed attractions. If I’m ever in a new city, I always follow about 5-10 local Instagram accounts to find the best of the best and I haven’t been disappointed yet. My very first WordPress post was actually about my great experiences with the Atlanta Bucket List account. Most recently, I used Instagram to make the most out of my trip to Philadelphia! While we were only there for a couple days, we made the most out of the city.

Start off the with the Places tag or hashtag of the city you’re in to see the most popular photo ops. We didn’t see too many unique sights this trip because my mom was not up to walking 15 miles a day, but then again, neither was I. It was too cold for this southern girl.

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Then, search for accounts with the city in the name. phillyfoodies and philadelphiafoodie gave us such a great recommendation for brunch near our hotel, we ate there twice! Green Eggs Cafe was amazing and I highly recommend the rosemary potatoes and the cookie dough stuffed french toast. They also led us to Federal Donuts, which is hands down one of the coolest custom donut places I’ve ever been to!

I’m vegetarian, but my mom had to make the tough decision on whether to try Geno’s or Pat’s philly cheesesteaks. She went with Geno’s and she actually said she’d had better before. Our Uber driver said Pat’s was better, so we maybe should’ve listened to him and not based the decision on the most photogenic building. 🙂

We found Bar Bombon the old fashioned way (Google maps), but this place is my #1 Philly recommendation y’all. The entire restaurant is vegetarian, and you wouldn’t even know. My mom, a carnivore, said this was the best place we went to the entire trip! Highly recommend literally everything on the menu.

Thanks Insta for another great trip!

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Whoops! I spoke too soon; Vine influencer marketing is no more

As you’ve probably already heard, Vine is no more. Even after I just wrote an article raving about the ingeniousness of Vine influencer marketing just last week. Now, everyone’s talking about Twitter’s recent murder of Vine. It’s even the first thing that pops up when you type “what happened” into Google.

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Four days ago, Vine posted this whammy to the public and seemed to take many people by surprise. Vanity Fair did a great job of summarizing what really happened inside Twitter and Vine that led to this ultimate decision.

Vine influencers everywhere are scrambling to relocate their following to other social platforms, so maybe it won’t affect their careers too much. Many of them have already used their Vine accounts to gain fame and are already in the public’s eye. Now, they need to work hard to stay in the limelight. I’m interested to see if their sponsorships will adapt and carry over into their platforms or fizzle out.

Maybe the next big hit app will allow for a new generation of internet famous twenty-somethings??? Maybe I’ll have to try it out and see if I can get a movie role out of it one day.

Vine influencer marketing

If you’re a regular user of Vine, you’ll recognize the “Vine Famous,” always in the Comedy section with at least 50,000 likes on each Vine. These names include King Bach, David Lopez, Logan Paul, Thomas Sanders, AlliCattt, meechonmars, Lele Pons, Brandon Calvillo, Zach King, Brittany Furlan, etc. Instead of companies using only their Vine profiles with their own original content, they occasionally use these Vine famous people to promote their product in a creative, subtle way. Big businesses have recognized that they are influencers in the Vine world and that people look up to them. Through a sponsorship, the company gets to reach a new segment of the target market, and the Vine famous user is given money to make their Vines as successful as can be. However creative they may make the Vine, it is still very obvious to the viewers that it is a paid gig and that they probably don’t LOOOVE Z-Up or Dunkin Donuts THAT much to where they would dedicate an entire video to it for free. They also add a “#ad” to each caption, so it is very clear what is happening. These sponsored ads are now very common and somewhat of a goal for Vine users. You’ll actually see some not as “famous” people put in their caption “please sponsor me” or “trying to get that sponsor.”

With that being said, I’m really okay with it. These people are “famous” for a reason. They’re funny people that make funny videos. Except now, they just make funny videos that include a specific product and get money for it. It’s never fake; for example, a boring review or they pretend like they’ve never heard of something and they’re just now trying it, but already love it. They make it clear they’re getting paid. It could be the poor college student in me that commends them for turning their hobby (Vine) into something they can benefit from. A very wide range of companies that have used this influencer marketing, such as 7-Up, 5 Gum, Xfinity, Intel, Fanta, Velveeta, Best Buy, Budweiser, Coca-Cola,  Dunkin Donuts and more.

I’m not sure if this form of advertising is effective in terms of sales numbers, but in my opinion, it is effective in terms of brand awareness. The fact that Velveeta cheese and Intel can advertise using the exact same method makes Vine an interesting, dynamic platform. It is a unique hybrid of native advertising and influencer marketing.

Is sponsored Snapchat Lens marketing becoming the new norm?

Is it just me or has Snapchat marketing been booming the last couple weeks? Every day that I open the app, there’s a new Sponsored Lens to use. They’ve been marketing everything from new movies to cereal lately and I love it. As a marketing student, it’s interesting to get on and see which brands are trying to reach my demographic. Snapchat marketing is a smart, effective way to reach consumers from 10 year olds to 30 years old. Many consumers in this age range are using Snapchat as a main source of communication, as well as entertainment. I wouldn’t say that all of these Lenses are going to make me go out and buy their products immediately, but it’s great for overall brand awareness.

Some critics feel as though Snapchat is not an effective marketing strategy for products, like consumer goods. I agree that Snapchat is not the place for products like consumer goods IF the company’s goal is to actually sell me the actual product. It improves my opinion of the brand, but not much else. For example, last week on National Coffee Day, I loved Starbucks’ mermaid Lens. They weren’t offering any deals like Dunkin’ Donuts was because let’s be honest, they don’t need to. However, Starbucks was still able to participate in the “holiday” through Snapchat and increase overall brand awareness.

I do think that for products such as movies, it is a very smart move to use Snapchat to try to directly sell me a movie ticket. I think Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children did a great job in their movie promotion. The various filters they created allowed me to generate interest in the product itself. Why does the one with the hat disappear? What does the creepy, razor sharp teeth/mouth for eyes mean?

My advice to brands interested in marketing with Snapchat? The key to Snapchat is making the right Lens (or filter) for your brand or product that engages the consumer. Know ahead of time what you want it to accomplish. Do you want to increase brand awareness for a specific demographic or do you want to sell them your product? Now more than ever, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t just do it because everyone else is doing it. It should contribute to your overall marketing goals and how you want to reach your consumers. It’s also important that you give it you 100% or don’t do it at all. When there are some great Lenses out there, it could reflect negatively of yours is boring. Engage the consumer so that they are inclined to continue to be engaged by looking your product up or ask their friends about it.

Here are a few filters from the past week or so that I’ve rated hot, not and room temperature. Excuse my faces. Most of these were taken on my way to class at 8am. I’m not a morning person.
Hot: 

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Lukewarm: 

      
Not:

Sorry, Chevy. Snapchat is not the place to sell me a car; no matter how “fun” you want the car to seem.
BONUS: This one isn’t Sponsored or anything, but I just think it’s hilarious.