[Cross-posted on Rex Hammock’s RexBlog.com]

A few seconds after I saw the Super Bowl power outage “Oreo tweet” last night, I was so awed, I responded with the tweet below (Note: the time-stamp is GMT.) Scroll down, and you’ll find my Monday morning thoughts about what made it such a breakthrough use of social media.


Monday morning, 5:30 a.m.:

I’m not a fan of long explanations of the self-evident, but I know there will be much misinterpretation of why the Oreo tweet was brilliant, so I wanted to weigh in before the media sites that write headlines for Google (Huffington Post) start their SEO avalanche of headlines like “10 lessons you can learn from the Oreo tweet.”

Here are my two takeaways of why the Oreo tweet is the most outstanding use of use of Twitter as a unique marketing medium and distribution channel. (Note: There are countless ways to use Twitter, and far more important ways than mere marketing.)

header, importance of research as part of content marketing plans

By John Lavey, Hammock President & COO

Creating editorial slates or designs in advance of research is merely guessing, and an exercise in competing aesthetic sensibilities. In other words, it’s a waste of time. Four basic areas of research are required to build  a successful content marketing plan. These areas help fulfill the following critical marketing commandments:

This year Hammock once again hit the events trail for our client, the Marine Corps League, making 2010 a record year in event-related advertising and expo sales.
The old saying “you can’t tell the players without a program” holds for trade shows where strapped-for-time attendees want to know what’s on display and where.
Since 2006, in addition to relaunching its member magazine, Semper Fi, Hammock has produced directories for each of the three annual Marine Military Expos sponsored by our client, The Marine Corps League. In that time, both Semper Fi and the Expo directories have experienced significant growth in advertising sales and print quantity.
Managed by Nielsen Expositions, a part of the Nielsen Company, these shows bring defense industry suppliers together with the Marines for frank discussions and critiques of the products and services.
The Expos are held at the Marine Corps bases at Camp Pendleton, CA, Camp Lejeune, NC, and Quantico, VA, outside Washington, DC. The latter is by far the biggest, drawing as many as 450 vendors and thousands of attendees.
In 2006, the guide for the Quantico event was 24 pages long, contained only two paid ads and was printed as part of the magazine. Since then it has doubled in size to 48 pages this year, with more than 19 pages of paid advertising that generated significant revenue for our client. The other two guides have seen similar growth.
Robust ad sales efforts and opportunities for vendor listings to be highlighted have helped fuel this growth, but advertisers say a redesign of both magazine and guides in 2006 plus a strong—and very Marine—content strategy make them increasingly desirable media buys.

The great thing about Twitter is there is no wrong way to use it. Sure, you’ll see missteps in etiquette and plenty of spammers, but for the most part it’s like Thunderdome: There are no rules.
There are guidelines, however, and Proactive Report offers a handy tip sheet from Ogilvy 360 for advice on various strategies—and suggestions on who to follow, what kind of content to create and how to engage for each situation.
If you’re a Twitter pro you will probably recognize the various suggestions, and perhaps have some of your own to add, but if you’re going to be covering an event or handling crisis management for the first time with Twitter this is a great starting point.

The first step in successful content marketing is to ensure your website is set up properly. Good Plum has a list of several common mistakes businesses make with their websites, including:

  • A bad domain name: Will you choose one that incorporates important keywords? Or will you go with one that’s catchy? Or both? Spend time researching and testing your domain name, Good Plum says.
  • Neglecting traffic generation strategies: Websites that ignore tie-ins to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, fail to research keywords and other Internet marketing tactics, and ignore their rank in organic and paid search will not be as easily discovered as those who utilize those services.
  • An ugly website: It might sound harsh, but if your website is difficult to look at (blinking banner ads everywhere, 10 different fonts, 50 different colors, etc.), people won’t stay long. Be kind to your visitors’ eyes and invest time in developing a good design—both visual and navigational—for your website.

Lee Odden’s article on content strategy vs. tactics got a lot of attention this week, with more than 40 people in his social network expressing their opinion on the value of social media experimentation.

It’s impossible not to get hooked on Zillow.com. The site provides historical data on housing purchasing prices and allows you, with a few clicks, to discover not only what your neighbor paid for his house, but also the purchase price of every house on your block. You can further feed your curiosity with the “Zestimate” feature, which provides an estimate on the value of your house today. It’s not hard to see why its site traffic last month was more than 10 million unique monthly visitors.

I think we are all tired of talking about the economy, on some level, but one thing I attribute to our downturn has been the subsequent rise in the value placed on content.
A friend of mine called me this week to talk about some clients of theirs that have vast amounts of content they are seeking to package and monetize. Another group we are talking to has a need to create vast amounts of content to springboard a community and generate highly positive organic search results.
Every day, I am having conversations with organizations about their marketing needs. Whether the organization has content and needs to be more effective in deploying the content, or whether the organization has a deficit of content or a deficit of resources, and needs help, the priority of content has increased dramatically.
I think it’s because content is like access to credit or capital, it’s fueling growth. Particularly in an internet marketing environment.
How did we get to this place where content became so important to so many companies?

I won’t lie: When the Associated Press announced they were changing the entry in their stylebook from “Web site” to “website,” several of us here in the office danced a little happydance. Despite being users (and lovers) of AP style, that was one word we did not agree with them on.
Robert Niles of The Online Journalism Review explains the importance of the AP’s change in this recent blog post, referencing a tweet he made regarding the change: “If you’re publishing online, Google style (i.e. SEO) always trumps AP style.”
I don’t completely agree with Niles; I think it’s still important for journalism students to learn AP style. But it’s also important that they learn to write for the web.
People are using Google to look for your content, and if you’re still writing like you’re publishing a magazine or newspaper, by default you’re making it more difficult for Google to find you and, therefore, connect a potential client, customer or reader with your content.
That’s not to say that all AP style is Google offensive, because it’s not. But if you’re writing a piece for your website or blog, you can’t ignore what search engines look for. SEO (or “Internet marketing,” for those who think SEO is a negative term) isn’t just making sure you have your title and alt tags in place. It also involves using words and phrases that accurately describe what your article or blog post is about in a web-friendly way to help Google connect the right searchers to you.
Read more from OJR: The Online Journalism Review.

“I want a magazine.” “I want a blog.” “I want a newsletter.” Those are some of the most common needs expressed to us by new clients. More often than not, clients come to us with the media they want already in mind.
Rather than immediately moving forward, we prefer to start the process with a conversation about a client’s content marketing goals, then let those goals guide a custom media platform selection. We’re looking for the platforms that will work most efficiently, rather than the trendiest or flashiest. We won’t recommend a client invest in a custom magazine, for example, until we are clear about what he or she wants the magazine to do. With such an array of media choices to choose from, we realize the decision can be difficult. That’s why we draw on our years of experience—and tons of research—to craft the most appropriate media for each client.