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Hate the rainbow?

May 13, 2016 - Posted by

This week, Instagram rolled out changes:

  • There’s the “the simpler design puts more focus on your photos and videos without changing how you navigate the app.”Sometimes change is hard...
  • There’s the desire to reflect the “global community of interests sharing more than 80 million photos and videos every day.”

But mostly, there’s the new logo – and the inevitable internet outrage.

Adweek calls it a travesty. The New York Times reporters deemed it “passable, if a little generic.” The Guardian described it “As if the camera was murdered, and chalk was drawn around its body. Murdered at sundown.” Users demanded that they change it back (and get rid of the algorithm too!)

Overall, the new design reflects the overall trend toward flat design.  It also ties Instagram to the other apps in the family, Boomerang, Hyperlapse and Layout.

You can get a behind-the-scenes look at the design process in this Medium post from Ian Spalter, the head of design.

So tell us – what do you think about Instagram’s forage into the new frontier? Is the backlash warranted?


About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Too little, too late?

May 11, 2016 - Posted by

It’s Twitter’s turn to dominate the headlines, at least for a day or two, with the announcement that users can now report multiple tweets in a single report.  This is a long-requested improvement, as Twitter has earned a reputation as one of the less-I'd like to add you to my professional network.friendly mainstream networks.

Good news, right? Well, it was served up with the news that company revenue is down, and the tech press is circling like gleeful buzzards. This isn’t new- both The New Yorker and The Atlantic had time to publish despairing essays. And let’s not forget the doom-filled predictions around the launch of the algorithmic timeline (although only 2 percent of users cared enough to reset their accounts to the timeline view).

I’d like to add you to my professional network
In contrast to the doom-and-gloom coverage of Twitter, there’s more positive coverage of…. LinkedIn? Apparently, it’s not just a site for self-promotion disguised as news. There’s a new-ish app aimed at college students, a focus on recruiting, and the freelancer ProFinder.

It’s still a site known for more noise than signal. Even the Harvard Business Review is questioning exactly how useful LinkedIn connections are. They’re apparently adding two new members per second (although only 25 percent of them may use the site each month).

Then there’s the hand wringing about the invasion of the memes. This isn’t Facebook, people!

Because no update is complete without mentioning Facebook
Twitter may have scored a deal with the NFL, but the battle for sports-watching users is far from settled.  National Women’s Soccer League player Alex Morgan live-streamed the Orlando Pride season opener on Facebook, and SnapChat will be working with NBC on the 2016 Summer Games.


About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Elections Are Coming!

May 1, 2016 - Posted by

Each year, the SMCKC board is infused with new members of the Kansas City social media community. This summer, we'll be welcoming new officers to the roles of President, Vice-President, Advocacy Chair and Technology Chair. That's where YOU come in. Whether you are looking to increase your involvement with the Social Media Club of Kansas City or you know someone who would be great for a role, we need your help to find the best candidates out there to carry on the mission of SMCKC: If you Get It, Share It!

Below is a quick summary of the responsibilities of each open role. If you have questions about any of these positions, you can contact the current board member at their email address listed next to the position.

President Responsibilities -

  • Lead development of annual strategic plan and key performance indicators.
  • Report on strategic plan progress.
  • Support committee chairpersons as needed.
  • Serve as primary point of contact to the National chapter.
  • Represent SMCKC to media outlets as needed.
  • Attend SMCKC events and serve as facilitator as needed.
  • Actively participate on various social networking sites.
  • Reach out to complimentary local organizations to build awareness and relationships.
  • Lead executive board meetings.
  • Guide, counsel and coach executive board members as needed

Vice President responsibilities -

  • Fulfills the responsibilities in the President’s absence
  • Guides, counsels, and coaches the executive board members
  • Helps recruit committee leads as needed, and manages the committee framework/process
  • Coordinates the election process; including nominations, confirmations, setting up the voting format, tallying, and announcing results
  • Serves as a community representative for SMCKC

Advocacy Chair Responsibilities -

  • Act as liaison for Kansas City Sourcelink, ECJC and other opportunities for SMCKC members to engage with other groups or learning opportunities.
  • Reach out to Local/National communities for the following:
    • Leverage the resources of SMCKC
    • Post volunteer opportunities
    • Identify speaking, panel, workshop opportunities for membership at conferences, seminars, businesses
  • Coordinate quarterly non-profit/charity community opportunities for the organization throughout the year.
  • Plan AMPS awards event and bi-annual Ignition Event, including management of  Special Events committee.
  • Post at least one Advocacy Update blog/month.
  • Manage Advocacy committee leads and team members.

Technology Chair Responsibilities -

  • Maintain all SMCKC digital presences, including but not limited to: website, email, websites, Facebook,  Twitter & LinkedIn.
  • Assist in keeping social media networks updated.
  • Work with Events Chair to staff and provide equipment needed for events (projectors, screens, streaming, etc)
  • Serve as the subject matter expert on new technology and how it impacts social media
  • Propose new technology adaptations for SMCKC when necessary.

If you have someone you'd like to nominate for a position, please do so here. All nominations are due June 30 at 10pm.


Bots, Blackface and Brands Behaving Badly

April 25, 2016 - Posted by

The crowds may have gone home, but the dust is still settling from Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference.  The conversation is still all about bots. The Washington Post is ready for them to start chipping away at the $50 billion app store economy. After all, no one will download a stand-alone app when you can just text a bot through Messenger, right?

Not so fast, counters The Verge. Bot are slow! We want answers now, not in the minutes that it currently takes to get a response. Widespread adoption will require convenience AND speed. Response time for email may be about 90 minutes, but response time for messaging apps needs to be closer to 90 seconds.

Bot or….Not?Messenger Bots
There’s another catch in the whole bots-are-hot argument: Many of the bots aren’t just the clever computer program we imagine. Behind the scenes, many bots are still powered by humans who provide a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) training and quality control. AI is getting better with simple tasks, but it still hasn’t quite figured out the nuances of human language.

Just ask Microsoft what happens when you don't have a good plan in place to teach it….

Judgment Impaired
Snapchat may have just edged out Instagram as teens’ platform of choice, but two recent filters show that their decision-making may not be maturing quite so quickly.  Under the influence of….something… Snapchat teamed up with the Bob Marley estate to create a filter to celebrate 420.  While the hat and dreadlocks were enough to raise eyebrows, the fact that it gave users black skin did not go over well. At all.

It’s All AboutGrape Soda Prince Memorial
Music legend Prince died on April 21, and with the news came the predictable onslaught of brands making it all about them. Some posts were heartfelt and moving, like Chevy’s lyrical tribute.  Others had a genuine connection, like the Xcel Energy Center and other Minnesotans.

But here’s the thing: If no one associated you with a celebrity the day before he died, it’s not a good time to start building that connection, no matter how much he meant to your creative director. (We’re looking at you, Cheerios and Four Loko.)


About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Let’s talk about Facebook: The good, the bad and the bots

April 15, 2016 - Posted by

The Good
This week, Facebook announced updates to its live streaming service. Live video isn’t new for Facebook—celebrities have been streaming since last summer and it started rolling out for regular profiles not long after. Wednesday’s announcement brings a new level of interactivity to the stream, allowing viewers to react real time.Facebook F8 Conference

If more interactive video makes you think of SnapChat’s recent release, remember that Facebook isn’t just about sharing bridging the virtual distance between friends.  They’re luring in publishers and making sure video is hard to miss in your news feed. And they’ve got 1.9 billion users ready to tune it, right?

Well… kind of. Publishers are still on the fence about it all, and let’s not forget that autoplay can make viewer numbers look better than they are. Plus, there’s plenty of competition for attention, both from newer apps like SnapChat and established players like YouTube and Twitter, who just won the rights to Thursday Night Football.

The Bad
While we’re being cynical, let’s not forget the other bit of Facebook news that has everyone talking. According to an article in The Information (paid subscription) Facebook employees discovered that while people are still sharing plenty, but very little of it is original content. With everyone from your high school classmates to your coworkers on Facebook, users are opting to put Hold on to your buttstheir personal posts, well, somewhere more personal.

Watching all that user engagement (and associated page views) slip away has Facebook nervous. They’re hatching a plan to woo us back, one status update at a time.

And for all of the brands creating the content that’s currently dominating our feeds? To borrow some advice from Samuel L. Jackson, “Hold on to your butts.” We’re likely to see adjustments to timelines as Facebook tries to recapture the magic, like the major shift in the branded content policy.

The Bots
Facebook Messenger and bots were the big, big focus at the Facebook F8 conference. Chatbots aren’t new, but they’re getting better at handling routine tasks. Facebook thinks that soon, instead of opening a new app for each task, you’ll be able to do everything from order flowers to get the news just by sending a message.Facebook Live Map

Facebook isn’t alone in their bot love. Messaging app Kik announced a new BotShop, which integrates automated messages from companies like Sephora, H&M and Vine into the platform. NBC News partnered up with LINE, a chat app based in Japan. Google, Slack and Microsoft are all eyeing bots are the new hotness (botness?).

Heck, even Taco Bell is in on the action. Bots don’t get more Mas than that.


About the author:
Tara Saylor Litzenberger is a communications manager by day, grad student by night and curious all the time. She is also a web nerd and recovering copywriter. Tara focuses on the channels that enable communication and using metrics to improve communication effectiveness. She tweets about communication and combines as @AnokheeTara.

Little Big Video

April 12, 2016 - Posted by

Last week, we hosted Sarah Redohl, chief creative strategist at Storylab, at our April Pro Luncheon. Sarah shared her knowledge for creating awesome videos from a mobile phone and why more content needs to move to video format. 74 percent of all internet traffic in 2017 is projected to come from video. Video has the highest conversion rate of any content type!

Sarah says the most common excuses she hears for why people/brands aren’t creating videos are:

  1. Video is expensive
  2. It must be perfect to be effective
  3. Producing your own videos is super time-consuming

Her main takeaway was summed up in one slide:

Video Is Important










She recommends four mobile apps to get started:

As you begin to think about creating videos, it’s important to follow a checklist to ensure you’re getting the most ROI.

  • Decide your goals
  • Decide your platform
  • Determine your story
  • Develop a compelling plot
  • Choose your video type
  • Storyboard your video
  • Share with CTAs

Sarah’s checklist is a good reminder of things to think through as we move more of our content to video. Does your story have a plot? Is there a call to action? Is your video the proper length? There is a huge opportunity to create more videos. Videos are shared 1200 percent more than text and that visitors stay on sites with video 88 percent longer. Review this checklist every time you decide to create a video!

Watch Sarah’s webinar from the event (it’s free)!


How Hostess scored an opening day TOUCHDOWN!

April 7, 2016 - Posted by

April 1 made for a special breakfast "treat" presented by our good friends at Bernstein-Rein and sponsored by the fantastic folks at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Hostess snack cakes have a fond place in many hearts but when reestablishing a brand identity, nostalgia isn’t enough. Since launching the “Sweetest Comeback In The History of Ever” Hostess has relied heavily on social channels to help build their brand awareness. April’s SMCKC Breakfast featured the Hostess team from Kansas City based agency Bernstein-Rein discussing how they score touchdowns on Hostess Social.


Three big takeaways:

Opening Day Touchdown

  • The Story: Hostess knew they had an opportunity to engage with baseball’s opening day social conversation with their limited edition baseball cupcakes. But how do you make your tweet stand out in all of the chatter? Easy. A typo...kind of. Hostess took a simple image of their baseball themed cakes and simply added “Touchdown.” While you can hope for what followed you certainly can’t predict it.
  • The Results: While there were a few “you had one job” responses many saw the joke in it and other brands started to engage. In the first 4.5 hours after posting the team saw a 52,886% increase in retweets and 21,082% increase in favorites over their average. The tweet took off so much so that national morning programs discussed it: Good Morning America claimed Hostess received the most impressions for one tweet than anyone other than Major League Baseball on opening day.
  • The Lesson: If you have a story to tell, tell it but be aware if you’re entering a congested conversation you have to have something to make you stand out.

Recipe Videos

  • The Story: Quick format recipe videos are increasingly popular shareable content. The Hostess team wanted to insert their core products into the conversation.
  • The Results: The team garnered 4.7M video views with 37,000 total shares and an average cost per view of $0.003.
  • The Lesson: Keep it simple. Social is about quick bytes of information to get someone curious for more information. Videos can be easy ways to pique interest while educating consumers.

Event Activation

  • The Story: Hostess wanted to focus on cultural moments to both drive engagement and introduce their brand to a new audience. They choose South by Southwest as the perfect avenue to use influencers to drive engagement at the event and the conversation online.  
  • The Results: Their SXSW presence helped drive 10.2M impressions and 96,000 fan engagements.
  • The Lesson: As people continue to engage in unique experiences look for opportunities to be part of events to connect you with your target audience.

March 2016 #KCRW2016 Breakfast Recap

March 21, 2016 - Posted by

Slide01When it comes to Restaurant Week in Kansas City, the general public considers it a 10-day event of eating, drinking and trying new places in Kansas City. For VisitKC and Page Communications though, it is the culmination of months of planning. They spend the week posting, tweeting and sharing the content of both the participating restaurants and the numerous restaurant patrons whose culinary curiosity helps raise money for the week’s beneficiaries. At the March SMCKC breakfast, Katie Leas of VisitKC and Travis Joyal and Lydia Young of Page Communications presented their thoughts on how they raised $322,000 through a variety of social media and public relations tactics.

Sponsor registration, marketing & PR for Restaurant Week starts in July of the preceding year. A participant tool kit helps align the various facets of sponsorship and an education meeting allows those participating to ask questions and understand what is required of them. The Restaurant Week team starts collecting graphics and logos, as well as online submission of menus. Public Relations also ramps up with TV and radio coverage and later in the year, a preview event for VIPs. The team determines the best way to spend the money generated from sponsor funds and the proceeds from the event. Digital spend includes paid search, mobile app maintenance and sponsorship of social posts, while billboards and regional advertising are also included to help spread the word and get people booking their reservations early. Not surprisingly, 39% of the content clicked on the KCRW website was for OpenTable, while 94% of all traffic to the site happened in January 2016.

In 2016, Restaurant Week had a record of 185 restaurants participating, plus 45 other sponsorships and 3 main charities. That leaves a ton of content out there for the KCRW team to aggregate and plan around, but it also brings some complications. The KCRW team must determine how to equitably distribute content among all the channels of KCRW without giving more attention to those restaurants or sponsors who happen to provide more robust content. Aggregating around Wine Wednesdays or weekly themes helps. They also align with national food themes such as Pasta Day to create excitement for the week.

Excitement is also created through promotions and giveaways. Gift cards are the currency of choice generally, and not all are promoted only through the KCRW accounts. Three separate groups conducted giveaways around KCRW, including the Film Society of Kansas City. The KCRW also strategically promotes the accounts of KCRW instead of certain posts or content to ensure they don’t run out of budget too quickly. Social media is working for KCRW, too, as 39% of survey respondents cited social media as their source of information about the week. Wednesdays at noon were the peak use of #KCRW2016, likely attributed to the release of gift card promotions and Sunday evening saw activity due to “Last Chance!” and “Free Food!” tweets as gift cards were picked on Mondays. Total impressions, engagement and followers increased significantly from the past year with total fans topping 35,000 people.

New this year, the team hosted a Twitter chat. This chat gave restaurant goers a chance to engage with one another, answer questions from the KCRW team and give input on the week. The chat included pre-scheduled questions and informative facts about KCRW to keep the audience engaged for an hour. VisitKC & Page collaborated to hold the event as multiple people were needed to answer tweets and engage with followers. The chat also included gift cards from KCRW restaurants as incentive.

As VisitKC & Page Communications look to #KCRW2017, they continue to explore ways to improve the experience for patrons and restaurants. Whether with more restaurant communication, social activation and gamification or a larger draw from the region, their opportunities for expansion challenge the team to evolve within the confines of their resources.

Make Videos like a Big Brand – on a Small Brand Budget

March 14, 2016 - Posted by

DEK: If you think video is an impossible goal for your brand, you’re wrong. Here’s why.

I was walking down Park Avenue in New York, just a few blocks from Grand Central Terminal, when I saw a gaggle of teen girls sprinting toward an even larger gaggle of teen girls.

I figured somewhere in the center of that gaggle, gasping for air and clawing for an escape was someone like Justin Bieber, Nick Jonas or Zayn Malik. I hung on the fringes and asked one of the few girls who weren’t sobbing with joy who they were all clamoring to see.

“OMG. It’s Shawn Mendes,” she said. “He is HUGE on Vine.”

This is what I love about social media, the fact that anyone—even a 16-year-old singing cover songs—can become HUGE. In this way, social media has become a great equalizer. It espouses the idea that if you work hard and put in the time, you can make it to the big leagues. You (or your brand) could become HUGE.

After social platforms democratized the sharing side of publishing, brands began looking for makers and marketers who could create high-quality content. Everyone started a blog, claimed their handles, and became their own news and information network.

Although there are tons of tools available to make it easier to produce quality content, from free design tools like Canva to blog idea generators like the one on HubSpot, some types of content still seem unattainable and confusing.

Even though more than half of our time spent online is spent watching videos, only one in 10 small brands is producing its own original video (That jumps to one in four for large brands).

Knowing that videos are shared 1200 percent more than text and that visitors stay on sites with video 88 percent longer, not producing original video content is a huge lost opportunity for growth.

The most common excuses I hear are:

  1. Video is expensive.
  2. It must be perfect to be effective.
  3. Producing your own videos is super time-consuming.

I wrote an entire post debunking these myths, but there’s one excuse I’ve been hearing more and more often as I work with larger brands: I don’t want to be on camera.

Although there are tons of benefits to being on camera, from increased trust from your audience to improved brand recognition, there are tons of brands that are producing original video quickly and cheaply without ever showing a face on camera.

One of my own favorites is Google.

Google Video Nat and Lo

Their videos are so simple yet so effective. And oh-so-possible for even the smallest brands to reproduce.

Google Video Security

Join me April 6 to learn how to produce videos like Google, from animated videos to whiteboard videos, using your smartphone and a handful of handy apps.

Stop making excuses and start making videos.

In the meantime, master the basics of shooting video on your smartphone with this free cheat sheet.


About The Author
Sarah Redohl is the chief creative strategist of StoryLab, based in Columbia, Missouri. StoryLab aims to bring the power of digital storytelling to everyone through the use of smartphones and tablets through custom training sessions and online courses.

Past clients include the American Society of Business Press Editors, and professionals from Oracle and The Economist, among others. StoryLab also participates in a journalism collaboration that aims to bring the power of storytelling to nonprofit agencies in developing countries where stories might otherwise go untold.

Since 2013, Redohl has taught multimedia and mobile journalism at her alma mater, the Missouri School of Journalism. Previously, she has worked on projects for the Travel Channel, NPR and the U.S. Department of State, among others. Redohl has won both regional and national awards for her visual storytelling, and has been recognized as one of Folio Magazine’s 15 Under 30 young professionals driving media’s next-gen innovation.

THANK YOU for making AMPSKC a Success!

February 19, 2016 - Posted by

2016 SMCKC AMPS Awards

On behalf of the Social Media Club of Kansas City board and the AMPSKC events committee, we want to thank you for making the 2nd Annual AMPSKC awards a success. We had a great night to showcase the amazing work being done in social media by marketing and advertising professionals throughout KC. We had double the entries from last year and attendance at the actual event continues to grow. None of it would be possible without the fantastic people who make up KC's social media community. We couldn't have done it without the truly inspiring work each of you is doing each day. Whether for agencies, brands, non-profits or in regulated industries, the Kansas City community continues to produce award-winning campaigns.

You can see write ups on all the award-winning entries here.  

Check out the #tagboard from the event to see the social buzz it generated. There are also pictures courtesy of Jeff Julian, CEO, AJi Software!

Thank you also to our generous sponsors, IBM, DEG, Next Page, VisitKC, emfluence, Page Communications and Mercedes KC for helping us throw one heck of a party.

We look forward to seeing you all again at an SMCKC event in the near future. Continue to produce smart and strategic work and we'll see you at the 3rd Annual AMPSKC awards in 2017!