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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!

5 Legal Items to Keep in Mind When Using Social Media

January 19, 2016 - Posted by

After a great January breakfast, Liza Perry, SMCKC Communications Co-Chair, created this handy blog post to help give you five terms you need to be successful when it comes to the legal side of social media.

Earlier this month, Katie Hollar and Amy Jordan Wooden gave some great reminders and case studies on how to keep it legal on social media. Below are the five biggest areas to keep in mind.

  1. Defamation – occurs when a person intentionally spreads information about another person, group or company that damages their reputation regardless of the medium. If you share defamatory material (even if you didn’t create it), you can still be held liable.defamation
  2. Copyright - the holder of a copyright has exclusive rights to publish his or her own work. Ask the owner before using the work on social media if you are trying to sell a service or good. Fair use does apply when you’re using the content for nonprofit, educational or personal purposes. Here is a great guide to use as a resource. (Since I’m using the infographic for educational use, I’m allowed to use the copyrighted material.)
  3. Disclosure – you must be open and honest about your position with a company or organization if you are talking about the entity. Having “Opinions are my own, “RTs aren’t endorsements” or something similar on your Twitter bio doesn’t protect you in a lawsuit. Free speech gives individuals certain protections, but when in doubt, disclose. Limited space isn’t an excuse according to the FTC.
  4. Endorsements/Sweepstakes – the FTC requires “that material relationships between brand and the endorser on social media must be ‘clearly and conspicuously’ disclosed.” If you are participating in a contest on social media, you are endorsing that company’s product. So, you need to share your participation in the contest.sweepstakes
  5. Crisis Situations – the role of social media in a crisis has dramatically increased over the years. It’s imperative to monitor your brands online as rumors and defamation lawsuits can spread quickly. Speed and accuracy are equally important when responding to an issue. If you have culpability in the crisis, speak up now cause the cover up is going to be way worse in the end. And, it’s always important to have one voice across all channels when responding to a crisis.behavior

The most important thing to remember - If you pause before you post something, you probably shouldn’t post it.

About the author:
Liza Perry is the Communications Co-Chair for Social Media Club of Kansas City. During the day, she manages all the corporate social media channels for Cerner. She has experience in both B2C and B2B social media. In her spare time she writes a weekly roundup of the latest social media news, The Perry Notes, and binge watches everything on Bravo. Liza graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. She can be found on Twitter at @eperry07.

Follow up: 10 ways to organize your digital life in 2016, from passwords to a zero inbox

January 14, 2016 - Posted by

"Digital health is a lot like physical health: You have to work at it. Not sure where to start?"Man using smartphone

Earlier this month, I received the opportunity to talk with Sarah Gish, reporter for the Kansas City Star, to talk about some tips to help organize one's digital life in 2016. Had I known she was also interviewing some of the most esteemed members of Social Media Club of Kansas City as well, I probably would have just waited to get their tips instead. Sarah did a fantastic job of bringing together some incredible people to coordinate a list of fantastic tips. Here are some of the best (from some of the best):

Safeguard your passwords
On New Year’s Day a couple years ago, Dave Greenbaum changed all of his passwords with a password management system called 1Password (another option is LastPass). “The concept is that these are digital vaults,” he says, “so you only have to remember one password.”

Freshen up your profiles
If it’s been more than six months since you swapped out your profile photo and bio info on Facebook and Twitter, Marc Vasquez says it’s time to switch it up. And too many people let their LinkedIn profile go dormant when it can be an amazing networking tool (not just when you’re trying to find a new career).

Take better notes
Paper notes can be lost, forgotten, eaten by the dog — you get the idea. But there are plenty of apps that help you increase productivity while cutting back on paper. Carolyn Anderson uses Google Keep to wrangle notes, links, photos, audio clips and lists in one place.

Organize your inbox
Imagine an inbox with zero unread messages. Yes, it’s possible. Jessica Best aims for what productivity geeks call “Inbox Zero” every day. “It’s this idea that, at the end of the day, your inbox is completely clear,” Best says. “Everything has been responded to, assigned somewhere else, filed away — it’s out of your court.” Best is a self-described “folder junkie” who uses email folders and subfolders to file her messages. She says getting to zero emails is pretty tough, but that it still feels good to end the day with five to 10 messages in the inbox instead of, say, 510.

Challenge yourself to disconnect
If your phone buzzes every time you get junk mail, an Instagram like, or a request to play Candy Crush, it’s time to trim down your notifications. Most smartphones allow users to edit notifications by app. If you have an iPhone, you can go to “do not disturb” under settings to turn off all notifications (even texts) at night or during specific parts of the day. Mike Gelphman turns off alerts in the early to mid-morning, when he tends to be the most productive. He says protecting that time from those distractions helps him stay focused on long-term goals.

For more tips and to read the entire article, visit

Membership has its privileges

January 5, 2016 - Posted by

Tara Coomans, Social Media Club national co-membership chair provided us with more on what being a member means to her:

Social Media Club was founded before there was an Instagram, a Snapchat or Google+. In digital world terms, we’re OG.

Social Media Club (SMC) was founded in San Francisco by Kristie Wells and Chris Huere because they saw a need for an professional organization which provided guidance to those working in the then-wild west of social media.

In the spirit of social media, the organization they founded was open to all and designed to help everyone who participated in social media spread the “If You Get It, Share It,” ideal.

Today, Social Media Club is the only global 100 percent volunteer-run professional organization in the world. There are over 300 active chapters globally, each with their own personality and voice designed to serve their local community.Members Only Representing Very Important Person And Membership Card

I joined SMC in 2009, since then, I have been a member of two different chapters, served as Chapter President and the Global Board of Directors as Membership Chair. As an SMC member,  I’ve had a chance to meet people around the world, both in person and online. As an SMC leader, never once have I ever picked up the phone or sent an email to a thought-leader and had it ignored. As an SMC leader, I’ve both been mentored and mentored others in leadership, social media and digital media. As important as these types of connections can be, I’ve found the members of the chapters to be the pure gold of my membership. No matter what city I’m in, I’m not a stranger. This is why I became Membership Chair.

In 2016, SMC membership will be expanding more ways for you to connect, share your voice and grow as a social and digital leader. We’ll be offering member-only digital events with industry leaders, archived for members-only. We’ll be building an additional way for members to engage on the new SMC website including blogging and community opportunities. If you’re looking to grow your social presence, your community impact and your connections, there is no better place to do it online.

While SMC continues to evolve its membership benefits globally, and chapters like Kansas City continue to offer benefits to members, for me, it’s never been about the laundry list of “benefits.” For me, it’s always been about the people.

People who have become partners, collaborators and yes, friends.  People who “get it” when I share it. People who I can share a laugh with when yet another “promise from Mark Zuckerberg” rears its ugly head on Facebook. People who “fill out my corners” and help me out whether I need a referral, and idea or a resources. It’s the people. Around the world. It’s my SMC family.

How do I put a value on these relationships? I can’t. I think it was Gary Vaynerchuck who famously asked “What’s the value of your Mother?” with respect to the value of social media, well, that’s how I feel about Social Media Club.

So when people ask me why I joined or why they should join, my question is usually: what are you looking to get out of it?

Because SMC has “benefits,” but it’s my experience that people value relationships more and SMC is a great way to build, enhance and develop relationships. If you’re not looking for trusted collaborators, mentors, partners, or to develop your own thought-leadership then SMC probably isn’t for you. And that’s OK.

We’re cool with growing with the right people. Who get it and share it with each other.

About the author:
Tara Coomans (@taracoomans) is the co-membership chair for Social Media Club. Tara served two terms as the first elected president of the Hawaii Chapter of Social Media Club and remains active on the Board of Directors. She is a professional communications and marketing strategist. Tara specializes in helping companies identify and integrate today’s digital marketing and communication strategies into marketing, PR and customer service.