Karen’s PR & Social Media Blog

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March 29, 2014

Let me take a #CardinalSelfie: Insights & Lessons from UofL’s Latest Social Media Viral Campaign

Selfies are pretty much everywhere – and it is interesting to see how they have been incorporated not only for personal uses, but also of course in social media strategies and campaigns. There have been some pretty successful ones recently. For me as a social media professional, it’s interesting to see how this viewpoint and perspective has captured pretty much everyone from large brands to celebrities.

One of the things we have here at UofL that is pretty cool is a group to come up with ideas, strategies, and possible campaigns that could potential turn viral for the university. Why do we do this? Well, it’s to create engaging, visual, and entertaining content that is branded and part of the UofL brand as a university, community, and family in essence.

We had done the UofL Happy video a few weeks ago, which of course went viral – so the question came up in the group. Like Anton Ego said in the movie “Ratatouille” – okay, what does the chef (or group) have that is new?

No pressure, right? However, this is what makes me excited to be part of. Coming up with ideas and new ways of thinking that can be applied that no one else has done. Pure awesomeness in my opinion! :)

Well, after looking around and seeing what we could come up with, I saw that there was a new song that was actually called “Selfie” by The Chainsmokers that came out and one of the things I thought would be interesting would be to see if UofL could incorporate this somehow.

I added a link to the video and shared this with the group, and this began the second viral video campaign for the university. Jeff and his team did an exceptional job with this by remixing the lyrics to be tied to the players of both basketball teams at UofL and asked the UofL community for selfies displaying their pride in UofL. More than 400 selfies were incorporated into the video I believe – ranging from students, fans, faculty, student-athletes, celebrities, and even media personalities who are part of the Louisville community.

Here was the video that was finally created and launched yesterday by UofL:

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What did we learn from this campaign? There are a few takeaways here that we can look at from a strategic point of view of social media in my opinion:

  • Social media is a team effort, especially for launching viral campaigns: This was not a one person effort – but a huge team was involved in brainstorming, helping out, and contributing to the overall vision of the campaign. We had a great leader for this group with Jeff who really set the tone for this campaign, and it was fun to see how this was developing over time.
  • Understanding timing is of the essence: When it comes to viral trends, you want to get on board with it as soon as you can. Planning, strategizing, and organizing people and how they can help contribute to the overall vision was key.
  • Branding and tying back to university is key: I did have a concern when I saw the lyrics with this song and made a comment on how we may want to remix this to fit UofL – it’s about connecting the dots and making the bridge for the viral trend back to the brand. Those that have been successful have been able to do this and created a great overall experience for everyone.
  • Anyone can “cook” or have a great idea: This is one thing I have shared with my students and I thoroughly believe – anyone can come up with a great idea. You have to evaluate, monitor, and consider all of the elements that are available to you while trying to think outside of the box. What makes viral stories emerge as prominent factors is that it’s all about the creativity and engagement that comes with a great story.
  • Always have Plan B for ideas for social media videos: One thing is key to remember, you always want to have a few ideas in your back pocket that you can share with your team to help generate the brainstorming aspect of the campaign. While this idea worked, there were several others that we could have implemented. The more ideas you have, the more opportunities you have to engage your team to come up with others down the road.

Overall, this was a fun campaign idea to be a part of and congrats to the team and UofL for another great effort for a social media viral story! Looking forward to see what we come up with next.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


March 24, 2014

6 Social Media Trends from #MarchMadness

It’s been an eventful and emotional March Madness this year! From Cinderella stories to major upsets, it’s been quite the overall experience for NCAA Basketball.

One of the major elements we are of course seeing along with great teams and players is the growth of social media strategy and implementation for universities who are participating in the tournament, primarily on Twitter.

We have incorporated a lot of social media strategies and campaigns for the University of Louisville this year when it comes to March Madness. UofL has being using their established their social media hub and have been working hard to come up with some innovative and creative campaigns for fans, media, and the UofL community to participate and get engaged in. Stay tuned to what we all have planned coming up to our game in the Sweet Sixteen!

How has social media been used so far in #MarchMadness? There are a lot of strategies and campaigns that have been utilized, and here are just a few of the trends we have seen from a social media perspective:

  • Becoming the platform to go to to respond to fans after a loss and upset: After Wichita State lost yesterday to Kentucky, they went to their various social media platforms and sent out a message to their fans and those who have been supporting them this year. We also saw this when Dayton beat Syracuse as well in the tournament – fans, media personalities, and others got on social media and shared their initial reactions with the world.
  • Rise of Selfies: If this year’s March Madness shows anything in terms of emerging trends, then it would be that of the selfie. From Coach Martin from Tennessee posting an epic selfie after winning their game to advance to the Sweet Sixteen to the President of the University of Dayton taking one while crowd surfing after their upset win, it seems to be  all part of the strategy for creating content that people can share and discuss with each other. UofL has created a campaign dedicated to this as well called #CardinalSelfie, which you can check out here with the photos from fans and others showing their Cardinal spirit during the tournament. So – in case you needed some tips on how to create a selfie, here’s a short video on how to do that. :)
  • Infographics and Data Visualization on the Rise to be part of the story: We all like interesting statistics and information, and info graphics for March Madness have created this for teams to utilized and showcase their information in a  visual manner, like this one from Mashable. Whether it is about providing information about brackets or updates from the team’s games, these will continue to be part of the digital strategy to produce information that is visual and relevant for social media strategies.
  • Evolving lessons and best practices for brands: This is an event that creates a lot of opportunities for brands in terms of sponsorship, but a lot are of course monitoring and listening to what event they can get involved in to tap into some real time marketing opportunities, which can be seen here. However, there is a time and place for this, which is one lesson KFC learned just a few days ago during March Madness.
  • Establishing influence by having exclusive content and engaging fans on social media: There are many accounts and the NCAA has been proactive in addressing the role of social media in March Madness by of course setting up branded content and incorporating it into their app. However, we are seeing also the rise of posts on who to follow on social media for the latest and updated content. However, these are not just media personalities, but others that have established themselves with creating engaging and even interactive content for social media. I
  • Social media is getting integrated into everything: It’s almost to the point where social media has to be aligned and connected to all traditional aspects of strategic communications nowadays, and we are seeing this clearly not only with the teams, but also with traditional media. Sports Illustrated put fans on their cover and tagged them with their usernames, which does show again the prominence of social media in society. Also, this is an opportunity for universities to come up with their own branded content whether it is established hashtags, logos, and photo contests to engage, interact, and showcase the personality of the team and university to the online community.

In summary, there are a lot of lessons to be noted for March Madness so far, and we are not even done with the tournament. I am sure we are going to look at these trends and see what we can do to improve these and even integrate them in other forms of social media campaigns. Major props to all of the teams – great work! And, got to of course give a shout out to the UofL Athletic Department and social media team for doing a great job with all of the content, updates, and visuals they are sharing to keep all of the fans updated!

It’s been an exciting time to be a fan of basketball, especially being at the University of Louisville! Looking forward to the game this Friday against Kentucky and Go Cards!

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

February 3, 2014

Analysis of social media trends during #SuperBowl: A professor’s perspective

We of course saw Twitter put up some huge numbers when it comes to social media engagement and interactions during the game. Here’s some stats related to the game that you may want to check out from All Twitter.

Hashtags were the rage of course on social media for the game, even creating sponsored partnerships and hashtags for others to participate, engage, and share insights on what brands and the teams were doing during the game.

Of course, one trend we did see over and over again was the pressure to become the next big brand to have the best commentary, tweet, and wit during the game, or otherwise capitalize on Real-Time Marketing (otherwise known as the #RTMBowl). Here are some that caught attention from MarketingLand on their website.

What were some of my thoughts on the trends related to social media for the Super Bowl? Here are just a few things that I saw:

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  • Budweiser wins big with warm and engaging content: By far my favorite post was with the puppy and the Clydesdales. This was not only engaging as a commercial, but Budweiser was able to extend the commentary appropriately with their audiences with visuals, assigned handles (even one for the puppy!) on social media. This created an engaging, memorable, and warm experience for everyone to participate in.
  • Analytics were key for measurement of engagement during Super Bowl: Engagement and views were of course some analytics noted for the Super Bowl when it came to the commercials, really showing how social media is now not only a key medium to consider for brands, but has to be integrated throughout the campaign and translate also into traditional media. It was surprising how few commercials really had branded hashtags in their commercials.
  • Some brands were just trying too hard to become the next Oreo: I am not sure where JCPenney was at during the Super Bowl, but they were I guess tweeting with mittens on but most people thought that they were not sober while tweeting. If this was the case, they needed to be consistent with all of their tweets with this hashtag if that was the case. The timing to respond to other brands was not fast enough and brands like Snickers, Kohls, Coors Light took this opportunity to extend their brand and tag lines in.
  • Brands engaged with each other, but not necessarily with customers. This was one surprising note to consider here. I think because we have built up such a presence and focus on brand exchanges that we forgot what social media really entails. It’s about having conversations with everyone – so it was great to see brand interact with others, but they didn’t interact with individuals as much on social media. Maybe this can be addressed next year.
  • Oreo did not participate, but others took notice on social media: Oreo stated that they were not going to participate in the social media commentary during the Super Bowl game, which I think in itself was genius. Even without having a presence, people were still referring to what they did last year and they didn’t have to pay for any of this content. Brillant move – cookie does know best!
  • #RTM didn’t come in the form of just tweets, but visuals (especially Vine) played a big part: Here’s a recap of some of the other #RTMBowl moves from brands in response to what was going on. Some brands like Tide really capitalized on Vine to respond to commercials that were being aired and other brands with Vine, which was creative and another way to tie in their product.

Overall, I think that while the game was pretty much dominated by the Seattle Seahawks (congrats to former USC Coach Pete Carroll!), it appears that this was only one game being played out. There were a lot of lessons and trends we are able to take away from this particular Super Bowl here not only as social media and PR professionals, but also students and professors.

Brands who were authentic and were able to translate their vision and story across platforms seamlessly were successful (Budweiser). Some brands were just trying too hard – take a moment and focus on quality posts versus posts to be in the here and now on social media. Also, engage with all parties on social media – not just with each other. It’s about focusing on the relationships, stories, and experiences shared by everyone online.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,

January 12, 2014

Potential possibilities for using Jelly app for #prprofs

We have seen numerous new apps and social media platforms become available for brands, practitioners, and society in general over the last few years.

Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter) launched his new platform called Jelly. Yes, as you probably can guess, the app’s featured logo is of a Jellyfish. So, what is Jelly exactly? Jelly focuses on a social media platform that focuses on visual content . It’s mobile and if you have a question – it is a new way of search and it uses photos to connect you with others that you are already connected with from other social networks to address questions.

In essence, you are building a community to share knowledge. While it is great to share updates and information – I think one of the biggest potentials for Jelly is that as Biz Stone mentioned in his introduction of Jelly – it allows people to be motivated and driven to help others in their community to drive answers.

How has it been used so far? Well, GE (always seems to be a leader in testing out new apps and social media platforms) and others has become using Jelly by asking questions. These questions spark conversations and drives engagement in your community, which I think is a useful way to create more of a two-way communication dialogue and formulate relationships via mobile.

While we can see this being played out by brands, how could professors use this in terms of engaging students in the classroom? There are a lot of different ways and benefits for Jelly in this realm:

  • Sparking visual dialogue with students on Jelly: Asking students to take a picture to answer a question like “Social media is like —–” and then give them the opportunity to explain visually as well as in written content. This in many ways promotes the emphasis of multimedia integration for knowledge sharing.
  • Visual research to explore various questions: You can ask students about particular books, brands, social media campaigns, etc with visuals. We are seeing how this could be potentially used for brands as a new research tool – so professors could utilize this as well for their classes.
  • Start a dialogue and conversation on various topics: Asking students where they want to go after graduation, which agency/brand would they want to work for, and give them a platform to engage and help others through this community. It may also be good for the students to see what people are sharing about topics related to class and bring forth those discussions into class as well.
  • Visual office hours: Asking students if they need any assistance when it comes to setting up various technologies (ex. HootSuite, etc) – it could be served as a way for students to take a picture and ask their community for help in this regard.

In essence, there are many possibilities for Jelly both in and outside of the classroom. What I like about it is that it does focus on visual sharing of knowledge to be connected with already established social media relationships. It’s also completely mobile – which has its strengths as well, but also some challenges. However, it is still a relatively new app, and if it becomes anything like Vine, we are going to continue talking about this app for the near future.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


September 15, 2013

Effective strategies for brand storytelling in social media

This past week in my social media class, we discussed a variety of different issues, but one that I covered with my students was transmedia storytelling. I think this is a relevant topic of conversation for social media purposes for a variety of different reasons. First, it does focus on the content that you are wanting to communicate and share with your community. Secondly, it does present ways for you to consider thinking about the best way to frame and disseminate this information to your community that is relevant, meaningful, and inspiring.

However, one of the things we are seeing in social media is the fact that everyone now is a “storyteller” and that we all must captivate our audience with stories. While it is key to be authentic and inspiring, it is also important to not put all of our eggs in one basket. Storytelling is one component to strategic communications and one platform and medium we can use to effective share these stories is indeed social media.

Image retrieved from BrandStoryLine.com

I think that Michael Brito has been spot on when it comes to effective brand storytelling. He shared his insights on a white paper that was insightful and relevant to brand storytelling from Contently that discussed what are some of the components that make content more effective than ads. What I do appreciate from this is that it does focus on the content that sparks the emotional appeals and allows the individual to be part of the experience in the process. It’s very psychological and strategic in many ways – and sometimes we get caught up in the jargon or the trendy terms floating around cyberspace without taking a moment to think – why is this effective? How can we make this experience better?

So, how can we make brand storytelling better for social media strategy? Here are a couple of ways we can go about in accomplishing this:

  • Focus on quality, not quantity: We have to consider that while it may be tempting to post as many things about our company as possible – really spend the time to focus on what would help inform and inspire our communities to act accordingly to our stories.
  • Everyone has a say in the brand story: This is what social media allows communities to do – it is a combination of platforms that disseminate and co-create stories that involve not just one voice, but millions. This is to be expected, so we have to take this into consideration in social media strategy practices.
  • Embody the values you present and share in your brand story: Think about what values and attributes you have already and make sure they are connected to what you are sharing with others. It is all about making sure it is consistent with how you act in real life. In order to do this, you have to be authentic with these practices and make sure you are able to sustain them appropriately.
  • Identifying the right ingredients that makes a good story: You don’t want your brand to just say “okay, everyone has a story so I need to make sure I tell mine now” without thinking about the components you need to make the final product. To use another example, you can’t make a perfect French croissant without having the right tools and ingredients, right? The same goes with your brand story. Consider this as a scientific process and explore what attributes need to be there – similar to what some of these professionals have shared in their various TED talks about storytelling.
  • Don’t just tell, go out and do it!: After all, good stories are told and shared due to the fact that they happened. The brands who are successful and great storytellers are the ones that actually did what was presented in the story. We want to make sure that we are actually doing the things we promise, share, and experience with our communities instead of just talking.
  • Always be aware of the situation: Stories are good when they are presented at the right time and place, and you really want to make sure you share these at the appropriate time and be aware of what people are already talking about.  Worst thing you can do is try to share your story when people are distracted or following other news and situations that have more importance.

In summary, storytelling for brands and organizations are going to continue to be a factor, but one of the things we need to consider and think about is the strategy behind these stories. We have to consider the specific plan of action before we jump on board with this particular form of communication as social media professionals. There is a time and place for storytelling, and we want to make sure we do it right.

Hope you all are having a great day!

Best Wishes,


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