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Tag: social media

February 10th, 2016

Shooting the Golden Lobster in the Head

I‚Äôm the “Fast Casual” guy around here. And not just because of the way I dress. I‚Äôve spent the better part of a decade supervising advertising and marketing campaigns for fast casual style restaurant chains. So when something big happens in the restaurant business, fast-casual or no, I‚Äôm all ears.

This past Sunday all the talk was about Super Bowl 50. Peyton’s last game. Cam’s cockiness. A litany of crappy, overpriced commercials sprinkled with some nice conceptual ones. Then comes Beyonce’s halftime performance which was watched by over one gazillion people (uh, yeah, sorry Coldplay‚Äîbut y‚Äôall weren’t really top of the ticket). After one line in the chorus:

“When he f@#& me good, I take his #$% to Red Lobster, ‚Äôcause I slay.”

…we get this headline:

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 3.07.20 PM

Is it sustainable? Will it jumpstart Red Lobster into double digit growth over the long term? Will America be forced into rationing Cheddar Bay Biscuits? Not likely. Was Red Lobster thankful for the boost and the exposure? You bet.

RL TWeet1.jpgSo seriously, what does this microcosm of a marketing anomaly tell us? Well, for one, the sales spike is the anomaly, not the situation. In an age when the personas of societal influencers— celebrities, sports stars, even politicians —are brought so much closer to us via our accessibility to interactive media and the influencers are their own mini-publishing operations, we see what an incredible impact they can have with content issued in the right context.

The advertising industry should take a lesson from this. I won’t belabor the point of how consumers are now EMPOWERED and how it takes more than a good-looking ad to shift movement… but that is the case to a great degree.

If Red Lobster had paid for six 30-second commercials during the Superbowl (at $6 million a pop, nonetheless), do you think they would have seen anything close to the actual ROI they got from Beyonce spending a total of 7 seconds mentioning the chain? NO WAY. And do you think all the social media amplification would have occurred over screaming through the TV about LobsterFest? Negative.

The lesson here – advertisers take note…You just might find yourself becoming part of the pop culture. And that can’t be bad for business.

Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 3.12.20 PM


P.S.: Curious to see how much sales of Budweiser spike this week. Stay tuned…








P.P.S. Hold up. Pay attention. PLEASE DON’T DO THIS!!!!!!!!

Ok, so an excruciatingly EIGHT HOURS after Beyonce pimped Red Lobster in front of afore-mentioned one gazillion people, the brand snapped back with all of the wit and hipness it could muster:


Uhhhhhhhh. Uhhhhhhhhhh. UHHHHHHHHH. (taps Red Lobster on shoulder…) Excuse me. Beyonce puts your brand squarely in the center of the pop culture universe, and the best you can do is HOCK YOUR BISCUITS? You were given a seat at the table of the Illuminati, and THAT was your first reaction???

Sometimes you have the goose that lays the golden egg…. and you take that goose and shoot it in the head and have it for supper. Yes, it fills you up for one meal. BUT NO MORE GOLDEN EGGS!!!

This is actually a great instance of a brand NOT reacting with proper content given the context. Why oh why do so many brands knee-jerk to the SELL…SELL…SELL… mentality when presented with an excellent opportunity to build brand equity and street cred?

Red Lobster, all we can say is “HONK!” Congratulations on the sales spike.

MWB talks about how mobile is taking over the world

February 2nd, 2016

Meet Jana Bell, The Lady Behind the Landmass

Jana Bell

If you were in Mississippi during late August 2012, there’s a good chance you were watching The Weather Channel and killing time on Facebook. For MWB’s Jana Bell, those two worlds came together in a unique and memorable way when a Facebook page she created, The Landmass Between NOLA and Mobile, to make light of a Weather Channel gaffe that suddenly went viral.

Set the stage for us. What led up to the Landmass page?

BELL: It was 2012, and Hurricane Isaac was coming through. It was about seven years after Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so we were really prepared for the worst.

A lot of Mississippians felt like we really got the short end of the stick with Katrina. New Orleans had the big flood, so all the attention was diverted there which you can read anywhere. Governor Barbour handled it well – our state really took care of business and didn’t have the same kind of problems with the hurricane response in Mississippi. But, Katrina’s landfall was in Mississippi. We had massive destruction and many lives lost. We just didn’t get the media attention.

So when Isaac came along, everyone was stuck at home glued to the TV, watching all the updates and worried about this one being another Katrina. But this time was different because of Facebook. Most people weren’t on Facebook back in 2005, but now, in 2012, everyone is talking about Hurricane Isaac online.

I was bored. I was sitting at home, and I was on Facebook as I always was at the time, and I saw a post that caught my eye from a friend – she’s very sarcastic and funny – and the post said “Hey, Weather Channel, that landmass you’re talking about is called ‘Mississippi.'”

So I was trying to figure out what that meant. Apparently, in describing the path of the hurricane, someone on the The Weather Channel mentioned New Orleans, Mobile and the “Landmass” in between the two cities. And so I just decided that I would create a page called “The Landmass Between NOLA and Mobile” as a joke.

When did the page start attracting followers?

BELL: Almost immediately. I set it up and soon after I made it public my friend, Becky, liked the page. From that point on, it just started growing and growing, exponentially. Literally for three days, I sat at my computer and slept very little because I was in awe of what was going on. At the time, Facebook had a counter on pages where you could see the likes as they happened, and it was just ticking. I was getting about a like a second.

Within the first few hours, the page grew to about 10,000 fans. Within 48 hours, we had 52,000 people liking the page. I think it just hit a nerve. On Facebook, I think you either have to make people laugh or piss them off if you want to go viral. And I think, with that page, we succeeded in doing both at the same time.

Pretty soon your page started getting attention off of Facebook, right?

BELL: A couple days after the page took off, a blogger wrote a post, using the Landmass page as a marketing case on how to explode on Facebook. A friend of mine happened to see it and sent it to me. So we popped up a link on the page. People started writing their own stories about the page. People started creating memes. Marshall Ramsey did cartoons about the landmass. People started copycatting the page, which is you know the most sincere form of flattery.

It kept going. There was a girl from Nashville, originally from Mississippi, who wrote a country song about the landmass. It’s on YouTube. There’s now a comedy troupe on the coast called Landmass Comedy. They have a comedy club and people do amateur nights and stuff. So that’s kinda fun. “Landmass” was also the Urban Dictionary word of the day. That was very cool.

One of the neatest experiences happened at a Mississippi State football game. I’m sitting there with my family, and I look across the field on the other side and there was an entire row of students that had their chests painted with the letters spelling out “Landmass.” So I jumped up and run around to the other side of the field, and I tell the guard “you see those kids up there? Landmass is my page, and I need to get to them.” They were engineering students. So I took photos of them and made it the cover photo of the page, and it blew up. All the mamas, all the friends started liking the post, and these kids got to shine. I love the fact that they were engineering students, more than anything, because they don’t get recognition very often.

Shepard Smith did a tirade about the Weather Channel regarding the Landmass, giving The Weather Channel hell about it. I mean that was pretty fun watching Shepard go at it. I was thinking “how did this happen?” It was crazy.

At what point did you decide to open an online store?

BELL: It was shortly after the colleges got involved. Mississippi State had “Hail Landmass,” you had “The University of Landmass” and the “University of Southern Landmass.” People were selling t-shirts to promote their schools. About then I started thinking that maybe I should monetize the page – not really for personal gain, but more to show that we are a giving state. A friend of mine created a Landmass logo and created an online store for me. We put our logo on everything we could think of, from aprons to bumper stickers, key chains, t-shirts, boxers, you name it.

A large percentage of the proceeds went to hurricane relief. Rather than just picking a charity, we put it up for discussion on the page. With input from the community, we finally decided on the Salvation Army of Gulfport because they were in the trenches, and we felt like that money was going back out where it needed to go. We raised several thousand dollars for them.

Did you get any response from The Weather Channel?

BELL: They denied making the mistake emphatically and still deny it. But, yes, I think it got to the point where they were so sick of being bombarded with people sending them the Landmass link and abusing them. They say there’s no tape that shows the mistake – maybe it never existed or it disappeared mysteriously. But so many people said “I heard it. I absolutely heard it.” So that’s one of the great mysteries of the Landmass. Did it really happen? Who knows? Maybe it’s an urban legend. I don’t know.

Jim Cantore finally came to Mississippi and took some pictures with people on the coast. Stephanie Abrams was the funniest. She would emphasize the word Mississippi a little too much to show that we were getting mentioned. She would say things like “blah blah… in MISSISSIPPI.” Like that. And it was funnier and funnier because every time she did it, people would send the video, and we’d post it.

How often do you post these days?

BELL: I probably post two or three times a week. If I see something funny about our state, if somebody sends me a link to something I think the Landmass folks would like, I’ll pop it up there.

We were at 55,000 fans at our highest point. And we’re at 52,000 now, and it’s only because Facebook came in and cleaned house. They came in and cut people that had double accounts or deaths, and so on. We lost probably 2,000 people from that cut. But, even though it’s been over three years since the hurricane, we’re really not losing people.

It’s like my child. It’s like my little child. I don’t care if I get the accolades and the likes and all that. It’s more of a therapy for me to post on there because I may be bored and just want to talk so I post something. All of a sudden all my friends have circled and are laughing with me.

I guess more than anything, for all the hype, it’s been a life-changing thing. There are certain people on there that I feel I know because they’re always posting, they’re always commenting. These are people I never would have met otherwise. I’ve actually made new friends from the Landmass page. It’s been a great experience, overall. I wouldn’t change a thing.


September 26th, 2012

MWB to Host DigMe Digital Media Conference

Maris, West & Baker is hosting a brand new conference designed to help Mississippi companies learn new ways to market their companies using advanced website technologies, online advertising and popular social media platforms. DigMe, which gets its name from the conference’s focus on Digital Media, will be held October 25, 2012, starting at 8:30 a.m., at Table 100 Banquet & Event Center in Flowood, Mississippi.

According to MWB’s Tim Mask, “The Internet has revolutionized the way companies market themselves. It has really leveled the playing field for companies, but you have to know what to do and how to do it. We created DigMe as a way to help Mississippi businesses get up to speed with the most promising new technologies and tactics that are out there.”

Conference topics include topics including search engine optimization, website content optimization, online advertising, inbound marketing and social media marketing. Guest presenters will include Tucker Marks from ReachLocal and Jim Eustace the founder of Get Smart Content. Details are available on the DigMe Digital Media Conference website.

March 28th, 2012

This May Actually Change Everything (Back To How It Was)

Every time there has been a media “revolution,” it’s been accompanied by a background chorus crooning “this will change advertising forever.” The printing press allowed for ad placement. Radio was “mass communicatin'” (to borrow a line from O Brother Where Art Thou). Television brought video to the masses. Then, later, DVRs allowed the masses to control how they watch it. And the Internet, well, that was supposed to totally change the advertising landscape.

Truth is, none of these channels did much of anything to fundamentally shift the advertising paradigm. Each either allowed advertisers to 1) communicate with more people at once, or 2) better target their advertising to a more applicable group of people. But, at the core, the dynamic remained the same: a company/organization was trying to sell something to the people. “They” were trying to convince “you” to buy something “they” were offering.

As an embryonic advertising platform, interactive social media may have the potential to actually change everything. Social media isn’t corporate-authored messaging trying to get people to buy. It’s a mass peer-to-peer network where consumers can recommend purchases to each other. Brands aren’t leading the messaging. Rather they are trying to encourage participation in the channel. Brands aren’t telling consumers what they want them to believe, they are encouraging people to insert their brand messaging into the medium via dialogue.

The call to action is quickly moving from “buy now” to “like us” and “tell your friends.” Wow.

Long ago, the only advertising was through word-of-mouth. Not since our ancestors first hung out “ye olde tavern” signs, have brands been focusing so intently on returning to this medium. Used to be “word-of-mouth” campaign was code for “we don’t have any money.” That’s not the case anymore. Media tracking shows that advertisers are moving an average of 20% of their budgets into social media. The big players are engaging this word-of-mouth space.

Of course, “word of mouth” now is spoken by a keypad and through a URL. But it is still interesting that if, indeed, the latest technology is fundamentally changing the advertising paradigm, it’s doing so in a way that essentially capitalizes on word of mouth over mass communication.

This may change everything…back to the way it was.

September 22nd, 2011

Social Media Monitoring: Got Your Ears On?

What’s being reported about your company? What do your customers think of your company? How do they feel about your competitors? What things are you doing right? What are you doing wrong? Is anyone out there trying to undermine your reputation?

Until recent years, gathering this type of market intelligence was cost-prohibitive for all but the largest businesses. Fortunately, that’s not the case anymore.

At Maris, West & Baker, we offer sophisticated social media monitoring services that let you stay on top of your online and social presence. We monitor Facebook, Twitter and other microblogs, blogs, video sharing websites and more. Based on the information we gather, we can then analyze the online conversations to identify trends – what topics are being discussed most and is the overall sentiment positive or negative?

As a result, you can make better, more informed decisions. You can compete more effectively with your competitors. You can thank customers for positive reviews and turn around negative customer experiences. You can prevent service issues from getting out of control. And you can leverage positive buzz and build on it.

July 15th, 2011

Asking for Likes Gets You More Likes. But Can It Make You Unlikable?

Asking people to like your posts on Facebook does actually increase the number of likes you get. Likewise (pun intended), asking people to leave comments increases the number of comments you get. (more…)

May 22nd, 2011

Social Media: Beyond the Hype

You set up your Facebook page. Your Twitter account is active. You’re linked in to LinkedIn. So where is everybody?

Wasn’t social media supposed to be the free and easy way to market your business?

Well, not exactly. Now that the hype has died down a little bit, here are the facts: Social media is hot, no doubt. Currently, Facebook has more than 800 million active users globally. Facebook (as of December 2011) is the second most popular online website, falling closely behind Google. In fact, the average American spends nearly eight hours on Facebook each month. Twitter and LinkedIn continue to be popular, and relative newcomers like Pinterest are picking up steam. And let’s not forget Google+, either, and YouTube, Flickr, Quora, too.

So, yes, given the immense popularity of social networking platforms, it does make a lot of sense for marketers to be there, too. But, here’s the thing: Managing social media platforms takes time, talent and expertise. And unless your organization is already well known, you have to do a whole lot of networking to start seeing results. Keep in mind, social media is a lot different from advertising. You’re not just broadcasting a message ‚Ä쬆you’re interacting one-on-one with your community. And, honestly, that can be a lot of work.

If you have the energy and enthusiasm to invest in social media as an in-house function, you will probably be better at it than any marketing partner ever could be. By all means, handle it yourself. After all, you know your business better than anyone else. But, on the other hand, if you’re like most business people, you already have enough to do without adding more to the list.

In that case, it does pay to work with an outside social media consultant like us. We can help you by analyzing your competitive situation, recommending the best social media platforms for your organization, building up your networks, increasing engagement, and monitoring the Internet for social mentions (responding when it makes sense to do so and alerting you to any negative mentions, as well).

There’s one other advantage to the way we do social media: We offer scheduled reporting, with social media reports sent to you automatically on a regular, ongoing basis. That way, you can see the top-line data and know that your social media program is being actively managed ‚Ä쬆not just on autopilot.

November 9th, 2010

The Difference Between “Social Marketing” And “Social Media Marketing”

Since about 1998, when we were named the agency of record for Mississippi’s youth tobacco prevention and cessation campaign, a large part of our agency’s business has been devoted to social marketing. Meaning, we create campaigns that are designed to have a social impact. (more…)

November 5th, 2010

Social Media: Should It Be Part of Your Company’s Marketing Effort?

Despite its great marketing potential, many businesses are understandably reluctant to venture into social media marketing.

It’s different from advertising, where the conversation is typically one-way. With traditional advertising, you get to tell the public only what you want them to know about your company and, obviously, the emphasis is all positive ‚Äî great products, wonderful customer service, happy customers and so on. (more…)