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Instagram: the King of Engagement


Do you ever find yourself mindlessly opening Instagram the second you unlock your iPhone? I do it all the time. I admit it – I’m an Instagram addict. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing that little orange heart emerge on your iPhone screen to notify you that someone has liked your photo.

 Since its debut in 2010, the platform has garnered huge success, generating 300 million subscribers. The “double-tapping” feature to like photos is now an integral part of our social scrolling ritual. By providing instant updates, Instagram has become an essential resource for people to access information in a way that is both aesthetically appealing and user-friendly.

Screen Shot 2015 06 30 at 9.45.00 AM

Photo courtesy of Social Times. 

 With its Explore feature, content is curated to the user based on the people that he or she follows and the most popular pages. The targeted Discover page takes you to new realms by presenting fresh photos and accounts to follow daily. See where your fingertips take you.

This week, Instagram revitalized its explore page, taking after Twitter and Facebook by presenting news and trends first and foremost on the landing. Now at the top of the explore section, users will find trending hashtags and places. 


Screen Shot 2015 06 30 at 9.45.14 AM

Photo courtesy of Social Times. 

Thanks to Instagram’s intuitive features and smart classification of information, you can see the world through other people’s eyes. The abundance of perspectives available on the app can enhance our lives in a number of ways. For example, if I were wondering what to order at a restaurant, I would search its Instagram page to see photos of the food. Chances are that the most Instagrammed dish is also the most delicious one. Or say that I wanted to plan my next vacation to Mexico; my first move would be to check the Instagram photos of my desired destinations to help me build an itinerary.

So what makes Instagram a winner in the world of mobile apps?

There is no better forum for engagement. With its flaw-hiding filters, users can’t help but double tap. According to a recent study by Yahoo labs, filtered photos are 21% more likely to get clicks and 45% more likely to get comments than unfiltered ones. 

Screen Shot 2015 06 30 at 9.45.30 AM

Photo courtesy of Social Times. 

The app’s success skyrocketed this year with a 15% increase in engagement. For companies, the platform will remain a crucial channel for establishing brand identity and attracting a social audience – especially younger users. 68% percent of millennials say they engage with brands regularly by clicking liking, following and commenting. With that being said — Instagram on, my fellow Instagram addicts!


5 Ways you should be using Facebook #Hashtags (and a few sprinkles on how you definitely shouldn’t )


It’s been beaten and mocked. Sodden with shame by Jimmy Fallon and Jonah Hill and aligned with ‘selfie’ and ‘food porn’ too often. Now opponents doubt it’s relevance on the (still relevant) social network Facebook. Yes, Facebook is still relevant.

We, of course, are referring to our ol’ friend, the hashtag. As a friend, we are here to show you how to augment your Facebook strategy by implementing purposeful, timely, and engaging tags without subjecting your fans to #hashbaggery. We’re here to help, and to warn.

1. Ground your hash tags in #reality, not #groundyourhashtagsinreality

We’ve seen #thistypeofhashtaguse on social before. But you’re a stoic and reputable organization that wants to be taken seriously. By implementing unwieldy hashtags that are more than 3 words, you lose the ability to contribute and join a conversation on real-life, viable and sensible topics. Brands would be more successful designing and implementing their hashtags categorically. Keep your hashtags to one or two word combinations and be specific. Anything else is probably too long-winded to understand or replicate.

2. Integrate, promote, track, and drive your multi-platform social contests.

You may have already held social contests for users via Twitter and Instagram, where tracking your branded hash tags has been possible for quite some time. Facebook is presumably one of your earliest adoptions of social, and there’s a chance you’ve ignored them when it comes to contests. With the introduction of hash tag support last year, user-generated contests tracked by specific hash tags can now include Facebook, making your tag-driven contests more dynamic by being multi-platform.

As an added perk, your social media manager will appreciate that content can be designed to fit all platforms, streamlining the writing process while saving your organization time and resources.

3. Hug your neighbor.

The best and brightest brands understand that being a part of conversations in your surrounding area may draw the attention of someone who may not have otherwise cared about you. Is the restaurant next door to your shop having a promotion or grand opening? Give it a shout-out on Facebook using its official hashtag. Don’t want to shout out? Take a look at who is using the tag for some insights on your geographic market. It’s all about being a good neighbor.

4. Be limited.

Limit! Limit! Limit! #posts #that #look #like #this are not only difficult to read but show a lack of vision and creativity. This may be acceptable on Twitter, but the sentiment towards hash tags on Facebook is that they are new and annoying. Why push any buttons? Using only 1 hash tag per post is a strategic way to drive conversation around a single event without being overzealous and off-putting. Presumably, your goal for each post is to drive traffic, interest, or awareness to a given topic or event, so 1 hash tag is plenty.

5. One for good measure.

When it comes to tracking, using a hash tag once every few posts allows you to monitor and report on engagement for updates that include hash tags vs. those without them. By having these insights, you can make better decisions on how to use tags moving forward. Content is king but measurement is everything, so keep your hash tagging on Facebook few and far between.

Facebook hash tagging can be an effective way to drive conversation around your brand. The practice is critical to measuring engagement while saving social media managers time in developing multi-channel content. At the end of the day, remain strategic and use proper judgment when implementing tags on Facebook; otherwise you may find yourself more alienating than engaging.

Showgirls, Kate Upton and Burgers—Oh my!


Though the big game is days away, major corporations like Coke, Mercedes, Audi, and Carl’s Jr. have already begun playing the field for the hearts of the 111 million viewers. Aside from the earned media potential of blogs and publications picking up the story, what advantages does pre-releasing your ad have?

In the case of Audi, probably nothing! Their pre-released YouTube tab “Big Game” seemingly gives away their entire spot, which costs around $2.5 million per 30 seconds. There is additional content around the same theme available for viewing, but unless Audi has a surprise up its sleeve for the big day, it has already run out of gas.

Mercedes and Carl’s Jr. haven’t quite shown it all. @CarlsJr has posted a few tweets with images from the ad shoot with swimsuit model @NinaAgdal as an appetizer. The full TV ad surely won’t be short of saucy. Mercedes, too, pre-released their ad spot with Kate Upton getting her shiny car washed, which alludes that there is more to bare.

Coke seems to be the most inventive, taking full advantage of social media for its big ad. Visit and you can watch a pre-release video that sets the stage for the big day with cowboys, showgirls and badlanders racing to the land of sweet, bubble nirvana. Coke asks you, the user, to choose who will win the race and the final spot on the air—all you have to do is tweet your vote. The fun doesn’t stop there! Immediately in return, Coke sends you a tweet with the option to delay the contenders. This is a prime example of perfectly executed brand engagement that builds to the finale. When Coke’s ad finally rolls out on the big day, you can expect to see a hoard of tweets from enthusiasts rooting for their team. 

Stay tuned to @Renegade_LLC for the Big Game Ads reviews, live as they happen on Feb 3rd. 

Campaigning With Interactive Social Media Platforms


Social media allows companies to create interactive, in-the-moment and fun campaigns. Companies are engaging their audience and provoking continued dialogue, while also tying these campaigns back to their products. These companies are raising the bar for what consumers can expect from social media campaigns. Companies are utilizing user-generated interactive games, contests, and promotional events to serve consumers, as well as benefit the company. A contest is no longer just “complete a form” to enter, and even billboards are no longer just wall-based stationary advertisements. Instead, companies are spanning multi-platforms and multi-means to get their message across.

Jell-O creatively designed a campaign that connected Twitter with consumer personal sentiment and relied on a specific hashtag as a vital component to their campaign. The concept of “Pudding Face” was established with the call-to-action, “Get Your Pudding Face On.” A billboard located near Times Square, which was called the “Mood Meter” and had a man’s face with a changing smile or frown, was set up to connect to Twitter sentiments in real-time. Whenever the mood turned too sad (meaning the percentage of frown tweets were higher than smiles), Jell-O gave away free pudding coupons to tweeters using #PuddingFace. Consumers felt more connected to the Jell-O brand when Jell-O replied to sad tweeters and gave them free pudding to change their frown to a smile.

jell o pudding face mood meter resized 600

Other companies use the hashtag to promote a business campaign or idea. For example, American Express started a campaign to drive shoppers to small businesses called “Small Business Saturday.” AMEX partnered with Facebook to give the first 10,000 small businesses that registered $100 each in Facebook advertising. The campaign used #SmallBizSaturday on Twitter to remind consumers to shop at local small businesses. Google, Twitter, and FedEx are now among the big businesses that support “Small Business Saturday” and the campaign has acquired over 2.8 million Facebook “Likes” thus far.

Recently launched “Live for Now” global Pepsi campaign utilizes the hashtag, while also calls for consumer action via Twitter. Pepsi, in partnership with Viacom Media Networks, promotes the NOW factor across music and pop culture platforms. Emphasizing the present moment, consumers are encouraged to tweet images with #mtvnow, #countrynow, #playnow, #comedynow to be entered for a chance to win prizes all summer long. Selected consumer tweets are also featured across Viacom’s channels and on their websites. Twitter also will share the campaign and the NOW factor through pop-up concerts and free music downloads based on the trending artists of the week.

Other companies are using innovative strategies that include interactive gaming techniques that engage a captive audience. For example, McDonalds in Sweden used social media to create a game called “Pong” that was constructed on a large-screen billboard. Just by using a smartphone and geo-location information (no app required), one’s phone could be directly connected to the billboard game. After 30 seconds of successful playing, players win a free coupon for a McDonalds food item of choice. Consumers were then asked to redeem their prize at the nearest McDonalds location. This strategy not only marketed the company, but also brought consumers directly into the restaurant to collect a prize. A simple strategy, free food and a fun game can always be a method to bring in a crowd.

MTV has taken the concept of an interactive game even further. They have recently launched a “Teen Wolf” fan-based game/social experience called “The Hunt.” Fans of the series can log into their Facebook accounts and become a member of the show’s high school and participate in activities with characters from the show. With the line of reality and fiction blurred, this innovative social media strategy is very impressive. Like McDonalds’ “Pong” game, a follow-up strategy is implemented to encourage consumers to keep coming back for more (whether it be to redeem a prize or a personalized email reminding one to continue playing the game). “The Hunt” will be one to keep an eye on to see if other companies will mimic and if it becomes a success.

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Whether it is the use of the hashtag or interactive gaming techniques, social media campaigns are becoming more inventive than ever before. Large companies like Pepsi and American Express are catching on, but small businesses can be successful as well. Multi-platform campaigns that use widespread social media tools, such as Twitter and Facebook, can benefit both the consumer and the company: social media at its finest.

What’s your favorite interactive social media campaign? Let us know in the comments!

- Danielle Genet, @daniellegenet

Twitter Chats: The Power of a #Hashtag


Welcome to the next level of Twitter communication, where you and other interested professionals and non-professionals alike can talk about anything to anyone, from any location in the world, at any time. I’m talking about Twitter chats, a platform for open discussion using a hashtag as the key to entry.

(Screenshot of the #socialchat Twitter chat using Tweetdeck. #Socialchat happens every Monday at 9pm EST, and covers topics surround social media marketing)

Twitter Chat


What is a Twitter chat? 

Twitter chat is a chance for you to communicate with any of the 140+ million other Tweeters out there about anything under the sun. Someone (anyone!) sets a time, a topic and a hashtag for all users to incorporate in their 140 characters. The set hashtag and phrase is what gets a user into the chat (e.g.,  #Renegaderocks, the tag for a chat about Renegade enthusiasts). One of the many benefits of a Twitter chat is that because of the character limit, participants are forced to make their messages short, sweet, and to-the-point. No novel-length opinions allowed!


What are they used for?

Twitter chats can be about literally anything, and start in several different ways. One common form is a scheduled chat. For example, Mashable has provided 15 essential Twitter chats for Social Media Marketers that happen weekly. Additionally, Twitter chats often form at live panels, where a moderator will announce the appropriate hashtag, and attendees can tweet opinions about the selected topic, or pose questions for the panelists. Some of the most popular Twitter chats erupt from TV shows like The Voice, an example that we blogged about just last month. Before, during and after each show, thousands of people (including Christina Aguilera, a judge on The Voice) incorporated #TheVoice into their tweets, creating a trending topic that eventually became a 24-hour chat. 


What can it do for you?

Twitter chats can be useful for both consumers and brands. Participating in chats can aid consumers in forming opinions, voicing thoughts and finding out what others have to say. Brands can also benefit in several ways. First and foremost, these chats provide free and honest feedback from the public. Just a few years ago, companies were paying for a voice from their consumers with surveys and oftentimes their results were biased for several reasons like lack of blinding and measuring the wrong target audience. The public nature of a Twitter chat also builds a brand’s social media presence. With strategically worded hashtags your brand can gain visibility from hundreds, thousands and even millions of Tweeters. Finally, by analyzing the demographics and psychographics of Twitter chat participants, brands can easily get a better understanding of their existing and target communities. Take into consideration brands like Toyota, a company that practices good online presence by hosting several Twitter chats, ranging from discussion with their designers to advocating their philanthropy. By casually interacting with the public about the company, Toyota was able to make themselves open and accessible to Toyota lovers and potential customers alike.


Tips for a successful chat: 

Twitter chats can be constructive and beneficial, but there are several ways that the chats can go south. Take these next few tips into consideration to make sure your first chat goes smoothly: 

  1. Use Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or some other type of social media management program with a live stream to track the hashtag. The original Twitter UI is fine, but not ideal for chats, especially huge ones where tweets stream in faster than you can click the Refresh button!
  2. Don’t worry if you can’t keep up with the conversation. Again, some chats have tweets coming in every other second, so just keep your eyes peeled for what’s relevant or interesting, and feel free to re-tweet the best ones. Retweeting is a way to moderate the chat and may spark more conversation about that particular topic.
  3. Recognize the community: People of all ages and personalities are getting active on social media, and they communicate in different ways. Depending on the audience of the chat (e.g., a chat about Justin Bieber vs. a chat about business culture), you may have to adapt your voice for that particular chat.


Now that you’re more informed about Twitter chats and all of its glory, I leave you with the ultimate Twitter Chat Google Doc. Peruse the 600+ topics (any chat about food is a personal favorite) and start engaging with people who share your unique interests.

Let us know about your Twitter chat experiences! We’d love to hear the rants and raves of your time in the Twittersphere. 

- Jaime Cheng, @Rochambeaux

#TheVoice: Setting the Trend for Social TV


Everyone has their guilty pleasures. One of my many is watching singing competitions on TV.  American Idol is in its 11th season, and there are only so many ways Ryan Seacrest can suspensefully inform a singer of his or her fate. So I was beyond giddy when I heard about The Voice for two reasons: 1) Christina Aguilera 2) social media.  Let's just get Xtina out of the way — I love her, she’s my favorite singer ever. I could gush on and on, but let’s focus on what really makes this show stand out: its social media integration.

Christina AguileraOk, moving on for real now...


According to B&T, 27% of people polled watched a TV show based on a recommendation from a friend via a social networking site. On top of that, 26% of people polled also reported being made aware of the existence of a TV show by seeing a post about it on a social media platform (I first heard about The Voice on Twitter). Furthermore, Nielsen, the holy grail of TV ratings, recently released a study that reports 45% of tablet owners, and 41% of smartphone owners, use their device while watching television. So why not just steer the viewer’s online conversation? The Voice has done just that by strategically placing #TheVoice on the screen when they think people are most likely to tweet about the show.

Adam Levine
The powers that be think we should feel compelled to tweet about Adam's sultry stare.

Producers at The Voice attribute their high ratings to use of this hashtag. As many as 70% the show’s tweets during the first live episode included the hashtag “#TheVoice,” which is about twice the industry average. Upwards of 3,000 tweets per minute are hitting the web during its airtime — and that doesn't account for the thousands of tweets during the other 21-22 hours of the day. The Voice has successfully become a 24-hour social media conversation.


What separates The Voice from other TV shows is that it doesn’t use social media only as a marketing tool — social media is the core of the show and its integration is organic. One of the first things contestants are given when they land in LA is a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, and training in blogging and social media use. The Voice has a room dedicated to social media, and contestants interact with fans on the air when they're not singing.  Several times during the show contestants answer Tweeter’s questions live. Leading the social conversation on air is The Voice’s Social Media Correspondent. Last season, Alison Haslip held down the fort, and since The Voice was considered so successful in the realm of social media, I am unsure why she was replaced by singer Christina Milian for the second season.

The V Room
The V Room is where the social media magic happens!


According to Bluefin's rankings, The Voice has one of the highest levels of social-media engagement among all shows. During its first season, it held the #1 ranking among all episodic TV shows. This is in part because the official twitter account for the show, @NBCTheVoice, keeps time with the West coast broadcast.  Now that The Voice is in its second season, the competition with American Idol is really heating up.

American Idol is copying many of the social media techniques utilized by The Voice, but not well. AI contestants' Twitter handles (quite obviously created by some higher-ups, with no respect for individuality) are now being pushed onto the audience regularly. The show has started showing screenshots of Twitter conversations between the contestants and the artists whose songs they've been covering. There have been rumors that AI judges (unlike the "coaches" on The Voice) have been asked not to use the phrase, “the voice,” when providing feedback to singers. But The Voice definitively knocked any competition between the two by the wayside when Kelly Clarkson, arguably the most popular American Idol winner, tweeted she was cheating on American Idol by watching The Voice. Then in season two, Kelly was brought on The Voice as a guest mentor.

Kelly Clarkson

I have to admit, while I love the concept behind the blind auditions and coaches in The Voice, American Idol still has better singers. My interest in the expanding world of social media, and love for Christina Aguilera, however, are what keep me tuning into The Voice each week.  I have a feeling we are going to continue to see crossover elements in both shows, and I hope the competition to stay atop the ratings benefits the viewers, and continues to pave the way towards more social television shows.

The Voice Coaches


Do you think the social media integration found in The Voice is the future of television?
- Allison Rossi 

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