Coffee At Luke’s

What happens when two Gilmore Girls fans, who happen to work in marketing, go the Luke’s Diner (Pour Cleveland)?

They evaluate the event of course.

My friend from college, Kaitlin, and I walked over to Pour Cleveland yesterday for Netflix’s Luke’s Diner pop up. Netflix worked with 250 coffee shops around the country to “turn them into” Luke’s Diner for the morning. Ohio had seven locations and here in Cleveland we had three.

When Kaitlin and I arrived at 9:45 a.m., the line was down Euclid Ave, stretching across the entrances to the 5th Street Arcades. Continue reading

Super Bowl 50: Snack & Ads

This is the first year I’ve actually known what the Super Bowl number was because they cut the Roman numerals… “L” just isn’t impressive under “Super Bowl.”

Someone asked me who I was rooting for, the Panthers, Broncos or Snacks & Ads. I had to pick “snacks & ads” because I spent the evening on Twitter commenting on the ads. Here’s my quick rundown…

The Super Bowel

I was surprised to see the Pharma ads, which leaned very heavily toward the bowel end of the industry with the OIC and Xifaxan.

The Expected Continue reading

How to Go Viral

(aka: Do what everyone wants to do while not actually doing anything.)

As a communications professional, social media enthusiast and blogger, I know that many have the goal of going “viral” and getting their name and content plastered all over the internet, being discussed in coffee shops and at water coolers all over the country world.

Everyone wants to go viral, but there’s no way to make your own content go viral. The virality of a blog post, video, picture, meme, whatever is up to the jury of the social public… and in the case of my own viral blog post, the media.

Here’s my story about going viral:

Nearly a year ago, I wrote a blog post about why people should take their shoes off in my home. It was infused with exasperation, sarcasm, fact, humor and a little bit of science. Shortly after writing the post, I got a few comments and one site reblogged it and that was the end of it. The post faded into the archives for many months. In fact, I had sort of forgotten about it. (I’ve published 452 453 posts on Probably Rachel along with numerous posts when I was a wedding blogger, several posts on my company blog and client blogs and a few guest posts… after awhile you don’t remember every single piece your write!)

A couple of months ago, I found out that an editor was doing a holiday story on the little shoes-on vs. shoes-off debate and was looking for some input. I sent her some answers and remembered the blog post when I was writing them, so I sent her a link as a little more explanation of what I was saying. A few weeks went by and I heard nothing. Then she contacted me and we talked about the article. She liked my post and wanted to know if she could quote it. She also asked if I could take a picture of my mud room.

The day that the AP released the story, I saw a big spike in blog traffic. That evening while Brad and I were out to dinner, I got an email asking if I would do a radio interview the next morning. I agreed and was on WBAL radio for about 1 minute that morning and they replayed my interview that evening. At the same time, an online news outlet decided not to reprint the story and instead talked about my specific blog post and linked to it, they claimed that it had gone viral.

At the time disagreed, simply based on the sharing and traffic. Sure there was a spike, but not viral by any means… after that article the post really did go viral. Large blogs shared the general story, a local news outlet shared the story but I think they intentionally left me out of it. I knew that I had gone viral when my friend saw the story posted on her cousin’s Facebook. A cousin who had no idea who I was!

I attended the Midwest Social Media Summit yesterday and going viral was mentioned once with the example of a 4-year-old video that went viral because it was “evergreen content.” This is content that is interesting or entertaining now as well as interesting or entertaining in a year, in 2 years, in 4 years and will probably still be interesting or entertaining in a decade.

Going viral comes about in many ways. For me the journey was this:

Write a funny post > forget about it > remember the post and use it as background for an interview > get quoted > interview on AM radio > have a news outlet across the country call you viral > actually go viral > get yelled at on the internet by a bitter old lady > then write a blog post about the experience > carry on with your life.

Brad keeps telling me to write a good blog post so I can go viral again next year. My dear husband has achieved viral status himself, quite some time ahead of me. A client snapped a picture of something at his desk and posted it to the internet and it spread more quickly than the flu.

Things that go viral are typically not marketing messages. They’re usually good content of some sort, be it a funny sign at your desk or a list of reasons to take off your shoes.

By the way, congratulations to Jess who won my Level Foods bundle and thank you to everyone who entered!

Best Friend or Big Brother?

People tend to get creeped out when they learn of stores tracking their shopping habits. Like when Target can predict a pregnancy. As a communications professional, I find these things interesting, but when I shared about it on my Facebook (a long time ago) a lot of people commented that tracking customer spending habits is “creepy” or an “invasion of privacy.”

In our culture we knowingly shop with trackable practices. We use credit cards. We use loyalty cards. We like free stuff. We like good deals. Why do many feel it’s gone too far to follow our habits and give us what we want?

I registered my Giant Eagle loyalty card online to start loading automatic discounts to my card for effortless grocery couponing. Not too long afterward we got a great set of personalized coupons in the mail along with a “rewards statement” tracking how much we’d saved on weekly specials, fuel perks and food perks. Each coupon was for something that we regularly purchase, like $1 off any produce or $1 off meat or cheese from the deli counter. There were six in total and the next time I was at the grocery store, I used five of them. We continue to receive coupons  based on our regular shopping habits and when I bought groceries on Tuesday I saved an extra $6 from these personalized offers.

We get free drinks at Starbucks because we registered our card and let them keep a log of how many drink we purchase.

There’s a mutually beneficial relationship in these sorts of programs. Stores can find out what they’re regular customers want the most or what hardly ever leaves their shelves. They can win over business by offering you discounts on products that you might need for the next stage of your life or for your next cookout. As a consumer, you can save money at the places you already shop and improve your relationship with their regular haunts.

Sure some tracking sounds like Big Brother, but does sending you coupons mean that companies are going to steal your personal information? Do loyalty programs mean that a store can control your actions?

No and No.

It’s a tactic for building better relationships because after all, Marketing 101 (103 if you took my Intro to Marketing class) tells you that it’s way less expensive to maintain a relationship with a customer you already have than to build a whole new relationship with a whole new customer.

The brands just want to be your best friend… or some sort of friend.

Still feeling a bit paranoid? Don’t want to be tracked? Then don’t use a loyalty card when you shop and pay with cash.


Ask and you shall receive

I love getting mail (even if the mail doesn’t love me). I also know that I’m not alone in liking free stuff.

The Stuff

On two separate occasions, I signed up on Facebook pages to receive something free.

Mio released two new flavors: lemonade and blueberry lemonade. Already being a Mio user, I got excited when they let Facebook fans request to try a “sample” of one of the flavors. I  requested a blueberry lemonade. Six to ten days later, I had a full-size blueberry lemonade in the mailbox.20120501-084807.jpg

Target (or maybe it was Target Style) allowed their Facebook fans to request a free beauty bag with product samples. I jumped on the opportunity to try some different skincare problems and get some bonus coupons. When my Target beauty bag arrived, it was better than I had expected! The bag alone was worth the time spent submitted my request. Continue reading