Posts by Black Star Content Team

Why The Ice Bucket Challenge Chills The Hearts Of Viral Marketers

Posted on Aug 28, 2014

It’s been the viral campaign of the summer — perhaps even of the decade. Between the beginning of June and the middle of August more than 1.2 million videos had been shared on Facebook showing members pouring buckets of iced water over their heads and challenging their friends to do the same. On Twitter, the meme has picked up more than 2.2 million mentions, all in the name of charity. The Ice Bucket Challenge wasn’t started by an agency and it didn’t come from The ALS Association, the medical research charity that has benefitted most from the attention. It started several months ago when Pete Frates, a former Boston College baseball player and sufferer of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, began posting the challenge on social media with the help of his father. The campaign has since spread broadly. Celebrities have dunked themselves on chat shows, politicians have uploaded pictures of themselves being iced and even Barack Obama has received a challenge which he refused, taking the option to donate $100 to research instead. In dollar terms, the campaign has been a huge success too. On August 21st alone, the organization raised $10 million taking its haul since the end of July to $53 million....

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Do Brands Have To Get Naked On Snapchat?

Posted on Aug 6, 2014

The Saints chat trash on Snapchat It’s already starting. Snapchat might be the least likely social media platform for marketers since Twitter but big brands are already piling in. They’re experimenting with different content, seeing (by some accounts) good results and they’re producing some clear trends. Most of those trends involve naked honesty. The breakthrough for Snapchat as a marketing platform came last year with the introduction of Stories. Until then, the mobile app’s main feature had been to automatically delete pictures sent from one individual to another after ten seconds. For young people keen to impress their partners, but less keen on their images being seen by others, the feature was a killer. For people who were less likely to take selfies in the shower, including marketers, Snapchat had little to offer. Stories, though, changed the dynamic. They can be seen by more than one person, turning them into a broadcast channel closer to that of Twitter or Facebook. Users can make Stories visible to friends, to custom lists or to everyone on Snapchat. They can also be stitched together to form a narrative — and one that’s told historically. While a series of tweets on Twitter starts with the most recent post, making new readers feel left...

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Big Companies Use Content Hubs for Native Advertising

Posted on Jul 21, 2014

As large companies look for creative ways to draw attention to their advertising on content sites, a number of Fortune 500 firms are going in the opposite direction. Instead of putting their advertising around articles created by news firms, they’re putting news articles around their promotions. From technology to fashion and from finance to food and drink, businesses are building hubs that allow them to control both content and advertising. The content hubs look, on first appearance, like any traditional news site. Large headlines and lead stories point out the most important features of the day. Sections often lead to categories within the site while scrolling down the page brings up more stories and articles. In terms of design the sites haven’t broken new ground; they’ve followed formulas laid out by traditional news firms like CNN and Fox, as well as online news companies like Mashable and Buzzfeed. Copying the design immediately gives them an appearance of objective news gathering rather than a sense of commercial promotion. Companies that have created content hubs now include Coca Cola, GE, Dell, Adobe, fashion firm Barneys and American Express. Despite the differences in the content the hubs use, the methodology tends to be the same: a portion of the articles are usually...

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Employee Activists Are An Under-Used Communications Tool

Posted on Jul 14, 2014

In 2009, a group of employees at a  Fortune 500 company came together to create a blog about their firm. Monsanto According to Monsanto was a response to The World According to Monsanto, a film which took a highly critical look at the agriculture company. In an initial post, the bloggers explained why they set up the site and why they were taking the time to write on behalf of their employer. People here are passionate about what we do and feel strongly that Monsanto and our efforts contribute a lot to agriculture and to the world in general. That’s often hard to get across in typical corporate communications and we’re hoping that this blog will offer a more personal view of Monsanto. Monsanto According to Monsanto represents both the opportunity that engaged and loyal employees represent to their firms — and the degree to which companies are missing that opportunity. Monsanto isn’t the only large company with a difficult public image that could benefit from a real and human face. But it is the only one whose employees have chosen to organize in order to represent the firm publicly. According to a study by PR firm Weber Shadwick, many employees are willing to speak up on behalf of...

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The Fortune 500 Crowdsources Innovation , And Gets Innovative In-House

Posted on Jun 28, 2014

A food company wants to tell its market about its products. It wants customers to know how flexible its products can be and it wants to prove that they can use them to do more than bake bread or make basic cakes. It could turn to an advertising agency, run some focus groups or conduct some surveys. It could hire some chefs, give them some of its products and create a recipe book based on what they produce. But the company takes a different approach. It turns to crowdsourcing. It runs a cooking competition open to the public in which the only rule is that participants must  use one of its products as an ingredient. The winner will receive a cash prize and the recipes made by the entrants will be shared. Today, that sounds like a standard marketing practice. Participants would upload videos of themselves cooking to a dedicated YouTube channel. Viewers could vote for the best and anyone could browse a website and find the recipes they want to make. But the year was 1949 and the first Pillsbury Bake-Off was taking place a long time before social media allowed for easy audience participation and content sharing. It’s taken place almost every year since then. Crowdsourcing isn’t...

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