Crowdsourcing Needs Expert Opinion

courtesy another great post on crowdsourcing

photo courtesy another great post on crowdsourcing

The headline for this article caught my eye since…it just seems to me that so much could go awry.

Crowdsourcing Gone Wrong: How Brands Can Avoid Messy Marketing Mistakes

Like focus groups…if you ask the wrong question or in the wrong way, the answers you get will be umm… at the least inaccurate, at the most disastrous.

I spent some time in my career in market research doing focus groups and original research for big brands…and some time in call centers, down in the trenches listening to how questions are asked and their responses.


If there is a recommendation for how to use crowdsourcing most effectively, it would have to be take your time. In our rush to use Big Data and quickly crowd source the marketing process, we’ve forgotten those small but important qualitative touches – what we used to call “mother-in-law” research.

Continue reading


Social Ads – What Next?


socialfun-300x225With the recent news about both Pinterest and Tumblr pursuing an ad model…or at least a model that brings in money, I’m starting to think about media ad allocation in the social space. To date, there have been only a few big players, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube…and a fairly clear understanding of how advertising on each of them impacts a brand’s advertising goals.

As a marketer really, really neurotic about objective based marketing, I’ve tested and tested advertising on the Big 4 and have a good feeling for the target I can reach with each and how to most effectively reach that target. Adding in two more platforms starts to make it a little fuzzier.

Social ad dollars, in general foster fewer click through than banner ads and other ad vehicles on publication sites, but much better brand engagement.  In other words, I know what I am looking for when I place an ad on Facebook or promote a tweet on Twitter.  What I’m not sure about is how much overlap there is going to be on Tumblr and Pinterest or if either of those platforms are going to add a lot of incremental value.

I’m planning on recommending tests on both for some of my clients, but I’ll be looking hard for metrics.

Just sayin’



professional content creationMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital. She likes to crunch numbers about any social media platform…and think really hard about the value.

Is it Number or Length? Why Limiting Emails to 50 Words is Solving the Wrong Problem

Ex-Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, now that he has time on his hands apparently, came up with an idea that has caught the fancy of writers in the digital space, Why Limiting Emails to 50 Words Is a Great Idea.

I tend to disagree. In fact I believe the opposite. Reading emails is not an issue for me. Reading many, many emails is.

The whole argument for shorter emails, in fact, I believe will exacerbate the email problem. Let me give an example of, what seems like a weekly occurrence.  Colleague A wants to set up a meeting and sends me an email

Him: “ I like to schedule some time to talk to you about the Spring promotion. It’s really important that we get together to coordinate our plans”

Me: “O.K. when do you want to meet?”

Him: “I’m free next Thursday at 9:00 and 11:00”

Me: “I can’t meet on Thursday. But I free most of the rest of the week.”

Him: “ Next week is bad for me. How about the following week?”

Me: “I am wide open that week. How about 10:00 on Friday?”

Him: “ 10:00 doesn’t work for me, but I can do 11:00”

Me: “11:00 doesn’t work for me….”

This is not an atypical email exchange by any means.  On the contrary, what IS atypical is the well- organized email that may, gulp, exceed 50 words my fictional colleague may have sent out. Because, in fact, what is all too often likely to happen once we do actually meet is that…I am unprepared for the call because I don’t really know what the call is about….which leads to another round of emails to sort that out.

What my colleague could have said in his email is:

Him: “ I’d like to meet with you to discuss the Spring promotion. My team has planned to do the following”

We have a contract signed with celebrity Z that runs from the period May 1- November 30”.  She has agreed to allow us to use her name on Facebook and Twitter and will send out 3 tweets for us during that period. We have not talked to her about Pinterest, but she has a large following and may be interested in discussing that”.

We are also planning an in-store promotion that will have POS materials in several large chains? Would you have anything on the mobile side that will tie in with that?

We’re also planning an e-blast to go out during that period with an estimated 4MM impressions to our target demographic.  We wanted to tie back to the website. Do you have a microsite planned?

Let’s see if we can get together to discuss this next week. I am available all day Thursday, Wednesday at 9:00 and Friday morning. Do any of those times work for you?”

One email and hopefully just one email answering it from me.  But, this type of email just doesn’t exist anymore because…when we get an email this long, we don’t read it. You want to know why? Because we have 200 other emails in our in-boxes to read, so we’ve learned if we write a long email…no one will read it. A vicious cycle of unproductive work.

So I suggest we take a look at how we communicate via email, in the same way we’ve looked at how we do PowerPoint presentations. As we’ve  moved toward ridding our presentations of lines and lines of text and boiled it down to the most important information to communicate, let’s look at emails in the same manner.

The core answer to taming emails is the same – but the starting point is different. In presentations, we had to train ourselves to parse information. For emails we need to train ourselves to GIVE information. It doesn’t need to be lengthy and but it needs to be focused on imparting the most important information.

Until we get to that point, I will continue to follow my own personal email rule.  On the third exchange, I pick up the phone.

How to Drive Engagement



I grabbed this screenshot this morning after my usual early morning posting. How do you get numbers like these? Years of experience!

UPDATE: yes, of course – that number changed, but we consistently get engagement numbers twice the industry average for our clients!


headshot new

Maryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy with 4GreenPs. She has been managing Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and communities for 6 years – almost a lifetime of experience!

Success and Fun with User Generated Content

UGC is such a techy sounding term for asking fans to send in what makes them love your brand. (UGC) User Generated Content, at its core is people sharing their personal stories.

Mashable’s story today on UGC, concentrated on fashion brands, with a CPG, feel good campaign thrown in as well, but some of the real opportunities are for food brands, though, most every B2C brand can benefit.

User generated content, is tapping into the vast number of users of your product and letting them share how they use it. Trust me, they’ll think of ways you never even considered!

Here’s an example of a program we ran on Pinterest for Avocados from Mexico to generate recipe ideas. I would have thought of avocado chiffon pie?


ugc pinterest shot










And consider The Pillsbury back-off – probably the first large scale example of UGC










The key to a successful UGC campaign in the social world is 360 integration. Create your campaign. Be creative and integrate as many of your social sites into the program as possible. Have a sharing option on Instagram; enter through Facebook; encourage photos and video on Twitter.

User generated Content stretches your marketing budget, drives organic traffic to your website and engages your fans. Yes, there are a number of legal hurdles, easy to address once you know the ropes. And coming up with a creative idea in a noise filled social media space can be challenging, but reaching out to fans is an easy way to accomplish two goals at once – engagement and content – UGC-E?


headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy with 4GreenPs. She loves to create  content and read content that other people create.

A Yummy Bi-lingual Campaign

It’s pretty awesome to see a write up on your work from a totally unexpected source! When I ran across this post A yummy bilingual social campaign and website, I Love Avocados / Amo Los Aguacates, I was happy to see our work for client, Avocados From Mexico highlighted by another agency. Thanks Content Hunting!


As noted in the article, we use two hashtags, one in English #Iloveavocados and one in Spanish #amolosaguacates and though not noticed by the author, we do both tweet and post on Facebook in both languages… though a lot more in English – reflecting the nature of the mostly 2nd and 3rd generation, English dominant, digital Latina.


Managing an effective digital campaign, requires looking at every piece of your digital program and integrating it into the program…times two if the campaign is bilingual! So, for Avocados From Mexico, each platform and each social media site gets in on the act on every promotion we run.

So nice to hear these words:

All in all, a very well managed campaign! And now I’m hungry…

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRopes Digital and Partner Digital Strategy with 4GreenPs. Contact her today for information on building better digital campaigns!

What Makes Great Content? Brand BFF’s of Course!

Today in MediaPost, I ran across an article, Effective Content Marketing. Of course the most interesting  part of the post, to me anyway, was how the focus of social media has changed as consumers more and more want original content and true engagement with brands. A number of forward thinking brands are already moving beyond formulaic community management and their number if growing.

.great content

As a brand marketer who took up blogging as a hobby initially and then irresistibly starting marketing it, I have seen the challenges that brands face getting the tone just right in this two way communication  online world.

Actually engaging consumers, as opposed to communicating with them takes a bit more than hiring someone to schedule regular posts on Hootsuite and putting up an occasional blog post that ties in so very neatly with the current brand promotion.

Engaging means talking about what consumers want to talk about, when they want to talk about it and inserting, but not always your brand in the conversation. Engaging means getting up at 3:00 in the morning on occasion to jump into the Twitter conversation going on in London. Engaging means  reacting to a trending conversation by whipping up a quick blog post, or recipe or Pinterest  board and jumping in.

Sounds exhausting. It’s worth it.  Engaging builds relationships.

The key to an effective content strategy  is expending energy upfront and creating a place for you and your brand in the online conversation. This, sometimes quite magically, but assuredly with some sort of psychological underpinning results in a whole phalanx of BFF’s…otherwise known as brand advocates flooding your inbox with opportunities, RT-ing and repining your brand content and offering opportunities for your brand in the wider world of online engagement.

Great content doesn’t need to be hard or hard to measure. It just needs to be strategic.

headshot newMaryanne Conlin is CEO of RedRope Digital provider of engaging content for web sites and social media. Experienced content creators in food, green and consumer products and experts in reaching out to both Hispanic and general market moms, Maryanne counts many prominent bloggers as her BFF’s.

Caught Creating Branded Content

I wasn’t surprised to read today about the real need for content creation. According  to Outsource Success: Brands Re-Up Content Marketing  the vast majority – almost 80% of brands are rapidly shifting into branded content.

Since content, especially well crafted and on target can be used across multiple channels and properties, the need is clear. In a “conversation” versus a “one to many” world, more and more content needs to be created in the specific way that allows it to be used on multiple levels in many different ways.

The content creation “time-suck” increasingly obvious to even the most newly created social media team, seems destined to drive outsourcing to teams of content creators well versed in multiple ways to create and use content. It’s a unique way of thinking.

When we create content, we, perhaps after all of these years, think globally and write globally. How can we translate this into a Facebook post? How does this headline work on Twitter? Is the SEO strong? What parts would work well on Pinterest? Is there a graphic element I can include How do readers use this type of content? How will they share it?

The explosion in content has whipsawed we web writers from crafting long thoughtful pieces of self expression to cramming key words into a framework of a thought back to carefully selected word-smithing for selected audiences. It’s been a heady ride.

In times like these, I thank my parents for ensuring that I was both a voracious and eclectic reader. Voice, tone and experience  drive engagement – connect with the intended audience on their level and in the way they want to use your content and engagement explodes. So, reading People, Gourmet, Kiwi and National Geographic Kids, along with Malcolm Gladwell and Hemingway and Austin with a dollop of  CNET, WSJ and Yoga Journal thrown in, may make my more literary minded friends laugh, but make my job easier!

 Maryanne Conlin, CEO of RedRopesDigital likes browsing the magazine rack at Barnes and Noble.