Using Yelp to Pass Along Recos to Navigate the Criminal Justice System

Yelp is a great place to find and share reviews for just about everything: restaurants, barbers, landscapers, even doctors. But as a recent article on The Marshall Report highlights, Yelp is now being used by people to provide commentary on navigating imprisonment… with reviews, tips and tricks from people on the inside and out.

Indeed, Yelp is becoming a significant an influential place of prison conversation. Topics run the gamut, sharing knowledge and opinions to influence how people interact with the criminal justice system. Some learnings the article highlights:

  • Requesting certain ethnic meal cards and strategies to get the best meal choice
  • Reviews of guards and protections for high-risk populations
  • Recommendations on what to do with clothing while in the shower
  • Fashion tips for visitors to make sure they will be let into visitation spaces

In cases like the last, users are using Yelp to help others. After being denied entry to the prison for clothing deemed “too tight” and “see-through” while trying to visit her brother, Victoria Ramos of California went to Yelp, as she said, to save others from the type of experience she had during her visit. “Maybe I would have went in the proper attire if I would have read a review similar to mine.”

In other cases, Yelpers on the inside are posting about their experiences to show the realities of prison life, recommend paths to advocate for yourself, and even pass along life lessons. Or as the title of the article suggests, “I reviewed jail on Yelp because I couldn’t afford a therapist.”

Why It’s Hot

As social platforms and user-generated content take more meaningful roles in our lives, instances like this use of Yelp are a reminder that the incredible accessibility of digital means people can appropriate technology for their own needs and agendas. Yelp never intended for reviews to pass along information in this manner, and yet the openness of the platform allows those niche users to use it to satisfy these needs and connect with one another. To create more meaningful connections, marketers and creators of these platforms should be probing for ways in which technology can fulfill new needs in unexpected ways.

Via The Marshall Project

UGC: The Social Tipping Point

EngageSciences just released a research paper proving the fundamental impact that user-generated content can have on brands, and how it can drive audience acquisition, boost engagement and even optimize sales conversions.

We all work in an industry where we have witnessed the fundamental change in marketing recently, due primarily to the rise of mobile broadband, access to powerful cameras via smartphone devices, and the explosion of social media reach. These 3 technical innovations have combined to transform the way brands relate to their customers, and as a result, people are creating and sharing images and words like never before.

Some commentators have named this the ‘sharing economy’. Whatever you call it, smart brands are taking advantage. They’re taking user-generated content that refers to their brands and using it for their own benefit. And research suggests that it is much more effective in engaging and influencing consumers than their own ‘branded’ content, such as glossy photos or promotional videos.

Download the full white paper here:

Today’s consumers publish words, photos and videos online to share all aspects of their lives, including their favorite brands. The Pew Research Internet Project found that 54% of adult internet users now post original photos or videos online, up by nearly half on last year. They have become expert marketers of themselves – and potentially of the brands they love, as long as brand marketers can harness their creativity and influence.





Why it’s hot:

The reason behind this change is simple: Consumers trust their peers. They take inspiration from other people’s experiences, ratings, reviews and their sharing of products and services. Brands are already spending a huge amount of time, energy and money managing social channels and creating and distributing content. Even so, only the largest global brands can afford to establish a tangible presence across all social networks and populate them with enough content to stand out from the crowd. In addition, most marketers just aren’t able to produce the volume and variety of content that will resonate with their target audiences.

The explosion of consumer generated content is unstoppable. Brands must accept that their glossy, expensive branded content is now playing second fiddle to the authentic words and images created by their advocates. We’re now at a tipping point where user-generated content isn’t just outweighing branded content, it’s outperforming it. There’s tangible evidence this stuff really works – and we’re just getting started.





Driving Fan Acquisition & Boosting Engagement on Instagram Through UGC

This week, I wanted to share a Whitepaper from one of our partners, EngageSciences, titled “6 Ways to Use Instagram for Brand Marketing.”

The whitepaper has many interesting facts around related to e-commerce and native advertising. For example, only 55% of prestige brands link from their websites to their Instagram profile, and even fewer (14%) feature Instagram photos on their own websites. When websites feature compelling content from Instagram, there is a 300% increase in “dwell time” on pages and an 11% increase in web traffic with sites that feature social content and interactive applications.

The most interesting metrics are related to UGC below.



Why It’s Hot

There is no denying the power of UGC for brands.The whitepaper concludes that authentic, yet persuasive Instagram photos within e-commerce experiences are key along with shoppable links and “buy now” CTAs will help brands to monetize UGC to not only increase engagement but impact sales as well.

With that said, some brands are understandably apprehensive of leveraging this content on websites or branded social channels. EngageSciences points out that there are steps that should be taken to ensure the brand is appropriately protected, including requesting rights and tracking all rights requests along with an audited history of approvals.



What will happen when Facebook turns on monetization for content creators?

On average, videos featured on the Lad Bible Facebook page are generating 5.6 million views. How so? They are leveraging their community to promote viral video content created by their fans. “The user becomes a brand ambassador because they feel like they’re a part of the community.”- Logan Vild

Did you know that on a daily basis, Lad Bible receives over 1,000 submissions? The power of a brand promoting UGC content continues to be expressed throughout social as brands want to show that their fans are what make their brand. Ultimately, this approach helps establish and maintain a positive and engaging community.

Lad Bible recognized the influence that promoting UGC content had on their brand. Considering that most brands are doing this now with photo content, it’s interesting to see a brand use UGC video content because most videos that brands promote on social are of high quality and are branded.

Since most viewers watch Facebook video content on mobile, there is power behind a brand promoting UGC video content because it tends to be easily digestible and short. Therefore, the over obsessing of brands needing to spend big bucks to produce the “coolest” videos is solely diminishing because brands like Lab Bible are capitalizing on this free and effective way to promote video content.

“We have taken a strategic decision to create, acquire, partner and produce video for all platforms.”- Logan Vild

Read more:

One of Lab Bible’s videos: 

Why Its Hot

Considering that platforms are dabbling into awarding users that create viral content such as Youtube videos, will Facebook begin to award their users as well? What are your thoughts? How will brands like Lad Bible tackle this?

#TravelforReal with Loews Hotels

Typically hotels promote themselves in a fashion that can only be displayed to make you want to stay there through beautiful, high-resolution images. However, Loews Hotels is taking a different approach in their “Travel for Real” campaign.

The brand used social media to foster this idea. They took to Instagram to see what types of content their guests posts and when they discovered their photos, it sparked an idea. Their new campaign will promote guest photos as opposed to those over photo-shopped images guests are used to seeing.

What they found is that guests are more connected to the brand through this campaign and are more willing to use their branded hashtag. It also entices users to want to post their images along with the hashtags because let’s face it, every guests photo wants to be an ad for Loews Hotels.

Now when gets stay at a Loews, they won’t be let down because they will know that what they see is what they will get.

Read more:

Why It’s Hot

Brands are understanding the benefit in promoting user generated content. This is just a prime example of how a hotel brand can diversify itself and become more relatable for their audience.

McDonald’s Tricks People Into Eating Salads

While McDonald’s has been attempting to refresh its burger offerings via things like mascot makeovers, given its recent business problems, McDonald’s is also working to attract new customers—those who wouldn’t normally eat there—to check out what else is on the menu besides a Big Mac.

McDonald’s Canada decided to play a little branding trick on unsuspecting salad lovers by launching a pop-up shop called The Salad Society and giving away salads featuring ingredients like baby kale, feta cheese, and couscous. The idea was that a non-McD’s pop-up would take away any preconceived notions and instead focus on the quality of the food. But when the happy lunch crowd got to the bottom of their bowl, the jig was up. The brand has also partnered with bicycle delivery service Hurrier to give away four weeks of free salad deliveries, and created The Salad Society “membership” cards as branded gift cards.

Read more here.


Why it’s hot:

The announcement earlier this month that McDonald’s would be adding kale to its menu became a massive news story, prompting everything from mockery to debate over whether the brand could authentically incorporate an ingredient like kale into their menu. Salad Society is McDonald’s Canada’s way of side-stepping those conversations as it adapts to changes in consumer taste, and is one of the ways McDonald’s is attempting to stay relevant. Leveraging the authentic reactions of real people in advertising (The stunt was filmed for a spot that debuted on broadcast May 12. A longer, 50-second digital version of the ad is currently running as pre-roll on YouTube and other sites) provides credibility and could potentially convince those on the fence to try the item.


What Will Social Media Be Like In The Future?

We live in a social media-obsessed society and a new study unveiled the way “likes” and the need for social media praise affect our day-to-day lives.

“‘Likes’ are a low-effort way of producing a feeling of social well-being that takes more effort to get in the real world.” – Joseph Grenny

Capturing the perfect moment is a lot like winning a trophy. People are more focused on winning the trophy than enjoying the actual moment that contributed to the win itself. The study discovered that the users who don’t focus on gaining likes/comments/followers tend to be happier than the users who solely focus on winning the “trophy”.

Takeaways from the study include:

  • About 58% of people surveyed said “posting the perfect picture has prevented them from enjoying life experiences.” Sound familiar? Trying to get that perfect concert photo, or just the right sunset pic sometimes interferes with enjoying the experience itself.
  • About 91% of the respondents said they’ve witnessed tourists miss a great moment because they were trying to capture it for social media. Many of that same 91% admits to doing the same thing themselves.
  • Three out of four people admitted to being rude or distant because they focus more on their phones than people, while one out of four said they’ve let their smartphones disturb “intimate” moments.
  • 14% of respondents say they’ve risked their own safety to get a like-worthy post. That’s basically the concept behind “do it for the Vine,” which isn’t always a great idea.

Infographic_LikesOverLife_Trophy Hunters_March 2015

Read more here:

Why It’s Hot

More and more people need to see an increase in likes and/or comments on their social media posts to feel satisfaction.  This information shows us how important it is for brands to interact with fans on a daily basis through UGC encouragement.

“People don’t want to be paid. They want to be paid attention to.”- Josh Machiz

Canon Launches Project Imagination to Invite UGC

Canon is aiming to make consumers feel like professional photographers, in the wake of mobile photography and UGC explosion, with their latest campaign, Project Imagination: The Trailer contest. According to this Adweek article, the brand is encouraging consumers to submit a 60-second film trailer or vignette of their life from now through April 29.

“This is the third year of the campaign, which has added an online editing tool that lets consumers customize their videos with voiceovers, music and titles. Hollywood producer Ron Howard and actor Josh Hutcherson will then select one spot to inspire a short film. The idea is that the small, everyday aspects of life can lead to some of the world’s most interesting stories.”

The clips will be judged on various criteria including: originality, creative characters and storytelling and must fit into one of six categories: comedy, drama, children/family, action/adventure, suspense/thriller, and sci-fi.

Photography tips and resources can be found on Canon’s microsite.


Why It’s Hot

We’re always talking about fun, new ways to solicit UGC from our audiences in social media and this campaign is a great example of how a brand can inspire consumers in a fun and creative way. While a video clip is typically a harder ask because it requires more time and effort, the payoff of being selected by an industry legend, Ron Howard, is exciting for hardcore fans. Will be interesting to see the winners.

Video revenue follows video quality

YouTube will generate an estimated $1.13 billion in revenue from video advertising this year — up 39% from last year, per eMarketer. With nearly 167 million unique visitors to the site in August 2014, YouTube rivals Facebook, at 168 million unique site visitors. However, YouTube fails to monetize most of this traffic, due to the time that audiences spend with digital video on YouTube. Clips are either too short to include ads or are not brand-friendly. Both are attributes of many user-generated YouTube videos that get the most views.

9-12-2014 8-06-27 AM

In Contrast, AOL and Yahoo will increase digital display revenue from ads placed against premium video content, including full-length shows, digital shorts and other professionally produced programming.

Why It’s Hot: Marketers’ hunch that YouTube is not the ideal environment in which to deliver their messages is supported by Nielsen/IAB research that shows that long-form, episodic content results in the greatest lifts in video ad recall. However, YouTube’s traffic, wide variety of video content and efficiency is unparalleled by any other single video destination. If YouTube can retain these strengths while aggregating or producing higher quality content, effectively segmenting inventory and/or producing research that indicates that marketing within or alongside their video actually is effective, it will be a win for all.


Meow Mix enlists cat lovers to remix its famous jingle

The iconic Meow Mix jingle is getting a meow-remix. And cat lovers everywhere are invited to try their hand at creating their own version of the original “meow, meow, meow, meow” jingle. Cat lovers were invited to head to various NYC locations this past week, to meet singer Kellie Pickler and to make their own versions in a mobile sound booth — equipped with professional microphones, cameras and a DJ. They were encouraged to share their spins on the Meow Mix jingle and love for their cats via social media, with the opportunity to appear on Meow Mix’s own social channels, including Facebook and Twitter. See the site:

And it’s all for a bigger cause: For every jingle, Meow Mix will donate 100 meals to the Food Bank For New York City, with an overall goal of 100,000 meal donations. The author of the best jingle remix stands a chance to win a trip to Hollywood to film a video for it. “The goal is to raise awareness about Meow Mix as well as drive brand affinity and loyalty,” Carrie Schliemann, the marketing director of Meow Mix, told Digiday. “We wanted to leverage our jingle and use it show how our brand stands for humans and cats connecting over meals.”

8-15-2014 8-03-06 AM

Why it’s hot:

“Music and cats are arguably the biggest things on the Internet today,” said Todd Tilford, the chief creative officer at FCB Chicago. “And if there’s one brand that has a right to come up with this, it’s Meow Mix — because of the famous jingle.”

By capitalizing on human nature to showcase their own skills and feature their pets — all for a good cause, the campaign was sure to be a hit in connecting with audiences. Speaking to the catchy heritage of the brand, Meow Mix was able to foster sharing and drive equity & awareness. The first EDM jingle remix has already gathered almost 158,000 views on the Meow Mix YouTube Channel!

Applebee’s Turns Its Instagram Over to Foodies for the Next Year

While more brands have been stocking up on user-generated and influencer content the past few years, Applebee’s latest campaign is an interesting example of a marketer going all in on the tactic to fuel its social strategy.

To participate, consumers must first opt in via a microsite that gives Applebee’s permission to post content to its account. Then, anything that those users post with the #Applebees or the campaign’s #Fantographer hashtags is up for grabs for posting. Each posted photo is framed with a branded border. The Instagram content will also be posted on Facebook and Twitter, although Applebee’s will continue to churn out original content on those platforms.



Why it’s hot:
This takes community celebration and brand-led UGC to the next level. On the heels of recent studies indicating that millienial audiences trust UGC more than any other type of media, this move by Applebee’s only cements their authenticity and presence in the space.

Snapchat Adds Location-Based Filters

Snapchat just added a collection of geo-filters to its popular app, allowing users to add fun labels and drawings based on their location. The new art and labels are specific to certain cities and destinations. For example, if you’re snapping a shot at Disneyland, you’ll be able to swipe right to see art related to the amusement park.

The feature officially launched on Tuesday, but Snapchat has been quietly testing geo-location filters for awhile. Users must enable location services for the feature to work, which means Snapchat isn’t storing your location data.


Why It’s Hot

The news of geo-location filters comes a few days after Snapchat users received a surprise collection of curated snaps from Brazil during the final games of the FIFA World Cup. The previous use of live event stories with EDC Vegas required users to manually “add” the EDC Live event to view, but the Rio Live account appeared automatically under contacts for all users to enjoy.

As other companies try to compete with Snapchat by adding similar features (FB Messenger, iOS8 iMessage, etc), Snapchat’s new geo-location features allow the company to hold onto its unique appeal. Geo-location offerings add new dimensions to the once photo-only messaging app and create new ways in which users and brands interaction with one another.

Read more here

AHH! CocaCola turns its big advertising splash over to the young ones

Coca-Cola breaks new ground with a TV commercial this week titled “This is AHH” comprised almost entirely of short video clips made by their young fans. A few months ago Coke asked teens to submit short video clips sharing what it feels like when they take a sip of Coke. The best clips would be featured in a national Coca-Cola TV ad. As Coke put it, “AHH is that indescribable feeling you get from a sip of Coke. We asked our fans to show us their best interpretation of AHH for a chance to be in a national commercial, and it turns out “AHH” feels a little something like this. We had no idea. “

Why It’s Hot

Coke received 400 entries and chose 40 for the final cut. The clips in the ad came from all over the world — from Brazil to Salt Lake City to Jacksonville, FL. This ad debuted on Wednesday’s season finale of American Idol and will run on teen-friendly networks including the CW, MTV and Adult Swim. The spot is part of Coke’s teen campaign called “The AHH Effect,” now in its second year.

Coke’s reliance on user-generated content for a television campaign targeted at teens seems to signal a lot about this younger generation and what brands will have to do to engage it in the future. Interactivity is extremely important for younger audiences. They are a group that aren’t satisfied with just being told a story, but want to help tell the story, affect the brand, and, in this case, literally see themselves in that brand’s story.

Most kids in middle school or high school have grown up with YouTube and Facebook. They spend most of their time on mobile apps, like Snapchat. They are used to interacting with their media, controlling it, and, in some cases, creating it.

The future of advertising — where these teens are the most coveted market — will be about engagement. Brands will have to start thinking, like Coca-Cola, who has always been open to letting consumers interact with its brand. Companies will need to engage their consumers, not only emotionally, but through action and interaction.


Hulu Uses Anonymous Secret App to Promote New Original Series

Deadbeat, an original series from Hulu, is using an anonymous app to promote the new show. Whisper is an app that allows users to post anonymous messages on a featured picture that has text to prompt conversations. Users often use the app to share regrets, embarrassing secrets and strange desires. Whisper claims that there is no way for these secret messages to be traced back to the true identity of the user that posted them.

Since the show features a detective that speaks with spirits to help them resolve unfinished business, Deadbeat’s promoted content within the app mainly features topics related to unfinished business. Whisper will offer these images to users they deem interested (based on their discussing topics around certain keywords) to spark conversation.


Images that are planted by Hulu will have the Deadbeat logo on them so users will know that they are promoted content. Whisper’s CEO said that his app is still working to figure out how ads will be recognized as such within the platform for the future.

Why it’s Hot

This platform presents a unique opportunity for brands to spark conversations about topics of their choice, while gaining exposure for their brand. This app enables companies to encourage authentic user-generated content in a non-traditional way. In addition, this is another way for a brand to find out more about the audience and do so in a platform where users can be bluntly honest.

A Whisper employee sums it up well when he states, “We have always believed that Whisper would be a great content marketing and brand storytelling platform. People whisper about their favorite movies, shows and brands all the time.  It can be some of our best content.”

Read more here and here.

Heineken gives Twitter users a shot at Tribeca

Heineken is inviting filmmakers to submit their concepts on Twitter for a chance at a screening during the Tribeca Film Festival. The #15secondpremiere campaign is part of Heineken’s continued sponsorship of the festival, and it offers a new social call-to-action that encourages people to submit their film concepts via Twitter.

Heineken will select one to produce as a 15-second short to premiere at a private event at the film festival.

Screen Shot 2014-03-05 at 2.18.37 PM

Read more here.

Why It’s Hot

This is the sixth year Heineken has sponsored the film festival, but the first year its involvement has evolved to integrate the traditional event sponsorship with consumer engagement.