Author Archives: Alex Greenwood

Do #Halloween #Haunters Need Social Media?

Does Your Halloween Haunted Attraction Need a Strong Social Media Presence?

Let’s look at the facts:

As Steve Cooper wrote in Forbes

Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that gets consumers to open up their pocketbook—next to Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter, according to Alliance Data Retail Services (ADRS), a marketing and customer loyalty solutions provider. 

It gets better. According to America Haunts, there are at least 1,200 haunted attractions charging arp_Jack-o-Lantern_2003-10-31.jpgdmission nationwide every year, with 300 amusement parks “dressing up” for Halloween and more than 3,000 charity attractions that open for one day on Halloween or one of two weekends in October.

The site also reports that the typical haunted attraction averages around 8,000 guests, depending on the market and size of the attraction. Some attractions do exponentially better. The haunted attraction industry generates between $300 and $500 million in ticket sales per year.

Imagine: this half a billion-dollar industry basically thrives in a six-week window once a year. If you own a haunted attraction, it better be good, it better be accessible…and people better know BOO about it. If you have a haunted attraction, you have to be damn good at marketing it, or you’re not going to make it (there are virtual graveyards of failed haunt attractions out there).

Forget for a moment that we’re talking about haunted houses. Let’s talk about any product or industry–for example, aluminum siding. Do you need aluminum siding every day? No. Every week? No. Every year? Probably not. Yet what do you see on local TV? Commercials for aluminum siding. Why? Do the aluminum siding salespersons presume everyone watching will “Call now”? No. What they assume is one of two things:

1. Some people out there in TV land do need siding in the near future, so why not reach out to them?

2. Many viewers will eventually need siding, so they want their company to be “top of mind” when that day comes.

It’s a basic precept of marketing–if people don’t know about  you, they’ll never buy anything from you. This means that even if what you sell is a rare purchase, you better make sure your name is out there.

Let’s apply this rule to haunted attractions.

One thing I see over and over (with a few notable exceptions) is that haunted attractions do a lackluster job of keeping in touch with patrons throughout the year. Now, no, I do not believe you should run a TV ad in February for your haunted house. It would be weird. (Though I do think a little pattern interrupt–say, an ad in July is a good idea–but that’s not the point.) No, you should not be running ads year-round. However, you should be doing something else to keep your name out there. You should be active in social media.

Wait, wait. Come back!

Here’s the good news: it’s free (of charge, generally). The bad news: it takes time, and if you do not consistently participate, it doesn’t work.

So, being active on social media costs you time and creativity, year round. The benefits? If you maintain a consistent, entertaining presence on your Twitter of Terror, Gothic Google +, Fearsome Facebook, Icky Instagram and even Lethal LinkedIn, you can foster a regular, top of mind relationship with haunted attraction fans. This way, when your hot and heavy marketing push starts in September, you’ll have an army of brand ambassadors ready to help you spread the word.

Can you imagine the increased bang for your TV buck if  hundreds of fans share your TV spot on YouTube and Twitter and Facebook? What if you have social media-inflamed excitement building over ticket or fastpass giveaways, or people posting pics with your scareactors from the wait line outside your attraction on Instagram?

And what if your haunt space is used for special events or other commerce the rest of the year? Social media is a great way to let your fans know what’s happening when the lights are on and the monsters are in storage.

Halloween is almost here, but it’s not too late!

If you need help creating a social media strategy (and/or operatives to run it) for your haunted house, hayride, home haunt or warehouse, We’d be thrilled to work with you. We do social media and public relations strategies for numerous businesses every day. It would be horrifically fun to create an affordable social media (and or PR) strategy to market your haunt. Call 816-945-2477  or email us today.

 

 

Be sure to follow our special @Hauntfeed Twitter handle…free of charge you can DM your haunt news to us and get a retweet. Let’s get spooky!

We ain’t scared!

Social Media Finds a Way

 

By Noah Smith

IMG_6993Ever wondered why you couldn’t share other people’s photos on Instagram, at least through their application? The images you post on Instagram are yours, you own them. So, Instagram asks that you don’t share images that are not yours, just double tap them and give that user a heart (like).

A very novel idea, and I do applaud them for trying something like this, but it’s flawed from the get-go. By the time this platform was released the social media user population had already grown accustomed to the idea of sharing and re-sharing statuses and photos. It’s in our nature to share the fun, awesome and stupid images and memes. Why deny us this? We will surely find a way around it.

In the words of Ian Malcolm “Life will find a way.” Life in this case is social media. And you can bet it found the way.

Countless apps were created to let users re-share a photo from Instagram to their own account and guess what, most make it pretty clear that is has been shared. There is usually a vertical block on the left side saying who it was shared from. If one app or social platform is lacking AND it’s popular with the masses then you can bet another designer will create an app that will fill the code and make everyone happy.

I may never understand why Instagram never created a sharing button that did something similar, make a mark that it is a shared photo. It seems like a simple bit of coding, and boom, it would have been an all-in-one platform. So, programmers and designers, make sure your app has it all or else another creator will pick up the slack.

Do you think it’s right for third party creators to add to a existing platform? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

As always, happy tweeting, liking and instagraming.

Follow me on Twitter at @N_Smith7.

Social Media Ain’t All Pug Videos and Likes via @N_Smith7

By Noah Smith

Social media is an actual job for many people, from content creators to community managers, and as I illustrated a tad lightheartedly last week, it has its problems.

IMG_6992Case in point: during a recent interview I was told by a potential new client that her 11 year old could do the social media job. Now, at the time I didn’t take it that seriously… but in retrospect, it felt a bit like a slap in the face.

Yes, I bet her daughter could do the job, having grown up with the technology. Though it would help if she had the judgment and life experience that someone more than twice her age brings to the table. It’s odd that she would tell me that, but oh well. It did get me thinking about perception of social media professionals, though.

Working in social media you get this often: people who don’t understand that there is more to social media than pug videos, “likes” and pinning. You often get stories from people telling you of their brief successes. But those are often one-hit wonders…kind of like somebody telling you that since they can operate a paintbrush without dripping too much, they’re qualified to paint your house.

If you’re in control of a company’s social media accounts, you have to be professional and possess the know-how to do so. It’s not for everyone, and certainly not pre-teens.

It seems I always have to explain what I do to some members of previous generations. Some see the worth and others still don’t. You just have to convince them, at every meeting, that you are working and earning your paycheck. And it can be difficult when they always seem to walk in your office when you’re on Buzzfeed or just reading a random news article. What they don’t get is you’re likely looking for innovative content that you can repurpose for your clients.

Here are a few things we do and facts some folks don’t know about the profession:

Managers constantly monitor their accounts, analyzing and seeing how they can improve their strategy. They must always be acting in the right manner and tone, from writing small posts to long blog posts for the blog, for example. And with the writing, not only do you have to alter tone but also, depending on the article, edit your writing style, which can be a challenge especially if you’re new coming into the company. You have to adapt, and do it quickly and seamlessly as possible.

Social media is always changing. There always seems to be a new update or change that the platforms are planning. Take G+ for example: they recently said they would be splitting into two different platforms. They still haven’t done it yet, almost six months later. I keep expecting it to look differently but it still looks the same.

Social media is always open. There is no closing time or last call; it is always open and online. Banks close and schools have snow days but social media is always active. There is always someone posting or tweeting about something and it could be something you should respond to. But you can’t always be online.

As I wind this little rant down, just know that social media community management is now, and for the foreseeable future, a viable career. As much as I might occasionally gripe about it, it’s a great field to be in. Pug videos are a fringe benefit.

Are Celebrity Endorsers A Zombie Scandal Waiting to Happen?

By Alex Greenwood

America is excellent at inventing things, and celebrities are a huge export these days. For good or evil, we’re up to our collective rear ends in the rich and famous.

I’m fairly dubious of America’s fascination with celebrity culture; only rarely do I think we elevate worthwhile people to high status for good reasons. However, even in my cynical eyes, some celebrities are legitimate. For example, I think Captain Sully Sullenberger is one, because he did something heroic and seems to be a very decent human being. That perception of Sully is good for anything he endorses.

Then again, we are plagued with innumerable celebrities possessing no discernible talent, history of success or reason to be famous other than effectively maximizing the circumstances of their family or birth (see Kardashian, Kim; Hilton, Paris; or Family–UK, Royal) or making a public spectacle of themselves (see TV, Reality).

The pattern seems to be: 1. celebrity created, 2. maxes out their 15 minutes of fame, 3. makes bank by being used to promote a brand, 4. they fade out and are discarded (or 5. continue being a celebrity and live to promote other brands).

But at what price using celebrities for brands? Are celebrities a risky proposition for your brand? All too often, the answer is a resounding yes.

 

Jared_Fogle_(2007)

Jared Fogle (Photo licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Generic license.)

The easiest, most recent example is Jared Fogle, the everyman Subway spokesman who lost hundreds of pounds on the “Subway Diet,” then apparently also lost his mind and became a sexual predator.

Sure, Subway had no idea, and they did the right thing by immediately cutting ties when there was a whiff of trouble–but potentially long-lasting damage to the brand is done.

Bill Cosby stopped being the Jell-O Pudding pitchman years ago, but if Internet memes are any indication, his alleged assaults on women have created a sort of “zombie scandal” for the brand–he’s not their endorser, but his legacy with that brand lives on like the monsters in The Walking Dead–and is just as nasty.

Certainly, Jell-O is many years removed from Cosby’s stint as the face of pudding, but if you’re over age 35 or so, how can you not think of pudding pops when you hear his voice and see his name attached to a story of yet another women accusing him of sexual assault?

The list of similar situations is pretty long:

  • Years ago, current GOP frontrunner Donald Trump ticked off plenty of people for his remarks about President Obama, Rosie O’Donnell and others…I wonder if it gave Omaha Steaks pause about sponsoring The Celebrity Apprentice? His latest bout of verbal diarrhea cost him Macy’s distribution of his fashion line. Certainly his brash persona has paid off for Trump personally so far–but once (if?) his candidacy flames out, I wonder how many brands will ever hire him again?
  • Paula Deen’s racially-charged remarks and actions led to her being dropped by Smithfield Foods, and her line of products was unceremoniously dumped from Target and Wal-Mart shelves.
  • Though not strictly a celebrity spokesman, reality TV star Josh Duggar cost his family their show on TLC (when did “The Learning Channel” STOP being about learning, by the way?) with word of his molestation of minors…and this week we learn he was also caught up in the Ashley Madison hacker dump.
  • Numerous examples abound. Reach back a few decades, and you have Hertz Rent-A-Car and the now-notorious O.J. Simpson. How many brands wish they could go back in time and rethink their relationship with Tiger Woods, Madonna, Michael Vick, etc.?

Here’s the thing: celebrities are human beings. They have flaws, foibles and failings. A brand considering using a celebrity has to weigh the risks of welding a celeb’s name to their marketing activities.

If everything goes well, you have Dennis Haysbert with AllState or Michael Jordan for Nike or Peyton Manning for Papa Johns. If it goes wrong, well, see above.

But there is also the question of the effectiveness of celeb endorsers. According to Ace Metrix, the practice of paying millions to a celebrity to get brand awareness is questionable:

“This research proves unequivocally that, contrary to popular belief, the investment in a celebrity in TV advertising is very rarely worthwhile,” said Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix. “It is the advertising message that creates the connection with the viewer in areas such as relevance, information, and attention, and this remains the most important driver of ad effectiveness.”

I think there is also the issue of whether people remember the celebrity, but not the brand they represent. Sure, we see Leonardo DiCaprio in a glossy magazine shot showing off a fancy watch. But which brand is it? Rolex, Citizen, Omega? I love watches and I honestly do not remember.

The chance for serious public relations damage, coupled with the very real possibility that even a good, positive celebrity spokesperson provides little return on investment anyway, warns brands to be circumspect about bringing a expensive celebrity into the marketing mix.

Me? I think I’d forgo the celeb (except maybe Sully if I could get him) and save the millions for a targeted campaign about the features and benefits of my product or service. Maybe save it all for a Super Bowl ad.

Those ads come and go fast…no chance of a Zombie Scandal.

Yeah…now there’s a good idea.

I Am the Hero of Time via @N_Smith7

Friday Funstuff with Noah Smith

I Am the Hero of Time.

Okay, fine, not time in the major sense, I’m not Link, I am just the master of my time. I can do whatever I want when I feel the urge. I make my own schedule.

This is yet another installment of my working from home series…

Screen Shot 2015-08-17 at 11.52.44 AMI really should make a memoir series from my experiences from this. So many people work from home but still, everyone needs to know more than the business side, like these challenges that come along with it that sometimes, no one talks about.

But back to it, this one is about managing your time and how sometimes, if you are all caught up of course, you can rearrange your time and go out and do something fun, no matter the time.

Having to manage your own time can be easy for some people and hell for others. You have to have the willpower and desire to not only work but log the hours and make sure it’s all good work, like you were in an office but only difference is you’re in your living room with your pet attacking you and the laundry machine going off.

For me, I could get all my hours done in two days but I choose to spread them out over the week because I still need to monitor accounts and make sure everything is in working order and not on fire. I do a few hours everyday and usually on one or two of them I double my hours and get a lot done so then the next day is mainly composed of some of the little jobs.

But if something pops up throughout my week I can usually take off. Just last week a friend sent me a random Facebook message saying he was dressed up and at Zona Rosa, a mall nearby my house. Annoyed as I was at the randomness of it, I told him I’d be there soon, expecting to be there an hour-ish. Three hours, a couple of photos, two drinks and food later I get back to my place. It was a great time spent with a friend and I never would have had this chance unless I worked from home. Now did I miss a few hours? Yes but I was prepared and still got my work done for the week.

Remember, if you are feeling lazy some weeks it’s fine–but don’t always save your hours till the end of the week. I recommend doing them as early as possible in the week so you have that time to do something fun IF it were to pop up or at least not work as much on Friday. Be prepared.

Another time I was glad I was working from home: A few weeks back my girlfriend was doing some apartment searching. I spent a chunk of the morning with her going around and helping her decide on what one. Then before she went back home, to Iowa, we grabbed a drink, in the middle of the afternoon. This would never have been possible with a normal job.

And since that was a Monday, all I had to do was work a bit harder the rest of the week and boom, my hours were complete.

Just keep an eye on your hours and be aware that friends and family will try to distract you when you are working from home. It’s bound to happen and with you being prepared, right, you’ll have no time taking the time to do something with them.

Good luck with being the master of your time and enjoy those distractions. They are bound to happen, so let them. Embrace them and just think, this is exactly what working from home is truly like.

Enjoy the experiences.

 

Editor’s Note: Mr. Smith’s opinions do not necessarily reflect those of AGPR.

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