Cars vs Greeting Cards: Critique of Social Media Campaigns

I’m really looking forward to tracking the progress of two social media campaigns currently in progress, one complex and one simple.

Smart & Simple
American Greetings has launched a fun and easy Twitter Valentine’s Day campaign that asks followers to tweet a response to 14 daily questions and tag them with #LoveAG. Each day one winner will be chosen to receive $350 in gift cards.

Today’s question: “You’re a Grammy Award winner (like our beloved Taylor Swift) & you’re writing a love song-what’s the chorus?” Horrifying, humiliating, horrendous … but I admit I did submit my own awful chorus. Yesterday was “What does it feel like to fall in love?” Who knows what tomorrow will be, but I’ll be checking in to see.


That’s the entire campaign! Simple, engaging, brilliant! No content creation, no media development, no promotional costs. Just a good idea, $4,900 in gift cards, and the daily discipline and creativity for 14 days to tweet like crazy on the same topic without sounding bored or repetitive.

Could it be better? Even the best campaigns can be better in hindsight. The contest comes from the corporate branch of American Greetings (, The consumer ecards and interactive site has a separate site and Twitter account (,, which sadly is not participating in its corporate sister’s Valentine’s fun. In addition, I see no mention of the contest on either the corporate or www site, though there are plenty of other Valentine’s promotions. Why not include a homepage link with a fun visual, a blurb in the e-mail newsletter, a press release, shout it across affiliated Twitter profiles and the forgotten Facebook profile? Use the channels the company controls to get more impact for the campaign’s effort.


Going for the Gusto
On the other side of the spectrum, Volkswagen pulls out all the stops for their “Punch Dub” campaign that spans TV advertising, Twitter, Facebook, a YouTube Channel, a Posterous blog and their primary site. They’ve created a personality (Sluggy Patterson), an online game, video content, and more, all leading up to their spot on the Super Bowl. That’s a whole lot of promotion, friends. It’s sparkly, it’s now, it’s what cool is supposed to be.

The problem is (cringe) I just don’t care. This campaign feels like it’s talking at me, not engaging with me.

OK, so maybe I’m not the target demographic for VW’s Punch Dub. I’m female, I drive a Prius, I live in a rural town in Wisconsin, I probably won’t watch the Super Bowl. Sure, I like crotchety old guys with grizzled senses of humor as much as the next gal. And it’s neato that VW created this character around Slug Bug, a cherished childhood game that admittedly still creeps into my mind as I drive. But I don’t feel compelled to log in today to see what Sluggy has to say on his blog, or video, or tweets.

That said, I’m not exactly American Greetings’ target audience either. I might buy 6 traditional greeting cards a year and I hate ecards. Sorry, AG, I’m a Snapfish photo card girl.

So why does American Greetings’ simple campaign speak to me and VW’s fancy multi-channel campaign not? For me it’s the engaging factor. It’s the invitation to participate in the fun rather than sit at a brand’s feet and wait for it to speak at me. What do you think?

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Chickens, Eggs & Link Building: Visibility Requires Links, which Require Visibility

Finally, the chicken and egg dilemma solved on a t-shirt

Being the new kid on the web is hard. You need links to boost a site’s visibility, but it’s awfully hard to get links naturally without visibility in the search results. Sites can’t link to you if they don’t know you exist, right? It’s a little like the classic chicken & egg causality dilemma. But not really since if you don’t have a site you wouldn’t care about links anyway. Whatever.

The point is, link acquisition is hard work. Researching topically relevant sites and crafting the right approach for each takes time and creativity. Cutting corners leads to poorer conversion to links at best, and outright spam at worst.

BK’s Subservient Chicken

On the surface, link bait seems like an easier way to build links. After all, you just have to think of something totally cool that could go viral. “Subservient chicken? Ha, I coulda thought of that.” OK, fine, dreaming up a great idea is a good start, but what about content creation and promotion. The “If you build it, he will come” theory only worked when the interwebs were very, very small. And not really then, either. Let’s assume the audience actually gets to the bait. Once they devour it, cross your fingers that it will cause enough of a reaction to convert to links.

Frankly, if link building was easy, everyone would do it. It would be easy to spam. Which means that it wouldn’t remain valuable for long in the search engines’ eyes. Which also means it would cease to be effective for SEO, and we’d all be talking about something else.

For now, links rule the roost. What’s your go-to link building tactic?

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.