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A Spooky Case Study: Target's Facebook Marketing

Earlier this week we posted an overview of some of the many ways that companies and organizations are using holiday- and seasonal-themes to engage their fans on Facebook. Today, we're profiling Target's strategic Facebook efforts in-depth.

The social media team at Target does a creative job leveraging holidays and contests as part of their web marketing strategy. Target's recent incorporation of Halloween into its social media plans is inspiring. Their efforts will give you actionable ideas on what works when it comes to building and strengthening new, existing, and potential customer relationships using social media. Here's a detailed look at Target's Halloween marketing campaign on Facebook.


Target made the upcoming holiday prominent on their Facebook page in multiple ways, including on-topic status posts, a custom cover photo, and a holiday-themed interactive contest.

Holiday-inspired Cover Photo

Target uses playful photography to showcase their Halloween costumes and other products prominently in their Facebook cover photo. Their custom tab graphics also use Halloween-inspired graphics. All of the artwork and photographs compliment branding and marketing efforts done in Target stores, print ads and circulars, and even on television commercials and web spots.

Promotional contests

In addition to customizing their cover photo, Target is engaging their Facebook fan base through an interactive Halloween promotion called "Trick or Treat." The promotion gives customers a chance to win a $20 GiftCard or the grand prize of $250 GiftCard.

Users are given two chances to win in the promotion. The first entry is "free," and the price of a second entry is where Target leverages the power of their fans' Facebook networks. Users can only earn a second entry by agreeing to help Target promote this contest. Specifically, the entry is earned by allowing Target to post about the contest to your timeline.

Knowing that not everyone would want their friends to know they've entered the contest, Target has made this notification optional. Giving users the power to decide what they share makes this a thoughtfully executed marketing technique. Because the application doesn't force users to post a notice of participation to their timelines, Target keeps users trust because they're not forcing them to do anything they don't want to do in terms of viral promotion. The contest entry ends with a playful and encouraging nudge to come back and try again tomorrow.

All in all, this is a fun and likely effective social media marketing promotion for a combination reasons:
  1. It is plays on a fun holiday theme that already might be on the minds of their fans.
  2. It offers their fans an incentive to visit their page.
  3. It is easy for their fans to participate.
  4. It encourages their fans to promote Target and their contest to their friends.
  5. It reminds their fans to come back to their Facebook page and try again.

Facebook Fun for Holidays

More and more companies are leveraging custom tabs to engage with their Facebook fans. Incorporating holidays—through seasonally-appropriate themed contests and artwork—is a creative social media marketing strategy for reaching customers on Facebook. Here is an illustrated overview of a few recent noteworthy ways that we've seen companies spice up their Facebook pages and engage with fans:

The Children's Museum: Not only are they featuring a cover photo promoting a "wicked" event,
the Museum's avatar graphic embraces the holiday spirit and says "Boo!suem" instead of Museum.
Claire's Boutique: The customized Halloween cover photo incorporates holiday-related
products in a playful way that goes with their other branding efforts.
Hallmark: Their cover photo meshes a Halloween-inspired photo with their tagline and branding.
Indianapolis Zoo: The zoo uses their cover photo space as an extension
of their marketing to promote an upcoming Halloween event.
Purdue University: Purdue customized their avatar to give their brand seasonal flare.
Etsy: Etsy created a Halloween costume-themed photo gallery as a way of getting
users interested in browsing their website for products. This page was featured as a
custom tab from their Facebook Timeline.
Etsy: Etsy also updated their cover photo so that it has a seasonal flare.
Starbucks: Starbucks uses its cover photo to hint at the fall and promote
their seasonal products.

IU Health: October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and IU Health shows
their support for the cause with a customized cover photo.
Paradise Cafe: Paradise Cafe shows their support for breast cancer research
with a customized cover photo.
Tide: Tide shows their support for breast cancer research with a customized cover photo.
They also went an extra step further and updated their avatar so that the circles in their logo
to glow pink instead of their usual yellow and orange.
Kay Jewelers: During October, to increase their "fans," Kay Jewelers is running a promotion.
For each new fan they receive, they'll make a donation to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Strategically Social LinkedIn: Sending a message to your connections

LinkedIn can be a powerful social marketing tool when used strategically.

Unlike other popular social media websites, LinkedIn is geared toward professionals and creating networking opportunities, such as business connections, jobs searches and recruitment, and networking.

Did you know that...
  • LinkedIn has more than 60 million members.
  • A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second.
  • Executives from Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members.
Both companies and individuals are allowed to create and maintain LinkedIn profiles. We'll talk more about LinkedIn more in the coming weeks on the blog, so stay tuned. Today, we will answer a client question.

How does an individual person send out a message on LinkedIn to all of their connections?
There are a couple options, but the simplest way works just like Facebook if you are familiar—use your status line. When you login, you will see a box to share an update. Type in your update, include a link if desired, and click the share button to share your post with all of your connections.

You can also send a message to your connections from your Inbox or your My Connections page (at the time of this post, there is a limit of 50 at a time since this generates emails; the maximum of 50 recipients is set by LinkedIn to help minimize spamming). Your message will be sent to the recipient's LinkedIn inbox and possibly to their email address, depending on their notification settings.

/// LinkedIn News: Effective September 6, LinkedIn is offering a new layout for Company Pages which includes a similar large photo like you see on Facebook called a 'cover' photo. A few companies have already gotten started with the new design including PhilipsCitiHP and Dell. The upgrades will be available for the rest of us later this year.

If you are planning to add such Company 'cover', the size is 646x200 pixels.

Read more about LinkedIn's new look.

Document Your Business Blogging Process

blogging process should be documented and pre-planned to ensure blogging success. This is especially true for small businesses who may not have a marketing consultant handling their blogging or a full-time staff person managing this task.

What is blogging success? Success from blogging might include increased search engine rank, increased leads/visitors from blog posts, and/or increased authority on a subject in your industry. Read more about why we think why blogging is important for small businesses.

Why should the blogging strategy be documented? A marketing plan for blogging without documentation is really only a good intention. Without clear direction and specifics, there is no set guidelines and goals, not to mention documentation for contributors about best practices and how entries should be written to match your small business's brand.

Let's simplify. You need to write it down.

It may sound daunting, but documenting your blogging strategy is well worth the effort. Without your strategy set-down in writing, blogging on a regular basis may get pushed back because of other client deadlines or business priorities.

Here are some questions to get you thinking about what to include in your blogging strategy document:
  • How often will posts be published? (e.g. once/week, once/day, all weekdays, once/month) The more often you can publish relevant and useful content, the better, but be sure to set realistic goals.
  • Who will author the blog posts? Are different team members responsible for different topics? Who posts on which days? What's your schedule?
  • What steps does the approval process include? Do topics need to be approved or just draft posts? Who gives approval? Who actually publishes?
  • What is your checklist for each post? See our checklist as an example.
  • What follow-up will be done on your small business's social media channels to promote blog posts? Can you integrate this distribution via HootSuite or another program or do you plan to customize promotion of your blog posts on social media channels? Who is responsible for this curation?

Planned blogging: A case study

TBH Creative's team has been working with a company to ramp up their blogging activities as part of their online marketing strategy. The company writes their blog posts internally. They have a team of four, and each member is responsible to write once/week/month. For the first half of 2012, they met for one hour and pre-planned topics. All topics were written and published according to the plan and schedule. As a result, the company's search engine ranks for several keywords increased with their competition; they also received high results for blog posts as landing page with long reporting of time spent.

During quarter three, they lost track of planning and did not meet to pre-plan topics and set a schedule. As a result, other tasks gained priority and only two posts were published the first month, none for the next two months, four the following. They had good intentions. They had topics and events to talk about in blog posts. They simply did not have a schedule in place or a few ideas generated ahead of time. According to their website analytic data during this period, new visitors numbers fell as did their search engine rank for several targeted keywords.

During quarter four, TBH Creative will be assisting the company to formalize their blog planning to get their marketing plan delivering success stories again. A little bit of planning can go a long way.

Note: The above mentioned client has seen great success from their blogging. Blog posts continue to rank in the top ten landing pages each quarter and their search engine ranking for related keywords used in blog posts are all page one without other SEO measures or paid advertising in place.

Tip: Offer your staff incentives for the most popular blog post each period. This encourages creativity in the content as well as sticking to a schedule.

Responsive design: why it matters

Smart businesses are making mobile a crucial part of their web marketing strategy.

According to a recent Pew Research Center study, the year 2015 is when mobile will overtake desktop. This means businesses and organizations have about three years (or less depending on their industry and audience) to get their mobile strategy together—or, get left behind by their competition.

Additionally, Pew's research found that 45% of U.S. adults own smartphones, and 55% use the web on their device. 29% of U.S. adults own a tablet or e-reader. 25 million U.S. adults use their mobile devices as their primary way to access the web. These are growing numbers you can't ignore, as web developer Josh Clark pointed out earlier this year: "We can't settle for serving such a huge audience a stripped-down experience or force them to swim through a desktop layout in a small screen."

As more people begin to access the web from devices such as smartphones, e-readers, and tablets, it's critical for forward-thinking businesses and organizations to invest in mobile development. Knowing the mobile audience is growing, the question for many business owners and organizational leaders will be: Do we make apps, build specific mobile-friendly websites, or develop one responsive website that works at all screen sizes without separate any extra work? 

At the Chicago Web Conf last weekend, front-end developer and responsive design all-star Catherine Farman explained why responsive design is often the best choice for companies and organizations. Here are some simplified takeaways from her talk:

Mobile shouldn't be an afterthought. Don't let your users leave you behind. Many users are already expecting websites to be mobile-friendly.

Redesigns are expensive and time-consuming, but so is losing potential customers because your website doesn't work on their mobile device. If starting from scratch with a new responsive design isn't an option, consider retrofitting and optimizing your desktop experience to be friendly for mobile users.

Content is what matters. Responsive designs help make sure that the content your company or business is trying to share is readable by your customers, no matter how they are accessing your website.

Think about the last time you used a tablet or smartphone. If you needed information about a company, what is easier and quicker? Is it more convenient to download and install an app or open your browser?

The most-used apps fall under these four types: games, social networking, entertainment, and news. If that doesn't sound like the content that your company or organization plans to share, then an app is probably not for you.

Even complex websites are embracing responsive design. Some big e-commerce companies that have recently launched responsive websites include Microsoft, Disney, and the World Wildlife Fund.

Business Blogging Checklist

We have recently been writing about business blogging. We provided blogging guidelines and an explanation for why blogging is important in our past posts. Today, we're sharing our checklist for bloggers to get you started. Share a copy with each team member as a resource to review or use it while copy editing to refine posts.

TBH Creative's Blogging Checklist

Note: Use the list as a starting point. Tweak and adjust these rules as best to fit for your business blogging purposes.

❏   The post's title contains at least one keyword or phrase.
❏   The post's title is interesting and something I would click in search results.
❏   The post's body copy includes four or more paragraphs; minimum of 250 words.
❏   All links work.
❏   The post includes at least three links.
❏   All outbound links open in a new window.
❏   Subtitles are formatted using a headline tag.
❏   The post incorporates at least one image/graphic/logo.
❏   Images align and wrap properly with text.
❏   Images include a caption or credit where necessary.
❏   Extra spaces are removed.
❏   Post body copy has been proofread, fact-checked, and copy edited.
❏   Nothing offensive or negative towards others is included in the body copy or graphics.
❏   The blog body copy focuses on one topic and includes one or two primary keywords/phrases.
❏   The blog body copy includes a Call to Action (CTA) with link to related services or contact info.
❏   The CTA uses appropriate markup tags.
❏   All unnecessary code accidentally copied from Word is removed.
❏   The blog post looks good in preview mode.
❏   The blog body copy is written so that I would want to read my post.
❏   The blog body copy is written so that I would want to comment on my post.
❏   The blog post is my own and doesn't include content copied from another source.

Ebooks 101: Three must-know tips when getting into epublishing

2012 was a summer for firsts. Ebooks outsold hardcovers for the first time, and TBH Creative took on its first official ebook project in August when we helped a California-based client publish a special collection of fifty ebooks.

As tablets and e-reader devices continue to grow in popularity, most ebook formats offer a convenient and portable content distribution option.

From our exciting first dip into publishing for ereaders and tablets, we've come up with a list of some of the things you should keep in mind when putting together a winning ebook.
  1. Cover art is important. Ebooks are often represented by small thumbnails in search results, which means it's crucial that time is taken to design an arresting, professional-looking cover image for your ebook. Before you start to design, make sure you know the size for your format and set your color to RGB instead of CMYK. For instance, when designing for a Kindle format (.mobi) your cover file size will be different in proportion than when designing for an iPad format (.epub).

  2. Formatting varies on ereader devices. Not only will a book look different as an .epub viewed on an iPad versus a .mobi on a Kindle, but ebooks can look different even on the same devices because users can overrides set styles (fonts, margins, etc.) and use their preferences by default. Keep in mind that just as you would set styles for a print layout, in your ebook format you don’t want to select colors and fonts that will make your ebook hard to read. Make sure your aesthetic choices are appropriate and appeal to your target audience.

  3. Embrace change! The ebook industry is evolving rapidly. Understand that to stay relevant with an ebook product, you'll need to welcome advancements and changes in the production and formatting of ebooks in order to stay ahead and compete.

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