King Arthur Flour Utilizes Digital Gatekeepers for SEO

I’m going to reveal a bit about myself to all of you today: I am not very good at cooking. Or even baking, for that matter. I think it takes too long, there is too much room for error, and requires too much clean-up for my tastes. I tend to blame all of this on my Italian roots and my mother who, as my childhood friends will remember, loved making food at all times during the day.

King Arthur FlourNevertheless, I recently learned about King Arthur Flour. That’s weird, I know, since the preparation of frozen pizza and macaroni and cheese does not require flour. So I’ll admit, I haven’t actually purchased any products from the Norwich, Vermont based company. Nor do I intend to, to be honest. I heard about the company as a result of its annual Blog & Bake program, and it inspired me to write this post on the topic of gatekeepers, and how important they are in the field of public relations.

We work at great companies who make great products and do great things. It’s simply our job to make sure as many great people are aware of them as possible. But it’s hard to tell that many people, so we go about it in different ways. That’s where traditional media relations came in: we tell a few well-respected journalists at widely-read publications about our greatness, and he or she passes the information along to a lot of other people.

Journalists are many things – like employees, writers and story-tellers. Most importantly, though – they’re gatekeepers. They act as a filter, separating the bad from the good and the great. Each one represents a much larger population – if we can just tell the right journalist about how great we are, he can tell everyone else!

In the digital age, though, the landscape is changing as fewer individuals read print newspapers and magazines, and essentially anyone with an Internet connection has the ability to produce and share content on a personal blog like the one you’re all reading right now. Especially in less mainstream niches, like baking, different people are the truly influential ones.

King Arthur Flour fully utilizes gatekeepers through its Blog & Bake program. Each year, a dozen of the most influential baking-bloggers are invited for an all-expenses paid weekend in Vermont, learning new baking techniques and baking new foods. The coverage rate after the event is incredibly high, with at least 11 of 12 writers in 2013 writing at least one post on their blogs this year.

This kind of coverage of an event has a number of effects:

  • Basic communication of King Arthur Flour’s great product to a huge but very targeted population.
  • Individuals who read baking blogs are, obviously, passionate about baking and look up to the writers of the blogs as role models. If their baking-heroes are using King Arthur Flour, why wouldn’t they follow suit?
  • Each blog post is loaded with a ton of high-resolution images from the weekend-long event. King Arthur Flour is seen as a tourist attraction among those that care about baking, and this kind of coverage can persuade people to visit the Vermont campus in addition to simply buying the flour.
  • Last but not least – this event has King Arthur Flour buzzing. It’s referenced countless times in each blog post. It’s linked to in each blog post. It’s even in the majority of the posts’ titles! Can we recognize the search-engine-optimization results that this event is responsible for?

I know it’s hard to quantify and attribute SEO results to any individual act of promotion, but you would have to think Blog & Bake has helped King Arthur Flour rise to the top of Google. Currently, Googling “blog bake” yields King Arthur Flour’s blog on page one. Furthermore, Googling “flour bake” yields King Arthur Flour as the top two results.

King Arthur Flour - Google Search

As less people receive solutions to their problems by reading newspapers and Google plays a more prevalent role, SEO becomes significantly more important and that changes who the gatekeepers are.

On the off chance that I one day decide to begin baking (and care about my cakes & cookies enough to buy premium flour), can anyone guess where I’ll be ordering from?

Creating Viral Campaigns With Twibbon

REDCrossheader-copy

 

On behalf of the American Red Cross, I’ve been using Twibbon for the first time to rally support for a series of blood drives that will (hopefully) set new records and cumulatively collect over 1003 units of blood – one more than Theo, from Buffalo, NY, needed to save his life in March of 2011.

If you haven’t used (or heard of) Twibbon before, it’s a social platform that allows individuals to show their support for specific organizations, causes and points of view.

Twibbon

For example, check out this Twibbon for Special Needs, or this one for the Boston Red Sox.

There are a number of features that Twibbon offers that we in the world of digital marketing need to know about:

  • The actual “Twibbon” is a mark that is laid on top of supporter’s profile pictures on Facebook and/or Twitter.
  • Give users multiple Facebook Cover Photos to choose from for their own profiles.
  • Direct visitors to your campaign page to any website you want – use this link space to boost attendance, donations or sales.
  • Create copy for Tweets and Facebook posts for individuals to publish on their profiles when they support your campaign.

I think my favorite part of using Twibbon was the design support we received by upgrading to a Pro account. For a one-time fee of $99, the Twibbon team provided our Campaign Header, Twibbon image, and Facebook Cover Photos – and they did so surprisingly quickly.

This tool is under-utilized and there’s a lot of room for organizations to leverage it to create viral campaigns that result in brand visibility and consumer action. Think about some of these possible uses of Twibbon:

  • Colleges could invite incoming freshman to use Twibbon during orientation to be able to quickly recognize each other as part of the same class.
  • Professional organizations, like the PRSA or AMA could invite members to use their Twibbon to display their loyalty to the group and encourage others to join.
  • An organization with a strong brand, like Starbucks, could use Twibbon to let their brand ambassadors show off their love for Starbucks coffee!

How do you think Twibbon could help your organization?

Signs of the Apocalypse: Internet Explorer is Actually Good Now

It’s no secret that Internet Explorer, once the dominate internet browser, has had somewhat of a negative stigma to it in recent years. I’ll be the first to admit that some serious judgement takes place when I see someone using Internet Explorer these days when options like Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox are so indisputably more user-friendly.

IE has been incredibly bold in attempting to market a better product, though. I mean, it’s pretty rare that a brand calls attention to how terrible people think they are. But that’s exactly what IE is doing – to a shocking extent. Check out this video:

Another part of the brand’s attempt at a comeback is the effort to re-connect with old users  who grew up during the 1990s. This video will definitely stir some nostalgia in you:

What they have done more successfully than anything else, though, is create a completely different brand persona.They have made the brand appear so much more hip, current, and in touch with their fans. My favorite part of the whole campaign is the website that they set up (on Tumblr, no less): The Browser You Loved To Hate.

You should spend some time on the site, but I think my favorite part is the image series they’ve produced, Signs of the Apocalypse.

Signs of the Apocalypse

I am a perfect example of someone that ridiculed IE users, but this campaign has convinced me to download IE10 in the near future.

I’m going to jump onto this bandwagon right now, before it gets to be too mainstream.

I guess comebacks do come in all shapes and sizes.

Pretend HorsesDid re-positioning the Internet Explorer brand save it from never-ending ridicule?

Firestone Understands Social Marketing

I captured this screen-shot while browsing Facebook recently.

Firestone

It’s a great example of social-marketing.

Hard-marketing doesn’t work in social media. That’s why the Firestone ad doesn’t read, “Firestone tires are better than other tires when driving at night.” People get annoyed with hard-marketing when it clutters their valued social spaces, and it doesn’t result in sales.

Instead, the company takes a softer approach, and positions itself as a thought-leader in the automobile industry.

It provides a helpful tip for its audience. Granted, it’s something that most drivers are already aware of, but they are still giving advice to people on how to drive more safely. And it’s also important to note that the driving tip has absolutely nothing to do with tires, the product that Firestone sells the most.

No product is mentioned in the ad. To me, that means that Firestone understands social advertising. They added value in the form of a driving tip to the audience, and backed it up with some subtle branding: “Make your car a Firestone.”

No, I didn’t see the sponsored Facebook post and go to Firestone’s website to buy something. However, Firestone put itself in the forefront of my mind, and made me think positively of the company. When I do need new tires, I’m more likely to buy Firestone.

Do you think that Firestone Tires has the right strategy?

Learning 2.0 – Digital Tools for the Student

As the end of September draws near, the first semester of my Junior year of college is well underway. Group projects, essays, and tests are an almost-everyday occurrence, and sometimes I wonder how receiving the grades that I want to receive is ever going to be possible.

But then, I remember all of the tools and advantages that I have simply  because it’s the year 2012, and I start wondering how anyone could have done this 50 years ago. The following is a short list of the digital tools that I use almost daily in my schoolwork.

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