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Tackling Unexpected Marketing Situations With Everyday Tools

Marketers have many reasons for getting into advertising. Maybe it’s a fascination with brands or love for creativity. For me, it’s my passion for diving into culture and understanding what motivates people. It doesn’t hurt that my job as a Strategist is incredibly variable and fun. On any given day I could be interviewing men about their relationship with their beards or researching snack food super fans. Even when I worked in the more serious pharmaceutical space, I enjoyed tracking patients' journeys and uncovering their concerns when it came to their health. 

But in the past few months much of the joy that came with my role had been replaced with worry as my coworkers and I grappled with the heavy impact of a global pandemic and sweeping social justice movements. The COVID outbreak in the US, murder of George Floyd, and call for brands to boycott Facebook advertising in protest of the platform’s unjust practices seemed to come in quick succession. Many brands had been (rightly) spotlighted for being disingenuous or not contributing at all to the dialogue, and we were thrust into the high-wire act of guiding our clients towards the right decision (if there was even a “right” decision to make). 

“I did not sign up for this”

This was one of my first thoughts and the thought of several of my coworkers who until this point in their careers had never grappled with anything more serious than a customer complaint. I recognize that this comes from a place of extreme privilege - not only am I in an industry that to me had felt removed from these topics, but I myself had never chosen to actively investigate them as a marketer. After sorting through the flurry of questions and news headlines and finally face to face with these issues, I realized that the work required for “this” was not a far cry from the careful research and planning we’ve always done for our clients. It’s with this realization that we were able to come together and create a plan. 

Where do we go from here? Go back to basics

Understanding that no two brands are alike, AMP created a framework for approaching crises that could be adapted to each of our clients’ needs and values. After quickly pulling any creative that would contradict the tone of the moment (ex: a social post that encouraged consumers to meet up with friends), we leveraged steps and tools that had served us well in the past when faced with a difficult brand problem. 

Take a beat

With marketing moving as quickly as it does, it’s natural to want to respond as quickly as possible to an event. The problem with this is that you may not have all the proper information to react appropriately, or understand whether or not it’s necessary to react at all. Much like reviewing a client brief to confirm what they’re asking of the team, taking a minute to assess the issue at hand and the impulse to get involved helped us understand the most logical way forward. 

Know your brand

In the wake of the killing of George Floyd, several brands were called out for quickly responding, despite the fact that their company and product had no connection to social justice and never been vocal about these issues in the past. This dissonance made communications feel disingenuous to consumers. While the messages may have been lighter in the past, the goal of feeling genuine in our communication has always been a high priority. When building a strategy for a campaign or analyzing competitors, we start with our own brand to make sense of their values and where they stand in the category. We looked inward at our own brands to review their values and past history. Once we had a firm grasp of our brands’ histories, voices, and perceptions, it became easy to know how they would react in any given situation. 

Listen to your consumers

Henry Ford once (supposedly) said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” This quote is often used in marketing contexts to demonstrate how consumers don't always know the proper solutions for their problems. While this line of thinking often works for communications for laundry detergent or snacks, it should be thrown out the window when it comes to high-stakes situations. A deep understanding of consumers’ needs and motivations is key for any product, but addressing those needs directly was essential in this moment. During the early stages of the COVID outbreak, our grocery clients became essential businesses overnight, with consumers urgently needing information about product availability and store hours. We helped our clients pivot their social channels to provide consumers with the exact information they needed in an otherwise confusing time. 

Observe the cultural climate

Once we took a minute to assess the situation, looked inward at our own brands, and outward at our consumers, it was time to take a step back and look at the given category and culture at large to give context to our work. While we didn’t want to copy our competitors, it was important to understand who was contributing to the conversation and how they were sharing. Category and cultural research is a standard part of the job, but instead of gathering creative examples and trending memes, we were gathering public statements and news alerts. These pieces of information were added to personalized live dashboards that clients could monitor.  

While I most certainly didn’t sign up for the high-stakes events of the past few months (and the inevitable events come November), I take comfort in the familiar and foundational tools I gained in the “before times”, finding ways to adapt and make sense of the (supposed) chaos. This new normal may not be as light, but I’ve been able to find satisfaction in diving into research, solving problems, and finding a way forward.  

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AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of Nov. 23, 2020

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Google Search Trends Insights October 2020

In our continuing series of examining Google Search Trends to gain insights into the top keywords queried in the USA, we present our findings for October 2020. Every day, we capture the top three keyword phrases in terms of search volume as reported by Google Trends (US Only). Each term has an estimated query volume attached to it, which we also record. The number scale tops out at 10,000,000+ with a lower limit of 200,000+. After the conclusion of the month, we look at the phrases we collected along with their volumes to get an understanding of what drove queries for the month. October 2020 - We’re Almost Done With This Year Here we are, exploring the search trends of the tenth month of this bizarre, tumultuous year. Maybe someday in the future we can look back at these articles and get a good perspective of where we were as a country at this point in time. October started off with a bang when the President contracted COVID-19 and continued with more queries related to politics as the election got closer. There were plenty of sports queries to examine, as well, including ones related to two championships that occurred in October. There were a few holidays (official and unofficial) that drove keyword interest along with some spikes about Daylight Saving Time ending. Lastly, we saw two product names make the top 3 most queried keywords on the day they were released.  The 10 Million Plus Club For October 2020 This month, there was only one Google Doodle driving over 10 million queries in a day (Mary Ann Shadd). The other phrases were driven by news or other events of the day. Trump COVID - 10/1/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Eddie Van Halen - 10/6/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Kamala Harris - 10/6/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Mary Ann Shadd - 10/8/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Dak Prescott - 10/11/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries Sean Connery - 10/31/2020 - 10,000,000+ queries As mentioned, the announcement of the President testing positive for COVID-19 drove the max number of queries as reported by Google Trends. The deaths of Eddie Van Halen and Sean Connery also drove users to search their names. Kamala Harris was the top keyword related to the Vice Presidential debate that happened on October 7th. Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott suffered a gruesome compound right ankle fracture and dislocation during a game on the 11th.   A Google Doodle was created for Mary Ann Shadd in honor of what would have been her 197th birthday. She was the first Black female newspaper editor and publisher in North America and fought for abolition and women’s suffrage. The Number Of Politics Related Keywords Continues To Grow With the election coming up on November 3rd, the politics-related phrases increased again as compared to September and August. Here are the most important ones from last month: Trump - 10/1/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Hope Hicks - 10/1/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Kayleigh McEnany - 10/5/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Pence Fly - 10/7/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries 25th Amendment - 10/8/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Trump town hall - 10/14/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Hunter Biden - 10/14/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries AOC - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Debate tonight - 10/21/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Amy Coney Barrett - 10/26/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Excluding the two politics-related terms that made the 10 million+ club, this list contains the keywords that were queried the most in October. COVID-19 made its way through the White House early in the month, with the President and Hope Hicks being the first ones to get it. Then, Kayleigh McEnany tested positive for the virus. The fly that landed on Mike Pence’s head drove people to search as did the House seeking to invoke the 25th Amendment, which allows a president's Cabinet or Congress to intervene when a president is unable to conduct the duties of the office. The Trump town hall was queried more than the Biden one. On that same day, a New York Post article about Hunter Biden’s business dealings piqued the interest of Google searchers. AOC joined Twitch on the 20th and the last presidential debate was a hot topic.  Finally, Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice, which was almost a month to the day she was announced as a nominee (Amy Coney Barrett - 9/25/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries) For marketers, it is important to understand how much attention politics draws right before the election. For marketers trying to get their messages across, it may provide an opportunity with an increase in traffic to news sites.  Holidays, Time, and Blue Moons (not the beer) October had a good number of holidays that made our keyword list. Columbus Day is still a thing, so people are searching about it. Also, Amazon Prime Day got moved from July to last month because of the pandemic. Columbus Day 2020 - 10/11/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Amazon Prime Day - 10/12/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Let’s see if the shift in dates had an effect on the search popularity of “amazon prime day” The interest on that phrase is down from July 2019 but the peak occurred in 2018. Halloween drove searches but so did the other phenomenon (both natural and man made) that happened at the end of the month. Halloween - 10/29/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Daylight savings time 2020 - 10/30/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Blue moon on Halloween - 10/30/2020 - 200,000+ queries Blue moon - 10/30/2020 - 500,000+ queries Daylight savings - 10/31/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Certainly a blue moon that happens on Halloween is interesting and enough people have searched about full moons earlier in the year for those queries to make our list (Example: Strawberry Moon - 6/4/2020 - 500,000+queries) but the subject of Daylight Saving time driving not one but two phrases into the top 3 across two days is odd. It appears that no one cared when we turned the clocks forward back in the spring, but in October, it was a big deal! New Products There were two popular product releases in October 2020: iPhone 12 - 10/13/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Hummer EV - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Now, an electric Hummer was probably a bit of a surprise but certainly any time a new iPhone is released, there is going to be people searching for it. Let’s look at how the 12 compared to other releases. The peak for “iphone” happened in 2012 with the release of the iPhone 5. We then took a look at how the most recent models compared to each. The iPhone 7 is the clear winner when we compared the model search terms with a timeframe of the last 5 years. Is the popularity of the iPhone decreasing? The level of search interest seems to be dwindling. We Are The Champions Of the 93 keyword phrases we collected in October 2020, 39 of them were sports related. The NFL made up most of the phrases but we thought we’d point out a few terms of other sports. UFC/Boxing: Lomachenko vs Lopez - 10/16/2020 - 500,000+ queries Khabib vs Gaethje - 10/23/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Clemson football Clemson football - 10/17/2020 - 200,000+ queries Clemson football - 10/29/2020 - 500,000+ queries Clemson football - 10/31/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries UEFA Champions League Soccer Champions League - 10/21/2020 - 500,000+ queries Juventus vs Barcelona - 10/28/2020 - 500,000+ queries It’s important to note that the search interest for sports – even ones that we may not think have mass appeal. We’re waiting until the American Cornhole League keywords start showing up in the daily top 3. The NBA and MLB had their championship series occur in October. The NBA is certainly more popular from a search perspective. Lakers - 10/6/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries Lakers - 10/11/2020 - 5,000,000+ queries World Series - 10/20/2020 - 1,000,000+ queries Dodgers - 10/27/2020 - 2,000,000+ queries Next month, we’ll report if the NFL’s popularity is continuing to increase. The early data for November suggest it is, but we’ll provide our analysis in December. Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, we invite you to learn more about our SEO services,  Until next month.  

AMPlifier - Social Media Industry Update - Week of Nov. 16, 2020

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