What is tCloud Solutions?

Ever wondered what tCloud Solutions does on a daily basis? Check out our latest explainer video.

Advertisements

The Truth Behind Why Your Online Marketing Isn’t Working

Image Courtesy MichiganWorksKalamazoo.org

Image Courtesy MichiganWorksKalamazoo.org

Ever felt frustrated because you weren’t seeing the results on social media that you thought you deserved?

Maybe you were doing it all wrong…

Read more about the mistakes some businesses make when it comes to connecting with customers on social media.

Wanna be a Digital Astronaut? Basic Training has started!

 

Happy July 1! Today, we’re unveiling a new tCloud project that’s been in the making for several months: tCloud University!

tCloud University is an online learning website with classes for beginners to experts on social media, digital marketing, graphics &  photography, and more. Students can advance through 4 levels of courses, earning basic training badges and working their way toward earning Digital Astronaut status.

Right now, we’re in our soft launch stage, meaning we have several classes functioning currently with a roster of upcoming classes. The site is up and running but we want your feedback and your experiences so we can make it the best online learning platform possible. Additionally, classes have been slashed by 50%. That’s right, you can actually take one of our month-long classes for $10. But, there’s also a $10 off coupon code going around, which you’ll find on our Facebook page. So, basically, courses are FREE right now for a limited time.

tCloud University is an ongoing project of tCloud Solutions. If you have any suggestions for improvement or if you want to be a Digital Astronaut Trainer (online instructor), we want to hear from you!

Recipe for Virality

canstockphoto9065496

Everyone wants create something that goes viral. It’s the new American Dream. While Internet users strive for millions of clicks and instant fame, it doesn’t always turn out that way. But when it does, it may come as a surprise as to how certain videos go viral and others do not.

For instance, who would have guessed that a young boy would become an Internet sensation just by acting crazy after getting hit in the head with a basketball? The boy, now dubbed “Crack Kid” by the the World Wide Web, has inspired many spin-off Vines after his was posted a week ago. (To see what in the world we’re talking about, check this out.)

Making viral videos is sort of like baking cookies. You need quality ingredients, a repeatable recipe and a tad bit of skill, all of which should eventually result in the best darn cookies you’ve ever tasted.

Want to get started on your own viral video? Here’s our recipe for success:

1. Mix together a sprinkle of Short and a dash of Simple.

Long, complex videos typically do not go viral. Why? The modern human being has an attention span shorter than 8 seconds, and scientists say this average is decreasing every year. If  you don’t grab someone’s attention quickly with a simple idea, you can bet your video will never see viral status. Platforms like Vine, Instagram and Snapchat are great for viral content because of their fast-paced nature.

2. Add in one part Randomness and one part Timeliness.

It’s a fact: some videos go viral due to perfect timing. (Anyone remember the massive explosion of “Let it Go” parodies and lip-syncs after the movie Frozen was released?) If you create a video based on something that is currently popular or trending, you have higher chances of getting your own work seen by millions of people searching for that specific term or topic.

Additionally, randomness could be the key to your viral success. Think of the last viral video you saw. Was it scripted? Was the outcome an expected event? Probably not. Random antics usually fare the best when trying for viral status.

3. Fold in a heaping tablespoon of Emotion

Playing on people’s emotions is what ultimately gets them to share content with others. Typically, the content is either cute, shocking, comedic or useful. These variations stimulate the urge to pass on whatever it the content may be (article, video, photo) to friends and family. Is your content share-worthy? If not, take another look at it before releasing it.

4. Bake on high in a Social oven 

Make sure to upload your content on a platform with wide audiences that allows easy sharing. Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Instagram and other social networks are perfect, since they automatically include a share button or an option to send an email with a link to the content.  Also, sites like Upworthy, BuzzFeed, Digg and Reddit thrive on viral content, so contributing your video to these sites may be a smart move on your part.

 

Have you had success in the viral video department? Have any extra tips to add? Leave your thoughts in the comments. 

New Facebook feature listens in to what you’re doing

facebooklistening

Soon, Facebook won’t have to ask what you’re doing; it’ll just know.

Facebook app users were in an uproar when they discovered the social media giant is releasing a new feature that activates the microphone on their smartphones to listen in on their surroundings. Essentially, the feature was created to use a sound recognition software to determine what TV show or movie a user is watching or what song they’re listening to. However, the simple fact that Facebook would be listening in was a uncomfortable thought to some users, so much so that a petition arose to halt the app from being released in the first place.

Currently, the feature is opt-in only, which means you have the ability to disable it. However, the discomfort for some users still remains.

This isn’t the first time a brand in the technology sector has had the ability to tap into your surroundings. According to Business Insider, Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect feature is always on, watching and listening. Pretty shady stuff right there.  Microsoft announced they are now selling a console without the Kinect option, making it cheaper and less Big Brother.

Of course, one of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind isn’t whether Facebook will continue with the feature. It all comes down to the blurry line of privacy with our smart devices. In an age where technology is advancing at an incredibly rapid rate, will our privacy continue to take the back seat? Will privacy become nonexistent?

What are your thoughts about the latest feature? Leave your comments below.

YouTube to Debut New Features for Content Creators

YouTube-Optimization

With Yahoo actively trying to lure content creators away from YouTube, Google’s video streaming platform is doing its best to outperform the competition. Now, YouTube content creators have a few more newfangled features to help them make the most of their channel.

Here’s what YouTube has up its sleeve:

  • Greater transparency: the team at YouTube says it wants to announce updated features ahead of time so they can get feedback from site users and see if they’re on the right track.
  • Creator App: this new app will give content creators a way to manage their channel from their mobile phone
  • Crowdfunding: YouTube wants its hand in the popular way to fund raise online. Instead of going through third-party sites like Subbable and Patreon, YouTube wants to make its own virtual tip jar so content creators can have access to funds directly from them.
  • Improved site functions: YouTube says it is streamlining contents, closed captioning capabilities, adding to the audio library and giving creators the ability to monetize cover song videos.

Watch the video that explains the new features here.

What do you think of the new features? Which one are you looking forward to the most? Leave a comment below to continue the conversation. 

What’s With Those Creepy Brand Mascots?

In the world of marketing, May 2014 was the month of creepy brand mascots.

In the name of all that is great and glorious, what on earth were they thinking? That was the response many individuals had to the newest, creepiest mascots on the branding front.

So what’s out there that’s giving people the shivers? A young man with a lemon for a head and a toothy, overly happy Happy Meal box:

creepy mascots

Left: Lemonhead’s new mascot is supposed to appeal to an “older” audience Right: McDonald’s latest mascot, McHappy, has been instead dubbed “McScary”.

Sorry. It had to be done. You can hold us responsible for the nightmares tonight.

This week, Ferrara Candy Company introduced an updated brand mascot for Lemonhead candy. Just in case you can’t recall what previous Lemonhead packaging looked like, here is an example:

lemonhead_fruit_candy_american_sweets_5

One of the original Lemonhead designs featured an “older-looking” face with a 1950s bow-tie.

 

chi-lemonhead-candy-bsi-gallery-20140519-003

Updated packaging left off the bow-tie and made the face look younger.

Dawn Sykora, director of marketing for Ferrara, told the Chicago Tribune that the update was greatly needed as research told them their previous packaging was “dated”. Sykora said the company wanted to appeal to an older demographic, with a 22-year-old Lemonhead man as the brand’s icon. And how did Ferrara decide to do this? With a real guy wearing a lemon head walking around Chicago and posting selfies on Facebook and Twitter. A few of his sightings have been documented here.

Then, in the same week, McDonalds (also a Chicago-based corporation) released their latest mascot designed to appeal to the younger audience. “McHappy”, as the terrifying Happy Meal is called, was designed to encourage children to make healthier food choices. McDonald’s spokeswoman Lisa McComb says the character has already been released in Latin America and Europe and has been well received. So far. On social media, it’s had exactly the opposite reaction. User-made photos like the ones below have started to pop up online, enunciating the creep-factor of the mascot:

 

mchappy1

McHappy and Godzilla make a terrifying team…

mchappy2

Boo.

mchappy3

That isn’t creepy at all….

So, why are companies using creepy mascots? While it may usher in a flood of negative comments at the start, the concept is actually genius. Think about it this way: if McDonald’s created a sub-par mascot, it would just blend in to every other advertising campaign out there, going unnoticed in most cases. But if the Golden Arches released something a little more memorable (even if its memorable in a discomforting way) it creates buzz, which potentially drives new and returning customers through the door.

Whether you realize it or not, many marketers use human psychology to their advantage. One of the biggest factors that play into campaigns is how people react to what you’re putting in front of them. Psychologists say people have strong reactions to things that freak them out (obviously) and also to humor (which is the main goal of Lemonhead). However, those emotions are more likely to inspire social media users to share those particular photos, videos, articles, or links with others on a social network.

In essence, these companies are working hard to create viral marketing content, which is undoubtedly working since the mascots have the internet abuzz with chatter.

Either that, or they’re trying really hard to freak us out.

 

What are your thoughts on these new mascots? Are they creepy or cool? Let us know in the comments.

 

5 High-Paying Digital Marketing Jobs for Entry-Level Graduates

canstockphoto19854628

Congratulations. You’ve just earned your diploma.

Right now, you’re probably still digging yourself out from the mountain graduation cards and using your free time watching Netflix. Chances are, you haven’t spent more than a few minutes pondering your next move in the game of life. And that’s okay. For now. Soon, you’ll be faced with the ultimate question: Where do I go from here?

You’ll  hear a lot of nay-sayers out there during your job search. Many will point to a wavering unemployment rate, an unsteady business climate and a recent article from USA Today that says new graduates may have a hard time landing a job in their field. That pessimism is expected to continue over time.

But it’s not all bad news As a matter of fact, marketing jobs are expected to grow 14% within the next decade.  Public relations will grow faster than average by 24%.  If you’ve just earned your degree in communications or marketing, the future is exceptionally bright (we’re talking supernova bright), especially in the world of social media and digital marketing.

Whether you want an Internet-oriented marketing job or haven’t thought about it yet, here are 5 jobs that may jump start your career in a way you never thought possible:

1. Social Media Strategist

Social media-savvy, educated workers are in high demand.  Businesses have started to realize the importance of branding on social networks as well as the need for someone who understands the platforms. Enter the Social Media Strategist.  Many wouldn’t think it’s possible getting paid all day to surf through social networks, but it is indeed a real and profitable career. That’s part of the reason why major universities are now adding social media-focused programs.  With the average Social Media Strategist making $61,000 a year, it’s one marketing grads should look into.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist

Businesses in every industry are desperately seeking answers on their digital performance.  They want to know how their social pages are performing, how they can improve their rank on Google and what to do next. Who’s the ideal candidate for this growing need? Someone who is analytical and loves numbers.  Someone who can understand insights and trends, who’s able to inform the company of better practices to reach their customers.  SEO Specialists also focus on search rankings and keywords and other optimization techniques that makes a company’s web presence front and center. The average salary for an SEO Specialist: $69,000.

3. Blogger or Social Media Copywriter

What used to be considered a hobby is now a legitimate, full-time career. From freelance positions to job openings at major corporations, bloggers and copywriters are in demand. As more marketers focus on content marketing, more businesses are making room in the budget for bloggers. Bloggers are on the lower end when it comes to salary, but the average is still a cushy $43,000.

4. Public Relations Specialist

It’s been called the “Number 1 Hot Career” (Yahoo Education), “Best Creative Job” (U.S. News), and “A Skyrocketing Career” (CulpWrit.com) by critics, but you don’t have to go to a premier to be a part of this blockbuster. Public Relations Specialists are needed everywhere and with this position predicted to be at an all-time high by 2020, it’s definitely something to get behind. The national average for PR Specialists is approximately $46,000.

5. Graphic Design/Online Advertising

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7% slower than average growth rate for graphic designers, the position is still widely needed in the digital marketing field. Companies are looking for skilled workers to design logos, websites, content for social media sites, and banner ads. Graphic design may be dwindling, but digital advertising and promotional design is certainly picking up.  The average payout for designers is around $44,150.

New Era of Social Media-Inspired Body Modification

Courtesy Brides.com

Courtesy Brides.com

You are now entering the selfie twilight zone.

Not too long ago, we posted a story on this blog as well as a feature on Social Media Today about the narcissism that comes along with the selfie craze on social networking sites. Like previously mentioned, selfies have played an active role in teen suicide attempts, depression and cyber-bullying.  In the past few years, stories have surfaced about social media users wanting plastic surgery to look better in their selfies. The newest craze is just as ridiculous.

According to an Elle article posted this week, women are opting for “hand-lifts” before taking the perfect engagement ring selfie. One New York City area doctor says the fad has increased 40 percent since the world was introduced to the social selfie.

“As we age, the skin on the hands can lose fat, becoming more thin and bony with prominent veins and wrinkles,”  dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad told Elle. “Social media has certainly led people to be more concerned about their appearance and how they present themselves, so if women can receive a quick procedure to make themselves feel better and younger, it’s something that they are willing to do.”

The 10-minute procedure consists of an injection of Juvederm into the hands with instant results. The article says the procedure costs around $1,200 and is expected to last up to nine months.

So, here’s the question: would YOU ever consider getting a hand-lift before taking an engagement selfie? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

Being a Part of the Impossible

impossible

Social media can be a cruel world. In recent times, it has contributed to issues with cyber bullying, self-image and suicide, especially in younger generations. With all the negativity, it’s hard to see social media as a platform of motivation and excellence.

Until now.

In late 2013, a new social networking site was born. Called Impossible, the site encourages “a culture of giving and receiving.”  The site’s twenty-six-year-old creator, model and actress Lily Cole decided to make a social networking site based around the idea of a gift economy. Unlike other networks, Cole says any profits Impossible generates will be reinvested 100% to help build a more collaborative economy, drive social cohesion and empower individuals.

The object is simple: once signed up for an account (you can easily sign in using Facebook), users can post short statuses wishing for something non-monetary, using hash tags to show up easier in search results. They can also grant wishes and thank those who have granted their own. Statuses are also classified by location, so you can do something extra special for those living nearest you.

Will Impossible be the next break-out social network? Perhaps. Will it change the world? Most definitely.

While it seems like a great personal social network, many businesses are wondering how they can get on board.

Here’s how: an Impossible user might post something like this: “I wish someone would teach me French.” Say you work for a language learning software company or you offer private tutoring lessons. As a business, you could reach out to this user and offer him or her a free demo of your software or a free tutoring session through Skype. There’s a world of possibilities in which you can positively impact your company’s target audience. You’ll certainly feel good about be a part of a pay-it-forward community.

Check out the world of the Impossible here.

Are you a part of the Impossible social network? If so, what are your user experiences so far? Leave comments below.