Content Marketing 29

Content Marketing

4x3 News

For the 4th year in a row 4x3 has proudly marketed the annual Odessa Brewfest. Through a custom-designed website, social media and content marketing we helped the Historic Odessa Foundation invite hundreds of visitors as they enjoyed award-winning craft beer, gourmet food, local craft vendors, live music, and historical demonstrations on the beautiful grounds of the 1769 Warner-Wilson house in Odessa, Delaware.

Social Media Marketing Success

In conjunction with our email and content marketing efforts, we focused heavily on social media marketing as a way to not only to create buzz about the event, but to generate ticket sales. The result was a consistent level of social media engagement and non-stop event promotion across a variety of platforms.

FACEBOOK BOOSTING

In order to gain maximum visibility on Facebook, 4x3 implemented a marketing strategy that utilized boosted posts as a away to appear higher up on news feeds of people that are located within a specified geographic area with interests in craft beer. Facebook boosting allowed the Odessa Brewfest gain exposure to new audiences and interact with 94,670 engaged users in the four months leading up to the festival.

ODESSA BREWBRACKET

Generating engagement between the attending breweries and fans is always important to promoting the Odessa Brewfest. One way we facilitate engagement is the annual Brewbracket competition -- an online contest in which we pit breweries against one another in a bracket where fans vote for their favorite brewery. By doing this, we gain access the loyal brewery fans that vote and share the Brewbracket on social media. Year after year, it has proven a great way to drive interactions on social media and traffic back to the festival website.

#ODESSABREWSELFIE CONTEST

Generating hype before an event is crucial, but continuing to drive engagement during an event is just as important. To keep guests posting to social media throughout the festival we created a Selfie Contest to encourage poeple to take pictures of themselves and their friends enjoying the wonderful craft beer and beautiful ground of Historic Odessa with all their friends. Throughout the day, more than 75 guests entered the contest through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Several beer enthusiasts won fun brewery swag and other merchandise at the end of the day.

SNAPCHAT GEOFILTER

4x3 also designed a Geofilter for the annual Odessa Brewfest. The custom Geofilter appeared during the festival and allowed anyone who attended the event to use the filter on Snapchat. Everyone shared snaps with their friends using the filter to celebrate their favorite craft beer and to commemorate being at the event. At the end of the day, there was a total of 5,272 uses and views! This is a great strategy for creating peer to peer marketing with minumum effort.

Visit the official Brewfest website »

September 19, 2017

4x3 News

Diesel Adventures has engaged 4x3 to manage their web content and to devise a marketing strategy to improve SEO and increase your page ranking organically on major search engines and social media platforms.

Content and Social Media Marketing

After conducting a complete website audit of Diesel Adventures, 4x3 created a solution to improved audience engagement by bringing relevant, useful, and entertaining information to customers. Every strategy was thoughtfully designed to educate visitors about Diesel Adventures and their services through newsletters, blogs and social media campaigns. 

4x3 manages Diesel Adventures' social networking sites, including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Google + and YouTube.

"Starting a new business is hard. Being new to the world of content marketing, 4x3 have been very patient with all my questions and helping to me understand what works and what doesn’t. The campaigns that have been implemented have certainly increased my brand awareness and audience reach."
Steve Murphy | Founder | Diesel Adventures 

ABOUT DIESEL ADVENTURES

Diesel Adventures is an adventure travel company that specializes in overland expeditions and small group adventure tours on a variety of countries and continents. 

Diesel Adventures prioritizes what you are looking for in your tour -- be it culture, history, architecture, the wild outdoors, wildlife, hiking food or any specific interest -- so they can give you their expert recommendations on the very best trip that will suit you.

Visit the offical website »

September 7, 2017

4x3 News

Relevant and timeless content is invaluable when developing a brand. 4x3 develops custom, fully functional sites to manage content in a SEO-friendly and organized manner.

Developing Arizona Opera

In 2014, Arizona Opera was looking to upgrade its web presence and reorganize the large amount of content on its website. 4x3 partnered with Cause Design on the redesign, redevlopment and rearchitecture of azopera.org. The Arizona Opera website required an organized way to publish and manage everything from news and press releases to performances and events. 

4x3 was up for the challenge!

4x3 developed a full site rebuild in Drupal, creating an inviting, user-friendly website for the opera's many visitors and stakeholders. We also integrated custom Drupal modules and and intelligent navigation tools to ease the burden of updates for this content-rich website and enhance the functionality of the site. The site can now be managed without any high-level programming expertise while remaining while fully incorporating responsive web design.

Due to the heavily content oriented aspect of the website, a high level or organization needed to be applied during the development process. We worked closely with Arizona Opera to create a detailed site map to guarantee a simple layout and easily navigated internal pages. This level organization was implemented in every step of development. 

About Arizona Opera

Arizona Opera, originally the Tucson Opera Company, was founded in 1971 by a dedicated group of opera enthusiasts. 

Since its inaugural year, Arizona Opera has produced over 170 fully-staged operas and concerts. The company’s artistic history is rich with a blend of opera’s traditional repertoire featuring baroque, bel canto, and verismo works, turn-of-the-century masterpieces, operettas, and American operas. Arizona Opera preforms complete seasons in both Tucson and Phoenix.

About Cause Design

Cause Design Company was founded by Principal and Creative Director Rodd Whitney, an award-winning designer who has more than 20 years of experience at the intersection of design and the corporate and non—profit sectors.

Years of Experience in Web Development

4x3 has been developing websites since it was founded. As an integral part of our web design process, 4x3 implements thoughtful web development during all phases or building and programming (or reprogramming) a website; including Drupal, eCommerce, and custom CMS.

May 29, 2017
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When we began the web design process the other day with a client, we stumbled across a new phrase in the RWD world: Age Responsive Design.

We already have the ability to make sites adapt based on screen size. But this is only the first step. As technology has evolved we have developed the ability to adapt web structure and content based on a user's age. 

We have the technology!

While we might not be making a Six Million Dollar Man, Age Responsive Design is not an unattainable concept imagined in some science-fiction realm. 

In fact, the gaming industry has been using a player's age and experience to adapt First Person Perspective (FPP) games by using dynamic game balancing (DGB) for years!

DGB is the automatic process that changes parameters, scenarios, and behaviors in a video game in real-time, based on the player's ability. This is utilized to avoid making a player bored or frustrated. If you're a beginner, you will only fight enemies that have reduced speed and health. But if you're a pro, the game will become much more difficult and increase the gameplay duration. 

The concept is similar to what the age-responsive design will do to websites. And, just as we have the information to determine a user’s age, this data can be used to combine those existing technologies to create universally user-friendly experiences. As we enter 2017, websites will be able to combined this information to make subtle changes to accommodate younger or older audiences.

One size DOES NOT fit all.

A 7-year-old and a 70-year-old do not read the same books or wear the same clothes, so why should they be subjected to the same online experience? 

Age Responsive Design is made with the ability to focus on how the site looks; but also how it works, what type of content it displays, and what a user can do with it. Just a few examples of what Age Responsive Design could do, include:

  • bigger vs smaller font sizes and spacing
  • muted vs saturated color schemes
  • video presentations vs text explanations
  • social media sharing vs email conversion
  • expanded vs condensed navigation menus 
  • typographic vs traditional content

While automatic age design is not currently in use, targeted web content is... So the application of Age Responsive Design is just around the corner - it's only matter of who impliments it first.

December 30, 2016
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After two and a half years doing content marketing and Website copywriting at 4x3, I’m moving on next week to a new job. While excited to be starting this new chapter of my professional life, I will always be appreciative of the time I spent here working for Stephen and Amy.

I recently created an updated job description to help in the new hire process for my position. When I sent it to Stephen to look over, he asked, “Is this what you thought you were going to do when you started?!”

Well, that’s a good question. I did not know I would learn as much as I have about the ins and outs of the Drupal CMS. I did not know I would do so much SEO work and client consulting, or participate in design and branding discussions.

I didn’t know I would be sampling craft beers for “research” and getting on the mic at a beer festival to announce prize giveaways. I didn't know I'd be singing the National Anthem at a rugby tournament.

And speaking of rugby... If you told me when I started I would be writing commentary on the sport’s rise in popularity and covering matches like a sportswriter, I’d have said you were crazy.

4x3: Creativity & Collaboration

In other words, like all good jobs, working at 4x3 was unpredictable in the best sense. The variety of work I was able to do and the level of trust put in me by Stephen and Amy was both gratifying and enriching. The office environment encourages creativity and collaboration, and getting to work alongside designers was a real bonus. I’ve gained a true “360 degree” perspective on marketing and insights into an entrepreneurial, client-centered approach to doing business that no previous job was able to give me.

So thank you, Sianos, and all the people I’ve worked with at 4x3. It has truly been a great experience and I wish the best success to this awesome little Web design shop as it rockets toward the future.

July 25, 2016
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Are you persnickety about correct type and punctuation? I think most people who work in design are. Amy Siano, 4x3’s president and CCO, noticed a gaffe in a recent promo from ESPN — a single quote used where an apostrophe was called for (in the picture above, before “85”). Not cool, ESPN!

We all rely on spell check (a little too much) to police our spelling gaffes, but when it comes to punctuation, we still have to fall back on our own hard-won grammatical knowledge… or lack of it. 

Preposterous apostrophes 

Consider how common apostrophe mistakes are. We see it all the time in situations where an innocent “s,” trying to do the noble work of making something plural, is forced to get all possessive. 

  • 7s (a way of writing “sevens,” a type of rugby) typed as 7’s
  • CD’s instead of CDs
  • No Dog’s Allowed

Good typography and grammar is marketing 101

You can create a brochure, sign or magazine that throws out a word like perchloroethylene, every letter in place, but if you can’t tell your its from your it’s, you’re gonna sound like a rube. The Internet is full of pictures of carefully created signs that look good at first—until you notice that big glaring apostrophe error. 

Do you have a typography (or punctuation) pet peeve? Send them to me at jimsturdivant@4x3.net, and we’ll publish them in a future post. 

June 7, 2016

4x3 Ideas

A client of ours recently expressed skepticism about Facebook as a marketing platform. Before you gasp, let me just say—his questions are perfectly legitimate. Remember, just because Facebook reaches over a billion people worldwide does not automatically guarantee it’s the best solution in every case.

I would argue that Facebook is a very good marketing option for this client. Before I say why, I’ll give a quick overview of his situation.

This service-oriented business is focused on a local audience. It is traditionally very reliant on word-of-mouth recommendations and does well with search rooted in location-based and need-based keywords. The problem is that there is a lot of competition for these same services.

His argument against Facebook is that his clients do not, up to this point, come from there. Also, he personally does not like seeing businesses pop up on his Facebook feed, so he expects others don’t like seeing these type of posts, either.

Facebook Marketing: Local Search

One argument in Facebook’s favor is that it is becoming increasingly popular as a tool for local search. In fact, according to comScore data, Facebook is now the world’s number-two local search app behind Google Maps. Facebook has achieved this by drawing data from its huge user base to create location and subject-based search results for just about everything.

What does this mean for our skeptical client? Any business you search for on Facebook will bring a result, whether you create a page or not. A business that creates their own page and populates it with useful content will have a leg up over those who do not.

Facebook Marketing: Friendly Algorithms

While no social media platform can give you what you want all the time, worries about Facebook posts being intrusive are probably overblown. Unless you pay to boost posts, Facebook is not going to throw your content up on people’s feeds without a reason—a query by the user, or some kind of interaction (click-throughs, likes, shares, etc).

Even if you do boost, this form of paid marketing is highly targeted. You can make sure your boosted post is only seen by people with specific interests or in a specific area. There’s no “throw spaghetti at the wall” marketing on Facebook.

Facebook Marketing: Driving Traffic and SEO

Facebook is a proven way to drive traffic to your website. People who come to your site through Facebook might contact you through the site, but unless you have them fill out a questionnaire, you might not know it was Facebook that led them to you.

Another advantage of posting frequently on Facebook is that you are generating link-backs—links that point to your site—which are an important sign to Google that your website is important and contains quality content. Traffic from external sources is very important to SEO.

May 17, 2016

4x3 Ideas

Social media, viral videos, pop-up events—there’s lots of fun options these days for marketing your business. In all the enthusiasm for new media channels, some of the older strategies can get left by the wayside. When it comes to reach and ROI, however, sometimes there’s no better path than the tried-and-true press release.

Our client AGA Developers had a few marketing goals with their latest project, South Square, a 19-unit residential and retail project in South Kensington. They looked around at the coverage other developers were getting in Philadelphia real estate blogs, magazines and newspapers, and wanted to raise their profile through these same channels. It’s clearly a good strategy for them—real estate and development is a perennial hot topic in Philly, and AGA Developers has been building in some of the city’s trendier locales: Fishtown, Graduate Hospital, Point Breeze. Their entry into South Kensington would again put them on the cutting edge.

Setting Goals, Generating Buzz

In consultation with AGA, three marketing goals were set: position principals Sean Killeen and Frank Mazzio as local experts on real estate and “go-to” sources for information, leverage South Kensington’s status as a “next big thing” in Philadelphia real estate, and generate direct publicity for South Square.

We wrote a trends piece In January about South Kensington for AGA’s website and social media, quoting Sean on the neighborhood’s attributes and why it is taking off.

This joined other articles in Philadelphia magazine, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other outlets about real estate, nightlife and foodie trends in Fishtown and Kensington. Our timing was perfect.

In early March, a short piece on South Square appeared in Vox Media’s Curbed Philly. The following week (March 8), we released an attractively-designed press release about South Square to many local media outlets and real estate reporters. As a result of this, South Square was featured on Philly.Com in a piece by Shannon Rooney, with Sean Killeen directly quoted from the press release.

Big-Time Coverage

This was followed by an inquiry to 4x3 from the Philadelphia Inquirer real estate writer, Alan Heavens. Heavens was writing a big feature on the real estate market in Fishtown and Kensington, had seen the press release in his inbox, and wanted to include South Square. We steered him toward Frank, Sean and their realtor, MGC Real Estate Group. Through this article Killeen would get his wish—quoted as an authority in a trends piece (published March 29) that mentions South Square as a key development project.

We responded with a piece of our own for the AGA website and social channels about the flurry of attention around South Square.

But this wasn’t all. Heavens followed his article up with a major feature in the April 10 Sunday Inquirer profiling AGA Developers and South Square—pictures, a big graphic (provided by us), the works. AGA was now being presented as prime movers in the redevelopment of the old industrial district of Kensington—a major PR victory for Frank, Sean and the firm.

We’re proud of the role we played in helping this happen.

April 14, 2016
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I read recently that Nexflix greenlighted "House of Cards" without first making a pilot. This constitutes a $100 million investment (what it cost to produce "House of Cards" Season 1) without any sort of test to see whether audiences actually liked the show. 

Sounds crazy, right? Well, Netflix has something TV networks traditionally do not. Data. Lots and lots of data. Nexflix analyzed the viewing habits and preferences of 33,000,000 users before investing in "House of Cards." 

The streaming video provider uses “a balance of intuition and analytics to analyze everything from promotion of its original content to which shows it picks up next,” according to LookBookHQ.

Content Marketing: putting data to work

We can’t all mine such a rich stream of customer information. But every business with a Web presence has data they can utilize to set marketing strategy. Everything from email open rates (which subject lines have the most traction?) to number of page views per session (what did we do last month that made our website more "sticky"?) can be put to use to improve your Web strategy. 

Keep at content marketing long enough and maybe some day you’ll have enough cash on hand to hire Kevin Spacey!

February 29, 2016
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This weeked, many of us in the 4x3 family are down in Charlotte, NC for a big event! The ACRC Bowl Series, a production of our sister company URugby, is bringing 18 top college rugby teams to the Rugby Athletic Center in Charlotte for high-level competition.

The design wizards at 4x3 add to the class and professionalism of URugby events with our cool ball, banner, apparel, website and program book designs. We're proud of the way we've combined our multiplatform website and design expertise with a passion for the great sport of rugby. 

Rugby is the fastest-growing sport in the USA

You may not know much about rugby, but it's the fastest-growing sport in the USA on the youth and college level (often compared to the rise of soccer in the US a few decades ago). Though it often flies under the radar, there's lots of excitement and some great rivalries in the college rugby scene 

Check out ACRCBowlSeries.com for more info and to watch streaming feeds and live blog updates of all this weekend's games. 

November 20, 2015

4x3 Ideas

Just a quick note on bracket-style online competitions—plus a chance to brag about my hometown, Maplewood, N.J.

We’ve done content marketing for the Odessa Brewfest for the past two years, and a big part of that effort has been the Odessa Brewfest Brewbracket, a tournament-style competition designed to drum up social media buzz and site traffic around this annual beer festival in Odessa, Del. 

In 2014, we pitted 64 beers against each other; this year, it was 32 breweries (with a play-in round). The promotions have proven successful, with healthy participation from craft beer enthusiasts, who were able to claim prizes at the event itself just for playing. 

Building A Better Bracket

While we think we’ve done an awful lot right with the Odessa Brewfest brewbracket promotion, we’re always looking for ways to improve the contest. Some good ideas can be found in a recent competition, “Downtown Showdown,” featured in the magazine New Jersey Monthly

The editors of New Jersey Monthly chose 16 downtowns to compete in the contest. Over a month, online voting narrowed the field down to two finalists, Morristown and Maplewood—and Maplewood took the crown

Downtown Showdown: Marketing Takeaways

Here are some things that went right for New Jersey Monthly in holding a bracket competition.

  • Sponsorship: The contest was sponsored (by Kings Food Markets)—a great way to monetize the promotion. 
  • Careful Choosing: The towns chosen were already well-known for their downtowns, but there were plenty of other towns in the state that could have made the list. The editors chose a mix of regions and types (rural, urban, shore) no-doubt designed to get all kinds of boosters excited about the competition. 
  • Graphical Presentation: The colorful bracket layout makes it easy to see the “big picture.” 
  • Interview Contestants: Getting town boosters personally involved helped drum up excitement and encouraged secondary promotion of the contest by the towns themselves. 
  • Go Viral: Some towns got really into the game, like (not surprisingly) Maplewood, a medium-sized community in Essex County known for its boosterism. Maplewood handed out leaflets at the train station, sent out emails to residents about the competition and put up posters—all free publicity for the Downtown Showdown, New Jersey Monthly, and Kings Food Markets.  
  • Report the Impact: The magazine’s reporting of the contest became a story of its own. By covering various towns’ efforts to drum up votes, New Jersey Monthly could both promote the contest and encourage further participation. 

I should add that it’s always easier to win when you are the best, as (in my totally unbiased opinion) Maplewood is, with its interesting shops, festivals, beautiful downtown park (the fireworks, the sledding, the skating!), movie theater and train station. Go Mape!

September 30, 2015

4x3 Ideas

We at 4x3 were proud to be part of the team behind the Odessa Brewfest. We’ve been there from the beginning, helping connect the festival to the world with a custom-designed website, email marketing and social media. 

The beer festival debuted last year to great success, bringing 47 brewers and over 1400 festival goers. This year was even bigger, with 54 breweries setting up on the grounds of the historic Warner-Wilson house in Odessa, Del. Attendees enjoyed live music, great food, wine, spirits, crafts, a historical demonstration… and of course lots of good beer.

Social media: The brewbracket contest

Our social media efforts included a contest pitting participating breweries in a field-of-32 bracket competition. Voters online narrowed the list down to two brewers—Mispillion River and Troegs. People voted in person at our social media table and received fun prizes in return.  

Marketing success

The Historic Odessa Foundation’s mix of online, print and radio marketing was successful in generating buzz about the festival and lots of positive local media coverage. Odessa’s status as a treasured Delaware historic site was emphasized, as was the presence of local breweries, wineries, distillers and other vendors (such as Wilmington’s Hy Point Dairy) with deep roots in the state. 

There is nothing generic about this festival—it is a truly a Delaware-flavored affair—and this added to the excitement around the event.

We had fun helping to publicize the event and being at the festival last Saturday. We look forward to doing it again next year!

September 16, 2015

4x3 Ideas

Content marketing is a growing business in the media world, so much so that lots of non-traditional players are getting into the game. Some corporations (Coke, Sun Life, Intuit) have made creating and distributing their own news-style content a big part of their marketing strategy, while others are happy to hire third parties to do it for them.   

The Content Marketing Game

It’s this desire to find new ways to integrate brands into people’s media experience that spells opportunity for digital content experts. Traditional media companies are jumping into the content marketing game, creating some controversy in the process as they try to negotiate the line between straight journalism and advertising. 

Marketing services in the digital era

Not surprisingly, marketing agencies are jumping in too. Both digital-era hotshots (e.g. Razorfish) and old industry players (e.g. Ogilvy) are staking their futures on this trend, believing they have to move beyond traditional advertising to stay relevant. New-style campaigns include creating lifestyle websites and blogs, social media campaigns, branded apps and other web tools (such as games) to gain audience participation and loyalty. 

What’s important in this brave new world of digital marketing? Data. Customization. Specialization. Clients expect marketers to be able to measure outcomes and adjust strategies based on what works. Some marketing teams specialize in one particular industry, such as health care, in order to provide content that really speaks to a target audience.

4x3: Content marketing services, design, SEO... 

There’s opportunity here for companies positioned to leverage existing editorial and design talents, or bring in marketing services as a “value add” for an existing client base. At 4x3, we’ve added content marketing services to our existing stable of custom design, SEO and programming expertise. It creates a “full service” package for clients who want to communicate the right message to the right people. 

July 13, 2015

4x3 Ideas

When I first heard that Verizon was buying AOL for $4.4 billion, I found it hard to believe. And I'm not the only one. There's already been the inevitable “is FIOS moving to dial-up?” jokes, and, for many, a general confusion about what a company best known for serving up sleek smartphones wants with a dot-com era corporation whose heyday coincided with the Sony Discman.  

Getting into the Content Marketing Game

But looking into it, it just might make sense. AOL, you see, has been expending a lot of energy behind the scenes working on technology that serves up and monetizes video and advertising across platforms. They also own news sites like TechCrunch and Huffington Post. Verizon, feeling pressure to be more than just a conduit for information, has decided it needs to jump into the content marketing game in order to stay competitive. 

In recent years, cable giant Comcast bought NBC Universal. Sony bought EMI Music. AT&T is buying DirectTV. Apple and Microsoft famously (and unexpectedly) got very big into music and gaming, and are now trying to break into TV. Content, in other words, matters a lot — and companies that have made billions providing pipelines (operating systems, infrastructure, hardware, etc.) now feel the need to own a piece of the action. 

As information portals and platforms get cheaper (or even free, as with social media sites like Facebook), owning quality content and content distribution networks matters more. Like Yahoo buying video advertising platform BrightRoll last November, Verizon has decided it needs to do more than be a portal. It will be interesting to see what this approach means for smaller companies. 

May 12, 2015
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The first annual Historic Odessa Brewfest, held Sept. 6, 2014, was a huge success. Over 1400 visitors enjoyed gourmet food and spirits, local artisan crafts, historical demonstrations and award-winning ales, stouts, lagers, cider and Belgian brews from 47 craft brewers.

We at 4x3 LLC are proud of the role we played in making the festival a success. Working closely with the Historic Odessa Foundation, we designed and built a dynamic, visually appealing, easy-to-navigate website that looks equally great on phones, tablets and desktops. But we did not stop there. We developed a comprehensive marketing and social media strategy designed to drum up excitement, ticket sales and interest in the Odessa Brewfest brand.

4x3 Brand Awareness and Content Marketing

To raise awareness of the festival locally and regionally, we provided:

  • Brand awareness (messaging and overall brand identity online and in print)
  • Research (intelligence on beer festivals and other comperable events) 
  • Content (news, press releases and e-newsletters)
  • Promotion (our much-heralded brewbracket contest; social media management; brewer partnerships) 

The #BrewBracket

4x3 designed a brew bracket contest modeled after the college basketball field of 64. Utilizing posts on Facebook and Twitter, users voted for their favorite beers by liking, sharing and commenting. The contest, which featured entertaining and informative descriptions of the beers and breweries participating in the festival, drove daily interest among brewers, vendors, beer drinkers and regional media, leading to increased followers, site visitors and ticket purchases.

The effort culminated in a Final Four held live on the day of the festival. Attendees voted in person with their smartphones at a social media booth (manned by us) and claimed prizes such as t-shirts, coasters, hats and keychains.

The Result fro the Festival in Just 3 Months

  • Nearly 600 interactions on social media related to BrewBracket posts.
  • Over 900 Odessa Brewfest Facebook page likes and 870 Twitter followers.
  • Site visit jumps of 60% to 100% on days matchups were promoted.

The Brewfest returns Sept. 12, 2015—and 4x3 will once again be leading the marketing and promotion efforts. Look for us at this year's festival—we'd love to meet you!

March 13, 2015

4x3 Ideas

Ever thought about promoting a post on Facebook? We’ve been dipping our toe in that water lately, and getting familiar with the quirks of the process. 

Facebook Marketing

In case you are unfamiliar with promoting posts on Facebook, it works like this: The social network lets you set a budget and target audience, and "boosts" the post far beyond your normal friends and followers. You pay for what Facebook calls “actions” — link clicks, comments, shares and likes. Each time someone interacts with your post in one of these ways, a certain amount is deducted from your budget (you set a budget for as little as $5, and increase it at any time if you like how things are going). 

Facebook Boosting Posts: Surprises and Snafus

We recently ran an experiment in writing viral headlines, creating three different versions for a story about a controversial beer can label and boosting all three to see which got the best response. A few hours in, Facebook flagged one of our headline posts as inappropriate, temporary shutting down the promotion: 

“Your Post wasn't boosted because it violates Facebook's ad guidelines by promoting alcohol products to people who are not of legal drinking age for their location. The post remains published, but it is not running as an ad."

Facebook gives you an opportunity to fix your targeting to meet their guidelines, which in this case was easy — just up the minimum target age from 18 (the default) to 21.

Funny thing was the other two headlines also mentioned beer, and were not flagged. I guess Facebook’s algorithm needs a little work. 

Anyway, it was no big deal—Facebook wants you to boost, and makes it easy to set things right and get your promotion going again.

Facebook Boosts: Targeting 

So one key takeaway for us was to check the default audience settings and target carefully. Facebook lets you choose specific audience interests to target — say, “Craft Beer” and “Brewing.” The trick is to strike a balance between casting too big a net (by picking too many categories) and being so narrow that you miss potentially interested people. The right balance is different for each campaign. 

Facebook Ad Restrictions on Text in Images

A more difficult hurdle comes if your boosted post violates Facebook’s rules on text in images. Ads on Facebook may contain text in the headline, message or video thumbnail, but cannot make up more than 20% of an image. This includes logos and slogans. 

Facebook says they do this to “ensure people on Facebook only see high-quality content.” Unfortunately, the one-size-fits-all rule can eliminate boosted images that are both appropriate and relevant. We boosted a fun story for a client, Arizona Opera, about a traffic cop leaving a message for a fellow opera lover instead of giving them a ticket—but the photo of a handwritten note ran afoul of the rules. 

The campaign was cancelled, but not before garnering some shares and likes. (Facebook does not notice guideline violations right away.) 

To help you meet the guidelines, Facebook offers a grid tool that lets you test images to see if they contain too much text. 

And remember: these rules regarding ad restrictions on text in images apply only to boosted posts, not regular ones. 

February 23, 2015

4x3 Ideas

As recounted in last week’s blog, we tried a little experiment in writing viral headlines — choosing three different versions of a headline and promoting them on Facebook to see which got the most response. Businesses that rely on Facebook clicks do this kind of testing all the time, and on a much bigger scale. 

The posts concerned a controversial new beer from the New England Brewing Company. Check out my previous post to see how the headlines did—who took the bait, and why. 

More on Viral Headlines

The results were interesting and in some ways surprising. In addition to what we reported last week, here are some more observations about viral headlines:

  1. DO be specific. The headlines that were more specific about what was offensive (“beer label,” “beer can”) did much better than the headline that just referred to “beer.” 
  2. DO appeal to emotions. Suggestions of controversy, heartbreak, joy—even negativity—will get a response. 
  3. DO leave them hanging. Click-baity headlines are teasers—try to get a reader's interest without telling them exactly what the story is about. 
  4. DON’T tell people how to react. Suggesting a reaction turns people off. As viral publisher Outbrain puts it: “Don’t tell your readers what to think.”
  5. DON’T use the word “you.” This can be seen as pushy or sales-y. 

These last two may have been strikes against our headline “Do You Find This Beer Can Offensive? Many People Do.” It did pretty well, but also inspired a response that could be seen as negative or defensive—maybe the person did not like the idea that he was supposed to be offended.

So, be specific without giving it all away, and create an emotional response without being pushy. In other words, “This Little Dog Got Lost in a Snowstorm. What Happened Next Warmed My Heart” is better than, “Your Heart Will Melt When You Read About This Poor Little Rescue Dog.” 

This Editor Has Some Amazing Things to Say About Viral Headlines. We Thought #16 Was Funny

I looked at a lot of articles online claiming to crack the code of virality, and the most useful (and entertaining) was one from Adam Mordecai, Upworthy's Editor-at-Large. Like Dose (the website mentioned in last week’s blog), Upworthy also tests headlines—and puts a huge emphasis on writing (and trying) a large number of them.

February 4, 2015
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The New Yorker magazine published a fascinating article last month about Emerson Spartz, the 27-year old Chicagoan who has made millions repackaging content to gain clicks on Facebook using viral headlines. 

Spartz’s business model is entirely data driven. Content on his websites—Dose, Lolbrary, Unfriendable, and many others—use attention-grabbing headlines or photos to get clicks and shares from news feed scrollers. His main site, Dose, employs an algorithm that tracks the success of many different headlines created for the same piece of content. The headline attracting the most clicks eventually wins out over all the others. 

Viral headlines: Insane, hilarious, awesome…

Using this system of zeroing in on the most "click-baity" headline, a Dose post can gain several hundred thousand page views a day. The winning headlines tend to promise a huge “wow” factor. Some recent examples: “18 Haircuts That Are All Too Much. #11 Why Would You Do That?!,” “21 Of The Absolutely Most Insane Things That Have Ever Happened On Tumblr,” “You'll Never Believe That This Food Is Illegal In Berlin.”

Writing a viral headline

I decided to try this approach out for myself. Using a story published on the BBC about a controversial beer can depicting Gandhi, I wrote three click-baity headlines and promoted them on our Facebook page. For each version of the post, we set a budget of $5 and “boosted” it on Facebook. The three posts were exactly alike except for the headline, were sent to the same targeted audience, were boosted at the same time and for the same duration (two days). At the end of the boost period, we checked how many "actions" (clicking, liking, sharing or commenting) each version of the post got.

Here are the viral headlines:

  1. I Would Not Have Believed This Beer Could Anger a Whole Nation
  2. The Beer Label that Shocked and Angered a Nation
  3. Do You Find This Beer Can Offensive? Many People Do 

And here are the results:

  1. 10 Actions: 9 link clicks and 1 page like.
  2. 72 Actions66 link clicks and 6 post likes. (THE WINNER)
  3. 53 Actions: 49 link clicks, 2 post likes, 1 share and 1 comment.

Interestingly, headline #3, which suggested a reaction, inspired the most heated response (a comment, like and share from a person who seemingly took offense at the idea that they should be offended).

A surprising gender gap 

Also interesting is the gender breakdown. In the case of #1 and #3, the overwhelming majority of those taking action were men—96.2% for #3, and 90% for #1. Women took a lot more interest in #2 (the winner), making up 20.8% percent of those taking action.

See next week's blog for more insights into using viral headlines. The process of boosting these headlines was also a real learning experience—see more about this in a future blog.

January 26, 2015

4x3 Ideas

I think the best way to sort out the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) myths and mysteries is to use the logic we all possess. If you want someone to find your website, write about what they are searching for and they will find your page -- your single SEO phrase.

Start with a single SEO phrase

Create a page to focus on a single SEO phrase. I'm going to pick one for this post just like I did with the big blue toy monster. I start by picking a topic relating to what our company is all about. I then begin by writing my blog post based on my thoughts and the ideas I want to convey. Separately, I work on a list of SEO keyword phrases that will enhance our website overall. By the time I'm finished writing my first draft, I'll have a list of keyword phrases that relate to what my blog post is ultimately about. I then incorporate those key SEO phrases back into the document in paragraphs and into headings.

Blog About Work-Related Topics

On this very topic, I tell my employees to write about things that interest them and, in turn, things they would like to work on. Our philosophy at 4:3 is to choose employees that excel and are interested in the kind of work we do and the kind of work that will, of course, benefit our clients. Once on our team, part of their job is to blog about work-related things that interest them. If we've done our job correctly, they should be blogging about the kind of things that we all want to spend time on at work. So, we choose our employees based on the SEO phrases that interest them.

Apply simple writing techniques to your content marketing

My english teacher from high school would be proud to know that I still follow the simple writing techniques I learned my junior year. Amazingly and simply, they apply to SEO and ultimately SEO phrases. I have to add that my junior year of high school was 1976-1977. Words like Web, website, content marketing, search engine optimization phrases and Internet did not exist. I learned that each paragraph is a separate thought and the series of interconnected paragraphs relate to a single theme -- what we know today as a single SEO phrase.

Be specific with a single SEO phrase

Being uber specific about the topic of my blog and the single keyword phrase makes my writing more interesting and more focused and Google likes that! If you pick too many SEO phrases in your content marketing, you water down your focus and Google can't focus on a single SEO phrase.

October 16, 2014
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4x3 Ideas

We’ve been brainstorming creative sponsorship ideas in the office this week as our sister corporation Sevens Sports LLC gears up for an upcoming rugby tournament in Charlotte, N.C. As any marketer knows, there are lots of ways to advertise through events. Bring a number of like-minded people together, and you’ve got a great opportunity for sponsors to reach a coveted audience.   

As it turns out, the same logic can apply to social media. On Bad Rhino’s Rumblings blog, social media strategist Ryan Bright cites a fascinating example of social media monetization pursued by the New Jersey Devils hockey team. 

The effort can be divided into two parts: audience building and partnerships. The Devils recruited a group of die-hard fans, dubbed them the Devils Army Generals, and let them loose on social media, blogging, arranging tweet-ups, responding to fan queries and generally building excitement online. The result was over 70,000 new Facebook “Likes” and 1000 new Twitter followers—in one month!

Monetizing social media

With the audience in place, the team could go to marketers with partnership proposals. Advertisers sponsor online fantasy games, contests and other fan happenings. “They do not post sponsored Tweets or posts of any sort, shielding their fans from a marketing onslaught,” Bright notes. “It’s pure, it’s thoughtful and most of all — it works.”

Does it ever. The team has realized $500,000 in new revenue so far and expects the effort to bring in $2 million in its second year.

Just as crowds gathered for a sporting event can spell advertising gold, so can virtual crowds rallying around a team on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms. This revenue channel is sure to grow and holds great potential for any venture that relies on sponsorship dollars.     
  

September 30, 2014

4x3 Ideas

Like anything worth doing in life, successful content marketing doesn’t just happen—you’ve got to put in the effort. More than this, you’ve got to have a strategy. Good intentions alone will not bring attention to your business or organization. 

As I pointed out last week, simply having a presence on the Web will not do much for your business if you do not actively market yourself online. It’s kind of like the difference between putting a business card on the billboard of a campus student center and setting up a table where you hand out information, incentives and attention grabbers (soft pretzels, anyone?). Sure, a few billboard browsers might lay eyes on your card, but not many. And of those, how many will actually care?

Good SEO Practice

This is why reaching out to audiences through social media, e-newsletters and good SEO practices is so important. You want people to find you when they are looking for what you offer, and stick with you once they do. Frequent posts on your website/social media and “push” marketing to subscribers and followers is central to this effort, and that usually means having a dedicated individual whose job it is to keep information fresh, send out updates and offer incentives. 

No business or organization is too small, too narrowly focused or too “low tech” to dedicate resources to this effort. Just making a vague resolution to have people in your organization post, tweet or share content as needed will not cut it. Not only will the content marketing not consistently happen, it can lead to confusion and contradictions in messaging. 

In a nutshell: make a plan, and anoint an individual or team leader to execute it. Done right, your content marketing will bring the eyes, hands and dollars you need to achieve success—with or without the soft pretzels. 

September 24, 2014
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4x3 Ideas

The thing about search engine optimization is ... if you are capable of sound reasoning that is ... it all makes perfect logical sense. 4x3 does it. We really do understand it.

I realize that makes it easier for us, but do not let anyone tell you it's rocket science. It is not.

Big Blue Toy Monster

Think of searching on Google just as you know searching on Google - nothing more. Don't over complicate it. Don't over think it. If you are searching for a "big blue toy monster" you want to get results that are all of big and blue and toy and monster. In turn, create your page to talk about big and blue and toy and monster. Nothing more, nothing less. Don't choke the page with keywords. Just write about the search phrase.

Getting to the Top of Google

I will say, you need to be leery of the "we'll put you at the top of Google" promotions. What the heck is the top of Google anyway?

I guarantee you that a week from now I will be at the top of Google for the phrase "big blue toy monster" -- guaranteed. I'll be at the top because I am creating a page that talks about big and blue and toy and monster and, if you think of it, who really talks about big blue toy monsters anyway? So no one talks about it, no one posts pages about it, so I'm feeling confident that I'll be "at the top of Google." There's lots of toy monsters, but there's less big blue ones. My title - an H1 tag - has big blue toy monster in it. I've added a sub-title - an H2 tag - with big blue toy monster in it. And I'm writing specifically about big and blue and toy and monster.

So the promotion will put you at the "top of Google" for some pay-per-click phrase that you pay for dearly or an organic phrase that is too long and unfocused from your objective. By the way, if you are selling big blue toy monsters -- watch out! I'm climbing the SEO mountain as you read.

Tagging, phrasing, focusing and submitting the Big Blue Toy Monster

So yes there is tagging and phrasing and focusing and submitting that helps get you to the top, but simply craft your content marketing message on your webpage to be specific and clear and focused and direct and you're more than half the way there.

September 9, 2014
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4x3 Ideas

The 1st Annual Odessa Brewfest was a huge success in my book. The festival fulfilled its promise—great beer, food and music in a beautiful setting with lots of positive vibes and a party atmosphere. It was a truly unique event and a great fundraiser for the Historic Odessa Foundation

The Brewbracket Promotion

If you’ve been following this blog you know about our field-of-64 brewbracket promotion, which has been going on since May. We put 64 different beers on the hot seat (all from breweries attending the fest) and promoted the contest extensively through Facebook, Twitter, an e-newsletter and direct contact with brewers. 

The result was a consistent level of social media engagement, non-stop event promotion and excitement as we narrowed the field down to the last few competitors. The Final Four round in the brewbracket hit new heights of audience engagement with over 65 votes on Facebook alone

At the festival itself, we offered brewery giveaways for attendees who voted in the contest or “liked” the brewfest Facebook page. The feedback, both online and in person, was nearly universally positive. 

We certainly enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot. Looking forward to Odessa Brewfest 2015!

September 8, 2014

4x3 Ideas

The Odessa Brewfest is coming to the historic village of Odessa, Del. on Sept. 6, but we at 4x3 have been pretty heavily invested in the event for a while. Back in April, we launched the brewfest website, which is very cool (props to Web designer Rachel Schmitz).

Content Marketing: the brewbracket

One of the best things about the site is the brewbracket, an online contest in which we promote beers and brewers coming to the festival. Dozens of beers have been “matched” and promoted on Twitter and Facebook, where we encourage followers to use hashtags to vote for their favorites and share the posts with their friends. It’s proven a great way to drive interactions on social media and traffic back to the website.

While the contest is still going on, and we expect participation and site visits to really explode as the festival draws near, we’ve already noticed some interesting things about the Brewbracket promotion.

Social Media Marketing

It works best when we can get brewers excited and engaged. Even though the festival has over 600 Facebook “Likes” and 242 followers on Twitter, posts retweeted and shared by brewers have more impact than responses from individuals when it comes to drumming up activity. A social media post in late June picked up and promoted by a brewer in Maine led to a 100% jump in site visits compared to the day before. A recent post picked up by a brewer in Delaware created at 64% jump in traffic from the previous day.

The lesson is that, while incrementally gaining Twitter followers and Facebook fans is always important, getting vendors or clients to promote your posts is a really big deal. Social media strategies built to encourage these interactions will give you the biggest “bang for your buck” if you are investing time and resources into social media marketing.

Jim Sturdivant is 4x3's content marketer and SEO copywriter

August 7, 2014

4x3 News

4x3 welcomes two new employees to support our growing list of new clients and ongoing client relationships.

Rachel Schmitz, Junior Graphic Designer

Rachel Schmitz as the most recent addition to our team as a Junior Graphic Designer. Rachel, a 2012 graduate of Tyler School of Art at Temple University, will be utilizing her skills collaborating on both print and interactive creative projects. Rachel's passion for both design and technology are a perfect fit for 4x3.

Marti Evans, Social Media and Marketing Assistant

Marti comes to 4x3 with a strong background in business marketing and promotion and recent social media experience. Marti will be working with clients on content development, news and press as well as taking control of 4x3's social media clients.  

October 4, 2012

Website Launch

The Eastern Pennsylvania Rugby Union was one of the first content management systems to be put in place by a budding new firm called 4x3, LLC.

The CMS was a custom system designed and developed by 4x3 and owner Stephen Siano. The database, first built in 1998, is still in place on the EPRU.org website and manages union-wide mailings, match scheduling and team and contacts for the entire league.

4x3 will now, over the next couple of years, redevelop the entire system in Drupal. In the process, 4x3 is now managing the Union's Facebook and Twitter accounts for the EPRU's 180 member teams.

May 29, 2011

4x3 Ideas

This is the fourth in a five part series on social networking and your website. LinkedIn touts itself as the 'professional network'.

#4 A LinkedIn Account

5 Ways to Draw Them In to Your Website 'Socially': Part 4

Jeanne Griffith Leslie, MBA, CRPC is my financial adviser. She's also my niece ... so we chat all the time ... not always about money. As a matter of fact, the financial talk doesn't last all that long. I have three children five and under so financial conversations are about mortgage and car payments and grocery bills and how much money we've saved now that we're finished with baby food, formula and only have one left in diapers. I know we're supposed to be talking about retirement planning and the kids college fund ... it'll just have to wait a year or two. So I mention my niece because she works at a firm that doesn't allow her to Tweet or check her Facebook account at work. This is certainly the norm in many mid-size to large companies. So how can you really get into the social networking game if this is the case? LinkedIn is the professional social network of choice. If you're working for a firm - in most cases - you're going to be allowed to use the network. It used to be that if you saw someone updating their LinkedIn page, you knew they were 'looking'. But these days the smart ones are using LinkedIn to track prospects and keep in touch of the professional lives of their friends, peers, colleagues and even competitors. Let's stay with my niece, who's doing a great job by the way of 'working' LinkedIn. Because she works for a firm, she has setup a personal account and linked her present job listing to her present employer's business page. She's also been very thorough about listing her employment history and her associations, awards and her education history. Because she's done this properly, LinkedIn will periodically suggest friends and associates for her from her woking connections and schooling.

As she continues to build connections, Jeanne can add those new relationships to her professional linkedIn account.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn now has business pages. If you run your own business, you want to make sure to create a business page, upload a logo and write a comprehensive description of your business. And yes, get all of your employees to create a LinkedIn account and connect to your business page.

So, here we go ... just follow the steps and you'll have a page for yourself and, if applicable, your business in minutes ... or STOP RIGHT HERE ... and send me and email me: siano@4x3.net and I'll do it for you.

Create a LinkedIn Page for Yourself and Your Business

Step 1: Go to 4x3, LLC's LinkedIn Page

I opened a new window for you.

Step 1.1: Follow my Page.

Click the button the right side of the page: its the Follow button. This isn't really a step ... just another shameless 4x3 self promotion. After all that is the purpose of all this. You want to get people to Follow your page - follow your business and then purchase your products and/or services. Your clients benefit from your products and services and you make a profit ... Step 0.5: Clearly you may have discovered - if you weren't signed up for LinkedIn already - that you have to have an account before you can follow a business.

Step 2: Sign Up for a LinkedIn account.

Go to www.linkedin.com - you'll see the 'Join LinkedIn Today' quick form ... fill it out: name, email password - click the 'Join Now' button. You'll then be asked to confirm your account through your email.

Step 3: You're In.

Please try not to be overwhelmed by the amount of information you can fill in ... just get in the game and you are on your way. We'll talk more in another segment about the nuances of 'what, how, when and where' to make your LinkedIn experience work for you.

February 18, 2011
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This is the third in a five part series on social networking and your website.

#3 Linked In, Are you?

5 Ways to Draw Them In to Your Website 'Socially': Part 3

I have a client with over 40 employees that is not really utilizing Linked In and another with just a few who are all over it.

December 23, 2010
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This is the first in a five part series on social networking and your website. So you think you're all set and humming in Facebook. Maybe you're not as on top of it as you think.

#1 The Facebook Business Page

5 Ways to Draw Them In to Your Website 'Socially': Part 1

I went to the beach the other week - Sea Isle, NJ. It just so happens that friends of the family were staying in Ocean City. Our family trekked from Sea Isle to Ocean City on Thursday of the week's stay to visit. The story is that I haven't seen most of them since the 70s. Both of our families used to rent separate houses at the shore in Ocean City at the same time each summer. Their five and our eight hung out during the summer months. Both families are high energy so the stories - they are a many. It was a lot of fun to see them and my Mom especially enjoyed seeing her old friend after so many years.

When we returned to Sea Isle that evening, I showed my Mom how I was about to 'friend' the girl that I knew from their family with my iPhone. Turns out Ellen has her own business (Bare Bones Biz), so I showed my Mom the steps to buy one of the books she had written through her website with my phone. My Mom is in her eighties. She remembers going to the beach in the 30s. She remembers watching the radio. By the time I checked out for the book purchase, Ellen and I were 'friends' on Facebook.

The Facebook phenomenon

Most of us know the Facebook phenomenon. I try not to get sucked in, but it happens. I find myself reconnecting with friends from my youth and college that I've lost track of and posting silly photos of my children for all to see. I love that my cousin I hardly see and a friend from Texas 'like' my posts and comment at how my kid's goofy face looks just like mine.

But it's the Facebook page that I'm here to talk about and help you understand. So, here we go ... just follow the steps and you'll have a page for your business in minutes ... or STOP RIGHT HERE ... and send me and email me: siano@4x3.net I'll do it for you.

Create a Facebook Page for your Business

Step 1: Go to 4x3, LLC's Facebook Page

I opened a new window for you.

Step 1.1: Like my Page.

Click the button next to the title of the page: 4x3, LLC with the thumbs up Like button. This isn't really a step ... just shameless  4x3 self promotion. After all that is the purpose of all this. You want to get people to Like your page then you can send them information about the stuff they already said they like. We'll get into that a bit more as we go ...

Step 2: Click 'Create a Page for My Business'.

Next, pick the type of page, the name and confirm you are the official representative.

Step 3: Now you're home free.

Follow the 'Welcome to your new Page. Let's get started!' I recommend all 6 steps.   

1. Upload an Image   
2. Provide some basic information   
3. Post status updates   
4. Add Like Box   
5. Set up your mobile phone   
6. Connect to Twitter (we'll get your Twitter account up in the segments to come)

August 21, 2010

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