These last couple weeks have been some of the most amazing (and crazy busy) since we started the agency over 4 years ago. On Monday, we launched the #TornadoWeek campaign with The Weather Channel and it has been a whirlwind every second since (pun intended). With mentions from Mashable, The Huffington Post and appearances on the TODAY Show – this really is a dream come true for the entire team (and our amazing counterparts over at TWC!)
You’ve heard the buzz around #TornadoWeek… Every tweet of the #TornadoWeek hashtag raises the scale – once it hits certain milestones, another fan goes on. Weather Channel interns* are staffing the office all week, with special guests including The Weather Channel’s favorite on-camera personalities and hosts! Once the chart hits 1,000,000 tweets, we’ve got an EF-5 tornado on our hands! Not to mention users can also chat live with the interns using the @TornadoWeek handle! See the live video below:
The Weather Channel approached Vert looking for an idea to generate excitement and tune-in for their original programming during Tornado Week. Why not harness the power of Twitter, we thought, to recreate the power of a tornado? But the fields of Kansas wouldn’t do for a setting – so we brought in some interns and setup shop in their studio for the week.
The Vert team built the entire Twitter hashtag tracker and corresponding Enhanced Fujita scale in a matter of days. We are pinging the Twitter API every few seconds and archiving the tweets on our local server so that everytime a user joins – they get the most recent figure. Our social messaging team lead the overall strategy and has collaborated with what seems like the entire TWC staff to make @TornadoWeek come to life. Thanks to everyone at The Weather Channel for letting us run with such an awesomely fun idea, and for providing some very high quality indoor-storm-chasing cameras and ridiculously entertaining on-air meteorologists (we’re looking at you @malkoff)
*no interns were harmed in the making of this video. Protective eyewear and kites available as needed.
If we had an advice column, or an “Ask Vert” button somewhere on here, one of our loyal readers might write to us something along the following lines:
I run a small business and was thinking I should start a blog, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it. You see, I could either add a blog to my website, or create a standalone blog with a totally separate URL. I hear there are benefits to both. What should I do?
In response, we might write back something like this:
Dear Future Blogger, and future bloggers of America,
Your desire to take up the noble art of blogging is an honorable one. A blog can really help your business when done right, especially if you keep it alive with consistent, fresh content. But for starters, you need to decide where your blog will live. While some businesses keep their blog on the company website (see: http://www.vertmob.com/blog/), others opt for a standalone blog with its own URL. There are benefits to both, depending on your brand and what you want to say on your blog.
Pros: A standalone blog is great if you want to focus on a specific topic or an area of expertise that your business specializes in. Not only will you get added SEO benefits from the use and repetition of certain relevant keywords, but your blog will gain authority in the blogosphere if it is more focused (assuming, of course, that there is interesting, well-written content). Furthermore, as blogging expert Jennifer Bourn points out, a separate blogsite allows you to optimize content for two website listings with your brand name on them, both of which can show up in search engine results and strengthen brand awareness. However, maintaining two sites is doubly time consuming and often doubly expensive; which brings me to the cons…
Cons: It’s more difficult and expensive to manage two websites. It can be confusing for people who want to interact with you, but aren’t sure which website is best to reach you at. Lastly, it can be confusing for you to have to remember to renew two domains instead of one, as well as an additional username/password combination (did that last point make me sound lazy?).
Adding a blog to your website (Integrated blog):
Pros: It’s neat and easy for users to find and interact with you on one site. The creation of the blog is simple as the design of your website is already complete. One site keeps readers focused and allows for more direct sales action points and brand exposure. Furthermore, when you update your blog with fresh content, you are getting SEO benefits to your company’s site, which you probably don’t update on a regular basis. The more visitors you attract to your blog/company website, the higher your site will place in search rankings. Lastly, the URL of each of your blog posts will match the URL of your website and will probably have your brand’s name somewhere in there. This helps build backlinks to your site when other people share your content, and is therefore better for search rankings.
Cons: see “Pros” of standalone blogs above.
So which is better?
In response to typical small business owners, like the one mentioned above, we would most likely recommend adding a blog to your website rather than creating a standalone blog. Visitors to the blog articles will boost the core website’s analytics and cause your site to move up in search results. An integrated blog matches the goal of most small businesses, which is to get more brand exposure and sell their product/service. Plus, it is simply much easier (and cheaper) to manage one site instead of two.
For a larger, more established organization that wantd to break into a niche market, we might recommend creating a standalone blog. This blog can focus on specialized keywords to reach the top of search results in a specific topic more quickly. Backlinks from this standalone blog to the main site would help move up the main site in the search results for those keywords.
While there are advantages and disadvantages to both standalone blogs and integrated blogs, ultimately you have to decide what works best for you and your company. Remember to take into consideration how much money you want to shell out, along with the amount of time and resources you can dedicate to the blog.
Good luck with your blogging, and feel free to let us know if you have any questions or blog-related tips to add in the comments section!
DISCLAIMER: For the purposes of this blog post about blogs (don’t worry, the irony was not lost on me) we have invented an imaginary person with an imaginary issue to address. This narrative style should not be taken to represent the overall mental health or stability of the Vert staff.
We’ve made our list and checked it twice – this is what the Vert team wants for Christmas!
Michael: To make sure my eyes stay “young” – I’d love to replace my current 21 inch monitor with this gift from Santa: With this 90 inch LCD screen, all my tweets, Facebook photos, emails and Podio tasks would be 4 times larger!
Lauren: The cookbook of the FUTURE! I want this Ferran Adrià cooking app cooking app because it’s the perfect combination of technology and fine dining – two of my favorite things!
Rachel: I would like Santa to bring Vert a treadmill desk so we can get exercise while we work. I’m told it’s good for you. Besides, this guy gives it a thumbs up!
- Nest thermostat – this intelligent thermostat saves energy AND it can be controlled by your iPhone.
- Jawbone Up: Tracks your daily activity (steps taken, distance, calories burned, speed) and inspires you to live healthier. It also tracks your sleep quality, and has all kinds of fun challenges and social applications to make your healthy lifestyle more fun!
- Lytro camera – Captures a light field rather than a photo allowing you to focus on anything in the picture after you’ve taken it.
- Nifty Minidrive: SD card holder that fits flush with your MacBook. It micro SD cards so you can add lots of hard drive space without having anything sticking out of your computer.
- The Form 1 3D Printer
- Oculus VR Headset for gamers – super geeky! But kind of cool.
- Twine: It’s like IFTTT.com, but in the real world. The box detects something like a temperature change then can send out a tweet or email.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of presenting and leading a discussion with a room full of about 75 smart, engaged social media professionals at Digital Atlanta. What did we talk about? Professionalism… While my slides weren’t the most professional, the discussion it spurred was exactly what I had hoped to ignite. This is the continuation of that discussion…
The Premise: Social media has grown up way to quickly and largely unchecked as an industry. Do we need an official structure to transform ourselves into a true profession? Based on wikipiedia’s definition, we collaboratively identified the parameters that would potentially achieve this:
o At LEAST one year of experience/ 2-3 years ideal
o Notable PR/journalism & writing experience
o At least one year of hands-on brand/organization experience
o Proven ability to link the real world with digital world (i.e. event)
o Established understanding of how analytics, mobile, integrated digital
EDUCATION, APPRENTICESHIP & EXAMS
o Hands-on training/mentorship under an established digital brand expert
o College degree or 4 years of related experience
o Credential examinations (brand, analytics, SEO, writing) administered by regulatory body (below)
o Continuing education through seminars and workshops – 20 hrs/ half year
o Produced a mentor-guided white-paper/case-study/capstone project
o IEEE caliber organization (global scope)
o Must oversee and regulate seminars, events, exams, etc on a regular basis
o Must have ability to penalize organizations and/or levy fines
o Should not be specifically tied to a government or corporate entity
o Made up of representatives from lawmakers, professionals, educators, social media publishers/vendors, members from related associations
o Publish quarterly social media guidelines “handbook” (equivalent of AP Styleguide)
After putting all these thoughts together – we switched the tides and attempted to discredit all of this thinking. Ultimately we came to a few main conclusions:
- Some sort of validation is needed for our industry
- “Social Media” may be too limiting of a term (perhaps “Digital Communications” instead)
- Systems should not be EXCLUSIONARY to other participants
Ultimately, I am thrilled with how it turned out and have each and every one of you who participated to thank. Please continue the discussion in the comments below… This is an important topic worth our time and attention and I look forward to bringing these ideas to some of the real movers and shakers of our digital industry.
Intern With Many Hats
I may or may not be Vert’s only intern right now, but I think that puts me in the running for intern of the week. Here’s a little bit about myself: I am a runner, reader, writer, and shark enthusiast. I recently graduated from Emory University where I ran Cross Country and Track (Go Eagles!) and majored in English-Creative Writing. I minored in “Science, Culture, and Society”, an Interdisciplinary Studies topic that is as vague as it sounds, and worked on Emory’s coolest student-run magazine, Generation Response.
“Keep your words soft and tender because someday you may have to eat them”
What I Do At Vert:
I hardly know yet, it’s only my second day, but whatever it is I’m going to rock it! As a Vert intern I pledge to support the Vert team wherever it needs a hand or two, and I plan on learning some stuff along the way.
Interesting Facts About Me:
I have an identical twin sister named Lauren (how creepy is that) and one of my many ambitions is to bring back the fanny pack. You can find me on YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Foursquare, and you might even be able to find my personal blog, which is kind of embarrassing but it’s out there if you want to read it. I also write and edit the Center for Gulf Coast Sustainability’s blog www.gulfcoastblog.org, just for kicks.
I’m excited to be joining the Vert team and I am really looking forward to my third day!
Rachel (not Lauren) Borrelli
On June 8th we added an awesome new member to the Vert team. Here is a little introduction written by our newest #Vertbag!
Digital Production Architect
Snowboarding, video games, playing fetch with his dog.
Music on iPod
Cage the Elephant, Everclear, White Stripes
Make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.
Favorite TV shows
Psych, Game of Thrones, How I met Your Mother, Once Upon a Time
I know you’re excited to meet the newest Vertbag so here is a little info about myself..
I am a film and digital developer with a passion for everything social. I graduated from UGA with the New Media Certificate and a degree in Telecommunications . My technical expertise is in video editing and web development. I enjoy learning new programs and love being involved in anything innovative.
Why I joined Vert?
Who doesn’t want to work for a company where they can be themselves? This is one of the main reasons why I joined Vert. I wanted to work with like-minded people that enjoyed technology, learning and really loved what they do. I love the startup/small-team space. You get the freedom to do a little bit of everything. It certainly keeps things interesting when you are doing something different everyday rather than the same task over and over.
What EXACTLY do I do?
You may ask, so what does a “Digital Production Architect” do? Well, let me explain. I’m involved in virtually all Vert creative technology project’s planning, management and execution – hence the “architect” part. I will be doing a lot of research, implementation strategy, site mapping, user experience planning, product testing, and some tangible creative + front-end development for most all mobile and social projects.
Wanna get social?
Of course you can connect with me. You can’t work for a company that specializes in social and mobile without a love for social media. I’m involved in almost every social application you can think of, but the best places to really get to know me and connect is through Twitter and Pinterest. What!? A guy is on Pinterest?! Yes, I am and I post some really awesome stuff too. So check it out!
Also, I have my own personal Tumblr blog titled “Things I Preach.” No, it isn’t about religion. It’s about the things I talk about, love, and enjoy so much that I try to spread the word every chance I get. If you’re interested you can follow that as well!
- Justin (Digital Badass) Dambach
For the first 3 years of Vert’s existence we always shrugged off industry awards. Too many hoops to jump through when we wanted to focus on our client’s needs – not our own. Finally, with a team of 6 stellar Vertbags (our little nickname for ourselves) we finally had the time for a little self-love. When we saw the “Most Effective Local Campaign” category for the 2012 Atlanta Interactive Marketing Association Awards we knew we could give it a go.
Last year (2011), we had the opportunity to completely transform the digital footprint of one of the southeasts most beloved brands – Taco Mac. Led by myself and the talented Lauren Leschper, we crafted a locally focused campaign across social media, mobile, and digital platforms. The results were astounding to our client and we even impressed ourselves a little bit (not to brag). You can view the award entry with all the work and results on Facebook: Vert’s Digital + Social + Mobile = Local Taco Mac Campaign.
With all that said, it is a testament to the ENTIRE Vert team that we are able to revel in the success of our past work. Without everyone working together, ensuring our client work continued to shine, and spending some time on our own interests – this wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks to everyone at AiMA for their dedication to the digital marketing space in Atlanta. Thanks to all of the Vertbags. But most importantly, thanks to our client – Taco Mac - for giving us their trust, their ideas, and of course their budget, to make this a success for the brand, its customers, patrons, owners, stakeholders and even it’s digital marketing agency.
- Kevin Planovsky
@kplanovsky on Twitter
Well, the madness of all the people, sessions, parties, and free stuff is over. We’ll never know how we did it all – my only explanation is pure excitement and adrenaline – either way, hopefully this will give you a taste of what it was like. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to sensory overload withdrawal since landing back in ATL, but by reflecting on the past 5 days I came up with the following list of 30 things I accomplished at SxSWi 2012:
- Never let my phone die, the entire weekend!
- Landed a solid meeting with a fortune 1000 company
- Met Brian Solis
- Saw Dennis Crowley, Sean Parker, Guy Kawasaki, and Al Gore speak
- Surpassed Carl Black in Foursquare points
- Only paid for 4 total meals over 5 days
- Rocked out at Third Eye Blind courtesy of Aetna
- Walked approximately 12.4 miles (4.6 of them in the rain)
- Hands-on learning with the new Lytro camera
- Acquired approximately $256.00 in free swag
- Learned a ton about Law+ Social Media
- Was hit with epiphanies and countless “ah-hah” moments
- Talked to @KeyInfluencer (James Andrews) for 30 seconds
- Had a most delicious “fried avocado” taco from Torchy’s
- Met Robert Scoble on the Trade Show floor
- Heard the word “startup” approximately 384 times
- Added roughly 16 new LinkedIn connections (connect with me)
- Listened to GroupMe, MTV, GetGlue and others talk about “Viewers as Users”
- Checked in on FourSquare approximately 34 times (earning 8 badges)
- Found out about the new Nike Fuel band (and help @MattiGriffin score)
- Captured a video demo of Aurasma (YouTube link coming soon!)
- Met & conversed with approximately 82 new people
- Shamelessly pimped out @vertmob whenever prudent
- “Coaxed” our way into 3 VIP parties we were not on the list for
- Made my first “Photobooth Flipbook” courtesy of Vitrue
- “Caught A Chevy” for a ride we didn’t even need
- Lost at least 16 hours of would-be sleep over 5 days
- Enjoyed about 20 tasty adult beverages on sponsors’ dimes
- Discussed the potential of “Brands as API”
- Had entirely too much fun for it to be classified as “work”
Time to book hotels for next year… see you all on SoCo in 2013!
p.s. LIKE Vert on Facebook for the photos we will be uploading soon!
It was a banner (not the internet kind) year for Vert and we have all of our clients, partners and friends to thank. Here’s to you and yours as we ring in the new year with true digital style… Get ready, 2012 will be another year of unprecedented mobile & social growth!
Wishing you much rest, relaxation and blessings this season…
The Vert Team
Now with over 10 million users and apps on iPhones, Symbian, Android, webOS, WIndows Phone 7 and Blackberry devices, I think it’s safe to say that Foursquare, the location based social networking tool, is here to stay. At least President Barack Obama thinks so, since he recently joined on August 8, 2011.
But Foursquare is more than just “checking in” at your location, getting badges (whatever those really mean) and becoming mayor (I’m currently the mayor of Vert…just sayin’). It has grown its capabilities to include
tips, specials, business pages and most recently, the ability to check in to events.
The communication and community engagement that Foursquare facilitates is really unique. You’re able to converse with neighbors about local venues and get real reviews and advice from frequent and/or previous patrons. All that plus you can link check ins to Twitter and Facebook so that all your friends across all your networks can see where you are? Totally brilliant.
This is quickly becoming one of my most used apps, especially when trying to decide where to grab a bite. I look at places that are nearby, see if there are any worthwhile check in specials, scan the tips to assess how good or bad the service, food and price are and then I make my decision. Basically I’m letting my network of friends, the local community and deals dictate who will win my business.
Foursquare is taking location-based and social networking to the next level and I dig it. It combines all of the things I love–being social, competition (for mayorship and badges), exploring the city, deals and specials, social media and using my iPhone compulsively. If you haven’t yet, check out Foursquare. Or check in, rather. See what I did there?
Badges, Mayors, Specials, Business Pages