Sophisticated marketers have a lot on their minds these days, such as developing and reaching audiences, creating consumer connections with meaningful content and campaigns, demonstrating business results — and, of course, doing it all in compliance with legal rules and guidelines.

The Federal Trade Commission recently completed an investigation into a Pinterest-based contest conducted by fashion brand Cole Haan. The contest asked participants to create Pinterest boards called “Wandering Sole” and pin five images of shoes from Cole Haan’s own board and five additional place images, all tagged #WanderingSole. The most creative entry, as judged by Cole Haan, would receive a $1,000 shopping spree.

In a public letter to Cole Haan’s counsel, the FTC expressed concern that the re-pinning of product merchandise without a clear indicator that the pins constituted a contest entry may have violated Section 5 of the FTC Act, which “requires the disclosure of a material connection between a marketer and an endorser when their relationship is not otherwise apparent from the context of the communication that contains the endorsement.”

The FTC chose not to pursue any action against Cole Haan, but the incident has raised questions in the minds of savvy social marketers. (read more…)

4SDIt’s been an exciting year for Foursquare. On the heels of its fifth birthday (March 11, in case you want to send a present), CEO Dennis Crowley announced that revenues grew by 600% in 2013 and 500% the first quarter of 2014, and its now home to 45 million users.

Fueled by B2B relationships and people with a love for local, Foursquare did not do this alone. On Wednesday, April 16, people around the world celebrate Foursquare Day, a grassroots movement celebrating local communities, ideas and people. Starting in Tampa, Fla., in 2010, Foursquare Day was created by Nate Bonilla-Warford, an optometrist and local business owner. Nate, a numbers guy and Pi Day celebrator, pointed out that 42 = 16, and proposed that April 16 should be known as Foursquare Day. With the help of an independent group of Tampa social media nerds, on March 26, Foursquare made it official with a tweet. (read more…)

A social media presence isn’t just nice for a wealth management firm to have, it is now vital to the business, Clara Shih, founder and CEO of Hearsay Social, a social media marketing software maker, told the audience at SIFMA’s Private Client Conference last week in New York City.

“The world has gone social and mobile,” Shih said. Ninety-eight percent of U.S. Internet users belong to a social network, with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn being the most important social networks for advisers, she said.

These tools help advisers to stay in touch with clients and keep their business top of mind. Ultimately, online signals can lead to offline conversations and a striking social media presence is as important as being listed in the Yellow Pages used to be, Shih said.

But social media is more than a marketing tool. It allows advisers to see the life events of clients that trigger financial decisions, such as getting married, having a baby or buying a home. (read more…)

We all know social media sites like Facebook and Twitter are some of the best marketing tools for a business. But what happens when tweets go wrong?

Even though you want tweets to look effortless, each one of them should be well thought-out. You want to look at a Twitter campaign from every possible angle and get the opinions of others before it goes live.

The following companies may have had the best of intentions, but their tweets will forever be known as some of the most epic social media fails.

1. AT&T uses a tragedy to sell phones

On the anniversary of 9/11, AT&T tweeted a photo of one their smartphones in front of the New York skyline, with lights representing the World Trade Center. The caption read, “Never Forget.” Americans’ have not forgotten the tragedy and they certainly do not appreciate a company exploiting that tragic event by utilizing product placement in a tweet meant to commemorate 9/11. (read more…)

We know two things about millennials: They will soon have record-breaking purchasing power, and they spend tons of time with content created by their peers, otherwise known as UGC (user-generated content).

What we didn’t know was how much time they spend with UGC and how they feel about it. That is, until now.

In January, Ipsos MediaCT, Crowdtap and the Social Media Advertising Consortium partnered to survey 839 millennial (18 to 36 years old) men and women. The study explored millennials’ media consumption habits, how they perceive information from various sources and how these same media sources impact purchasing decisions.

Here are 5 key data points that might surprise you:

1) They spend mind-blowing amounts of time with media. In aggregate, millennials spend roughly 18 hours (not mutually exclusive) with different types of media per day. This often includes viewing multiple devices at once. If this surprises you, you’re not alone, but their media adds up when they’re simultaneously checking their phones, letting their computer screen glow, listening to radio and glancing up at the TV. (read more…)