We put products with celebrities to create the buzz behind celebrity culture. With 25,000 celebrity photos we are the world's leading product placement company.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hollywood Awards Season has Hundreds of Companies Wasting Money on Gift Suites

Social Hill, the nations' leading direct product placement company, has made radical changes to the celebrity gift suite industry after extensive research into the fundamentals that have been failing brand managers for years.
Hundreds of brand managers and publicists will participate in gift suites over the coming months, only to find them to be a complete waste of time and money. The very fundamentals of gift suites fail the results-oriented brand manager. Social Hill has researched and rebuilt the process from a brand manager’s perspective with brand building as the primary focus.

Hollywood gift suites have become nearly as famous as the events they surround. The 2012 Awards season starts in January with the Golden Globes, and is followed by the Screen Actors Guild Awards, Grammys and finally at the end of February, the Oscars. Dozens of meeting rooms in local hotels will be rented out to hold exclusive gift suites for the stars. 

The promise of the gift suite seems to make sense: Hundreds of celebrities will come and meet with dozens of companies and get free products. Expectations of Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry coming to get the latest and greatest products is irresistible to brand managers. The companies will benefit from the “unofficial endorsement” of the celebrity as the mass media (or social media) distribute images of the celebrity with the new brands. This is called “Celebrity Association”. In mathematics it is called “The transitive property of equality” which means If A=B and B=C then A=C. With celebrity association it is more like; If people like a celebrity, and a celebrity likes your brand, then people will like your brand. This is powerful marketing and that is why hundreds of companies participate in gift suites each year.

It is too bad that over 90% of them will never participate in a gift suite after trying it once. Of the remaining 10% who will give it another try only 3% will move on to a third gift suite. Bob Olejar of Social Hill has been evaluating this business for the past decade and states “We have looked at the product lists from all the major suites over the past few years and called the brand managers for feedback after the events. The comments we get range from disappointment, frustration and many accusations of fraud.”

Gift suites fail for brand managers on all levels. They fail the basic requirements for celebrity association. Hollywood gift suites fail at their fundamental structure. Here are the shocking quick facts:
  •     Although 200 guests attend an typical gift suite only 2 of them will be celebrities

  •     Pictures of celebrities at a tradeshow style booth have no PR value

  •     Pictures of celebrities on a red carpet with dozens of logos behind them have no PR value
Social Hill has taken this research very seriously and has completely redesigned the gifting business from the perspective of a brand manager. “Direct Product Placement with a celebrity is the goal of a brand manager, not gifting” says Olejar. We still have a red carpet photo, but our press walls only have the logo of one brand. One celebrity in a photo with one brand creates celebrity association. We also don’t take any tradeshow style photos. We have an interior designed photo studio for celebrities to take organic photographs with their favorite products. Organic photos create celebrity association.
The gifting business is dying due to the emergence of results-oriented brand managers and publicists. Direct celebrity product placement is the future for the industry and it is the current business model for Social Hill.

Celebrities and Social Hill keeping animals warm this winter

Social Hill, Hollywood’s most exclusive celebrity product lounge is pleased to announce the sponsorship of the animal charity, Operation Blankets of Love for the month of December. Bob Olejar, CEO of Social Hill states, “Social Hill supports a different charity every month and we are thrilled to be able to do something to help shelter animals for the month of December.”

Social Hill’s celebrity lounge is focusing on the plight of stray animals this holiday season by working with Operation Blankets of love and the Los Angeles celebrity community. Social Hill and celebrity animal lovers are teaming up to change the lives of thousands of shelter animals this holiday season. Operation Blankets of Love is featured in conjunction with this year’s holiday pet portrait lounge at the Social Hill show room for the month of December.

When animals are displaced and end up in shelters with cold empty cages they become withdrawn and depressed. Operation Blankets of Love donates blankets, toys, and other supplies to animal shelters across California in an effort to drastically improve the animals’ conditions. With shelters overcrowding and an increasing number of animals being euthanized, it is important to increase animal adoption. The comfort a simple blanket and toy brings to an animal in an empty concrete cage, lifts its spirit, mood and health, making it a desirable and adoptable pet. 

Celebrities such as Gabourey Sidibe, Pamela Anderson, Cody Simpson and Vernon Davis all participated in raising money and awareness for this cause.
Social Hill works with a different charity every month to raise awareness in the celebrity community, in turn, raising awareness within the public. For information on charity sponsorship, visit http://www.socialhill.com. For additional information, drop off locations or to donate directly to Operation Blankets of Love, visit http://www.operationblanketsoflove.com.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The 5 Golden Rules of Facebook Branding

Similarly to corporate web pages fifteen years ago, social networking is that business device that everyone knows they need to use, but not sure how to use.  Unfortunately, there is a very low barrier to entry with social networking, so most companies find the one person in-house that knows just a little more than everyone else, and counts on that person to launch a proper social networking campaign.  We see it over and over, so we have put together a short list of the Golden Rules that we feel are essential for effective Facebook Branding:

  1. Learn from the best brands and before you start, get all aspects of your Facebook page ready to roll. Generally, a business will fill out the info, add some photos, post up a square logo and off they go.  But take a look at how great brands do it, and give yourself a full checklist by comparing your Facebook Page to theirs--  Why don't we have a long, beautiful profile image? How did they get their 5 images at the top of the page to merge so well with the overall layout and brand image? They have their other related businesses as their Featured Likes, should we do that? What sections should we have under our logo... Reviews? YouTube? Questions? Polls? Custom sections? How do we do that?  In short, know all the parts of a Facebook page and get yours maximized and ready for business before you start.
  2. Engage, be Transparent, and Interact.  Your fans are your gateway to more fans, so treat them well.  With social networking sales/marketing/customer service are all bundled into one area, and you can master them well by interacting often with fans.  It won't cost you anything but time-- use polls, ask questions, run contests, and reply to when a fan has an issue.  Transparency is one of the new buzzwords in the business world and companies that are succeeding are the ones staying on top of and in front of issues.  And remember that you grow your Facebook fan base by keeping your fans engaged, and thus hopefully getting more fans through them... let them be a part of the page to keep them interested in your brand, and your Facebook page will grow.
  3. Give back to fans.  Reward them, and this can be in many different ways.  Musicians can give early releases, Fan only printable coupons, updates to exclusive events, whatever it is, give your fans something in return for the loyalty they have shown for becoming a part of your site.  This can cost you nothing, or you can have a grand promotion, or something in between.  Whatever your approach, it is important to give back to your fans... it is through them that you will grow your Facebook page, so it is good to keep them happy.
  4. Let 'em see behind the curtain!  To be honest, most Facebook brand pages are just extensions of already existing business websites, but that just creates a redundant marketing tool that causes confusion.  The difference between your Facebook page and your business website is your network of fans, and they are an active feature of your page.  A website has value as an unbound source of company info, but your Facebook page is special in that your audience is built right into your content.  Let them be a part of your brand.  Here is an example... let's say you are a fashion company, and you have a very slick website with some professionally made promotional videos.  Yes, it is fine to also bring those over, probably in the format of a YouTube app that just gets all of your videos automatically.  However, your fans will be far more engaged if you make them feel more a part of the business... do some "behind the scenes" videos recorded off of staff mobile devices, and perhaps let them see some of the ins and outs of the business.  Again, no cost, and you fully engage the fans and are providing real value in being a part of your Facebook page.
  5. Sell and/or Advertise on Facebook.  If you have worked hard to build up a loyal and ever-expanding fan base, you would be missing a huge opportunity not to sell you products and/or advertise on Facebook.  Building a store on Facebook has huge advantages--- word of mouth can be instant among your fans that buy products on your Facebook page and they in turn will become like a mini-sales team utilizing the greatest tool of social networking-- transitive trust.  Facebook ads are "hyper-targeted" so you can hit exactly the type of potential customers that you deem worthy, and are beyond compare to traditional spray and pray sales and marketing campaigns.
Facebook is where the customers are at, and utilizing the power of the network of fans and friends is what will separate business over the next decade.  Businesses that understand how to use their Facebook page and other social networking tools will be the ones standing in all of the tremendously saturated markets that exist in each business environment, and using these 5 rules will go a long way in building an efficient social networking plan.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Brand Acceptance: Bearpaw gains traction

Something magical happens to a brand when they become accepted into the celebrity culture of America…they become a topic of conversation for the entire culture of America.  For the last 130 years our western culture has experienced mass media through magazines, radio, movies, television and now the Internet.

The goal of every brand is to gain acceptance by the American consumer.  To gain acceptance, brands need to first get their attention. Brands need to be a topic of conversation. If you get people talking, they will take a look at your product. Building the buzz on a product is the goal, and there is no better way to get people talking than associating a brand with celebrities.

Bearpaw is the perfect example of how a great brand does everything right.

Social Hill has worked with Bearpaw for the past 2 years. We have a simple goal: We introduce celebrities to the Bearpaw product line and get them to try on a pair or two.  It is not complicated, educate them first and let them try it for themselves. It is a simple strategy that works when the product is good enough to meet the standards of celebrities who have access to any product they desire. Once they try on a pair of Bearpaw boots they want them and then the buzz begins.

Celebrities are wearing these boots night and day. You might have thought that sheepskin shoes and boots would be a fashion faux pas in the summer months, but numerous celebrities are starting a new trend and sporting their Bearpaw footwear year-round. Country singer Gretchen Wilson, actresses Shannon Elizabeth and Jennifer Love Hewitt, and singers Jordin Sparks and Crystal Bowersox have all become fans of Bearpaw. Karina Smirnoff from Dancing with the Stars has even worked with the brand to design her own boot. Lacey Schwimmer, Chelsea Kane, Brandy, Debby Ryan, Tim Duncan, Taboo (Black Eyed Peas) and Romeo are wearing Bearpaw’s regularly.  

The press has also noticed. The brand is appearing in all the major celebrity magazines like People, OK, US Weekly and Star. They have been on multiple television shows like TMZ, Dancing with the Stars and even Jersey Shore. The pictures of celebrities in Bearpaw’s are all over Twitter and Facebook.  

Bearpaw is actively spreading the word about celebrities wearing its footwear. Social media is where the buzz of celebrity culture thrives. Consumers are talking about brands in social media and Bearpaw gives them plenty to talk about. Bearpaw is a topic of thousands of social media conversations and that translates to an explosion in sales.  As we talked about in an earlier post, the quality of the Bearpaw brand is building an exponentially spreading "trust" from consumer to potential new consumer, the basis of all social networking sales.

Start the buzz. Spread the word. Generate interest. Gain acceptance. Now your brand is a hit. Bearpaw is the perfect example.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Facebook Fan Pages vs. Websites

Facebook Fan Pages vs. Websites

The traditional web page may have peaked as to its level of importance with the recent explosion of social networking tools.  This is not to say that the company website has lost its purpose, but it rather has drifted into the grouping of traditional marketing tools that offer only an A to B knowledge transfer.  What is that?  Well, let's look at it in contrast to social networking tools.

First, we need to acknowledge that the overall trust in business and brands is very low.  This could very well be unfair, as many business and traditional advertisements are lumped in with current events such as Enron, ponzi schemes, government bailouts, recalls, etc.  Whether fair or not isn't important, it is just the reality.  Therefore, when businesses simply use this A to B method of "telling" customers to trust them and that their products have quality and that their business is valid, it has only a limited effect.

So why do social networking tools such as Facebook fan pages have more validity?  The answer lies in the concept of "transitive trust".  Transitive trust is simple and ancient- if I trust a person's opinion on a certain topic, and that person trusts a certain product, I therefore gain a certain level of trust for that product.

Facebook and other social networking sites work off of this premise.  A brand puts itself out there, and displays info, and gathers an initial base of "fans".  This could be current customers, friends, etc.  The idea is to build upon those fans' fans.  It's a slow exponential growth, but one that very much fits into free market concepts of survival of the fittest.  The brands that are most transparent, engage customers, deal with issues promptly and fairly, offer quality products and reasonable prices, and so on, will theoretically succeed because basically the word will spread within the network for that brand.

Saying all that, it is not a magic bullet solution.  Billboard type marketing materials such as websites still have a lot of value in that they can display rich data about the company and its brands.  Facebook is an excellent tool to build the brand, but other tools such as a microblog like Twitter is excellent for quickly getting exposure to many fans, and blogs such as Blogspot offer integration of more robust content.

Finally, it is important to understand that every brand is different.  When a company first engages in a social networking plan, they should determine what is the value proposition of their products.  For a fashion company this could be "how does it make me look?" and "what celebrities like this brand?".  Both of these can be answered on the highest layer of content with product images and celebrity images with the brand.  For a company that offers technical training, let's say, the value proposition is different in that the quality of the brand is not as superficial.  For this type of company testimonials from past clients, current customers, and some more detailed product info will be needed.  Each company is different and a plan should be made before moving forward.

At Social Hill, we first determine how social networking can benefit each customer and build a plan around those needs.  There are thousands of excellent Facebook apps, Twitter tools, blog configurations, and a set of the most appropriate is organized for each brand.