Words of Advice

Katherine Heigl and the tweet that could cost Duane Reade $6 million

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7th Annual Chrysalis Butterfly Ball, Private residence, Brentwood, California.

We all know that celebrities have an enormous influence on social media.

Some of the most followed people on Twitter include Katy Perry (over 52 million followers), Justin Bieber (almost 51 million), President Obama (over 42 million) and Lady Gaga (over 41 million) (view the ‘Twitter Top 100: Most Followers’ list here) and a brand can benefit from incredible exposure if a famous person tweets about them.

But brands must be careful when trying to gain exposure off the back of popular celebrities.

Last week, the movie star Katherine Heigl (star of 27 DressesThe Ugly Truth and The Big Wedding) filed a $6 million lawsuit against the drug store chain, Duane Reade, for tweeting a paparazzi image of her carrying two Duane Reade shopping bags, along with the following text: “Love a quick #DuaneReade run?  Even @KatieHeigl can’t resist shopping #NYC’s favorite drugstore.”

The complaint stated that Duane Reade “misused and misappropriated the photograph for its own commercial advertising, distributing the photo with Duane Reade’s own promotion slogans on its Twitter and Facebook accounts, all without Ms. Heigl’s knowledge or approval.”

This might initially appear outrageous… Why should someone who lives their life in the public eye expect privacy in this way?! However, it could be argued that in its tweet, Duane Reade falsely presented Heigl as a paid celebrity endorser – despite the fact that she wasn’t receiving any compensation for the use of her photograph in this way.

It will be interesting to see the verdict of this lawsuit and what it means for social media marketers. In the meantime, the Heigl incident is an important reminder to think carefully before tying celebrities into your social media content.

A safe way to gain exposure through celebrities on Twitter could be by attempting to have the right kind of conversation with them. If social media managers are timely and think carefully about the wording of their tweets, it is possible to grab the attention of influential tweeters. The Pharrell and Arby’s exchange during the Grammys 2014 is a great example:



Easy to Make Flatout Flatbread Starkist Tuna Wrap

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Today, I whipped up a tasty wrap for lunch and since it tastes so good and it’s so easy to make, I thought I’d share it!

What you’ll need:

Flatout Flatbread Recipe

1 package of Starkist Chunk Light Tuna (single serving)

1 Flatout Flatbread Light

1 Tbs. light mayonnaise

1 Tbs. sweet relish

1 hard boiled egg (optional)

1 Tbs. diced red onion

1 Tbs. freshly squeezed lemon juice

5 cherry tomatoes

Begin by mixing the tuna with the mayonnaise, relish, diced hard boiled egg, onions. 

Squeeze the juice from 1/4 of a medium sized lemon into the tuna mix. 


Spread the tuna mix on a Flatout Flatbread. 

Halve the cherry tomatoes and place them on both sides of the tuna. 


Fold one end of the Flatout up and then wrap one side of the Flatout tightly around the tuna. 




Finish rolling up and you’re ready to eat! I love eating these for lunch because they fill me up and only have about 230 calories total! 




Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight: The Social Media Response

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Every business should have a crisis management plan in place and this is especially important in the travel industry. Things can and do go wrong, sometimes very dramatically. We’ve all been gripped by the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370.

In the digital age, brands must carefully consider their social media strategy when managing a crisis. If the response is right, it can save a company’s reputation.

Malaysia Airlines may have been criticized for its handling of the incident but its social media response deserves to be credited. For example, since the plane was announced missing, the airline has dedicated its Facebook and Twitter channels to solely posting about the incident.

They have also created and are using the hashtag #MASalert in order for the general public to track the search and rescue updates. Malaysia Airlines still has a daily flight network to run but any commercial messages are off-limits for now, and rightly so.

Other simple but effective changes occurred too, including the airline quickly changing its Facebook cover photo from a message marking its ‘one year of seamless travel’ to a neutral gray cover photo:

From this…


To this…

1902052_697659126941401_918730273_n (1)

Of course, as expected, the airline’s Facebook page is overflowing with negative comments in the face of a lost airplane full of passengers. Its social media team hasn’t deleted any of the comments and this level of transparency is vital. Even in less serious circumstances it’s often better for a company to acknowledge or respond to a complaint online instead of erasing it. Brands never want to appear to be censoring their customer base.

The instant nature of social media presents an opportunity for companies to communicate quickly with their customer base during a crisis. Another example of a travel company doing this well was the UK tour operator, Inside Japan Tours, when the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011. The company used its Facebook page to provide regular information and reassurance to many of those clients due to travel to Japan in the near future. Despite the devastation caused by the disaster, many other parts of Japan were untouched and open for business – and this was an important message that needed communicating. The company also immediately established a tsunami relief fund and organized volunteering trips to the affected area.

Have you considered your business’s social media activity in the face of a crisis?

The KISS Principle and Social Media

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“Keep it simple, stupid!”

I always assumed the phrase was coined by my politically incorrect math teacher in high school, but it can actually be traced back to the U.S. Navy in the 1960’s – and I can’t blame them. Just as Apple products are favored for their ease-of-use designs, it’s easy to see why simplified weaponry is preferred over the complex. Today, the phrase is more commonly known by its acronym, KISS. And as a social media manager, those four words (or letters) resonate with me more than anything else.

Let’s be honest. Nobody creates a social media profile to be a consumer. Twitter and Facebook are not Amazon, after all. And as Francois Gossieaux puts it, “social media allows us to behave in ways that we are hardwired for in the first place – as humans. We can get frank recommendations from other humans instead of from faceless companies.”


The above shows a quintessential sales-oriented Facebook feed, precisely what Gossieaux was likely referring to when speaking about “faceless companies.” And who would want to be the face of Fry’s Electronics when all they do is carpet bomb Facebook feeds with sales? Perhaps it’s why they use a fictional caricature as their mascot? Now, there’s nothing wrong with using social media to sell products – that’s precisely why companies have an online presence in the first place! But engaging hearts and minds, not just wallets, is integral to our efforts in social media marketing. And that’s precisely where KISS comes into play.

Sometimes, a post with viral potential might be right in front of your eyes. For Starbucks, all it took was a picture of their new store in Texas:

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 12.21.55 PM

Notice how the language never instigates any form of monetary transaction? Instead, it’s all about vibrancy, and culture. Sometimes it’s just that simple.

And don’t think that simplicity is exclusive to content generation. Keep it simple and conversational when reaching out, too:


I genuinely believe that ROI potential in social media is stronger when it’s cultured, curated and conversational, not invasive. So remember to keep it simple, stupid!

Sources: Entrepreneur, Noshtopia Pheonix 

How Social Media Is Changing the Way We Travel

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I’m fascinated with all things travel and it’s one of the most perfect industries in terms of what works well online. Travel is especially social, both as a purchase and as an experience. The content often looks particularly beautiful too, illustrated by these 12 gorgeous Vine Postcards that will make you want to travel.

Vacationers typically go through five stages when planning a trip – sharing, dreaming, researching, booking and experiencing – and social media can play an important role throughout. A recent infographic found that 52% of U.S. people use social media for travel inspiration and three out of four people post vacation photos to a social network.

Travel company marketers should embrace social media like a best friend and if they don’t have a strategy in place, they are missing out on a huge opportunity.

australia 1

There are countless examples of travel companies getting it right – and it doesn’t have to be complicated. For example, Tourism Australia does an amazing job of utilizing user-generated content. Its dedicated interaction with fans 24 hours a day, means that fans now create more than 95% of content on the tourism board’s profiles, with more than 1,000 fan photos shared every day across its networks.

I like the Four Seasons’ new Pin.Pack.Go concept too – a Pinterest trip planning service that connects guests with Four Seasons local experts around the world. Users are encouraged to share pinned photos and ideas directly with Four Seasons insiders, who then help them to build and book a perfect travel itinerary.

Or, being a travel and coffee fan, I loved it when The Ritz-Carlton of Naples took to Facebook to ask its guests questions like: “How do you like your coffee?” Staff would then surprise the guest every morning by remembering how they liked their coffee, leading to great reviews for the hotel and, more importantly, more bookings!




Creating Social Media Graphics with Canva

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Having a job in social media requires me to create custom graphics on a daily basis so I was pretty thrilled when I came across, a website that boasts, “amazingly simple graphic design.” And they’re right, it is amazingly simple. It’s been about a month since the discovery of my new favorite site, and my coworkers and I are at the point where we’re creating graphics on Canva multiple times per day.


Some of Canva’s best features:

You can upload your own photos and backgrounds. I made this the other day to attract potential students to our client’s beauty school campus locations. I just uploaded the photo, inserted the text and placed the logo at the bottom.

Tricoci University

They have a tab specifically for Facebook cover photo photos. This is one of my favorite features because you don’t have to think about sizing, it’s already exact. I was able to create these cover photos for events and Facebook groups in no time:

TUBC Event Photo

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 12.01.38 PM

And Anthony created this one:

Foursquare FFC

They have TONS (literally thousands) of icons you can add to your photos. Including a streamlined group of social logos, perfect for promotional images.

Screen Shot 2014-03-06 at 12.08.56 PM

I also used Canva to make graphics to spruce up a custom Facebook app tab:


View the finished Facebook app tab here:

Today, Canva announced they just released a new photo filtering feature. Canva is still in it’s beta stage, but I have a feeling it will continue to make improvements and gain momentum with new users, especially in the digital media sphere.

CanvaThe best part about Canva: IT’S FREE. 

Opera: A Web Browser Worth Downloading

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Managing social media communities involves constantly switching between accounts. Logging in and out time after time can become tedious and annoying, which is why most community managers use multiple internet browsers and applications when they are working.

Just like everyone else, I use Chrome, Firefox, and Safari to browse the internet. But recently I have added another member to my gang of internet browsers: Opera.

Opera is currently CNET’s third most popular browser with over 12 million total downloads; Over 21,ooo in the last week:

opera #3

But what makes Opera so popular? I like this web browser because of how simple it is. When I first loaded the application the first thing I noticed was how clean it looked. Opera was awarded points from me for this. I enjoy simple yet efficient designs because of the ease of use that generally comes along with it. When you open the application you will see your speed dial.

Opera homepage

You can save your favorite or most used web pages on your speed dial tab for easy and quick access. The stash tab is basically your page for bookmarks. Opera makes it easy to stash web pages so you can easily come back and find pages you have liked. Opera is a web browser made to discover. Not looking for anything particular? Click the discover tab and browse through categories that interest you. You never know what you will find.

Pros: Light, fast, smooth, clean and slick design, secure, easy to use, and it’s free.

Cons: So far I have not ran into any.

I have only been using Opera for a few weeks but have quickly become a big fan. If you are living in a world of Chrome and Firefox, give Opera a try. It is the best alternate browser out there.

Looking for more information on Opera? Here is a quick overview from their website:

opera features

Check out the video below to see Opera in action.

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Also, any company that uses a extreme sports and GoPro to create their commercials wins in my book.

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Want to work in social media? Make sure your Instagram profile is on point.

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A few months ago, I was inspired after reading a story in the New York Times about how a college senior named Liz took an Instagram profile (@newyorkcity) and turned it into a multi-million dollar social media business. That was a couple years ago when not everyone had an Instagram profile and Liz was able to snag @newyorkcity. She took beautiful and artsy pics of NYC and set the stage for newbie Instagrammers everywhere.

Today,  there are over 150 million active monthly users on the mobile app making it the fastest growing social network of 2013. An Instagram profile can tell thousands of words about a person and it’s now something we require potential candidates to provide before we consider hiring them. Why? Because if your Instagram profile isn’t up to par, you probably aren’t equipped to thrive in a social media position.

The best qualities of an  Instagram profile:

1. Clear pictures. Repeat, CLEAR pictures. Posting a blurry Instagram or a poor quality photo doesn’t really set you up for “like” success.

Beyonce and Kelly Instagram

Beyonce, however, can do whatever she wants

2. Well-taken, tasteful pictures. I will almost always click like on a beautiful picture, sometimes even before looking at who posted it, if it grabs my attention right away. It helps me to take 10+ pictures of the same scene so I can choose which looks best. This is also the reason I have increased storage on my iPhone twice in the past year.


3. Tasteful filters and frames. You’ll often find me going through the filter row three times or more because I take the time to really assess which filter is the best and will encourage the most double taps. One of my major pet peeves is when people use a different frame for every picture. I enjoy a good Nashville frame every once in a while, but when a user goes nuts using tons of different frames, their profile looks cluttered and anxious and I want to look away.

And some of the worst qualities of an  Instagram profile:

1. Party pictures. No one wants to see you and your friends completely hammered. Pictures of you and your friends having a good time is perfectly acceptable, but I suggest you leave the shot pictures and the glazed over eyes for the group text the next morning.

Drunk Instagram

And, they’re in high school….

2. Using #Instagood #Instamood #IGers and a million other hashtags in your post. I may spark a debate on this one but why, oh why, oh WHY do people use these on every picture they take? Yes, we know you’re #Instagood, you’re on Instagram! Choosing a hashtag relevant to the actual photo is much easier on the eyes.

Instagram Shoes

The Rise of ‘Photosations’: 2014 and Beyond’s Biggest Social Media Trend

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161745860“A picture is worth a thousand words” is one of the most commonly used phrases in the world of social media marketing, right up there with everyone’s favorite, “content is king,” but what amazes me is how brands are not expanding on this phrase.

One major hurdle many brands fail to clear is the ability to provide ‘quality’ content on a consistent basis. It’s no secret that images work well in regards to social engagement, but for many, the unforeseen Achilles heel is this: push marketing.

It’s easy to fall into the trap that is “sell, sell, sell,” but in a world where brands are trying to find ways to boost engagement and become social storytellers, I started to realize that brands aren’t harnessing the true power photos encapsulate.

It all started when I stumbled upon a tweet from my Twitter friend, @ChelseaRhane:

Ninety nine percent of the time, Chelsea would have received a text-only response from me, but because I believe photos are the embodiment of storytelling, I included a photo to help add to her ‘short story’:

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 6.55.40 PM
Chelsea chimes in:

Screen Shot 2014-01-02 at 6.55.50 PM(Note: There was no coffee challenge, and no, I did not win anything…)

It wasn’t until I read Chelsea’s reply above that it hit me – why aren’t we using photos AS REPLIES as often as we should?!

And so the story continues:


And we both agreed, something cool was taking place:


Chelsea’s story became my story… and this is how our story ended:


So what does this all mean?

In social media, we often talk about how responding to user comments and questions is a necessity for brands. Imagine what photosations can do for user sentiment if a brand responds with relevant (and real) photo replies!

Now some of you might be saying, “But wait, Darryl, this isn’t new!” To you it may not be, but for brands, this can be the next wave of “interaction” they can have with their followers. Chelsea and I didn’t invent photo responses; we’re just taking it for a walk through the park of evolutionary stages for it to grow.

2014 can be the year photosations reignites the way we interact with each other, both personally and professionally. Beyond it, as photosations evolve, it wouldn’t surprise me if a new social platform were created to accommodate this sole form of interaction to expand storytelling. Oh, and in case you were wondering: “photos” + “conversations” = “photosations”

So let your photos literally do the talking, because you know what they say, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Right, Chelsea?


Why Every Brand Should Be Using “Tagboard” For Hashtags

By | Gossip Genie Blog, Social Media, Social Media Spotlight, Uncategorized, What's Trending, Words of Advice | No Comments

hashtagAh, yes, the hashtag. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know that the hashtag symbol embodies all that is gloriously social media speak. In just a short few years, it has grown into a social behemoth that is now utilized in many (if not all) of the social networks out on the web — and it’s safe to say that brands have taken notice. But are brands really capitalizing on the hashtag’s fullest potential?

Social media has given everyone a voice, and brands that effectively use social media know that they need to amplify their audience’s voice to show that they’re listening. So if you’re a brand and are looking for a new way to engage with your fans, this is where Tagboard becomes your new best friend.

is capitalizing on the usage of hashtags in social media and has built a platform for specific topics that are alive on the web and gives them an aesthetically pleasing home where users can find more info about a certain hashtag. On the other side of the coin, companies have the ability to customize the design and imagery of their Tagboard pages to help frame the conversation and brand, all in real-time.

Layman’s terms: Tagboard takes hashtag-associated content from the big name social networks, including videos from Instagram and Vine, and lumps them all into one place, saving you the hassle of logging into multiple social networks and having to switch back and forth.

If you’re looking to help your brand inch closer to brand champion status, I suggest hopping on the Tagboard train! The company even shares helpful tips and creative ways brands can integrate Tagboard into their social media marketing:





Wondering what it looks like on the user-end? Gossip Genie’s Social Media Week Chicago event is a great example of how Tagboard can make live-tweeting from events more aesthetically pleasing to the eyes:



Tagboard definitely has something special here and brands should take notice. Being a power user myself, I happily endorsed the platform during the Q&A portion of our Social Media Week event, and so far the reviews have been positive from the audience!



Screen Shot 2013-12-06 at 3.33.01 PM

Will you be giving Tagboard a try? Let me know what you think of it!