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Laurel MiltnerOctober 29, 20106 min read

Picks of the Week: Halloween 2010 Edition

In this Halloween edition of Picks of the Week, we share; content marketing lessons from a Halloween Peanuts Classic, local search updates from Google (can this count as "trick-or-treat" themed?), zombie MySpace, brands using Halloween for creative campaigns, and a few just-for-fun links at the end. Happy Halloween!

Content Marketing Lessons from The Great Pumpkin

Robert Rose shares some valuable insight on content marketing based on the Charlie Brown story of The Great Pumpkin.

At many organizations, taking a chance with buyer persona-focused content — content that offers value and industry insight, rather than directly trying to market or sell your company — can be a big change. And sometimes, if a return isn’t seen fast enough, strategies will refocus back to the norm.

However, following Linus' footsteps, Robert argues that:

“If you follow best practices, learn from past success, join the conversation —and stay true to the sincerity of the practice of Content Marketing, you will generate results. But… the practice of content marketing is relatively new. As you put together your content marketing strategy, there will be those who come into your patch and just don’t understand… you may find that you initially attract some of your colleagues into it, only to watch them lose their nerve and give up just before you have to commit…. Making sure your content marketing stays true to your conviction is the one key ingredient to make sure success doesn’t pass you by.”

Trick-or-Treating with Google: New Place Search Shows Google’s Commitment to Local

Earlier this week, Google rolled out a new way to present local search results, Place Search, in an effort to continually provide valuable local results for searches with local intent.

According to author Greg Sterling, “There appear to be some fairly major SEO implications, which should provide many hours of enjoyment for the SEO community as it tries to reverse engineer the algorithm.”

From a user perspective, you’ll just see a new presentation of search results when Google thinks you’re looking for a nearby solution to your query. You’ll also see more detailed review information within the first page of results — which means that local business owners should continue to strive to receive positive reviews on social sites, as well as citations (links from other local organizations, blogs, etc.).

Expect to see more from us soon about this and other recent news in local search from Google. However, one key marketing takeaway: Every organization with a physical address needs to secure or review its Google Places account.

MySpace is Back from the Dead

That’s right. If you haven’t heard it by now then this may come as a true Halloween shock: the Internet has been abuzz this week about… MySpace?!

As reported by Steve Rosenbaum“The MySpace platform is being re-launched as curation platform, embracing the discoverability of their users, and letting them know that they're being valued for their ability to find new gems and trending hits… There are big changes in the site - including a focus on an intuitive, predictable, simple UI.”

 After digging through years of user data, MySpace execs found that there are significant opportunities for it to capitalize on its power to find and share new talent, and this became the focus of its rebirth.

Or, as Mashable so perfectly put it: “Its new goal is to become ‘the leading entertainment destination that is socially powered by the passions of fans and curators.’ This is in contrast to its old goal of being “a place for friends.’"

For TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld reported on new MySpace from a design and user interface perspective. “There is definitely a realtime theme going on… You can toggle between what is ‘most relevant’ to you and ‘live’ updates. Another live notifications box at the top shows upcoming events and messages. If you are not logged in, the new homepage will show a rolling counter of things people are sharing, as well as tiles for promoted albums, TV show, celebrities, and trending items people are discovering.

Digging a bit deeper into the details in On MySpace’s New Strategy, Ben Parr shares exactly how the curation aspect is intended to work. “Users that exhibit a following or expertise in a specific social trend or entertainment topic can gain curator status, which gives them access to an array of tools for facilitating content discovery and leading fans of a specific subculture.”

Its clearer vision is also helping MySpace to define its vision and intended use of the site, “focused on encouraging four core behaviors: discovery, collection, connection and creation.”

Lastly, the social network hopes that its new format will enable fans, curators and entertainers to better connect. We’ll see how this plays out, but this is definitely big news from what was the king of social media only a few years ago. I can tell you one thing for sure: I’ll be revisiting my MySpace account in the coming weeks.

Brand Engagement for Halloween

Unless your company is in the costume, horror, candy or party industry, it may seem like Halloween offers no real business opportunity for you. However, two companies stood out to me this week with their creative ties to Halloween: Progressive and Chipotle.

Progressive: Dress Like Flo

You know those Progressive commercials with quirky saleswoman, Flo? Well, people love her. Enough to want to dress like her for Halloween. So, Progressive makes it easy with a page on its site dedicated to her getup. And, it’s complete with easy ways tell your friends on social networks that you’re dressing like Flo, and even a secondary call to action to get a free quote from Progressive.

My colleague Christina wrote about social media turning spokesmodels into friends this time last year when she noticed the trend to dress like Flo and other brand characters, but it seems like Progressive is really holding onto the popularity of this character and using her fan base to its advantage.

Chipotle’s Boorito 2010

Chipotle has historically given discounts to patrons that arrive at stores dressed as burritos on Halloween, but this year they’re going a step further. Partnering with Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Chipotle says: “Come in after 6pm this Halloween dressed as a horrifying processed food product and we'll give you a burrito, bowl, salad, or an order of tacos filled with freshly cooked, naturally raised ingredients for only $2.”

The company also did an online costume contest, during which fans could send in pictures of their processed food costumes. And, Chipotle is donating up to one million dollars of proceeds from Boorito 2010 to the Food Revolution.

This is a great example of a brand empowering its customers to rally behind a cause that is relevant to the company, and have a little fun with it.

Lastly, for a little more marketing-geek Halloween fun, check out:

12 Awesome Social Media Pumpkin Carvings

Mashable’s Social Media Halloween Costume Contest Winners

  • Shout-out to Cleveland’s own SmartEd Services, whose marketing team is recognized here as Team Social Media.

7 Halloween SEO Stories (To Read in the Dark) 

What were your favorite articles (Halloween or otherwise) of the week? Comments are open for your opinions.

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