Top Takeaways from Social Media Marketing World 2017

Rachel Trevino and Megan Lagrone with Facebook guru Mari Smith at SMMW17.

Rachel Trevino and Megan Lagrone with Facebook guru Mari Smith at SMMW17.

We recently returned from sunny San Diego where we attended the largest social media conference in the world – Social Media Marketing World #SMMW17 presented by Social Media Examiner. We’ve brought back some great highlights and insights and will be diving deeper into tactics and strategies during a Facebook Live on The DeBerry Group page on Wednesday, April 5, at 4:30 p.m. (CT). Tune in live or submit questions in advance to

Here are a few of our top takeaways:

Quality over Quantity

The solution to a winning social media strategy is no longer more content – it’s BETTER content. Connecting with your precious audience with compelling storytelling will always beat the “more is more” approach. Gone are the days of posting three, four and five times a day in the hopes of beating the Facebook algorithm. Ever wonder why the video of the dad braiding his daughter’s hair or the toddler laughing like crazy catches on like wildfire? It’s a real moment that’s relatable. Quality content will always win, no matter what time of day you post.

Video Reigns Supreme

From Facebook Live to Periscope, YouTube, Instagram Stories, native video uploads, and everything in-between – video reigns supreme and should be a focus of your content strategy. Rather than posting a photo album from your event, think about how the opportunity lends itself to video. Can you highlight an interesting step-by-step process in your Instagram Story? How about a behind-the-scenes interview via Facebook Live with a key speaker at your press conference? Keep video in mind at all times, and you’ll experience increased engagement and visibility.

Facebook Advertising is a Must

Of the 70 million Facebook pages, fewer than seven percent are using Facebook advertising. Thanks to the ever-evolving Facebook algorithm, those who don’t advertise just aren’t being seen. Facebook is one of the most effective and cost efficient advertising avenues to reach your target audience in a compelling way. The targeting and re-targeting options are endless, and for marketers and our clients – a strategic social media advertising plan + quality content = tremendous success.

“Content is King, but Engagement is Queen, and she rules the house.”

One of the leading Facebook gurus, Mari Smith, said this in her session, and it stuck with us. The statement highlighted the importance of strong community management across all social media platforms. It’s not enough to post great content, you need someone ready to engage with your audience to amplify reach, brand affinity, and awareness, and most importantly to keep your online interactions authentic. Focusing on quality engagement with your audience will help keep social media “social,” as it was intended.


Five Years DeBerry


Break out the Champagne. The DeBerry Group turns five today!

As we toast our awesome team, we also raise a glass to our clients, most of whom have been with us for much longer than five years. In 2012, we started the DeBerry Group with six committed and passionate employees. Today, we have a team of 17 that delivers remarkable results for our clients every single day.

In that time, our capabilities have grown exponentially as we stretch our skill sets to serve our clients holistically, providing everything from strategic public affairs and crisis communications to full-service integrated marketing solutions.

Along the way, we’ve changed the conversation — and more than a few diapers. Not only did our team members welcome four of “DeBerry Best” babies into the world, they embraced the digital and social media revolution and took a regional diaper cream known as Dr. Smith’s into the national marketplace. Today, the San Antonio-based product competes on store shelves from California to New York, and we’ve helped entice thousands of new moms to “Reach for the Doctor.”

With advertising, we skipped the crawling phase and sprinted toward a full-service creative department to bolster our branding, advertising and social media services. Lucky for us, our creative director, Laura Hotten, is like a Swiss Army knife in heels. She produces video, creates animation, designs, codes, builds websites and keeps the creative inspiration flowing through all that we do. Together with a seasoned senior art director and energetic production artist, the trio recently won a Gold Addy for their work on the Hemisfair Annual Report.

Today, we are also thrilled to welcome a new marketing director, Kristine Smith. A data-driven, classically-trained marketer, Kristine is a digital junkie with nearly two decades of experience and a contagious passion for discovering the next big idea.

At this stage in the game, we consider ourselves to be an integrated marketing firm. We create strategies that effectively combine public relations, public affairs, government affairs, marketing, advertising, digital and social media strategy to meet the goals of our clients.

We look forward to continue changing the conversation for our diverse roster of clients, including Brooks, SAWS, the San Pedro Creek Improvements Project, Ranger Health, the Alamo Endowment, H-E-B, CAST Tech, the Holdsworth Center, Mission Pharmacal, Éilan Hotel & Spa, SeaWorld San Antonio, the Lone Star Brewery redevelopment project, Bexar County, CST Brands, Inc., David’s Legacy, San Antonio Book Festival, Spurs Sports & Entertainment, Baptist Health System, and others. We’re also excited about new relationships and clients the future holds.

Downtown will always be ground zero for us, and we remain steadfast in working on initiatives that help propel San Antonio into the future. But we’re also energized about expanding with clients who are doing great work across Texas and the nation.

Pediatricians say that developmentally age 5 is when a child becomes more independent and self-confident. We can check that box. Cognitively, the 5-year-old is curious and inquisitive, energetic, silly and at times, rowdy.  That pretty much describes the DeBerry Group team. Although DeBerry is the name on the door, it takes the work of every one of us to crush it on the daily for our clients. (Slang credit goes to Rachel Trevino, head millennial on staff.)

Now back to that Champagne.


Adding Social Media Influencers to Your Marketing Plan

Image Credit: Adobe Blog

Image Credit: Adobe Blog

Word-of-mouth recommendations are among the most powerful ways to increase awareness about a brand, initiative, service, business – the list goes on. In fact, Nielsen reports 84 percent of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations and 68 percent trust online opinions from other consumers.

The modern landscape of word-of-mouth recommendations looks different than in the past. Businesses can take advantage of this shift by incorporating a social media influencer strategy into their marketing plans. A social media influencer is a blogger or other notable online personality who can vouch for your business through content on their website or social media channels.

We caught up with three of San Antonio’s most popular online influencers at a recent Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) luncheon. The speakers were Melanie Mendez-Gonzales of ¿Qué Means What?, Tori Johnson of The sTORIbook, and Colleen Pence of San Antonio Mom Blogs. The trio of bloggers shared some key insights around influencer marketing:

Relationships are key

Bloggers write because they’re passionate. Whatever the topic, from parenting to fashion, they choose to write about a topic because it’s close to their hearts. If your business/program/service is something that could be interesting and relevant to their readers, this opens the door for a potential partnership.

If you want to partner with a blogger, you shouldn’t contact them once a year about your business. Influencers are in the blogging business to be closer to a community and to share their personal stories. The panelists suggested starting outreach with an email chain to introduce yourself and your brand and to involve them in the creation of ideas for promoting your business or service.

Do your research

If you want to be spotlighted by a great blogger, you have to know a little about them first. Take some time to read their blog, understand their audience, and get to know the writer. Follow their social media channels and read comments from their audiences. If you want to be included in their editorial calendar, you have to fit their brand.

How to pitch

Social media influencers are not members of the old school media brigade, so they shouldn’t be pitched like traditional media. As Tori Johnson said during the luncheon, “A press release isn’t going to cut it.” You have to stand out to get noticed. For example, Colleen Pence receives 30-60 pitches every single day! Here are some tips to get your brand to the top of an influencer’s list:

  • Pitch in advance. These bloggers have months’ worth of material planned. Not to mention, they are also busy managing their businesses and keeping up with their families. They likely won’t be able to drop what they’re doing to attend your event on a moment’s notice, so keep that in mind.
  • Ask for their opinion and be flexible. They’re the experts here. They know what engages their audiences best. If you have an idea for what you’d like for your business, send it on over to them, but be open to discussing their options and ideas too.
  • Consider what you can do for them. Remember, this isn’t just a hobby for most influencers. “Blogs are brands and businesses,” said Melanie Mendez-Gonzalez. Compensation isn’t always required, but it certainly “sweetens the deal,” as Colleen said. But remember, compensation doesn’t always have to be monetary. It can come in the form of a free service or product from your business.


Our team at DeBerry Group has developed amazing relationships with social media influencers across the country who have helped us get the word out about our clients. If you’re interested in building an influencer marketing program to reach your business goals, email our Social Marketing and Public Relations Manager Rachel Trevino today at

DeBerry Group team members Rachel, Megan, Brooke, Melessa and Molly at the PRSA San Antonio social media luncheon.

DeBerry Group team members Rachel, Megan, Brooke, Melessa and Molly at the recent PRSA San Antonio social media luncheon.


Viral Trends: When to Hop on Board and When to Stay Put

The Mannequin Challenge. Easy, right? Gather the whole office, stand in a cool pose, post to social media, done. Not so fast.

If you don’t know, the Mannequin Challenge is the latest internet craze. Groups of people stand very, very still in intriguing positions while the camera pans through the frozen scene. A song plays, usually Rae Sremmurd’s “Black Beatles,” and everyone shows off their hipness.

Like most internet trends, the Mannequin Challenge started with teenagers. The earliest known upload is rumored to have come from high school students in Jacksonville, Florida, in which they stand motionless in a classroom engaged in very teenage poses, like the Dab.

The youth of the internet caught on. Then, the bar was raised when athletes joined in. Because of their physical ability to hold incredible poses, these videos started to go crazy viral.

After Millennials did everything they could with it, the Mannequin Challenge was left to the older generation to continue the trend. Everyone from Hillary Clinton to Paul McCartney stood still for the sake of engagement. They can get away with it because they’re, well, they’re them. But how far away from the source is too far?

Similar to the Harlem Shake, another viral dance trend that rose to fame in 2013, the origins of the Mannequin Challenge are found in the young, hip hop-loving generation. When a group attempts to join in on the trend that they’re too far removed from, it may come off as out-of-touch. Just when you think you’ve finally tapped into the demographic with your silly video, you’ve actually moved yourself further away.

As an organization, you have to ask yourself, Am I on the front end of this trend? Or the back end? Do I have something new and different to offer to this craze? Does this fit with my brand image and voice?

If you learn about the trend from your teenage daughter, then you’re probably on the back end. Targeting young people takes more than just posting a video – you need a strategy that appeals to them, instead of inserting yourself in their online space.

If your brand couldn’t be further from the trend’s origin, or if you are unable to offer something new, it may not be the best fit, and your organization could risk coming off passé.

Yet, it may be worth hopping on board with some viral trends. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that took over news feeds in 2014 had everyone soaked in freezing cold water to help bring awareness to Lou Gehrig’s disease. While many social media users no doubt were fatigued by the countless videos, the challenge raised more than $115 million for ALS research, which led to huge breakthroughs in treatment of the disease.

So, the next time a viral internet trend surfaces, and you can be sure it will any day now, make sure your contribution as an organization makes sense. If it’s relevant to your team and your mission and you feel that you’re adding something new, go for it! If not, let’s find another way to get your name out there.


Connecting with Today’s Moms

mom shopping online

We hadn’t reached the end of the first day of M2Moms®, a three-day conference in New York City about marketing to moms, before I texted my fiancé, “Being a mom sounds like so much work. How do parents do it?”

The sheer amount of responsibility that moms carry was a reoccurring theme of the conference, and a reminder to marketers to be smart, and more importantly, considerate as we attempt to reach these busy ladies in a jam-packed media environment. Don’t assume all moms are the same or waste their time with unrealistic portrayals of their daily lives. Instead, think about the changing demographics of today’s parents, consider moms brand partners and make their lives easier.

As a marketing partner for Dr. Smith’s® diaper rash products, we have used this knowledge to effectively reach moms across the country. The brand’s newest innovation, a touch-free, zinc oxide spray that treats irritated baby bottoms, makes diaper rash one less stress for mom. For years, we’ve worked with influencers to create engaging and insightful online content about parenting and have traveled to events like the Big City Moms Biggest Baby Shower and Bump Club & Beyond’s Gearapalooza Tour to meet moms in person and answer their questions about diaper rash.

We look forward to M2Moms each year to see the latest research, stay on top of trends and generate new ideas for our clients. Other key learnings from this year’s conference included:

  • Millennial moms spend 17 hours a week on social media
  • 67 percent of moms are caring for aging parents
  • Online influencers want to know what a brands goals are and how they can help achieve them. They want to know the results of their brand partnerships.
  • Moms want to fill roles beyond that of the caregiver, they want to spend more time exploring what it means to be the cheerleader, the hobbyist, the friend, and the confidant
  • Moms resent intrusive marketing, and ad blocking is on the rise
  • Cell phones are taking peer opinions to the point of purchase
  • Only 1 in 3 Millennial Moms are buying the products they grew up with
  • Instagram and Snapchat are the social media favorites among Millennial Moms
  • More women are waiting till later in life to have children and more dads are fulfilling the role of caregiver
  • Amazon is emerging as a favorite retailer among moms for pricing, customer service and reliability

If you’re looking to connect with parents, we’d love to visit with you about our capabilities to help you reach your marketing goals.


How Understanding Brain Science Can Improve Your Social Content

In a media landscape where we’re bombarded with literally billions of sensory messages each second, it can be a struggle to break through the noise and capture your consumer’s attention. One way to increase the odds that your posts will stand out is to leverage attention triggers our brains are hard wired to respond to. Recent advances in neurology and psychology have uncovered brain functions that can help inform our decisions as communicators and influence how we shape our messages for maximum efficiency.

What’s happening under the hood?

To keep our systems from hitting sensory overload, we rely on our Reticular Activating System (RAS) to serve as a filter for what gets through and registers our attention, and what data will be ignored. Thanks to our evolutionary roots, the RAS is geared to flag data that could indicate danger as a high priority. Motion is one of the flags that has survived thousands of years of human development as a potential cue for danger, and while we’re no longer constantly on the lookout for a potential predator, our brain’s preference for moving images can come in handy when developing content for digital means.

heartbeat monitor gif

Odds are that as you loaded this page, your eyes immediately scrolled down to this GIF as your RAS sensed motion.


How do we use RAS triggers to our advantage?

For brands, using motion in social media content development can lead to a big jump in reach and engagement. Changes to the Facebook news feed algorithm in December of 2014 placed even more emphasis on video content. Messages accompanied by video are much more likely to be shared, and receive more likes and comments. In a blog post from January of this year, Facebook revealed insights that more than 50 percent of active users view at least one video on Facebook a day. Recently, Instagram made updates that allow their videos to play in a continuous loop, mirroring a functionality that helped rocket Vine onto the scene.

If you have an important announcement or promotion to share with your fans, consider sharing it in a quick Instagram or Vine. These messages can be shared across networks like Twitter or Facebook, and with native advertising on both of those platforms, you no longer need to rely on broadcast providers to serve video ad content. In fact, traditional broadcasters like NBC have had their hands slapped when including advertisements in their Facebook video content that were not approved by the social giant.

When budgets or resources take video off the table, consider the GIF. No longer relegated to sophomoric memes, GIFs have evolved into the next wave in motion advertising, the “cinemagraph.” Cinemagraphs are simply moving GIF files where the motion is isolated to just a few areas of the frame. The result is subtle, and often beautifully hypnotic.


Image credit: Cinemagraph™, Jamie Beck & Kevin Burg


Luxury goods, lifestyle and travel companies,  high-fashion clothing and wine and spirit brands such as Ecco Domani have used cinemagraphs in their digital campaigns.

If  either video or moving images like GIFs or cinemagraphs are out of reach, still images can also be used to manipulate the motion bias of the RAS. Implied motion through image blur can activate mirror reflexes in your neurons that stimulate the senses in a way that is similar to if the motion were real.

Flatiron Building at Rush Hour, New York City

Image credit: Andrew Mace, via Flikr


The Millennial Minute

millennials orange

These days, complaining about millennials is all the rage. From thinking we live off mom and dad’s cash flow and find it impossible to maintain a career or bank account, to the idea that we’re plagued with the “everyone gets a trophy” syndrome – the chatter around my generation has been far from positive and is often misinformed.

The term “millennial” refers to individuals born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, though specific start and end dates aren’t set in stone. This group of 20-somethings was born after Gen-X (1960 -1980), and is also commonly referred to as Gen-Y. If you’re having a hard time finding where your Gen-whatever heart truly belongs, turn to Buzzfeed for comfort.

Just take a look at a few of these scathing write-ups: CBS News, TIME, USA Today, LinkedIn. My personal favorite snippet: “Gen-Y wants to look like a winner more than they want to be a winner.”


But what about the millennials who are crushing it in the workforce by creating and capitalizing on some of the most innovative technologies we’ve ever seen and making a real impact on the world?

The list goes on for days, but here are just a few:

  • Mark Zuckerberg, 30, co-founder of Facebook
  • Elizabeth Holmes, 30, engineer and founder of the revolutionary biotech startup, Theranos. Oh, and she is the world’s youngest female billionaire, if you’re keeping score.
  • Lena Dunham, 28, director/producer/writer/actress on a hit HBO show and an award-winning filmmaker and author
  • Kevin Systrom, 27, co-founder and CEO of Instagram
  • Pete Cashmore, 29, CEO and founder of the popular blog Mashable

Crushing it, indeed.

Carping about millennials is getting older and more tired than the Maury Povich show. I think a turning of the tides is in order and should start sooner than later…because this generation has Full House reruns to catch up on.


How To Speak PR


In media training sessions, we urge clients to avoid using jargon in interviews, but listen in on our office conversations, and you might think we’re talking nonsense – or that we’re sailors, but that’s another story.

Here’s an intro to some basic PR terms to help make sense of it all.

pitch – A key element of public relations, a pitch is an attempt to get a journalist to cover a client’s story. A strong pitch is timely, brief and relevant to the media outlet. In today’s electronic world, pitches are frequently sent via email, but occasionally you can still reach a reporter the old fashioned way, on the telephone.

hit – Keeping with the baseball theme, a hit occurs when a pitch is successful and news coverage is secured on behalf of a client. Getting a hit is a great feeling, similar to that of a pro baseball player getting a hit in a big game, or so I imagine.

above the fold – This term denotes the location of your hit in a traditional newspaper. A story above the fold is located in the top half of the printed edition of the paper and is considered a win. On the page is good; above the fold is better.

good sound – When clients give good sound, they hit their television or radio interview out of the park. (Sorry, I just want to see how many baseball metaphors I can fit in one blog post.) In other words, they speak to all of their key messages in snippets that are easy for reporters to edit into their final stories.

the wire – No not the HBO show or a circus act, the wire refers to press release distribution services. When a press release “crosses the wire” it is received by numerous journalists and websites at once. The term is a throwback to when news was sent out by telegraph.