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The 8 Best Social Media Campaigns of 2012

1129870772012 was a good year for social media. With more than 1 billion active monthly users on Facebook, more than 175 million tweets per day, more than 104 million visits per month to Pinterest, and more than 4 billion hours of video watched on YouTube each month, social media is exploding. Well, really, it has exploded.

All of these platforms have launched specific opportunities for brands to engage: Facebook brand pages, Twitter verified accounts and promoted campaigns, Pinterest's newly launched business accounts, and YouTube's brand channels.

Of course, just because the opportunity exists doesn't mean that all brands use these platforms to their full potential. However, there have been a select few who have blown it out of the park this past year.

Here's a rundown of what I consider the best social media campaigns of 2012. What would you add to the list?

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What is Native Advertising and Why Should I Care About It?

112987077(3:13 AM at the IMGrind Offices – Coffee Brewing) Gooooooooooood Early Morning Grinders! Preston here and since I woke up on the office couch after watching back to back episodes of Amish Mafia (don't judge me), I felt inclined to grind some beans, make some coffee and start blogging.

Each and every day, myself, Ruck and Ryan hold discussions about the changes (good and bad) within the realm of online marketing and advertising. As you know, what is here today is gone tomorrow and the evolution of our world morphs and changes at break-neck speed. Recognizing this, let's take a look at Native Advertising.

Native advertising is the incorporation of high quality content into the experience of a given platform or website. This advertising content does not detract from the user's experience on the website or platform on which it is being used – hence its suggested power.

With native advertising you are paying to be a part of the conversation within the subject matter of the content, where in display your are paying to interrupt the experience. Native advertising is not an advertorial on the latest pill-form diet solution or how you can sell back energy and get off the grid with some obscure solar energy motor. It is also not an automated form of advertising, nor will you find it inside of an ad box. Remember, it is instream – organic content.

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Email, Social and Mobile Are Marketers' 2013 Budget Priorities

email social and mobile marketers 2013 budgets

Email, social media, and mobile rank as marketers' top spending priorities for 2013, according to a survey from StrongMail: 55.5% of marketing executives say they plan to increase spending on email campaigns in 2013; 51.8% plan to boost spend on social media; and 42.8% plan to up their spend on mobile marketing.

In addition, 39.8% of surveyed marketing executives plan to increase spending on search marketing in 2013.

By contrast, tactics such public relations (13.9%) and direct mail (15.4%) will likely take a back seat in the coming year, according to the findings.

Total marketing budgets are set to rise in 2013: 89.1% of marketing execs plan to increase (45.2%) or maintain spend (43.9%), a slight decrease from the 92% who planned to do so for 2012.

Below, additional findings from the 2013 Marketing Trends survey by StrongMail.

Top Email Priorities

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4 Brands to Inspire Your Content Marketing Strategy

112987077Content marketing is about telling a story that resonates with your audience and finding a relevant channel to deliver it.

It's the loyal followers that then spread the brand message, these days, commonly, but not exclusively, via social media. Well that's the theory. Getting it right can be hard.

Sometimes we all have to go back to the drawing board to gather ideas and inspiration. For a recent content marketing workshop we hosted, I did just that. I wanted to showcase the brands that are doing content marketing brilliantly.

OK, I admit, some of the companies I used as examples have massive budgets, but they still have their unique challenges.

What all the brands have in common is the creative flair, the ability to change direction, adapting to new environments and communicating with the people that are most important to them – their customers – in a variety of ways.

1. Coca Cola

Take for example the chart topping, mega brand of Coca-Cola. Consistently voted number one brand in yearly surveys and holds an estimated value of $77.8bn. 

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Why Small Businesses Need to Use The Cloud to Survive

Why Small Businesses Need to Use The Cloud to SurviveWhen writing our business plans, we get excited about marketing trends, and economic forecasts. We think about how soon we can hire our first employees, and how many years until we can expand. We wonder how much money we might need to hold us over while on the road to success, and how to outdo our competition. But do we ever stop to plan for disaster? In between strategies do we think what to do should we fall prey to an Act of God, or the wrath of nature?

You may not be located in Southeast Asia and be prone to cyclones and tsunamis, or in tornado alley, or hurricane alley on the Gulf Coast, in the plains states subject to spring floods, on the West coast living with brush fires, earthquakes and mud slides, or in an extreme Northeastern state prone to blizzards.

But have you given any thought to how you would survive in business or recover if your location is damaged? Having just survived the ravages of Hurricane Sandy here in New York City, many of us have had to reflect on the realities of disaster right here in this city.

Have you thought about putting your business records on a Cloud-based server so you don't lose vital information? Often FEMA and even the state government will provide some form of unemployment insurance for those whose business were affected, even if you are self-employed. How would you prove that everything is burnt, or underwater or mud? Have you memorized your federal tax id and bank account numbers in case you have to go into a bank to get money, and have no checks or ATM card?

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