Case Study: Why You Should Be Making Silent Video Ads

Do you remember when Facebook didn't have ads?

I do. When status updates were just text and the only thing you could share was one photo on your Timeline at a time. I remember when Facebook rolled out cover photos; what a day that was! 

It seems like a lifetime ago. But in reality, Facebook rolled out ads just seven years ago

But now, ads make up a large chunk of your News Feed. Nearly 1 in 10 items in your News Feeds are ads, and most ads? They only get an engagement from a Facebook user 1 percent of the time they're viewed. They're mostly photo links, or they're videos with no text overlay (99 percent of video views on Facebook are silent -- users don't unmute videos).

So what's a brand to do?

Animate a silent video ad.

Simply Health Wellness and Weight Loss in Chesterfield, Missouri became a Checkmate client on July 1. Prior to managing its Facebook page, Simply Health had an active but ineffective Facebook presence. The content it was sharing had an emphasis on quantity, not quality, with low impact and even lower conversions to clicks or appointments booked.

So Simply Health needed something simple: a bold, splashy ad to light up the News Feeds of its fans, since engagement on the page was almost nonexistant.

Checkmate created a targeted, highly visual, animated video ad, featuring flat emoticon-style illustrations and highly readable text. The video was short but clear: click here, get this. Plus, with a thumbnail of FREE, users clicked to watch the video at a much higher than industry rate.

The results of this ad are promising, with high rates of engagement and click throughs nearly triple initial expectations. Website traffic is up, and six weeks in, Checkmate and Simply Health together are building momentum to a high return on investment for Simply Health on Facebook.




Simplify to maximize with Diet Center - Cincinnati

With Diet Center - Cincinnati, it's all in the family.

In November 2015, a college friend reached out to us to help her mother and aunt's new weight loss business thrive with social media management. The twin sisters Carol and Claudia were business saavy but struggling to maintain an active presence on their Center's Twitter and Facebook pages. Together, we developed a comprehensive social media strategy for the brand, helping the Facebook page to go from 44 likes to nearly 1,000 in less than 18 months. Read Diet Center's testimonial.

Along the way, Checkmate helped build a reputation for the brand online, while the owners were building a foundation of success. The twins grew their business from a handful of clients in the fall of 2015 to exploring expansion later this year. But like the daughter helped launch Diet Center - Cincinnati's social media presence, her brother helped launch the business with a website designed as a project for a college class.

The Center's website was fine. It served its purpose; it had information about the business' mission, programs and services. It was visually interesting, and structurally, it was sound. But like his sister, Checkmate Consulting picked up where the son had left off to help the twin sisters develop and design a simplified user experience on their website.


As opposed to its original look and feel, Carol and Claudia wanted a simple, mobile-friendly, no-fuss website with multiple conversion opportunities. View the finished website.

We added a coupon in the sidebar of every page with $50 off graphic if users scrolling through converted to booked appointments. We removed a lot of clutter with program pages and instead focused on how every program at Diet Center - Cincinnati is personal with a one-stop "Win at Losing" program page. And we added a powerful page for the weight loss brand: Our Results. The page features simple snapshots of before and afters of real Diet Center - Cincinnati clients. These aren't professional, well-lit before and after shots with hair and make up. This page features real people getting real results in the clothes they're wearing after work.

The level of authenticity in both the copy and the images, including multiple nods to Carol and Claudia throughout the site, makes the Center website feel deeply personal. Visitors get to know the Center by reading recent health tips in blog posts and Claudia and Carol's personal mission statements, entering into a valuable, personal relationship before customers place a first call. That personal connection is a core value to Diet Center - Cincinnati's brand, and it subtly is on display throughout.

And like Diet Center - Cincinnati, this website is focused on results. Less than three days after its May 1 launch, Claudia reached out to let us know that a new customer had called to book an appointment after browsing the Center's website at her daughter's track meet. Six months ago, a call like that would've been a rarity. But by now providing website management services, we hope together, it'll soon become an expectation.

Case Study: 30 Days And 1000%+ In Higher Engagement

Since October 2014, Schweitzer United Methodist Church has been a social media management client of Checkmate Consulting. We've had a fun but strategic growth mindset with the church's digital communications, working with church staff to efficiently amplify messages churchwide with a mix of church and Checkmate created content.

Working together, Schweitzer has experienced significant gains to its audience and engagement on all of its social media platforms in the past two years, including quadrupling its engagement rates every year.

In addition to successful social media management every day, Checkmate Consulting has also served as a true marketing consultant to the church. Checkmate has partnered with the church's talented media department to develop a variety of marketing materials for the church, including a promo video for a Christmas Eve service campaign designed with social media in mind that received nearly 100,000 organic views on Facebook.

That's why we were no strangers to Schweitzer's efforts to engage with Millennials within and outside the church's walls. In January, the director of young adults Jake Hotchkiss approached Checkmate to begin managing social media accounts for the Schweitzer Young Adults ministry. We were excited to take over totally dormant accounts and bring to life the digital communications of a ministry that needed a way to directly reach Millennials. 

Over a couple of lunches, together we developed a strategy to reach out to Millennials in and outside the organization. Video announcements, GIF event reminders, a more conversational tone and consistent updates on strategic days were put into play. It was as if we turned the lights on for the ministry, and people who originally engaged on our platforms woke up with shining, bright new content. And wake up they did.

UP FOR 1420 (1).png

The numbers were staggering. In the first 30 days, reach for Schweitzer Young Adult's Facebook page increased by 1,420%. Post engagements went up by 439%. And my favorite number of all -- from zero video views to 1,477, an increase of 147,600% for the page. You can't make it up.

This was the difference in just 30 days with Checkmate Consulting's intentional and strategic social media management. But while our content shined and a lot of our targeted campaigns worked numbers wise for Schweitzer Young Adults, our first 30 day's success shows why it's so important to wake up your fans on social media. If you're not posting, start. Be intentional. Organizations have to develop a content strategy, even a simple one, and execute it consistently on social media. 

You'd be surprised what happens if you turned on the lights.

Making Mary with Top Tomato

John and Marina Backes at Circle B Ranch have been Checkmate clients for nearly two years. Here at Checkmate, we're obsessed with their Berkshire pork products, including pork chops, bacon, hickory smoked hams and small batch sauces that go with everything. So it's easy for us to help meet their marketing needs.

For nearly two years, we've helped develop Circle B Ranch's social media presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. Sales from their website,, have gone up every year since we've joined their team. But John and Marina were looking for a standout product. Then, Marina came up with something special: Top Tomato Cocktail Mix.

We were hooked on the first sip.

So when Marina asked us to develop a product launch website just for Top Tomato Cocktail Mix, we jumped at the chance to help promote this incredible cocktail mix.

Marina wanted her website to be easy to navigate, mobile-friendly and feature copy that was sassy to match her brand.  We had a lot of fun developing out this scroll through design, featuring bold call to action buttons, high-quality product shots provided by Checkmate Consulting and conversion opportunities back to the Circle B Ranch main page.

And instead of reinventing the wheel, we used the currently in place ecommerce engine through Circle B Ranch's main site to drive online sales. This made online executing and tracking online purchases easy for Marina on the back end and familiar to Circle B Ranch customers on the front end.

We're proud of not only our finished project, but also the speed in which it was executed. This web development project, from initial conversation to launch date, took less than 45 days. 

Here's to another successful Checkmate Consulting website.

OTC + Checkmate develop plan for engaging web content

Ozarks Technical Community College and I are just about the same age. When I was six months old in the spring of 1990, a group of Springfield, Missouri citizens and representatives from 13 area school districts met to discuss the need for a community college with a technical education focus in the queen city of the Ozarks.

In the fall of 1991, a little more than 1,300 students began their post-secondary work at OTC. Now, the community college serves more than 15,000 students across five regional campuses. More than 1,000 of those students are completing a technical education program with the community college. And this summer, while most of those students are on break, Checkmate Consulting will be working to refresh the content of 21 technical education department websites.

On June 17, I presented the content plan and mock-up for new department landing pages to the dean of technical education. It's phase 1 of 3 in this summer-long process, but I'm excited to move forward in executing the web content plan we've determined based on three goals for the website.

  1. The website features a compelling, conversational tone.
  2. The website features content that is engaging, skimmable and chunked up to encourage lingering and scrolling on the page.
  3. The website features specific conversion opportunities, with big, bold contact us forms, automatically generated email responses and a prominent button on each page to contact a department team member.

OTC Technical Education division knows the value of having compelling website content that is also optimized for a mobile experience. Here at Checkmate, we're not just providing words on a screen for the 20-something community college; we're providing targeted language for the 20-something potential student, wrapped in highly engaging visuals, videos and more. 

A website cannot just be a landing page. It has to be more, and with Checkmate Consulting, we're doing more to take brands further.

The Tale of the Snail

For brands on social media, there’s always a balance between sales and social.

You want to make personal connections with your followers, but you want to have them connect with products. You want to build communities, but you want your communities to be mobilized. You want a return on investment, but you don’t want to alienate your followers by pushing your products over and over again.

That’s why it’s so important to have a social media strategy that has a good mix of content featuring hard, soft and no-sales language at all. Consider it fluff, but it should never be considered filler. Content that engages with your followers authentically with no salesmanship, while speaking to the mission of your brand, can be a fun way to engage with your followers and build brand awareness. They’ll like and share your content without even realizing it’s a billboard for your brand’s logo and mission.

This concept, though, is so hard for some digital marketers to understand. If there aren’t clicks, if there aren’t sales, if there’s not a point of conversion, they feel the content is a missed opportunity at best and a waste of time at worst. But the next time I get into this ongoing debate with a digital marketing friend, I’ll have a secret weapon: a snail.

At Checkmate Consulting, I began managing Diet Center Cincinnati‘s Facebook page less than two months ago. The page’s presence was small: it only had 110 likes at the time of posting this graphic on Jan. 6. But although its presence was tiny, my goals for the brand on social were big. My No. 1 goal in my first 90 days was to help legitimize this brand in its local community, where weight loss center claims and services are automatically met with skepticism, and to increase brand awareness dramatically.

So, the first week of 2016, I made the above graphic in Canva (a handy tool) based on a suggestion by my client. She had seen a version of this graphic above online somewhere and thought it would be cute to post on Diet Center’s Facebook page. I created the above graphic and posted it on Facebook with this caption:

“We believe in you. Do you? #winatlosing”

The caption was short, the message was simple, and it got a response from Diet Center’s small but engaged community on Facebook. So, a couple of days later, I boosted the post for $25 and 14 days.

And the engagement started pouring in.

Hundreds of likes were made to the post, and people started commenting on the post as well bits of encouragement about their own slow but steady journeys to success. But most valuable, the post in 14 days received 73 shares and counting — with 52 shares originating from unpaid views of the post. Individuals who had never heard of Diet Center were sharing our content that shared Diet Center’s mission: that wellness in achievable, if you just keep trying.

By spending 10 minutes creating a clever graphic and $25 to promote this post to Diet Center’s target audience, more than 18,000 people in the Cincinnati, Ohio community ended up seeing this graphic that featured Diet Center’s logo and hashtag.

There wasn’t a conversion page, there wasn’t a sign up form, but we had more than 100 profile views while this post was being boosted. We received more than 20 page likes from this post (a 22 percent increase) and every person who shared this post was in Diet Center’s target demographic: Cincinnati area women, ages 25-60.

But most importantly, Diet Center in all of those eyes was seen as a brand that cares about people and their progress. Telling the story of a brand and making real, authentic connections with people makes turns them from followers to fans. And bottom line, for my sales-minded friends? Fans buy products, and if they receive a positive experience from a product, they become ambassadors for a brand.

Oh, and one last thing: One person who saw this snail messaged the Facebook page to get in touch with a representative — and ended up registering for a diet plan at the Center.

There’s a time and place for a snail for every brand on social media. What’s your snail content?


Know your client, know your farmer

At Checkmate Consulting, we're proud to represent businesses that are the best at what they do. From logistics management to custom embroidery, our clients believe in quality over quantity. They believe in building relationships, not profit margins. They believe in their services, not their market share.

But most of all, they believe in their product.

We're proud to announce that another brand that embodies the values we hold dear is joining our family. Join us as we welcome Circle B Ranch, a pasture-raised pork farm based in Seymour, Missouri. Marina and John Backes are passionate about their pork, and we're excited to share that passion with current and prospective customers.

Circle B Ranch is your Source for 100% pasture and humanely raised Berkshire Pork from the Ozarks.

Join us as we welcome Circle B Ranch to our growing list of clients.

SNEAK PEEK: Website launch for Linda Kay's Creations

Earlier this year, we formalized our commitment to telling the stories of great brands online by offering website development services to Checkmate Consulting clients. After an initial website launch earlier this year, we're excited to share we're at it again.

Linda Kay's Creations is our newest and boldest client, sharing amazing custom embroidery creations for thousands of Etsy shoppers every year. We're developing an intuitive, innovative digital catalog that showcases Linda's amazing and affordable products. From font choices to previous creations, Linda Kay's website will showcase the very best products she creates.

We can't wait for you to see it.


In July 2007, I stumbled upon a video of a guy with nerdy glasses singing a song about the very-near release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I was 17 years old, and Hank Green sang and charmed his way into my heart as both a Harry Potter fangirl and a social media user longing for community.

And that day, I became a Nerdfighter.

Nerdfighteria is an online community co-lead by two brothers: New York Times best-selling author John Green (author of a little book called The Fault in our Stars) and his little brother, Hank, who just so happens to run a conference called Vidcon that hosted more than 10,000 Youtube creators and community members last year. These two guys began as just brothers vlogging back and forth to each other each day as a simple video diary to reconnect as siblings. But along the way, they developed an online community with their Youtube channel that I not only did but actively wanted to be a part of as a consumer of digital media.

Their many successes, from CrashCourse to DFTBA Records to blockbuster movies and both scoring interviews with President Barack Obama, showcase how to keep momentum going once you go “viral.” But, in my mind more importantly, these two brothers show how forging communities and being in the community business generate success inherently. These brothers model that by being true to your personal and professional values and forging and authentically building communities, those communities will become loyal and do what you kindly ask. I pre-ordered all of John’s books because I liked John, not because I liked the synopses or the covers looked cool. I wanted to know what my friend on the Internet, John Green, had written — just like how I buy pizza from a pizza shop because the owner is snarky on Instagram and buy my favorite cookies at a local bakery that shares baking tips on Facebook.

I spend dollars to support communities and brands that connect with me.

John in his speech above at this year’s Youtube #Brandcast, a TED-esque infotainment event designed to court traditional mainstream advertisers, talked about how young users are demanding connection and engagement online. Consumers aren’t just buying, they’re looking for brands that talk back, that build communities and enrich lives.

Millennials and Generation Z kids are looking for brands that are authentically engaged in the culture of young consumers, and as marketers, we have an obligation to drop the act and to begin building online communities behind our brands. We need to stop pushing and start pulling; we need to stop selling and start connecting.

If there’s a currency for this next generation, it’s authenticity. We crave it, and we make our purchasing decisions because of it.

Now, I’m 25. I’m one of the so-called original Nerdfighers, one of the first 1,000 subscribers that started watching in 2007, and Hank and John have retired those camcorders that recorded their first vlogs. I’m not a senior in high school, I’m a social media professional (really), and John and Hank employ 30 people to help create the videos, events and projects they love. Their videos have been viewed more than a billion times. Almost as an afterthought, they’re making (a lot of) money doing what they love and being who they are, engaging authentically with their followers daily on Youtube, Twitter, Tumbly and even Snapchat.

I connect with Hank and John, and there are hundreds of thousands of other Nerdfighters who buy products, attend shows and support financially and with their voices the projects that Hank and John lead. They have their own empire — forged organically from a place of love authenticity and transparency.

But the vlogbrothers’ success is also a caution for old-school marketers trying, desperately, to be cool. If traditional brands don’t start forging digital communities like Nerdfighteria, they will lose relevance as fast as you can say “DFTBA.”

3 Great Ways To Use An Event Hashtag

We live in a social world … a social media world, at least. When you’re out and about at events even in my small(ish) Midwestern city, you’ll see hashtags everywhere. They’ll prompt you on signs; they’ll be on the wall as Twitter feeds. They’ll be ever present on promotional materials and fliers; they’ll dominate the digital conversation. But how do you use them appropriately? Here’s a short guide to using hashtags while you out at events, just in time for all those corporate holiday parties.

1. Use The Hashtag!

It may seem obvious, but in order to increase your reach and be heard during an event’s digital conversation and life, you’ve got to use the hashtag. It’s always best to end a tweet or Facebook post with a hashtag so it doesn’t distract from your content, but always include them. By using an event’s hashtag, you’ll gain more followers and be able to engage with other attendees during and after the event. From your personal accounts, it’s a great way to network at conferences. You’ll never know who will start following you as a result of a simple 140-character observation. Note: Event hashtags can be used across all platforms, but attendees can best utilize them to encourage engagement on Twitter and Instagram.

2. Share Photos With The Hashtag

Tweets with images result in a 36 percent increase in clicks, a 31 percent increase in visits to your profile, a 41 increase in retweets and a 48 increase in favorites, according to a recent social media article by Fast Company. If there’s a keynote speaker presenting or you’re taking a selfie at a vendor booth, take a photo and write a short caption. Pictures really are worth a thousand words, and it’s important to take interesting, engaging photographs that are relevant to an event. Just post it to Instagram, and share it across your other linked platforms. A great one to do? Photos of the event’s opening or closing. Social media managers will be looking for content during those quiet times and are more likely to engage with you from the event’s brand.

3. Engage With The Hashtag

Once you’ve tweeted that quote from a presenter or shared a photo, click on the hashtag and start scrolling. Begin retweeting and/or favoriting interesting or noteworthy tweets or posts from other attendees using the hashtag. It doesn’t have to be a science – just something that catches your attention is all that’s necessary to engage in a digital conversation. Plus, your followers will know that you’re out and about learning things about an industry or organization with your sudden influx of content about a particular subject, which makes you a more relevant content creator and curator.