January 3, 2014

Think Before You Tweet: Worst Tweets of 2013

While gaining more followers, producing more interactions or having people click through to your website can be the end goal for businesses (and personalities), sometimes content can do more harm than good. Case in point, recently the communications manager at IAC, Justine Sacco (@justinesacco) made a tweet that she probably wishes she could take back.

 

Sacco

 

While entertaining for others, this tweet instantly proved to be a detriment to Sacco’s employer, IAC, the parent company of everything from match.com to Vimeo. Their brand was suddenly dragged through the mud by association. And what’s even more puzzling is how a seasoned communications manager might think her posting wouldn’t be highly scrutinized.

But before we burn Sacco at the stake, this isn’t an isolated event. It happens every day. Case is point, take a look at a recent post on “The Worst Media Tweets of 2013.”

So before you tweet, step away from the computer, tablet or mobile phone and think.

June 6, 2013

Blog post as a media relations tool?

blog post

Yes, a company’s blog can be a significant tool in reaching out to media and securing news coverage. Often, if there is an issue receiving a lot of attention within an industry, a blog post is the quickest and most efficient way to put a stake in the ground and offer your company’s point of view.

But just posting your company’s position on an issue is not enough. Sure, your employees and other company stakeholders are alerted, but you need to take it a step further and use that post just as you would a press release.

After you’ve entered your blog post, email a copy of it to all media reps important in your space. They’ll see it’s not a press release and you’re not pitching them for coverage, but merely alerting them to an issue your company believes is important. Once the email is sent, continue working with it like a press release and conduct phone follow-up to the top media you want to be in front of. When you have him or her on the phone, talk about why this issue is important to you and how your company could act as a resource should the reporter provide further coverage. You’ve already given your company’s point of view and demonstrated your commitment by phoning the journalist; you might be pleasantly surprised how far this will go in having your company included in future coverage.

May 17, 2013

Trend alert: blog posts replacing press releases

imagesA growing number of companies are announcing major news via their blogs. Google, Dell, Southwest Airlines and others have all chosen this format to break their stories to the world. But can a smaller business get away with this digital strategy? I think so. But they must not skip over key ways to promote the new post and drive traffic to their blog page. Here are some tips to do that:

- Individually email a summary of the news to your target press. Link to the blog page.
- Promote the post in all your social channels (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), in multiple ways, multiple times. Again, link to the blog page.
- Promote it on your company home page, so readers are only one click away from seeing the full story.

If you don’t have a blog, then this strategy is not for you. But if you do, seriously consider breaking some (or all) your news there. When you have press, analysts, customers and other stakeholders in the habit of reading news on your blog, you create the opportunity for them to click multiple times and view more of your website’s content.

Be sure to break from the stiff, formal look of a traditional press release, too. Be human, conversational and approachable (for example, invite comments). Take a look at Zillow’s blog to see an example of how you can turn your blog into a warm and welcoming place to engage with readers.

May 1, 2013

The Online Troll: To Engage or Not to Engage

It’s a scenario that I’d bet virtually EVERY SINGLE company has endured: an unwarranted online attack against its reputation. Much of the time, at the heart of these attacks is what people refer to as an online troll.

Wikipedia defines a troll as “Someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

To paint a clearer picture, most trolls hide behind a fake name, a pseudonym or post anonymously. Trolls often act alone, but they may occasionally band together.

Troll

The troll can’t just be labeled by one generalization. He or she comes in all shapes and sizes. Andrea Weckerle, author of Civility in the Digital Age outlined five types of trolls in her book:

Spamming trolls: These people make the same post to many platforms.

Kook: These regular members of platforms consistently post irrelevant comments.

Flamer: These users make inflammatory comments.

Hit-and-runner: These trolls stop on a platform, make one or two comments and then disappear.

Psycho: These people have the psychological need to hurt others in order to feel good.

Now that we’ve got the types of trolls clarified, let’s get back to the heart of this post: What to do when (notice I didn’t say if) your company comes under attack from an online troll. My answer isn’t a blanket statement. You’ve got to take the type of troll into account, what his or her accusations are, etc.

As a general practice, my stance is, don’t give the trolls the satisfaction of a response. No matter how articulate your response is, nothing is going to be enough for them.  In the end, your comments could get manipulated and used as more ammunition against you. Plus, a response generally (not all of the time) makes a company appear weak or desperate. If a troll’s comment is unfounded, why stoop down to that level?

Another way to combat trolls without a public response is to reach out to a website’s moderator to report unfounded or just plain malicious posts. More often than not, those moderators will recognize the issue and strike out the troll’s posts that cross the line with slander.

The Internet is a powerful tool, and unfortunately, some people have decided to use that power to smudge businesses, either out of maliciousness or for fun. To come out smelling like roses when you combat these cyber trolls, think before you click.

 

April 26, 2013

Social Fundraising Tips for Nonprofits

imagesFundraising can be a challenge for any nonprofit. Convincing people to part with hard-earned cash is always tricky, even if the organization’s cause is a good one. Despite the challenges, 2012 proved to be a big year for social giving, with nonprofits seeing higher engagement and more donations directly related to their social media efforts.

2012 Social Fundraising Success

An infographic released by MDG Advertising shares the success that nonprofits saw using social media, comparing 2012’s results with years prior. Below are some interesting highlights detailed in the the infographic:

Twitter generated almost ten times more money raised. Average total online donations using Twitter were $225.90. Without Twitter, the average total of online donations was $22.97.

• Using social media on #GivingTuesday resulted in impressive numbers. Normal online donations average $62. In comparison, #GivingTuesday resulted in higher average donations at $101.60.

• Donors posting about contributions resulted in even more engagement. Friends who see these posts are likely to learn more about the charity, ask for more information, repost the donation request, and even donate themselves.

• Three trends to watch out for: (1) Nonprofits will use Facebook more to pursue donations, (2) using Google+ will help social giving by allowing charities to integrate their pages with other Google features, and (3) Twitter hashtags will increasingly help nonprofits spread the word about causes.

What Nonprofits can do on Social Media

How can you get some of the same success for your nonprofit? Here are five tips to help push your audience into becoming donors:

1. Encourage donors to post about contributions on their profiles. As stated above, this results in donors’ friends learning more about charities and may even lead to more donations. After receiving a donation, ask a donor on your website’s “Thank You” page to Tweet or post about the contribution.

2. Jump on the #GivingTuesday bandwagon. In addition to the impressive results above, The NonProfit Times reported that the charitable sector’s Black Friday was already trending on Twitter well before businesses closed on Monday. Be sure to leverage the giving spirit that comes with this day.

3. Provide links to your profiles. Add either links or widgets that lead to your social media profile to your “Thank You” page and emails. Encourage donors to follow and like your pages and profiles to stay up to day on the latest news.

4. Create and share behind-the-scenes content. Use videos and images that gives your audience a sneak peek at what the donors are helping to build. This creates a sense of ownership for the donors. Engaging content like photos and video are also more likely to be shared.

5. Only occasionally ask supporters to donate via posts and tweets. It is important to first build your community, then raise funds second. Nonprofits Tech 2.0 suggests the guideline of asking for donations only twice a month. We also suggest asking leading up to a big applicable event or holiday.

With these tips, any nonprofit should be able to bolster its social presence and motivate supporters into becoming donors.

Related Posts:

April 22, 2013

LinkedIn Recommendations for CEOs

When a CEO becomes interested in building a larger presence on LinkedIn, here are some of the suggestions we’ve provided in the past to get him or her started, organized by the amount of time and effort needed:

imagesLevel 1 (Low Participation) – Approx. 30 minutes – 1 hour a week
• Join five LinkedIn groups.  Pick five groups that are related to your company or industry, and ones you feel comfortable participating in. The second step is to make comments when the right topic is posted within those groups. We recommend checking in with the groups once a week to see if there’s a new topic of conversation you’d like to join.
• Post one link to profile wall once a week.  These links can be to anything related to the company. Whether it’s specific company news or industry news, the more you post on your profile, the more attention will be received.

Level 2 (Medium Participation) – Approx. 1 – 2 hours a week
• Create posts in two of the five groups.  Instead of making brief comments to other users’ posts, create your own posts within those groups to generate more conversations revolving around topics that relate to the company’s products, services, and industry. The company name should not be mentioned in the post so that group members do not assume it is a sales pitch.  This allows you to control the conversations, generate discussions and glean potential customer and industry leader feedback.
• Post revised version of group post to your wall.  Anything that is posted within a group should also be posted to your profile wall.

Level 3 (High Participation) – Approx. 3 – 5 hours a week
• Start new group.  Creating a new group allows you to invite customers and other contacts to join and participate. Create one company specific post a week and recruit internal marketing personnel to post industry news and other information. We would advise that the company should create a minimum of eight posts a month. Customers could also create posts sharing their experiences and feedback. The idea is to make it inviting for users that are not current customers to join. This allows you to learn more information about current customers and potential customers and could also lead to great case study material.
• Post revised version your group posts to wall.  This is the same principle as Level 2 except there will be multiple group posts.
• Thought leadership responses to five groups.  Pick three main conversations from the original five groups and write thought leadership-inspired responses. Rather than short comments to certain posts, these responses would be drafted ahead of time and could even be edited and repurposed to fit different groups or shortened to be posted on the wall. These type of thought leadership responses, along with many of the other listed recommendations, will drive more users to not only connect and follow you but also the company brand.

April 17, 2013

Should My Brand Use Memes?

6e69ebbfad976d4637bb4b39de261bf7

According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of an Internet meme is “A word, phrase, expression, iconic imagery or recognizable reference popularized amongst online communities such as on forums or in online games.” You’ve mostly like seen these Internet creations floating around in places like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, and you might have wondered if you could use them to promote your brand or campaign. The short answer is, “Yes!”

Memes are a great way to connect to your audience — especially Millennials — through the use of humor.   They can go viral if they are really funny, as users deploy them within their social networks. And if something goes viral, that means you’re generating more awareness of your brand.

However, there are some things you should consider before using memes. You should first decide if they are appropriate for your brand, then think about the merits of creating your own versus using existing memes.

Reasons Your Brand Should Use Memes:

  • Memes are easy to share
  • Memes humanize your brand, adding ingenuity and humor
  • Memes jump to attention and get noticed

Tips for Using Memes to Promote Your Brand

1. Opt to use newer popular memes. Keep an eye on Facebook and Twitter for new memes that are popping up, since newer ones automatically garner attention. Unless you use an older meme extremely well, users will be quick to point out that a it has already run its course.

2. Tailor the meme to your brand or campaign. When you find that perfect, already-existing meme, don’t be afraid to tailor it to fit your to your needs. You can use photo editing software like Photoshop or sites like MemeGenerator.net to construct your own message.

3. Don’t blatantly promote your brand. The goal of creating a meme is to see it spread virally. What can hinder that is being too obvious with company promotion. So if you’re going to put a company’s name on it, make sure that it is small type across the bottom of the image in the style of a photo credit. The same goes for logos. Put a small icon in one of the lower corners. And don’t put it in a place where it can be easily cropped out. If people can crop it, they will.

4. Keep it recognizable. Memes are depictions of popular culture. For an example, the “McKayla is not impressed” meme hit the Internet with full force the day after McKayla Maroney made her famous stink-face at the Olympics. With this iconic moment captured and the world watching the Olympics, this meme spread fast with McKayla being unimpressed with many things.

5. Keep it relevant to your audience. If your audience can’t relate to a meme, considering it dead upon arrival. Reflect on the information your audience typically consumes and use its interests and problems to find common ground for your humor. Also, memes sometimes walk a fine line between funny and offensive. Be cautious.

A Word of Caution

Memes can be freely copied and altered. This means that your attempt at a viral campaign to gain brand awareness can turn against you quickly. If your company makes a misstep or has unpopular practices, its memes can be repurposed, causing you to lose control of your message. So while memes are fun and can cement a brand in the public consciousness, they can also turn into a nightmare for any company’s social media manager.

Suprised baby

Carefully consider using memes to avoid a social media nightmare

However, if used correctly, memes can be a really fun way to gain awareness. Just make sure the memes you select are humorous, targeted and brand appropriate. For more information on viral content, read our previous blog post Organic vs. Viral vs. Paid Reach for B2B Facebook Pages.

April 15, 2013

Social Media Site’s Up…Now What?

So you think it might be important for your company to have a presence in the social media world…but once you’ve established your LinkedIn profile and set up your Facebook page, now what?  The most important work is about to begin: keeping these sites and others updated with timely, useful information. If you can’t do that, it makes more sense to wait until you can. Why? Because a lack of recent postings will make your company look outdated and uncommitted to this ever-evolving world of communication.

If you are committed to having an active presence, one way to keep content fresh and interesting is to involve members of your team with social media postings. Just like any other shared responsibility, content creation can be parsed out over a calendar period and organized to keep everyone on track. This way, you get different perspectives and no one feels over-burdened with the task. And by setting up this system like a newsroom, where one person is the editor who receives and posts all the content, it can work in a very streamlined fashion and keep your company voice clear and consistent.

Social-Media-Collage

April 12, 2013

Can hashtags #hurt?

hashtag1-cc

Daniel Victor, a social media editor with the New York Times, wrote an interesting piece for Harvard’s Nieman Journalism Lab exploring the idea that hashtags can be, well, useless.

According to Twitter, #SuperBowl was used 3 million times over about five hours on Super Bowl Sunday this year. Look at all those people who might be interested in our jokes about Beyonce! And yet getting any single person’s attention is just short of impossible, like a single Niagara droplet screaming for notice as it shoots down the falls.

Though there were peaks and valleys, 3 million tweets over five hours comes out to an average of 167 tweets per second. To say that someone would have to search for “#SuperBowl” in the split-second you sent it would actually be a little generous; assuming they’ll notice your tweet if it’s in the most recent 10 tweets, users would have a window of 1/17 of a second to find you.

And things are even worse if you don’t already have a huge following:

Compounding the problem is how the tweets are displayed when you do perform a hashtag search. The default view will show you the “Top” tweets, which is based on a formula that favors tweets and users that have already gained a following. This is a smart effort by Twitter to deliver more relevant tweets, but it also decreases the likelihood that the average user will find a new audience. Average users are buried under another click, as you’d have to toggle over to “All” to find them.

Click through to the story to find his insight on where they might actually be counter-productive (as in, lessen the chance of a retweet), and when/how to best use them.

Photos by Quinn Dombrowski used under a Creative Commons license.

April 8, 2013

5 Things You Need to Know About Twitter’s Advanced Ads and Analytics

Online and social marketers rejoice – Twitter finally joined the big leagues of social media advertising. For the past year, Twitter has been slowing moving toward becoming a full-on, paid advertising source, first allowing select large brands to run basic promoted account and tweet campaigns, then allowing the same functionality to small businesses. While these promotions have given brands increased traffic and boosted followers, the control board of these campaigns has left much to be desired. Until last month, Twitter Ads’ dashboard was bare bones basic, showing only what tweets were being promoted, number of clicks, engagement rate, and budget spent. For online marketers who are used to the detailed campaign analytics of Facebook or Google PPC, this feels like only being fed an analytics snack when you’re starving for a meal.

Twitter's new advanced ad dashboard

Twitter’s new advanced ad dashboard

Thankfully, Twitter has joined the competitive online marketing ranks, introducing a new advanced dashboard and targeting capabilities that are organized, thorough, and visually appealing. Plus, Twitter has managed to transition into monetization without feeling like it’s losing its integrity. Brands that don’t promote don’t risk not being seen by their followers, and there’s no tacky – if not invasive – option to promote your friends’ posts without their permission (ahem, Facebook).

We’ve been using the new Twitter Ads platform extensively in the last month for various brand campaigns ranging from the less than a hundred dollar range all the way to five digits. Here are the top five things online marketers, regardless of budget, should know about the new Twitter Ads:

1. You decide your audience
Previously, Twitter Ads just allowed you to bid on what you would pay for a click or follower, how much you wanted to spend, and Twitter’s algorithm somehow got the numbers met. The new Twitter Ads allows brands to target promoted tweets and accounts either by A) tweeters with particular interests; or B) followers of particular accounts (like target publications, analysts, influencers, etc). Though the analytics don’t show who specifically is clicking on links, it makes it much easier to answer the question, “Do we know these clicks are from our target demographic?”

2. Prices have gone up
Surprise surprise, with increased functionality comes increased prices. Once brands input which interests or accounts they want to target in an ad, Twitter shows the potential reach your ads could have. The more you pay per engagement, the more people will see your tweet – regardless of how large your overall budget is. For example, if you have a bid of $1.50 per click and a potential reach of 15,000 people, Twitter will tell you you’ll only reach 20 percent of this demographic regardless if your campaign budget is 500 dollars or 1,500 dollars. Additionally, the cost per click has increased. Before the switch, one client had particularly good results from $0.40 bid per click. Now, campaigns are static without a bid of at least $1.75 per click. Yes, Twitter allows you to choose who sees your promotion, but they’ll make you pay to get in front of the right eyes.

3. Price varies on based on country
If you’re running a campaign targeted toward particular countries, setting a budget may be a little more complicated than you think. Twitter Ads now charges more for engagements in countries where a higher amount of the population is on Twitter. This is consistent with the Twitter Ads trend that the more people you want in your pool of targets, the more you have to jump in the pool.

4. You’re not just paying for clicks anymore
Pre-March 2013, Twitter Ads let brands pay to get clicks. Today’s Twitter Ads makes brands pay for engagements, including retweets, new followers, and clicks. Twitter weighs and charges each of these engagements equally. Though this new model does allow for a more well-rounded ad experience, it does not allow brands flexibility to decide what they really want to pay for. If your objective is just getting traffic from a particular promoted tweet, you’re out of luck on this one.

5. The clicks are real
After one of our first large-scale promoted tweet campaigns, I went into Hootsuite (a tweet scheduler that also provides click analytics) and checked the click-thru rate to see how our promoted tweets were performing compared to non-paid content. Hootsuite told me our promoted tweet click-thru was nothing out of the ordinary, while Twitter analytics told me it was in the thousands. What gives? Was Twitter lying to me? So we dug deeper, reconciled with Google Analytics, and it was true – we really had gotten thousands of clicks to the website. Relief. If other Twitter analyzers aren’t picking up on your promoted clicks, always double check with your website analytics.

Happy promoting and analyzing, folks!