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Facebook Marketing – Fail?

Posted in Hannah's Posts, Online Marketing, Social Media

A little more than a month ago, Facebook declined organic reach for company pages. While news sources disagree and firmly believe it's Facebook's ploy to encourage advertising, Facebook insists it has everything to do with increased user activity, translating to floods of content and its need to clean it up and deliver the most relevant messages to users.

Can't hate Facebook for that, right? We apply this principle to our business every day.

But if this is truly in place, and we aren't reaching the people who matter most to us and engaging as often, why should we maintain a Facebook presence at all? Why should we spend resources on a declining controlled media channel? I'll give you a few solid reasons businesses still should:

1. You can still strike a chord.

There is a method to this madness. Videos, photos and company updates resonate with a company page's fans more than links to other thought leadership pieces. Ever notice on your personal account that the articles your friends are most likely viewing are the ones that show up at the top? For instance, my closest friends are obsessed with Buzzfeed, therefore, funny stories and Top 30 lists cover my newsfeed.

Think about what your audience is up to. If there is significant buzz about something, jump into the conversation on behalf of your business. That's where you're more likely to float to the top of your followers' feeds. 

2. Facebook is one of the first places people conduct their research.

As Eric mentioned in his recent blog post, we visit an organization’s website and conduct a search before we meet in-person. Facebook and LinkedIn are typically the first two sites to appear at the top of the search page. Make positive first impressions by consistently updating these social networks. You might not appear at the top of users' newsfeeds as often as before, but you're still engaging unique visitors who could potentially invest in your business.

3. You're judged on where you do and do not participate. 

Businesses find value in a Google+ account because it helps boost SEO. While people don't engage on this platform as often as they do on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, imagine what your company's absence looks like when one of your most loyal fans logs on and can't find you. Your credibility diminishes, and depending on the person his or her allegiance might weaken.

Engage in all channels most applicable to your business. Even if they don't provide immediate business benefits, you'll uncover their value over time.

What do you think about Facebook's move? Does it make sense? If not, how should it accommodate those businesses that heavily rely on the social media platform to drive purchase behavior? Let us know on our own Facebook page.

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

Looking Forward: 20 Marketing Trends for 2014

Posted in Best Practices, Laura's Posts, Social Media, Tips and Tricks

The year is quickly coming to an end and 2014 planning is well underway for many PR and marketing professionals. WebDAM created an infographic, which contains 20 key trend predictions for marketers and PR pros to be on the lookout for next year. It comes as no surprise that digital marketing campaigns and tactics will continue to increase in 2014, but what are some less obvious trends?

Noteworthy trends:

  • Social media marketing budgets will double over the next five years
  • More than 70 percent of press releases will include images
  • Marketing teams will spend approximately $135 billion dollars on new digital marketing collateral
  • Email with social sharing will boost click-through rates more than 150 percent

 

Check out all 20 key trends predicted for 2014 on the infographic below. What key trends would you add to the list?

Photo courtesy of WebDAMsolutions.com

Photo courtesy of WebDAMsolutions.com

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Comments Off Posted on by Laura Jung

Pinterest Perks for B2B Marketers

Posted in Hannah's Posts, Online Marketing, Social Media, Tips and Tricks

Pinterest is still pandemonium after its launch in March 2010. What’s more – you don’t have to be a chef or wedding planner to successfully promote your business on the purchase-driving social media network. During Q2 2013, Pinterest accounted for 23 percent of social-generated e-commerce sales – up twenty percent in one year.

One of my clients recently asked what is deemed “Pinterest-able.” The following are useful tips from both experience and research:

Although Pinterest centers on visual imagery, take the opportunity to humanize your brand. Yes, infographics are hotter than ever, but smart Pinterest board variety is important, and customers appreciate seeing a human face they can connect to the companies they regularly interact with. Engage both customers and employees by posting pictures of day-to-day operations, company events, awards and community involvement. Challenge yourself to make it fun and up-to-date like Constant Contact has.

Always spend extra time becoming better acquainted with your audience. All in all, visual appeal will attract users to your Pinterest boards. As is the case across all aspects of marketing, you should always seize the chances to get to know your customers better. Establish relationships and regularly interact with them. Listen to them and better understand what they want.

Create boards that spark discussion. Assert subject matter experts with videos and articles that can all be found on one board. It’s okay to insert visually appealing PR coverage with graphics and photos. Avoid text only clips. It’s fruitful to share more information, but Pinterest is about catching pairs of eyes first.

Some B2B companies are uncertain about whether Pinterest is an appropriate outlet for them. As long as the company can brainstorm creative ways to promote the business and create content then it is 100 percent worth a shot.

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock

For the Love of #Hashtags

Posted in Social Media, Tips and Tricks, Tricia's Posts

The other day I overheard two teenage girls holding a conversation. Every other word included a hashtag before it. Really – in a face-to-face conversation. (#areyoukiddingme) I felt like I was in the middle of Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon’s “#Hashtag” video spoof or the latest Subway commercial:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKZYCrhb_Ok

Granted, these two teens were probably playing off of these very same videos, but for me it reinforced the prevalence of hashtags in today’s conversations. While many people are really giving hashtags the business these days, the truth is, hashtags can be great for your business. It’s all about knowing why, how and when to use them.

There are many articles out there that dive deep into these areas. Some of the ones I’ve found useful include:

Mashable – The Beginner’s Guide to the Hashtags

Social Media Today – A Rant About the Proper Use of #Hashtags

Marketing Profs – The Power of Hashtags in Promoting Music (And Just about Anything Else)

The Wall Street Journal – How Twitter’s Hashtag Came to Be

A quick synopsis of the basics:

Hashtags were created to help people find, organize and track content. While the hashtag originated on Twitter, several social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, now support this nifty tool.

When using hashtags for business purposes, as with all good communication, consider how your audience will use and engage the hashtag. For example, if you’re holding an event, a hashtag is a great way to link all news together and make the event easy to follow. You can also use hashtags to make your benefits or products more searchable. For example, #strategiccommunications could help others find Morningstar Communications in social media conversations. The key is ensuring the hashtags are relevant to your brand and your audience, and specific to the topic or event. Research what comes up when you search the hashtag you’re considering. Do you like what you find? Is it the conversation you’re looking to join?

At the same time, avoid overusing hashtags. Best practices show two to three hashtags are the maximum, otherwise your post begins to look like spam.

Don’t be afraid to use hashtags to help promote your business, but use them wisely and judiciously.

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Comments Off Posted on by Tricia McKim

Measure, Monitor, Make Sense of Social Media

Posted in Best Practices, Brian's Posts, Online Marketing, Social Media

Morningstar Communications’ weekly Facebook analysis shows an organic reach of 1,346 with 13 people talking about us and an increased like total of +6.

Okay, great, what does that mean?

At this point we can assume that most businesses out there have some sort of social media presence, be it Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or one of the hundreds of up-and-coming platforms in existence. However, the measurement of its effectiveness can seem a bit on the arbitrary side.

socialmedia-meausure

“More is better” is the guiding principle behind measurement of social media’s effectiveness. 1,300 reach this week? Next week let’s shoot for 1,500. While that line of thought isn’t necessarily without merit, it’s a bit one-sided. Pictures of babies and kittens will probably increase your Facebook reach, but does that help your muffler shop sell more mufflers? Before you post on social media on behalf of your company, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How does my social presence relate to my overall brand messaging?
    • You have a brand that you need to cultivate at all times. Are you leveraging it, helping it or hindering it through your social presence?
  • How are you tracking ROI?
    • Tools like Facebook insights can show reach and engagement, but Google Analytics can monitor website activity in relation to social posts. Find out what people are clicking on and what the end result is.
  • Who are you reaching?
    • While more likes may be good, obtaining more of the “right likes” are more important. Make sure you are targeting and engaging relevant businesses to increase your number of “right likes.”

 

Social media is a constantly changing field so it’s important not to simply accept the status quo regarding measurement. How does your business measure its social media ROI? 

 

 

Comments Off Posted on by Brian Van Note

Working the Twittersphere

Posted in Best Practices, Media Relations, Social Media, Susan's Posts

At a recent conference in Kansas City, I connected with a Forbes contributor about the value of reaching out to industry influencers via social media and the best ways to position your clients so you’re being strategic rather than pushy. With a genuine approach, the idea is that you’ll see a better return on your time and strategic investment. You’ll also build substantial relationships with key influencers and industry reporters, which is the goal we all strive for in public relations.

I have long been a fan of the seamless ability of personal and professional worlds to collide in a rather unique fashion via social media, so I was intrigued when this topic came into discussion. The idea of gaining some insight on how a journalist himself wanted to engage with PR people via social media was exciting and encouraging! Having recently employed these tactics and successfully secured client coverage via Twitter, the following are best practices I’ve learned along the way and from those my new Forbes acquaintance shared with me:

  • Reporters and journalists are already on social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook for both work and personal use – but they also search for news just like the rest of us via social media.
  • There is value in connecting with industry influencers and reporters via social media as you’re going directly to them in a space they’re already engaging.
  • Do not enter the social media world strictly to ask for favors or interviews. The rules here are similar to the real world, still follow your basic courtesies.
  • Specifically engage with reporters and industry influencers via social media for at least two weeks before making a request of them on your behalf or that of a client.
  • Retweet or share their articles, show a genuine interest, engage with them and then ask for PR opportunities when the moment is right.
  • Otherwise you’re making the statement, “I’m willing to talk to you and at you, but not to engage or listen to you.”
  • Remember to engage as a person. Don’t push a logo if you can help it. Refer back to your own subject matter experts and highlight their knowledge.
  • Remember that there is little value in following someone who pushes out the same message constantly and lacks engagement. Assert yourself on Twitter as someone who you would be interested in following. No one wants a canned experience.
  • Always remain relevant to the times and to the brand/client.
  • Look for opportunities to “newsjack”: find a piece of relevant news coverage to tie your client’s story/relevance into to give a unique angle on a story that your client can speak to as a thought leader.
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Comments Off Posted on by Susan Hinds

Making Social Media Work in the B2B World

Posted in Executive Insights, Online Marketing, Social Media

As the number of social networks continues to rise and the ability to reach consumers on their mobile devices becomes more relevant, businesses are scrambling to figure out how to take advantage of all the new platforms and delivery channels. And in the B2B arena, where the sales cycle is less transactional and far more sophisticated, business leaders need to be even more strategic and focused when implementing social media programs as part of their marketing mixes.

In addition to traditional marketing tools, social media can prove very effective in the B2B space. It’s all about finding the right platform and mix for your business, then ensuring your traditional tools – like your website – integrate and complement these new channels. Is your website optimized for mobile viewing? Can you effectively track what’s working?

The rising use of content marketing platforms helps move businesses from tracking clicks and “likes” to building relationships and measuring conversion rates. Still, without the right strategy, these fall short as well – especially because the number one challenge B2B marketers face is content development. From white papers to tweets to infographics, delivering relevant content to your target audiences takes foresight, effective planning, consistent implementation, and constant monitoring and tweaking.

As more opportunities arise in the social media space, marketers will continue to find ways to customize the best of these new tools for the unique needs of B2B companies.

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Comments Off Posted on by Sheri Johnson

“Newsjacking” Through Proactive PR and Social Media

Posted in Best Practices, Media Relations, Social Media

Recently I had the privilege of attending the emfluence Marketing Platform User Conference 2013, where Kansas City marketers got up to speed on digital marketing trends. Presenters touched on a variety of creative and effective e-mail marketing and social media strategies. It was during a presentation by Mark Fidelman, author and Forbes columnist, that I learned a catchy new phrase: “newsjacking.” Newsjacking, as Fidelman explained, is inserting your brand into a viral discussion of news.Screen shot 2013-06-25 at 12.07.24 PM

A consumer example is how Oreo uses newsworthy events to its advantage—inserting an Oreo cookie into historical events like the Mars Rover landing for example. Their timely posts fit perfectly within the buzz around events, and are “eaten up” by consumers at a time when news is peaking on the topic.

Timing is key with newsjacking, Fidelman states. Don’t engage in newsjacking too soon before people are aware of a particular story or event. And definitely don’t engage too long after the story has happened, as people generally are ready to move on. The sweet spot for newsjacking is right before the news peaks.

Proactive pitching and social media are perfect avenues for newsjacking. Our team frequently engages in timely proactive PR to position our clients as thought leaders in their industries. For example, recently when the Supreme Court made an important ruling, we pitched an attorney from our client Stinson Morrison Hecker to a local publication to provide expert insight on the decision, resulting in a story that ran the next day. Leveraging thought leadership like that in the right place at the right time can result in a PR win for clients. It requires careful observation of the news cycle, and really knowing your clients so you can spot appropriate opportunities.

Give it a try! How can you take advantage of the news cycle to share the expertise of your organization?

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Comments Off Posted on by Holly Eckold

Mobile Marketing Mania

Posted in Creativity and Design, Hannah's Posts, Online Marketing, Social Media

 

People often say they feel “naked” when they don’t have their mobile devices and gadgets with them. They’re lifelines for business, entertainment and every day necessities (like online banking, for example).

With that being said, many people are subjected to mobile advertising daily, particularly those who elect to download free apps instead of those that cost money – the more generally chosen option. If designed and disseminated correctly, mobile ads can be a blessing for both the advertiser and the consumer.

Mobile marketing is booming, with no sign of slowing down:

  • According to a report from Gartner, the worldwide market for mobile advertising is expected to grow annually at a 65 percent rate, reaching $13.5 billion spent in 2015.
  • Two-thirds (66 percent) of marketing executives will be allocating at least one quarter of their budgets to digital marketing next year, and nearly one-quarter (23 percent) say that more than half of their spend will be on digital marketing.
  • 70 percent of executives believe that corporate marketing will undergo a dramatic overhaul within the next five years, more toward a digital direction that will help them achieve higher revenue and increased market share.

 
These statistics can be directly attributed to the fact that more and more people are buying smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices.

Photo Credit: www.govdelivery.com

Photo Credit: www.govdelivery.com

Some people grumble about mobile ads. Some don’t give a second thought as they “X” out of them. Despite these encounters, mobile advertising is evolving and improving, meaning it will more likely grab consumers’ attention. Listen up, marketers: 63 percent of people surveyed wish the ads they saw on their phones were more entertaining. So, ads should be more like what we see on TV or even billboards.

Some marketers have been listening, and are starting to get it right. The following employ precision targeting without invading consumers’ privacy, and reduce wasted ad impressions along the way:

  • 4INFO – The mobile advertising technology company applies analytics to gain insight into customers’ needs and wants, yet specific household data remains anonymous. With 4Info’s innovative precision targeting, consumers receive relevant information that accurately caters to their purchase behaviors. ROI can be difficult for mobile advertisers to measure, but 4INFO has mastered it.
  • LinkedIn – Yes, it’s a social network. But aside from employee recruiting, it’s also a great B2B marketing tool. It allows marketers to target a person from a particular workplace with a particular career path. LinkedIn Groups lets marketers scatter relevant information.

    Not only does it allow businesses to market for free, but it also has advanced advertising techniques that reach a 200 million-member database. For example, its Targeted Status Updates give marketers a chance to provide tailored content to people who matter most to them. And, the ability to give presentation-style ads that usually only reach a few people now reaches a huge database of businesspeople.

    On top of all this, LinkedIn’s mobile app is easy as 1, 2, 3 – user-friendly yet robust.

How do you envision the future of mobile marketing? Will it be powerful as projected, or fall short?

Can you think of any specific campaigns that inspired you to learn more about the product or service it advertised?

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2 Comments Posted on by Hannah Babcock

Twitcher – Pitching Through Twitter

Posted in Hannah's Posts, Media Relations, Social Media

I love learning something new every day, but when I can count new pieces of knowledge on two hands, that is a darn good day.

Two weeks ago I attended a PRSA event in which Erica Swallow was the featured speaker. She is accustomed to both sides of journalism – news and information, and strategic communication. Erica has an impressive resume: contributor to Forbes, The New York Times and Mashable – to name a few.

A key talking point in her presentation was about pitching through Twitter. One of the main reasons I was drawn to the PRSA event was because I had pondered the “Twitcher” concept before. I’ve noticed most editors, reporters and writers have a Twitter account. Some journalists are extremely active on it, too – as though it’s a side job. In fact, I know that some companies require all of its employees have individual Twitter accounts, like KCTV5, for example.

So, as these journalists take on added responsibilities, they put out content on their own personal accounts and are more likely to engage with readers through social media than they would through comments on their publications’ websites. Would I be overstepping my boundaries by pitching a reporter through Twitter?

I realize now that the answer is, “Of course not.” Unless it is clearly an account intended for personal use, dedicated to their non-work life, then “all systems go.” Based on my personal experience researching reporters, I’d bet about eight out of 10 journalists with active Twitter accounts post content relevant to their beats. It’s because they do want that feedback, and want to connect with people who will inspire their future stories.

As PR professionals, we seek journalists who will cover client news. Despite inevitable rejection, they still need us, too. They seek our resources – from exclusive statistics to subject matter experts and beyond. Besides, why else would they create helpareporter.com (HARO)?

Furthermore, “Twitcher” takes a more humanized approach to pitching, because you’re more transparent and relatable. Crafting a pitch within 140 characters also cuts down on jargon and unnecessary language. Media relations professionals understand pitches should be as short as humanly possible, and “Twitcher” is a smart way to appeal to reporters with short, attention grabbing story ideas.

Erica estimated that the response rate to email pitches is likely around 50 percent, while she has almost always received some sort of reply on Twitter. I encourage you to follow relevant reporters and try “Twitcher.” I’m excited to measure how it positively plays out for my clients.

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Comments Off Posted on by Hannah Babcock
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