Posts related to: social media

Positive Social Sharing for Brands: Amazing or Annoying?


It recently came to my attention that an old high school classmate was overheard complaining about my social media usage. She complained that I only post about  “every positive thing” in my life, and that it was “annoying.” I was initially offended: I couldn’t figure out why a person I haven’t thought about since I was 18 years old would care enough to complain about my positive social shares. However, because 60% of my job is to create, measure, and study social media interactions – I considered her opinion and rationalized it in a professional context. Is positive social sharing irritating to some people because it seems fake? If so, what kind of implications does that have for social content for major brands?

Share Diverse Brand Information

As marketers, we’re encouraged to shape perceptions, promote positives, and spin negatives. However, we also have to be careful not to alienate our clients’ blog readers, Facebook page fans, and followers. There’s nothing wrong with being positive, just as long as you’re being truthful and sharing diversified content.

Reduce Brand’s Fans’ “Fear of Missing Out,” And Save Reputation

Perhaps, my old classmate was just suffering from social media envy. This “epidemic” was the subject of a particularly interesting New York Post article. The immediacy of physically seeing someone’s happiness or success can give people a severe “fear of missing out.” Similarly, social fans who feel left out and unheard are far more vocal than if they have no complaints about the brand and its content. According to a survey quoted in a Mediapost article, on average, social media users who have had bad service experiences tell 53 other people about the experience; that’s almost three times the number of people that non-social media users tell. To limit negative news and help fans feel included, cater your content to your audience, and respond to posted issues social quickly and respectfully.

Spread Positivity With Comments and Likes

In order to counteract Internet negativity, I routinely comment on engagement photos, baby pictures, and school acceptances, congratulating my fellow happy social media pals. In a similar way, brands need to share the love. When active brand lovers mention you on Twitter or comment on your Facebook photo, respond! Building relationships with your organization’s digital friends only strengthens brand loyalty, broadens your impressions and reach, and pays the positivity forward. Brands that talk back to their fans online are more likely to receive more favorable comments more often. This spreads reinforces a positive, branded digital culture.

Don’t Try To Please The “Un-Pleaseable”

Although, after some self-reflection, I decided that I disagreed with my former classmate, her opinion taught me a valuable career lesson: always consider the naysayers. In the words of Dita Von Teese, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be someone who hates peaches.” When creating digital content, write for your target and listen to their criticism, but don’t get caught up in trying to please a consistently negative “fan.” Web activity sometimes fosters a subculture of nonsensical contrarianism. Don’t try to be everything to everyone: be the best you can be for the people who need or hire you.

“PR Is Dead,” and Other Lessons from PRSA iCon

by Lindsay Buchanan, Associate

Last weekend’s 2013 Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) International Conference in Philadelphia was full of lessons and forecasts from the industry’s greatest minds. The crown jewel of the weekend’s lineup of presentations delivered by industry superstars was the keynote speech from Brian Solis of Altimeter Group. Brian is a well-known and longstanding thought leader in the PR industry. Here are just three of the many insights Mr. Solis shared with the crowd about “The Future of PR” and are practice that Gaia Group and others in our industry put into practice and also serve as reminders of where we are headed.

1. Selfish Social is a Major Branding Blunder.

Solis urged professionals to put the “social” in social media, NOT the “me.” Some companies jump on social media, and they only use it to push out marketing messages. In reality, it is not advisable to market “at” people, but rather to draw them into a digital experience. The “experience cycle” involves the relationship between user, consumer and brand experience.

In this interconnected digital world we’re actually kind of antisocial, said Solis. Our digital feeds should be about creating an experiential environment where followers become brand ambassadors, not about shoving a product or service into our follower’s line of sight. Followers should feel like they are a part of your brand lifestyle. The brand journalism movement adds promise, and that all digital content should consider the consumer and her likes and dislikes.

2. Communicators Need to Communicate (With Each Other).

Winning social campaigns start at home. Successful social strategy requires communication between all of an organization’s departments. Transparency allows communicators to unify messaging and create a meaningful, workable strategy that keeps all internal parties involved. He talked about the journey that consumers have to take with organizations, whether it’s through a website, press release, an app or Facebook page.

Brian Solis described the “journey” of creating competent content as “a mess.”

“The people who own mobile don’t talk to people who own the website. The people who own the website don’t talk to the people who are running Facebook,” Solis said. This disconnect creates multiple brands and multiple voices for one company. It is up to PR practitioners to redefine that “journey,” integrate it, and, thus, change content for the better.

3. PR is Dead.

At least in the traditional sense. Public relations is no longer just about writing press releases, pitching stories, and planning events. The Future of PR is all about creating experiences, either online or in person.

Public relations now sits at the intersection of brand experience, user experience and customer experience.

4. Communications Professionals Should Avoid “Kodak Moments”

It’s important to know when to adapt. If you fail to adjust your strategy to account for new information, digital innovation, or new ways of thought, you may have a “Kodak moment.”

Brian Solis said that the old definition of the “Kodak moment” was co-opted by society as the “Instagram moment.” Kodak didn’t change their business model at a time when digital and consumer experience were exploding in their industry. They had all the technology and patents to create that experience, but they didn’t. Brian Solis defines the “new Kodak moment” as the moment you failed to realize that your organization needs to change.

“In order to change and innovate, we have to see what we don’t do right,” said Solis. Communicators are responsible for assessing their strategy, assessing their organization’s industry, and deciding how to influence a shift in consumer perception.

Lindsay Buchanan is an Associate and Digital Strategist at Gaia Group. You can catch up with her on her style blog, Southern Belle Stylista, or on Twitter 

Olympic -sized Snafus, Fast Food Fracas and the Centre County Crisis Continues – Musings from the Hammock II

As the summer season tends to get busy, it’s hard to blog regularly so we decided to do a roundup of news and comments from this year’s hot spell.   Summer 2012 will be remembered and enumerated by social media scandals primarily in the form of Twitter. It’s hard to fathom in this information age that public figures haven’t learned how to control their feeds.  Scandals, revolutions and outrage are all possible in the space of 140 characters.

The power of Twitter was felt by Olympic athletes from Greece to Switzerland – and our very own Fourth Estate.  From jumper to soccer player and network critic, all have been impacted by the world of social media.  While all targets of the tweets were victims, none were as visible as NBC.  Yes, you can watch events live, but they are still broadcasting a delayed version for prime time.  Yes, the viewership is sky high, but we hope network execs can do a better job of planning live streaming in the future.

Chicken Sandwiches Spark National Attention

Chick-fil-A’s President and Chief Operating Officer Dan T. Cathy wasn’t a household name in many places other than the hallowed halls of HQ until the day he broadcast personal beliefs around a red hot topic.  Cathy’s personal opinion of same sex marriage set off a fire storm of negative publicity for the company.  In the middle of the controversy, it looks like the Chick-fil-A PR team lost a team leader while managing to keep the statements churning.  Regardless of their status, the team navigated a national firestorm of commentary and grassroots activism on both sides of the issue.   No matter what anyone thinks of the issue, the PR team should be applauded for its adept and professional handling of an unexpected crisis.  Did this crisis hurt or help the brand?  We’ll leave that up to the court of public opinion.

Football Scandal Continues Momentum

Not to bum everyone out completely, but let’s address the elephant in the room – Penn State.  While a bird told us that Edelman is working with the university to recharge its public image, it will take a while to get there.  With players fleeing to other fields, statues being removed and fines imposed, the PR team will be hard at work crafting messaging that focuses on (re) building public trust for a long time to come.  As with any crisis program, all elements of the issue are reviewed and that includes taking a temperature with social media. The Pew Research Center’s Project on Excellence in Journalism examined the discussion on Twitter before and after the Freeh report’s release on July 12. Findings state that, “Before the Freeh report was released, 42 percent of the tweets about Paterno were positive. After the Freeh report came out, that number actually increased to 44 percent. Meanwhile tweets about the Penn State football program went from 40 percent being positive down to 22 percent.”  We look forward to seeing the in-depth reporting with a positive spin likely to come around as a result of professional issues management.

We decided to shelf In-N-Out’s sick cow crisis – two fast food stories is one too many.  Feel free to drop us a line and let us know about your favorite news item of the summer.

If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere…

Over the past few years as the economy has gotten tighter, I receive up to three inquiries a week from job seekers new to the workforce or in the limbo after their first “real” jobs. These young professionals are all working towards the same goal – full-time employment. I applaud this new generation of the workforce for working at temp jobs, part-time gigs and almost anything that will keep them afloat. In our nation’s capitol, it’s especially trying for the younger crowd to meet rent, food and entertainment quotas on hourly wages. I’m especially sensitive to their plight as I came to DC in the 90’s with a couple hundred bucks in my pocket, a suit, resume, borrowed car and a backpack. It all built character!

On the long trek to where I am now, a small business owner with big business clients, there is comfort in 20/20 hindsight. So here is the limited wisdom that I impart job seekers here in DC and anywhere else in the US. I’m always happy to add to this list of highlights, so feel free to drop a line or a comment and add on.

1. Get connected. Even academics say so – there is a new study out confirming that it’s all about who you know. It’s very true. I got one of my first jobs because a CEO recognized my drive and skills through our interactions in a networking organization. If you want to be in a certain industry i.e. government, marketing, technology, then the best bet is to find networking opportunities and dig in. I tell most people to go find a group and start there. Are you shy and don’t know what to say when you get there? Just remember that not everyone knows each other and you’re not the odd man out. There are always new faces at every event.

2. Speaking of not knowing what to say…I always advise developing a 10-30 second statement about who you are in case someone asks. The worst scenario is not being able to sell yourself! So get a few sentences together that tell your story and what you’re looking for, then practice in the mirror. Memorize. The next time someone asks, “what do you do?” it won’t be paralyzing.

3. Use new online tools and clean up the old ones. Take down or make beer pong FB pics from college private in some way. If you have a Twitter stream and its personal then you might want to lock it. LinkedIn is generally for the over 35 crowd and this is *good*. It’s where seasoned pros and decision makers dwell online. You want to be found here, so put up your full resume and give yourself a title. I’m “communications strategist” as it’s really a broad explanation of what I do. Simple.

4. Get feedback on your resume from people in and outside of your field. A few perspectives never hurt. Watch the grammar and punctuation – they really do count. Create an eye-catching cover letter that shows who you are and how you bring value to their business.

5. Finally, don’t be afraid to be unique. For example, I had one of the best interviews with someone who described an antique tea pot collection in the “interests” section of their resume. In addition to her great skills, it showed that she was well rounded. She got hired.

Lessons from Weinergate

Originally published on June 17, 2011

Over the past few weeks our team has discussed the news that’s widely known as Weinergate.  Unless you live on Mars, it’s been hard not to pay attention to the scandal that rocked Capitol Hill for the past month involving Representative Anthony Weiner and his fumbling of social media technology.

What we all know is that Weiner, by his own admission, tried to cover up the scandal and lied to the public about the lewd pictures that appeared on his Twitter feed.  For those who know Twitter, he claims to have meant to Direct Message (DM) and send to one individual not the whole stream of thousands of followers (including media!).  A slip of the finger, a momentary lapse of sanity or a complete lack of understanding of how the medium really works?  We will never know.

What we do know is that crises become bigger when they are not met head on.  Best practices in crises come in three golden rules:

Get out in front of the story – Smoke and fire go together, so if you smell or see the smoke then you know that the fire is on its way.  Engage your key staff and formulate a plan for tackling the issue in the most transparent way possible.  Create messages that will be used by every spokesperson including the CEO to the ground level employee who might be poached by the media at their front door.  Once you have messages locked down, go public with the issue.

Apologize and offer a solution – Not enough can be said about apologizing for creating an issue that affects customers and stakeholders.  Make sure its sincere and not just lip service.  People will know the difference.  The there’s the solution part.  So you’ve identified the problem, but customers want to know how you’re going to solve for it.  Make sure this is part of your initial planning.  Offer a solution or the flames will be fanned.

Continue communication – While Weiner need not be heard from again until he pops up on a talk show (too bad Oprah’s gone), this is not the case for businesses dealing with crisis.  Just because you followed steps one and two doesn’t mean your work is done.  Trust has been diminished and it needs to be regained.  Continue to communicate on the issue in order to rebuild trust.  The frequency, length and channel are up to you, but make sure that you aren’t seen as brushing it under the carpet.  Trust is what sells products and services.

The Worst Week in PR Goes to…

There is at least one PR agency on the planet that wanted to engage Facebook as a client even though it meant risking their own carefully constructed decades old reputation. What happens when crisis issues arise like this? It paints a poor picture for PR practitioners as a whole.We’re also not naïve about our business. There have been thousands of years of smear campaigns by everyone from the Sumerians right on up to our current civilization. This is where we diverge – we don’t smear. Ever. We practice good business and adhere to a code of ethics and we find that most practitioners share this set of practices.We evaluate our clients based on their story. In other words – we do a lot of listening. When it’s time to engage, our role is to be transparent about our practices. We’ve all shared and witnessed the power of social media. Over the past few years social media has been the primary means of communicating revolution in the streets of Tehran to Cairo. Any tool that can fuel the flames of revolution can certainly ruffles feathers in corporate America. This week’s dust up should be a good reminder to all.

Gaming Google or Beating Google at Its Own Game?

By Karissa MarcumIt could be the most valuable formula ever devised, the most guarded digital recipe ever brewed. Yet, despite Google’s efforts to protect its search engine algorithm, their secret sauce has been discovered and most recently, exploited, by retail giant JC Penney.The New York Times recently published a damning story outlining how JC Penney allegedly gamed Google’s PageRank algorithm. The strategy, which is not uncommon, artificially made the company the number one search result in categories that it wouldn’t normally own.The headlines echoed what Google execs might have been feeling: “gamed,” “tricked” and “dirty.” No one has said that it was illegal, but the collective conscious of the internet seems to be decrying the move as a blatant disregard for the unwritten rules of the digital age, with Google opting to punish JC Penney by manually burying its search results.Google came out strong in defense of their approach, noting that JC Penney had also violated its webmaster guidelines, “When someone is looking for information on Google, we want them to find the most relevant answers possible. Our search algorithm relies on more than 200 signals to help people find the answers they’re looking for, and when websites violate our published webmaster guidelines to try and game the system, that’s bad for users and we are willing to take manual corrective action,” a Google spokesman said.Despite firing its SEO agency, JC Penney claimed that it was unaware that the so-called “black hat” technique was used: “JC Penney was in no way involved in the posting of the links discussed in the article. We did not authorize them and we were not aware that they had been posted. To be clear, we do not tolerate violations of our policies regarding natural search, which reflect Google’s guidelines,” Vice President of Corporate Communications Darcia Brossart wrote.But beneath all that lurks the question, “Can we blame them?”After all, the top search results of a Google search typically generate four times the traffic than the next highest result. In fact, more than two thirds of internet users don’t go beyond the first page.Online, the front page of Google is the front line. The fight—for millions of eyeballs and billions of dollars—is won and lost there. No more valuable piece of digital real estate exists.So all of this begs the question: “Is the online community upset that JCPenney broke the rules or just jealous that they didn’t discover the formula first?Perhaps, after the dust is settled, the answer will be found in the top search results of a Google search.

Keep Up or Become Extinct – Calling all PR Dinosaurs!

During our team meeting this week, we brought to the table hot topics that can be shared and discussed.  It’s a bit like The View, but without Babs and Whoopie and a lot of PR shop talk. This week’s discussion touched on language and how we’re communicating in a new digital universe that has a plugged in global audience.  The old language of PR was couched in terms of press releases and lofty organizational speak that only insiders would know or care about.  New PR language is all about delivering the news in real (and plain) terms so that the average Joe/Jill can understand it. Reporters and bloggers are looking for news in real terms.As a result, communicators face the new challenge of thinking in terms of 140 characters.  We used to think in terms of elevator speeches and time frames of 10 – 30 seconds, now the wired world is demanding more of us and we’re happy to have the challenge.  As natural wordsmiths, we will be prepping clients for the conversational universe.  Ready or not, it’s no longer a one-way street.

Promoting YouTube Video Content in a Noisy Multimedia Environment

With more than two billion videos being watched on YouTube every day, it seems natural to think that someone should find your video content.  Data released this month by Comscore shows that 34.7 million Internet users in the UK watched 6 billion content videos in November 2010. If a small island has those numbers in just one month, then imagine what US users are up to. Unfortunately, this doesn’t guarantee that your video content will be found.It’s important to have multiple communications channels for any organization – including video.  Thanks to small and accessible hardware innovations such as the Flip cam, it’s cheaper and easy than ever to create content, edit and have it live in a matter of minutes.All this being said, how can you ensure that the noisy marketplace doesn’t drown out all of the important content that you’ve thoughtfully produced? Here are some recommendations on effectively driving traffic from YouTube to your website or business through the tips below.  Feel free to write us with your best practices – a good online experience includes feedback and comments (grin).MonitorYou can’t fine-tune content if you don’t know your viewer and reach.  YouTube Insight is a free “self-service analytics and reporting tool” that enables account users to view detailed statistics about uploaded videos such as demographic information on viewers and drop rate. This type of information is critical to follow in order to ensure content is reaching the intended target and drop rates are minimized.  The less of a drop rate, the higher the likelihood of content being absorbed.Monitoring comments from your subscribers and your video pages is also important.  Trying to be subjective on feedback is sometimes hard so having another pair of eyes review these comments will help with fine-tuning.Word PlayThrough the use of elements such as keywords, video description and tagging, the content you want to be viewed has a better chance of floating to the top.  Keywords involved the title of a video and are critical to success with getting found by the search engines. The title should offer up language that directly relates to your organizations mission, products or services. In other words, don’t be cute with titles and get right to the point.The video description is another factor in getting picked up by a search engine.  Make sure that the keywords and description are in sync along with the content of the video.  Think of it as a complete and streamlined package of messages. Finally, tagging is allowed much like in a website.  It’s the third opportunity to tie everything together and align with the keywords and description.  Tags enable each video to maximize search results.PromoteUsing the keywords, description and tagging you will be well on your way to being found.  Now it’s a matter of promoting through different channels such as business partners (cross posting), blog sites and LinkedIn. The Chamber of Commerce page in my city allows anyone in the group to post business related content that goes out to hundreds of potential readers and viewers.Much like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube allows users to respond and interact with each other all while driving traffic to each other’s sites. YouTube allows users to upload a relevant response video to already existing videos through its Video Response feature.  Before and After TV does a great job a walking you through the process. Note that tags and titles are important to a response just as it is to a post.  Organizations can target high traffic video pages and respond thoughtfully.  This is a quick and easy way to instantly expose your video content to new viewers in your target audience.Last but not least, don’t forget to promote the link in other channels such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Creating an integrated web of communications overlaid with consistent messaging is optimal for getting the traffic that you seek!

Beyond Petroleum? Unfortunately, yes.

Watching the tragic circumstances of the spill unfold in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) these past few weeks, one can’t help but look on in awe as some of the deepest pockets in the world are getting beat up for bad PR efforts. Most experts point to BP’s slow PR response as a reason that the general public is so upset (along with a host of others…).  In other words, lack of public support or positive feedback means that they haven’t been able to swiftly and effectively message around their issue which causes credibility and public support to dwindle.Even Capitol Hill is in on the PR attack. One of the most vocal opponents to BP in this whole mess is Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson who has been relentlessly raking BP over the coals for the past month.  One of his more barbed and candid quotes includes inserting early man into the conversation mix, “These guys either do not have any sense of accountability to the public or they are Neanderthals when it comes to public relations.”In case there are still doubters out there about the power of social media, then one doesn’t have to look much further than the fake BP PR handle on Twitter @BPGlobalPR and its 98,000 followers. Mashable reports that a wizard named Terry is behind the ploy to poke fun at BP’s situation. @BP_America is the actual corporate account with a mere 8,000 followers.  It looks like more people would rather poke fun at this point, eh?To the defense (dare I say it?) of BP’s PR team, they have a decent website dedicated to the GoM spill which streams the live feed of the spill along with all the information one could possibly want on how they are addressing the issue.  I also know from working war rooms that there is a team of professionals working around the clock to ensure the public is satisfied with the efforts to stop the spill.  Journalists (and just about anyone) seeking to contact BP can access a dozen different ways to drop a note or make a call. So while they may have been slow to garner public support and respond in a way that made a positive impression, it’s definitely an interesting case study in handling the court of public opinion.  The question is now, can they turn this around?