5 Tips (+1 Bonus) for Addressing a Crisis

Getting ahead of a crisis might mean that you’re the first to publicize it. When a Southwest Airlines flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York skidded on the runway and landed nose first, the airline posted news of the accident on Twitter and Facebook within minutes, promising updates.

Within minutes, they received thank yous for their openness. If a crisis is going to come out either way, and you already know about it, why not get credit for having the integrity to bring it to the public’s attention? Southwest Airlines was first to report the story and was commended for getting ahead of the crisis.

Which leads us to the first tip:

1. Use Your Communication Channels. During a crisis, communicate with your audience using the same channels you always do. Centralizing all relevant information on your website even though your audience is used to hearing from you on Twitter or YouTube will inevitably leave them hanging and dissatisfied with how you handled things.

2. Never Lose Sight of Your Goals. As things escalate, get yourself prepared to move fast. One of the first steps is to know who you’re talking to and how to best reach them.

Keep in mind that you’ll be measured on:

  • Speed: Even in the best of times, people want fast results. Acknowledge the problem quickly and deliver updates as you address it.
  • Transparency: It’s getting harder and harder to keep secrets. Getting ahead of a crisis means sharing what you know and being open about your commitment to a solution.
  • Relatability: You will also be judged by how easy you make it for people to find and understand what they want to know. A media intelligence tool will indicate if your message is sticking (reach), how people feel about it (sentiment), and if it’s being amplified (engagement). 
  

3. Know Your Audience. That said, different people care about different things. Customize the message and channels you use to reach each stakeholder group.

4. Get Your Message Heard. Media intelligence also allows you to find the best ways to amplify your message. Earned, owned, and paid media all play a unique role in making yourself heard:

  • Earned media: Go to your social media channels to communicate directly to your followers. If your message affects them, you can count on them sharing it with their community. At this point journalists may be paying attention to these channels too. If your message resonates, you’ll get more positive earned media through them.
  • Owned media: Your website and emails are both great ways to provide information. Make sure that the scale of the crisis is reflected by the prominence you give to it on your site. Ask yourself if it merits a website banner or just a mention on your company news page.
  • Paid media: On social, you can consider whether to replace scheduled paid media (like sponsored posts on Twitter) and use those slots to address the crisis. Paid media can help you target your crisis communications to the people who are most affected or most vocal in their criticisms.

What to Look For

  • Customers: Customers are usually the most directly affected by a crisis. Understanding to what extent the crisis has negatively impacted them and how many customers are unhappy will help you in your resolution. Investors A crisis can have a negative impact on your company’s stock price. Find out how the financial community is reacting, taking this into consideration when you communicate with investors.
  • Employees: Employees act as representatives or brand ambassadors for your company. It’s important to provide them with corporate-approved messaging and monitor their public-facing communication regarding the crisis.
  • Influencers: Influencer has come to designate bloggers, social celebrities, analysts, and journalists. Among the first two, some might be advocates for your company and some detractors.

Media intelligence lets you know who is likely to be on your side.

5. Measure Your Impact as You Go. When addressing a crisis, don’t forget to gauge how your updates are being received. A media intelligence platform enables you to track how people are responding and how sentiment is shifting. When used well, media intelligence provides even more granular views. As your crisis
 takes hold both in social media and in the press,
 you can use your media intelligence platform to 
compare by keyword and sentiment what’s being
 said on social vs. the press vs. other key players who are trying to shape the message (for instance, your competitors or government officials). Doing so can help you target your communications and customize them further by channel and audience.

Bonus: Know When to Walk Away. There is no such thing as shutting down a crisis that’s being played out on Twitter or Facebook. As we’ve seen, your audience will demand that you engage in dialogue. Blocking them from the outset from posting to your feeds will only drive them to others, where they’ll be sure to comment on your strong-arming tactics. But it’s also important to know when to leave the conversation. If you’ve made all the points you can make, but there is still a vocal minority of detractors who are saying the same thing over and over again, any response you give them will just add fuel to the fire. Stepping away removes the target and gives them less to react to. Earned, owned, and paid media each play a unique role in making yourself heard during a crisis.

The best way to deal with a crisis is to prepare well before one hits. These five tips from our free downloadable ebook, Media Intelligence for Crisis Communications, will start you down the path. Get the full ebook and make sure you have the resources you need, in anticipation of not needing them. (But being ready, in case you do.)

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Why and How Brands Can Use Instagram Stories

Snapchat Stories have been a big success since they came on the scene in 2013 and the feature’s helped to grow Snapchat into an effective tool for brands. Instagram wanted a piece of the pie, so hey presto, now we’ve got Instagram Stories. Sounds familiar? Hands up, who would’ve loved to have been in the Snapchat HQ when they found out, ‘what do you mean, it does the SAME thing?!’ Joking aside, this is a big move for Instagram and one that can see brands reap the rewards of more engagement with consumers by creating fantastic content.

Why use it?

Brands should be getting on board with Instagram. Firstly, it has more users, 300 million daily users to be exact and it has the clout of its big brother Facebook too. It’s a more brand-friendly tool to use than Snapchat. The platform makes it easier to follow brands, like their posts and show approval of their content, which is good for measuring engagement. Snapchat hasn’t made it as easy for brands to build large followings with its user design, for example, the search function makes it difficult to find brands and you can’t ‘like’ content.

Because the similarities between Instagram Stories and Snapchat Stories are pretty striking, brands don’t have to get used to using a unique tool; they‘ll already have experience at creating short, snappy content. But there are ways of segmenting messages and targeting specific demographics, as Instagram allows brands to restrict viewing, which is good for brands with adult-friendly content.

Another example of Instagram being big buddies with brands is the introduction of a contact button on brand profiles so that customers can get in touch and interact with them. It offers another way to give great customer service and build rapport. It’s also allowing an Insights tool, so brands can improve their content strategy. Basically, Instagram can be your brand’s BFF.

Stories give brands the chance to get really creative and connect with customers in a fresh, exciting way. Here’s how.

Behind-the-scenes

After posting a choreographed photo or a painstakingly arranged photo with the perfect lighting, being able to give some more context and provide a behind-the-scenes video, Q&A or interview can give a brand a bit more authenticity. Giving customers an insight into your personality and the goofing around that goes on behind the posts can be just as valuable as the initial content.

Reviews

Quick, concise reviews of products or instructional videos can show products actually being used instead of prim and proper photos that show them looking unused and perfect. Customers want to see content that motivates them to use a product and see people using them in a context that’s familiar to them.

Influencers

Getting influencers involved with brands and collaborating with them is one of the best ways to start connecting with Generation Z who will make up over 40% of consumers in 2020. You need content that speaks to them, as well as the people to do it. Letting influencers essentially take over an account, posting content and stories helps to bring new communities to your brand and communicate something about the types of consumers you’re trying to reach out to.

On trend

With other marketing tools and channels, there can be tedious processes and lots of people that need to sign campaigns off which can make some content seem outdated by the time it’s eventually released. Instagram moments allow brands to create quick, timely content that reacts to changing situations. The whole point of the tool is about getting content out there that is reactive, responsive and interactive. Pinging creative content out there as soon as possible makes your brand look dynamic and on trend. Don’t be a sheep; get your ideas out there.

Test

If you’re a smaller brand that hasn’t experimented much with social media marketing, especially Snapchat Stories, then Instagram Moments is a great way to see what works for your brand and how you can reach out to different demographics. Especially because of the new insights tool, you’ll be able to try out new things and see what connects with people. Smaller brands have the chance to grow loyal and robust consumer bases and you can create content that is contextual and locally minded.

Key takeaway

Instagram stories can help your brand to create an ongoing dialogue with customers and engage with new demographics. It’s vital that your brand is prepared to talk meaningfully to millennials and Generation Z and the younger users of Instagram will want creative, experimental content that is on trend and dynamic.

Becoming more adept at Instagram and understanding the wealth of functionality the platform provides to brands is necessary for today’s PR and marketing professionals. So, use Instagram Stories and see what returns you might garner from this flexible platform. To learn more about Instagram’s algorithm and how to become an expert on the platform, listen to our free downloadable webinar, Master Instagram Marketing: Learn how to use the latest Instagram updates to your advantage.

 

This article was written by Bryan Kramer from Business2Community, originally appeared in Bryan Kramer’s Blog, and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Finding the Right Influencers to Partner with Your Brand

It’s clear that finding the right influencer is not simply about finding the people with the highest number of followers on Twitter, YouTube, or some other social network. So what do you look for? Research by influencer marketing platform Traackr found that 3 percent of people generate 90 percent of the impact online.

The key is understanding your customers’ influence circles and whom they’ve defined as niche experts within their trusted communities. “It’s important to establish some context: identify the topic in which you wish to gain influence,” says Dennis Shiao, Director of Content Marketing, DNN Software. “Next, define your objective. Putting the two together, one example might be: ‘To encourage marketing experts to share our definitive guide to A/B testing to their social networks.’

Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder of Orbit Media defines an influencer

Within this framework, influencers are people that marketers follow and respect, because of their expertise in marketing. These people (i.e., the followers) will also take action based on the influencers’ recommendations. They’ll model their behavior. If influencers share their successes with A/B testing, their followers will try the same tactic for themselves.” Similarly, you’re looking for an influencer who will be able to incorporate your brand into their usual style of storytelling—not someone who’s willing to cut-and-paste your brand message (and sometimes your instructions) into a social media post for anyone who sends them a check.

“Online, influencers are typically characterized by large followings and high authentic engagement, but one dimension that is often overlooked is the ‘scope’ of somebody’s influence,” says Li. “This is a huge oversimplification, but there are 1) global influencers (mega-celebrities like the Bieber), 2) niche influencers (the best in the world in a specific field/topic), and 3) local influencers (the person in your friend group who can convince anybody that “those” Korean tacos are worth waiting in line for). Generally speaking, global influencers reach far more people than local influencers, but local influencers can be much more effective in spurring action than global ones.“

When approaching an influencer about working with you, it can help to share a summary sheet about your company including any impressive content or media highlights, your reach and engagement across social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), number of blog subscribers, newsletter open and click-through rates, and other metrics that demonstrate your content reach and engagement. Showing how you can promote them to your audience is important to show the relationship is a two-way street with benefits to both parties. If you fumble your initial pitch, you may not have the opportunity to try again. “With influencers, you truly get one—and only one—chance to make a first impression,” says Beale. “So make it count! Whatever your platform of choice, make sure your engagement is personal, about them, and anything but ordinary.“

“With influencers, you truly get one—and only one—chance to make a first impression,” says Beale. “So make it count! Whatever your platform of choice, make sure your engagement is personal, about them, and anything but ordinary.“

5 Steps to Connect with the Right Influencers

  1. Use social listening to follow keywords, trending hashtags, and topics related to your market, and get to know potential influencers that talk about these topics
  2. Look for communities on social channels—such as Twitter chats, Facebook, and LinkedIn groups—that center around topics that relate to your brand and identify their most active members.
  3. Research media sites that talk about your market/industry and look for bloggers, analysts, and journalists who cover your market extensively.
  4. Search across blogs, media sites, and even your competitors’ websites to find analysts, bloggers, and journalists to reach out to.
  5. Prioritize your list of influencers by their level of engagement on their social channels and with their audience. Listen to hear if these influencers talk about other brands in your market (not only what they say, but how they say it) to see if you have an opportunity to reach out.

Targeting Your Outreach 

PR pros are known for often taking the “firehose” approach when pitching stories to journalists and other influencers. Using a media contact database lets you harvest as many names as possible with even the remotest connection to your topic and email or message them all. However, influencer marketing, as we’ve covered, relies on building a mutually beneficial relationship based on understanding. Unlike a traditional media contact database—rooted in increasingly outmoded criteria, such as beat and publication—Meltwater’s influencer tool enables users to search by keywords and surface results based on recent and relevant content. (This might sound like the obvious approach, but today it’s the only media contact database with this modern search functionality.) You can now zero-in on influencers who are interested in the same topics you are.

This is an excerpt from our ebook, The Communication Pro’s Guide to Influencer Marketing, get more insights to establishing relationships that help tell your brand story by downloading the free ebook today!

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5 Hot Areas For B2B Marketing

If you are a B2B marketer, gone are the days when you hammered prospects with outbound email and telemarketing campaigns designed to prompt their interest in your products and services. Today’s savvy buyers hunt down their own information with search and social tools in a self-education process that taps into brand content late in the game. This new reality is why tactics such as B2B inbound marketing are now mainstream for B2B marketers and one of five techniques to focus on in 2016.

To further their efforts, B2B marketers are investing more in data-driven marketing talent, tools and data than their B2C counterparts. Our CMO survey revealed that among all marketers, B2B marketers anticipate the biggest budget increase in 2016. When B2B marketers were asked about the top areas where senior management’s expectations of marketing responsibility increased over 2015, converting leads to sales came in second only to innovation. Strategic planning came in third.

Here are five important B2B marketing techniques:

1. Leverage Account-Based Marketing techniques, including relationship management
B2B marketers are on the hook for generating leads and closing new deals—activities traditionally associated with the upper part of the marketing funnel. However, keeping current customers and growing revenue within existing accounts is lower-risk and often a higher-reward activity.

B2B marketing leaders must apply the same levels of discipline, rigor, and effort spent on new account prospecting to expand existing account revenue. Use account-based marketing techniques—in-depth knowledge of groups of buyers and influencers within accounts— to cross-sell and upsell within existing accounts.

2. Acquire Data-Driven Talent and Advanced B2B Analytic Tools
In our recent Gartner survey of marketers who were involved in planning, evaluating and selecting analytics, we saw strong characteristics of B2B marketing leadership. B2B marketers were more likely than B2C marketers to invest in centers of excellence around analytics, use more external data sources to build a complete picture of the customer journey and know how to monetize the data they gather to sell to customers and sales channel partners.

Predictive lead scoring techniques use data models from traditional data sources (CRM, salesforce automation, etc.) and third-party sources (such as programmatic advertising) to determine the propensity to buy based on intent. Even marketers with low lead volumes are using predictive lead scoring to get smarter about how they manage leads. When predictive scoring is applied, Gartner clients have reported one-quarter of payback being in production, and substantial revenue increases within the first two years.

3. Reorient to B2B inbound marketing programs
Business buyers aren’t as reliant on marketing and salespeople as in the past. Traditional B2B marketing’s outbound approach requires a reorientation to align with how customers learn, buy and build trust with their suppliers.

High performing B2B inbound marketers leverage the natural synergy among relevant, authoritative content, search and social media to better engage business buyers to mimic the language of their target audience. They do so even if it challenges the structure, style, and tone of their existing marketing collateral.

4. Borrow B2C marketing techniques
Gartner predicts that by 2018, companies that consumerize (e.g., Amazon) their B2B digital commerce sites will see market share gains and revenue increases of as much as 25%. Business buyers are bringing consumer shopping behaviors to the workplace and expect digital commerce experiences comparable to what they encounter as consumers.

To keep up, assess and adopt B2C tactics as needed, such as easy-to-use mobile websites and apps, effective on-site search, integration with social channels and personalization.

5. Foster advocacy programs
Customer references represent a trusted source of information with no agenda and play a pivotal role in mitigating a buyer’s perceived risk in high-dollar value purchase decisions. Without strong references, B2B sales cycles can get very costly with proof-of-concept studies and other time-consuming activities that place an unnecessary demand on scarce resources. Although these activities may help buyers reduce the risk of their decision, they can skyrocket sales costs out of control. Using customer references to dilute the risk of a purchase decision offers an effective alternative.

Customer references comprise one of marketing’s most valued assets. Yet, program strategies are sorely lacking. Even large marketing organizations with substantial staffs often lack a systematic approach for designing, implementing and measuring customer reference programs.

 

Adam Sarner is a research vice president at Gartner for Marketers where he specializes in marketing strategy and technology. This article was written by Gartner Inc. from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Drive Massive Growth with Human Machine Customer Insights

growth through customer insights

Developing customer insights, then using them as the core for strategic planning is the key to high ROI and growth, according to a survey by BCG.

 And, the problem is very real. Again, according to BCG:

Consumer-facing companies in developed economies have experienced little or no growth since the global recession of 2008 and 2009. As a result, … executive teams are looking outward, trying to spur growth by turning to new sources of customer information. These include “implicit” data such as biometrics, “structured” batches of big data such as online behavior, and “unstructured” data such as social media and call center conversations.

The study of C-suite executives follows up on a similar study published in 2009, with similarly dour outcomes. For instance, only 20% of firms interviewed operated in the top stages when it came to customer insights. And most, are doing little more than traditional market research despite dipping their toes in the water of predictive analytics.

4 stages in customer insights

Take a look at this exhibit from the BCG report and you’ll find the customer insights isn’t an all or nothing marketing activity. In fact, it isn’t just a marketing activity, but involves much of the strategy within an organization. As a firm progresses through the stages, the external rewards get bigger.

I don’t want to go through these stages, but you can get additional information by using the link at the bottom of the image.

building customer insights

Image courtesy of BCG

Transforming your organization into a customer insights powerhouse

In data analytics, we talk about the 3 V’s of data:

  • Variety
  • Volume
  • Velocity

But, that’s not all. We also have to worry about the veracity of data. According to some sources, firms spend the bulk of their data resources on simply cleaning the data so it can provide useful insights down the road.

quote_costumerinsights.png

Customer insights come from a variety of sources and take a variety of forms — structured data like from your website and social media analytics, unstructured data from comments, feedback from your sales staff, transcriptions of customer service interactions, etc.

And there’s a lot of it. Every day we create as much data as we did from the start of recorded history to 2008 [source]. This data comes at you at the speed of light. That means no organization can develop sound customer insights without a plan for analyzing this data in near real-time.

Becoming a leader in customer insights requires resources (staff, training, tools) and a commitment from the highest levels within the organization to be effective.

Spending isn’t enough

You can’t just buy your way into becoming a customer insights powerhouse.

As mentioned above, you need a commitment from the C-suite to make it happen. But, there’s more you need. You need a combination strategy involving humans and machines because humans can’t handle the volume and velocity of data entering their system. They also need to take a break, while data streams in 24/7, 365. It doesn’t take a lunch break, a vacation, or celebrate a holiday. In fact, in some organizations, data volume actually increases when the humans in your organization are away.

Meltwater has created a space where those advancing the field of data science can meet and collaborate.

So, what’s a good CMO/ CEO to do?

  • Develop programs and processes for machines to acquire and clean data (using AI and machine learning, several vendors offer programs to help clean data)
  • Craft algorithms to notify humans when something needs attention. For instance, I created an algorithm using readership data to generate leads for the sales force. Other models might notify managers when a certain pattern of complaints emerge or when a problem needs escalation. Importantly, these models must process unstructured data, as well as structured data.
  • These notifications must reach appropriate decision makers electronically whenever and where ever they are. A machine process should monitor responses to ensure nothing slips through the cracks. Hence, when a plane is grounded by mechanical problems, the system notifies engineers and mechanics closest to the problem (and updates the mechanic’s schedules appropriately), automatically replenishes any parts necessary to make the repair or delivers them from another location, as well as notifying executives and gate agents to handle passenger scheduling.
  • Create dashboards with critical metrics that require a human evaluation. Use data visualizations for better customer insights and to highlight deviations from standards. For instance, P&G uses a visualization to highlight possible delivery delays to minimize customer impacts by either diverting shipments or informing customers of delays early.
  • Ensure marketing staff have the training and technical support to ask the system the right questions on an ad hoc basis. This requires a new skill set that combines traditional marketing concepts, especially understanding of consumer behavior, with business intelligence capabilities to enable predictive modeling to forecast the future. But, more that, it requires marketers who are intuitive when it comes to data and are thus able to ferret out sources underpinning results.
  • A strong commitment from upper management that privileges data insights in strategy formation. That means data reports must go directly to the CMO and other C-suite executives rather than lower level managers.
  • Build an ecosystem, like Shack15, for those interested in advancing the field of data science to capture human machine customer insights.

 

This article originally appeared in Hausman Marketing Letter, was written by Angela Hausman, PhD from Business2Community, and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

3 Companies Doing Sponsored Content Right

As my team mate Leslie points out in a previous blog post, sponsored content, also known as native advertising, is a form of brand storytelling that’s integrated into the format of the outlet on which it lives. Whereas TV, billboard and retargeting ads are quite obviously selling to us, sponsored contents “sell” is more subtle, but at the same time transparent. For those interested in how we can use sponsored content in our organisation, looking at best practices from other brands is a good way to start. So, today we’re presenting three examples of companies doing sponsored content right.

Netflix Orange is The New Black & New York Times:

Netflix is a company who has mastered the art of ​​sponsored content. Last year they joined forces with the New York Times to promote their latest series of Orange is The New Black. Netflix published an article about US female prisoners accompanied by a range of interactive multimedia. What was particularly great about this piece of sponsored content, other than great journalism, was how Netflix grabbed the attention of the audience by painting a picture of the wider narrative, one that the Times audience would be interested in reading. Bravo Netflix!

Nestle Friskies & BuzzFeed:

shutterstock_113021647BuzzFeed is the home of banter, King of sponsored content and a hot hangout for cat lovers. So, it made sense for Nestle to cash in on the opportunity and use sponsored content on BuzzFeed to advertise their cat food brand, Friskies. The pair worked together to produce content that is easily shareable on social. As such, the “Dear Kitten” video has been watched on YouTube over 16 million times and Friskies saw a 58% increase in brand recognition and interest in buying. Friskies understood the alignment between their brand and BuzzFeed’s audience. Moreover, they knew that BuzzFeed is a place for sharing and so created their content with sharability in mind.

Spotify and The Guardian:

The example of sponsored content from Spotify on The Guardian is simple yet effective. Spotify asked The Guardian’s music editor to browse through their music collection, searching for the 101 strangest albums. And when we say strange, we mean strange! This example of sponsored content allowed Spotify to do a number of things, such as demonstrate their vast portfolio of songs, gain endorsement from a highly credible publication and increase brand awareness amongst a wider demographic.

Do you have a fine example of a company smashing sponsored content? Drop a comment in the box below, we’d love to hear from you!

B2C Marketing Best Practices with Influencers

When it comes to B2C Marketing, consumers own the conversation—and they’re adding to it at a prolific pace. To illustrate, over 1 billion pieces of consumer content are shared on Facebook alone every single day.

In order to be successful as a marketer, you need to listen and respond to those conversations in a way that feels relevant and compelling. This is the key to creating real emotional connections with consumers—a true necessity for B2C marketing. The good news is that you have a doorway in—61% of consumers say they are influenced by custom marketing content.

In order to take advantage of this, you need to understand who your audience is. The first step is to create buyer personas. Without them, you’ll only be guessing at the content your audience wants. As you build these out, include consumer demographics, behavioral patterns, motivations, and goals. These personas will help you determine where to focus your time to attract the most valuable customers to your business. In addition, they’ll help you understand what to look for in influencer partners.

Once you’ve created your personas, it’s time to develop the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey is a framework of the buyer’s progression through the decision process, ultimately culminating in a purchase. There are 4 stages within a buyer’s journey:

  • Awareness – Buyer realizes they have a need and develops interest.
  • Consideration – Buyer seeks more information about the need.
  • Preference – Buyer starts exploring options to address the need.
  • Decision – Buyer is prepared to make a purchase.

A huge advantage for B2C marketers is that you message directly to the end consumers resulting in a shorter sales cycle. You can (and should) work to address the challenges consumers face at each step of the process to make sure that they feel confident about moving on to the next stage of the Buyer’s Journey. Influencer marketing is a great tool for maintaining a high-touch, timely connection with consumers at every stage. Leverage that to tap into their needs, wants, problems, and challenges, and provide value accordingly.

To read about how influencers are defined by those in the content marketing and PR industry, check out what happens when we ask 12 communications professionals how they’d measure influence.

This article originally appeared in TapInfluence, was written by Rebecca Kovacevich from Business2Community, and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

PR Partnership: You Scratch My Back, I Scratch Yours

 

Evaluating the best choice for a PR partner is not always a straightforward task. Luckily, with the availability of media intelligence solutions like Meltwater, we can implement a variety of KPIs to help us review the effectiveness of a PR partnership and make informed decisions based on real metrics.

Evaluating a PR Partnership: Coverage, Reach, and Relevance

Metrics to looks for when considering a PR partnership include coverage, reach, and relevance. They will help us answer questions, such as: How many people does a potential PR partner reach? What’s their audience’s geographic profile? Of course you’ll also want to be make sure there’s alignment on brand values and strategy—a conflict of interest can cause more harm than good.

Evaluating a PR Partnership: Geographical Spread

Having a clear idea about where our target audience is located serves as a compass when evaluating whether or not to pursue a PR partnership.

  • Where does the majority of our audience live in comparison to the PR partner?
  • Is our PR campaign designed to reach our customers at home, in neighboring countries, or down under?
  • Is the PR partnership complimenting the geographical spread, target, and status or everyone involved?

Meltwater’s world heat map visualises our global footprint to help identify where our brand the potential partner’s are being mentioned. If our aim is to improve global PR coverage, a heat map will indicate whether or not the PR partnership is a good match for helping us increase brand awareness overseas.

Evaluating a PR Partnership: Sentiment

As PR pros, our aim is to generate positive coverage about our brand in relevant media outlets. Meltwater Media Intelligence platform helps us listen to billions of online conversations, both on social and in the press, so that we can understand how we compare to potential partners. For instance, we’ll want to avoid a knock on effect from a partner’s bad publicity.

Evaluating a PR Partnership: Competition and Share of Voice

It’s also important to look at our potential PR partner’s media coverage from a competitive perspective.

  • What are the main publications that their competitors are being mentioned in?
  • Who’s receiving a higher share of voice?
  • Who’s talked about more positively?
  • What keywords and themes surround them compared to their competitors?

Answers to these questions can allow us to make informed decisions about forming our next PR partnership.

 

Hashtags and PR: Steer (and Stir) the Conversation

Trending Is a Verb

The ability to steer conversations is part of the branding that consumers experience. If social media is now an index of trends, hashtags tell us what’s hot and what’s not.

From their very beginning, hashtags have been about grouping conversations to easily digest the firehose that is Twitter (and now hashtags are de rigeur on other social platforms, such as Instagram). It was not long after Twitter’s adoption of the hashtag that PR began using branded hashtags to group campaign conversations and activities. Now everyone craving Taco Bell wants to #LiveOutsideTheBun when they post a photo of their late-night craving.

Our recent fast food industry report took a look at hashtags as part of our research for tracking and making the most of trending topics and viral moments. One key observation we found by scanning social channels for fast food restaurants was that branded hashtags, or ones that brands tried to promote as part of a campaign, were not used nearly as often as organic hashtags, or ones that consumers came up with that eventually stuck. People don’t seem to like echoing corporate slogans in their personal social media, but if they love a brand, they will at least use #brandname.

For our fast food report, top hashtags were collected by manually scanning hundreds of tweets per brand. We found organic hashtags to be unpredictable and not spelled consistently, but selected the most recurring ones and benchmarked each brand’s cluster of popular hashtags.

hashtag benchmark.jpg

Top hashtags (branded and organic). Drawn from Twitter and Instagram from May 2015 to May 2016

Starbuck’s Most Used Hashtags

Of all brands on our list, Starbucks ruled the hashtag landscape: there are more organic hashtags—non branded, seemingly coined by consumers—used to reference the brand than for any other on our list. It’s possible that the chain’s geographic coverage and integration into the morning routine of millions of Americans has made the brand synonymous with a daily ritual (not unlike posting on social media), and thus spawns adoration from consumers in the form of catchy hashtags like #starbucksaddict and #starbucksgurl.

#starbucksaddict#starbuckslover#starbucksdatenight#starbucksisbasicallycrack#starbucksgurl#starbuckscoffee.pngFrom Starbuck’s constellation of fan fave hashtags.

To get more takeaways and read more in-depth findings on analyzing social media for an entire industry, download our Industry Report: Fast Food and Quick Service.

Is Social Listening the New Focus Group?

Focus groups can be time and labour consuming, expensive and not always reliable; that is before social listening was added to the mix. Social listening can dish the dirt on how our audience really feels, without them feeling under pressure to offer a particular answer. Social listening is the difference between asking a question and eavesdropping on a conversation.

What can social listening unearth?

By using social listening tools, such as Meltwaters media monitoring platform, we’re able to gain insight into how our audience perceives our product features, brand positioning, value offering and where we stand against competition. Such analysis can be found at a click of a button.

How brands are using social listening as a research tool

Kim Kardashian is quite the pro at using feedback given by her fans in a proactive way. Before launching her perfume, she asked what colour the bottle should be. Asking our audience questions so that they can contribute to the wider picture is also a great way of boosting brand advocacy. Nissan is another brand who also benefited from social listening. After running a search on their 370Z sports car they were presented with a pool of information, Nissan then used the insights to modify the car.

Here we demonstrate a simple keyword search on Nike using Meltwaters Media Intelligence platform. All we have to do is listen to know the ‘not so secret’ opinions of our audience. From the search we can see some of the most popular items in Nikes portfolio. We can then drill deeper into the key themes and pin point what exactly it is about these items that has caused a buzz.

Social listening tools can save us time and money; and money saved is money earned. Now, we’re not saying that social listening has caused the extinction of traditional focus group. It hasn’t, and it probably never will. Rather, social listening has presented an entirely new research opportunity. For companies wanting to gain a quick, inexpensive and ad hoc snapshot into the brand perception, social listening tools are the way forward.

We have an engaged audience at our finger tips so let’s have some fun and start using them!

Successful Marketers Always Play the Long Game

Tim Ferris, in my opinion, has one of the best podcasts on the planet. In episode #177 he interviewed one of my favorite people in the world, Seth Godin. In this episode, Seth shared some of his thoughts on marketing and how we all need to think small to go big. I had the privilege of “graduating” from Seth’s altMBA in January of this past year and the experience was lift changing. This podcast awakened some lessons I learned in the altMBA program as well as much more I’ve gleaned from Seth’s books and other great marketers. While our culture is always looking for quick wins, those who play the long game usually are the ones who truly reap the largest reward.

“How fast until we see more revenue?” This is a question I have been asked at least a hundred times. When it comes to seeing a return on invest, businesses expect their marketing effort to deliver and deliver fast. While there are a number of things we can do to help jump start a campaign, truly successful marketing takes consistent work and commitment over time. Brands like Apple, Coke and Ford didn’t just pop up overnight. They played the long game and focused on building a connection with those they knew their product was for. Below are 4 things you can do to build a successful brand image that will stand the test of time.

Earn Permission

Our lives are full of interruptions. From spam email to unwanted phone calls from robots, it seems as if there is no escaping. Brands that constantly force their way into our lives without permission leave their audience feeling violated. This is the exact opposite of building trust. With today’s consumer having more control over the buying process, marketers must think differently.

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Our economy is built on connections. In order to earn permission, your must establish some level of relationship. This can be done through social media, your blog, an opt-in email list, etc. Without permission, you become an intruder. It’s the relationship that gives you, the marketer or business owner the permission to share what you have with your audience. “Permission Marketing is just like dating. It turns strangers into friends and friends into lifetime customers. Many of the rules of dating apply, and so do many of the benefits.” ― Seth Godin, Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers

Telling the Truth

Marketing is really about telling a story. The goal is to help your audience immerse themselves into your story and picture what life could be with your product or service. With some many messages flying around it can be tempting to stretch the truth in order to attract more people to our story. The problem is when your promises don’t match the expected outcome, your brand credibility takes a hit. “When we recognize the fraud for what it is, we feel incredibly stupid. Something more than our bank accounts is damaged—our egos are damaged. As a result, it’s almost impossible for the marketer to regain our trust.” ― Seth Godin, All Marketers Are Liars: The Power of Telling Authentic Stories in a Low-Trust World

Authenticity is the key to creating a story that resonates with your audience. Once you’ve earned permission to peek into their lives, you need, to tell the truth, and the whole truth. In my opinion, we underestimate people’s ability to handle the truth, but being honest works. Let me give you an example. In Apple’s keynote on September 7, 2016, they released the new iPhone 7. The plus version comes equipped with a new telephoto lens. But, the software to accomplish all that lens can do is not yet complete. So instead of withholding the whole story, they shared what they plan to do, and when they hope to release the software update. This was a bold move for a huge brand, but their transparency helps nurture the trust they have established with their tribe.

Being Remarkable

Why should someone buy your product or service? If you look across multiple industries you’ll start to notice a pattern. Most of the products and services in those industries are basically the same. Sure there are a few differences here and there, but the major differentiation is the price. Having the lowest price is not remarkable. Being remarkable is hard for one reason. If forces us to break the status quo and take a risk. “We run our schools like factories. We line kids up in straight rows, put them in batches (called grades), and work very hard to make sure there are no defective parts. Nobody standing out, falling behind, running ahead, making a ruckus. Playing it safe. Following the rules. Those seem like the best ways to avoid failure.” ― Seth Godin, Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

There are very few brands that have been able to continue to push themselves past the “fear of failure” and into “being remarkable.” The doesn’t mean taking a un-calculated risk, but instead trusting your gut. There are many times in my life when I knew I could take my business full time, but the fear of failing prevented me. It wasn’t until I pushed past that fear and believed that what I had to offer was not only good but was also remarkable that things change. As a marketer or business owner, if you don’t believe your product or service is remarkable, neither will anyone else.

Your Brand is the Promise You Make

After you’ve earned trust and told a powerful and truthful story about a remarkable product and service, what’s next? Consistency. This is one of the most underrated skills all marketers need to acquire. Having the ability to develop brand and marketing consistency is paramount to long term success. Apples is a common example in this case, and why shouldn’t they be. Everything they do from their website to their products has the same feel. Another company that does this well is Public supermarkets. From their television commercials to in-store experience, everything matches. Consistency builds trust in your brand and helps to match your audience’s expectations.

A phrase I use often with our team and clients is “everything communicates.” From the colors on the sites to the look and feel of marketing materials, everything says something to your audience about your brand. The goal of your marketing efforts is to connect with your audience, develop trust and deliver on the promises you make. Delivering on brand promises starts with connecting the meaning of the brand with the people they serve. “Great marketers don’t make stuff. They make meaning.” – Seth Godin

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Building a successful business or brand takes time. It can be hard to play the long game, especially when you see other around you who appear to be ahead. But don’t allow their position determine your path. “The job isn’t to catch up to the status quo; the job is to invent the status quo.” ― Seth Godin, Poke the Box. If you focus on earning permission, telling the truth, being remarkable and keeping the promises you make the harvest you’ll reap will be much greater than revenue. Be penitence, keep shipping and stay focused!

“I was 40 years old before I became an overnight success, and I’d been publishing for 20 years.” – Mary Karr

Remember, successful marketers always play the long game. So, as you plan and build your brand, implementing social listening as part of a media intelligence strategy should be part and parcel of your foundation.

 

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This article originally appeared in SMA Marketing, was written by Ryan Shelley from Business2Community, and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Crisis Management: Know When It’s Time to Talk to Legal

Marketers sometimes feel that legal would like for us to simply not say anything—ever. And this might (justifiably) be the case during a lawsuit. But an experienced lawyer knows that marketing’s job is to promote the businesses, and during times of crisis, this means safeguarding its reputation.

Working with counsel during a brand crisis will help you find the best way to ensure that your audience feels heard and that you are taking responsibility for the problem at hand without opening yourself up to a lawsuit as a result of your PR and marketing activities.

Don’t Be Shy, Get to Know Your Legal Advisors

You’ll want to build a bridge with your legal team as part of business as usual, so you know each other and don’t have to start from scratch when things get hectic. While we generally associate lawyers with trouble, getting to know your legal team during times of relative calm can lead to interesting (and even fun) conversations about questions that marketers sometimes struggle with. For instance, “What’s the difference between defamation and someone just having an opinion?” Try it, it’s a great icebreaker.

Crisis Management: Know When to Go to Legal

Here are some guidelines for when to consult legal, whether you’re in crisis management mode or just trying to make sure that nothing you say or do will cause one. Go to legal when:

  • Your company has been accused of doing something illegal.
  • You believe that your company could be accused of doing something illegal very soon. Remember, any statement you make about events or circumstances relating to this legal action (including internal emails) could be used in a lawsuit.
  • Your communications are directly targeting a competitor and shedding negative light on them.
  • You are making claims about your product’s functionality or the breadth of your services. For instance, while describing how great your product is would typically be construed as opinion (and therefore not a legal liability), if you’re listing product features, counsel may want to cross-reference what you’re saying with any contracts customers sign to ensure the lists match.
  • You are making factual claims about your product that you know are difficult to prove.

Choose Your Words Wisely

As tempting as they may be, using certain words can open you up to unwanted scrutiny. They can also bring the threat of legal action. Here are some examples of words to avoid: always, guaranteed, unlimited, proven, 100%, and never fails. As marketers, we can find creative ways for touting our products without making factual claims we can’t actually prove.

Develop a Content Marketing Culture Across Your Entire Organization

Successfully developing a content marketing culture, not just within your marketing team but, across your organization requires planning, process, and workflow. Creating documents with key stakeholders within the organization will validate executive buy-in, align content marketing to business objectives, help to establish a culture of content inside the company and ensure consistency of delivery and implementation.

Buyer Personas

Buyer Personas are examples of real people who make up your customers and clients. They can also include individuals who may influence the buying decision in some way. A persona goes deeper than demographics. Personas are developed by asking questions about a buyer’s motivation and learning what holds the buyer back from making a purchasing decision. Talking directly to your current customers will allow you to find out the solutions they are seeking from your product or service. By taking the time to document and understand your customer in this way, your content team will develop content that resonates and engages, moving leads through the buyer’s journey to conversion.

Buyer’s Journey

Developing a buying journey for each of your personas is critical to the content marketing strategy. Interviewing existing clients and internal sales staff to develop these documents allows for a more robust buyer’s journey to work from when developing content marketing ideas. Mapping out how your customers go from awareness to conversion will allow you to create content for each unique stage of this client journey. Taking on the “education first” mindset and understanding how your buyers want to engage with you will allow for more qualified leads into your marketing funnel.

Style Guide

Content consistency is reliant on the creation and implementation of a style guide. A few key components that make up a style guide can be the brand voice and writing style, the content structure that resonates with your audience, the types of content that works best with your audience, use of brand image and logo, as well as use of all graphic images and proper sourcing documentation. A style guide will ensure consistency, create efficiency in workflow, and often resolve editorial conflicts.

Content & Social Media Policy / Implementation Guide

This document has expanded over the past few years to include additional content platforms beyond social media. The policy section should outline what employees can and cannot do in terms of social media and the company, as well as blogging, review sites, and any other content that may be created by the company for external distribution. The implementation guide section is the “how-to” part of the document. This should be more like a training manual