The Future of Twitter

The one thing you can rely on in social media is that there will be change. Each year new networks pop up, and some go away. The major social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter) have been fairly stable for the past five or six years. That might be about to change -Twitter just reported a dismal Q4 for 2016: 16 cents per share on revenue of $717 million. This was way below Wall Street’s expectations. Back in November 2016, the shares were $18. They are now at around $16.

So what does this signify for the future of Twitter? Apparently, brands don’t consider Twitter as sexy as Instagram or Snapchat. It doesn’t create social media stars, and their advertising is not producing as much revenue as other networks. (This might not be such a bad thing in light of the PewDiePie incident, which highlights just how tricky working with these young social media influencers can be)

Journalists on Twitter

One aspect of Twitter that’s not well-known and often not considered by brands is that journalists and news organizations are the largest and most active verified group of Twitter users. (Source: the now defunct, Triggertrap report.)

21.6 percent of journalists believe it is the platform most likely to grow in value to the media industry, and approximately 40 percent say Twitter is their most valuable social channel. (PR peeps take note!)

The Growth of Video on Twitter

There is some good news: even though user growth and revenue were disappointing, video views on Twitter are on the up and up. Business Insider and its two sister publications attracted more than 6 million video views on Twitter in January 2017, a significant increase from the 1 million number six months ago. Similarly, Mashable’s video views on Twitter have quadrupled in the past four months. (Source: Forbes.com)

Why Should We Care if Twitter Flies Away?

Used correctly, Twitter can have a huge impact on customer service, perception, and reputation. One CEO who knows how to do this is Elon Musk. His tweet about a new Tesla product launch resulted in a $900 million increase in value. His prompt reply to complaints about Tesla car owners hogging charging stations earned him more goodwill.
I asked a few PR influencers for their thoughts on the future of Twitter.

Q: What’s your take on the future of Twitter?

Gini Dietrich SpinSucks“Twitter serves a unique role as a communication channel that can’t be found anywhere else. People take to Twitter to be part of the news cycle and to engage with brands, celebrities, and influencers. It’s an incredible resource for brands seeking to understand what motivates and engages their audience. Unfortunately, much of the doom and gloom you see in media coverage is due to people comparing it unfavorably to Facebook. But here’s the thing: There’s only one Facebook. And people use Facebook and Twitter in entirely different ways, and for different purposes.”
Chris Abraham Gerris:“Twitter isn’t going anywhere. It’s become an International dial tone, like the internet itself, like your phone service or your AM, FM, and Ham Radio spectrum. Twitter will become protected some way or another becoming, effectively, a protected essential public utility. Twitter is an essential commodity that benefits the State Department, Open Source Intelligence (NSA, NRO, CIA, FBI), and Corporate Intelligence (NASDAQ, DOW, etc.’re already seeing). There’s too much good, free, intel — remember the Real Time Web? It’s still a thing!”
Lee Odden Top Rank Marketing“A recent poll of Top Rank readers shows that 50 percent view Twitter as a news feed. It certainly serves a function for users, whether it’s marketers pushing out content, people reacting to what’s on TV or political hyperbole from you know who. The question is whether that use is enough to sustain the business model.”

Q: This announcement of a big loss in the last quarter has raised doubts. Will it last or fade away?

Gini Dietrich: “I think we already see Twitter making some moves to adapt to what it does really well. For instance, people love to take to Twitter to discuss their favorite TV shows in real-time as they’re watching them. Twitter has been working with brands to take advantage of this with targeted advertising, custom emojis, and more.”
Lee Odden: “Twitter hasn’t added much in the form of features to attract users or to create additional capabilities that businesses would pay for (outside of advertising). I may be wrong, but Twitter is its own worst enemy in the way it has been managed and its ability to adapt and innovate in ways that satisfy both “free” users and paying customers.”
Chris Abraham: “Maybe this is a play for a leveraged buyout. Maybe someone has discovered that Twitter is the #1 channel for @realDonaldTrump and @potus to communicate directly to and with the world. More valuable than CNN, MSNBC, and possibly FOX News — at least when it comes to total eyeballs. Don’t forget that volatility doesn’t necessarily mean vulnerability. It could just mean corporate raiding.”

Q: If it does go away how will that affect brands that use it for customer service?

Gini Dietrich: “Most brands are not exclusively using Twitter as their customer service platform. As new social media platforms gain traction, brands have to assess how they want to use them, and what level of customer resource support to provide through them. If Twitter went away tomorrow, many brands would likely see an increase in emails and phone calls on customer service issues that were formerly handled through the social network.”
Chris Abraham: “Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat can’t do the same thing that Twitter can do, all these years later. And I don’t see another one coming up. Know why? Because Millennials and Gen Z like their small little chat apps a lot more than they like their live-out-loud and share-with-the-world networks. Bieber could leave Insta but he would never leave Twitter—I mean, (he has) 91.7M followers!”

Q: And how will it affect the public who have grown used to a fast response via Twitter?

Gini Dietrich: “Your customers are expecting a fast response through whichever channel they use to contact you. And research is showing they’re becoming less patient each year. That means brands will have to figure out how to harness artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to improve their customer service communication performance times.”
Chris Abraham: “Aside from the fact that the Twitter handle has become a de facto internationally-recognized contact number second only to the URL, there are other sexier and stickier channels that people devote a lot more time to. But everyone knows that they can actually get liked, retweeted, and responded to by their favorite brands and celebrities and influencers — or somebody reppin’ them—on Twitter and that’s rarely the case on Facebook.”

Q: What about those of us who use it as a news source?

Gini Dietrich: “Twitter is just one of many digital news sources people use. Our phones learn what news we’re interested in and push us notifications. I can ask Alexa to read me my daily news update while I check my email. Other tools will find their way to fill the gap.”
Lee Odden: “Since a large number of users regard it as a news source it will leave a gap.”
Chris Abraham: “The real-time web just isn’t the same on Google or Facebook or anywhere else. Twitter really does still have the pulse. I feel like normal consumers use Twitter less as a news source, outside of celebrity news, than actual media outlets and so forth, although the app and the web interface is evolving to become a better and better filter with a much-improved algorithm.”

Q: What are the implications for PR, if any, if Twitter goes away?

And the last word from Gini: “Twitter has been a boon to PR practitioners for building relationships with influencers and journalists. Without Twitter, it will be significantly more difficult to identify those people and build a relationship with them over time. PR is a relationship business. Always has been. That means we’ll have to find other places where they’re congregating, such as niche industry community sites, and start over there.”
A good social media strategy is one that is well-thought out. If you don’t have a strategy in place that serves the needs of your brand at every budget size, download our ebook to get started.

social media to scale ebook

This article originally appeared in The Proactive Report, was written by Sally Falkow from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How (and Why) Brands Should Use Paid Social Media Ads to Boost Their Earned Media

Earned media is getting more attention these days, as trust in paid ads continues to decline. While a brand talking about itself in an ad may not win the trust of buyers, an editorial piece that appears in a reputable publication can add major credibility.

However, when brands do score that media hit, it’s no longer enough that the story appeared. PR pros face a new challenge. Now, they must work to ensure that it’s seen by the right audiences.

So, what can PR pros do to extend the reach of that earned media win, making sure to maximize the benefits it brings to the brand?

In the past, those in public relations tried to distance themselves from advertising. Now, they’re beginning to see it differently. Some are turning to paid social media to help earned media have more of an impact.

“It’s about making sure the press coverage you’ve already earned works harder for you,” says Steve Rubel, chief content strategist at Edelman.

Why is paid social an effective way to boost earned media?

Even before buying a product, consumers often follow a brand on social networks. This gives brands a chance to reach those consumers using paid social media ads. And while following isn’t everything, 62 percent of those surveyed by Sprout Social said they’re either “likely or somewhat likely” to buy from a brand they follow online. It stands to reason that using ads to reach these audiences can only help persuade them to buy.

Paid social media boosts trusted third-party content to those that benefit from the information,” says Abel Communications. “For example, a great hit in the Wall Street Journal for a B2B brand should be repurposed on LinkedIn’s Publishing Platform and amplified through a sponsored update.”

And how much can paid social media ads benefit your earned media hit? “By supplementing our highest priority content with paid dollars, we see organic and earned reach increase by 10 – 20x,” says Melissa Wisehart, managing director of digital strategy at Moore Communications Group.

Want to try incorporating paid social into your earned media strategy?

Here are some tips to follow:

1)      Be selective: As with promotion of blog posts and other content, be selective when choosing which earned media to promote with a paid social ad. Chad Pollitt, co-founder of Relevance, believes social media isn’t a good channel to promote all your content. Instead, he recommends promoting only those pieces that have already attracted higher levels of engagement.

2)      Be sure to tie the paid social effort to a goal: For example, if you want to increase sales, you can target specific groups or industries with your ads. Then, you can see if that results in new business leads.

Larry Kim of WordStream regularly uses this approach to earn widespread news media coverage for his content. On his blog, Kim cites an example of using paid Twitter ads targeted to a tailored audience which led to him to an opportunity to appear on Fox News. That then led to coverage in high-profile publications. Kim says Twitter’s tailored audiences and Facebook’s custom audiences open up new doors for brands to reach untapped customers or influencers.

3)      Choose the right network: When selecting which social media platform to use, consider your demographics. Facebook ranks at the top of the list for all age groups, from millennials to Baby Boomers, with Snapchat and Instagram coming in second and third.

4)      Don’t expect it to break the bank: Advertising on social media needn’t be expensive. According to Pier Communications, “Facebook’s Boosted Posts (which you can also set to run on Instagram) and LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content are the fastest and most affordable ways to drive traffic back to your website or a recent article.“For Facebook or Twitter, start with a small test of $100-250 to promote a great hit,” suggests Abel Communications. “With an average cost per click of $0.27 on Facebook, that’s almost 1,000 more views on your story.”

Amplifying an earned media hit with a paid social media ad can spell success for brands. Experiment by starting with a small budget to see what makes the biggest impact on your audience and works for your clients. If you’re ready to get started download our webinar to learn how to grow your social media program into a full-fledged business.

Instagram Hits 1 Million Advertisers, Fueled By Small Businesses

Instagram’s Investment in Free Tools for Businesses Is Paying Off

The popular photo-and-video sharing app has more than 1 million monthly advertisers, up five times from a year ago, the Facebook-owned company said on Wednesday. The number of marketers on Instagram has risen steadily alongside the number of “business profiles” on the app, which allow companies to share contact information and directions, as well as to message directly with people via Instagram. There are now 8 million business profiles on the app, up about five times since September. The rise in marketers is attributed in large part to Instagram’s focus on catering to small businesses, which make up the majority of Instagram’s advertisers, and its growing suite of free business tools. Most business profiles are by firms in the U.S., Brazil, Indonesia, Russia, and the U.K.

“One million advertisers is a big milestone, particularly because of the scale and diversity of the businesses on Instagram,” Instagram’s VP of business, James Quarles, said in a phone interview. “Businesses are drawn to Instagram because it’s a place where people follow passions, everything from mainstream interests, like their favorite musician, to niche hobbies like candy art.”

“People are in a mindset of being open to discovery,” Quarles added, noting that users’ interests are a targeting signal for ads.

Together, Instagram’s one million advertisers and 600 million monthly users make a big business. Instagram is expected to generate $3.64 billion in advertising revenue globally this year, according to forecasting firm eMarketer. By comparison, Facebook generated $8.81 billion in revenue in its latest quarter. Instagram’s ad business has grown rapidly since the company first started selling advertisements in late 2015, buoyed by Facebook’s network of more than 4 million advertisers and its expertise in sales and targeting.

A preview of Instagram's Insights tool. (Courtesy of Instagram)

A preview of Instagram’s Insights tool. The company announced it has 1 million active advertisers. (Courtesy of Instagram)

Beyond interest graphs and a massive user base teeming with millennials, free tools for businesses have also translated into more marketers. Businesses that advertise on Instagram can access an Insights tab to view stats on their posts such as the number of times their posts have been saved, commented on, liked or viewed and learn more specifics about their followers, such as their location, gender, and age. Instagram also gives businesses, especially those with tight marketing budgets, the chance to observe how their unpaid posts perform organically before deciding which creative to promote in an ad campaign. Instagram plans to continue rolling out new free tools for businesses over time. The company, for example, is launching a new “booking” tool globally in the coming months to allow users to set up services such as haircut appointments and restaurant reservations through business profiles.

“Many small businesses don’t have a website or the traffic to sustain a separate place for booking,” Quarles said. “They just want to have that as part of their Instagram experience. We’re just getting started in building the tools businesses would like to find customers and get people to stores.”

It’s also easy for a business owner to run an Instagram ad campaign directly on a mobile device on-the-go, Quarles said. For busy business owners, it helps that only four taps are required to create an ad from a business profile. Instagram’s sister apps Hyperlapse, for making time lapse videos, and Boomerang, for short looping video clips, let advertisers quickly create more animated content. Multi-post photo-and-video “carousel ads,” which give marketers more space to deliver a message or feature multiple products, are another popular format, Quarles said.

Stats on the interactions between users and businesses on Instagram suggest the company’s tools are working so far. More than 80% of Instagram users follow a business on the app, and in the past month, more than 120 million users have used business profiles to visit a website, get directions or contact a firm, Instagram said.

“We’re proving that visuals, even on a small screen, are a powerful way to communicate what a business stands for,” Quarles said. “Small businesses love how easy it is to open an account and start posting pictures.”

And like on Facebook, Instagram’s targeting abilities can also enable new, niche businesses to find their first customers.

“Founders can start small and grow their business with ours,” Quarles said. “If you’re opening a business today, no matter what, you’ll start on Instagram and Facebook.”

One entrepreneur who started her business on Instagram is Suann Song, founder and creative director of Appointed, a Washington D.C.-based paper goods company, whose products include carefully designed and personalized notebooks and planners, among other items. In 2015, Song used Instagram to draw attention to the Kickstarter fundraising campaign for her business, and visually express the concept for her brand. Appointed became profitable six months after launching.

“Instagram is so successful for us because our customers have a discerning eye,” Song said in a phone interview. “The moment you look at our feed, you instantly get a sense of who we are and what we do.”

Song first started paid advertising in the third quarter of 2016, running ads on Instagram and Facebook, which enabled her to target people who had browsed her website but didn’t purchase anything, as well as people who were fans of a magazine that featured her company. Song recently debuted a new product exclusively on Instagram, launching a multi-image post and using the best-performing creative for the ad, nearly selling out the product. Song now sells more than 50 products across 300 stores.

“People ask what we attribute our growth to,” Song said. “It’s hard to build a brand, and paper is so saturated. We couldn’t have done if without a service like Instagram — It’s so accessible and powerful if you know how to use it.”

While building out its ad business, Instagram has also evolved dramatically as a product. Instagram launched a near-clone of Snapchat’s core “Stories” feature this summer, giving users the option to share their ephemeral photo and video clips with colorful graphics and text. The feature, which has been a hit on the app (Instagram most recently said 150 million people use Stories daily), along with the launch of Live video, has helped transform Instagram from a platform for sharing sporadic, manicured photos to a service for daily sharing. And the new features aren’t just for users. Businesses are also “very active” users of Stories, Quarles said, using the tool to show behind-the-scenes, experiential footage.

“2016 was defining year for Instagram,” Quarles said. “We’ve made more changes in the past year than we have in the prior five.”

“We’re pleased with the community’s adoption of new products,” Quarles added. “At the same time, we’ve been building a thriving business.”

To learn about how to extend the capabilities of Instagram for effective PR, download our webinar.

This article was written by Kathleen Chaykowski from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Avoid These 11 Content Practices That Make Your Brand Seem Cheap Online

Nothing lasts forever in the digital world, and change seems to come more quickly each year. You don’t necessarily have to stay on the cutting-edge all the time, but if you can’t keep pace, your audience may start to question your brand. “Why haven’t they updated their homepage?” “If this is what they write, can I trust their products?” First impressions can make or break an audience’s opinion of your company. This spring, focus on transitioning to a more fluid, change-friendly content schedule by remembering these tips.

Don’t Forget Content Practices That:

  1. Use the same formatting standards for every post. Within the same audience, readers have individual content preferences. Some enjoy diving into a long-form article that really explores a topic while others prefer to skim through shorter versions to pick out the necessary details. Change your content styles and lengths to appeal to a wider audience. Try posting articles in two forms to boost your appeal. Complete a long-form article as well as a list or brief bullet point outline. Let your audience choose which format to read.
  1. Rely on an informal, unwritten content strategy. Many businesses are still putting off content strategy creation. The next time you meet to discuss your strategy, put it in writing. Every team member needs access to the big-picture goals, editorial calendars, and post guidelines. Like writing down what you eat in a journal, developing a formal content strategy will improve your follow-through. Use your audience personas, value proposition, current analytics, and customer surveys to set some measurable benchmarks in a written document.

11content_3

  1. Take some risks. Avoiding risk is just as risky as taking a risk – that’s a lot of risk! To meet your audience’s needs, you have to demonstrate a willingness to put your brand out there. Try a new social media platform, come up with an out-of-the-box campaign, or film some of your coworkers for a candid video. Do something different every month to keep growing instead of fizzling out. You can’t afford to wait until someone else succeeds. By then, it will be too late.
  1. Go too digital. Traditional marketing is not dead; it just looks different today. If your company is spending all its time online, you could miss some powerful billboard, marquee, and print opportunities. Use digital, especially mobile, content to drive people to your brand, and then cement that exposure with real world messaging. Content extends from the screen to the page.
  1. Let content die after an initial upload. Content doesn’t always hit the mark on its first try. That failure does not automatically mean that your content is bad. Create a strategy for every piece of content – how you will keep it updated and when you will take it down. This advice is particularly true for landing page content. Your website is a living space. Make sure your audience has easy access to vital information when they click a link.

In one example of content optimization, a college reduced the number of pages the website held and doubled response rates. Constantly manipulate and update the content you post to serve your needs.

  1. Write for search engines instead of people. This practice is not so great for two reasons. Search engines no longer reward formulaic writing, and people aren’t interested in engaging with brands that fail to offer more than keyword-dense, basic writing. Use online trends to inform your posts and then write with your audience in mind. Wait to insert keywords until you know you’ve covered the valuable information your target market needs to read.
  1. Generate tired topics just to upload something. Some topics have hundreds or thousands of search results, but they all say the same thing. If you do choose to write about a topic in a flooded category, look for a unique angle. Avoid writing the same tired listicles and how-to articles, particularly if other companies have done it and done it well. Research the content available on a subject before committing your ideas to the page.
  1. Charge for every value-add post. If you don’t offer something free, someone else will. Start looking at your content for its long-term benefits. Produce valuable e-books, guides, and non-gated instruction pieces that will help readers identify your business as a thought leader. When your readers need your product or help, your brand’s impression will beat out the competition.
  1. Use antiquated writing practices. Modern readers are not interested in reading the dry sales copy of the 1990s or stuffy articles filled with 10-letter synonyms for commonly used words. Readers want to read something conversational and relatable. You may not want to use slang, but keep your content fresh according to modern communication standards.

content practices

  1. Forget about the power of user-generated content. Consumers know what other consumers want to read and they aren’t doing it to earn a sale or get a raise. National Geographic’s Wanderlust campaign for Instagram encouraged thousands of users to share their images for a chance to win a trip to Yosemite (@gaylon_wampler won the contest for a photograph of a volcano in Vanuatu). Your user-generated campaign doesn’t have to award a vacation. Look for small ways to include your loyal customers and fans in your content strategy for some authentic brand boosting and free marketing.
  1. Keep your content budget too small. Content budgets are increasing across the board because online visibility is too important to put on the backburner. Well-crafted content is an investment that will continue to yield returns. Don’t compromise one of your most powerful marketing assets. Get in the game now to stay ahead of the competition.

Marketing should be new and rewarding, not stuffy, antiquated, and dry. Spring is the perfect time to change up your content strategy and gain an edge on your competitors. Have fun with the process and start building a recognizable, engagement-friendly online brand.

This article was previously published on this site on June 12, 2016. We republish useful content on Saturdays. This article originally appeared in Content Equals Money, was written by Rachel Winstead from Business2Community, and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

How to Leverage Facebook in Your B2B Public Relations

Does your B2B public relations strategy include Facebook? Many B2B companies dismiss Facebook because of its simple beginnings as a friends and family network. Yet, Facebook has evolved to become a prime opportunity in the B2B space.

Facebook, when wielded correctly, can put a face to your B2B PR efforts and deliver results. It can be used to…

  • Engage prospects
  • Generate more B2B leads
  • Establish thought leadership
  • Engage current customers
  • Promote your products or services
  • Attract more traffic to your website
  • Create awareness around your brand

Would you like a piece of this action? Let’s look at how you can develop a strong Facebook presence that puts you in the driver’s seat of your PR.

Facebook has reached a point of name recognition, technological prowess, and user loyalty that rivals major tech players like Google and Apple. –Jayson DeMers

9 Elements to Help You Bring Your Facebook A-Game to Your B2B Public Relations

1. Start with Clear Goals

An effective PR strategy—on or off Facebook—requires clear goals. Before you go any further in your Facebook development, lay out what your goals are. I guarantee it will make the journey to successful B2B PR that much easier. Your goals might include:

  • B2B lead generation
  • Customer engagement
  • Brand awareness
  • Increased website traffic

Whatever your goals are, make sure your team is on the same page, everyone working toward the same end result.

2. Pick a Brand-Appropriate Profile Picture

Make your profile picture count. Steer clear of any photo that could cause confusion or blank looks. Since this is the first item your audience will see, it should be brand-centric. If possible, use your brand’s logo. Remember, this will show up on everything — besides your posts, comments, and any other activity.

Notice the following examples, in which both SAP and Zendesk use their profile pictures to advantage with their brand logo.

SAP Facebook Page - using FB live in your b2b pr.

Zendesk Facebook Page - using FB live in your b2b pr.

3. Write a Killer About Section

This appears right under your profile picture, and is your brand’s introduction. It requires forethought. If you don’t write anything here, it’s a wasted opportunity. Use this space to write a clear and to-the-point introduction that inspires confidence and motivates prospects to engage with you. Stay away from boring facts, and focus on what gives your brand its personality.

For instance, if you’re a technology brand, you want to show that you’re at the forefront of the digital era. If you’re a financial institution, you want to create a sense of trust right off the bat. Consider the following:

Working hard to bring innovation and technology to life for the modern business.

We use our industry knowledge and expertise to fight the financial battles, so you can concentrate on your business.

These are short and quippy but deliver a clear message to all visitors.

4. Leverage Your Cover Photo to Promote Your Current Company News

Your cover photo is valuable real estate, and should never go stale. Change it often and keep it fresh according to what’s happening within your company. Have you recently participated in a community fundraising event? Create an image that shows it off. You could use this to promote:

  • Prestigious industry award
  • Product launch
  • Press coverage
  • Promotion in the C-suite
  • Philanthropic act

Once you’ve created a cover photo for your news, include a pinned post with a link to more information.

5. Visual Content Is a Must

Social media is all about visual content. One study showed that Facebook posts with images received 2.3 times more engagement than those without images. It is well worth your time and resources to promote visual content creation. This includes images, infographics, charts, videos, and more.

Since the fairly recent addition of Facebook Live Video (and other networks following suit), we’ve seen evidence of just how much video counts in social media engagement. Customers want to see new developments as they occur within your company and to have the sort of transparency that builds trust. Live video does just that. One study showed that Facebook users watch live video three times more than traditional video, which is evidence of the power behind this feature.

IBM is a great example of leveraging video (both live and traditional) in its Facebook strategy. Take this one, showcasing IBM’s role in the movie, Hidden Figures. It tapes IBM’s archives to show how it contributed to the historical accuracy of the film. It’s a great, behind-the-scenes explanation that skillfully leverages the popularity of the film to shine light on the company.

Companies that want to be on the leading edge would do well to integrate Facebook Live video into their marketing strategies. –Mari Smith

6. Use What’s Trending

Ever notice the Trending Topics section in your Facebook’s dashboard? Don’t dismiss it offhand—it gives you valuable information you can use to your benefit. In fact, Facebook gives priority to posts that are about these trending topics. Want a higher place in your audience’s feed? Then craft a post that touches on one of these trending topics, while still remaining relevant to your brand and audience. It’s a great way to work your way up the social ladder.

7. Don’t Push Ahead Blindly

There are no hard and fast rules about what works and what doesn’t on Facebook. You will have to discover yourself the perfect cocktail of Facebook engagement for your B2B company. Facebook Insights is a wonderful measurement tool to see which posts receive more engagement, and which you can skip. You can also consider using tracking codes such as Bitly to see what people are clicking on.

In the end, you need to find out what works, and stop what doesn’t.

8. Get Your Timing Right

Timing matters — it can make the difference between high engagement and crickets. It can take a while before you find the right timing for your audience, so don’t be afraid to play around until you get it right. Monitor which days and what time of day your posts perform best, and stick to that schedule.

9. Engage, Engage, Engage

Facebook is all about engagement. People will comment on your page for all sorts of reasons — to ask a question, get support, and even file a complaint. Answer all of these as soon as possible. When you practice this, it creates loyal customers and builds your brand’s reputation as a reliable B2B company.

Examples of Real B2B Companies that Are Killing It on Facebook

IBM

IBM is a great example of using your cover image to promote your PR campaigns. Right front and center, its image promotes its diversity initiative, as well as its role in the recent box office hit, Hidden Figures.

IBM Facebook Page - using FB live in your B2B PR.

HP Business

HP Business is not afraid to leverage everything that Facebook has to offer — with a rich collection of photos and videos that engage its audience, and an informative About section that builds confidence in its expertise.

hp Business Facebook Page - using FB live in your B2B PR.

Salesforce

Salesforce, a customer success platform, is not afraid to show its B2B company’s personality throughout its Facebook page. Posts skillfully lead back to its website, but also include curated content that promotes the company’s industry expertise.

Salesforce Facebook Page - using FB live to rock your B2B PR.

Key Points to Keep in Mind…

  • Use your cover image in conjunction with your B2B PR campaigns
  • Leverage images and video as much as possible throughout your Facebook experience
  • Use topics that are trending to rank higher in your audience’s news feed
  • Amp up your engagement by always responding to comments, questions, and complaints made on Facebook

When done right, Facebook can become an integral part of your B2B public relations strategy. To get deeper into the reeds with your B2B PR, download our ebook to gain insight into 11 Lessons that PR pros need to learn in a digital world. Try it for yourself, and you won’t be sorry.

Screen Shot 2016-07-14 at 5.03.54 PM.png

This article originally appeared in The B2B PR Blog, is written by Wendy Marx from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Top 11 Instagram Accounts Leading Their Industries

One of the most fascinating things about Instagram is that the cream always rises to the top. Everyone is looking for the next account to inspire them, entertain them, or teach them something new, and yesterday’s popular influencer can quickly be replaced by tomorrow’s powerful voice. It’s an endless game of attention, and the eyeballs go to the accounts providing their audience members with the most value–every single day.

If you are looking for some new accounts to follow on Instagram, look no further. Each one of the following influential accounts have carved out a niche for themselves by working hard to share something valuable, helpful, motivational, or unique with their audience. These accounts are not specific to any one category, but rather show the breadth of opportunity on platforms like Instagram for aspiring influencers to build a loyal following.

Andy Frisella never settles.

Andy Frisella never settles.

1. @andyfrisella

Quite possibly the only voice more passionate in the entrepreneurship space than Gary Vaynerchuk, Andy Frisella is the CEO of a portfolio of companies totaling over $100M in revenue, one of which being the nutrition powerhouse brand, 1st Phorm International. It’s his personal brand and podcast, The MFCEO Project, and his relentless passion for entrepreneurship that has landed Frisella’s name amongst other top-tier business thought leaders and motivational speakers. Frisella’s core message? If you say you want success, you’ll never get it. Stop talking and start working.

2. @bigmike

Crowned the “Dan Bilzerian” of the cannabis world, Big Mike is the CEO of Advanced Nutrients, a plant nutrition company intended for growers that rakes in over $90M a year. But Big Mike’s vision for the budding market is his most impressive quality, helping him accomplish over 50 industry firsts and establish himself as a leading voice. Boasting over one-million followers on Instagram, Big Mike combines his lavish lifestyle with business motivation.

3. @juliusdein

How do you make a video go viral? Ask the guy who has made too many viral videos to count. With over a billion (yes, with a B) views under his belt, it’s safe to say millennial Julius Dein has found a video formula that works: combine his love for magic tricks with candid videos of people’s reactions out in the real world.

4. @fashionnova

If there’s one industry that comes with a huge amount of risk, it’s fashion. To build a profitable fashion business is extremely difficult, but digital-savvy brand Fashion Nova has effortlessly positioned themselves in the market by targeting an extremely specific audience: trendy young females that want to wear what celebrities wear, without spending a fortune. With over 6.8M followers on Instagram and daily outfit ideas for young fashionistas, this is one clothing brand to watch closely.

5. @travel

In the same way people wish they had bought simple but blindingly obvious domain names back in the early days of the Internet, the same is happening now with social media handles. @Travel capitalized early, and has since built a beautifully curated page of some of the world’s most stunning travel destinations. Looking for ideas for your next vacation? This is a good place to start.

6. @influencive

How do you turn yourself into a thought leader and build real influence for yourself? If you’re not following the online publication Influencive, you’re missing out on an extremely valuable resource. In a world where having a personal brand has become the single most valuable thing an aspiring entrepreneur could have, this Instagram account does everything from share powerful messages focused on personal and business growth, to let you follow around Inc. 500 entrepreneur, @briandevans, via Instagram Stories as he gathers insight from the world’s top thought leaders and big brands.

7. @weedhumor

What’s the market opportunity for curated meme accounts on Instagram? Massive. With over 2.1M followers and an astounding level of engagement, @weedhumor is one of many accounts realizing the possibility of building an audience around one thing and one thing only: relatable humor. There’s a lesson here to be learned for anyone looking to build an audience. You have to speak directly to the type of person you want following your content.

8. @nicolascole77

If you want to learn how to become a successful writer in the modern age, take a page out of the Nicolas Cole’s playbook. 3x top writer on Quora, Inc. columnist and over 20M views on his online writing to date, he has been crowned in 2017 as “one of the Internet’s most popular writers.” It’s his Instagram, however, that peels back the layers and shows what the day to day looks like for this entrepreneurial writer. Sharing personal stories, lessons learned along the way, and the mentality driving him toward his goal of a NYT bestseller, you will find yourself beyond motivated by this rising star.

9. @tailopez

Quite possibly the king of “edu-tainment,” Tai Lopez has built a jaw-dropping audience around his flashy lifestyle mixed with an endless thirst for knowledge. Made famous for combining Lamborghinis and books, his Instagram account has turned into a motivation machine, encouraging followers to learn the art of business and simultaneously participate in his weekly giveaways and contests. Where else can you learn about entrepreneurship and potentially win a car or a stack of cash on Instagram?

10. @money

What do you do when you’ve secured an extremely popular but simple social media handle? If you’re entrepreneur Branden Hampton, you leverage it to build your own personal brand. Ranked as the #1 social media influencer by Forbes, this Instagram account is a close look at the life of a hustler. As the owner of several other massively popular (and extraordinarily simple) social handles, Hampton has built himself a digital empire and become a leading voice in the social media space.

11. @caseylovesfitness

From ballerina to fitness model and social media queen, Casey Martin is a must-follow for anyone looking to up their fitness game in 2017. From lifestyle motivation to workout videos, modeling shots mixed with thought-provoking captions, sometimes all you need to get yourself to the gym is a reminder of what you’re working towards.

This article was written by Brian Rashid from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

How to Nurture Media Relationships for Better Outreach

Any PR pro worth their salt knows traditional media coverage is still a core part of an excellent PR strategy. Yet some PR pros seem to be better at getting their clients placements than others. It may seem like magic, but it’s really all about finding, building, and maintaining relationships with media: aka Media Relations. If you are new to PR, or if you have concentrated on digital media until now and need to branch out, you may be wondering how you can work this magic for yourself. We have tips (and tools) to help.

Making a List, Checking It Twice

One quick way to find the best journalists, personalities, and influencers to start and grow relationships with is to use keyword research to generate lists of highly targeted media professionals. This can be done in a few ways: through search engines that allow boolean targeted search strings, through influencer specific list purchases, or through tools designed to coordinate, nurture, and sort media relationships by keyword, history, and angle.

Let’s Look at These One by One:

Search Engines and Media Professional Discovery

Using boolean search strings like “AND”, “OR”, “site:KEYWORD” etc. can dramatically narrow your searches. This is much more useful than simply tossing a journalist’s name in Google and seeing what comes up. By using search strings you can search keywords, topics, and angles and find journalists writing about the topics that are most closely aligned to your clients’ needs. This can get cumbersome, however. You can’t automatically build your lists using searches like this. You have to manually track your contacts through your email, your CRM, or some other external program.

Purchasing an Influencer List

This is the most expensive and the least direct method of finding and nurturing journalist relationships. Because you don’t have much input into how the lists are sorted, you are stuck with too many names that aren’t closely tied to what your clients want and need. Since these lists are often in an excel sheet and emailed to those who purchase them, they aren’t a living updated document. These lists can occasionally be useful for one-time events like trade shows but support a more “spray and pray” strategy. It might be a component of your larger media strategy, but it wouldn’t make a great cornerstone.

Media Specific Nurturing and Discovery Tools

These give you the biggest bang for your buck, and for your effort. With the right keyword tool you can create useful lists of media professionals that you can then build relationships from. Before you dive in, understand what topics your clients are most aligned with, then use those to ferret out the journalists that cover them most often. Tools like this give you insight into the topics each journalist engages with more often, so you don’t waste your time. Additionally, with access to an influencer and media database you can sort by date range, keyword, topic, angle, location, beat, role, publication, media channel or name. This allows you to finely hone which media you are approaching. Not only that, you can track your contact with each media influencer inside these tools, and share the lists you build with your team. This makes getting media placement for your client much easier, and enables you to build relationships with media over time much more easily.

What Else Can You Do to Build Great Media Relationships and Get More Coverage?

Keep an eye on the publications and channels of the journalists you want to reach. Are they struggling to keep up in some areas? Are they having to work with a reduced staff? Do you see openings where you can offer to help them with content from your clients? This is one easy way to stay front of mind for media you want to reach – and being helpful costs you nothing but time. You can also make it easy and clear how to connect with your clients for stories. Don’t make the media search for what to do next. In this short attention span economy, you want their attention on you to be sustained. If you keep your media searches and relationship building tightly focused and look for openings for your clients to be useful, you’ll find great success in mastering media relations.

If you’re ready for the next step in nurturing media relationships for future coverage, download our ebook about extending your PR capabilities with pointers from content marketing.

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The Importance of Content, Authenticity, and Credibility

For digital media and publishing companies, content is their business. Magazines create must-read articles just as cable networks generate original videos, all in an effort to sell subscriptions. In a nutshell, media companies sell content, so its value can’t be understated.

There are a lot of steps to create a great piece of content. You need a catchy headline, an intriguing storyline, and a way to distribute it – just to name a few. But, as you work through the checklist, authenticity, and credibility are sometimes taken for granted, or get lost in the day-to-day chores of content creation.

Subscribers expect authentic, credible content. In this post, we’ll explore the importance of content, authenticity, and credibility as it applies to digital media and publishing companies.

The Value of Content

To media companies, content isn’t just a product for sale it’s a tool to attract and retain subscribers and also potentially drive revenue from advertisers. Here’s a look at the value content provides:

  • Brand awareness
    By promoting its content, new subscribers are introduced to the company. As subscribers see promotions they become more aware of the brand and recognize its name and purpose.
  • Keep subscribers informed
    Media companies can create content that keeps subscribers informed too. An email about upcoming TV premieres, a blog post about an upcoming interview with a celebrity, or an invitation to be an extra on a magazine shoot are all ways media companies can use content to keep subscribers in the loop.
  • Content is shareable
    In today’s digital age, great content is shareable. When a subscriber reads a page-turner, they’ll likely share a link on Facebook or mention the magazine on Twitter. Media companies that embrace social media, and make it easy for subscribers to digitally spread their content realize the value of social audiences.

Why Authenticity Matters

To be authentic means to create original, genuine content, and subscribers these days demand nothing less. Here’s why:

  • Overload of options
    Subscribers have an enormity of media at their fingertips, which means competition for media companies is fierce. Subscribers only have so much time in their day to read a magazine, watch TV, or listen to a radio station. To standout in a crowded space, media companies have to offer authentic content.
  • Niches exist
    To be authentic, media companies can’t cater to everyone. In fact, you’ll have more success if you carve out a niche. By focusing on a specific area like fashion or gardening, you might have a smaller audience but they’ll be highly engaged because you’re delivering content that’s specific to their interests.

The Importance of Credibility

Subscribers make decisions based on a media company’s credibility, which is why it’s important to create credible, trustworthy content. Here’s how credibility impacts a subscriber base:

  • Builds a reputation
    Media companies that publish credible content, with fact-checked articles, vetted information, and quotes from experienced experts build a solid reputation. It’s that reputation that attracts and retains subscribers.
  • Accountability
    If a media company does falter and publishes false information, it’s important for the company to admit wrongdoing and hold itself accountable. Subscribers expect credible content, and when that promise is broken it can erode trust.

Tips to Create Content That’s Credible and Authentic

Today’s subscribers simply won’t settle for cookie-cutter content. Here are a few steps media companies can take to ensure the creation of must-read content:

Give Subscribers More Control

Just because subscribers crave authentic content doesn’t mean they want to see every piece you produce. Let subscribers decide what content they want from your company by setting up a preference center.

A preference center puts subscribers in control. They can decide what topics they want in their inbox, and how frequently they arrive. By giving subscribers exactly what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to engage with the content you send.

BuzzFeed encourages its subscribers to use this preference center, which allows subscribers to select which topics they’re interested in and explains how frequently the emails are sent.

content credibility authenticity

Develop and Promote Your Apps

Part of creating credible, authentic content is delivering it to subscribers in an easy-to-use format. While posting content on a website is helpful, it’s not necessarily what subscribers want. Research shows 90% of a user’s time is spent using apps compared rather than browsing the web.

To meet expectations, develop an app where you can showcase content and promote your brand.

Media companies like VICE offer subscribers an app that gives them access to articles, live content, and video.

VICE – Promote an App with Content

Promote Content Using Email Marketing

Creating great content is only the first part of the puzzle. You need people to read your articles, watch your show, or listen to your podcast. Without an audience, creating killer content is useless.

To keep your audience informed, use email marketing. You can send emails that let subscribers know when a new article is live, generate excitement about an upcoming show, or ask subscribers want they want to see in next month’s edition.

Many digital media companies create email newsletters to introduce subscribers to new content, like this one from Fashion Magazine:

Fashion Magazine – Email Newsletter

Email marketing allows you to communicate with your subscribers. Through conversations, media companies can do a “pulse check,” and see what the audience thinks of their content.

Here’s an excellent example from Apartment Therapy. The company asks its subscribers to take a survey so they can understand what subscribers want.

Apartment Therapy – Email Marketing - Survey

Give Subscribers a Way to Reach Out

Aside from surveys, how can your current or potential subscribers reach out to your company?

A recent survey shows 90% of customers consider contact information a sign of credibility and need it to feel comfortable enough to buy a product or service.Given this information, you should double check the details provided on the company contact page. Make sure your company’s location, phone number, email, and social channels are all listed on your website and in emails.

Fashion Magazine does a great job providing all of its contact information at the bottom of its emails. Have a look:

Fashion Magazine – Give Contact Info to Email Subscribers

Wrap Up

Every piece of content that a digital media company creates, from an investigative report in a magazine to the email used to promote it, must be authentic and credible. The support of subscribers often depends on the company’s ability to create great content that’s honest and true to the company’s mission and values. Your authenticity and credibility starts with communication planning, learn from these brands and get it right.

This article originally appeared in Campaign Monitor, is written by Jason Dent from Business2Community, and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Challenges of Modern Day PR Pros Versus Those of Decades Past

It used to be that one of the biggest challenges PR pros faced was faxing a press release to 100 reporters—one at a time. (Yes, some of us remember those days.)

Today, everyone is online 24/7, creating a completely different environment for those of us who communicate for a living. While the Internet has made many facets of our jobs so much easier—like getting those press releases out—it’s also created an entirely new set of challenges.

Here, we take a look at how the digital world has changed some of our challenges as PR pros.

Crisis Communications – No Longer the Luxury of Time to Plan a Course of Action

Gone are the days when you had the time to prepare a statement in the event of a crisis.

John Thompson, founder, and principal of Critical Communications and assistant professor at Southwestern University just north of Austin, has worked with some of the biggest tech companies in the world, including Intel, Dell and Motorola. He was at ground zero in one of the first Internet-driven scandals, the Pentium processor crisis at Intel in the 1990s.

“In those days, we had hours we could work with in getting back to the media. Today, time is compressed to minutes, and that puts a premium on both truthfulness and reasoning that isn’t necessarily understood,” Thompson says.

A crisis communications plan is imperative for businesses to have prepared in advance. It takes forethought to have a framework in place for communicating in any crisis, be it fake news, an accident or a social media misstep. And, brands often don’t get a second chance to make it right—with social media, judgment by consumers can be swift—and at times, harsh.

Cameron Craig, head of global corporate communications at Polycom who spent ten years on Apple’s PR team and is also a speaker and consultant, cites Zappos as an example of how to handle bad news well. When Zappos announced extensive layoffs, they did something unique. The company put all its internal messaging on its external site.

“While layoffs are never good news, the way they handled it strengthened their brand over time,” says Craig. “People appreciated their transparency.”

Keeping News “Under Wraps”

Craig also points out that in the Internet age, it’s tougher to keep secrets—if you can keep them at all.

In his days at Apple, Craig says they’d plan big launch events to unveil new technology. In most instances, the team was able to keep the news a secret until the big unveil.

“Today, when you have products that take a long time to develop, it’s much harder to keep them under wraps,” Craig explains.

In these cases, he suggested it may be better to “embrace the leak.” Yes, some brands will release information internally, expecting that it will leak.

An example Craig cites occurred when Tim Cook of Apple recently shared some news first on the employee intranet. It was then leaked, ending up on TechCrunch and other online publications—but the information was written in a way that seemed as if Apple understood there’d be a leak.

Craig suggests this may be a wiser way to approach situations such as these.

“If you understand that the wall between internal and external communications is coming down, you can communicate differently,” he says.