In Southeast Asia’s Sharing Economy, The Race Is Still Wide Open

A new study from Meltwater shows that driver behaviour is a huge point of concern for users, representing 73% of social buzz

Meltwater has released ‘The Sharing Economy: Exploring the Future of Transport in Southeast Asia’, a report examining consumer preferences and issues in Southeast Asia’s ridesharing market by analysing the social media conversations surrounding ridesharing operators.

The report found that in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, Uber took the lead in share of voice (SOV), representing some 51% of conversations on social media while Grab and Go-Jek account for 27.5% and 21% of mentions, respectively.

Driver behaviour was one of the most hotly discussed topics on social media, with 73% of social chatter revolving around drivers. A majority of these posts were negative, with words like ‘rude’, ‘dangerous’ and ‘unsafe’ most commonly used to describe driver behaviour across the region.

Conversations on social media also indicate that in Southeast Asia, price rather than convenience is a key motivator for choosing one app over the other. In Singapore, 39% of Grab users and 13.5% of Uber riders expressed their views around pricing on social media. Lower cost options were also more heavily discussed, with 44% of social media users discussing UberPool, the company’s cheapest service. Similarly, 67% of Grab users discussed GrabCar, Grab’s private-hire car service, while 17% discussed GrabHitch, its lower cost carpooling option. Comparatively, higher-end options from either app were barely discussed. However, despite being a price-sensitive lot, promos and deep discounts don’t appear to be driving long-term loyalty accounting for less than 7% of conversations.

Mimrah Mahmood, Regional Director, Media Solutions, Meltwater Asia Pacific said:

“With customers living a significant portion of their lives on social media, it’s important for ridesharing companies to meet and connect with customers on these platforms. Feedback and data from these platforms can also inform operational changes. For example, comments around driver behaviours can be used to shape better driver support and training programmes. Ultimately, social media can be used for competitive intelligence as well as audience insights.”

Other key findings in Asia:

  • Grab is doing a considerably better job of engaging and interacting with people on social media, especially in Indonesia, with an engagement rate of 1.2% versus Uber’s 0.87% and Go-Jek’s 0.9% across the year.
  • Effective advertising works, with 86% of users responding positively to Uber’s ‘Let’s Unlock Cities’ campaign. The campaign aimed to combat negative perceptions around the impact of the sharing-economy on communities.

Download the report here

Want to find out how Meltwater can help deliver similar brand insights for your company? Click below!

5 Best Data Viz Tools of 2017

People process images much quicker than words. And in a world of ever-growing data sets and quantitative insights, there is so much information and data available. However, all the data in the world is useless, and can even be a liability, if you can’t understand it. Thus, visualizations can quickly transform data from unpalatable to digestible. No more fighting through the clutter of number heavy spreadsheets when third-party tools are ready to do the heavy lifting for you.

The term “data visualization” (data viz) may seem convoluted, but it just refers to any graphic that illustrates the significance of data visually rather than numerically—it’s all about how to present data for the best insights. For example, a simple bar chart that you can create in Microsoft Excel is considered data visualization. However, as technology rapidly improves and expands, along with it comes new types of data visualizations that are easier to use.

An overabundance of tools, coupled with a lack of understanding, has left many PR and communications professionals hesitant to get their feet wet. In response, I’ve assembled a list of free and easy-to-use data visualization tools that require absolutely no coding.

Accurate data visualization requires clean data, so before I get to that list, here’s a free bonus tool to help you get prepped:


Trifacta Wrangler is a tool that helps analysts clean, prepare, and extract useful data from JSON, Excel, and CSV files quickly and accurately. Trifacta automatically organizes and structures your data while also providing thorough examples and suggestions to guide nontechnical users through the “wrangling” process. Preparing data is a time-intensive process and can take longer than the actual analysis itself; however, tools like Trifacta can help cut the prep time in half, maybe even more.

With that in mind, here’s my run-down of the best free data viz tools of 2017:

tableau data viz tools

Tableau Public is Tableau’s free offering.

It allows anyone to see, understand, and interact with their data easily thanks to a user-friendly interface and drag and drop feature. The free version is essentially the same as the full version, with the exception of a private feature. Everything you create is public and is available on Tableau’s web galleryFrom there they can then be embedded, shared, and downloaded.

rawgraphs data viz tools

Raw converts complex data into high-quality vector-based visualizations.

An additional bonus is that Raw is compatible with tools like Adobe Sketch, Illustrator, and Inkscape, so if you want, you can have your graphic designer make your charts even sharper. Additionally, Raw has an intuitive interface geared toward all skill levels and they guarantee that your data remains safe since there are no server-side operations.

data viz tools

Datawrapper creates visually impactful charts that are interactive, responsive, and website embeddable.

There are absolutely no code or design skills required and you can easily go from raw data to beautiful chart in three easy steps. Datawrapper is also optimized for mobile, so charts are consistent on all devices—you can even preview mobile, tablet, and desktop versions of charts while designing them.

google data studio data viz

Google Data Studio is a data viz and reporting tool that turns your data into live, interactive dashboards and reports that are easy to read, share, and customize.

Data Studio has built-in connections to other Google properties to easily connect your other Google accounts such as Google Analytics and AdWords. Like most Google products, this tool is great for teams as it includes easy sharing and real-time collaboration.

Chart-Block data viz tools

ChartBlocks is an online chart builder that allows you to build basic charts quickly.

ChartBlocks has a limited number of charts but offers the ability to pull data from a variety of external sources such as external databases and spreadsheets. While it has a few more features, ChartBlocks is essentially a simple chart builder akin to Excel due to its streamlined process and limited chart options. Think of it as “Excel Plus.”

Of course, if you want to streamline your reporting and visualizations duties, we can help.

And, for even more data visualization tools, be sure to check out our 2016 list!

2018 Technology Trends: Custom Hardware Is Here to Stay

When it comes to AI technology trends, people love to talk about the impact on software and services. The not-too-far future promises digital assistants that speak in everyday vernacular. Having real conversations with AI is part of an aspirational future, but less discussed, though equally crucial, AI hardware is mostly ignored. The thing is, the AI hardware revolution is well underway.

AI Centric Hardware Is Here

The Hardware in Your Hand:

There’s a standing joke among AI researchers that as soon as a piece of AI research becomes part of an actual product, it’s no longer considered AI. Thus, the field of AI is a field where the finish line keeps mover toward the horizon of human-level intelligence. This scenario makes sense if you remember a time when speech synthesis was a challenge, machine vision was in the domain of labs, and even a game of chess was considered a topic worthy of AI research.

In 2017 we don’t even think about how our smartphone cameras focus, recognize smiles, exposure time, and add color corrections. It’s easy to forget that a “good” photograph has a large part of human subjectivity in it. The amount of HDR or bokeh our cameras produce are highly tuned, occurring in micro-fractions of a second. This is all possible with image processors.


The camera in the Pixel 2 is one such example.

But if you want to put on your AI researcher hat and say: “But hey, that’s not AI anymore, I want my AI to make my photos into works of art that are worthy of Van Gogh!” Then rest assured your phone is good at doing that as well. While it’s not always AI specific hardware, the use of mobile processors in the service to AI tasks is now standard. Mobile processors save companies computation power and time that otherwise would not have scaled with an increase of users or their profit margins.

Cloud and AI Centric Processors:

While your phones are not full of AI specific hardware (though they have a little of that), there are places where this specialized equipment is poised to make a considerable impact: cloud and data centers.

Google is one of many that want to leverage hardware to make AI calculations faster. This makes sense if you compare the price of services to the cost of the device. As the price of the equipment drops, the amount of profit that services will make starts to warrant the design of custom hardware. Here, each small improvement in power or speed will translate directly into money saved and earned. It’s no wonder the likes of Facebook and Google are spending so much effort in this arena. Facebook even wants the open source community to help out in its efforts.

Autonomous Cars (and Maybe Even the Car You’re Driving):

If we want to talk about personal consumer hardware, there are few things larger than cars.

Cars started out as more mechanical systems than electric, but modern cars are full of computers. Subsystems such as anti-lock brakes, fuel injection, and cruise control are all relatively conventional up until recently. As research into autonomous cars trickles down into safety features (e.g., forward collision detection, before the actual collision occurs) what goes inside your car is now designed specifically for AI algorithms.

Companies like Nvidia, let alone Google, Apple, Uber, and Tesla are now jumping head first into the booming autonomous car field. Figuring out a solution to autonomous (driverless) cars is a circumstance where decisions made “on-the-fly” is imperative to success. Using current algorithms of data, sending those to a server for calculations, and receiving results will not be a feasible solution. Reactions to road conditions need real-time assessment, and only onboard AI hardware can satisfy this requirement.

PR Takeaway

Get ready. In many ways, faster speed and the lower costs of hardware is helping AI come to the forefront of modern products and services. However, it isn’t only a story of better-faster-more; we are using it in novel ways that will tangibly improve our lives. The turnaround time for processor design is as fast as a few months compared the years it took during the booming PC era.

And with the prevalence of AI, so comes along with it an increase of data types to segment, interpret, and analyze for future business decisions. Whether that is investing in a data analyst, implementing PR reporting, or receiving a refresher course on your media monitoring platform, you’ll need to be prepared. Now is the time to move towards setting up your campaigns and team up for success.

2017 Best of Design: The Human Touch

In 2014, Dan Saffer wrote “The End of Design As We Know It,” in it he predicts a grim world in which humans are removed from the process of design, replaced by artificial intelligence and algorithms. Three years later, designers are pushing the boundaries of digital media into entirely new directions. What we’ve seen in 2017’s best of design trends is a move towards increased humanity as the design process becomes more detailed, editorial, and uninhibited. The current push in graphic design principles echos the best of our (messy, complicated, nostalgic) human nature. Here’s what we saw.


1. Louder, Brighter

Over the past few years, large tech companies have been playing it safe with neutral color schemes. The approach has trickled down from Apple’s minimalist design aesthetic and is undeniably clean. This once powerful effect is now overused as 2017 saw a shift away from a pallet of blacks, grays, and whites. An example is Spotify, who embraces bold colors to effectively capture a user’s attention. Spotify’s intense use of color is now instantly recognizable and shapes the brand’s overall identity. Additionally, using bold color is an effective way to stand out when fighting for real estate across social media feeds.


2. Illustration

While 2016 saw a dramatic shift towards in-house photography, in-house illustration has become one of the hottest trends of 2017. Using illustration can be a fun and light way to build brand identity. Some may be skeptical that this approach can come across as unprofessional or childish. However, illustration is rooted in the flat design aesthetic which has dominated tech over the past several years. Great examples of companies that have embraced illustration are Dropbox and Casper mattresses. Each uses illustration to build an identity that puts the user at ease and appeals to the child in all of us.


3. The Return of the GIF

Web users use GIFs to express emotion that text simply cannot. GIFs can be created using basic design software already in use and since they tell a story and are easily shareable, there wouldn’t be any reason to not include GIFs in your content strategy. GIFs have made a comeback in 2017 because load time is negligible and data usage isn’t a concern as it is with video. Branded GIFs are an easy way to stand out on social media, in the case of the gif, if you build it they will come.


4. Greenery

The Pantone 2017 Color of the Year, greenery, signaled a push towards environmentalism and plant life across the design world. Pantone describes greenery as a “fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.” The color of the year reaffirms a new trend in stimulating and reinvigorating users with breathing room and brightness. Greenery has also provided a gateway for using natural patterns in design such as marble, plants, and precious stones.


5. Color Transitions (a.k.a. Gradients/Ombre)

It’s clear that color transitions are one of the hottest trends right now. Gradients were a trend that started appearing in 2016 but the use has exploded this year. Apple, Instagram, and Spotify are all examples of large organizations embracing color transitions. Even with subtle use, the effect can add a richness to what would otherwise be bland blocks of color.


6. Modern Retro

A fusion of old and new, merging modern flair with a retro design is nothing new. However, 2017, saw a trend of simplifying elements from the past and showcasing them in a way that really stands out. For instance, neutral colors are removed from these elements and replaced within your face bolds. The trend is effective because it uses familiarity that reassures your users but, a modern twist is interpreted as innovative and fresh. While the effect has already taken over the print world, expect to see more of it in the digital sphere through 2018.


7. Cinemagraphs

Unlike GIFs, cinemagraphs are still images with secondary elements moving within them. They provide a way to capture an audience’s attention in a very short amount of time. The effect provides a realistic flare while bringing still images to life. As comms pros seek innovative ways to remain competitive, expect to see even more of this design trend in 2018.


8. Text Beyond Boundaries

The rules of web design are changing. Whereas allowing elements to cross planes in the past could go horribly wrong (and still can), designers are becoming more expressive, allowing text to be in two places at the same time. Text is crossing multiple containers and being layered over more than one box. Although this trend is occurring more and more, it may be wise to be cautious about implementing it. When text cross planes, it needs to do so consistently with the goal of establishing hierarchy.

best of design

9. Larger Than Life

2017 saw a push towards oversized objects. The idea is not new, but more and more designers are showcasing everyday objects in a giant fashion. Oversized objects are a striking way to break rules that require perfect imagery and an eye for detail. It can express a minimalist brand message in an unexpectedly fun way. To avoid a jarring effect, designers need to balance a large object with whitespace, bright colors, or fun typography. There should also be a focus on image quality since the resolution of oversized elements are not forgiving.

best of design

10. Millennial Art

Also known as absurdist humor or Neo-Dadaism, Millennial Art is the latest cultural movement that rejects the traditional and embraces the absurd. If you thought Millennial Art was only confusing memes, it is so much more. Millennial Art provides a medium for individuals to express their disillusionment with society. Like Dadaism after the First World War, the current crop of everyman (Millennials) are fed up with what the world has to offer. They’re fueled by a desire to address current events, so they’re embracing collage art with a specific bent that capitalizes on confusion and nonsense. What was first considered as just absurdist humor is now being acknowledged as a historic art movement.

There you have it, the top 10 web design trends of 2017. If you’re interested in revisiting 2016 or reading about the best infographics of 2017, the best social campaigns, and what PR Influencers think is in store for 2018, or looking for a media monitoring platform—we can help.

Social First Content Strategy: Start with Social, End with Success

Marketing campaigns inspire stretch goals. Whether the primary focus is increasing awareness, generating leads, engagement, or all of the above, your overall strategy has to achieve goals and tune out static. Long gone are the Mad Men days of one-way marketing that trusted brands to tell people how to think and what to buy. That’s why formulating a social first content strategy is a modern imperative.

Why a Social First Content Strategy?

With the age of social, capturing the eyes and ears, hearts and minds of an audience is crucial if you’re ever going to hit the bullseye. Few of us are working with Super Bowl Sunday budgets, but we all want the super-hero results. To hit your targets with the resources you’ve got means maximizing reach by creating content that elicits the desired response with an accompanying action.

In this day and age, it’s no longer about building a campaign out from one print ad, billboard, or TV spot. The best way to approach the ideation and brainstorm phase of your plan is to build content with a “social first” strategy. This, at its heart, means taking into account the social elements of your campaign and how social media might react to your content.

What Does Social First Get Me?

Taking the “you-would-already-be-home-if-you-lived-here” approach still works, but social media means you skip going door to door and avoid the high cost of out-of-home and TV. Especially when companies are focusing more on digital campaigns. In February 2016, 40% of marketers said they were shifting TV budgets to digital, up from 37% in September 2015.

From Best Guess to Best Practice

The best part about social first media is the breadth of metrics and targeting.

Early social goals were about how many followers your company page had, but technology has evolved to allow additional data that defines the who, what, when, and how of your audience to help meet your goals. Social provides the ultimate trifecta: mobile media, hyper-targeting, and precise metrics. Armed with this info, you don’t have to guess if a campaign will resonate with stay-at-home moms or millennials on OOH or TV.

Moving With Your Targets

Mobile marketing means the water cooler has gone digital and grown legs. Technology has evolved allowing brand message delivery into the palm of targeted hands.

Most audiences are sharing wherever they go. Content discovered by way of devices drives conversations from home, to work, and back again. These cross demographic habits allow brands the opportunity to travel with their audience to create nimble content for social media platforms.

Regardless of the platform, all roads lead to revenue. The ROI dream team is based on lower production cost, wide distribution, and transactional ease. Content doesn’t guarantee immediate cash flow, but, guiding an audience down a path to conversion by way of engaging on social media has grown from the hope to the expectation. In fact, the best brands are known for their social content, above and beyond any other channel.

Savvy brands are evolving away from the belief that they manage customers, as they realize that customers, in fact, are managing relationships by way of social engagement. Social first content is an effective strategy to control the narrative, as well as build the support of brand loyalists.

In an age of social media capturing every breath we take, don’t you want a following to count on?

Tips for Building Social First Content:

  • Choose social channels that your audience engages on. If you’re targeting a younger audience, go to Musically or Snapchat since their audience skews younger. If you’re looking for a middle-aged demographic, consider going to Facebook.
  • Create content that makes sense on that channel. For example, use beautifully styled lifestyle photos and video for Instagram. Think format and audience.
  • Build a responsive website/landing page that supports and matches digital sources of traffic and content. If someone clicks on the CTA from your Facebook sponsored content, the page they land on should reinforce the messaging seen on your Facebook page, optimized for the device they are on, with a seamless user experience.
  • Curate original audience content from your audience. Social audiences love when brands respond and most importantly share their user-generated content. But don’t forget to get their permission and give credit.
  • Before sending out a press release, producing a TV spot, holding a press conference, or training customer service reps, consider how social media will perceive your campaign, your actions, and your communications. When you’re in the middle of a PR crisis, be prepared for the reaction on social media.

Be part of the conversation with social management and listening tools like Meltwater. Current news and trends will trump any marketing convo you want people to jump into. So be where your consumers are and talk about what they want to talk about.

4 Reasons You Might Want to Change Your Social Handles

If you jumped on Twitter when it first launched, you may have been a lot more likely to have done so under a pseudonym or nickname. Similarly, your Facebook and LinkedIn company profiles may have had to add additional words because someone else got there first and claimed your ideal handle.

For some influences, having quirky social handles don’t get in the way of partnering with brands. But for others, what seemed like a whimsical social handle choice may now actively be holding back your career. Something more basic and straightforward—like your real-life name—might be more helpful.

After all, you can just change your social handles on the major platforms (Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook) without starting over or losing your momentum. But on the other hand, changing your handles could result in losing all the embeds and account mentions you’ve earned over time.

Before you flip the switch on a social channel rebrand, take into account these brand and influencer social account renaming experiences.

You’ve Outgrown Your Social Handles

Confession time: @SFerika wasn’t my first Twitter handle. That honor goes to an account I created in 2008 using my typical Internet message boards user handle. When I decided I was ready to go forth with a professional Twitter account, I created a new one rather than renaming my old personal account since the two accounts wouldn’t have the same audiences. But for many other people, it makes more sense to rebrand their existing account.

“In my former advertising life, I acquired the nickname ‘Ringo’ from a few of my old coworkers,” said Joseph “JK Kalinowski, Creative Director, Content Marketing Institute. “Long story short, it involved a Beatles poster that was hanging in my office and a person walked into my office and said ‘What’s up Ringo?’ The name stuck. When it was time to create a Twitter account some years ago, I used the handle ‘@ringo66.’ Fast forward a few years to my beginnings with CMI & CMWorld. Everyone in the CMI family called me ‘JK’ because it got confusing that we had two ‘Joes’—Pulizzi and Kalinowski. We joked that it was a ‘Joverload’ at CMI. Our community knew me as JK, so it just made sense to switch the handle to @jkkalinowski.”

For Kalinowski, changing his Twitter handle made it easier for him to connect with people he met in the course of his job. “Using my ‘recognizable’ name instead of a nickname/codename made me recognizable to the people that I wanted to connect with. For me, especially after an event like #CMWorld where you meet and make new connections, having that clarity in my handle helped my connection/follows.”

Your Social Handle Reflects a Job You No Longer Have

When marketing consultant Maureen Jann created her Twitter account @MaureenOnPoint, she was the in-house marketing director for Point It digital marketing agency. While many people would have changed their social handles immediately after leaving the position, Maureen didn’t.

Here’s why.

“I had originally picked my twitter handle to be a complimentary play on words with my employer’s company name (Point It),” she said. “When fortunes shifted and my new situation left me building my own business under my new moniker, SuperDeluxe Marketing, I opted to keep my handle.”

Maureen was already building her influence under the existing handle and had consistent feedback from her followers that the handle resonated with what she shared on the channel.

“Although the word ‘point’ was in the name, it was general enough to live outside of my initial employer’s umbrella,” she said. “Ultimately, I chose the name carefully to begin with to compliment my skills, my desire to be considered a thought leader, and finally to be compatible with my company’s theme.”

It’s important to note Jann did eventually change her Twiter handle to @SuperDeluxeMo as part of her business development for her new business, SuperDeluxe Marketing.

Someone Got There First But Didn’t Last

Sometimes, brands have to settle for their second choice social handles because someone else got there first. But over time, those sought-after social handles can once again become available.

“When we first set up our accounts @Kineo was already owned by another company,” said Andie Coupland, now the marketing manager at HT2 Labs. “We had to go with a longer version of our name (@kineolearning). Having kept tabs on the handle, it appeared to be dormant. After approaching the owner of the brand a few times, we finally manage to get hold of the @Kineo handle.”

For Coupland, the handle change was worth any initial confusion it might have caused due to it ultimately being a better fit for the brand.

“At the time meant a shorter handle meant more characters for tweets when we were tagging/being tagged, and was also easier and more consistent with our other social channels,” she said. “It took us a while to get the handle, but it was worth it to own the best-fit handle for our brand.”

While you might not want to keep your handle if it included a specific brand reference that doesn’t resonate on its own, there are cases’ like Maureen’s—where it makes sense to keep your initial social handles.

You’re Renaming and Rebranding Your Company

Sometimes, there’s no way around changing your social media handles. In the case of a major rebrand that includes a company name change, you really can’t make the case for keeping the social handles the same. But at the same time, you need to be careful about how you make the change to provide minimal disruption to both your customers and the brand.

Timing is everything when it comes to making a brand name change. For marketer Carmen Hill, that meant juggling two Twitter accounts over the weekend.

“For Twitter, I followed the Moz advice. We had the new handle ready to go, but the account wasn’t active. When it was go-time (scheduled for the weekend with a Sunday evening email announcement), we changed the new account’s handle to something else. Then, I used it the new name for the old account, so we kept all our followers, tweets, etc. Then, we went back to the new account and changed that handle to the old company handle. The hardest part was keeping all the passwords straight and doing things in the right order, quickly.”

While Hill’s rebrand went well, Coupland’s more recent social handle rebrand hit a small snag.

“Due to timing and lack of communication with the organizers, our old @ht2learning handle was used during a big industry awards night that was live-tweeted,” she said. “So, what should have been a big push for our new brand ended up a big missed opportunity.”

Questions to Consider Before Making a Change

Now that you’ve seen some examples of how changing their social handles has affected some of your peers, you’re ready to evaluate if it makes sense for you. Ask yourself and your marketing team the following questions:

  • Do you have a number of earned links to your social profiles that would break when you make the change?
  • Is your social handle printed on hard-copy collateral or event signage that would have to be redone?
  • Have you actively encouraged your brand fans to create and share their user-generated content and include your brand handle?

If your answer is yes to all of the above, you may want to hold off on changing your social handles as there is the potential for it to cause a negative social outcome and adversely affect your brand reputation.

On the other hand, if you can answer yes to the following questions, a change of handle may be in store:

  • Have your fans been confused about where to find you because you have multiple different handles?
  • Do your fans have a shorter, affectionate name they use for your brand and company in social posts?
  • Did you initially choose a handle that differs from your brand because someone had claimed your brand name handle before you did?

Ready to take the plunge on your social media rebrand? Before you do, here’s a piece of advice from Coupland. “My biggest piece of advice would be to make sure you get your timing and comms right. Admittedly, sometimes there won’t be a ‘good time’, but you have to take the plunge at some point (!), so use the opportunity to do a bit of a brand awareness exercise and re-engage your new and existing audiences.”

10 PR Influencers Give Their PR Predictions for 2018

What does 2018 hold for public relations?

Without a crystal ball, we asked some PR influencers for their take on what will be trending in the industry in 2018. Here are their PR predictions:

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Ann Handley, best-selling author of Everybody Writes and head of content at MarketingProfs:

“AI puts the R back in PR. The rise of AI also raises the profile of PR. The machines take over the boring, rote stuff (the media monitoring, the reporting, the research) so that the professionals have more time to dig into the more creative and relationship-building aspects of PR. AI puts the R back in PR!”

Christopher Penn, author, speaker and vice president of marketing technology, SHIFT Communications:

“No surprise here, my top 2018 prediction is that marketers and communicators must become comfortable with machine learning and artificial intelligence – and must strive to truly understand these technologies. While they may be buzzwords now, leading companies are implementing them in day-to-day work, from analysis of content to identifying influencers to determining PR impact with new ways to measure. PR professionals who don’t understand how to use AI (either custom-built in-house or through vendors) will be left behind by those who can leverage its capabilities for next-level communications impact.”

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Andy Crestodina, Co-Founder, and CMO, Orbit Media:

“Get ready for a convergence of PR and influencer marketing. The skills required are similar (networking, outreach, content creation) so there is already a strong overlap. And as influencer marketing becomes a more popular and common approach, PR pros will begin to talk more about it, offer it and gradually position themselves as experts at this tactic.

Just look at the rise of influencer marketing over the last three years. Only paid promotion is rising faster. PR experts are perfectly positioned to capture this demand and drive results for clients using these strategies.”

Martin Waxman, President, Martin Waxman Communications and LinkedIn Learning, and author:

“In 2018, PR and communications professionals will need to abandon their fear of numbers, and learn how to interpret data – both big and small – to discover insights that help shape their organization’s stories. And while staring at tables of numbers or unstructured data may sound dull, discovering the kernel of an idea is a creative endeavor. To accomplish that, we have to learn the basics of data science. This starts by learning what data scientists can and cannot do, how to speak their language, and how to use a database like Excel for more than just a critical path. It’s an exciting opportunity and demands a shift in the way we think.”

Stephen Waddington, Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum, and Visiting Professor, Newcastle University:

“My prediction for 2018 is that public relations will become recognized as a management discipline. The drumbeat of professionalism in public relations has been getting louder over the past decade. My view is that 2018 will prove to be a breakthrough year as a result of a concerted effort on a number of fronts. There’s a growing community of practice between academics, teachers and practitioners, around critical issues such as diversity, gender and fake news. A strong interchange between theory and practice is critical to the development of our profession.”

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Nicole Rodrigues: CEO and Founder, NRPR Group:

“More brands will realize they need a mix of social media and traditional PR in order to truly build a presence. Companies who’ve only created budget for one or the other are starting to wake up to the fact that both really need each other in order to move a brand’s presence.”

Robert Wynne, Author, “Straight Talk About Public Relations,” (Maven House Press):

“While the trend of alternative facts, fake news and plain old lying is troublesome, it means that PR pros need to work harder to maintain their ethics—and to help their clients do the same. There have always been a few PR professionals who have lied on behalf of their bosses. In the old days, when someone was caught being dishonest, they would apologize. No more. Today, even after lies are exposed, some spokesmen won’t express regret or even change their stories.”

Christoph Trappe Content Marketing Trainer and Coach

“In 2018, public relations people will use the tools to predict what topics are about to take off even more. Today, many still respond after something took off, but in 2018 sophisticated listening, anticipation and then execution will mature.”

Wendy Marx, president, Marx Communications:

“With some 5 PR people for every reporter, PR professionals can’t expect to stay in business by simply being media coverage pushers. That’s akin to trying to hawk typewriters to high school students. Instead, strategies like content marketing, owned content, influencer marketing and thought leadership need to come to the fore.”

Kellye Crane, Principal, Crane Communications, LLC:

“With organizations increasingly adopting an omnichannel approach to marketing in 2018, savvy PR professionals can maneuver to play a central role. Skilled in long-term communications strategies (as opposed to the campaign-driven mentality often found in other marketing disciplines), PR pros are experts in engaging an organization’s publics. This expertise is critical as personalization and a focus on relationships become central goals for most businesses.

To get a seat at the table for 2018 and beyond, strategic PR pros will find ways to lead, integrate and report real metrics based on measurable objectives that are tied to business goals.”

There you have it, the influencers with their pulse on the industry share their PR predictions for 2018. If you’re not quite ready for the new year, make sure you download our Digital PR ebook to help you prep for all of next year’s campaigns.

Digital PR

Build an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

Consumers no longer trust in the marketing content brands release into the world. In fact, recent research found only 55 percent of consumers considered a company’s marketing materials to be a trusted source of information when making a buying decision.

Fortunately, you can get your marketing message in front of the right person at the right time AND in the right way. How?

Employee brand ambassadors. Employees are well-positioned to act as the bridge between a company and potential customers.

brand Ambassador employee program

Benefits of an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

Although any company employee will have a perceived bias for their company’s product or service, employee brand ambassadors from outside the sales and marketing teams will come across as providing a more authentic point of view. Additionally, the fact that they are willing to endorse a product and personally vouch for a brand validates that brand.

When cultivating employee support and advocacy on behalf of your brand through a formal employee brand ambassador program, the extra training provided to brand ambassadors—including ensuring they are kept up-to-date on the latest content and product enhancements—can benefit existing customers as much as prospective clients. The same cues that employees watch for with prospects can help them provide exceptional service to existing customers, including providing them with new tools for software adoption, adding a module to address a customer’s new business focus, or even a hands-on refresher session on your product’s functionality. The more employees know about the resources available to them, the better they can create a personalized and curated experience. This personalization can, in turn, strengthen and increase the longevity of their customers’ brand relationship.

Best Practices for Launching an Employee Brand Ambassador Program

Although employee brand ambassadors can be a successful part of marketing, there needs to be some groundwork to ensure a successful brand ambassador program. Start with doing an employee engagement pulse-check. If your employees are unmotivated, a brand ambassador program is unlikely to take off. And with only 32 percent of U.S. employees engaged in 2015, according to Gallup, (a number that’s been flat since 2000), it’s likely that most companies’ uninspired workforce won’t support a brand advocacy effort. Disengaged employees are not optimal ambassadors for your brand’s story.

But, once you’ve identified a core group of engaged employees, a small pilot program with internal brand advocates can likely bring others onboard. Pinpoint the natural leaders, regardless of title, who consistently drive collaboration on their teams. Reach out to them and gather input on what a compelling brand advocacy program would look like, then put their suggestions into action on a small scale. For example, you can start with a weekly email highlighting a few key pieces of content and provide click-to-share links that can quickly populate a message on the social channel of the employee’s choice. The easier you make it for employees to share content and engage with prospects, the more likely it is they will participate.

employee ambassador program

Employee Brand Ambassador Pitfalls to Avoid

You have an engaged employee base and an awesome product, so the employee ambassador program is guaranteed to be a raging success, right? That depends entirely on its execution.

I worked with one leader whose point of view around employee advocacy was, “if they (employees) don’t want to share our content, then they shouldn’t work here.” If that’s your point of view around employee brand advocacy, I encourage you to take a step back. Is there significant value in an entry-level customer support employee sharing your bottom of the funnel analyst report in their Facebook stream? Possibly, but it’s more likely that they’re annoying their friends with irrelevant content.

Instead of having an expectation that employees are sharing all of your content across their channels, ask them to share the content that most resonates with them. Some may choose to share projects they worked on and are proud of while others may share job listings or the latest blog posts. Allow employees to take on only what feels like a natural fit.

Speaking of good fit, although employee advocacy platforms have the benefit of making it quick and easy for employees to share corporate content, they may also result in a deluge of status update spam. There’s nothing authentic or compelling about a prospect seeing four of your employees posting the same canned message and link in unison across social platforms. Or even worse, a company leader whose “set it and forget it” approach means they’ve shared the identical generic pitch for the annual customer conference every day for a month on their social channels. There’s a fine line between automation being a helper and hurting your brand. Whenever possible, make it easy for employees to customize their social messaging when sharing content, so you don’t fall into this trap.

And last, but not least, make sure there’s something in it for the employees for participating, above-and-beyond corporate profits. Award the most active employee champions of your brand with a symbolic award or even, an invitation to your annual President’s Club. Use a leaderboard to make each employee’s contribution transparent and encourage friendly competition. In these small ways, you can integrate brand ambassadorship into the company culture, and increase its effectiveness.

For a head start in getting your employee ambassador program up and running, download Meltwater’s employee social media playbook template.

employee brand ambassadors

This article was originally published to this site on Apr 24, 2016, we republish relevant posts on Saturdays for readers who may have previously missed them.

8 Ways Snapchat Is Keeping Instagram at Bay

While Instagram’s user base has ballooned to nearly 700 million monthly active users and of that, 400 million active daily users, Snapchat has struggled to keep pace. In their recent quarterly earnings report, Snapchat reported only 178 million daily active users, a far cry from Instagram’s.

Much of Instagram’s upward trajectory stems from their strategy of adding new enhancements to keep users engaged (and staying) on their platform. These include such features as Instagram live video with friends, a new polling feature for Instagram Stories as well as recent changes to allow users to upload photos and videos to Instagram Stories that are longer than 24 hours.

While Instagram has added/borrowed features, Snapchat hasn’t kept pace in that department. Instead, they’ve launched a dancing hot dog costume. But don’t fret, Snapchat is making some positive moves that should propel them forwards in 2018.

Let’s take a look at how Snapchat is staying ahead of Instagram, even though the numbers might not reflect it.

8 Unique Features That Will Keep Snapchat Ahead

While a number of Instagram (and Facebook’s) features are borrowed from Snapchat, it doesn’t seem like this bothers Snapchat in the slightest bit. Instead, they are plodding along, positioning themselves for a major jump.

Here are some of the exciting features Snapchat is working on that will set them up for success.

1. Snapchat Lenses (AR/VR)

Snapchat is making a big push into augmented reality. One way they’re doing this is with Snapchat world lenses.

World lenses let you add 3D objects to a physical space. This will be particularly interesting for businesses, as brands will soon be able to slap a logo onto real-time snaps, without it physically being there.

Currently, Instagram doesn’t offer anything remotely close—unless you count face filters. This particular feature will be a boon for businesses interested in promoting their branded Snaps.

2. Snap Maps

If you want to discover Snaps around you, look no further than Snap Maps. Not only can you keep tabs on where your friends are (producing their snaps), but what better way to discover new businesses and landmarks around you? It’s as simple as launching a Snap Map.

This particular feature should prove very useful for people looking for better discoverability without the need to rely on ads.

3. Third-Party Link-Sharing

Another feature that will benefit Snapchat is third-party link-sharing.

Right now, if Instagram users want to add links to their Instagram posts, they’ll have to rely on using their Instagram bio. Simply put, there isn’t an easy way to add links from Instagram.

Snapchat users can already share links to their own content or something they find interesting and message it to their friends. This may not seem like a big enhancement, but it sets Snapchat up for success with luring businesses to the platform. Especially businesses who can use the platform to easily publicize collaborations with numerous brands/urls.

4. Snap Ads

Snapchat recently started experimenting with Snap Ads and allowing Snap pixel tracking for retargeting. While Instagram provides advertising via Facebook’s Ad platform, Snapchat is beginning to put the pieces in place to help users monetize their Snapchat presence.

In particular, Snap is staying true to their roots by focusing on mobile while providing interactive ads such as custom filters, that should entice brands as we move into using more augmented and virtual reality in 2018.

5. Snapchat Spectacles

Instagram currently does not make hardware. Snapchat does, in Snapchat Spectacles.

While sales of Spectacles have been slow to take-off, these still give Snapchat a significant advantage over Instagram, especially considering these could be a test for future glasses with augmented reality capabilities built-in. Advantage, Snapchat.

6. Snap Accelerate

Snapchat wants to make it easier for businesses to get the necessary support and resources they need. What better way than to use Snap? With their new program called Snap Accelerate, startups can get the help they need to succeed with Snapchat.

Instagram currently does not offer a way to learn how to leverage Instagram to grow your startup. This gives Snapchat yet another advantage over Insta.

7. iPhone X

iPhone X is an advanced smartphone, with a top-notch camera and screen. Using the iPhone X increases the fun in using Snap Lenses because of the lifelike capabilities. While Instagram offers face filters, Snapchat’s are more advanced.

8. A Redesigned Snapchat

Last, but not least, probably the biggest change that will keep Snapchat ahead of Instagram is a redesign. This is because people have said that Snapchat is difficult to use (like anything, it becomes more familiar the more you use it). This particular change to how you use Snapchat may also be controversial because they’re separating the “social” from the “media.” Basically, they’re separating friends from businesses. This can prove to be a positive move for Snap in the long-run. While your Facebook and Instagram feeds have grown over time, they have become a convoluted mess as more and more people and businesses join social media and are vying for your attention. Depending on the market’s reception, this could be another strategy, that combined with all of Snapchat’s advanced features, keeps them ahead of Instagram.

Taking Advantage of Upcoming Snapchat Features

There are a lot of options to consider when using Snapchat for PR. The thing to remember is that it’s a more advanced platform in comparison to Instagram. Here are some recommendations.

  1. Learn the fundamentals of Snapchat
  2. Experim