The Ins-And-Outs of LinkedIn Influence

LinkedIn has a reputation as a digital Rolodex, a.k.a. the place where you connect with coworkers or industry colleagues. If you were on the platform a decade ago, you might have faced the embarrassment of inadvertently spamming all your email contacts. But those days are over.

In 2014, LinkedIn opened its publisher platform to encourage members, thought leaders, and innovators to share opinions on work in a centralized location.

Over the past 4 years (with help from Microsoft’s 2016 purchase of the platform) LinkedIn has transformed itself into a social network for those looking to further establish their professional identity as they change careers or increase their business prospects.

So has a fresh coat of paint and a few tweaks made LinkedIn a platform for building influence?

The Newish LinkedIn

In 2015, LinkedIn sat idle at 364 million users. In October 2017, that number swelled to 467 million. This jump in users can be attributed to feature updates that have attracted business leaders to the platform. And where business leaders gather, other business leaders will follow, as will those looking to do business with or work with them (i.e. most working professionals).

Beyond better user experience, what else is new?

LinkedIn Influencer Program

If you spend time on LinkedIn, you may have noticed the LinkedIn Influencer program badges on certain profiles. It’s an invite-only program and is “… a global collective of 500+ of the world’s foremost thinkers, leaders, and innovators.”

Users will immediately see your badge (see Oprah’s below) when looking at your profile and your content is recommended to the wider LinkedIn community.

Oprah Winfrey LinkedIn

Establishing Yourself As Influential

Even if you can’t score an invite for an official Influencer badge, you can still build your influence (and visibility) on the platform.

To establish Linkedin influence, you’ll want to make sure you have a complete profile. This includes having an up-to-date and professional looking photograph and at least one, though you really should have many more, professional connection. Next, create a custom URL, so that people can easily get to your profile.

After you’ve finished with your profile, consider writing a few recommendations for colleagues. And, if you’ve had positive working relationships, ask those connections for professional recommendations. If you don’t have time to write recommendations, make sure to give props to connections on their skill sets.

From there, it’s time to use the LinkedIn publishing platform to publish long-form content. Hopefully, your content will spur others to engage via comments, liking, or sharing your post on their stream. Since the LinkedIn community is geared towards a business community, remember to publish content that has an informed opinion relevant to strategy or business goals.

LinkedIn has one major advantage over other platforms – quality. Throughout the platform, you can find thought-provoking content from Influencers like Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite, on how he transformed his company’s culture, Richard Branson, on his many ventures, and Caterina Fake, on why she is now starting a venture capital fund.

They know that publishing on LinkedIn can help influence by:

  • Positioning you as a thought leader on specific topics, in a particular industry
  • Engaging your network
  • Growing your network as others engage with your content and increase your reach
  • Expanding the visibility of other content you or your organization has previously produced through cross-linking posts
  • Showcasing your ability to write thoughtfully about your industry, your work, or other relevant topics

PR Takeaways: The Right Business Platform Right Now

LinkedIn is now the place where thought leaders have intelligent conversations with other thought leaders, and since it’s public, the rest of LinkedIn can listen in and engage in the exchange. This capability makes it an effective PR tool for building C-Suite thought leadership, as well as a channel to increase your professional network and industry influence.

Since commenting or liking a post is shared on your stream, as well as the original poster’s, comments and likes you post are seen beyond your connections with a larger LinkedIn community.

Your participation in LinkedIn Groups, via posting blog or other brand content, as well as commenting and liking posts can also increase visibility for both you and your brand.

The ultimate takeaway is that LinkedIn can help you build industry influence with influential people in your field or industry. Jim Rohn once said, “we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with.”

Spend time on LinkedIn and you’re in good company.

PR Reporting: What to Do When Your Results Are Less Than Stellar

It’s happened. You planned and executed what you thought was going to be a stellar PR campaign. You crossed all the I’s and dotted all the T’s, only to find out that, guess what? There’s no way around it. Your results aren’t what you expected. The campaign flopped.

Now, it’s time to present the results to the client. Be it an internal or external client, you may have a struggle ahead of you.

So, what can you do to save face? First, don’t panic. You’re not the first (or the last) this will happen to. There are some best practices involved in presenting less than all-star results.

Deliver good news first – but tell the truth

First, start with the positive. Even in a failed effort, there will be something positive to include. So, start with that, say experts.

But don’t shy away from painting a less than rosy picture, says Katie Delahaye Paine, CEO of Paine Publishing, and a pioneer in the field of measurement for three decades.

“What senior leaders tell me constantly is that they simply don’t believe most PR and social media reports that always show that everything is successful.”

What did you learn?

Then, talk about what you learned. Even when the results are poor, you will have learned a lot about what didn’t work, all of which can be used in future efforts.

“The truth is that management doesn’t want to know the good news—they want to know what action items they can take away from your research,” says Paine. “So I always put the bad news in the summary. That way, they come away with ideas they can act upon.”

Go to your data

After you’ve started with the positives then shared the bad news, take a look at the data to learn more about what worked and find areas that could be improved.

“Analytics are your superpower, but there are so many problems with how people use data,” said Paine.

It’s not enough to simply gather data. Data without analysis can be meaningless. What is the data telling you? Can you determine any patterns that may help you improve in the future?

More PR firms are looking into bringing in analysts to help decipher the data. How do these analysts work as part of the PR or marketing team?

“Marketing data analysts help make sense of the data by digesting numbers into fuel for marketing efforts,” says Storie Ledger, Meltwater’s marketing data analyst. “It’s important to remember that marketing isn’t always about originality and creativity. Sometimes it’s just about the statistics, the numbers, and the gritty hard facts.”

Take a look at your media list

One more potential issue may lie with your media list.

“Another major problem is that too many  ‘Top Tier’ media lists are based on what reporters you work with most often or who covers you most frequently, not what media outlets are most influential on your target audience,” says Paine.

“When I do reports, I look at things like who is quoted, and then I sort all the quotes based on how many messages they contain or the sentiment,” continued Paine. “I also encourage folks to define sentiment and what a ‘good’ article is, based on what drives customer behavior.”

Use media monitoring to help

Media monitoring tools can help brands discern what the media is saying about them but look at the data with a critical eye.

“Media monitoring is a necessity in these days, but it needs to include both social and traditional media,” says Paine. “You need it to protect your brand, but too often monitoring reports only include the good news or stories that were ‘placed’ and don’t include competitive mentions and things that might be under the radar.”

Measure the right things

And what other advice do the experts have to offer, as you move forward from the failed campaign to your next public relations push?

“I think the purpose of most PR programs is to influence the consideration and preference and opinions of your target audience, and very few actual measure THAT,” Paine said. “Mostly they measure the degree to which their activities result in a placement that may or may not influence anybody.”

This post was originally published on this site on October 17, 2017. We republish relevant posts on Saturdays for our readers that may have missed them the first-time around.

Digital Video Content Trends

The world of digital video continues to grow year on year and we continue to observe and deliberate on the various trends and technologies that are evolving within this burgeoning market. 2017 was certainly a pivotal year for digital video, with internet ad spend finally surpassing TV ad spend for the first time. 2018 looks to be another exciting and perhaps even defining year for digital video.

Let’s take a look at ten of the big trends that have got us talking.

1. Online Video Content Continues to Grow Share of Marketing Spend

The first and most obvious trend to note here is the continuing explosion of online video and its impact on the marketing budgets of companies large and small. Video is no longer the up and coming digital marketing tactic we were all talking about a few years ago. Its dominance across digital channels is undebatable and its growth seemingly inexorable.

Recent stats show that 43% of consumers want to see more video content from brands and 51.9% of marketing professionals see video content as delivering the strongest ROI. Another study from Hubspot finds that 48% of marketers planned to integrate YouTube and 46% plan to integrate Facebook video into their digital marketing strategies last year. This is expected to grow in 2018.

Transcribed video is essential for social media audiences

2. Marketers Catch on to Benefits of Transcribed Video Content

The growth of native video content across social media platforms has precipitated a huge demand for transcribed videos, with as much as 85% of Facebook’s 8 billion daily video views may be taking place without any sound. This is a hard stat to pin down but whatever the figure actually is, it’s significant and growing. This is partly to do with the way people consume social media video directly in their feeds without turning the sound on (Facebook mutes video in user’s feeds).

Annotating videos doesn’t just allow audiences to watch muted content but it is also a huge boost to SEO, helping Google and other search engines like YouTube understand what your video is about and therefore rank it better against relevant search terms. In 2018 we will continue to see brands creating content that has been designed to be appreciated with the sound on or off, as this trend continues to grow.

Live streaming will continue to grow in 2018

3. The Popularity of Live Video Streaming Continues

Live streaming is a trend we’ve been watching a while here at Aspect and 2018 could be the year it comes into its own. The appeal of live streaming can be found in both its authenticity and accessibility.

With regard to the former, it’s clear that the appeal of ‘live’ televised video content has transcended the age of content on demand with live sport and music remain as popular as ever and a whole new generation of ‘live’ shows doing the rounds (Spring Watch and Stargazing Live on the BBC instantly come to mind). The ‘on air’ experience of live broadcast brings an appeal that is hard to match and many businesses are beginning to wake up to that fact. Authenticity is not always a term that is synonymous with marketing so tapping into this with live streaming has huge potential to humanize companies and brands in the eyes of consumers.

With regard to the latter point, live streaming allows even the smallest of companies to create regular content relatively inexpensively with just a smartphone, tripod and a Facebook account. We are seeing more and more innovative ways of exploiting live streaming as well, such as consumer-led content that allows viewers to influence what happens next through various social media interactions.

VR is still dependent on having a headset

4. The Direction of VR Marketing May Become Clearer

It’s fair to say that there’s both a lot of cynicism and a lot of enthusiasm out there for the marketing potential of VR. So far it hasn’t materialised despite the continuing popularity of various VR systems out there. This might be because the experience of VR is still largely confined to gaming but the possibilities of its practical use in industries like leisure and tourism, real estate and retail is potentially huge.

However, the truth remains that unless you’re already wearing a headset, it’s unlikely you’ll don one just to experience a brand’s VR marketing. As this fledgling video tech market continues to grow though, we may begin to learn how brands plan to leverage this space.

Mobile devices are influencing formats

5. Mobile Optimization and Square Video Content

One ongoing trend that needs no explaining to anyone who owns a smartphone (and let’s be honest – who doesn’t these days) is the growth of mobile optimized video. As the cost of mobile broadband data continues to fall and WiFi in public places becomes ever more commonplace, the frequency with which we view video on our mobile devices increases.

The upshot is that brands are now creating content designed specifically for a 1:1 screen ratio (a square in other words). Facebook’s change in its creative guidelines for video producers in 2016 may have spurred on this trend but the increase in complete viewing rates by 67% compared to traditional 16:9 ratio content viewed on mobile is also likely to have played a big part.

6. 360 Video Content Goes from Strong to Stronger

Along with VR, AR and live video, 360 is something I’ve been talking about in 2017 and 2018 is going to see this exciting technology continue to spark the imaginations of innovative video content producers out there. Unlike VR, 360 video doesn’t require a headset so its take up has been far quicker with consumers and marketers alike. Despite evidence suggesting slightly lower view rates, click through rates are markedly higher compared to standard content.

2018 will likely see brands and businesses that have traditionally relied on physical shopping or viewing spaces (think retail and real estate) continue to adopt this technology as it allows consumers to experience and browse their products in ever more immersive and realistic ways.

7. ‘Pivot to Video’ Strategy Abandoned by More Publishers

Not every trend in 2018 points towards an increased adoption of video. The experimental ‘pivot to video’ strategies of publishers like Buzzfeed, Mashable, and Vice was scaled back in 2017 and we will see more publishers follow suit in 2018. Whilst producing a steady stream of informative video content clearly has huge appeal, traditionally text-based content publishers have found it increasingly hard to justify the investment, especially in a digital advertising market dominated by Facebook and YouTube.

Whilst established readerships are still attracted to video content embedded in text-based content, there is still a strong sense of tribalism when it comes to the platforms people gravitate towards to consume respective video and text-based content on.

Netflix keeps growing

8. Netflix Subscriber Growth Likely to Slow Considerably in 2018

Subscription video on demand has grown exponentially in the last few years, gradually supplanting live TV services as the go to place for series, films and documentaries. Netflix has been leading this pack but as the US and UK markets reach saturation point this growth is likely to slow considerably. Another factor will be the increased competition from other players in the market like Amazon and NOW TV, especially as these services look to widen their appeal and invest more money into high-end productions. 2018 will also see more newcomers in this market, further adding to the pressure on Netflix’s subscriber base.

9. ‘Purpose Driven’ Brand Video Popularity Booms

One thing that seems almost predictably unpredictable in these times is the continuing tensions and upheavals taking place on the global stage, whether it’s the rise of populism and populist leaders and movements, global warming or growing instability in many regions of the world. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by brands and in these fractious times, we’re likely to see more and more ‘purpose driven’ brand videos as businesses look to take an ethical and moral stance.

Whether this is purely a brand marketing strategy designed to acquire and retain customer loyalty by associating themselves with the burning issues of our time or born out of some higher sense of corporate moral or social duty, is one for the moral philosophers to argue over, but we can expect to see more branded content taking a moral stand on specific causes and issues in 2018.

Pixability CEO Bettina Hein has written an insightful piece on this, showing the growth and development of cause-related ads dating back to 2012. It’s well worth a read and food for thought for any brand thinking about taking their first steps into a purpose-driven brand film.

User generated content will continue to grow

10. More Consumer-Generated Video Content

Back in January 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg coined the term ‘video first’ in reaction to the explosion in consumer-generated video content that was taking place. This trend in video seems to echo the ethos behind Web 2.0 in which we saw the growth of social media shift from owner generated content to consumer-generated content. That video should follow suit is perhaps not surprising, especially given the ubiquity of smartphones.

Social networks, like Facebook, have been quick to recognize and adapt to this trend and 2018 will see them continue to make it easier for consumers to generate and share their own content, as well as watch other people’s.

If you’re ready to implement a robust PR video strategy, make sure you have all the tools you’ll need.

digital video content trends

This article originally appeared in Aspect, it was written by Evelyn Timson from Business2Community, and is legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Why Strong Writing Skills Matter More Than Ever for Today’s PR Pro

Strong writing skills are more crucial than ever in public relations.

Why?

As paid and earned media move closer together and we see branded content continuing to rise in popularity, PR pros who can write well are more in demand. We’ve even seen journalists make the move to PR, where they can continue to write stories, but with more job security and higher salaries.

One case in point is Elinor Mills, who, after 22 years as a reporter, went to work at a PR agency in a new role it created focused on content. This came about, Mills says because the agency recognized that PR is becoming more and more about content.

“PR is increasingly content and good writing,” says Mills, who is now senior vice president of the content studio at Bateman Group.

Strong Writers Are in Demand

According to a recent report published by the USC Annenberg Center for Public Relations, writing is the top skill PR firms look for in new hires.

While strong writing may be the skill most in demand, it may be the hardest to find.

“Please make sure they have good writing skills! That is so important and yet missing in most college grads,” said one of the survey respondents.

Further backing up this point of view, Dorothy Crenshaw of Crenshaw Communications says that as the PR profession evolves, writing skills are more important than ever for public relations practitioners. But not everyone agrees.

In an op-ed for PR Week, University of South Carolina’s Shannon Bowen, Ph.D. argues that as PR has evolved into a management discipline, college communications curricula must shift to make room for the teaching of skills like critical thinking and ethics. She believes there should be less emphasis on teaching writing skills, which she says can be taught in the workplace.

“Strategy must drive communications tactics, and critical thinking is a vital skill in our business, but I take issue with the thesis that advanced writing skills are no longer crucial for ‘real-world’ PR jobs,” says Crenshaw. “PR has surely evolved, but writing skills are more important than ever.”

Evaluating PR Candidates’ Writing Skills

Hiring a poor writer and thinking they’ll get better is a recipe for disaster. So, how do you know if you’re hiring a good writer?

Be sure to view examples of the candidate’s work. Ask them to complete a writing test or some type of exercise so you can get a feel for how they write “on their feet.” Are they able to write coherently and compellingly?

For more tips on evaluating a candidate’s writing skills, read 3 Essential Ways to Evaluate Your PR Job Candidates.

Become a Better Writer

While many may believe they have the writing chops needed to excel in PR, it’s true that not everyone does. So, if you recognize you need to improve, what’s the best way to get better?

  • Write more: One of the best ways to get better at writing is—you guessed it—to write. Even if you can’t write as much as you’d like on the job, seek out other opportunities to write. Start your own blog. Ask to contribute to other blogs. Volunteer to take on writing projects that fall outside your usual responsibilities.
  • Take a class: If you want to check out an online course to improve your writing skills, Udemy offers some. There are also workshops and sessions offered by business writing pros like Ann Wylie or through an organization like the American Marketing Association or the Public Relations Society of America.
  • Read a book about writing: My favorite is Everybody Writes by Ann Handley. And what books does Ann recommend? Read her list, 12 Books That Will Make You a Better Writer and Storyteller.
  • Read more: Did you know that reading more also helps your writing? “Reading exposes us to other styles, other voices, other forms, and other genres of writing,” says Belle Beth Cooper of Buffer. “Importantly, it exposes us to writing that’s better than our own and helps us to improve.”
  • Follow writing experts: Lastly, follow writers like Wylie, Handley, and Josh Bernoff for examples on how to up your writing game. Contently and Copyblogger also publish great posts with writing tips.

Writing is a skill that will never go out of style. If you hone your writing (and storytelling) skills, your path in public relations can be limitless.