Deflategate Proves that Cult of Personality is Outshined by Cult of Scandal

The Patriots and their PR team most assuredly want to bench Deflategate, but the crowd is keeping it alive

Usually, the week leading up to the Super Bowl is a great PR week for the two teams playing.  But this year the Patriots are having a rough go.

The “Deflategate” scandal just refuses to… well, deflate.  The question as to who on the Patriots knew that they were using balls that were under-inflated in the AFC Championship game against the Colts has supercharged social and traditional media outlets, giving everyone something fun to talk about in a slow sports news week.

Richard Sherman – who’s always good for a headline – made an effort to newsjack by calling the NFL out for the hypocrisy of them threatening Seahawks player Marshawn Lynch with ejection if he wore his gold cleats in the Super Bowl, but even Sherman couldn’t hold the spotlight for long.

I’ve been doing some social listening throughout the week on both topics and the Super Bowl in general, and Deflategate social volume exceeded the gold cleat chatter by 10X.

It would seem that the term “deflated balls” is just too fun for the madding crowds to ignore: both that term and the male enhancement drug “Cialis” is showing up not only in the Patriots word cloud, but in the overall Super Bowl word cloud.  Here they are:

The Patriots’ word cloud has Deflategate topics far exceeding mentions of their coach or their famous quarterback. The Super Bowl world cloud has “Cialis” mentioned 4 times, with “deflated balls” also making the cut.

 

Now, part of the reason that social media is having so much fun with this one is the Cialis parody that’s gone viral, “deflated balls” being a term that was begging someone to walk through that door with a clever meme.  And once that happens, it creates its own press.  Another reason, though, is that both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have denied any involvement in the ball deflation, and  – despite having a press conference wherein Tom told the world that his feelings were hurt over the accusations – people just aren’t buying it.

And some of those people are really famous ex-quarterbacks in their own right.  Both Joe Montana and Troy Aikman have spoken out publicly, noting their opinions that Brady would have had to be involved.

Overall, this is a week wherein the Patriots’ PR team is in crisis communications mode, and probably for the first time ever hoping that “Puppy Bowl” or Budweiser commercials will distract people from talking about their team.  Whether or not Deflategate will distract the Patriots to the point that it affects their game is TBD; for now, we can simply note that the fans are, indeed, distracted by it.

As for the brands spending millions and millions of dollars on Super Bowl ad space, the question I have as a marketer is whether Cialis will come out on top without a spend at all.  Here’s the parody ad that’s proving yet again that earned media can come from the most unlikely of places:

 

Insights from #MarketingMinds Chat- Blog Strategy

Last Friday at 3PM UK time, Meltwater hosted the #MarketingMinds chat which saw bloggers and content marketers alike gather to discuss this week’s topic- blog strategy.

Q1 How important is content marketing and blogging for your brand?

@QuestPR stated that blogging is extremely important for companies, as it reinforces expertise in the field and helps to position our brand as a thought leader. In addition, blogging is a persuasive means of portraying how valuable a tool or company is, thus establishing the brand as a resource within the industry. @mattfraserlong expressed that content marketing is essential for all clients, but that blogging shouldn’t be considered a solution to all problems; although he felt PR agencies are one vertical where blogging is pretty much mandatory.

When asked about the topics of blogs that are regularly shared, @QuestPR explained that those blogs that feature “top tips” or provide answers to questions are the most popular with the audience. In addition to this, posts that predict market trends and shed light on best practices and successes are also highly viewed and shared. But as @Anastasiuhh rightfully said, blogs are only valuable if they include keywords, authority and valuable content.

Q2 What’s your blog strategy? (Content, author, timing, promotion etc.)?

@sameerjawle expressed different brands and authors have different criteria for content, but as @DirectMailPros suggested one common factor that is consistent among PR and marketing blog strategy is to include relevant and newsworthy content. Listen to the audience and consider what they need. We must aim to answer audience’s queries or needs with expert insights on the subjects in question to provide real value. Audience led strategies are essential when creating content and writing blogs.

A successful blog strategy is one that is proactive and presents up-to-date content. Having a number of content writers and knowledgeable guest bloggers contribute to our blogs was thought to be  a great way of ensuring fresh content and different perspectives. With reference to blog post frequency and how often should we be posting, participants felt that the sky is the limit only when content is informative, high quality and not simply published for the sake of writing.  The key? Only writing when we have something valuable to say to avoid diluting our brand.

Finally, social media channels were discussed as great promotional tools due to their vast number of recipients. Including relevant hashtags when promoting posts can act as social discovery mechanisms, meaning the audience can easily find targeted content by filtering out the noise. Although, participants suggested limiting the amount of hashtags used to 2-3, any more and tweets can feel like spam.

Q3 How do you measure the success of your blog strategy?

Participants offered various ways to analyse whether blog strategy has been a hit or a miss. Google Analytics can be used to measure conversion and bounce rates. Social media monitoring tools such as Meltwater Buzz can help us gage the audience reach, engagement and share of voice. @Tomorrow_People expressed how lead generation is our ultimate aim, therefore should also be acknowledged as a metric of success.

Qualitative measurement is equally as important as quantitative. As @k_rystal_clear expressed, quality trumps quantity in terms of feedback. For example, a handful of meaningful responses, such as being invited to become a guest blogger, is worth far more than hundreds of likes. It’s important to include feedback into our blog strategy and constantly encourage the use of comment boxes and engagement, especially if the readers are industry influencers. Ask them questions about the post. Do they agree and if so, why? Is there anything they would add or suggest?

Q4. What are your top tips to increase traffic to your blog?

@mattfraserlong suggests we search for hot hang outs among our target audience and promote our content there. We are able to do just that using Meltwater Buzz through filtering conversation by channel. That way, we can save time by avoiding focusing our efforts on channels with low ROI. @bestcapetownSA suggested building influencer relationships to increase visibility of our post by piggybacking on their following. Influencers are an industry voice of reason, and therefore can act as a great word of mouth tool!

As mentioned above, posting engaging content that creates a discussion is a great way to increase traffic to our blogs. Content should be centred on sparking a two-way conversation rather than a one way monologue. People will come back to see the conversation if they are involved, especially if it’s heated and causes a divide in opinions! And finally, blogs must be SEO friendly in order to fully maximise their success.

Q5. There are 2 million blog articles posted each day, how do you ensure yours stands out?

Variety, great images and the option of interactivity is key to blog strategy success. Moreover, @RFL reinforced the need to offer meaningful, interesting content that is relevant to what is going on in our industry. @sameerjawle suggested researching similar blogs before writing as this provides insight on what is already available and encourages us to think outside of the box by adding our own personal spin to the topic.  @helenflannery_ felt it is best to pick a niche or focused area to avoid losing the audience.

Unique and local examples are another way we can ensure our blog stands out from the crowd. In addition to this, humour can set our blog apart from the rest, as @simonlp said, people will forget what you say, but remember how you make them feel.

Social Listening Changed the Rules of the Game- Business Empowerment

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and since the customer is King, all eyes should be on him. So, last week we looked at social listening from the consumer’s perspective. We discussed how the ability to listen on social has shaken up their lives for the better. Now let’s look at social listening through the eyes of we Marketing and PR professionals and how these tools have also empowered us in our daily lives at work.

Let’s Get Close. Closer than Close.

Social listening tools, such as Meltwater Buzz, allow us to analyse audience’s posts and discover their interests, both personally and professionally. We can then improve our profiling and targeting abilities by incorporating insights into our content strategy. This not only adds a more personalised spin to marketing efforts, it can also help improve SEO- but more on that later!

Actively listening on social enables the discovery of industry influencers, which is the first step in any good brand advocacy programme. A simple brand, industry or competitor search can point us in the right direction of those who need our attention, particularly current and potential brand advocates. While it’s important to connect with those singing our praises, we must also engage with those who are less than thrilled. Remember, not everybody likes to criticise a brand to their face (or in this case, page). Social listening helps us discover brand tarnishing comments and defend ourselves from them before they escalate into crises mode.

Become a Social Role Model

Social media can help form and communicate a brand’s personality, ultimately providing the company with a human face. With the help of social listening tools, we are able to find and join relevant conversations in our own unique way. For example, Yorkshire Tea, known as a quintessentially English brand, proved to be quite the joker after they effectively listened on social and inserted themselves into a conversation with supermarket giant, Tesco and a tweeting customer. Brand banter (we’ll call this ‘branter’) can help create emotional responses amongst our audience, allowing them to identify with the brand on a much more personal and human level.

Stay Trendy

As PR and Marketing professionals it’s our job to stay in the loop with hot trends but this can be difficult with their coming and fading so quickly. Social listening keeps us in the know-how. For example, we can shed light onto untapped demographical or geographical markets. Or we may be able to discover gaps in the market (such as new products) by listening to our audience’s struggles and finding a solution. Trend watching is important as first movers reap in the biggest benefits.

Manage and Avoid Crises

The real-time nature of social means that negative comments can spread like wild fire, causing huge back lash on our brand. Our action item during a crisis should be tackling social media immediately and head on.  It is likely that the comments have already started to circulate – or will be about to explode.

By analysing the conversation by channel, we can make informed decisions as to which platform we should monitor and where to focus communication efforts. Furthermore, metrics such as ‘conversation volume’ can signify when the crisis exploded. We can then dive deeper into analysis and discover whether it was a particular publication that covered the story or an influencer tweeting about the subject that created the boom. To where in the world has the crisis spread? When partnered with sentiment, conversation volume can also inform us the point the crises started to cool down and the brand image started to repair.

Keeping up With the Joneses

Social listening should not only be used for customers or potential leads, but our competitors can offer us a treasure chest of information if we dig for it. Tools allow us to benchmark against competitors, whether it be through share-of-voice, sentiment of customer interactions, engagement or the geographical spread of customers. A search may also expose unhappy clients who are ready and willing to run into our arms.

Improve our SEO

Having presence on the first page of a Google search is a badge of honour, thus difficult to achieve. There are plenty of posts out there suggesting ways in which we can improve our SEO, from backlinks to key word searches. Search engines tend to follow consumer trends, and we have seen them follow consumers straight to the doors of social media platforms. Consequently, social factors are now included in ranking algorithms.

Offering high quality and tailored content to our community increases the chances of links being shared and traffic being driven to our webpage, therefore improving our SEO. As mentioned, social listening tools allow us to identify what our audience likes to read and share so we can mimic this in our own content strategies. Our past #MarketingMinds chat also discovered many PR pros using UTM codes to track traffic to the website and monitor visits that started their journey via a social platform.

We can also listen on social to find particular buzz words our audience use and then feature these in our posts. Social media profiles that feature targeted keywords are likely to have higher rankings.

#MarketingMinds Chat – Measuring PR

 

This week in #MarketingMinds, Meltwater was fortunate enough to be graced with the presence of a number of PR pros who gathered on @Meltwater to discuss our theme of the week- Measuring PR.

Q1. How do you measure the success of your PR campaigns and benchmark against competitors?

@kate_hamilton expressed the need for SMART objectives that drive business outcomes. In addition to this, @tcajayant explained that classifying PR into two parts: Social and Traditional Media helps ensure objectives are set for both. One tip given when measuring PR is to use the same metrics across our brand and competitive benchmarking to secure consistency.

As @AdotIdotspace pointed out, word of mouth (WOM) is an important metric to consider when measuring PR, however this is sometimes neglected. @PeterLingua suggested we start by tracking hashtags or keywords. Media monitoring tools, such as Meltwater Buzz and Meltwater News can help us do just that, with the added benefit of diving deeper into the data beyond WOM mentions using sentiment analysis.

Q2. Name your top 3 PR goals

Brand awareness, lead generation and change in behaviour through conversion were common goals amongst participants. Furthermore, increased engagement, share of voice, brand endorsement and loyalty were also cited. Interestingly, recruitment branding was also mentioned as a top PR goal. It was suggested that marketing influences all aspects of the business with regards to perception, including as an employer. @taramom0_ agreed, stating employers are becoming more and more concerned about their image in order to attract top industry talent.

Q3. What PR tools/ platforms do you find most useful and why?

Participants use different tools for different purposes. For example, Twitter lists are useful for managing contacts and communities; Google Analytics helps marketeers effectively website visits.  Marketo is a great lead generation monitoring tool and – as mentioned above, media monitoring tools – to track hashtag and keywords are key to measuring success and doing some social listening before we try to start a conversation. @VJM_bytes explained using a matrix of tools & platforms enables us to cross check, thus verifying data and ensuring accuracy.

Q4. How do you track ROI on your PR?

It seems UTM codes are a favourite means of measuring PR amongst Marketing professionals. A handful of participants spoke of attaching specific UTM codes to each link in hope of understanding how much revenue, conversions and key performance indicators PR efforts generated/ met. @usaginyunyu suggested comparing and analysing UTM coded links to see which performed better. The power of a sequence of numbers and letter is truly amazing, hey?

Q5. What social metrics do you use to measure your successes?

Common social metrics used when measuring PR included; followers, engagement numbers,  website visits and total impressions from social media. The need for both qualitative and quantitative data was also mentioned. For example, understanding the sentiment around impressions and as @simonlp suggested, analysing actionable customer feedback, ideas or suggestions.

Save the date in your diaries! #MarketingMinds chat will be back this Friday at 3PM UK time discussing blog strategy.  We hope to see you all there!

Social Listening Changed the Rules of the Game – Consumer Empowerment

We have been told that ‘the customer is king’ for some time, but only in recent years have we truly seen a shift in power. Social media is a key contributor to this revolution and has subsequently encouraged great changes to the business landscape. Finally, we have come to realise that if the customer is really King we have to use social listening before they scream “off with your head.”

Consumer influence

Using the fashion industry as an example, we can see the recent consumer demand for more personalised products has caused an increase in one-off boutique social retail outlets. Effectively, entrepreneurial social media users have answered this demand. Consumers now have the chance to venture away from the sometimes generic fashion brands and rebel against the status quo by purchasing clothes that better represent their personality. We can be sure the shift in power from major high street brands to low budget one-off social outlets will only increase once the Twitter ‘buy button’ is rolled out across the globe and becomes more actively used.

 

Social media users do not always actively use their influence to cause change; smart brands recognise their influence and act upon it themselves. Thanks to social listening tools and social media influencer relationships, fashion brands are staying hot on the heels of consumer trends. Take the 90s fashion style that has recently exploded in the UK. It used to be that we had to rummage through vintage shops to stumble across outfits that would make the cast of Clueless jealous. Now we can pick up chokers or jelly shoes from most retailers. Early adapter Topshop wanted to stay close to the fashion blogging community and consequently invited them to fill their front row seats at Fashion Week. The influence of the elite brand board room in dictating the “must-have” this season is lessening (yes I said it), now social users are deciding more and more what will feature in the shop windows themselves.

Consumers have voices

 

You would think that we, as a society, have turned into one big Grumpy Cat when looking at the amount of complaints brands receive on social. But the fact of the matter is that social has changed the dynamics of communication. Instead of moaning to our friends about the cold latte on the way to work, we take to Twitter, knowing the power of word of mouth and how influential our message can be over that of a brand. We also know that with the help of a Social platform and the vast amount of users, the message will be amplified thousands of more times than it usually would, especially if the message resonates with the masses. Remember the time a guy was locked in a London Waterstones store? Hilariously, instead of phoning the police – his first reaction was to take to Twitter (which, as it turns out, was a wise move and resulted in the hashtag #WaterstonesTexan trending worldwide in hope of freeing him, which eventually happened).

The fact that the message shared, even by ‘little old me’ can be noticed by a virtual crowd gives a voice to the previously unable. This is just one of the reasons so many are turning to social to tell their stories and campaign for better customer service, rights, changes in law, company policies or improved products. And guess what? We’ve been so successful in doing achieving our goals, we’re not going to stop now!

Social Media is The Ultimate Tool

Traditional monologue marketing was anything but empowering as our audience had no choice but to take on the listener role without getting a word in edge-ways. But things have changed since the introduction of social media and we’re now seeing these roles reverse. Social listening has many benefits for brands, but it also gives way to consumer empowering results. For example, Meltwater client, EU Claim, actively monitor tweets using social listening tools to track messages from unhappy delayed airline users and inform them about their compensation options. This is just one example of a company who uses social listening to provide solutions to customers without them even having to ask!

Social media has actively changed the way in which we market to consumers. Gone are the days of a passive audience, consumers now want interactive and engaging material, and that’s exactly what they’ve received.  This ultimately helped build stronger relationships with brands making us feel that we are more than just a face in a sea of people. Our interaction (or lack of) is what makes or breaks a brand and that certainly is empowering.