5 Social Listening Strategies You Haven’t Considered

If you want to learn what your customers and potential customers are thinking, what type of products they need and what problems they want to solve, you should be engaged in social listening. This refers to monitoring social media conversations on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. While social listening can be considered a type of market research, it goes beyond the usual definition of that term. Your objective is to not simply gather data but to actually listen to what people are saying, providing valuable insights you can use in your marketing. The following are 5 listening strategies that you may not have yet considered.

1. Participate in Conversations

The typical notion of social listening implies a one-way process with you, the business, listening to your customers. However, if you want to get the maximum benefit from this process you need to insert yourself into the conversation. This helps you introduce topics that are relevant to your business model.

You can, for example, join Facebook and LinkedIn groups, pose questions on forums and invite people to tell you their concerns. Social listening doesn’t have to be done in secret, with you spying on your customers. The more you engage with them, the more you’ll learn. This approach also helps you build engagement and relationships with your audience. Even if you don’t gain insights you can use right away, there’s always value in connecting with the people in your market.

2. Combine Listening and Marketing

While social listening is part of a larger marketing strategy, it’s often considered as a separate category. For example, you use certain tools to listen and other tools to generate leads. While this is sometimes practical, you should also seek ways to blend the two.

When you find conversations where people express a need that you can fulfill, there’s no reason not to offer it to them. This doesn’t mean spamming every discussion you encounter with links and sales pitches. This should be done in a natural and non-intrusive way. An example of this is monitoring question & answer sites like Quora or Yahoo Answers. If someone asks a question that your product answers, there’s nothing wrong with sending them a link. The same approach can be applied to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. If you encounter opportunities for lead generation or marketing while engaged in listening, you may as well seize them.

3. Respond to Conversations Quickly

The internet moves fast. With people tweeting and posting live videos, people are getting to expect information in real time. If you want to get the most out of listening, you need to move fast and stay on top of the very latest trends and discussions.

This means that you don’t want to simply gather information and put it aside for later use. The most effective approach is to get into the habit of creating content immediately after discovering a relevant piece of news, a hot trend or a timely conversation. While this may seem like a challenge, there are now plenty of tools to help you do this. It’s really a shift in mindset. You simply must recognize that the internet increasingly reflects what’s happening in real time. Creating content that’s topical makes you a valuable source of information and also helps you rank in the search engines for popular terms.

4. Listen Outside Your Immediate Industry

It obviously makes sense to do extensive social listening about your own business, that of your competition and your industry in general. However, it can also be helpful to cast your net even wider and look at other industries for insights. This helps you come up with creative solutions that you may have otherwise overlooked. You’ll usually learn the most from industries that are at least distantly related to your own. For example, if you sell herbal or other natural health supplements, you probably won’t learn much by listening to people talking on a gaming forum. However, you might learn something from people in the pharmaceutical industry or other health care professionals.

Similarly, a company that sells accounting software might profit from paying attention to problems and solutions offered by companies that make other types of software. Sometimes creative solutions can be found in industries that are a little outside your specialty. Research products and industries that have issues or problems with your own and see what you can learn.

5. Use Listening to Predict the Future

While we don’t yet have tools to predict the future with complete accuracy, social listening can give you valuable insights into emerging trends. Keep tabs on innovative startups in your industry. Look for problems that neither you nor your competitors have yet solved. Study alternatives to the products or services you offer.

You should be especially alert to potential disruptions that could shake the foundations of your industry. For example, are there new apps, platforms or business models that might soon replace the way you’re doing things now? Uber putting taxis out of business is an obvious example, but similar things happen frequently now, though often on a smaller scale. When listening, don’t be content to live in the present. Nowadays, the future tends to arrive faster than you think

5 Ways to Battle Fake News and Maintain Brand Integrity

Fake news. The term has become almost overused this past year, as stories from less than legitimate news sources ran rampant during the 2016 presidential election.

How is fake news defined? “The word fake means not genuine—a forgery or a counterfeit. It implies an intent to deceive,” says a recent Slate article. It’s used to describe unsubstantiated stories or media sources.

Add to that Oxford Dictionaries word of the year, “post-truth,” an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.’

All this has the heads of many in PR spinning. Because we work with reporters on a regular basis (some of us even went to Journalism school), it’s difficult to see these false stories taking precedence over those of respected news sources.

It also brings up an important question for those in the public relations profession. Fake news reduces the public’s trust in the media, in turn affecting what we do as PR pros. If the public doesn’t trust the media, then what good does it do to secure earned media placements for clients? No trust equals no value.

So, how do we in PR manage to do our jobs when faced with the prospect of fake news? What can we do to combat false stories?

First, we ought not to panic. Public relations practitioners have long battled the issue of rumors or outright lies circulating about the clients or the brands we represent. While fake news has taken on a life of its own in recent months, it shouldn’t change our fundamental approach to our work.

“Stories, whether true or false, can go viral. Once that happens, it’s hard to stop the momentum,” said Martin Waxman, President, Martin Waxman Communications and social media professor. “But we in PR are trained to handle issues and crises, and that’s the approach we should take when fake news threatens our organization’s reputation.”

Here are some practical ways PR professionals can battle fake news in their day-to-day roles:

1. Build a community of loyal fans and followers: Fostering a community of fans can help your brand in many ways. One important benefit is that, if you consistently nurture it, it will be there for you if you need it.

“One way to prepare for the possibility of fake news about your company is to build a community before you need it,” says Waxman. “If you have loyal followers and fans, they’ll speak up on your behalf. If a brand tries to go on the defensive, it can sometimes have the opposite effect, but if a brand’s community defends it, it’s much more credible.”

2. Plan ahead for the worst: Planning is key to combatting fake news, as with any crisis. Add the scenario of false stories appearing about your brand or executives to your crisis preparedness plan. Be ready to wallop social media to fight back and influence public opinion in your favor, should someone attack your brand or CEO.  Using a media monitoring platform can help by notifying you whenever your brand is mentioned so you can immediately respond if necessary.

3. Verify and fact check: Of course, PR pros understand the importance of verifying and fact checking their work. The approach to a press release (or any piece of content) should be the same—don’t make claims you can’t backup.

4. Work with reputable outlets and journalists: While there may be more disreputable media outlets than there used to be, there are still plenty of reliable ones out there. Be sure to work with reporters and publications who have a reputation for and value their status as trusted truth-tellers.

5. Encourage audiences to vet what they share—and to share from reputable sources only: Whenever possible, encourage your audience to look closely before sharing news stories. And don’t share fake news yourself. “Look at a piece of content critically,” says Waxman. “Analytically approach media sources to identify which stories you should share.”

If we do our best to ensure we’re not part of the fake news epidemic by adhering to high standards and preparing in advance for the worst, we can help stop fabricated stories from taking over—and help our profession keep its credibility.

A Statement from Our CEO

I am an immigrant. Since 2005, I have been proud to call the US my home. I arrived in Silicon Valley and was struck by how little people paid attention to your race, religion, or history. The US is a country of immigrants and one of the world’s purest meritocracies. In the US, more than in any other place I know, you are judged by your talent, your hard work, and what you have to offer. 

The willingness to give everyone a chance is an American value that has shaped its history, been the bedrock of one of the world’s most successful economies, and created an entrepreneurial and innovative spirit that has been the envy of the rest of the world.

That is what makes America great. 

Trump’s ban on immigration last Friday from seven Muslim countries was a devastating blow to the America I have learned to love.

Federal courts have ruled the ban illegal and attorney generals in 15 states (California, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Virginia, Vermont, Oregon, Connecticut, New Mexico, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, and Illinois) and the District of Columbia condemn the ban as unlawful and in breach of the US Constitution.

In airports across the US, thousands of protesters have been demonstrating against this ban, which Trump himself called a Muslim ban when he launched it during his campaign trail.

In spite of court rulings and widespread protests from the public, and even from within the Republican party itself, Trump and his administration are pushing forward. As a result, students, parents, grandparents, and spouses have been denied entry and become stranded in US airports and, in the worst cases, even been sent back to where they came from.

This is not OK. 

I am shocked that the US has become a country that targets people based on their religious beliefs and where they were born. I understand the need for protecting a country’s border, but any measures taken must be appropriate. The Muslim ban is like using a sledge hammer to fix a Swiss watch. It is a crude and blunt instrument with no obvious actual value (most terrorists entering the US from abroad have been from other countries), and in addition to being unlawful, this ban is unnecessary, insulting, and hurtful to millions of people across the world.

At Meltwater, we have colleagues that are personally affected by this. Many of our colleagues travel abroad for work constantly. The Department of Homeland Security practices are currently unclear, and many of us here in San Francisco cannot risk being stopped at the border on their way home to their children and family

Many people have to cancel their travel plans, vacations, and honeymoons. Before this ban, they could be visited by family members from abroad, but that is no longer the case. Trump’s ban is punishing innocent people and is hurting millions within the US and abroad. 

I want to assure everyone at Meltwater who feels singled out by Trump’s ban that you are not alone. We will support you in any way we can. You can reach out to us to learn more about your situation. If needed, we can support you with legal advice. The person to reach out to for any inquiries regarding the Trump ban is Paty, our HR director. Please, reach out to her if you need to understand your situation better.

It saddens me to have to bring up political issues in a work setting. A workplace should not be a place for politics or religion. In the current situation, though, Trump is implementing policies that are chipping away at core American values and core beliefs upon which Meltwater was built. In this situation, I have chosen to speak up because I think it is a moral obligation to take a stand. When innocent people are targeted for no other reason than their religion or where they were born, we cannot watch in silence.

In a company as wide-reaching as Meltwater, we have people that voted for Trump and we have people who voted against him. My blog post today is not about supporting one camp or another. Everyone that voted for Trump did that because they wanted a better America. Everyone that voted for Hillary wanted the same. The election is long gone. There is no “us and them” anymore. We are no longer in two camps. Right now, all Americans are joined in one important mission: to make America better.

Whether you voted for Trump or Hillary, we have to work together to make sure that politicians, including the President, keep their promises, do good deeds, and move things in a net-positive direction. That is our right as free citizens in a free society. That is the beauty of a democracy.

Cheers,
jorn 🙂

Social Media Recap: January 2017

It’s been a busy month on social media. Many of our favorite social platforms have been finding ways to break the “fourth wall” and extend their reach into the real world. For PR pros this is an important step in connecting the dots between online and offline ROI for their clients. Here are five announcements that will resonate for PR this month: 

1. New from Pinterest: Ad Groups for Paid Campaigns

If your clients have been advertising with Pinterest using campaigns and promoted pins, they now have more options for targeting their audience. Pinterest added the ability to target ad groups. Why is this valuable to PR pros? Control. Now each group can have its own targeting, budget, time frame, and analytics. This is fantastic if you want to A/B test your campaigns and hone in on what is most successful for your client.

2. Twitter Doubles down on Live Streaming in a New Partnership with Dick Clark Productions

Investing in new live streaming partnerships is at the top of the list for Twitter, as we saw with last year’s NFL partnership. Collaborating with Dick Clark Productions offers new audiences for Twitter and the brands who want to advertise there. PR pros should pay attention to this development as Twitter live streaming could provide a new kind of “TV” audience: connected, highly engaged, and data rich. The combination of online and offline real-time engagement is a giant opportunity for savvy pros, as Twitter has been selling ads similar in style to TV commercials spots during each live streamed event.

3. Snapchat Targeting Ads Based on What People Buy Away from Snapchat

In a surprising move using Oracle‘s Data Cloud, Snapchat is giving advertisers a way to target their users with ads that matter based on what they buy outside of the Snapchat app. Both companies assure users that the data is anonymized, and Snapchat gives users a way to opt out of the process on their Audience Match preference page. For PR pros representing brands that sell a product, not a service, this development is one to watch, as Snapchat audiences are in the coveted younger demographic. We file this under one to watch for PR pros, as it could successfully tie real-world purchases to Snapchat use.

4. Instagram Stories Has Begun Monetizing

If you use Instagram Stories, you may have noticed a new full-screen promoted post that lasts for five seconds. As this new feature rolls out, more users will see these five and fifteen-second video posts popping up between stories. According to statistics from Business Intelligence, Instagram has more users that follow a brand than Snapchat. In fact, 70% of Instagram users follow a brand–that’s huge! This means that a successful roll-out of these new promoted stories features could give PR pros a boost in the reach of their visual content. 

5. Facebook Page Owners Can Now Use Their Desktop or Laptop To “Go Live”

Many Facebook Page managers couldn’t take advantage of some of Facebook’s cooler new features, like Live video streams, because they weren’t able to utilize their mobile devices for generating content. Facebook opened new doors for Page managers who want to try out Live video by enabling them to use their desktop or laptop to start a feed. Even more important for brands with PR pros, Facebook is now allowing Pages to designate “Live Contributors” – meaning you don’t have to be a Page admin to create content for a Live stream. PR pros will also appreciate the added Insights available with video streaming, including length of time their video was viewed.

All of these announcements give PR professionals a boost in 2017, expanding how their message can reach new people. These changes also reinforce campaign strategies that prioritize video and visual content. With this content shift, PR pros can also increase their audience satisfaction by using transcripts and subtitles. Remember, a significant portion of your audience still can’t watch your video with the sound on for a variety of reasons, so subtitles and transcripts give them a way to participate, even as you explore new mediums.

Measuring Every Aspect of PR’s Impact—Even Press Releases

You put a lot of work into crafting your press release. You hope it will become the source material for profiles and reviews of your brand. But the question about the effectiveness of a press release and who may be reading it (is anyone?) can be frustrating.

The wire service many of us have been using for years distributes your releases, and then? Was the effort a waste? Has anyone contacted you directly for additional information, quotes, an interview? Otherwise, your service might provide a simplified report with guesstimates around pageviews. But what you really want to know is which of outlets did your message resonate with and engage readers, rather than just quickly being eyeballed. Until now, it was hard to know if your “fire hose” approach was yielding any meaningful coverage, that you could take credit for.

In the age of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram, we have become used to instant feedback. Social engagement leaves a data trail, including follower counts, likes, shares, retweets, re-grams, and comments, all available, as they happen. As we know, stats lend credibility to your efforts, help you spot trends, and enable you to refine your message and your approach. This type of data analytics wasn’t readily available for press releases, until now.

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The feedback loop of ongoing social dialog has made the traditional press release follow up outdated. At Meltwater, we designed Meltwater Impact to help companies include press releases in their results reports, to empower them to transition from stats to insights by leveraging social data With data driving more and more decision-making, we believe it’s time press releases to forge a data trail of their own.

Now you can see, not only how many articles originated from your original release, but also, how each article contributes to potential reach. You can now track the entirety of the press release’s social footprint.

By better understanding distribution and engagement, you can better plan for future media coverage. With its ability to track insights and statistics of your press release, as well as associated topics and keywords, Meltwater Impact surfaces new data sets that illustrate the reach of your work. Welcome to a truly new era of press release reporting.

This post was originally published on this site on October 16, 2016. On Saturdays, we’re republishing articles that may be useful to PR folks.