Executive Bylines: 5 Tips for Working with a Ghostwriter

As an executive, it’s important to distribute more content across all channels. By sharing your thought leadership on LinkedIn and other social media, your company website/blog, or through bylines on outside publications, you are developing your role as an industry thought leader. Positioning this contributed content helps build trust, credibility, brand awareness, SEO, and engagement with your target audience.

However, you may not have the time or writing skills to produce that content. There are two ways you can approach this objective. First, you can work with a writer inside your company on the marketing or communications team. Or, you can hire a freelance writer. That way, you can focus on your high-level business objectives while this “ghostwriter” talent puts words to your voice and engages your intended audience.

Best Practices for Working with a Ghostwriter

To get the most out of this relationship with these content chameleons, consider these 5 best practices: 

1. Recruit and hire ghostwriters just like you would if they were a prospective employee.

Taking this long-term approach to working with a ghostwriter is an investment worth making. They will understand you and your writing style more as time passes, saving you from having to start over with someone new every few months. Think about what it takes to train a new employee, including the resources you’ll invest in them.

Since you are also entrusting a ghostwriter to serve as your voice on content across various channels, look for someone who understands the role and can easily adopt your voice. Focus on this criteria when you ask a colleague for a reference, use a freelancer job posting board, or recruit from within. When interviewing a potential hire, know what kind of freelance writing you find relevant and compelling. Get information or examples that illustrate their past experiences with ghostwriting work. Also, ask them how they worked directly with an executive on content creation. 

2. Spend time with the candidate on the phone or in-person, giving them time and space to get to know you.

Since it’s your own name out there, you need to participate in helping the ghostwriter adopt your voice, style, and perspective. They may want to interview you, see other examples of your work, and conduct further research on you. Give them everything they need to learn your point of view and speak on your behalf. 

Ghostwriter Nina Gass has worked with a wide range of personalities across industries. She believes this is one of the most important steps in creating high quality content that meets expectations.  

“When I work with a new client, I like to interview them on the phone or video conference as part of the content creation,” notes Nina. “I hear how they answer questions, including their tone and expression. These conversations reveal what they feel passionate about or where they have a definitive opinion. I emulate this dialogue style within the content so that others who know that executive can feel them in the writing.” 

3. Listen to the ghostwriter’s advice about writing and content.

While you have a certain vision of what you want to say, the ghostwriter is the one who will have to execute it. Most often, ghostwriters have extensive experience to know what works best when it comes to format, length, and overall style.

If you insist on your way, you may find a publication rejects the ghostwritten content or requests revisions. Both of these will cost additional time or money, and also add unnecessary conflict with the ghostwriter. 

Remember, you hired a ghostwriter for their expertise. In this area, it’s best to stay “in your lane” and let the ghostwriter drive this part of the writing process.

4. Clearly communicate your goals, key messaging, and expectations for the relationship. 

No ghostwriter is a mindreader. “I’ve worked with some clients so long that I can finish their sentences before they do,” says Gass. “But, when I have attempted to guess what a relatively new client was thinking, I’ve often been wrong. Assuming I know has only led to more revisions and ongoing confusion. In contrast, a client that gives me clear direction with an outline or bullet points enables me to nail the content the first time around.”

Help your ghostwriter by regularly communicating and opening the door for questions. Not every ghostwriter communicates the same way you do. Discuss what works for both of you. For example, you could agree on a brief weekly meeting that occurs online, in-person, or by phone. Also, be sure to find out how often the ghostwriter wants to communicate.

5. Be patient.

Even the best, most seasoned ghostwriter may take a little more time with initial ghostwriting projects. It’s common for their first projects to go through multiple revisions as they learn to adopt your voice. 

“I’ve had a new client get upset that the first draft wasn’t perfect,” adds Gass. “Rather than understanding that the initial project may take longer to assimilate their voice, these clients have concluded it’s a lack of writing skill. This belief doesn’t help facilitate the ghostwriting process and will lead them to go through many ghostwriters.”

The professional ghostwriter is aware that your time is precious. Theirs is too. They want to adopt your voice as quickly as possible so they can produce more content. In these situations, it doesn’t help to berate or question a ghostwriter for not producing work that sounds like you on the first pass.

Instead, take the time to go through these longer editing periods. Then, provide the ghostwriter with constructive feedback. As they receive comments and suggestions from you, the ghostwriter begins to learn your style.

A Continual Learning Process 

Enjoy the progression of your relationship with your ghostwriter. When you are open to communicate and share, this relationship will only get better with time. You’ll both gain insights from each other during this continual learning process. Plus, you can improve through the creative interchange and deliver the type of ghostwriting services that meet your objectives.

A Little Extra Executive Inspiration

Still hesitant about taking the plunge into content and social media? For great examples of business leaders who are killing it on social media, read our ebook featuring eight executives from top brands and what they’re doing to promote their brands.

Everything you need to know about our recent improvements to sentiment within Media Intelligence

What is Sentiment?

Sentiment was designed to provide helpful insights into how the media coverage an organization receives has been perceived by their audience. These metrics are used to help understand your organizations reputation, your competitors perception in your market space or overall understanding of how well your chosen message has been received. This in turn can help drive an effective business strategy. Sentiment analysis determines whether a text is positive, negative, or neutral by extracting particular words or phrases. 

 

The Issue We Faced

Language is often vague or highly contextual, making it very difficult for a machine to understand without human help. As such, human annotated data is essential when training a machine learning platform to analyze sentiment. Understanding the sentiment of an article is key to gaining insightful, actionable data.

We traditionally used an algorithm that takes a document and applies sentiment for the entire text. The longer the document, the less accurate the sentiment.

 

The Solution

Moving away from document based sentiment to sentence based sentiment. This means each sentence of an article or post is evaluated individually and gets its own sentiment (positive, negative, neutral). 

For the document based sentiment, the sentiment is then calculated based on the sum of sentence sentiment. Head on to our Engineering Blog to learn more from our data scientists on how sentiment is calculated. 

 

The Results

With the new model, we see significant shift of sentiment for every language. 55-65% less sentiment overwrites globally! 

 

How You Can Help

However, the major innovation of the new sentiment comes with the customer feedback loop. Meaning every time a customer overrides a sentiment score in the platform, we feed this data back into our models to help retrain and improve it’s accuracy.

 

The Future

As our model and the technologies we use continue to grow, our world class data science team is continuously seeking new and intuitive ways to help improve our sentiment offering. One example they have already highlighted is Entity Based Sentiment. This seeks to determine the sentiment of certain people, companies, or other entities within a document.

Globally Standardized KPIs for Enterprise Comms Reporting

In the U.S., there is widespread acceptance and understanding that key performance indicators (KPIs) are critical for all communications professionals to translate the value of their work and find ways to more effectively execute their campaigns.

When teams are small, it’s easier to keep everyone in the loop on the KPIs vital to your success and to understand how all of your work ladders back to your goals. But once your company has expanded and has multiple regional communications teams engaging with multiple audiences, things become more difficult.

In some regions, standardized reporting and a focus on ROI is not the norm for communications teams. If you are used to being measured on awareness and impressions, the corporate office’s attempt to deploy a standardized dashboard can be seen in a negative light.

That’s why it’s important to align your teams and create buy-in on the reasons behind globally standardized KPIs. Doing so will also highlight how each regional team’s activities can affect the global brand sentiment. With this groundwork in place, comms professionals can amplify team efforts, more effectively deploy resources, and develop a more cohesive brand identity

Establishing Global KPI Alignment

When companies expand globally, keeping track of the various communications teams and activities in play can feel daunting, and some groups may fly under the radar. Left unchecked, that means some locations may be underperforming or executing on ideas that may seem like a good idea at the time at the regional level but could be damaging to your brand as a whole (like a campaign serving up a “hot chick” driver from Uber).

Localization is a necessary component of any successful global strategy, but it’s important to remember that each of your local team’s efforts is still a reflection of your brand. This means that you need a brand voice that is flexible but maintains global consistency, as well as a shared understanding of what success means for your company.

Start by briefing your regional teams on your global comms goals and identify the unique opportunities for each region. KPIs will help explain what your company is prioritizing and keep your global team efforts focused, but you should not bundle everyone’s stats into one number. 

Your global KPIs are a valuable pulse on your company’s overall efforts, but KPIs could vary significantly based on your region. However, these KPIs are critical to track on both a global and regional level to understand how regional activities are contributing—or detracting—from your goals:

  • Share of voice: How often your company is mentioned compared to your competitors. Your competitive company list will vary by regions, so there should be company-wide competitors, as well as region-specific. 
  • Sentiment: The tone of the articles and/or social media activity regarding your company. By analyzing region-specific KPIs, your team can understand where a more hands-on media approach may be needed. Also, you may be able to proactively address a pending issue that has come to light in one region before it spreads to other regions, helping to save potential global brand damage. 
  • Key message penetration: How often your company is mentioned alongside key themes. Your thought leadership measurement will likely involve key message penetration, and your team must keep a global lens when picking these themes. Trends may vary significantly from one country to another, and certain words or phrases may not resonate in the same way across countries. Use your regional comms leads as sounding boards on new ideas before developing a global campaign that may be offensive or carry a different meaning across borders. 

Whichever KPIs you choose to track—and there’s plenty to choose from, so take your time—you need a system in place to review this data. KPI dashboards are a common way to set up views that are inclusive of both regional and global stats. This ensures you’re looking at the full scope of your data and can then easier know which regions to conduct more follow-up with. 

A Unified Strategy for Standardized KPIs

Breaking down regional team silos is an ongoing process that requires active communication. Consider hosting monthly or quarterly meetings for all of your regional comms leads to connect, as well as separate meetings with each individual team and their agencies or freelancers. Because time zones can become complicated, record your meetings and distribute notes and action items so that anyone can access the material and stay focused between meetings. 

Following these tips will further help set you on the right track, as well as adopting the right tools like Meltwater to help you make sense of your global data with ease. 

If you’re interested in learning more about how to effectively set KPIs, download Meltwater’s Everything You Need to Prove PR ROI e-book for the data-driven KPIs, tools and reporting frameworks you need to deliver the best results on your campaigns.

What Does a Like-Less Instagram Mean For Influencer Marketing?

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for aesthetically focused lifestyle, retail and travel brands in particular – as well as marketers who want to reach engaged audiences through the power of visual media.

Driven by connected consumers and a growing trust in technology, 58% of Millennials say they  prefer ads from their favourite online personality over generic, branded content – so, whether or not influencer marketing appeals to you, there’s certainly merit to exploring the idea for many businesses. 

How do we determine influence?

The idea of harnessing influence as a currency isn’t new, but in the same breath a lot of marketers don’t intricately understand how it all works. In fact, both influencers and brand-owners alike take a myopic view to deciding what influence actually looks like. Until now, it’s been determined by a handful of key metrics that show perceived interest and engagement: followers, likes, comments, shares, increased online traffic, etc. help build credibility for online celebrities and demonstrate value for brand custodians that need budget approval.

The dawn of like-less Instagram

Because of this, many were left surprised at the May F8 conference when Facebook announced their plans to test a ‘like-less’ Instagram, where users and brands alike would no longer be able to get their dopamine hit off the sometimes hundreds and thousands, sometimes millions of clear-to-see interactions. And, of course, mild panic ensued.

How are we supposed to know who’s popular now? How do we work out our return on investment? What do we put in the reports?! – a sentiment that echoed through the social and PR industry through to the influencers themselves, understandably. After all, a like-less Instagram could very well affect their revenue.

If the trials were successful, Instagram users would only see how many likes their own posts received but couldn’t see the same for other users. Seems like a minor change, right? It is a minor change, a minor change that will cause a major change in the way influencers and brands use Instagram. This update opens the doors for an Instagram focused on community, personalisation and sharing. Concealing the number of likes, creates a less competitive environment between followers – an issue known to negatively impact users.

 

But the future is not necessarily as daunting as it may seem post the Facebook announcement.

Brands should now turn to more meaningful metrics

Brands will now turn to influencer marketing tools to monitor more meaningful metrics and understand the specific reach of creatives. For example, the Meltwater Influencer tool, within the platform Klear, offers brands audience reporting features that allow users to view an influencer’s community demographic. This tool allows brands to have a clear vision of who is being influenced, ultimately finding brands the perfect fit for their campaign.

What influenced the like-less Instagram update?

  • Social media well-being – The decision to trial posts without the number of likes was driven by the desire to provide a “less pressurised environment” for users. Chief Executive, Adam Mosseri, has stated since the conference that the like-less instagram is a step towards providing users with a platform they can “feel comfortable expressing themselves [on]”. This was incentivised by the current online issue of ‘‘catfishing. Whereby influencers and regular users will buy additional followers/likes to appear more ‘popular’ online. By concealing the amount of likes a user receives, the Instagram team are aiming to create a space for creativity and not competition.
  • Instagram stories – In January 2019, the Instagram story feature had 500 million daily users – over twice as many as Snapchat (203 million). The rising popularity of theInstagram ‘story’ feature then became a catalyst for the like-less instagram idea, aiming to encourage users to post ‘stories’ rather than a static feed of posts. The shift in popularity of the story feature is reflected by the rising popularity of video marketing. Projected to show an annual growth rate of +10.6%, the use of video will reach an ad spend of over £40 million by 2023 – altering the way brands communicate with their consumers, as well as how influencers will do this on a brand’s behalf. 

How will influencers be affected? 

Some influencers have expressed their concern, with many worried it may impact their engagement rates, when, in fact, it’s a thought that this will give this widely adopted marketing technique a stronger level of authenticity.

Transparency obsessed demographic, Generation Z, have fuelled the need for influencers to state if a post is an ad and how they received the product, for example were they paid to promote it or was it ‘gifted’? In doing so, the sense of familiarity that we associate with influencers has changed as we know instantly if they are posting to promote.

Removing the like count will aim to bring back this familiarity to influencers, not setting them apart by the amount of likes. Instead, they will be encouraged to create highly engaging content that fuels creativity rather than that which focus purely on sales. A like-less Instagram means that Influencer talent will be based on the referral traffic they drive, minimising the worth of bought engagement. In turn, influencers will be producing high-quality content that attracts long-term consumers.

Quality content, quality consumers 

Should this first run of a like-less Instagram prove successful, brands would become less dependent on likes to identify the best influencer for their campaign. Instead, creatives would be rated on their click-through rates and the performance of their content in terms of how it drives sales. 

The types of changes we can expect in influencer campaigns

  • Better quality content: Now, content needs to do more than receive likes. In order to keep consumers engaged, feeds must need to be more creative, dynamic and consistent. Brands will lean towards collaborations on a smaller scale using micro influencers with 10K-15K followers. These creatives have higher engagement rates, with a more niche style, therefore providing a worthwhile ROI for brands through highly focused targeting.
  • More engaged consumers: There could be an increase in consumers actively following businesses. Followers will find hitting ‘like’ a lot more personal, taking this action based on their own opinions and rather than what is trending. Due to this, those with a genuine interest in your brand can engage with your content, helping you create quality consumer relationships. 
  • More dynamic brand image: Instagram ‘story’ views will become a key metric to monitor. Rising marketing trends such as voice activated searches and the use of vertical video, will increase and branding will become heavily dependent on innovative campaigns. 

What is the official plan? 

Currently, the testing phase is  still underway and the update is now active in 6 countries;Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. Instagram’s two major markets are the UK and the US, so after analysing the response from the trials, Instagram will decide whether it progresses into these major markets. The future of influencers will be exciting not endangered. The like-less Instagram will introduce a new style of influencer marketing, one that is closer to the original intention – giving honest reviews and building communities. 

A new kind of Instagram strategy to match these changes

What can we expect to see and how should we adapt our strategies to fit future iterations of how users can interact with Instagram?

  • More interactive content appearing on Instagram stories/IGTV 
  • Creating a more niche brand image 
  • Using ecommerce/tagging to sell products in their static image posts
  • Filtering followers to remove inactive and disengaged accounts 
  • Using targets to reach click-through rate goals
  • Increase in sophisticated and quality content

It’s not all doom and gloom

A change as small as hiding the number of likes on Instagram presents several opportunities for the platform. Improved online well-being and increased focus in story-based content are but a few. Instagram is making innovative movements set to change the advertising landscape and still set to surpass Snapchat in daily engagement rates, creating yet more opportunities for influencer marketing to grow.

For brands, choosing the best influencers for campaigns will have an increasing focus on  personality, energy and engaged authentic audiences. Influencer marketing in 2019 and beyond will not be to simply find customers, but to build a community. Are you ready to build yours?

How Data Can Inform Your Marketing Campaigns: The Lion King Case Study

SEA_Lion King_Infographics.png

 

 

The global data collected and reported above were obtained within Nov 2018 and Jul 2019 through Meltwater’s Media Intelligence tool.

Movie remakes are always a tricky business. The cinematic brilliance that first filled the silver screens with pomp and verve will always be a part of the audience’s lives. Those who experienced that brilliance will carry with them the nostalgic baggage and instinctively resort to opening it up whilst rummaging through their old favourite clothes to wear it once again. And unfortunately, more often than not, movie studio executives love looking through the wardrobe and consider rocking the classic suits again.

This is where a data-oriented company such as Meltwater can step in to offer a solution to movie execs in treading that path of brilliance or downward spiral of notoriety for remakes. For this post, we take one of the grandest animated movies of all time – Disney’s The Lion King – and studied the trajectory before the movie’s recent release. We analysed mentions of The Lion King online versus search queries about the movie. Gaps between what users were searching for and what is mentioned online creates opportunities for Marketers.

How can Marketers pounce on these opportunities like the hyenas did on Scar?

 

Build campaigns around trending topics

When news first broke out in September 2016 about Disney remaking a lineup of classics in live-action – Mulan, Beauty & the Beast, and Aladdin alongside the Lion King – it was positively received but with a tinge of scepticism and worry that childhood memories would be tainted. However, critics and film aficionados were optimistic about casting Jon Favreau to direct and retell the timeless Shakespearan story of the cub that grew up to reclaim his father’s throne from his diabolical uncle. Favreau’s prior work in another Disney remake The Jungle Book greatly favoured the positive backing from the fans.

In November 2018, Disney released its first teaser trailer to The Lion King, and to call it a resounding success would be an understatement. Fans all over the world rejoiced at the sneak peek of the upcoming movie and all their fears were washed away by the rivers running through Pride Lands. There were over 5,000 mentions of The Lion King in the news around the world and more than 2 million social mentions just in November 2018 itself. Also, a name keeps popping up after the trailer’s release – James Earl Jones – which had every fan reminiscing the original from 1994. Fans were ecstatic when they heard the booming ubiquitous baritone voice of Mufasa narrate the trailer and they soaked in the nostalgia of the reanimated classic.  

In comparison, global megastar Beyonce’s involvement in the project had 22,000 social mentions in the same timeframe. This interesting insight revealed that despite the presence of undoubtedly talented superstar such as Beyonce could not match the level of nostalgia and bonds that were fostered related to the original movie. By using this insight extrapolated from the data of user-generated content, marketing professionals can curate or arrange campaigns with an eye on the emotional connection fostered with the audience.

 

Fine-tune Social Media strategy with geo-located insights

The fan base of The Lion King is vast and wide like the African savannah and during the trailer’s release, they came out in droves. Unsurprisingly, the US formed almost 57% of mentions in social media while the Brits contributed another 6%. A quick glance of the rest of the top ten countries showed interest from different continents, with South Africa and Nigeria representing the movie’s inspiration of the Motherland. Australians (7th) also showed their love for the indomitable lion family. Social media interactions in two of Asia’s most populous nations, India and Indonesia, greatly contributed to the Lion King folklore. These geo-located social insights can help marketing teams further fine-tune their Social Media Marketing strategy. 

For example, these insights can drive anything from streamlining and unifying the Social media strategy that you run in each of these countries, to the amount of budget you allocate for each country.

 

Closing the gap between search queries and content that is available online

What fans might be searching for online may not be congruent with content that is available online. This creates an opportunity for Marketers to create campaigns around what their audience want but is not found online yet. The infographic further details how the top topics mentioned online about Disney differs from the top search queries in the same period of time. 

Furthermore, during the trailer release, another interesting insight from Social Media mentions  was that many fans were puzzled why the film was called “live-action” when there weren’t any “live” actors involved. By using this insight, marketing and communication departments can address this misunderstanding and resolve lingering doubts and tone down negative sentiment towards their production.

 

Measuring the success of Lion King and other Disney movies

Disney’s user-generated content (UGC) is a heaven for marketing departments to discover insights. To illustrate a greater picture of Disney’s UGC, Meltwater flips through the pages of its catalogue for 2019 – The Lion King, Aladdin, Toy Story 4, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker and Avengers: Endgame. Just like Buzz’s catchphrase, Disney’s UGC from social media is infinite and definitely beyond expectations, with the movies collectively generating almost 105 million unique social mentions since The Lion King trailer. 

Obviously, Avengers: Endgame traversed the cosmic social universe and gripped the social media world like Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet with more than 68 million mentions. This has to be attributed to 10 years of developing content within the Marvel Cinematic Universe and fans built an emotional connection with the series coming to an end. It must also be pointed out that the long-awaited final chapter of the Skywalker saga only arrives in cinemas this December while the rest have already hit their peaks. The intergalactic soap opera is also the only movie which had more than a million mentions throughout the period. Toy Story 4 also generated more mentions than The Lion King but this could be attributed to the release dates of the respective movies.

With the Lion King roaring away in the box office, it goes to show that movie remakes are not grounds that have to be left untouched. With careful consideration of nostalgia and respect to the original material, the audience will view it in a positive perspective that it is a method of paying homage while introducing new generations to the legend of Pride’s Rock.