3-Steps to Social Media Holiday Strategy (With Examples)

Between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Black Friday, New Year’s Eve, and the rest of the winter holidays, this is the most important (and busiest!) time of the year, especially for B2C brands. Holiday ecommerce sales alone reached a total of $126 billion last yearup from $108.2 billion in 2017.

So, what’s the best way to tap into the holiday excitement? 

Here’s a time-tested social media holiday strategy to end 2019 off on a high note.

1. Start with a Social Media Calendar

In order to truly capitalize on all of the social media opportunities the holidays provide, it’s important establish a social media calendar as soon as possible. You should realistically have every day planned to the end of the year.

Quick tips for what to include in your social media calendar:

  • Day of the week
  • Date and time of the post
  • Content objective
  • Content topic
  • Copy specific for each channel
  • Placeholders for recurring content activities

Next, preparing and following a set editorial plan will help you succeed during the holidays and beyond.

2. Create a Branded Hashtag Campaign

One of the most reliable ways to delight customers instead of adding to holiday “noise” is to create a branded hashtag campaign. When done right, these campaigns evoke emotions and promote sharing.

For examples, UPS created the #WishesDelivered campaign to promote good deeds during the holidays and showcase videos and stories where they have fulfilled a wish or delivered a surprise. #WishesDelivered offered a refreshing change of pace from other top social media posts brands rely on during other times of the year.

People are encouraged to use the campaign hashtag to share UPS’s stories, or stories of their own. On top of that, every time the #WishesDelivered hashtag is used, UPS makes a $1 donation to one of three charity partners. To date, the hashtag has been used more than 10,000 times across Instagram and Twitter alone.

The campaign is promoted around the idea of: deliveries during the holidays begin with a wish. The goal of UPS was to turn those wishes into reality and they’ve done just that with their social media holiday strategy.

And remember, any success with this year’s hashtag will be carried over to next year when you run the campaign all over again.

3. Host a Contest or Giveaway

Hosting a contest or giveaway on social media may seem like an obvious one for B2C and B2B brands, but the classic social media holiday strategy is still very much alive and well.

The contest or giveaway should consist of two important factors: 

  1. The prize should be enticing enough for your audience to want to take action
  2. The rules and content should incentivize sharing with family and friends

Contests and giveaways might be a little more time-intensive for your audience (compared to a hashtag campaign), but can pay off big time in engagement and new customers. There’s even potential to tie the contest with the hashtag you created in #2.

You can utilize the traditional, but effective “Like or Comment to Enter” approach or something that requires deeper engagement such as “Share or Caption to Enter”. 

In 2017 Lush Cosmetics ran one of the most popular holidays giveaways to date under the campaign and hashtag: #SwishUponAStar.

This giveaway offered audiences a trip to the uber-popular Lush factory for two. The only requirement for entry? Fans were asked to post their best piece of “bath bomb art”, tag Lush on social media, and use the #SwishUponAStar hashtag. The Lush team picked their favorite as winner. 

#SwishUponAStar created buzz within industry media outlets and resulted in a big uplift in brand awareness for Lush. It was also a creative way for Lush to give back to their audience during the holidays.

B2B Brands Can Join the Holidays, Too

Don’t worry, if you’re in the B2B space that doesn’t mean you can’t join in on the holiday excitement with your audience. To be successful, it just takes a little extra creativity to for B2B brands to come off as authentic.

Here are a few B2B holiday ideas to get your team started

  • Upload a holiday video to your website or social media
  • Have your employees change their email signatures
  • Hold a B2B Black Friday, Cyber Monday sale
  • Make a company calendar that your audience can use
  • Host a holiday open house at your office
  • Promote gift cards or give some away
  • Add products and services to purchases (or provide free trials)
  • Send personalized cards and gifts to your top clients
  • Support a local charity or donate to a large organization (ask your audience to as well)

There is no shortage of ways to think BIG in your B2B social media holiday and PR strategy. Use what you’ve learned here today to make the 2019 holiday season your best few months yet.

Whether you’re a B2C or B2B brand, to ensure you’re ready, read our ebook on great social content, with more examples from top brands.

Mastering Brand Crisis and Reputation

Blog 1. png.png

 

Mastering Brand Crisis and Reputation 

An Inside Look at Top Communicators’ Playbooks 

Top communicators opened their playbooks on mastering brand crisis and reputation at an exclusive event Meltwater hosted in collaboration with PRWeek last month. Over breakfast in San Francisco, they discussed today’s 24/7/365 world, where external entities control the narrative as much if not more than the brands themselves, and even the basics of crisis and reputation management continue to evolve daily.

Showing us their best methods in the midst of madness were panelists Julie Miller, CCO at Ancestry; Al D’Agostino, SVP, Crisis and Risk Management at Edelman; Emily Horn, Director of Corporate Communications at HP; and Nina Beizai, VP of Communications at Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants. Moderating was Cole Weil, Director of Global Enterprise Solutions at Meltwater. A summary of discussion points and recommended actions follows.

At the first sign of crisis, deploy a tiger team to control the message

Gathering the right people quickly is the key to nimble decision-making, the panelists easily agreed. Emily Horn of HP recommended assembling a small team drawn from your stakeholder community, investor relations, and both employee and corporate communications and setting them to work performing risk analysis and determining the worst case scenario. “Use the tiger team to control the message, and the fewer news cycles the better.”

Edelman’s Al D’Agostino added that the situation may warrant the communications lead assembling a cross-functional group that includes HR, legal, finance, and operations. “Side-by-side with that tiger team, use these people to figure out what’s going on and when is the earliest you can say something that actually means something.”

Multiple panelists confirmed the importance of having that foundation built in advance and ready to be mobilized in times of emergency.

Take the pulse of leadership early to reduce communication cycles

Ancestry’s Julie Miller says, “If my gut is telling me something’s happening, I try to get my CEO or the GM of the business and my general counsel in a room with me before everything hits. Sometimes the CFO is in there too, if there’s a financial impact on the business. Getting a sense of where they’re at can save the team multiple cycles in thinking through the company’s response.” That early meeting often also helps determine what should remain confidential and what the threshold is for disclosure of information.

Come to the table with suggestions that will move the needle

“Strong analytics will get you far, and accurate analytics will get you farther,” says Nina Beizai. She adds that Kimpton has always viewed the communications team as having a seat at the table, in part because Communications is responsible for sharing the data on coverage, sentiment, and share of voice coming in from media monitoring and social and internal engagement. 

“Synthesize that data and come to the table with suggestions that will actually move the needle from a business perspective, not just a communications perspective,” Beizai advises. She says her role includes serving as a fact- and reality-checker of any proposals being floated. “I think that encourages everybody to put on their thinking caps and removes the hair-on-fire aspect of the drill.” 

Julie Miller says she welcomes the passion people bring to managing a crisis because, “If you can harness the emotion, it drives a sense of urgency and feeds the sense we’re going to roll up our sleeves and figure things out.” Her first priority remains to back everyone off the ledge and facilitate a conversation that moves them closer to finding a solution.

Maintaining a sense of perspective throughout is invaluable, says Al D’Agostino. “Oftentimes a client acts as if their whole world is going crazy. You might want to ask them how big is that world, actually. Is everyone really talking about this?” Context and a sense of proportion help keep emotions in check. Metrics can be applied here also.

Picture2.png

Focus on being an effective two-way communicator  

The communication team’s responsibility is not only to offer advice and counsel on the wording of any pronouncements, but to be the eyes and ears of the company also, says Kimpton’s Nina Beizai. “It really is a two-way street. Communicators are not just pushing out content. They’re also bringing a lot of objective reality into a situation.”

Emily Horn spoke of being at Hewlett Packard Company when hardware recycling became an issue for the tech industry and Greenpeace was protesting outside. “We brought coffee out to the protestors and sat down with them to talk and connect as humans. That helped because it calmed everybody down. Focusing on the human element of how you communicate is fundamental.”

Julie Miller says it’s important to know what your stakeholders expect from you, and suggests weighing your response against a set of decision principles. “They don’t have to be absolute. You can use them merely as aids to judgment, but it’s much easier to explain what you’re doing if you have a principle-based approach.”

Understand the power of your employees to influence events

Employees should learn of a crisis first, followed by your customers. The focus should be on answering the questions you’re able to and confessing that you’re still gathering information, says HP’s Emily Horn. Tell them you’ll inform them as soon as you know more. She cautioned against a knee-jerk reaction to volunteer too much information. “I am often the first to say less is more.”

“It’s tricky,” says Julie Miller of Ancestry’s. “But I do believe there’s a role for key employees to play. An engineer or product manager may be the best person to speak to a product defect. Oftentimes it’s specific to the use case. This is where the company’s social media policy comes in. This feels like a more authentic place to have certain conversations.”

Kimpton’s Nina Beizai questioned whether we do enough to set employees up to be successful. What content can they be given that feels organic and can be shared during a crisis? Understand the power your employee base has to affect change. A crisis handled poorly with employees will not only impact reputations, Beizai says, but also morale. “This in turn will impact the business again, so you’re creating a vicious cycle where the crisis impacts morale, which impacts business results, which then impacts reputation again.” You devolve from talking about employees being ambassadors and advocates to worrying about their impact on the bottom line.

Edelman’s Al D’Agostino mentioned his company’s Trust Barometer, whose latest findings reveal that more than 75% of people globally view their employer as their most trusted institution. This adds to the imperative for the company to act responsibly in the eyes of employees.

Deploy a coalition of people willing to defend you in public

Julie Miller said she’d been with a leading tax software provider when scammers began filing fraudulent tax returns and receiving other people’s tax refunds. “Somebody already has your refund. Unwinding that is very, very hard.” She says her company hadn’t prepared a coalition of people willing to speak on their behalf, and that was a hard lesson to learn. “Sometimes it’s not enough for the company to defend itself. Gather a group of people who will partner with you in battle, as either public defenders or private advisors.”

Emily Horn agreed that third-party validation has never been more important. “Pick the right partners, have them act as your brand halo, and push them forward to tell the story.”

Even though the media environment is changing and the media mix is much different today, Nina Beizai cautions against neglecting or minimizing the importance of existing media relationships. “Old-school media relationships help in a crisis more than we tend to give credit. Where you want to balance stories with your quotes and who you trust to do this are both key.”

Timing is everything, and might offer you a chance to benefit from a crisis

Kimpton’s Nina Beizai says, “There’s this pivotal moment where you have an opportunity to build reputation and loyalty to a brand. Spotting that moment and shifting the paradigm is key. Oftentimes you’ll have a situation where an organization apologizes and it’s too little, too late. So look for that window of opportunity for your spokesperson to come forth.” She says the initial approach must be human, authentic, and as transparent as possible for there to be any chance of success.

It helps when what you value is also important to others. HP’s Emily Horn says, “One of our reputation pillars is diversity and inclusion. It’s extremely important to the company.” She says diversity and inclusion’s impact on reputation is often hard to measure, but that reputation itself can be measured by an increased intent to buy. Seeing an increase in this metric is one way of knowing that others share your values and appreciate your responses.

Don’t dwell on mistakes, and never shy away from bold solutions 

Crises happen in every industry, says Edelman’s Al D’Agostino. No matter what brand organization you’re part of, something unfortunate will happen. “You’re going to be judged on your response operationally and from a communication standpoint. So how prepared and willing are you to be a transparent and direct communicator?” 

Asked by an audience member for solutions that go beyond forming tiger teams and other tried-and-true methods of damage control, several panel members referenced Starbucks’ 2018 closure of 8000 stores to conduct racial-bias training. Something positive and unexpected that has an impact on revenue often captures people’s attention. Al D’Agostino’s takeaway from that incident was that Starbucks was truly committed to making amends.

Picture3.png

Summary of Recommendations

Panelists agreed that a cross-functional “tiger team” should be assembled the moment a crisis hits. Have a list of participants prepared and include the key functions. Gathering the right people together in the very beginning is the key to making decisions quickly.

A crisis can enhance your reputation if your approach is human, authentic, and reasonably transparent. Never be afraid to apologize if the situation warrants it, but don’t overdo it.

Crises happen. No matter what industry you’re in, you’re going to be judged on your response from an operational and communication standpoint. How willing are you to be a transparent and direct communicator? How prepared are you? 

 

For further insight into mastering brand crisis and reputation, read more here, or contact our Enterprise Team.

For additional reading, check out the findings of a similar panel discussion on risk and reputation management hosted by Meltwater in New York this past May.

 

Understanding How Instagram Hashtags Work

In a recent Meltwater webinar, we discussed the Instagram algorithm and how the platform ranks content, including hashtags and the corresponding search results. Following the webinar, the most commonly asked questions centered around Instagram hashtags and the nuances of using them. This blog post will explain how Instagram hashtags work and why they are valuable to businesses using Instagram.

Why should you care about hashtags on Instagram? 

Hashtags are the best search results you can control on the entire platform. While there is the Explore page, that is heavily curated by the algorithm based on personal behaviors of each user and there’s no way to ensure you’ll appear in those searches. And location searches are great if you have a physical business location that people are actually looking for – like a restaurant, nail salon, etc. But if you don’t fit into that mold, and even if you do, you want to be found by people searching around on Instagram, and the best way to do that is with hashtags.

If someone is searching for something on Instagram, be it inspiration for a birthday party, training for work, or anything else, they are going to search via hashtags simply because that’s how the search works on Instagram. They’ll type in the thing or topic they want to search, using the # in front of that and scroll through the results that appear. 

For most hashtags, there are two tabs of results: a Top tab and a Recent tab.

Meltwater How Hashtags Work 1.jpg

The Top tab is an algorithmically sorted list of content based on top performing posts that are curated for that individual user based on their preferences and Instagram activity. Therefore, you could look at the same hashtag as a person sitting next to you and see different results in the Top tab of results. 

The recent tab, however, is sorted chronologically with the most recently uploaded image in the top left corner of the results screen. This tab will show almost every post uploaded with that hashtag. There is still some algorithmic sorting in this tab so there isn’t a guarantee that all posts will appear here. And again, some people may see different results than others depending on their personal interactions on Instagram. 

When Should You Add Your Hashtags?

The best time to post your hashtags on your post is immediately when you upload the content to Instagram. Hashtag results are sorted chronologically based on the timestamp of the post itself, not when the hashtags were added. In that Recent tab result of searches, your post is placed in order based on when it was uploaded, regardless of when you added the hashtags. You want those hashtags on there immediately so that they can start populating in searches. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t go back and add hashtags to an old post if you want to. But you do want to think about which hashtags you’re adding and how old that post is. If it’s your branded hashtag you want to go add to old content, go for it! That way your old posts will show up in searches for your current branded hashtag when someone is researching your company. You can even go back and add hyper specific hashtags that have a small search result if they’re highly targeted to your audience and industry. But it wouldn’t be recommended to go back and add or edit common or popular hashtags on old posts as those hashtag searches are so saturated with content that yours would never really appear in search scrolls anyways.

Where Should You Place Your Hashtags?

The most commonly asked question during the webinar was where to place hashtags: in the caption or a comment?

In the grand scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter. 

There is no algorithmic favoritism and there’s no advantage to one over the other. The only caveat to that is timing. If you place your hashtags in the original caption, they post immediately with your content and begin producing search results. If you add your hashtags to a comment, there is a delay in when those hashtags post. If you’ve already got them typed and copied, ready to paste, that lag may be 10-15 seconds. But if you have to type them up in a comment, that could take you at least a minute. These may seem like nominal time spans, and for less popular hashtags, they are relatively insignificant. But if you’re using popular hashtags with millions of post results, a minute delay could mean the difference of your content being seen in that hashtag or not. 

For this reason, I recommend including your hashtags in the caption. 

Some people think they’re hiding the hashtags by putting them in a comment and they don’t look “spammy” or salesy in there. But the reality is that everyone uses hashtags and they’re there wherever you put them, so just go ahead and use them!

How Many Hashtags Should You Use?

Instagram limits you to 30 hashtags per post and that’s all you can use. If more are added after the fact, your content will not show up in those search results. Whether you or someone else adds a hashtag beyond the original 30, they won’t count. However, if you haven’t used all 30 hashtags and someone leaves a comment with a hashtag, your content will now technically be in that hashtag search as well.

There is a lot of debate about how many to use and whether less or more is a better strategy. But hashtags are a “use it or lose it” feature. If you use them, you can show up in search results. If you don’t use them, you are not going to show up in search results. If you’re trying to grow your audience and reach more people, you want to use as many hashtags as possible!

I recommend a minimum of 15-20 hashtags per post and getting as close to 30 relevant hashtags as possible. 

Instagram hashtags really are the secret sauce to success and will help you grow your audience, get found in search, and even drive conversions for you – when they’re done right.

Now that you understand how Instagram hashtags work and why they’re so important, be on the lookout for our blog post on “How to Use Instagram Hashtags Strategically” to help you decide which hashtags are best for your business and how to improve your ranking in hashtag searches!

Fjord Product Announcement: Capturing More Content

This blog post is part two of “Fjord Product Announcement” blog series. 

 

What is Fjord?

The Fjord release of MI is powered by a global content database across news and social media, AI-driven insights and a focus on simplicity and efficiency all driving towards one end goal: to make our customers’ lives easier. So where does the name Fjord come from? Formed by glaciers, Fjord has defined the Norwegian landscape, representing new life, a fresh start, and new opportunity. 

 

Capturing More Content 

Content is truly the foundation for analytics and visualizations that are built on top of it and if there is one thing we are proud of, it is our global content database. Data is the DNA of our platform and what our strength has been, and what it is now. We have a very good understanding of the changing landscape and where the risks are globally, allowing for a full picture view. We continue to invest in growing our database of news and social media, adding over 500 million new documents a day, using AI to capture content on all corners of the internet. With the acquisition of Wrapidity, we are able to capture content across the web, obtain faster search results, and generate more reliable analytics. We continue to focus on capturing more content and conversations than anyone else and it comes alive in our fully integrated solution for both social and editorial media.

 

Global Partnerships 

With a comprehensive network of global content partnerships, like Dow Jones, we are able to give customers access to premium content not freely available online, including print and broadcast content, from a library of over 1.3 trillion documents. In addition, the integration of our Infomart acquisition allows access to 30 years of historical content from premium Canadian publications. This is one thing we can be confident in, is capturing the amount of data on a global scale. 

 

Explore

With Explore, users can see instant insights across news and social media, create interactive, shareable dashboards, and understand which influencers are really driving the conversation around their brand, and competitors in their industry. With a single search, users benefit from being able to search and analyze content across Editorial, Social and Broadcast. 

Users can run  unlimited ad-hoc searches with no cap on the amount of search results, across years of historical data.  With Explore, marketers and PR professionals can work more closely together in many different ways, including sharing same searches, using the same filters, and having access to the same visualizations and reports. This allows for consistency in reporting metrics, and makes it easier to share work across teams.

 

Stay tuned for part three of the blog series, in which we will discuss how Meltwater advances analytics to insights! For a more detailed look at the new Fjord features, visit our website

Meltwater Launches Data Sets on New Amazon AWS Data Exchange

Software as a service (SaaS) company Meltwater has just revealed its role as a launch provider for Amazon Web Services (AWS) Data Exchange, a cloud service launching today designed to provide customers with third-party data.

The new Packaged Data Sets will bring Meltwater’s expertise in news and social data gathering to the largest data marketplace in the world.

The Amazon Web Services platform currently offers over 165 fully-featured services, ranging from machine learning applications to virtual reality, mobile, security and many others.

With such a variety of applications and millions of customers, the AWS Data Exchange market is set to propel Meltwater’s reach even further.

“We’re excited to be a launch provider with AWS and look forward to working within AWS Data Exchange to help our shared customers gain business insight from these new packaged data products which combine the best of our content and AI capabilities,” said Tim Barker, Head of Product for Fairhair.ai at Meltwater.

AWS Data Exchange complements the range of products and services we already deliver to over 32,000 customers and provides us with an exciting new path to rapidly develop and deploy further packaged data products in response to market and individual customer requirements.”

Datasets for Business

Meltwater specialises in providing packages containing data processes aimed at supporting different business processes.

“[The company] believes in the value of businesses using online data to make better-informed decisions and become more competitive in their markets,” commented Leor Distenfeld, Executive Director of Outside Insight at Meltwater.

“Historically, we have provided PR and Communications departments with the insights they need to stay ahead, but with the launch of our derived data sets available on AWS Data Exchange, we bring this expertise to departments such as business intelligence, competitive intelligence, marketing and legal, who can leverage this data and create insights to their advantage,” Distenfeld explained.

Some of Meltwater’s data packages focus on providing investors with potential trading opportunities by tracking daily changes in media coverage and sentiment for companies, and rebalance portfolios based on shifting sentiment and business event patterns across different industry verticals.

Others focus on informing Media and Entertainment production teams by tracking changes in daily media coverage and sentiment for TV streaming platforms and flagship shows, while making more informed sponsorship and advertising decisions by tracking coverage for different celebrities.

Finally, Healthcare and Life Sciences organizations can use the company’s data to track media coverage around key drug classes and medical conditions and market accordingly.

A Solid Platform

Meltwater joining the AWS Data Exchange will enable businesses across multiple industries to support their data-driven strategies through access to a new range of packaged data products. 

With over 500 million new documents being added daily, and best-in-class NLP enrichments layered
on top, these datasets will provide AWS Data Exchange customers with an unprecedented
amount of data to help drive their business strategy.

“We’re delighted to have Meltwater as a data provider as part of our launch,” said Stephen Orban, General Manager at AWS Data Exchange. “They have years of experience aggregating data from numerous channels on a global scale. 

“With the market calling for more external data to complement internal datasets, we believe with that Meltwater can provide our customers with enhanced visibility into the world around them, so that they can make better-informed decisions”, Orban concluded.

The AWS Data Exchange website is already live and you can find it at this link. What do you think of it? And are you using external data for your business? Let us know in the comment section down below.