Top Tips to Scare-up Social Media Engagement this Halloween

With every man and his dog (literally) celebrating Halloween, it comes as no surprise that this multi-million pound industry is often hijacked by brands as a way of tapping into the global conversation. Using this globally recognised event for marketing activities is an effective way to ensure visibility, and in doing so naturally increases social media engagement. Those who are not already involved should take a bite of pumpkin pie and capitalise on this easy marketing win opportunity!

So how can we leverage the fun of Halloween?

Posting Pictures – Increasing social media engagement tip #1

Host a Halloween themed office party and take lots of photos to post online. Followers love to see faces behind the brand- even if they are masked up!  Increase social media engagement with the audience by asking them to vote for their favourite costume, or what costume the CEO should wear. Additionally, dishing out sweets to clients or influencers encourages them to post tweets of their sweets.

A couple of the London office Meltwater team celebrating Halloween last year!

Promotional Discounts – Increasing social media engagement tip #2

Halloween is a great excuse to start a conversation with customers and offer treats in the form of promotional discounts. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, adding a spooky image and supporting copy will do the trick.

Sharing Stories – Increasing social media engagement tip #3

Content marketing can learn a thing or two from Halloween. Exchanging scary stories is a tradition of the holiday, so why not ask the audience what scares them with reference to a specific topic? Once they reply, if possible, offer them advice on how to overcome such fears.

Website Games – Increasing social media engagement tip #4

Create a Halloween themed scavenger hunt around the website. This drives traffic, increases time spent on the website and encourages participants to browse the content; hopefully resulting in more leads for the sales team.

Halloween Meme – Increasing social media engagement tip #5,

Create a funny Halloween meme and include the Twitter handle somewhere within the image. Research shows that people are more likely to share funny content than important content on social media, because lets face it we like to make others laugh!

Facebook Competitions – Increasing social media engagement tip #6

Facebook competitions are a great way to increase social media engagement, expand following and capture data about customers. Check out our Facebook promotions tool to help offer an interactive experience. My team mates Chris  and Leslie further explain the benefits of the tool and social media campaigns in their previous posts – for more on that, download our free Facebook for business book series.

If you have any further suggestions on how to increase social media engagement using Halloween themed content, we would love to hear it! In the meantime…

Data-driven PR Metrics in 4 Easy Steps

Setting data-driven PR metrics is as easy as understanding what success looks like in today’s technology-fueled communications ecosystem.

PR metrics – like the metrics associated with other relationship marketing disciplines (events, social media) – have been traditionally hard to come by.  But in today’s communications landscape, it’s a lot easier than it used to be to set data-driven PR metrics that upper management can understand and appreciate.  Here’s how:

1) Understand that Engagement is the Goal of a Data-Driven PR Program

In the modern messaging landscape, success = engagement.  Whether we engage a traditional journalist and receive placement in the “Wall Street Journal” or engage an influencer on Twitter and receive a RT, our payoff is the same: we are earning media, and as a result we garner the impressions that we’ve traditionally used to measure success.  (For more on that, check out this article on vanity metrics vs actionable metrics.)

The great thing about setting engagement as our primary goal in a socially-networked communications landscape from a PR metrics perspective is that – unlike “impressions” – it’s easy to prove: most engagement comes in the form of a click.

2) Determine what Engagement Looks like on Each Channel

Engagement simply means that someone decided to share your message.  On traditional journalism channels, that’s media placement: how many articles or releases were picked up?  The social networks have their own metrics of engagement: a share on Twitter, a “Like” or share on Facebook, etc.  All of these channels work together, so understanding what engagement looks like per distribution channel is important, even if we’re just going for the traditional media placement.  The social engagement is what creates the message amplification we’re after, and as a result those are crucial PR Metrics to track.

3) Measure & Qualify Engagement & Reach

How many people took an action on behalf of our brand?  Now that we know what engagement looks like, measuring it is easy with the right tools.  A good traditional and social media monitoring tool will identify and quantify that engagement for us.  One important delineation to bear in mind is the tracking of social shares both from both paid and owned channels where possible (i.e. the article was on the homepage of the NYT, and was then shared to Facebook whereupon it took on a life of its own, and it was also on our own Facebook page, which spurred engagement from that audience).  That sort of channel-specific analysis will help us both measure and qualify our engagement.

Now, to answer the age-old communications question: is our message actually being heard?  The qualitative side of measurement is less linear, but still doable:  A good traditional media monitoring tool in addition to a social listening tool allows us to set up a variety of searches complete with threshold alerts that can tell us who’s saying what – and where.  In this way, we can track whether or not the language and positioning we’re introducing into the market is being adopted.  If it’s not, by listening we’ve identified both what messages are out there, and where we might insert ourselves and/or engage in order to change that.  This makes for a modern communications program cycle that looks like this:

In a socially-networked communications model, fostering productive dialogue with the right people starts and ends with listening.

 

With this in mind, our PR metrics might list a hard number of RT’s, and we might then qualify our success by showing a few concrete examples (i.e. screenshots) of our message being out there organically, in the form of other folks adopting it.

4) Measure Reach

The reach and impression numbers that our channel partners give us are also an important part of our PR metrics – impressions are, after all, at the top of a purchase funnel, and we want to understand the opportunity there.  This is the PR metric we’re most used to using: in a time of offline communications, it was the best one available that demonstrated the value of media placement.

The power of message amplification via social sharing is that we can get huge, huge impression numbers from earned media – and those impressions might be on important influencers.  Today’s media channels don’t operate in a silo: reporters use blogs and social channels and bloggers use social media and social channels and social media influencers use journalism and blogs.  Or, as we learned from PRSA: paid, earned and owned media service to amplify each other.  With that in mind, measuring our reach in conjunction with both hard engagement metrics and qualitative messaging analysis gives us a data-driven and holistic view as to the success of our messaging campaign.

PR is Social: Setting Data-Driven PR Metrics on Owned, Earned, Paid & Rented Channels

Wowing our boss with mad data-driven PR metrics is as easy as identifying what engagement is per channel.

PR is Social Marketing

Public relations has always been a social medium: the fundamental goal of every PR program is to start and maintain valuable conversations and relationships in the market.

Social networks turned marketing on its ear by fundamentally shifting our communications landscape.  No longer is marketing a monologue; we are now operating in a dialogue marketing discipline out of necessity.  (For more on that, check out our article, “4 Tips to Social PR.”)

The Primary Goal of Social Marketing is Engagement

The most obvious upside of a dialogue is that our message can be amplified ad infinitum by social engagement.  That engagement gives us earned media – and in an interconnected communications ecosystem, we can earn anything from the “impressions” we used to use as a core PR metric to traditional press placement via an indirect pitch.

The less obvious upside to that engagement is, quite simply, that many forms of engagement occur via a click.

Social Engagement = Trackable

The great thing about a socially networked media landscape – beyond message amplification – is that those of us in traditionally hard-to-quantify messaging disciplines have a way to set good Marketing KPIs by differentiating between vanity metrics and actionable metrics.  The core difference is that vanity metrics measure opportunity (community size), and actionable metrics measure engagement.

That being the case, setting data-driven PR Metrics is as simple as asking ourselves what “engagement” means on the different communication channels out there for our message.  Here is how that plays out:

Owned PR Channels

Our website press page, blog and our contact list (whether it be a Rolodex, a database of reporters or a gmail folder) are often the main owned channels we measure as PR pros, and they give us the most comprehensive analytics because of it.  Measuring engagement in press pickup is easy: we reach out to journalists or bloggers, and they give us placement.  That quality interaction is the engagement; the impressions from their community is the message amplification and the upside – and that can lead to more engagement in the form of social shares.

As for our blog and our site, looking at things like downloads, shares, comments, time on page, session time, exit rate and bounce rate as a whole are all great ways to see whether or not our content is spurring the engagement that we want.

Rented PR Channels

While a lot of people put our Facebook and Twitter profiles into the “owned media” category, I don’t: we are at the mercy of any third-party platform when it comes to both Terms of Service and analytics.  Facebook has made a lot of changes this year to move our marketing into a paid play (organic Reach throttle, Like-gating removal), and those changes affect our programs.

By the same token, we can only measure what these platforms let us measure.  Facebook arguably provides the most comprehensive analytics of any social network; the “Insights” and “Posts” tabs give us a lot of the engagement metrics we want.  We can look at which posts led to the most Likes, as well as which ones led to folks un-Liking us.  (For more on that, check out our book on Facebook ROI.)  On Twitter, measuring engagement is easy: RT’s, @ mentions and community growth rate are all great things to track – and that tracking is made far easier with a solid social listening tool that will deliver those numbers for us.

The same methodology applies to any rented social channel: if we look at what content spurred engagement and measure overall community growth, and check out what sort of reach we earned as a result of that engagement, we have a holistic picture of what’s working in our communications programs.

Earned & Paid PR Channels

Earned and paid media are the most tried-and-true of our messaging programs, but gone are the days wherein the impressions number is the core PR metric we want to measure.  In an engagement KPIs model, we can measure both the number of clicks and the number of social shares.  With sponsored content being the new rage, we may also get to a point wherein the folks who own those channels give us the kind of metrics we look at on our owned channels, like read time and exit rate; until then, we’ll have to be satisfied with the analytics they provide.

To that end, there was a great takeaway from PRSA 2014: owned, earned and paid media all work to amplify one another.  If we have a piece of content that’s doing well on our owned or rented channels, we should consider a paid play to promote it: we already have a signal that it’s working, so getting it in front of more eyeballs to spur social message amplification is a great idea.

PRSA International 2014: 3 Armchair Takeaways

The PRSA International Conference in Washington D.C. ended yesterday, and one of the most interesting things to my mind is that the 3 top takeaways prove themselves in my ability to write this article at all: I didn’t go to the conference.

While other Meltwater folks did go, I was here in San Francisco and used our social listening tool to stay on top of Twitter, and our news monitoring tool as a listening supplement.  Fortunately, modern PR folks are both wired and prone to sharing great information.

There were some very exciting (and some controversial) topics being deliberated this year: from big money in Washington politics to Big Data, the keynotes and discussions caused some great social chatter.  Here are the top three takeaways:

1. Social Business is Part of PR – and Here to Stay

In Stephen Waddington’s keynote “Social Business is the Future of PR,” he said: “Organizations are moving beyond the tactical use of social media to embed social technologies into their business processes that enable communication, collaboration and insight into customer, employee, supplier and partner behavior. …it is impacting every area of organizational design. It’s the future of public relations.”

It was great to hear his perspective; this particular trend is one we talked about in a previous article (Social Media PR trends).  But Stephen took it a step further than words with a great slide that was tweeted out:

 

2.  Paid, Owned & Earned Media Interplay to Amplify Each Other

What we’re all striving for is earned media.  To that end, when content on our owned media gets attention (thus giving us a signal that it’s resonating), we should use paid media to promote that content so that it has a better chance of earning media and amplifying our message.  (For more on why this is so powerful, check out this article on earned social media & brand advocacy.)

3. Metrics & Big Data Are the New Holy Grail

Big Data has everyone talking, and for good reason: the vast, chaotic communications ecosystem around us presents both an opportunity and a challenge to the modern marketer.  (For more on that and how to navigate it, check out this recent article on Big Data Marketing solutions.)

Kye Strance also talked about applying Big Data principles to getting hard metrics for PR by using IBM’s 4 V’s: Volume, Velocity, Variety and Veracity.  Volume: always getting enough data to back up our claims; Velocity: obtaining the data with the speed at which we need to keep up with the rate of the data coming in; Variety: getting a wide set of demographics included, so as to make the data most applicable; and Veracity: always having commitment to the correct and true data for the subject.

With that in mind, PR is no longer beholden to “impressions” as a the core KPI.  There are 5 metrics a PR person should track for success:

Engagement is definitely the holy grail of social marketing, to my mind – that’s how we earn the exponential possibility of free impressions and more engagement (read: earned media), and it’s the first step to brand advocacy.

These 3 PRSA International takeaways point to one clear path: public relations is social marketing, and social marketing is public relations.  For my part, I was probably most impressed that the manifestations of two converging disciplines + great monitoring tools enabled me to actually learn a thing or two without leaving the armchair.

 

 

 

You’re Not Gonna Need a Bigger Boat: Finding Direction in a Sea of Big Data

The social interconnectedness of modern content sources creates a message amplification effect that affords marketers an amazing earned media upside, but the downside is that we can have way too much of a good thing. Without the right navigational tools to make sense of what’s around us, we are lost in the center of a chaotic sea of conversation.

Quality is simple, not easy

Back when we consumed and created messages on products made of paper, the reason that a personal Rolodex was so valuable to the PR profession was simple: the targeted, quality interaction it afforded was more likely to lead to engagement than blindly throwing out a release on the wire, or a pitch to a media database.

Looking at communications this way, things actually haven’t changed much: the key to mastering the technology-driven media landscape is finding the right conversation to have with the right person in the right place – in that order.  A quality, modern messaging campaign is data-driven, social, and understands that engagement is the key to success.

It sounds simple because it is simple.  But it’s not necessarily easy.

We need answers, not data

In today’s socially-fueled communications ecosystem, our core challenge as marketers stems from the same place that opportunity does: Big Data.  We are at the center of a chaotic, endless ecosystem of conversation.  Finding our bearings requires both a high-level view of the overall messaging horizon, and the ability to zero in on the people and places that matter.  By understanding where we’re going, why, and who’s going to be there, we stand a far better chance of engaging the right people in a quality conversation that amplifies our message.

With that in mind, the most critical tool in our PR and marketing arsenal is a sophisticated communications search engine. 

If we don’t have a tool to pinpoint what we need to inform and assist our business efforts – whether that be a journalist in the greater Sydney area who wrote positively about solar power in the past year, or a high-level understanding of what the trends are in alternative energy worldwide – a bigger haystack just means more digging work to find that needle.

The reason that a powerful communications search engine is instrumental in modern messaging efforts is because, by doing what no mere mortal can – analyzing millions of content sources in the communications ecosystem at once – it enables marketers to answer questions that used to be both difficult and time-consuming to obtain.

  • Is there a journalist out there who’s been writing positively about biodiesel in the greater Houston area in the last 3 years?
  • What are our customers saying about us?
  • Where’s the best place to introduce this message?
  • Are there any influencers worth engaging?
  • What are the general trends in our industry?
  • How are our competitors positioning themselves per geographical region?

The right conversations direct us to the right course of action

A smart, data-driven digital Rolodex for the technology-driven media landscape qualifies people by the conversations they’re having.  The modern communications ecosystem is fueled by conversation, and that conversation can start anywhere by anyone.  The right influencer for us might be a journalist, or it might be a blogger, or it might just be a brand advocate with a small but loyal following in a highly relevant social community.

By the same token, the panoramic view of the billions of content sources out there provides us the insights to make informed, data-driven business decisions.  With the tools to both navigate the ocean of data around us and get a fix on our destination, we can make sure that we’re not adrift in the middle an endless sea of information.

Or, to amend an old adage: it’s not the size of the boat, it’s focus on the locus and the precision of the vision.