PR and Marketing Tips: Visual Content and Your Brand

Social media has become a melting pot of white noise. For your brand to penetrate that noise and actually make any meaningful contact with your intended audience, you have to be ahead of the pack these days. And being ahead of the pack, in no small way, means that you need to be engaging in not only your editorial, but also in the visual content for your brand.

Our news feeds and Facebook walls are overflowing with what people did for lunch today or how tasty their grandma’s apple pie was or how much they love pizza and rosé wine, or how they “literally can’t even” – whatever that means, it’s become a battle for attention. And according to recent research, humans now have a smaller attention span than a goldfish! Researchers also discovered that a colored visuals increases people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%. It’s no wonder then that visual content is the top marketing trend for 2016.

Visual Real Estate

Visual content is no longer just a good idea, but an essential one. Especially when you’re talking about marketing and digital PR. Think about it in terms of pure real estate: a text update could occupy a height of about 50 pixels, whereas an image could take up 500 pixels. According to a Digiday and Chute survey, visual content can be up to 10X more effective than plain text. So it would make sense then (in terms of the numbers) that a visual post would be 10 times more effective – because it’s 10 times bigger/more visible.

Follow the Money

That same survey revealed that about one-third of marketing budgets are now being spent on visual marketing, which is up from about 25% in 2014. 60% of marketers plan to invest in video this year – up 20% from 2015. 39% of marketers believe that more of their budget should be allocated to the acquisition or creation of compelling visual assets and that.

Be Original

Almost 80% of visual content is owned, original graphic designs or images. In other words, brands aren’t buying stock images off the web and throwing it up on their channels; they’re hiring visual professionals (designers and photographers) to create original content. The quality of your visual content is way more important that the quantity. Creating interesting, original content can be time-consuming and requires talented people. The payoff is huge – the media, the public, and search engines pay more attention to good original content.

Challenges

Time, money and the right people all pose a challenge for companies that want to expand their visual content. The process is, after all manual, and labor intensive. It seems like brands are already connecting the dots regarding their budget. Finding great designers and graphic artists with experience in what works in digital and visual marketing is a tougher challenge. That’s why so many companies are leaning on the expertise of outside visual content providers and digital agencies.

However, it seems that there are even bigger issues – almost half (42%) of companies that would like to do more visual content say that getting stakeholders to participate in strategic conversations about visual media and resources is their biggest struggle. Just as the early days of content produced a flood of stuff that did not move the needle, the same problem exists in visual content now.

Knowing what to create, when to create it, where and when to post it to get the maximum response requires a strategic plan. And that’s one more reason why smart companies are partnering with experienced agencies who can do the heavy lifting on visual content.

If you’re looking for more on the importance of visuals, check out our posts on data visualizations, infographics, web design, and of course you can check out some of the infographics we’ve produced over the last six months. To include interesting facts and figures into your data stories, consider downloading our ebook about creating stories with marketing data.

This article was written by Sally Falkow from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

This post was originally published on our blog on May 13, 2016.

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 🙂

40 Essential Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2017

As we start a new year, here is a look back at the world of social media. Keep these statistics in mind as you create your social media plan for 2017!

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Social Media Demographic Statistics

1. 75% of male internet users are on Facebook as well as 83% of female internet users.

2. 32% of teenagers consider Instagram to be the most important social network.

3. Female internet users are more likely to use Instagram than men, at 38% vs. 26%.

4. 29% of internet users with college degrees use Twitter, compared to 20% with high school degrees or less.

5. 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day.

6. Most Instagram users are between 18-29 years old, about six-in-ten online adults.

7. 22% of the world’s total population uses Facebook.

Social Media Statistics

8. LinkedIn boasts more than 450 million user profiles.

9. On any given day, Snapchat reaches 41% of 18 to 34-year-olds in the US.

10. YouTube overall, and even YouTube on mobile alone, reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.

Social Media Usage Statistics

Facebook marketing statistics

1. Facebook continues to be the most widely used social media platform, with 79% of American internet users. Based on total population, (not just internet users) 68% of U.S. adults are on Facebook.

2. Instagram receives the silver medal with 32% of users, Pinterest coming in a close third with 31%, and LinkedIn and Twitter at 29% and 24% respectively.

3. 76% of Facebook users visited the site daily during 2016, with over 1.6 billion daily visitors, compared to 70% of daily usage in 2015.

4. The average LinkedIn user spends 17 minutes on the site per month.

5. 51% of Instagram users access the platform daily, and 35% say they look at the platform several times per day.

6. Almost 80% of time spent on social media platforms happens on mobile.

Most popular twitter users

7. Katy Perry has the most worldwide twitter followers, at 94.65 million.

8. Over 400 million snaps are shared on Snapchat per day, and almost 9,000 photos are shared every second.

9. Just 10 thousand YouTube videos have generated more than 1 billion views.

10. More than half of all YouTube views are on mobile devices.

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Social Media Business Statistics

1. Instagram earns $595 million in mobile ad revenue per year, a rapidly increasing number.

2. Despite news of layoffs and executives leaving the company, Twitter’s revenue is up 8% YOY

3. 59% of Americans with social media accounts think that customer service through social media has made it easier to get questions answered and issues resolved.

4. Over 50 million businesses use Facebook Business Pages.

5. 2 million business use to Facebook for advertising.

6. Facebook’s total revenue grew 56% in 2016, and advertising revenue grew 59%.

7. 93% of Pinterest users use the platform to plan or make purchases.

8. 39% of LinkedIn users pay for monthly premium accounts.

9. Pinterest drives 25% of all retail website referral traffic.

10. More than 56% of online adults use more than one social media platform.

Reciprocity of Social Platforms

Social Media Content Statistics

1. Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks than tweets without images.

2. 100 million food and 146 fashion boards exist on Pinterest.

3. On LinkedIn, 98% of posts with images receive more comments and posts with links have a 200% higher engagement rate.

4. There are about 81 million fake Facebook accounts and about 5% of twitter accounts are bogus.

5. 100 million hours of video content are watched on Facebook daily.

6. More than 1 million LinkedIn users have published long-form content, with 160,000 long-form posts being published weekly and over 19.7 million SlideShare presentations have been uploaded to the platform.

7. 88% of businesses with more than 100 employees use twitter for marketing purposes.

8. The user-submitted YouTube video with the most views is “Charlie bit my finger” with over 845 million views.

9. Pizza is the most widely instagrammed food, directly ahead of steak and sushi.

10. Blogging continues to grow, with over 409 million people viewing more than 23.6 billion pages each month on WordPress alone.

Our prediction for 2107? Messaging apps!

Messaging Apps 2017

29% of smartphone users utilize general messaging apps, like Whatsapp, Viber, or Kik. As Facebook continues to test new methods for advertising through messenger, and customers demand a higher level of customer service, we predict that more brands will look to utilise messaging ads and applications in the year to come. Stay tuned.

This article originally appeared in Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream, was written by Mary Lister from Business2Community, and legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Influencer with a Cause: How Nonprofits Can Identify and Work with Influencers

Although much of the influencer marketing conversation centers around consumer brands and their partnerships, influencer marketing is also a valuable lever for not-for-profit and higher education organisations, especially when they inspire micro-influencers within their networks.

One organisation that does an excellent job of enabling passionate advocates to get involved and spread the word about their organisation is charity: water. They fulfill their mission to bring clean and safe drinking water to people in developing countries by encouraging everyday people to create giving campaigns in their name. This has resulted in couples raising funds in lieu of wedding gifts, to children asking for donations instead of dolls, to YouTube influencers celebrating follower milestones.

Social Media Can Build Awareness that Leads to Action

Another organisation with passionate followers actively sharing the organisation’s content on social is the Best Friends Animal Society. With over a million Facebook likes, and almost 200,000 Twitter followers, Best Friends does a great job of engaging with community members and making it easy for them to take action. This level of social engagement has, in turn, led to attracting the attention of pet-loving social media influencers, including one very popular french bulldog, Walter Cronkite, who threw a fundraiser for his birthday.

 

“I created a special hashtag for Walter’s birthday (#WaltersCheesyBday – ’cause he loves cheese!), and let our Instagram friends know that, for everyone who posted using the hashtag, I would be donating $1 per post to Best Friends, up to $100,” says Walter’s mom Carrie. “Much to my surprise and joy, not only did people post like crazy, but some even offered to MATCH my donation! The posting window was 24 hours, and we raised $636.00! Not bad for a spontaneous fundraiser. “

It’s interesting to note that this collaboration didn’t come about through outreach on Best Friends’ part—it was a byproduct of their overall community-building, influencer relations, and social media engagement. But they smartly noticed an opportunity to collaborate and further cultivated the relationship. 

“This wasn’t an official collaboration, just something I decided to do completely off-the-cuff to celebrate Walter’s birthday,” says Carrie. “I reached out that morning to my friends at Best Friends letting them know what I was up to, and they were completely supportive.” In a continuation of this partnership, Walter and his mom partnered with Best Friends for their Giving Tuesday event, and have been actively involved in getting the word out about their 2016 Holiday Super Adoption.  

 

Although it may seem more difficult to appeal to an influencer without a big marketing budget or a sample closet at your disposal, there are a number of ways to identify influencers who will be open to partnering with you. Start by identifying influencers in your network, and creating low-time commitment ways for them to show their support. Amplify those efforts and activities conducted on your behalf, and create additional opportunities for these influencers to spread the word about your organisation.

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Identifying Influencers in Your Network

Even if your organisation doesn’t lend itself to adorable instagrammable pets, if you’re regularly sharing your organisation’s content on social media, it’s easy to start identifying influencers within your network.

“I work across several social media platforms and use tools to privately tag various groups of our constituents, including different types of influencers,” said Christina Sponselli, director of social media at the University of California, Berkeley. “I also watch our audience’s interactions with posts and our alumni network, which we’ve developed in-house.”

Sponselli and her team recently concluded a successful 24-hour fundraising campaign, Big Give, that used social media channels to drive over $11 million in donations. Key to this success was a highly-engaged community that was nurtured over time.

 

“We engage with them online, including resharing posts, privately and publicly messaging them, and we have a social media ambassador program, ambassador.berkeley.edu,” said Sponselli. “This program makes it easy for our constituents to share their Cal pride.” 

So how can you start identifying the influencers in your network? By harnessing a media intelligence and analytics tool.

Using your analytics tool, take a look at your organisation’s top twitter, Instagram, and Facebook mentions. If you see that mention has a significant amount of engagement, including likes/retweets, add the sender to your prospective influencers list as they have an audience that is shown to be receptive to content about your organisation. LinkedIn doesn’t give you as much insight into how any one individual’s sharing of your content influenced the increase of its reach. However, LinkedIn’s profile inclusion of causes individuals are passionate about, and their volunteering history provides an opportunity to uncover supporters who have significant networks you may potentially be able to leverage.

How to Get Influencers Involved

A mix of in-person and online events and one-time volunteer opportunities are a great way to identify potential influencers within your network. That’s how Walter Cronkite’s mom, Carrie, got involved with Best Friends. “I was familiar with Best Friends Super Adoption events, and my friend @chloetheminifrenchie asked us to appear at their NYC Holiday Super Adoption in December 2015,” she said. “I love what Best Friends is doing—so many animals needs forever homes!—and was impressed with their hard work, dedication, and integrity. We stayed in touch, and they asked me to appear at and help raise awareness of their Super Adoption event this past spring as well.”

It’s likely that you have passionate brand-advocates-in-waiting already participating in activities related to your cause in the local community. By tapping into those activities and building relationships, you have an opportunity to work with influencers who will be eager to share your story.

“As far as pet influencers go, we are PASSIONATE about animals and committed to helping them as much as we can,” said Carrie. “Almost every friend I have in NYC contributes in some way to rescue organisations, whether it’s on a local or national level. We foster, we raise funds, we donate toys, we do as much as we can. When it comes to partnering with nonprofits, we definitely do our homework to make sure the nonprofit does everything they say they do. Plus, the social media pet community is very tight, so we can always get a reference. As far as pitching goes, I answer everyone who reaches out to me on social media. So long story short – reach out to us! We love getting involved!”

Higher education institutions have the benefit of a built-in community, but Sponselli notes that it takes a deep knowledge of that community to move them to action. “What are their interests and passions about your school? What school traditions resonate? Collaborate with your colleagues who meet with alums. Sharing information with one another is a great way to truly understand your alumni.”

Influencer marketing is an excellent opportunity to expand your organisation’s audience and reach, while creating more content that engages the community. As you plan for 2017 marketing and communications activities, think about influencers in your network who could be future partners. By nurturing relationships with passionate fans and advocates, you significantly increase the chances of knocking your 2017 communications and fundraising goals out of the park.

No matter your mission or business goals, getting your audience involved in community activities is mission-critical in today’s business climate. To implement a robust influencer marketing program, download our Influencer Marketing Guide.

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17 Marketing Trends to Watch out for in 2017

December is the time of year when every strategist should be taking a step away from the day-to-day and giving a good hard look at the past year’s performance. After all, if you’re not paying attention to what has worked (or hasn’t worked) over the previous 12 months, how are you going to know what to adjust in the months to come?

For 2017, here are 17 marketing trends you should pay attention to:

1. Interactive Content

There’s content you can read, and then there’s content you can interact with. The second variety tends to be more popular. For example, BuzzFeed’s “Which City Should You Live In?” quiz has been one of their home-run pieces. Think of ways to get readers to actively participate instead of passively consume. Interactive content can include assessments (such as the classic Cosmo Quiz setup), polls, surveys, infographics, brackets and contests.

2. Influencer Marketing

What’s more effective than an ad in selling your product? A lovable social media personality speaking highly about your product to his or her fans and followers. Influencer marketing is on the rise, because people tend to trust recommendations from people they see as thought leaders. The right influencers establish credibility through each social media post or advertisement. When they work with brands, it’s because they genuinely believe in them, and that trust is passed on to consumers.

3. Mobile Video

Have you looked at your Facebook feed recently? Chances are that 95% of it is video. And here’s a fun stat: mobile video views grew six times faster than desktop views in 2015. In fact, in Q4 of 2015, mobile video views exceeded desktop views for the first time ever. We now live in an age of mobile video, and it’s time we embraced it.

4. Livestreaming

Although we’re still working out the kinks of this technology, it’s clear that livestreaming will continue to push the boundaries. A big step in this direction was Instagram’s integration of a livestream option into its Stories feature. We’re going to see a lot more live broadcasts in 2017.

5. Chatbots

“When you think of chatbots, you probably think of an annoying popup on a website that looks like it was built in the mid ’90s,” says Adam Toren, founder of Young Entrepreneur and BizWarriors, a forum for entrepreneurs. He explains that chatbot technology has become much more sophisticated. A great example is the behemoth Facebook, which invests a significant amount of resources into bot programs that provide users with news updates, personalised responses and more. Are you talking to a human or a bot? If you can’t tell, then the bot is working as intended.

6. Virtual and augmented reality

One of 2016’s biggest highlights was watching a screen-afflicted population carry their mobile devices out into the world to catch, yes, Pokemon. The biggest takeaway from this phenomenon was augmented reality’s ability to drive real business results. This has become a seriously viable option for marketers looking to bring the online into the real world.

7. Short-lived Content

What gives Snapchat its appeal? The fact that the content disappears. Snapchat’s rampant rise in popularity did a lot more for the world of social media than just give users another platform to choose from. It showed the value of disappearing or short-lived content. This is a key attraction for Generation Z, the cohort famous for having an eight-second attention span, and is why you should be integrating short-lived content into your content strategy.

8. Mobile First Strategy

The future is mobile. Internet traffic is now coming more from mobile devices than desktops. If you’re not catering your content, ads and online experience to a mobile user, then you are missing a massive opportunity. And remember: It’s not just about “optimising” for mobile; it’s also about making sure that piece of content gets integrated with a user’s lifestyle on the go.

9. Personalization

Personalisation means segmenting your content to reach different types of audience members based on their preferences, habits, etc. The most common form of this strategy is through lists, where certain content gets sent to certain types of users based on which lists they’ve opted into. In a world of too much content and not enough time, personalisation is a huge win for brands looking to earn the attention of their consumers.

10. Native Advertising

Viewers, followers and consumers are getting wise to the tricks of advertisers, and it’s becoming harder and harder to maintain their attention and earn their trust. Native advertising means integrating your advertising efforts into content that already provides value to readers and viewers. For this reason, it tends to be more effective. Look for ways to weave your products and offerings into a larger narrative, instead of just blasting people with ads.

11. Marketing Automation

Why do the same thing over and over again when you can do it once and automate the rest? Automation is becoming extremely powerful (and popular) among marketers and businesses who are looking to scale and expand past trading hours. As apps such as Marketo and Hubspot become more intuitive and affordable, automation will become more common.

12. Purpose Driven Marketing

One of the most effective ways to extend your story is to give it a feel-good element. Brands that partner with nonprofits or charities, or set up internal programs that “give back” in some way (TOMS shoes comes to mind) have a much stronger presence because their story resonates with the hearts of consumers.

13. Data Driven Marketing

There are two types of marketers: those who want to use what’s popular and those who use what works, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. Data tells you what’s really moving the needle, and the truth is that every marketer needs to be conscious of it. If you aren’t fluent in Facebook ads and conversion ratios, for example, then you’re missing a crucial part of every marketer’s essential toolbox.

14. Social Media “Buy” Buttons

We are moving into an age where purchasing doesn’t need to happen on a third-party site. Users are on a social platform, so why should they have to leave in order to buy something? “Buy” buttons are quickly turning social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest into social shopping experiences.

15. Dark Social

The hardest part about tracking traffic, conversions and shares is that you’re not always sure what the sources are. With the rise of encrypted and private messaging apps (where people still share lots of content with each other), you may want to invest in tools, such as Google Analytics and GetSocial.io, that can measure, to some degree, where this “dark” traffic is coming from.

16. Embrace the lOT

Should your thermostat talk to you? How about a refrigerator that informs you when you’re low on milk, and then gives you the option to place an order immediately? Everyday objects are beginning to connect to the internet, and this trend is going to open doors for brands and marketers to integrate with the everyday lives of consumers. Watch this IOT trend closely, because it’s going to boom!

17. Beyond Viewability

Currently, most companies use viewability to measure to their success. Instead of solely focusing on views or clicks, companies should measure their ROI on things such as sign-ups, downloads and purchases. This requires going beyond CPMs and looking at the performance-based metrics instead.

 

This article was written by Aj Agrawal from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.