Category Archives: social media content

How to Avoid a Social Media PR Disaster

Since 2011, I’ve covered social media PR disasters. It’s surprising how many big brands, with decades of competent public relations, have stumbled in the new world of two-way online communications — whether it’s allowing customers to make their own satirical commercials or driving a musician to write three songs of revenge.

In each case, I’ve shared the lessons of the disaster so that your brand can avoid similar crises. But many incidents have the same takeaways, so I thought I’d offer some general social media best practices here. 

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Apologize First
It’s an adage in customer service that many wronged customers simply want to hear an apology and have their concerns acknowledged. Before any spin or damage control, say you’re sorry to the wronged party. 

When Jessica Bennett, Lean In’s Editor-at-Large, posted an ad for an intern on her Facebook page — in seeming contradiction to Lean In’s message of equal pay and female empowerment — the negative comments piled up. But Bennett’s response to, as she put it, “what appears to be my entire Facebook feed” said, confusingly, that the post was for a personal intern, not a Lean In intern, and “Let’s all take a deep breath.” Backpedaling? Yes. Apologizing? No. The result was 200 more angry comments.

Keep Your Cool
Some social media PR disasters spring from good intentions and simple misunderstandings. But when brands fight back, they lose a lot of sympathy from the public. Just because many people use social media to post cat videos doesn’t mean your social communications shouldn’t be restrained, mature, and professional.

After a Kansas City Chiefs fan tweeted a criticism of the team’s ownership, the Chiefs sent a direct message to him that included “Your choice to be a fan. Get a clue.” Maybe they thought that was the end of the matter — without even sending a link to where a “clue” might be found. The fan took a screenshot and tweeted the image to his 125,000 followers and posted it on Reddit, where it made the front page of “The Front Page of the Internet.” The next day, the Chiefs issued an apology, which they botched by tweeting in the first person (see Applebee’s below).

Kansas City Chiefs' direct message to Travis Wright
Present a Unified Front
As the Chiefs found, it’s possible to get even the apology wrong. If your organization tweets in the plural, as many do, then it’s jarring and puzzling to suddenly start using the singular. Your audience has to wonder: Who is talking? 

When Applebee’s fired a waitress for violating a seldom-enforced policy, her defenders took to the restaurant’s Facebook page to complain. Applebee’s refused to respond…until 2 a.m. Someone from the company started posting replies to individual comments. This person went crazy, tagging some commenters and deleting others, in the early hours of a Saturday morning. The meltdown was complete when the unknown rep finally posted “No one’s asking me to comment at 5 a.m. I am because I care.” But who is “I”? A social media intern? A franchise owner? The VP of Communications? The CEO? By using the first person, it appeared that Applebee’s had lost control of its communications channels. 

Communicate Internally
Before responding to a social media issue, it’s best to check in with all relevant departments. Sometimes the biggest headache is coming not from outraged Facebook followers but your own colleagues down the hall.
 
Since 2006, blogger Sara Rosso had hosted an unofficial World Nutella Day to celebrate her love for the hazelnut spread. But in 2013, Nutella’s parent company, Ferrero, sent Ross a cease-and-desist letter demanding she stop using the brand’s name — thus shutting down her website and ending the “holiday.” Rosso’s supporters blast the company on its Facebook page for five days. Finally, Ferrero released a statement expressing its “sincere gratitude for her passion for Nutella” and allowing World Nutella Day to continue. Why the about-face? Probably because the legal team was behind the first response and the marketing team was behind the second. Legal saw a violation of trademark, while Marketing saw a grassroots celebration of its brand. Had the two departments spoken before taking any action, they could have almost certainly avoided a week of vitriol and bad press.

Keep these four lessons in mind before doing anything on social media that may spiral out of control — and that includes responding to what you perceive as an unreasonable complaint. 
 
Branding, marketing, and recruiting on social media can be tricky, but Brandemix is here to help. If you’d like more of our assistance, we’d love to hear from you.
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New Social Media Channels: How Can Your Brand Use Them?

Just when you think the world has enough social networks, another emerges that changes the entire landscape: Facebook supplanted MySpace. Google launched Google Plus. Foursquare became more like Yelp. And visual sharing evolved from Instagram to Pinterest to Snapchat.

More social channels are on the horizon. While they all aim to be fun and useful, they’re not all appropriate for brands to use for marketing or recruiting. I’ve researched the latest technologies coming out of tech conferences around the world and found a few start-ups you’ll want to keep your eye on in 2014.

Thumb Pro

Thumb Pro

Thumb
What it does: Thumb allows user to poll their social network for answers to questions such as what to cook, what to wear, and what movies to see. On Facebook, I often see friends asking questions like “Where can I get great sushi in Chelsea?” Thumb gives those queries a dedicated home and is aimed at getting instant answers and sparking conversations. 

How your brand can use it: Thumb Pro allows brands to “get hundreds of authentic responses from real people in seconds.” It allows your organization to ask a question to a specific audience segment, get instant responses, and then follow up privately with anyone who responded. The website gives examples such as “Would you pay an extra 25 cents a can of Coca-Cola with real sugar?” and “Would you buy a reuseable Starbucks coffee sleeve?” You can conduct market research on logos, pricing, advertising, and even product design. You can use it for recruiting with questions like “Do you want to be challenged in IT every day?” or “What are some questions you have about working for a non-profit?”

Nextdoor
What it does: Nextdoor is a social network for communities and neighborhoods. And the company means it — a physical address is required to join. Nextdoor allows neighbors to discuss local issues such as crime, garage sales, lost dogs, nearby bargains, and community events. The goal is to “build happier, safer places to call home.” 

How your brand can use it: This social network is perfect for local businesses. It allows shop owners and their employees to participate in the community and build goodwill. Your business can be one of those “nearby bargains” or it can sponsor one of those community events. It puts a face and a name to your company. It’s also great for hiring locally and reinforcing that community connection. And if you’re the one who finds a lost dog, you’ll be a hero to dozens of people!

Impossible

Impossible

What it does: User post “wishes” for the public to see, usually based on tasks or knowledge, like “I wish someone could teach me how to make chocolate” or “I wish someone could change the oil on a snowblower.” Other users then contact the “wishers” and fulfill the task — for free.

How your brand can use it: Since you can’t sell anything on Impossible, you have to embrace the site’s generous spirit. In much the same way brands give away information through blogs or social media, your organization can answer questions and give recommendations, building a foundation of customer service. If you’re a tax preparer, you can answer tax questions; if you’re a landscaper, you can answer gardening questions.  Many brands don’t know about Impossible, so your company can be one of the first to stake a claim in your area of expertise.

Pinterest clones
Finally, while Pinterest continues to grow, a number of similar sites have appeared that target a specific category. Depending on your industry, you may find these niche sites useful. Examples include Trippy (travel), I Wanna Nom (food), Dwelling Gawker (interior design), All I Really Want (gifts), and PolyVore (fashion). You can use these sites just as you would use Pinterest: posting images, liking others’ images, and making comments on posts that are relevant to your business. You create a selfless image for your company and brand it as an expert.

As you can see, social media is always evolving and it can be hard to keep up. At Brandemix, we follow the latest trends and investigate all the research to stay ahead of the game. If you’re ready to move beyond Facebook and Twitter for your marketing, branding, or recruiting, contact us. We’ll be happy to connect. 

Winning the Competition for Content Marketing

According to a study by KPCB, the amount of content that people are sharing globally is around two trillion gigabytes. So, whether you’re a content marketer or a social media recruiter, you’re up against a lot of competition.

What sort of content should you create? And where should you post it to have the best chance of being shared?

I recently went to an expert in the field, ShareThis. They’re the ones who created that little button you see on so many blogs and websites (including this one), letting you easily share a post on more than 120 social channels. Their most recent study has some eye-opening findings.

First, the five leading channels for sharing are Facebook, followed by Twitter, which together make up 75% of all internet sharing. Email comes in third, followed by Pinterest and LinkedIn.

But that’s only one part of the story. A second study by ShareThis found that Pinterest content is five times more popular for sharing content than Twitter is — though Twitter itself is a more popular channel. In other words, fewer people visit Pinterest, but those who do share a lot of content. So if you have photos, cartoons, or infographics, you should post them on Pinterest along with Twitter for a one-two punch.

I was also surprised by the latest information on video sharing. 66% of video shares happen through Facebook. 13% are shared on Twitter, with sites like Reddit and Tumblr making up most of the remaining 21%. Once again, it seems that Twitter isn’t always the best venue for sharing content. Video creators, take heed.

The findings of both ShareThis and venture capital firm KPCB convinced me that mobile is the future of sharing. Right now, mobile sharing is twice as social as the desktop, and I expect that number will increase. The typical user checks social media on their phone nine times a day, but checks the web on their computer only three times.

50 sharing options from buttons like ShareThis and AddThis.
50 sharing options from buttons like ShareThis and AddThis.

As always, it seems the only constant is change. 2012 became the year of Instagram, but now it gets fewer photos uploaded per day than Snapchat does. If you want to be seen as a cutting-edge brand, you may need to add Snapchat to your marketing strategy. 

What are other strategic ways of sharing content? Video gets all the attention, but don’t forget about audio; 11 hours of sound are uploaded to SoundCloud every minute. So consider creating songs, speeches, and podcasts along with YouTube videos.

It’s also time to re-evaluate Facebook likes. They’re not the same as shares. Scott Monty, social media director at Ford, recently called likes the “digital grunts” of Facebook: “The like, as far as I’m concerned, is the minimum commitment you can ask from a fan. Likes, comments, shares — it goes in that order of importance.” Keep that hierarchy in mind when analyzing your metrics.

There’s real value to a share. EventBrite came up with this breakdown for buying an event ticket: A share on LinkedIn is worth 92 cents; a retweet is worth $1.85; and a Facebook share is worth $4.15. This may mean the era of “clickbait” articles is over, since content that gets clicks and views simply isn’t as attractive as that which gets shared (I’m looking in your direction, UpWorthy.)

As for the type of content to produce, Likeable Local’s CEO Dave Kerpen recently delineated seven important qualities. The more of these your content has, the more shareable it becomes:

Consistent — Post regularly so readers know when to expect your content.

Useful — Find a way to help, educate, or entertain your readers.

Authentic  — Be honest and real instead of writing press releases for your company.

Emotional — The most shareable content often tugs our heartstrings.

Where the audience is — Find the right channels using the statistics given above.

Paid for — Use sponsored posts on Facebook and promoted tweets on Twitter.

Storytelling — Tell the true stories behind your company, its leadership, and its employees.

Need help determining what content to create and where to post it? Brandemix has a long history of using shareable content to support marketing, branding, and recruiting campaigns. Contact me if you’d like to know more.

And don’t forget to share this article!

The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2013

As 2012 comes to a close, let’s take a look back at the year’s most popular blog posts. The topics range from telling your brand story to embracing new technologies to engaging your employees. I hope these articles will help you become an employer of choice and attract top talent — and avoid some of the biggest social media mistakes. 

Here are the BrandeBlog’s six most-read posts of 2013.

Employer Branding: Recruiters Help You Tell the Right Story\
One of the biggest recruiting trends of 2014 is employer branding: the promise your company makes to its employees. And one of the biggest trends in marketing is brand storytelling: the use of content and experiences to bring your brand to life. Combining these trends can bring a powerful presence to your talent acquisition. Here’s how to do it.

How to Become an Employer of Choice
A recent Gallup study found that only 47% of American workers are completely satisfied with their jobs. A MarketTools study found that 21% of employees had applied to another job in the past six months. Clearly, many employees are ready to look elsewhere for the next step in their careers. To attract the best of these workers — and make your current employees stay with you, follow these steps to become an employer of choice. 

Create Goodwill for Your Small Business with Community Involvement
For any small business to succeed, it must build goodwill with the surrounding community. You can have Facebook fans or catalogue customers all over the world, placing orders by phone and email, but if locals aren’t walking in the door, you’re doomed. Branding your business as a “hometown hero” can make a huge impression on your customer base and serve as an important differentiator in the marketplace.

One question that gets asked in every employer branding workshop we hold is, “Where does our employer brand fit with our corporate brand?” Some companies create an employer brand slogan that lives only within recruiting or HR. That’s often against best practice, as it has no bearing on a true employer value proposition. A strong EVP is based on the unique elements of your culture and workplace, resonates with the people you would like more of, and integrates with the same value proposition to your consumer base. Integrating the two brands isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial to success.


Social Media PR Disasters: Applebee’s Wild Night

If it’s true that you can learn more from failure than from success, then there’s a lot to learn from Applebee’s mysterious midnight meltdown. After the restaurant chain’s controversial firing of a waitress, critics took to Applebee’s Facebook page to complain. In the early hours of Saturday, February 2, someone from Applebee’s tried to fight back. What happened next is a perfect example of what not to do in a PR crisis.

Recruiting with Google Glass
Google’s new wearable technology may change recruiting forever. Why? Because, as the economy improves and the competition for talent increases, Google Glass will allow organizations to show a job listing and a corporate culture instead of telling. From talent acquisition to employer branding, here’s how this amazing visual device can be used to engage job-seekers in several new and exciting ways.

What do these posts’ popularity tell us? That there a lot of people with an interest in  and a need for  social media trends, marketing, and branding. As it so happens, they are also specialties of ours! 

Want to be more popular to job-seekers, employees, and customer? Put Brandemix on your to-do list for 2014.


Thanks for reading and happy holidays.

How to Conduct a Social Media Competitive Analysis – For Free

It’s important for every business to conduct a competitive analysis to find their niche in the marketplace. But how do you analyze your competition on social media? How can you compare a big brand on Facebook to a small brand on Twitter? 

The good news is that you can conduct a fairly thorough competitive analysis using sites and tools that are completely free. Here’s how:

Basic Social Media Metrics 
First, see if your competitor promotes their social channels on their website and their blog — if they even have a blog.  There’s a big difference between tiny icons at the bottom of a website and big “Follow us” buttons at the top.  

Then, look at their social profiles to see how many likes they have on Facebook, how many followers they have on Twitter, etc. These raw numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, but they’ll be crucial to determining other statistics. 

A great place to start is Wildfire‘s Who’s Winning in Social feature, which lets you compare follower growth of three brands (including your own) on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ over a range of time, from the last seven days to the last two years. 

Wildfire’s “Who’s Winning in Social” interactive app




Simply Measured offers a number of free reports aimed at specific social channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram, with Pinterest coming soon. For Twitter, the report tells you how influential your followers are, the top keywords in your followers’ profiles, and even a breakdown of followers by time zone.

A few social channels themselves offer free information on your competitors. Facebook lets you create “interest lists” that allow you to see your competitors’ latest content and what type of content is resonating with their followers — in real time. Be sure to set your lists to “private” so your competitors won’t know you’re watching them!

Content Metrics
Now you know your competitor’s numbers, so it’s time to determine what type of content they’re posting. You can start with a quick scan of their feeds. Many brands start with text and links. More advanced brands add photos and videos. Expert brands also post polls, contests, and games. 

For a deeper analysis, you can use Infinigraph to see what type of content your competitor is posting, along with the most common days (and time of day) to post different forms of content.  You’ll not only discover a competitor’s content strategy, but you may find that different content is posted on different sites; for example, food and design photos do very well on Pinterest.

Engagement Metrics
Lots of followers is good, strong content is great, but how is your competitor’s audience actually responding? Engagement is really the most important metric of all.

Rival IQ shows your competitor’s content within the last 90 days, sorting the content by the type of engagement per each post.

Rival IQ’s “Competitive Landscape” feature












Why is this important? Take Twitter. When someone favorites a brand’s tweet, only the brand sees it; but when someone retweets a tweet, that person is actually sharing the content with all their followers. Pinterest and Facebook make similar distinctions between approving a post and actually distributing it.

It’s also very useful to see the tone of engagement. Is your competitor posting a lot on Facebook…because they’re responding to numerous customer complaints on their timeline? Are followers associating the competitor with good things or bad things? SocialMention lets you see the ratio of positive comments to negative ones

Putting It All Together
Armed with this information, you can determine what types of content generate the best types of engagement for your competitors and learn what opportunities you have to stand out from the crowd.

Did you find a social media opportunity but aren’t sure how to exploit it? Brandemix has a great deal of experience in social media marketing, branding, and recruiting. Contact us and we’ll work together to put your findings to good use.