Tag Archives: Social Media Marketing

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.

How Augmented Reality Will Change Mobile Marketing and Recruiting

I’ve written a lot about the future of marketing and recruiting, from gamification to short-form videos. But there’s one development that I think will truly revolutionize communication: augmented reality.

Many mobile devices now have apps, made by various third parties, that “augment” reality by superimposing images, animations, or data on top of a “normal” view. For example, Yelp has an app, Yelp Monocle, that uses your phone’s GPS to display ratings and reviews over any restaurant you point it at. It looks like this:

So instead of looking at an overhead view of a map, you see information that matches your actual line of sight. And since you’re holding your phone directly in front of you, you’re less likely to bump into people!

Augmented reality completely changes your interaction with your mobile device. 

Right now, most companies are only using for it special events and promotions — Christmas being the biggest one. Recently, Chanel, Bratz, and Macy’s offered augmented reality experiences for the holidays. In 2012, DreamWorks created posters for their animated film Rise of the Guardians that included an augmented reality element: people used their mobile device to scan a poster that featured one of film’s characters, which then became animated on their screen.

For several years, Starbucks has offered a free app called Cup Magic. When customers pointed their phones at their coffee cups, the characters on the cups came to life and acted out short holiday scenes like sledding and ice skating. There were five different character cups, so customers had to return multiple times to get the full experience.

Starbucks brilliantly added a social element to the app; customers could easily share the animations through Facebook or email. That spread the word of the experience even better than traditional advertising, since Starbucks was letting its customers do the marketing. Even smarter is that the animations have no dialogue, so they transcend age, gender, and even language.

Based on their success at Christmas, Starbucks brought Cup Magic to Valentine’s Day. These promotional cups feature a heart instead of characters; using the app to view the heart launches a short video of heart-shaped flower petals flying off the cup. As before, you can then send the video via Facebook or email. Starbucks calls this campaign “Celebrating Everylove,” which they stress is “not just the romantic kind.” And they’ve upped the urgency, since Valentine’s Day “season” is much shorter than Christmas.

Just to be clear: Virtually every one of these augmented reality apps is free. They don’t require a code or a password. Companies want to make it as easy as possible to get the enhanced experience and to be able to show it to their friends.

You can see how this could apply to recruiting. Imagine pointing a Monocle-type app at a building and seeing which companies are hiring. Or which companies are rated “best workplaces.” Or which companies will be at the next career fair.

What about Google Glass, you ask? While incredibly cool, that device isn’t made for augmented reality; instead of overlaying information on top of your normal view, Glass’ images are confined to a tiny screen in the corner of your vision. Still, some companies are trying workarounds


Now that you know what augmented reality is and how exciting it can be, how will you use it in your branding, marketing, or recruiting campaigns? Brandemix can help. Contact me and we’ll discuss all the possibilities.

Social Recruiting: Too Important for Interns

Earlier this month, I advised organizations on adding social media to their 2014 talent acquisition efforts. Since then, I’ve heard from many organizations who told me, “We’ve assigned our intern to handle that.”

I think that’s a mistake. Here’s why.

Social media is “social” because of the interaction between the poster and the audience. In talent acquisition, the conversation centers on job openings, the application process, and the company itself. Job-seekers expect a company’s social channels to have the information they want, almost instantly.

So why would this crucial position — charged with attracting the best talent out there — left to unpaid interns?

I recently did a search on Indeed.com for the term “social media intern.” Hundreds of results came back — all posted in the last few weeks. Some of them were specifically for recruiting while others included both marketing and recruiting, as if the two were basically the same.


This contradiction extends to the financial value that companies place on social recruiting. According to the latest Jobvite survey, 43% of companies spend less than $12,000 a year on social recruiting…even though 65% of recruiters believe its value is greater than $20,000 a year! 20% of recruiters even place its value at $90,00 a year!

As we’ve all seen recently, one social media misstep can lead to days of bad press, loss of income, and (worst of all) the re-evaluation of job-seekers who were considering your organization. Whether it’s a single angry tweet at a fan or a complete meltdown on Facebook, errors in judgment can mean terrible damage to your brand. Interns, who are often young and inexperienced, may not understand what they’re doing wrong until it’s too late — or, if they’re unpaid, they might not really care.

And you don’t even have to look to major disasters to see how social affects recruiting. A study by CareerBuilder found that 70% of job-seekers said the experience during the application process had an impact on their decision to accept a position at a company. A lot of that “experience” comes through social media, from job postings on Facebook to employee videos on YouTube to company pages on LinkedIn.

A few years ago, interns were given the social media reins because they were young, and social media was used primarily by young people. That’s not true anymore. And social media is no longer an afterthought to talent acquisition; it’s now front and center, as 94% of organizations use social media for recruiting, according to Jobvite. 33% of recruiters say social decreases time to hire, while 49% say it increases quality of hire.

I understand there are other reasons to rely on interns for social recruiting. Some organizations don’t have the headcount or the bandwidth to manage a successful social recruiting campaign that takes place in real time. That’s when you can bring in a cross-functional team of marketing, internal communications, publicity, and any other relevant stakeholders to help you in your efforts. Just make sure you implement guidelines to ensure they’re adhering to your brand voice and are aware of your hiring needs.

The better the talent supporting your social recruiting, the higher return on your efforts.

For more information, download Brandemix free Social Media Strategy Guide for Talent Acquisition.

Or find out more about how we can do it for you.

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!

What the Viral Ads of 2013 Tell Us About Video Marketing

Several publications and websites have released what they calculate to be the most shared video ads of 2013. I’ve watched them all — some for the 20th time — and I’ve discovered some factors that may be useful when you’re creating your own video content.

Fool Me Once…
Two successful 2013 ads featured pranks. MGM, which released a new version of Carrie this year, set up an elaborate illusion in a coffeehouse that made it appear that a young woman had Carrie-like magical powers — which terrified the unknowing customers. Meanwhile, Pepsi Max disguised NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and had him take an unsuspecting car salesman on a high-speed test drive that left the salesman breathless.

Playwrights call audiences knowing something the characters don’t “dramatic irony” and it’s worked since Shakespeare’s time. But be careful: Ads like this can come off as mean-spirited tricks. Lucikily, these two ads stay on the right side of the line.

Tug the Heartstrings
Some of the most viral ads of 2013 tried to make us cry. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” ads illustrated that women often aren’t aware of their own beauty: A forensic sketch artist, hidden from his subjects, drew a sketch of a woman as she described herself. He then drew a sketch of the same woman, this time described by a stranger. Each time, the stranger’s sketch was more beautiful than the woman’s description of herself. The message was very powerful, making it the most viewed ad of all time.

Extra Gum’s “Origami” ad had another touching premise. It told the story of a father who makes origami cranes out of gum wrappers for his daughter over her entire childhood. As he packs her things for college, he finds a box full of the cranes; unknown to him, she had kept all of them through the years.

Many of us remember the most funny or shocking or raunchy ads, but pure, unironic emotion can also be very effective. Especially when combined with…

Animals
Two of the most viral ads of 2013 touched us by featuring adorable animals. GoPro’s “Be a Hero” ad showed a firefighter, wearing the company’s new camera on his helmet, as he found and revived an unconscious kitten after a house fire. Budweiser’s “Brotherhood” spot, which aired during the Super Bowl, showcased the bond between a horse trainer as he raises a foal to become one of the brewer’s famous Clydesdales — and who remembers the trainer after years apart.

People love stories about animals, and about the connection between humans and their pets, so it’s no surprised that these ads were shared so widely.

Make ‘Em Laugh
Of course, comedy still sells. AT&T showed that with its series of “It’s Not Complicated” ads featuring children saying the darnedest things. Kmart delivered some clever wordplay with “Ship My Pants.” Ron Burgundy presented his usual clueless arrogance for a dozen Dodge Durango ads. And Doritos even got a joke across without any dialogue in its Super Bowl ad “Goat 4 Sale.” Humor, in all its forms, is the most shared content across the entire internet, so don’t be afraid to show your silly side.

Ads That Defy Description
Not every popular ad of 2013 falls neatly into one of these categories, of course. Did Geico’s “Hump Day” ad go viral because it starred a camel, or simply because it was funny? Was Evian’s “Baby & Me” so popular because it featured babies, or dancing, or dancing babies? And no other company staged a stunt this year like Volvo Truck’s “Epic Split,” in which Jean-Claude Van Damme does the splits between two 18-wheelers while they’re moving.

Length doesn’t seem to be a factor in creating shareable content. For example, Dove released a six-minute version of its “Real Beauty Sketches” that was almost as popular as the three-minute version. While the longer version never aired on TV, availability doesn’t seem to be factor in viral ads; But Geico’s “Hump Day” was on TV all the time — yet it was the second most-viewed internet ad of the year.

Ready to create some video content with a good chance of going viral? Whether you want to be emotional, feature an animal, or pull a prank, Brandemix can help.
Contact us and we’ll talk.

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.

Branding, Marketing, and Web Design Trends

With the holidays fast approaching (such as Thanksgivukkah in just two weeks!) we thought we’d share some of our professional predictions for 2014 branding, marketing, and web design.

Branding: Clean-Slate Brands
According to Trendwatching, new is good, less is more, and sometimes true is better than tried. Consumers are seeking greater control, choices de-simplified, and upstarts on a mission. 2014 could be the year of the entrepreneur with a great product and an inspirational mission.

Web Trends: Start with Small
Begin your design phase of every project with an eye on how it will look on a mobile device. Then branch out to tablets and PC’s. It will help you frame your content by what’s important and build an architecture based on best-practice. Less is more. Just as we saw above, the trend is moving to simplification: large images, parallax effects, and one-page websites organized into blocks of content inspired by Pinterest. The only thing that will get more complex is the choice of web-friendly fonts you can use.

Video is surging in popularity. A June 2013 survey conducted by AOL showed that almost three quarters of marketing professionals plan to increase their spending on branded video content or video ads in 2014. Same rules apply: keep it short and simple, and make it good. 

Social Media Marketing: Diversify Your Strategy 
As we saw from investors’ show of support for Twitter’s IPO, social is only getting bigger and more relevant. As choices expand and audiences fragment, it gives marketing professionals the opportunity to create meaningful content that creates affinity for your brand’s voice. Once you build out a brand framework and architecture, drill down your value proposition for each audience and demo you’re looking to reach.

  • Google+ will continue to grow in size and influence and should no longer be thought of as a second-tier site. Delete that joke on the famous “Donut List.”
  • Image is everything and make it fast. Think Vine, Instagram, Pinterest. The popularity of these sites shows us that appetite for bite-sized chunks of content is growing. Say it in 6 seconds – and go! 

As always, it’s best to have a strategy and never too late to download our free Social Media Marketing Strategy Guide

What are your marketing predictions for 2014?  We’d love to hear them. As an agency that specializes in branding, marketing and web design, we love staying ahead of the curve.