Tag Archives: social media

What’s not going to happen in 2013

So by this stage, already one  week into this gloomy, gloomy year, you’ll have read the millionth ‘what’s going  to happen in  2013’ list, so I thought I’d approach the topic a little differently. This is my ‘what’s not going  to happen in 2013′ list.

1) Tablets will not be the magic bullet for publishers. Only ever wishful thinking and hype on  the part of publishers, 2013 will be the year that the industry collectively slumps in its chairs and reluctantly admits that it’s still  harder than ever to make money from the  printed word. This has been driven in part by the poor  quality of ‘tablet editions’ – many are little more than a linked-up PDF. Another ominous sign was Murdoch’s decision to close his tablet paper, in The Daily, in December, after losing  $30m a year.

The same goes for print books; while tablets are a great  innovation for consumers, for publishers it only means tighter margins as Amazon executives rub their hands together with glee. But that’s not to say there’s not some success from the more esoteric operators. Legal publishers like Thomson Reuters are investing heavily in professional-grade e-readers, able to cope with  the very specific demands of the professional services, such as dynamic searching and note making. We’ll see more innovation in this area I think, but not for a mainstream consumer audience.

tablet  colour

2) Specialist social media PR agencies will no longer (generally) have competitive edge. Let’s face it, any account executive in any PR agency can set up a Facebook page or talk about  twitter content plans. What was once the  domain of the few is now firmly in the  mainstream, at least when it comes to the agencyland bubble. However, what this means is that those specialist agencies are (or should be) looking beyond the obvious, and are moving into exciting and dynamic new areas; branded content, experiential, app development, SEO, all founded by great ideas that get  people talking, whatever the medium. Success will become defined by  those willing to pioneer, and a huge agency grey area will  start to swirl.

3) SEO will not take over the PR/social media mix. For all the talk of  SEO usurping content-led social media and PR, the latter  discipline will continue to prove its worth on all fronts; from a creative, strategic and ROI basis. What we’ll see is a merge; traditional SEO agencies will continue to embrace great content and golden links from high traffic news sites, recruiting or acquiring PR talent and  agencies in the process. Meanwhile, forward-thinking PR agencies will continue to hire SEO talent, to bolster the credibility  and  knowledge–base of their own offering. 

facebook

4) Consumers will not tire of Facebook. Pah! As if anyone seriously thought that would happen. While Google+ continues to update its proposition and talk in hushed  tones about how it will help search results, how many of us really use it? Or even enjoy the experience? While Facebook adoption might plateau in Europe, America and  the Asia Pacific, there will be  always be new growth areas. A bit like the tobacco industry. And it’s still the best, most dynamic and  exciting way to reach and engage with a mainstream consumer audience. Facebook will increasingly become the lead-channel in  integrated marketing  campaigns. Maybe we’ll even see traditional websites and (gasp) the 30 second  TV spot  disappear. Probably not for a while, but one thing’s sure – no matter how many times Mark Zuckerberg sells our data or betrays us, we’ll keep coming back for more, me included.

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Engaging with bloggers – dos and don’ts

Blogging is now firmly part of the mainstream. As print media circulations continue to decline, a multitude of new voices are emerging, self-publishing content as so-called “citizen-journalists”. Mummy bloggers are perhaps the most well-known, followed by food bloggers (have you seen how many people take photos of their food these days?). But it’s not restricted to these groups, because for every niche interest – and I mean every niche interest – there’s a blogger somewhere, writing to an engaged community of readers.

And what’s most interesting is that bloggers are increasingly blurring traditional media boundaries. In many cases it’s bloggers – not the mainstream media – who are able to bring us the real inside track on an issue, less inhibited by the commercial restraints imposed by a publisher. In short, bloggers are increasingly savvy and out there producing, in some cases,   outstanding content, read by huge audiences.

What this presents for SMEs is a compelling opportunity; by engaging with a particular blogger, a brand can gain valuable advocacy from an influential voice and also benefit from the Holy Grail of marketing; peer recommendation. Why is that so important? Because as consumers grow sceptical of advertising, peer recommendation is now seen as increasingly more credible than any other form of media.

So that’s clearly a good thing. But unfortunately, there also lies the problem. While PR relies on tried-and-tested processes (writing and pitching in a press release, for example), blogging requires a more careful, selective approach that many companies are still figuring out. And that means many are still getting it badly wrong, to the frustration and detriment of everyone involved. Here’s a few pointers:

 One size does not fit all

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to engaging with bloggers; some won’t ever feature brands, some will want payment, some will never get back to you. So that means never blanket emailing out your press release to a list of bloggers and hoping for the best. Just as you’d take time to understand what particular journalist or section of a newspaper would be most appropriate for your product, do the same with a blogger. So that means taking time to actually read what they write about and developing a bespoke pitch to reflect that. Think like (and be) one of their readers; what angles would most be interesting? Also think beyond a pure sales pitch as no one wants that (unless of course, it’s a blog about sales pitches).

Detail is important

Do your homework. It’s often the little things that count, like getting a blogger’s name right. You’d be surprised at how many people get that wrong. Or pitching in your product because the blogger has already got an interest in whatever it is you do. One person I know writes almost exclusively about social marketing and PR, yet last week got approached by a brand that makes diet pills, with a view to writing a review on them. Huh?

Appreciate they are not (usually) paid for this

It’s important to remember, most bloggers do what they do out of a passion for it, not because it’s their full time job like a journalist. But despite that, they will be approached by brands all the time. So remember this next time you’re pitching in a story or chasing them up for a response. And don’t treat them with any less respect just because they don’t do it for a living.

Be clear about what you want

While you shouldn’t expect a blogger to run an advert for your particular product or service do be clear at the outset what your expectations are so there’s no miscommunication – from both sides. Always deliver on what you say you will, and similarly, expect a blogger to deliver on what they agree to.

Think: what have I got that is of value

By and large, bloggers are interested in bringing their readers added-value, usually in the form of content, as well as increasing their own readership. So when formulating your pitch, get creative and consider how you can achieve these factors. If you’re a drinks brand for example, have you got a taste expert who could provide some reader advice, or could you look at running an exclusive sales offer or competition? Failing that, every blogger is appreciative of more traffic, so is there any way you can plug their blog through your newsletter or website?

Starting small can make a big difference

Don’t expect to get every blogger in your industry sector to talk about your product right away – or at all. Start small and cultivate respectful relationships with bloggers you’re interested in and think could make a good fit with your brand. Successfully reaching a niche audience who have a genuine passion for what you do can in many cases be far more effective than reaching a mass audience who have indifference towards you.

 

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Social media metrics – avoiding ‘over-information-itus’

The beauty of social media is that everything is measurable; clicks, impressions, engagement, web traffic, blog views, you name it. There’s a wealth of data available resulting from every single piece of activity you do. So it figures that all this information makes it easy to measure the effectiveness of campaigns right? Unfortunately, not always.

With all this information comes problems; namely a common and acute case of acute ‘over-information-itus’ where there’s so much data that your head spins and your brain becomes mush. Or, even easier is falling into the trap of simply ‘counting’ metrics, such as Facebook ‘likes’ or video views, without matching up the data with your marketing objectives.

When analysing the impact of any campaign, it’s a good idea is to have a ‘measurement dashboard’ in place; a checklist of key metrics that you apply to every piece of activity, helping you measure the impact of any social media and justify any investment in this area. While your marketing objectives will vary from campaign to campaign, typically they’ll exist within a fairly narrow genre; sell more products, boost brand awareness or drive web traffic. With that in mind I’ve developed a basis dashboard you can use when analysing your own campaigns.

Audience reach

A no-brainer. Just as you’d calculate how many people you reached with your event or ad campaign, you can do exactly the same with social media, and the good news is, it’s easy. Let’s say you’ve uploaded a brand video to Youtube, you’ve tweeted about it, put it on your blog, posted it on Facebook and outreached it to two mummy bloggers. Simply count the total number of views across all platforms. On Facebook look at the ‘insights’ page on your brand dashboard, which is increasingly sophisticated.  For twitter, you’ll need to use a free tool to calculate audience reached, such as Tweet Reach. Your blog will have its own back-end analytics telling you how many people have viewed your post. And don’t forget to count the audience of any third party bloggers who have featured your campaign – to do this either use a tool like Alexa [xwww.alexa.com], or ask the blogger nicely for their daily uniques (good luck with that!)   

Engagement

Reaching a large audience is good, but engagement is more important. It’s far better to have 100 people interested in what you’ve got to say and therefore more likely to buy from you and tell their friends about you than 1,000 people who are indifferent. Engagement is a key indicator into how effective your marketing message is in terms of galvanizing your audience into action.

Measuring engagement in Facebook is easy. Again, check out the ‘insights’ button and look at the ‘talking about this’ tab. Other indicators of engagement are number of comments on your blog, number of twitter re-tweets and @tweets, and number of Youtube comments and interactions. Always remember to contrast engagement levels against a ‘base’ level to give you a frame of reference as a percentage increase i.e. at a time when you’re not running any specific campaign activity.

It’s also a good idea to look at the sentiment of what people are saying, as well as key conversation themes – is your activity driving positive on-brand conversation, or negative, off-topic conversation, for example? There’s a number of sophisticated paid-for tools that can do this, and they don’t come cheap. However, you can check out a nice little free tool called Social Mention which measures both these elements and is well worth a look.

Community growth

In theory at least, reaching a big audience and successfully engaging with them should lead to your community growing as more people decide they like your brand, and want to hear more from you. You should measure how this is increasing (or god forbid, decreasing). When we talk about ‘community’ we mean any social media member community that you own – so count increases in Facebook fans, twitter followers, Youtube subscribers, blog subscribers, or whatever social media platforms you’re using. A handy tool for tracking twitter growth is Twitter Counter.

Referrals + Social media conversation

Like it or not, social media has to ultimately come back to sales, or at least play a role in the sales cycle.  So first of all, you need to drive people to where a conversation can take place, typically your website. And the good news is research has shown a customer arriving on your website from a social media channel is much more likely to buy from you than if they’ve come there directly. This is where ‘referrals’ come in – the more referrals to your website you’re driving from social media channels the better. Google analytics (ask your web guy or girl to install analytics tracking on key pages of your site) is the best tool for this and will list which websites are referring traffic back to your site. If your social media activity is effective, then you will start to see these channels appearing in the top ten referrers.

Secondly, it’s important to look at the business value of your social media activity – the hard sales bit. You can measure conversion through properly set up web analytics, but this isn’t terribly easy unless you have access to a specialist. An easier route could be to calculate your average conversation rate and average spend per customer, and apply this value to a percentage of the total traffic arriving on your site from social media. And if you carry out PPC activity, then you can attribute your average pay-per-click cost to each piece of traffic from social media.

And remember, this is not an exhaustive list. Keep flexible and add additional metrics that suit your specific objectives, and help you justify your social media budgets.

 

Image used under Creative Commons via jrbrubaker

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Media comment: Management Today

I’ve just been featured in the Aussie edition of Management Today, talking about the role of listening when it comes to predicting future trends. The piece is included in full below – excuse the wonky scan…it’s been a long, long day.

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Media comment – the PR Report

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Four trends for 2012

It’s always around this time that pundits line up to give you their view of what’ going to happen in the year ahead, whether it’s music, fashion, food or politics. While we’d love to talk around all of these issues, we’ve decided to keep it simple. So here’s a quick overview of what the team at Lucre predict is going to happen in the world of marketing in Australia throughout 2012.

Social media comes of age

Ok, so Australians are the most ‘engaged’ in the world when it comes to social media – but when it comes to corporate Australia, embracing social media is more hit-or-miss. But 2012 will see a groundswell in businesses shifting from tactical social media activities – maintaining a sole twitter page for example – to much more strategic, integrated, and therefore much more effective, social media executions.

Agencies move from specialist to generalist

The last few years have been dominated by niche agency players, whether it’s SEO, PPC, above-the-line, below-the-line, whatever it is. But client-side budget constraints and the desire for true integration will drive a shift towards agencies becoming more of a one-stop-shop. This is being particularly driven by social media, with agencies of all disciplines recognising how complimentary this channel can be to their offering, not to mention increased client demand for expertise in this area. So that means everything from experiential shops bolstering their team with PR and social specialists to SEO and digital agencies recognising the need to offer a more meaningful and conversation-based social media activity.

Mobile commerce and social commerce

According to eBay stats, 1.3 million Aussies are using M-commerce platforms, and are shopping using their smart phones. As traffic continues to grow on mobile channels in this country, we’re likely to see huge growth in this area. Not only that but ‘social commerce’ – the layer of ‘social engagement’ sitting above an e-commerce site, is going to be big news in 2012, with online peer-to-peer recommendation playing a huge role in driving purchasing decisions.

ROI becomes more important than ever

With further budget constraints and a slow-down in consumer spending, companies are wanting – more than ever – to see concrete ROI from their marketing activity. The often ‘intangible’ mediums of PR and social will be especially under the spotlight, and agencies won’t be able to hide behind smoke and mirrors (not that they should’ve been hiding in the first place…) when it comes to demonstrating effectiveness of campaign work.

Image used under Creative Commons on behalf of t0msk

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What media does a 15-year-old consume (other than porn?)

I’m a bit late on this one (come on, I’ve been in Belgrade), but, along with everyone else, I loved the story that Morgan Stanley used their summer intern, a 15-year-old boy, to inform them how ‘youths’ consumed media in today’s heady times. Boldly, Morgan Stanley described the report as ‘groundbreaking’ and even went as far as presenting it to their media clients (and charging them for it, I wonder…)

While it’s too easy to take pot shots at this (how much insight can a 15 year-old give us other than how much porn he watches, for example) I think it’s a great piece of PR. For a start, using a 15-year-old to do a piece of work is two fingers up at the plethora of companies charging huge sums for this kind of thing, but it’s also a really strong piece of lateral thinking from someone at MS – I mean, why can’t a 15- year-old give us advice on these kind of issues?

Tim Dowling at the Guardian did a great follow up piece on the story, ‘testing’ the findings on his own ’14 year-old media expert’ (who insisted on anonymity). I’ve listed his comments below – along with (as if you’re interested) the habits of a 27-year-old, male, working in PR (that’s me, ok?).

Television Robson describes teenage viewing as erratic, claiming “they will watch a particular show at a certain time for a number of weeks . . . but then they may watch no television for weeks after the programme has ended.” My expert says: “People don’t go for weeks without watching telly.”

Urghhhh, I don’t ever get home from work in time for TV – though do make time for Mad Men and have a weird obsession with reality TV cop shows like Cops with Cameras, Road Wars, Traffic Cops – I could go on. Maybe this means something?

Gaming With consoles that connect to the internet, says Robson, online chatting between gamers is beginning to impact on mobile use: “One can speak for free over the console and so a teenager would be unwilling to pay to use a phone.” My consultant remains unconvinced: “I don’t know any teenagers who use their Xbox instead of a phone.”

Ha! As if I have time for gaming. But a lot of my friends still do (most of them are ‘between jobs) and they mainly play on the Wi, or Xbox 360. Though I agree with the Guardian, how many people are going to use their consoles instead of phones?

The internet My insider concurs with Robson’s assertion that “many teenagers use YouTube to watch videos” but disagrees with the idea that those videos are “mainly anime”. “It’s mainly people humiliating themselves,” he says.

I’ve got to agree with the Guardian again here, I’m obsessed with Youtube and a quick check on my last search was largely people humiliating themselves, with; “When Swans Fight Men” and “Bears Attacking People”.

Newspapers Robson insists that “No teenager that I know of regularly reads a newspaper.” My own operative has ceased cooperating by this point, but thanks to Robson I feel able to offer my own conclusions safe in the knowledge that no teens will discover them here. Today’s young persons rarely, if ever, pay for anything they can get for free. The big question then, is this: why do we care what they like?

Ok, so along with every other person in PR, I literally read every newspaper, magazine and parish leaflet out there, ON A DAILY BASIS. I fear there is such a thing as too much knowledge and I feel my brain filling up at an alarming rate.

I’m off to sell my report to a large media company now.

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