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Facebook confirms it is choking brand content to force advertising spend

December 23rd, 2013

Facebook-broken

 

A week or so ago Facebook finally confirmed that there is now an active reduction in a brand Facebook page’s organic reach. According to an article in Advertising Age the social platform has starting actively marketing the fact that you need to promote your brand’s Facebook posts if you want them to shown to the majority of your page fans.

Only two years ago Facebook used to share your brand content based on its complicated algorithm, Edgerank, but just over a year ago several people (myself included) started complaining of their content being throttled and visibility being reduced. We manage around 30 Facebook pages at any one time and we also noticed that content wasn’t achieving the dizzy heights it used to. Content that was often seen by at least three quarters of fans was now only been reaching around 15-20%. Why was this?

Well earlier this year, Facebook responded to lots of heavy criticism that its page content was being throttled in order to sell more paid advertising and as a response it created a video which included a slightly robotic American lady explaining that the drop in visibility was actually due to several bugs in its latest update. This is what its official statement said:

“As part of our ongoing investment in Page Insights, we recently completed a comprehensive engineering audit of the product. During this audit we uncovered bugs that impacted impression and reach reporting. We have confirmed that these issues impacted reporting only and not delivery. Ad Insights were not impacted by these bugs.

“As soon as we found the bugs our engineering team began work to resolve them as quickly as possible. We’re rolling out fixes beginning this morning and over the weekend.

So according to that official statement it was code bugs that were affecting our brand page content. However, twelve months on it has now been confirmed in a leaked internal sales presentation from Facebook that the platform is reducing visibility:

“We expect organic distribution of an individual page’s posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site.”

Online marketers are now being told to serious consider paid distribution within Facebook and I find this depressing but the game is still theirs and you need to do so: “to maximise delivery of your message in news feed.”

I was speaking at a big social media event in London recently and I had a discussion with a senior marketer about content reach and visibility on Facebook. We both agreed that visibility had been reduced but then he told me about another theory he had that Facebook was actively choking content that included an external link.

The theory is that Facebook reduces the exposure of any link that is going to send people out of Facebook’s ecosystem or beyond its garden walls. So if you share a picture or video that is actually hosted on Facebook then it will get 20-30% increased exposure than those which are hosted outside of the network. I have looked at the insights on a number of our clients and we have noticed the exact same thing. The lack of post visibility is not being blamed on the hunger for your advertising budgets but because there is “increased competition for limited update space”. Now I think this is a rather convenient excuse and although I agree there is a limited amount of space, the committed advertising spend does still seem to get your post into that highly competitive newsfeed zone – so there is still space for your content. You just need to pay more and more for it.

As someone who has been blogging since 2007, I realise its Facebook’s game and it has to make money since its widely publicised IPO but I believe this commitment to choke content and reduce visibility should not be on all brand pages. If it continues to make the marketing side of Facebook strategy more and more expensive they will reduce the options for the small businesses that many people love on Facebook. Think of your local pizza shop or independent jewellers that don’t have the huge budgets. People still want to connect with local businesses for that personal touch. However, if we keep increasing the costs some will be forced to new more mobile platforms.

The truth is the big global brands will always have the big marketing budgets for these increasing costs but the smaller local companies will sadly lose out. I firmly believe that if it pushes too hard it may find it’s not just teenagers confirmed to be leaving The Facebook, but businesses leaving and going to its mighty nemeses Google+.

About the Author: Chris Norton, is the founder of Prohibition and an award-winning PR practitioner with more than sixteen years’ experience having worked both in-house and in a number of international consultancies. He recently co-authored the fastest selling social media book on Amazon “Share This Too” and is a regular speaker and lecturer on online communications and his blog on the evolution of communication is listed by Brand Republic as one of the most influential marketing sites on the planet. Chris sits on the CIPR Committee as its social media coordinator and has delivered online PR campaigns for clients such as: Ronseal, Sony Ericsson, Phillips, Audio Technica, Ultralase, George Foreman, Russell Hobbs and Hallmark Cards.

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Technology trends 2014 – 2016 according to Forrester

November 29th, 2013

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As we are fast approaching December, the predictions for 2014 are kicking into gear. I usually give these a bit of a wide berth, but Forrester’s top technology trends for the next three years peaked my interest.

You can download the Forrester trends to watch report here, for $499,  or get a great summary from Forbes here, but I wanted to pick out five from the list that I felt were most relevant to the comms sector. I’ve offered my brief thoughts under each point as summarised in the Forbes article. Let me know what you think.

To start us off the author of the report, Forrester analyst Brian Hopkins, introduced the report as follows: “Now that consumers and employees have continuous connectivity and an endless supply of apps, the CIO must drive the nimbleness that will be demanded by employees and customers, while he or she must also do so securely. These trends are so woven into the business drivers, that IT leaders must become much more strategic, providing the rationale for the changes that are afoot.”

1. Digital convergence erodes boundaries

Physical and digital worlds are converging. As a result consumers expect uniform service whether they are in the physical world or if they are in the digital world. The convergence of the business and personal use of technology is also fuelling this trend.

This is very interesting from a comms perspective, the levels of service that customers receive online and offline have been unequal partners in the last few years, but the move to digital convergence will see excuses for poor service according to channel disappearing as a result.

2. Digital experience delivery makes (or breaks) firms

“A great digital experience is no longer a nice-to-have; it’s a make-or-break point for your business as we more fully enter the digital age.” The report points to a growing number of firms that have chosen a mobile-first approach, but then falling flat because “systems of record cannot keep up with engagement needs.”

To a greater extent, customers’ impressions of a business are established through digital engagement forcing businesses to recognise that “software is the brand.” Some CIOs are losing their influence over the decisions in these areas as digital experience agencies are engaged by chief marketing officers and chief technology officers to a greater extent than by chief information officers.”

Again the barriers between the digital and physical worlds are collapsing and those that still see digital and mobile as a secondary experience will not only lose business, but also damage their reputation.

3. Sensors and devices draw ecosystems together

“The Internet-of-Things will move from hype to reality with the ubiquity of connectivity and proliferation of devices, and wearable computing will go from niche to broader use. This will turn the traditional “spray-and-pray promotional campaigns” into marketing to ecosystems that emerge as a result of these changes.”

Our society’s obsession with devices and connectivity will have a deeper impact as improved infrastructure allows us to move from only using a limited amount of device capability, to exploring full potential with accessible connectivity and brands offering more useful ways to engage digitally. As a result, disconnected marketing campaigns that do not work across devices and experiences will result in failure.

4. “Trust” and “identity” get a rethink

“The report suggests that trust has been irreparably harmed as “it’s impossible to identify ‘trusted’ interfaces, many data breeches come from trusted insiders, and the concept of ‘trust’ doesn’t even apply to data packets.”

Consumerisation of IT means that a greater number of IT devices and apps are being used in the workplace, especially by the digital natives. IT’s need to catch up with this will continue to be the norm. Forrester also points out that “the minimum cost of a data breech is $10 million, and in many cases it can be much larger”, and so it cannot be ignored.”

Data breaches may not seem an obvious element for comms, but as digital is now the face of most brands and the first touch point for customers, data security will become increasingly important for all brand functions. Leaks and accidents will not be as readily accepted as a cost of doing digital business, at least by the customer.

5. Firms learn from the cloud and mobile

“Many firms have cloud strategies and mobile strategies, but the report makes the point that the benefits of the cloud will be limited by the speed with which traditional applications are re-written to take advantage of cloud. Without this redesign, benefits will be limited.

Additionally, mobile strategies that have been a part of IT strategies across industries for a couple of years are now insufficient given the need to think of mobile as only one part of a broader omni-channel approach which requires a new kind of “application architecture that must be capable of supporting systems of engagement.”

This is another important point in terms of the technology needing to keep pace with the connectivity, where as in the past connectivity has been the weak point in the technology race.

IT infrastructure needs to switch from a wired bias to a cloud-based accessibility blueprint, ready for the consumer that is not afraid to try new tools at the drop of a hat and on the move.

 

 

 

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Some thoughts on social conventions, comparisons and recommendations – on and offline

October 2nd, 2013

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Since the dawn of time, human beings have employed a wide variety of techniques and social conventions to control who we communicate with. As Wikipedia details, ‘in a social context, a convention is a set of agreed, stipulated, or generally accepted standards, norms, social norms, or criteria, often taking the form of a custom.’ We are taught from a young age to offer up our bus and train seats to elderly passengers, not to kiss our partner in-front of our parents, always offer guests food or drinks, treat managers or anyone above us with respect, tailor our choice of clothes to suit the occasion and for those who lived in ancient China, even experience castration as a means of gaining employment in the imperial service! Those who rebel are either labelled outcasts or praised according to the cultural context.

In an ever-diversifying society experiencing a decline in traditional moral values, many choose to favour the ‘personalisation’ of the latter, but some social situations are even more multi-layered. We might share details of our love life with friends at a bar that we wouldn’t necessarily share over a family meal. Conversely, we might tell our families about medical or financial decisions that we wouldn’t discuss at a nightclub, or a first date. And we lower our voices when we want to make sure the couple next to us doesn’t overhear.

So how are these age-old social conventions echoed and extended into the digital world?

In 2013, it is a well-known fact that more people seem to be spending less time speaking face-to-face, choosing to communicate digitally instead. But the early web was vastly different from today. Users faced a stark choice between posting information on public sites or sending via private email, with little in between. The new generation of social media tools help bridge the gap and create an un-interrupted flow of ‘always on’ communication. Twitter gives you the choice to make your tweets and lists public or limit access to people you’ve specifically approved. Facebook allows us to decide whether our profiles will be visible to others with a specific email address, whether friends-of-friends will be able to see our photos, and even whether our profiles will show up when someone searches for our name. Because the web now has many aspects of broadcast media, people often talk about the information we put on social media sites as ‘public,’ as though posting on Facebook is like appearing on national television. In reality, this isn’t the case.

But is leaving a tip for your waiter the same as liking a friend’s Facebook post or sharing a piece of content? Is the daily ritual of showering and brushing your teeth the same as posting a Facebook status up or tweet? Do Facebook Fan Page followers obsessively scan every wall-post in the same way they might attend their local church or mosque and is marriage the offline equivalent of updating your relationship status rather than remaining single or indeed, anonymous? To publish or not to publish? That is the question. Facebook has opened us up to the possibilities of sharing experiences online, but these tend to be only one part of our lives, i.e. the good bits.

Some companies, such as Visible Nation, the world’s first social comparison platform, believe that we all need social data to be honest and allow us to make real decisions but in many cases, anonymised data is the way forward.

Of course, when it comes to the online world, there’s more than enough room for improvement. Not everyone chooses to remain anonymous. Many users find social media tools inconvenient or hard to use, and some are careless about posting information that could become embarrassing or indeed, present a threat to them in the future. We hear daily failure and success stories about how abiding closely to social norms online have either paid off or backfired. Facebook has had its fair share of casualties, with users losing their jobs, stalked by ex-partners and falling prey to hoaxers.

But we shouldn’t be too impatient. The offline world has a centuries-long head start in developing privacy-preserving tools and social conventions. But more importantly, will future technological developments in social media and product design mean that we will develop a new form of social etiquette?

Progressing onwards from digital social etiquette to the current hot topic of social recommendations, the likes of Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon all hosting user reviews isn’t enough these days. Crowd insights are no longer as meaningful as before because they’re “user generated.” It used to be that consumers would be given purchase recommendations from acquaintances, salespeople, and perhaps even celebrity endorsements on TV or radio, but now they have even more options leading to a diversity of choice that has powerfully influenced consumer preference.

But consumers do share one overarching priority: personalisation. And some companies are already catching on. Spotify took music to a new level by personalizing playlists by taste, and also by enabling sharing with people meaningful to its users. Much the same, Etsy‘s Facebook connection lets people discover gifts for friends based on Likes and interests. Within the crowded mobile application sector, Loyd Mobile, the world’s first social discovery app has created a platform to provide users with an insight into what apps their friends, brands and favourite celebrities are using, at the same time simplifying the navigation of the ever-growing number of apps on the market in a fun and sociable way. Another example is HireJungle, the world’s first peer-to-peer marketplace that allows users to hire/hire out goods and services by posting unlimited free classified ads.

A new consumer is starting to emerge but trust, taste and time will be key in driving today’s new era of social recommendation services.

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Social CRM experiment – courtesy of The BBC

September 27th, 2013

One-Show-small

It’s fair to say that Social CRM is a hot topic on this blog, posts such as ‘70% of those helped by social customer service return as a customer’ and ‘the dawn of the paid complaint’ being two recent examples.

However, the pull of social CRM is now going very much mainstream, as proved last week by a piece on the One Show, BBC One’s 7pm magazine show, which was sparked by stories on BA (see paid complaint story above) and Virgin Media who charged a dead man for late payment, the bill for which was then posted online by a disgruntled relative.

The feature itself included an insight into London Midland’s social team, showing how they deal with Twitter conversations, but focused mainly on an experiment to see whether complaining to a business through Twitter gets you a faster response than email.

The One Show contacted the following organisations: BT TV, Monarch Airlines, South West Water, EDF Energy and Barclays, who are also the most complained about organisations accordingly to their industry regulators.

The Tweet simply asked the companies to contact the sender regarding a problem. So which got the quickest response?

Well, as we would expect, it was the Tweet. And all five organisations replied personally and quickly to the tweets.

The response times were as follows:

Monarch Airlines – 3 minutes

EDF Energy – 3 minutes

Barclays – 7 minutes

South West Water – 11 minutes

BT TV – 70 minutes

After 24 hours only one company had responded to the email and that was Barclays – in 7.5 hours.

So if proof were needed that social complaints and social CRM is now completely ingrained in our society, you only need to look at the One Show.

You can watch the One Show feature here.

 

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Successful viral video content – a look at Chipotle’s latest video

September 19th, 2013

This week we received a video from fast-food company Chipotle called “The Scarecrow,” which depicts a kind of fantastical, dystopian world that makes a heart-wrenching statement about the sorry state of industrial food production.

Digging a little deeper, it appears that in less than a week after its release, the video has attracted over 3.1 million views on YouTube, almost 20,000 Facebook likes, and more than 4,000 comments.

At a time when consumers are constantly being bombarded with poorly produced, un-remarkable and over-branded videos online, this one certainly made us sit-up and take notice. From an integrated, strategic, post-production, seeding and brand messaging point of view, it appears to be a very polished execution indeed.

If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:

As a call to action to involve people in the Chipotle story on a worldwide scale, this is a truly inspired effort in a similar vein to Felix Baumgartner plummeting to earth while 8 million people watched Red Bull’s YouTube live stream – soaking up significantly less budget in the process.

It teaches us an important lesson in that (other than great post-production and story-boarding) it really doesn’t take a pile of cash to be an effective content marketer.

Chipotle and other big brands with strong content strategies may have ambitious programs and big budgets to fuel them, but even the smallest brands with more modest resources can tell the wider brand story whilst not focusing too much on specifics and also encourage their audience to feel part of it at the same time.

Chipotle might be a fast-food company, but its story isn’t about how you can find a Mexican lunch easily. Instead, it’s about what the brand, its products and services stand for – good food that’s locally and responsibly sourced. ‘Cultivate a better world’ is the brand’s key message being incorporated into the animation.

But ‘better world’ isn’t a corporate-led message, rather a relentlessly customer-focused one; a call to action to create a better world for our children, for the planet’s animals, and for us all. The video also links the content to the restaurant chain’s Cultivate Foundation, which has contributed more than $2 million so far to help fund initiatives that support sustainable agriculture and family farming.

Yes Chipotle’s animation might be part of a wider content marketing strategy for the brand, but it feels a lot more important than marketing alone.

Start-up’s and smaller brands can learn from this and recognise that content marketing shouldn’t be approached as a task, tactic or channel. Nor as a blog to link to a website for SEO purposes, a Twitter feed to broadcast PR coverage or a Facebook page to collect ‘likes’, but as a strategic opportunity to engage audiences in innovative ways that bring fresh and exciting results by helping them to see the bigger picture.

 

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Is social media becoming a job requirement, not a job title?

September 18th, 2013

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Although the title of the piece stirred some emotion in the world of social, as I’m sure it was designed to do, the recent Quartz article titled: RIP, Social media managers – tweeting is everyone’s job now,  included some interesting insights into the evolution of social media job roles, and how we now see social as part of a range of job descriptions.

The piece has been attacked by some for suggesting that social media related job roles are decreasing, where as I believe the piece is simply stating that social is becoming more of an expected skillset within other roles, and rightly so.

The key stats used in the piece by Vickie Elmer @WorkingKind, were taken from jobsite ‘Indeed’, using data that covers jobs listed from end of August 2012 to end of August 2013. The highlights included:

- Overall, jobs with social media in the title grew by 50% over the last year, a much slower rate than in the recent past

- Jobs that mention social media in the description, but not the title, gained 89%

- In the previous year, social media jobs grew twice as fast—by more than 100%

- Indeed says that the genre is less seen as a separate entity within an organisation and becoming more specific, and sprinkled within many departments

- Job seekers who search beyond the social media title will find 13 times as many jobs that include work connecting and sharing via the growing array of social media outlets

- Positions with photo sharing app Instagram in the title gained 644% and those involving Vine grew at 154%

- Jobs titled Twitter fell by 22% in the last year

- The biggest growth in social media jobs were related to the term “social media expert” which Indeed say experienced a 1,600% growth in the last year

Apart from the huge growth in the term ‘social media expert’ which is as scary as it is annoying, the figures seem to suggest that social media is moving from a siloed job role, to a more generally expected skill. This reflects the deeper relevance of the medium and the higher responsibility of varying job roles to understand and utilise social.

Amy Crow, Indeed’s communications director commented: “We are seeing an increased demand for social savvy candidates across the business – from human resources to product to customer service. In addition, we’re seeing this demand span many levels, from executive assistants to senior vice presidents.”

As reported previously on this blog, digital is more important to the economy than we realised, but we’re now beginning to see the importance of social across the board.

I think this is a positive move, and although the suggestion in the title (RIP social media managers) is unlikely to be true any time soon, the data shows encouraging development in the jobs market as it relates to the impact and demand for social media-related skills.

 

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When will we realise the promise of multiple screen content?

September 13th, 2013

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An interesting piece in the Guardian caught my attention this week. The piece titled: ‘Why responsive ads are the future’, by Cameron Hulett at Undertone offered a useful insight into the promise of mobile advertising and why this isn’t yet translating to multiple screen ads.

In the piece, Cameron suggested that advertising is still typically purchased on a screen-by-screen basis, and highlighted the missed opportunities that this represents.

He confirmed: “This year 30m smartphones and nearly 10m tablets in the UK have generated one-third of online traffic, yet advertisers are still struggling to make digital ads cost-efficient across these new channels.

“Mobile specific spend alone will reach almost £1bn in the UK this year, according to eMarketer. While that signifies a growth of 90% within the past year, it is still a mere drop in the ocean in comparison with the expected total digital ad spend of £6.1bn. Two thirds of the UK population now own a smartphone and are being exposed to mobile advertising, so it would be easy to assume that mobile digital ad spend would have increased dramatically. The question is what’s holding back brands and publishers?”

The piece goes on: “Brands are suffering general banner ad fatigue, and this is especially the case on small screens. So instead of moving to mobile at the rate they should be, they are being attracted to rich media opportunities elsewhere, for example via video, where they can see the potential on tablets and the enhanced engagement that interactive canvases can bring.

For publishers it’s a slightly different story. The Association of Online Publisher’s Census last year found that 72% viewed the main barrier to mobile adoption to be the fragmentation of mobile devices, and just over half put it down to not having the in-house skills and resources to manage it.”

For my part, these arguments make complete sense, but is there a deeper issue that we as an industry are finding more difficult to overcome, whether ad-based or content development focused, that of channel blindness?

Those that have been part of the industry for the last 10-15 years have seen the development of channels via web, mobile, tablet, and not forgetting print, but consumers, at least in the case of those under 30, don’t really differentiate between these screens.

Whether accessing content via mobile, tablet, TV, Laptop/desktop, the channel isn’t the relevant element, the content is. Although design between these channels has and continues to differ due to technical boundaries, we need to see a screen as just that, a window to content, not a differentiated channel.

There may be plenty of people reading this thinking; “Well yes, but isn’t that obvious?” And I’d like to think it is, but the evidence suggests otherwise. The technology isn’t following this path yet.

I agree with the closing of the article, even avoiding the sales message…: “It’s time for publishers and brands to embrace the new technologies that enable cross channel campaigns to be delivered from a single creative unit. After all, they allow publishers and brands to deliver a unified message across multiple devices to consistently track traffic across platforms and ultimately reduce the time and cost associated with multi-screen campaigns.”

…but I think the message needs to be clearer: multiple screen engagement is essential, and designing campaigns and outreach for the specific technology is crucial, but the goal should be one story, one delivery, multiple screens.

This is facilitated via responsive design to a greater degree, but it’s the mindset behind the campaigns that needs to evolve, from mobile/web/TV specific, to content viewed through separate screens.

It should be the window to the content that changes, not the content itself.

 

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Social Media and Product Packaging

September 12th, 2013

Asda

A topic of recent interest here at Liberate Media has been how brands are starting to blur the lines between social media engagement and physical reality, especially with the overall consumer experience in mind.

We’ve seen the Nismo Watch track and rate its user’s performance across Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram via Nissan’s proprietary Social Speed software. Nordstrom pulling in the punters after it published ‘seal of approval’ Pinterest stickers over its in-store merchandise. Honda achieving impressive engagement with its latest Vine campaign and now Asda is launching an initiative it hopes will be just as successful.

Asda’s Chosen By You range is being selected and tested by real-life consumers, giving this campaign added authenticity. It also encourages users to offer feedback on the products, packaging and point-of-sale displays via social media, adding to brand PR value at the same time.

The supermarket chain is asking its customers to tweet and publish Facebook posts about the range inserting a #ChosenByMe hashtag, with the best being added to a hub page on the Asda.com website, before being selected to appear on in-store packaging with the customer’s permission. The hashtag has already been used thousands of times across both networks by fans keen to have their say:

 

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Dom Burch, Head Of Social Media at Asda told Marketing Week that the initiative is designed to make people’s relationship with the Chosen By You range more ‘emotional’, and to help bridge the gap between the store’s value range ‘Smart Price’, and premium selection, ‘Extra Special’:

 

“We’ve had Chosen By You for the last four years and it’s helped customers re-evaluate Asda food and that unloved bit in the middle [between Smart Price and Extra Special]. We are trying to take that to the next level and be more overt about the best parts of it. We are hoping it will be more emotional as the [blind taste testing and market research that goes into selecting Chosen By You products] can seem quite clinical.”

If harnessed well, a brand’s social media channels can actually become a gold mine; especially for product managers. What many outside the field of digital marketing and PR deem ‘useless information’, can in fact become a valuable tool for driving product innovation, taking the customer along for the ride at the same time.

The key is to put the right process in place and incentivise the customer by rewarding their efforts with an emotional experience, creative satisfaction or quite frankly, the chance to win a great prize. In order to do that, product managers not only need to step back and re-think the way they manage their product lines, but also work closely with their 3rd party PR and marketing agencies and in-house teams to develop original and engaging ideas. Listening skills, interacting with customers and executing on social media information should become primary to any product development cycle.

Once you have those steps in place, social media will not only become a key component within a brand’s PR and digital marketing strategies, but also in driving product innovation and maximizing new revenue opportunities.

 

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The dawn of the paid complaint

September 6th, 2013

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This week saw the beginning of a new trend in social, with a sponsored tweet complaining about BA’s customer service.

In case you missed it, Hasan Syed decided to use Twitter’s promoted Tweet function to post “Don’t fly @BritishAirways. Their customer service is horrendous” in relation to the way British Airways was handling the issue of his father’s lost luggage.

 

Paid tweet

It was a brilliant move, not just because it reached BA, but because Hasan’s first mover status meant it was subsequently picked up by online and mainstream media.

He paid $1,000 (£640) to promote the Tweet, targeting New York and UK markets, and six hours after the tweet went live, it was picked up by Mashable,  which took the issue to a new level and brought it to the attention of the mainstream media.

However, it took another four hours for British Airways to pick up on issue, when they tweeted: “Sorry for the delay in responding, our twitter feed is open 09:00-17:00 GMT. Please DM your baggage ref and we’ll look into this.”

Whether the Tweet had an impact on the return of the luggage is not clear, but Hasan Syed’s luggage was returned a few days after the tweet went live.

So will we be seeing more sponsored Tweet complaints and the use of paid media to drive customer service issues? I’m sure we will, and if brands are happy to use paid media to promote services, then why shouldn’t customers do the same to make sure their complaints are taken seriously.

 

 

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Some thoughts on the future of online content

September 3rd, 2013

Last week I spotted this infographic offering ‘a quick glimpse into the past, present and future of content’ so decided to share some thoughts on what this might mean for online PR.

With online video formats and platforms, social media and the way we demand and consume content always evolving, it is really hard to predict how content will continue to develop over the next 10 years. However, if we look into the not so distant past, we see that press releases and website content, although still the mainstays of any effective digital PR or content strategy, are actually becoming less effective and dated.

This doesn’t mean that these tactics don’t or can’t work anymore; there is just more noise to filter and more evolved tactics required to get brand campaigns and messages delivered to the right people at the right time.

Press releases can still be very effective if the precise needs of the target audiences, in this case bloggers and journalists, are taken into consideration.

It’s also clear that corporate speak and generic, meaningless announcements are only relevant to the organisations that are sending this ‘news’ out, it is very rarely interesting to the audiences they are targeted at. As a general rule-of-thumb, press releases in this day and age should be more narrative-led, less company-centric and more social.

When it comes to creating web content, search engines remain your most crucial audience, allowing people to find content and inform themselves, request information, buy, etc. Therefore, the importance of crafting the right kind of content with a parallel UX strategy remains essential and is likely to develop for quite some time to come. Furthermore, people taking the trouble to visit your website deserve to receive excellent website content, providing a worthwhile experience for their click-through efforts and removing the potential obstacles to improving conversion rates. Every word and image deserves attention and has also led to the evolution of the traditional role of the copywriter, web content manager or digital PR. If you don’t know your basic SEO onions these days, your content won’t generate as much traffic!

Anyway, take a look at the infographic below to see what ranks among the present and future of content in online marketing. One thing is for sure, diversity continues to grow and so does the need to integrate and be more customer-centric, depending on your content marketing goals. With this in mind, it remains key to consider the following when planning any kind of digital PR or content strategy:

• The role of personalised content.

• The influence of mobile (in terms of form, format, localisaton, you name it).

• The increasing prominence of Google (Plus): PageRank + AuthorRank.

• Integration of CMS, marketing automation, web experience management systems, social management systems and CRM (profile-based = personalised content)

(Double click on the image to see a full screen version)

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"I found a higher degree of contacts and enthusiasm and then something far more interesting. They listened, challenged and questioned with a focus and knowledge that I've never experienced before."