More Brands Are Loving Facebook Live

More Brands Are Loving Facebook Live

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Facebook Live is picking up steam. According to a recent report from think tank L2, Facebook livestreams are accounting for a larger percentage of brands’ total Facebook video content creation. In August 2016, Facebook Live comprised 1.09 percent of total Facebook videos. That number climbed to 4.4 percent in June 2017.

 

As L2 notes, “[T]he more interesting story here is that brands are adopting a traditional spend strategy for live video, a sign that the relatively new format is maturing.” According to L2,

In June, the promotion rate of live videos surpassed that of overall video posts on Facebook—78% versus 72%—for the first time in the study period of L2’s Video: Live report. Live videos appear to be effective: the live video engagement rate in June was 25% higher than the overall Facebook video engagement rate, according to L2’s study. If live videos continue to generate more engagement than traditional Facebook video posts, brands could find reason to increase their investments in Facebook Live.

Why are brands investing more in Facebook Live? One reason is that Facebook Live gives businesses a way to be more authentic. For brands, one of the promises of social media all along was that businesses and people could have more authentic, organic conversations with each other. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and platforms like them create channels for a more real-time, less perfectly packaged interaction. But many brands have treated social as another channel to promote prepackaged content such as movie trailers, commercials, and music videos. There’s nothing wrong with sharing such content on social so long as it is engaging. But the rising popularity of Facebook Live shows that people want authentic, more organic content, too. For more insight into how to be authentic on Facebook Live, check out my recently published post. Contact us to learn how we can help you build your brand on social.

Five Ways Universities Master Instagram

Five Ways Universities Master Instagram

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For college students, August is a time to pack up, head back to leafy campuses, and settle in for a new semester of fun and adventure. For colleges themselves, school is always in session, especially on social media, where institutes of higher learning share student life through visual storytelling. One of the hottest platforms for universities to express their culture is Instagram, which has grown to 700 million monthly users partly for speaking the visual language of the digital generation. Earlier this year, we provided some tips for how colleges should capitalize on Instagram. Now let’s look at some best practices. Here are a few examples of how colleges master Instagram:

Expressing a Culture

Sometimes colleges can seem like faceless institutions especially for high school students and their families thumbing through piles of literature as they consider their options. Instagram helps universities make their personalities shine. Many colleges do an outstanding job relying on photos and video to give you a taste of student life, events, and their campuses. Penn State is a great example. The university wisely makes liberal use of its photogenic Nittany Lion mascot to commemorate playful events such as #WorldChocolateDay:

Special events such as the #HappyValleyJam concert receive their share of visual love:

Penn State also tells the stories of its students whether during the school year or their summer travels:

And Penn State simply makes its campus a desirable, activity-filled place to be – who wouldn’t enjoy #SandcastleDay on campus?:

For Penn State, Instagram is a treasure trove of images that invite students to learn more about its culture.

Doing Good

Colleges give back to their communities all the time. By sharing their stories on Instagram, they encourage you to do the same. For instance, the University of Illinois has used Instagram to help the University’s Illini 4000 non-profit organization raise money for cancer research by biking coast to coast:

Over a period of 76 days and 4,370 miles, the university chronicled the progress of the Illini 4000 as they bicycled from New York to San Francisco. The university also cross-promoted the Illini 4000’s Instagram account to drive traffic for donors who wished to give as well as follow their journey:

As of August, the Illini 4000 had raised more than $100,000. Well done!

Uplifting People

Colleges love to celebrate their students on Instagram, as well they should. You don’t have to look very hard to find excellent Instagram accounts featuring happy students learning, traveling, working out, hanging out, and generally enjoying life — University of Nebraska, we’re looking at you!

Harvard University demonstrates a best practice by highlighting the accomplishments of its students. For example, the following image gives a shout-out to Jonny Kim, an emergency medicine resident who has been named to NASA’s 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.

Note that Harvard discusses Jonny’s background and accomplishments with a well written description accompanying the image, and Harvard cross-links to relevant Instagram accounts that are part of his story. This example is but one of many ways Harvard celebrates the accomplishments of current and past students. Harvard is certainly not the only university to do so, but it sets a high bar for many others to emulate.

Sharing the Curriculum

How do you visualize your curriculum? Doing so is easy on Instagram! Many colleges give you a taste of their classes by zeroing in on field research and lab work. The University of Rochester is a case in point. The university prides itself in its research program, and its Instagram account reflects that pride. In the following example, the university describes how student Meghan Patrick is working as a summer intern in the mechanical engineering lab of Douglas Kelley as part of her research into developing sustainable energy:

Meanwhile, student Madison Carter is researching how public art influences social interactions in the city of Rochester:

The university’s Instagram account abounds with examples like these. As is the case with Harvard, the University of Rochester shares insightful narrative behind the images, too. The university sends a strong message: learning takes place everywhere, well beyond the campus classroom setting.

Celebrating Place

Universities hustle to show you how beautiful their campuses are. The University of Minnesota doesn’t shy away from showing off its Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, designed by Frank Gehry:

Boston University frequently reminds you of its distinctive location:

Stanford University is a standout for using Instagram to give you a visual glimpse of different aspects of its renowned campus and deserves kudos for experimenting with black-and-white photography:

As we discussed earlier this year, Instagram provides plenty of tools for institutes of higher learning to maximize their visual appeal. To learn more about how to use visual storytelling on social media to build your collegiate brand, contact KeywordFirst – we’re happy to help.

Why TV News Programs Are Going Social

Why TV News Programs Are Going Social

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Television news programs are not dying. They’re just changing. Case in point: on July 26, ABC News announced that it will team with digital media company ATTN to develop and distribute news videos across social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The two companies will create video content such as guest interviews and features, customized for social viewing and sharing.

Commenting on the relationship, both ABC and ATTN both acknowledged the changing video consumption habits of audiences in the digital age.

Colby Smith, vice president, ABC News Digital, said, “Great journalism resonates with audiences across all platforms. Partnering with ATTN: allows us to experiment even further with new formats. We will take compelling stories and interviews and craft them in a way that feels organic to our digital platforms.”

Matthew Segal, ATTN’s cofounder and editor in chief, said, “To reach audiences today, you have to meet them where they live on social platforms. We’re thrilled to leverage the resources of ABC to provide social audiences with great storytelling that focuses on the issues important to them.”

ABC News is certainly not the only bastion of the old-world news networks to react to changing times. Also in July, NBC News launched “Stay Tuned,” a twice-daily Snapchat broadcast that joins other Snapchat-based NBC programs such as “The Voice.” Meanwhile, Twitter and Bloomberg offer 24/7 streaming news, and CNN is turning to YouTube for a forthcoming news broadcast. And earlier in 2017, the BBC and Snap announced a relationship to distribute a new Snapchat-based show that draws upon the BBC’s popular Planet Earth II documentary series.

These announcements occur at a time when TV-based content in general continues to expand into digital. We’ve already seen longstanding entertainment shows such as The Academy Awards and The Walking Dead embrace digital with second-screen experiences, and the NFL streams games on Twitter, just to cite a few examples. These programs have good motivation to increase their online video content. With TV viewers cutting their cable subscriptions and becoming more comfortable watching TV on desktops, laptops and mobile devices, TV broadcasters and their advertising partners are being forced to transition to an increasingly digital-only experience.

Social media is especially attractive for distributing content for three reasons:

  • Targeting shareable content. As we have noted on our blog, social sites such as YouTube make it possible for content creators to offer advertisers far more targeted audiences than TV can. Facebook alone offers increasingly sophisticated tools (including building lookalike audiences) for targeting different segments of its 2 billion audience based on who they are and what they do on social. And social platforms, are, of course, imminently shareable, which is why Twitter, despite its operational woes, remains a popular platform to distribute movie trailers and music videos – when they resonate, they get shared.
  • The power of livestreaming. Livestreaming in its various formats has become a powerful method for sharing real-time content, especially after Facebook expanded its livestreaming platform. Livestreaming has given everyday people a chance to act as citizen journalists by broadcasting you-are-there raw footage of breaking news and events. But networks can livestream as well by empowering journalists to act with the same real-time insight on the ground in a nimble fashion with nothing more than a mobile phone. Journalists can report news with the professional discernment and interviewing skills that they possess. And on social media, they can more easily amplify their coverage of real-time news. In fact, according to WGN-TV reporter Nancy Loo, livestreaming on Facebook is the best way to interact with your audience. (She provided this insight to us directly at the Social Media Day conference in Chicago June 30.)
  • Reaching the cool kids. In 2016, millennials overtook baby boomers as the largest U.S. population segment. And in 2017, Gen-Z – people born between 1997 and 2015 – overtook For Gen-Z and millennials, digital defines their world. Snapchat especially has famously become the go-to content consumption source for millennials – and where this large population segment goes, advertisers and their content partners are sure to follow.

But moving to social networks does not guarantee an audience. Audiences on social are not necessarily engaged with brands. They lack the intent that people searching for content on Google possess. They’re probably distracted by consuming and creating information on multiple screens and devices even while they are watching yours. Whether producing organic content or advertising, broadcasters need to engage audiences with small, bite-sized morsels that earn attention. To learn how to transition to the digital world with your advertising, contact KeywordFirst. We’d love to help.

How to Do Influencer Outreach Right

How to Do Influencer Outreach Right

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The credibility of influencer marketing has taken a big hit thanks to the ill-fated Fyre Festival. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

The disastrous festival in the Bahamas was one of the biggest news stories of the past week and certainly one of the biggest of the year in the media/entertainment industry. Fyre was supposed to be a new Coachella Festival for millennials but instead collapsed under the weight of its own mismanagement. As was widely reported, the event organizers convinced concertgoers to fork over hundreds and thousands of dollars to fly to the Bahamas with the promise of a weekend of luxurious lodging, celebrity-chef prepared food, and cool music. Instead, attendees encountered primitive living conditions and chaotic mismanagement. The event was quickly canceled and guests flown home.

In light of the fiasco, the role of influencer marketing has been heavily scrutinized and criticized. As it turns out, many concertgoers were lured to the event by social media posts from many notable millennial influencers including Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski. Fyre paid hundreds of influencers to promote the event on their Instagram accounts, but the influencers failed to disclose that their posts were promotional. In fact, the celebrity endorsers were given free flights, tickets, and accommodations for their posts, and their failure to disclose the paid nature of their relationship is in direct violation of the Federal Trade Commission’s rules. No wonder an Adweek article asked, “Will the effectiveness of celebrity influencers take a hit?” and the Bitly blog asked, “Will influencer marketing to down in flames?

But influencer marketing can achieve great returns if done in an inspiring way. Marketers shouldn’t abandon influencer marketing but rather understand how to avoid their pitfalls. Ironically the Fyre Festival actually demonstrated just how powerful influencer outreach can be. Here are some tips for doing influencer outreach well and with integrity:

  • Choose an influencer who aligns well with your brand and audience

If you have the budget, you might be tempted to incorporate a celebrity into your marketing campaign. After all, big-name celebrities provide instant recognition. But it’s more important that you work with an influencer who aligns well with your brand. An influencer’s name recognition is less important than their ability to build trust and a comfort level with your audience. A food brand might be better off working with niche food bloggers who are well known to their customers rather than a nationally known celebrity who has little to do with fine dining. An influencer who builds trust with your audience will build trust in your brand.

  • Be realistic

The Fyre Festival influencers did their jobs. They used their reputations and leveraged their many social media followers to create tremendous buzz for the event. But the Fyre Festival wasn’t prepared to handle all the attention they received. How about you? Will your product, event, or experience be ready to handle the attention that influencers are capable of giving you? Don’t hire influencers unless you can handle the demand for your services and products that good ones will certainly generate.

  • Be transparent

An influencer should be honest about the promotion, which, as noted, was a major problem with the Fyre Festival. The lack of transparency left Fyre’s customers feeling deceived by both the influencers and the festival. And the influencers’ posts also falsified the experience, leaving attendees angered when arriving in the Bahamas. The goal of influencer marketing is to build communication and a relationship between the brand, the influencer, and the consumer. When trust is broken between this group, the brand is deeply affected. These kinds of problems can be avoided if you make it clear to influencers that they are required to disclose the promotional nature of their content. Moreover, give influencers clear guidelines for how they are to exercise transparency, for instance, by using the hashtag #promotional in a social post. And monitor how the influencers represent your brand. If the influencers make mistakes and fail to exercise transparency, make sure they correct their mistakes.

  • Give influencers the right content

You want influencers to talk about you and share your story using content that reflects your brand. Doing so does not mean having to pay influencers. For instance, bloggers appreciate interesting story ideas and content. If you’re launching a new product or service, paying bloggers may not be right move. Rather, inviting influencers to test your product – like a resort inviting travel bloggers to spend a night checking out the experience – can be far more effective and generate genuine buzz.

The Fyre Festival’s underdeveloped strategy for use of influencers can be seen as a cautionary tale for all future brands when incorporating influencer marketing. However, influencer marketing can be successful so long as the audience, influencer, and content are well formulated and used to build a relationship with your audience.

Image source: http://powerdigitalmarketing.com

Wendy’s and a Chicken Nugget Super Fan Remind Brands of Twitter’s Power

Wendy’s and a Chicken Nugget Super Fan Remind Brands of Twitter’s Power

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Twitter has certainly taken its lumps for not monetizing its own business effectively — but the platform remains a great tool for brands to share their voice and interact with consumers, as Wendy’s has demonstrated.

Wendy’s is part of a feel-good story that has gone viral: on April 5, a 16-year-old named Carter Wilkerson tweeted Wendy’s asking how many retweets it would take to win free nuggets for a year, and within minutes Wendy’s responded “18 Million.” To give you some perspective: Twitter has about 313 million active users — so that 18 million is roughly 5 percent of the Twitter population. Carter took to heart Wendy’s reply and challenged the Twitterverse to retweet his plea for a year’s worth of Wendy’s chicken nuggets (“HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS”). And then the fun began, as people and brands responded to his tweet. As of April 13, Carter has received 2.7 million retweets (and counting).

Since I’m a bit of a data nerd, I was curious about how much it would cost Wendy’s to give away free nuggets for a year to Carter if he achieves the feat of getting 18 million retweets. Since prices are variable due to locations, I’ll give a range of $5-$8 for the 10-piece nuggets. Multiply that amount by 365 days, and Wendy’s will be shelling out between $1,825-$2,920 for this little gamble. For a company whose revenues were $1.453 billion in 2016, a few thousand dollars is a miniscule amount given the visibility Wendy’s is receiving.

Carter is on track to break the previous retweet record of 3.3 million for the famous Ellen DeGeneres Oscar selfie of 2014. Of course, Ellen DeGeneres has many more followers than Carter Wilkerson — 66.8 million followers compared to Carter’s 45,200 followers (as of April 13), a number boosted by his newfound fame. And Ellen DeGeneres had a lot of re-tweeting help from her A-list celebrities. So what Carter Wilkerson is accomplishing is astounding.

How has Carter been able to garner 2.7 million tweets? Just do a search for “Wendy’s 18 Million,” and you can find the answer through the dozens of news media articles written about him and Wendy’s. This kind of viral attention is social media on its best day. What I think is interesting is that other brands are now creating publicity for Carter, and, by extension, Wendy’s, including Hollister Co. & Amazon, both of which have tweeted about Carter’s dream of free nuggets.

Time will tell whether Carter reaches his goal of 18 million, but it’s clear that he and Wendy’s have reminded brands and people that Twitter can be a PR powerhouse. How are you integrating Twitter into your branding and media strategy?

Responding to Customer Reviews: Four Tips for Apple

Responding to Customer Reviews: Four Tips for Apple

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Apple recently permitted its developers to respond directly to customer reviews on the App Store. This update is welcomed by App Store users as previously some negative reviews went unanswered by developers at Apple. Moreover, Apple is catching up to Google, which has permitted developers to respond to user reviews since 2013. This significant news from one of the world’s most valuable brands underscores the importance of businesses responding to user reviews. Based on our experience working with businesses to improve their brands on social, I offer these four tips for Apple and its developers:

  1. Respond to all feedback

Although this suggestion may seem obvious, in some circumstances feedback gets missed whether it be positive or negative. It is important to thank consumers who have provided positive feedback and also offer support or solutions to those customers who are unhappy. Do respond to positive feedback — failing to respond to happy customers might come across as ungrateful. And, of course, reply to negative feedback. Ignoring criticisms obviously look arrogant and insensitive.

  1. Reply in a timely manner

Your response rate time is crucial especially on social media. Facebook even designates certain pages as very responsive, which gives consumers the understanding that they are being heard. Creating a responsive dialogue with your consumer base allows insights for both parties that can elevate your brand. Even if you don’t have a complete answer to a problem right away, at least respond with a “We are looking into this issue and will follow up with you more completely.”

  1. Provide honest feedback

Many times, consumers provide suggestions or requests that are not feasible in your current structure. It is best to explain your position in an honest manner rather than promising too much or leaving a request unanswered. Through honest feedback you are able to build credibility.

  1. Keep your responses concise

Sometimes it’s difficult for employees to respond concisely because employees usually possess a lot of context and detail about an issue that might seem helpful to know. But providing too much detail can be harmful because you might alienate a customer who lacks your technical expertise. If a comment truly does require a complex explanation, first respond briefly and offer to communicate with the customer offline. If you do so, your social spaces will be perceived as very user friendly.

User reviews are significant to a brand’s perception — so ensuring that they are handled in a thoughtful manner is vital. Thus, Apple’s introduction of customer review responses is an important feature to the company and should encourage other brands to be more responsive. The above tips should help any business manage review etiquette. Contact us to discuss how we can help you.

Image source: Ryan McGuire