The Gold Rush to Master Social Media for Companies

By: Jack Evans

The rapid emergence of social media has opened a limitless, digital frontier that gives companies, consumers and friends instant engagement. As a company, implementing an effective social media focus in your marketing strategy will provide an efficient avenue to reach diverse audiences. It is vital to identify your position in the market, what type of content reflects your brand’s voice, and ensure that your company is efficient in the creation of your content. These 3 components make up the core of an effective social media strategy.

Market Positioning- As a company you need to find your place in the market and align your social media engagements accordingly. Generating content that is both socially and brand relevant to your specific audience is essential to attracting positive “buzz” in the digital marketplace. Posting should reflect your brand’s voice, lifestyle and above all else, product. In other words, use a variety of social media forums to persuade your audience that your product is the best, before they even realize they need it.

Content- Your company should focus on creating a strategic blend of posting that is brand relevant and engages your target audience. Show the audience what your brand does, the people your company attracts and the lifestyle your brand promotes. Consumers will ask questions, give shout-outs and post comments at all hours, and it’s vital these engagements are managed with quick responses. You want your audience to not only feel valued, but INVOLVED in your company.

Efficient Generation of Content- Compared to traditional advertising and promotion, social media gives companies freedom to blend authentic and professionally generated content. Because most images are either free or already budgeted in your marketing plan, content generation is simplified and requires little additional cost, if any. Behind the scenes or exclusive photos, imagery that shows brand leaders outside traditional settings, or promoting special company offerings are three simple ways your audience can feel valued and part of your company’s family.

By connecting with the official Instagram of the NFL, you see an example of a highly effective social media strategy that has resulted in over 2 million followers. While in season, this feed is loaded with a diverse posting style that blends authentic images showing scores and stats, on field action shots, and exclusive photos only available on the NFL Instagram. During the offseason we see more lifestyle appeals in posts that reflect social trends, league updates, and a more creative blend of brand relevant fodder that connects a diverse body of followers with the National Football League.

By hiring additional employees or outsourcing responsibilities to a firm specializing in the digital marketplace, your company will see a high return on investment as its reach and messaging platforms grow daily. While you may not see an instantaneous impact in revenue, social media engagements greatly contribute to building relationships within your target market that will drive sales over time. These relationships will grow your brand awareness, cement your location in the market, and result in recurring customers in the long run.


Applying John Mayer’s wisdom to social media

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By Tiffany Deluccia

John Mayer wrote a line in his song “Daughters” that sticks in my head.

“She’s just like a maze where all of the walls continually change,” he sings of a girl he just can’t figure out. That’s what social media can feel like: a maze where the walls continually change.

Just last week, Facebook tweaked its News Feed algorithm (again) to prioritize trending breaking news". A few weeks back we learned Facebook had made changes to favor links over images and videos. What? Weren’t we just doing the opposite of that?

At the same time, Twitter, which has always been about sharing links, has begun featuring images prominently in its used-to-be-simple stream.

Tumblr waxes and wanes in popularity. Then a study says" Tumblr users have the highest median household income, and brands rush towards the gold.

Pinterest and Instagram were ad-free. Until they weren’t".

Keeping up is brutal. As a businessperson, it can be easy to get stressed out by all of the changes. You can’t predict what change is coming next, and as these networks monetize, the supposed “control” we once had over our content reaching our audience is ever slipping away.

John Mayer’s song goes on to say, “Now I’m starting to see, maybe it’s got nothing to do with me.”

Take a deep breath.

This constant change is just one reason (not the most strategic reason, but certainly a relevant one) we tend to recommend clients don’t do all the social networks at once. It’s better to know the ones your customers like best inside and out, keep up with their ebb and flow, noting changes and evaluating everything. A one or two-level maze is challenging enough; there isn’t always a compelling reason to make it an eight-decker.

We can also be your ally. We’re here to help you navigate the changing walls and adjust your strategies, campaigns and budgets accordingly so you can continue to listen to the marketplace, engage with your customers and drive your business objectives.

Photo Credit: mecookie via Compfight cc


Pinterest’s New Features and What They Mean for Communicators

By Megan Grubbs

Since its launch in 2010, Pinterest has become known as a hub for women looking for wedding planning tips, holiday decorating advice and drool-worthy photos of food. It hasn’t garnered the respect its social media peers have acquired; there are no watchdogs analyzing and experimenting with its changes in algorithms and no national media mentions when it rolls out a new function, but no longer is Pinterest a social network underdog. It’s quickly gaining recognition as one of the top players in the social sphere, and its user base is quickly catching up with the big dogs.

Pinterest is working to shed its reputation as just the “social network of choice for cocktail recipes and succulent gardening.” Recent upgrades to this unique network reveal the brand’s commitment to innovation and improvement, and the massive potential it presents to communicators and social media marketers.

Guided Search
With its new Guided Search function, Pinterest has perhaps forever changed the online search process. Rather than displaying the results tagged with your specifically mentioned search terms, the new Guided Search function helps answer searches that might have more than one solution, helping you to explore new topics, discovering content you may not have otherwise found the correct keywords for. Suggested guides help point you in the right direction, or in a direction you weren’t even aware you wanted to go. Watch the video above to see it in action.

The possibilities for marketers with Guided Search are huge. Gone are days of hoping your keywords magically match users’ search terms. The Guided Search feature takes into account a pin’s board name and unique description, as well as comments left on the post. Your content is much more likely to be shared with your target audience thanks to these changes.

Pinterest’s most recent upgrade—messaging—offers brands the chance to communicate directly with consumers. Let’s say you have one extraordinarily engaged pinner that consistently pins original content from your website, or regularly repins your brand’s pins—you can send a private message personally thanking that user for his or her dedication and support. Or maybe you’re running a Pinterest-based contest and giveaway—you can alert your most influential followers, who in turn can help spread the word. One caveat, however, is that both users must be following each other in order to send and receive messages, a move on Pinterest’s part to prevent spam.

These new features not only improve Pinterest user experiences, but afford social media marketers the opportunity to reach more pinners with their content while also building relationships and increasing interactions with brand advocates and online influencers. As many social media experts predict users’ emigration from Facebook and the demise of Twitter, I’m calling it: Pinterest is the next huge social network.


Content Marketing Lessons from Weird Al Yankovic (Yes, Really)

By Megan Grubbs

It’s safe to say that everyone loves a good viral sensation… and that every social media marketer would love to have his or her content go viral, whether a video, an image, even a heart-warming story. The truth, however, is that very little content actually manages that great feat.

Creating viral content is an art form, an arduous, strategic process. So how can you accomplish it? Unfortunately, most content will fail, but take notes from Weird Al Yankovic and his recent viral videos, and you just might succeed:

1. Utilize the best medium for your content and audience. Weird Al’s been in the business for more than three decades, and during that time, has learned to design his music and videos to reach fans in the most effective way possible, whether via MTV in the 1980s or on YouTube and around the internet today. Know where your specific audience is and what they want, and you’re heading in the right direction. 

2. Humorous parodies are often the way to success, a fact Weird Al has acknowledged throughout his career, with hits like "Fat” and “Amish Paradise.” Recent YouTube sensations like “Do You Wanna Go to Starbucks?” and “I’m So Pregnant” have captured millions of views and shares because of their clever interpretations of already popular media. Capitalize on trending topics, and you’ll increase your shareability. 

3. Try and try and try again. Every marketer has experienced it at some point: a timely, clever piece of content you just know will go viral falls flat online. Gather insights as to why your content failed and move on. Fourteen albums and 35-years later, Weird Al has nabbed the No. 1 spot for the first time ever with his new album, “Mandatory Fun.” If that’s not a testament to perseverance, I don’t know what is.


Using Social Media for B2B Leads

By Tiffany Deluccia

I find most people immediately discount social media as a B2B marketing channel. While on the surface, that may feel intuitive, this philosophy in practice could cause you to miss out on opportunities to build relationships, nurture leads and market successfully. There is a personal component to B2B relationships.

A 2013 Gallup study found only 20% of B2B customers are actively engaged customers. The overall takeaway from the study can be summed up in the headline of the published article:

B2Bs Win by Building Relationships, Not Selling on Price

If that’s the case, social media can work with a strategic approach.

The most important thing before starting any social media campaign is to research which channels you should be on. If you’re a small B2B company, I’d begin that research by talking to current clients about what social media platforms they use and for what purposes. This will be less about the accounts their businesses use for marketing and more about what the decision-makers personally use. Is LinkedIn their first stop for business news and updates in the morning? Are they fanatical about following Twitter trends? Find out how the people you want to reach are using social media.

Second, figure out your content goals. What kinds of messages are you hoping to communicate to decision-makers at the businesses you target? What assets do you already have that you could repurpose online?

Third, plan your content strategy. This marries up the first two points. Once you know the kinds of platforms your target audience uses, plan to communicate your key messages in ways that make sense on those social media sites. If they are mostly using LinkedIn, longer-form blog posts, white papers and infographics could be good tools for communicating your messages. If YouTube, perhaps you could capitalize on the great personality of one of your salespersons and try something like what Moz – a search engine optimization company – does with its Whiteboard Friday series of videos about SEO.

Twitter has also introduced a special kind of tweet through its advertising platform called Lead Generation Cards that can actually help you capture names and email addresses of people who are interested in your offers directly from tweets you send out. I’ve found them to be very simple to use and, astonishingly, they are free!

So, take some time to thoughtfully consider social media as a B2B marketing tool before you write it off. And if you want some examples of B2B companies using social well, check out this Social Media Today article from earlier this year.

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The Most Important Thing For Building A Blog Following

By Alex Buchart

Content marketing is a big buzzword these days, with everyone trying to figure out how to get his or her content to go “viral” overnight. The cold truth, according to Rand Fishkin of Moz.com, is that only .01% of content will go “viral,” while about 90-95% of content will fail. So how do you beat these numbers? How do you create blog content people love to read about and share?

Here are a few of my observations:

First off, a lot of big companies don’t do it right. Ever seen your favorite superstore try its hand at a blog post? It almost seems like a giant, forced advertisement that you exit in about 30 seconds. There are ads all over the place constantly trying to goad you into buying a product that will “make your summer great!” It simply seems like a lot of big name brands’ blogs are just a waste of time. So what do successful blog pages look like?

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Well, successful pages have very few advertisements, if any. The blogger typically has content that is intriguing, highly useful and entertaining. Great visuals are also essential to helping your blog be successful. Tutorials or how-tos for things your target audience cares about can work well to build a readership base and keep your brand at the top of your readers’ minds.

For instance, I once stumbled across a Lauren Conrad blog post on juice cleanses. I wasn’t sold on the idea initially, but once my roommate started talking about doing one together, I immediately remembered Lauren Conrad’s post and read my roommate tips on how to do one.

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The blog post took on an authentic tone, citing each step of her journey with no plugs for specific juices. Before I knew it, I was a regular visitor of her blog because she not only won over my interest with her perspicacity for health, but beauty, fitness and style. After a while I began looking through her posts and without realizing it, I was already considering buying her products because I felt her tone was always so genuine.

So what’s the most important thing to remember about blogging? Keep an authentic tone. If you are trying to sell something to your followers they will recognize it! Do not assume people are idiots. In order to be successful - and yes it may take time but don’t give up - you need to develop an authentic tone. If your readers develop trust in both your writing and your blog, you will develop a network that will surprise you.


You Think You Know PR? Think Again.

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By Samantha Hunter

As an aspiring PR professional with the name Samantha, I am repeatedly associated with the character Samantha Jones and faced with the question, “Is working in PR really like it is for Samantha Jones on Sex and the City?”

When I’ve told people my major over the past couple of years, I’ve come to realize that most people do not understand what PR actually is. Interning with JDPR has given me insight into what a PR professional does on a day to day basis and made me realize how different the profession is than how it is perceived. For those of you considering a PR career, I hope this will shed some light on what a PR professional does and help debunk some of the common myths:

PR is not all about parties and red carpet events. For Samantha Jones, PR is planning and attending the hottest parties, traveling around the world and running all over New York City in high heels with her friends. Sounds easy right? In reality it is a lot of hard work and can’t be done while shopping with your friends. Simply throwing a party can’t achieve a PR pro’s main goal which is to define and convey a brand’s story. All clients have a story to tell about their brand but they don’t always know how to go about spreading their message. That is where a PR pro comes in. There is so much more involved in creating a multi-faceted campaign than throwing a party. Most of the work is done sitting behind a computer, in planning meetings and on the phone as opposed to on the red carpet.

PR is not just for “people persons.” One of my professors said he would never hire anyone who came into an interview and said they would do well in PR because they are a “people person.” He said that answer would only prove you know nothing about the profession. While it is necessary to possess strong interpersonal skills and an ability to work with other people, being an extrovert won’t automatically make you successful. Public relations is about strategic thinking, problem solving skills, and creative abilities. If all you can offer is a good conversation and can’t do the work to back it up, you will have a very disappointed client.

PR is not about “spin” or being dishonest. Many people believe that PR is all about spinning the truth and avoiding controversy, when it is actually the opposite. PR is all about gaining the public’s trust and helping to define and convey a brand’s story. The only way to do that is to be honest and engaging. One of the first things I learned in my PR courses in school was to, “tell the truth and tell it quickly.” Trying to avoid a controversy will only bring even more unwanted attention to your brand. All you can do is face any bad press head on and try and get your clients message out to the public.

In a profession where even we can’t always agree on what exactly we do, it is easy for the media and characters like Samantha Jones to perpetuate stereotypes. It’s our job to try and break free from these stereotypes by grabbing every opportunity to let others know the hard work PR entails and the business value we bring to our clients.

Photo Credit: HBO