Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

The Prince of social media

Thursday, March 6th, 2014 by Tim Hudson

Prince and 3rdEyeGirl - Manchester 21st Feb (2)

Prince and Social Media are two things which have been hard not to notice and have caused quite a stir in the UK recently.

Prince has been in the country performing a series of ‘pop-up’ concerts, promoting a forthcoming album and, if speculation is to be believed, working on some summer festival deals.

It’s not just the concerts themselves, taking place in small venues in London and Manchester, that have reasserted Prince as a man who stands out from the crowd in both talent and approach, but the way those concerts have been promoted.

As Econsultancy’s David Moth points out, “the ‘guerilla’ shows are part of Prince’s policy of avoiding middlemen and traditional marketing.”  Famously (infamously, perhaps), Prince has given away new albums with UK newspapers and was part of a long and well-documented dispute with his former record label, Warner Bros. over creative ownership and control.

And so, no one was really surprised that the man who once said “the internet is dead” promoted the recent spate of gigs almost entirely through Social Media, not only prompting queues thousands-long outside the venues but also gaining print and broadcast media coverage, most notably through Woman’s Hour and Newsnight.  As noted in The Sunday Times’s profile, “when a current affairs news show takes notice, you have got an event.”

Prince’s management and PR duties fall to CEO of Kikit Ltd. and Entrepreneur of the Year Nominee, Kiran Sharma, and the aptly named Purple PR.  Ms Sharma was very visible throughout the campaign, using her personal Twitter account to make announcements and share comments from fans and Prince’s current band, 3rdEyeGirl.  The PR company, however, seemed almost invisible.  And that’s where the success of the last few weeks lies.

The perception was that Prince and his troupe had arrived in the UK and were looking for some small venues to play, with no real planning.  On the red carpet of The Brit Awards, a member of 3rdEyeGirl said, “we don’t know until the morning where we’ll be playing that night.”  This sent fans into a frenzy, connecting via Social Media from across the UK to try and dig out and share any vital information on the gigs.  The hashtags #princewatch and #princearmy appeared, seemingly from the fans, and a fan-run account @PrinceWatchUK was set-up specifically for this purpose.

Kevin Costner was once told “if you build it, they will come” and here was an excellent example of this at work.  The hashtags trended, there was 24 hour engagement and this all seemed to be coming just from the fans, with a few pieces of input from Ms Sharma and 3rdEyeGirl (for example with official YouTube clips from the gigs).

Clearly there was more going on behind the scenes than was presented.  In order to move that many people around London, let alone the UK, this had to be well-planned.  There’s even been suggestion that, on the night that tickets rose from being £10 to £70 and fans created the #10poundprince hashtag as a backlash, prompting tickets to be reduced again, it was actually Purple PR hard at work creating some trickery to gain yet more attention.

Whatever mastery was at work, this was a unique event, promoted in a unique way.  This was a utilisation of modern media, the like of which has not been seen before, purely relying on the word-of-mouth generated by Social Media output to sell-out each show played and generate a huge amount of valuable mainstream exposure. (They even turned Manchester Town Hall purple for the occasion!)

What has all this done for Prince’s reputation?  Certainly there has been upset from those who don’t regularly use Social Media; has he alienated a large amount of people?  Those who are disabled and unable to queue all day outside gigs have also been challenged by his tactics.

I would suggest that Prince’s team will be more likely asking the question, “Has all this helped us achieve our goals?”  If those goals were indeed to pre-promote the new album and secure that lucrative summer deal then only time and album sales will tell.  For a few days near the end of February, though, one didn’t have to look far (be it online on the radio or on the newspaper rack) to read word of Prince, hear his new music and see fans going crazy!

About Tim Hudson

Tim Hudson is an Accredited PR Practitioner, a member of the CIPR North West Committee and is currently based in-house at Cheadle Hulme School. Tim has seven years’ experience in the education sector and specialises in copywriting and social media.

Social media cafe Manchester – smc_mcr – logging out

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013 by Jon Clements

Social Media Cafe Manchester – or smc-mcr as it morphed into – came along at the right time to meet a ravenous appetite for digital communications.

But now, it’s no more.

I’m grateful to Tom Mason for bringing the news to my attention and for his affectionate “eulogy” to this rather modest and yet highly influential fixture in Manchester’s calendar of digital creativity. For the definitive insight into why smc_mcr is logging out, check out co-founder, Martin Bryant’s post on the smc_mcr website itself.

So, what made it special?

In the digital sector – one that has now become big business for learning seminars, training courses, day-long conferences, etc – smc_mcr offered collective insight from real-life practitioners (often early adopters of digital technologies and communications platforms) at no cost to the participants whatsoever. All those great brains in one room, willing to pass on their knowledge because, well, they were passionate about their subject and the sharing ethos seemed to meld well with the social media milieu.

At times, smc_mcr was unapologetically and hilariously shambolic in its structure and organisation. But that was more than compensated for by the wealth of interesting people and topics you could expect to encounter over a couple of hours on a Tuesday night, once a month.

On a simplistic level, it was networking with people you also had a relationship with online; but it was really so much more than that.

And, it supplied a regular flow of great material for PR Media Blog which, at the time, was itself trying to make sense of the ever-quickening revolution in digital communications.

Normally, an institution coming to an end is a sad affair. But smc_mcr has done its job, if ever it had a “job description”. It wasn’t its style to have some sort of “manifesto”; that would be far too bloody organised.

 

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR.

Connect at:
JonClements

5 ways to beat the trolls

Thursday, June 27th, 2013 by David Jamieson

Until fairly recently a troll was one of those odd little plastic naked fellows with fluorescent hair. Repulsive, but harmless and easy to avoid. How times have changed. Nowadays, any communications professional incorporating social media into their campaigns must always, always ask “how could the trolls hijack this?” before trying to mobilise the masses online.

Durex is one of the latest brands to fall victim to internet pranksters. Its online poll invited nominations for anywhere in the world to be covered by its ‘SOS Condoms Service’; emergency condom delivery for frisky but not risky couples. But it returned a less than ideal winner – the conservative Muslim town of Batman in southern Turkey.

Inspired by just how avoidable that outcome was, here are five things I think every one of us should do to either pre-empt the trolls or at least manage them when they rear their ugly heads.

1) Think like a troll – forewarned is forearmed, he who fails to plan and all that. Get the team together and run through every imaginable scenario, or open it up to the entire company. Be ruthless and get enough brains on the job and you stand a good chance of uncovering at least the most obvious potential slip ups, and probably some of the more left field ones too.

2) Establish some boundaries, or nudge people down (or away from) a particular route. This might sound counter to the spirit of social media, but what Durex got completely wrong was to allow the general public – which includes some very cheeky little monkeys – to choose anywhere in the world. If the choice had been limited to London, Paris, New York or Dagenham, their poll might not have had such a limp ending.

3) Know your audience…and your haters. McDonalds’ now infamous #McDStories campaign might have been avoided if they’d remembered that antipathy for their brand probably equals the love for it, and hate is often more of a call to action than love. Waitrose learned a similar lesson with its “Finish the sentence: I shop at Waitrose because…… #waitrosereasons” Twitter campaign. Everybody thinks they’re more popular than they actually are, but when planning a social media campaign it will pay off to be real. Remember that when pressing the launch button, you’re not likely to get in front of just fans.

4) Have a clear response policy – nine times out of ten it’s best not to respond at all, but there may be some anticipated scenarios identified in advance that can or should be managed. In these cases, flow diagrams illustrating the twists and turns, the “ifs” or “ands” that you’ve planned for will help you maintain a bit of control with measured responses. However, exercise a bit of pragmatism in actual delivery – stock responses that vaguely relate to the original prompt come across as stilted and impersonal. If you have someone with a genuine problem, then this kind of response is unlikely to lead to a satisfactory resolution. Still, if you suspect you have a real live troll on your hands, then it really is better not to give them the satisfaction. And remember, don’t take it personally – or you might be provoked into doing something rash.

5) Not all angry people are trolls. It’s important not to adopt a siege mentality, because not all angry people are trolls; some may have a real issue with you that needs addressing. Scratch the surface of that angry tweet and you might find an easily solvable problem that you can publicly solve.

 

David Jamieson (@JamiesonDavid) is an Account Manager at TopLine Communications, a specialist digital communications and crisis PR agency

About David Jamieson

David Jamieson (@JamiesonDavid) is an Account Manager at TopLine Communications, a specialist digital communications and crisis PR agency

The real reason companies fail at social media

Friday, March 1st, 2013 by Bridgett Gayle

Social media is pointless for companies. According to a 10-year social media study at Northwestern University’s Medill School in the Integrated Marketing Communication Department, social media users do not use social media seeking products and they have no brand preference. Professors Don E. Schultz, PhD, and Martin P. Block, PhD, conducted this survey and concluded that social media users will not become brand loyalists because people use social media simply for “social purposes.”

So is social media just a wasteland of meaningless social chatter?

No, says Dave Kerpen. What companies should do is join the social chatter and view that chatter as an opportunity to learn more about people. Kerpen is the founder and chairperson of Likeable Media, a social media and word-of-mouth marketing firm handling the social media presence for more than 200 companies. And he’s also the author of Likeable Social Media, a book of social media strategies. The real reason why companies are failing at social media is due to their incapability or unwillingness to just shut up and listen.

Like with any other type of conversation listening is the key to a successful interaction. Kerpen’s latest book Likeable Business explains how companies can listen to and benefit from the social chatter.

“Likeable Media has grown over 2,000 percent in the last five years,” says Kerpen, “and I credit listening as being a big part of that growth. Social media allows for better listening than ever before.” Think of social media as an impromptu focus group, a place to find out what people need or wished they had. Listen to their problems. Listen to their interests.”

Companies need to listen with the intention of understanding, considering, figuring out what is important to people. Kerpen offers Blockbuster LLC’s bankruptcy as an example of a company that didn’t see the value of social chatter.

“Blockbuster failed to listen to the massive negative volume of tweets and Facebook posts about their late fees. Had they been listening and paying attention, they could have adjusted their business strategy earlier and avoided their downfall to Netflix.”

When Netflix experienced its own massive negative social chatter about its decision to split into two companies, Netflix listened to the chatter and nixed its plan solely because the plan was unpopular with people.

Kerpen admits he used to be a poor listener and had to learn how to listen. “You can work on listening. The best way to do it is to practice. Measure how many minutes you spend listening versus talking in any given meeting or conversation. Practice asking questions instead of giving answers. Those who excel at listening talk only when necessary.”

Yes, people use social media to be social and are not interested in hearing any business marketing spiels. But there is business value in that social chatter. It’s an opportunity to listen and find out what people really want. And when your company isn’t listening to the social chatter your competition is.

 

This was a guest post by Bridgett Gayle.

About Bridgett Gayle

Bridgett Gayle is a writer and content marketer bringing common sense solutions to improve the business-customer relationship.

Silence isn’t golden: Crisis management through social media

Monday, February 25th, 2013 by David Silverman

Outpost Outsight Report image - credit Eva Rinaldi (640x427)

Social media is now an incredibly important tool for communication both when things are going well and when crisis hits. Twitter and Facebook will often be the first port of call for both the public and the media seeking updates on incidents. If those updates aren’t there, they’ll draw their own conclusions or find them elsewhere.

When things go wrong, a festival can face hundreds of tweets about issues such as over-crowding, a shutdown, or a slow evacuation. On many occasions, however, none comes from the official Twitter feed.

If a festival says nothing, a stream of misunderstandings, unverified updates, and untruths spread through tweets from people both on and offsite. A journalist at the event can became a key source of information, despite only being there as a festivalgoer and having no more access to official updates than anybody else.

Large scale events are also a slave to the weather and knock-on effects such as traffic jams can create havoc.

In these situations, any statements and advice issued via Twitter can be pushed down the feed by regular updates extolling what a great time is being had by all who have managed to get on site. For those still stuck and looking to Twitter for official information, this can serve largely to antagonise them. A situation then develops where those people then tweet themselves and speak about their complaints.

Often, the problem can be that the wrong people are operating events’ social media accounts. In many cases, the ‘social media strategy’ is simply telling interns to go out and keep people updated on how much fun they’re having. But an intern is not qualified to deal with logistical queries or complaints – which may come at any point during an event – nor manage information flow when major problems arise.

All events have plans and systems in place for when the unexpected happens, but social media is not always considered within this. If the public and the press can’t see that something is being done, the fast pace of information online means opinion of an event can quickly turn.

Here are five top tips for crisis management through social media:

1. Designate a social media manager

The moment something goes wrong, someone with the authority to speak for you should be able to take over or direct social media updates.

2. Provide clear information promptly

Make it clear that you know that something is wrong and that you are dealing with it as soon as possible, even if it is not immediately possible to go into details. Removing any content from your website that might no longer be suitable is something to consider.

3. Ensure that important updates aren’t lost

When you need to relay important information, ensure that it’s at the top of your social media feeds for as long as possible. This could mean pinning it to the top of your Facebook feed or ceasing all other updates completely.

4. Know when to stop being positive

A continuation of point three, but it’s important to know when positive updates about what’s happening at your event should stop, even if only temporarily.

5. Address rumours quickly

Rumours will spread fast at a festival, especially if people don’t have up to date information from its organisers. Monitor the spread of rumours both on and off site and address them promptly. Without an official message early on, rumours can be picked up by official news sources and become a lot more difficult to address further down the line.

 

This was a guest blog post from David Silverman. Photo courtesy of Eva Rinaldi.

About David Silverman

David Silverman is managing director of Outpost, a PR company based in east London.

Suitable skills for PR’s new world

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 by Sophie Mackintosh

Guest blogger, Sophie Mackintosh, explores how the range of jobs she did post-university provided unexpectedly useful skills for when she finally entered the world of agency public relations

My route into PR wasn’t simple. Like most graduates nowadays, I suffered through unpaid internships supplemented by working in a coffee shop, working freelance at night, and temping as a PA. While this was frustrating at the time, now that I’m in my dream job I’m realising that without these experiences I might not have been prepared for the PR world at all.

From what I’ve heard from wiser (older) colleagues and others in the industry, PR is changing enormously. Gone are the days when the main skill required was being able to blag your way through a press release for a technical product you didn’t fully understand, or write shining copy in fifteen minutes flat. Nowadays, in such a huge and rapidly-growing industry, the most valuable skills you can have are flexibility and confidence. With journalists being bombarded with pitches on all sides, making them believe that your client is the one they should be writing about is a daunting task.

The fairly recent addition of social media to the B2B PR landscape means that the traditional PR role now includes coming up with Facebook page content, blog posts, and maybe even infographics to share on Pinterest. It’s a strange mix of the sophisticated and casual; increasingly scientific theories and formulas about ROI and influence sit side by side with contacting journalists through Twitter because they won’t answer your emails. As a result, the industry is becoming more integrated as agencies realise they have to move with the times and come up with more innovative solutions for clients. For some that means incorporating SEO, for others it’s specialising in social media or offering production services. And that means that those working in the industry have to quickly adapt to follow these developments. A PR professional’s role no longer fits into one pigeonhole.

This is where my patchwork, post-graduation career comes in handy. While my English degree is enormously valuable to me – writing is still crucial to PR, especially given that we now find ourselves writing copy for a widening variety of mediums – the commercial world is very different to university. A degree alone wouldn’t have prepared me for the realities of PR, but dealing with stroppy customers and organising the schedules of high-flying bosses became a crash-course in the essential people skills that I eventually used as my PR launch pad. Doing all the jobs I did taught me tenacity, how to turn my hand to anything and, of course, how to take a deep breath and make very important phone calls without dissolving into jelly.

The PR industry is evolving in step with the media and getting increasingly complicated. As such there is no one specific skill that will carry you through – or one specific trajectory to get you where you want to be. But for me, and for a lot of graduates, this can be a bonus. Suddenly all the jobs I’d been doing made sense. They gave me writing and editing experience, flawless organisational skills, and the capacity to placate customers distressed by the foam on their wet lattes, all without breaking a sweat. Whoever thought those skills would come in just as useful – if not more so – than my first-class degree and array of marketing internships?

Sophie Mackintosh works at B2B PR firm TopLine Communications, and you can find her on Twitter on @sophmackintosh

It’s good to talk

Thursday, July 19th, 2012 by Gemma Ellis

HELLO?! The days of inadvertently overhearing your neighbours’ shouty mobile chatter – famously epitomised by Trigger Happy TV’s Dom Joly and his giant novelty telephone – may soon be over if new research from Ofcom is anything to go by.

Evaluating the habits of UK consumers over the past year, the report reveals that more and more people are now using text as their primary form of communication; in 2011, 58% communicated daily via text messages, compared with 47% who made calls.

The revolution is being led by the young, with 96% of 16 to 24-year-olds using some form of text-based application on a daily basis, be that texting or social networking sites.

The fact that communication is changing is hard to dispute. The wide availability and uptake of smart phones will have played a huge role in this. Consumers now have the world at their fingertips and messaging is quick, easy and convenient.

Text can cross continents and time zones without difficulty and even language barriers to a certain extent, with a quick click on Google Translate and similar service providers telling you almost all you need to know.

But I do hope that as we move away from verbal communication the art of conversation isn’t completely lost. Whether you’re thrashing things out or catching up on mindless gossip, sometimes there’s nothing better than the spoken word.

 

Social media lifted from the sandbox

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012 by Jon Clements

The days of social media activity residing alone in an organisation – enshrined in mystery like some sort of digital Pandora’s Box – should be numbered if not over altogether.

As John Gordon of New York’s Fenton Communications put it memorably in yesterday’s Social Media Today webinar: What are the metrics that matter in social media, “Social media should not be playing in its own sandbox”.

Gordon emphasised that any social media activity should fall in line with overall organisational goals. In other words, mixing the “yellow” of social media goals and blue of organisational goals should make the “green” of integrated goals; any other colour signifies potential chaos.

This is helpful especially when an unexpected event arises and an organisation’s response needs to be centred, consistent, coherent and in keeping with its corporate purpose. Such an event put the US organisation, Planned Parenthood’s social media approach to the test.

The provider of reproductive healthcare was faced with the withdrawal of breast screening funds from the Susan G.Koman for the Cure cancer foundation, following pressure from anti-abortion groups.

Heather Holdridge , director of digital strategy at Planned Parenthood, described the ensuing campaign, using Twitter and Facebook to inform its audiences of the cancer charity’s decision. The story went, literally, viral through social media channels, resulting in a user-generated Tumblr blog featuring women’s stories of how Planned Parenthood had helped them. Social media drove the debate for two days – during which time Planned Parenthood’s messages were consistent – and ended with Komen reversing its decision to cut funding.

John Gordon added: “Komen thought it could direct messages downwards but didn’t recognise people were going to respond in the way they did and didn’t have the channels or the relationships to respond.”

Fenton neatly sums up Planned Parenthood’s social media strategy as “See, Say, Feel, Do”:

See:

Who is your audience?

Where are they?

What do you want them to do?

What do they want from you?

SAY:

Messages, stories and insights that can be shared online quickly.

FEEL:

User comments, Twitter re-tweets personalised – described as the “gold dust  created when people have internalised and endorsed your message through their own voice. It needs the right content to elicit that effect, such as the Tumblr blog in the Planned Parenthood example.

DO:

The actions your users take as a result of the above.

Such a (deceptively) simple approach is worth adding to the overall debate around meaningful social media measurement, not least the work done recently by AMEC.

Ultimately, the artificial line that may have existed between digital communications activity and everything else in an organisation can’t be allowed to persist. Never mind playing in its own sandbox; digital needs lifting from the sandbox to play with everyone else.



About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR.

Connect at:
JonClements

Where do SEO and PR meet?

Friday, November 4th, 2011 by Jon Clements

SEO, according to marketers questioned for the above research, has the biggest impact on lead generation. But what does that SEO actually constitute and is it made up, either partly or mostly, of PR activity?

It’s not a question that’s ever answered in Webmarketing123’s State of Digital Marketing Report. More of that later. In the meantime, what else does the research tell us?

Clearly, the metrics of success are firmly focused on tangible returns: for marketers across B2B and B2C, it’s far more about generating leads and making sales than anything else. Taking the B2B marketer in particular, the lesser objectives include building brand awareness (15%), generating site traffic (11%) or building online communities (5%). Curiously, the latter is even less important for the B2C community (2.8%). What was once considered a desirable digital outcome, certainly of social media, seems to be have been relegated to an uncommercial own goal.

But when identifying what these marketers consider the most important measure for digital marketing – i.e. sales – our B2B and B2C cousins are surprisingly close (62% and 68% respectively). Bearing in mind the comparatively more protracted and complex journey for B2B buyers, it’s a revelation that those selling B2B are looking for such high sales conversions via digital alone.  While I can see it as a vital part of building reputation, understanding and consideration along the B2B procurement pathway, I’m sceptical about its ability to close the deal.

Which brings me back to SEO and impact.

Achieving a high, organic search engine ranking takes more than one technique – some delivered better by SEO specialists, others by professional generators of compelling and insightful textual content. Yes, I’m talking about PR people. But PR doesn’t get a mention in the report. Does that mean PR has become a subset of SEO and, if so, are SEO specialists qualified to advise clients about and generate material hitherto done by PR people?

The lines are blurred and, what seems increasingly apparent, is the need that SEO and PR people have to collaborate; after all, if gaining a high search engine ranking has the biggest impact on a client’s lead generation, the tools to do it are not necessarily the province of one discipline alone.

Update: since posting the above, I found this excellent post by Lance Concannon on the SEO/PR dilemma and how it needs to be worked out for everyone’s benefit.

About Jon Clements

Jon Clements is a Chartered PR consultant specialising in B2B PR, corporate and marketing communications and is the founder of Metamorphic PR.

Connect at:
JonClements

Some football clubs more social than others

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011 by Rob Brown

I saw two turf-braking stories today about football clubs putting the social into soccer.  The first was about Manchester United appointing an agency to design and build a digital platform to provide a social network for fans around the world.   The club has identified a target of more than 500 million fans – more than double the number of registered twitter users – so why not have a network just for reds.  FlickedIn anyone, InOfftheBlogPost, OnMeHeadBook perhaps?

The slight problem is United’s reputation for real engagement.  The club has looked at Facebook and Twitter bans for its players more than once. What is United”s motivation?  “Social network? I think they mean fan club or more accurately, sales database” quipped Nigel Sarbutts of BrandAlert.

Step up to the spot then Jaguares de Chiapas, a club in the Primera División de México.   They’ve registered all of the players on twitter and they’ve added their twitter handles onto the back of the players shirts.  In social media terms and as a PR story in general; “back of the net”.

It doesn’t always take big names or big budgets to reach your goal.  Innovative ideas and real creativity have no substitute.  As they say in the in the Estadio Victor Manuel Reyna in Chiapas “in football as in life, 140 characters are enough to decide which side you’re on”.

 

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of ‘Share This Too’ (2013).