Wednesday, October 16, 2013 | Leave a Comment
No one is happy about the government shutdown, but, like any bad situation, there are lessons we can learn from it. At Greenough, we spend a lot of time managing social media for our clients, so we’ve been closely watching the effects of the shutdown on government agencies’ social accounts. Here are a few things we’ve learned:
1. Social media never shuts down. Despite knowing full well that no one will respond, numerous tweets continue to mention the U.S. Department of Labor’s Twitter handle @USDOL. The government may be shut down, but the public continues to interact with agencies’ Facebook and Twitter feeds.
This provides an important lesson for all organizations. Whether you’re prepared to respond or not, people are going to send you messages via social media. By regularly interacting with your community and addressing their messages quickly, you’ll build a much stronger relationship with your clients and customers
2. Do something interesting. On October 1, @MarsCuriosity, the Twitter account of the Mars rover, tweeted “Sorry I won’t be tweeting/responding to replies during the government shutdown. Back as soon as possible.” This tweet was popular, receiving more than 2,700 retweets, 250-plus favorites and numerous replies. During the same period, @EPA received hardly any engagement. What makes @MarsCuriosity so popular?
Rather than posting news about the rover as a NASA employee, @MarsCuriosity writes as if the rover itself is reporting in. This fun and creative spin on NASA brings in followers and, by extension, public support. The lesson for businesses? To gain a stronger social media following, adopt a unique perspective or style. Some customers may actually find your ideas more engaging if they come from your mascot instead of your CEO.
3. Crisis situations require increased social media presence. A great paradox of the shutdown is that while the government is in crisis and effectively shut down, the public actually wants more social communication, not less. During a crisis situation, be it a product recall, a restructuring of the company or a bad quarter, it is important to increase your communication, not decrease it. Doing so reassures them that you are working to solve the issue, avoiding the panic that often comes with silence.
These are just a few things that we’ve noticed during the government shutdown. If you’ve noticed anything, please let us know in the comments – we’d love to hear them!
Contributed by Account Executive Michael Glen
Thursday, August 22, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Social media has become a vital component to brand marketing strategy, but in order to truly unlock its potential value, brands must pay as much attention to marketing their content as they do creating it. So what is it exactly that leads people to share content socially? It’s all about creating a connection. You will increase the chances of your content getting shared if what you put out there gives people the opportunity to feel connected to others. Here are three tips for creating shareable content, including examples of how brands are successfully implementing these tips:
1) Trigger Positive Emotions: By adding positive emotions to your content, such as humor, intelligence, inspiration, etc., you give your brand a personality that an audience can easily connect with. When a user enjoys your content, a connection is made. In turn, users will pass it along faster within their own network with the hopes that others will enjoy it as much as they did.
Dollar Shave Club: Video: The Dollar Shave Club’s promo video is extremely funny. Not only has it been shared socially across multiple social media channels but it does a great job convincing viewers to actually sign up.
2) Create Simple Content: The faster your audience can make a connection with your content, the greater the chances your content will get shared. Simple content, including images, quotes and tweets, is the best way to get your message across. Strive to create content that is to the point, easy to understand and, therefore, easy to share!
Twecipes: Tweet Recipes: A “twecipe” is a recipe in 140-characters or less posted on Twitter, including everything from starters to main meals to drinks and desserts. They became so popular that all of the twecipe’s were crowdsourced from Twitter and turned into a book, called Tweet Pie.
3) Tell a story: Here at Greenough, we’ve proven that brand storytelling allows companies to engage with customers and prospects on a deeper, more personal level. Good stories fuel conversation and foster engagement. By developing strategic storylines and then weaving them through your social media content, your audience will easily make a connection and go on to share that story.
Mercedes Benz: Choose Your Own Adventure: Mercedes Benz created a story to reel its audience in and then went as far as allowing the audience to choose the ending. They ran a three-part commercial and gave Twitter users the chance to control the outcome of the third commercial. The story followed the main character, musician Kane Robinson, as he makes his way to a secret music gig that’s causing pandemonium on the streets. He’s chased the entire way in a silver Mercedes by police and screaming fans. The exciting story created an immediate connection with its viewers.
Creating a connection with your audience is essential if you want your content to be shared socially. A stronger connection also builds loyalty to your brand among consumers, which, in turn, grows your audience and your company.
Emma Kieckhafer is an Account Executive at Greenough. Send her an email: email@example.com.
Thursday, August 15, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Words of Wisdom from Greenough’s Summer Interns
The ubiquity of social media has made it difficult to imagine networking any other way. But leading up to, and throughout our internship with Greenough, we’ve learned that there’s a lot more to effective networking than a ‘Tweet’ or a ‘Like.’ Let us put this into perspective. I (Jillian) once went to a career fair with the determination to find myself a great internship. I was dressed to impress, I had researched the companies in advance and I had printed out several resumes. I talked to a recruiter, we hit it off and we exchanged contact information. I was off to a great start! That night I emailed the recruiter to thank her for talking with me, added her on LinkedIn, liked the company’s Facebook page, and Tweeted at them. I used every form of virtual follow up that I could……and got zero response. I thought I had done everything right.
In the age of technology, connecting to potential employers should be simpler than ever before – after all, nearly every company solicits contact through its social media. But as we’ve found out, connecting online is not always enough. So what’s a job-seeking college intern to do? The bottom line is traditional methods of networking such as phone calls and written letters are still essential for creating strong connections in today’s professional environment. The trick is combining both the traditional school of thought with today’s digital media-rich environment.
Based on our past experiences, successes and failures, we’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts for students looking to land an internship or just network in general.
- Call to follow up with a contact
- Meet people in person
- Follow up with thank yous: letters, notes, emails, social media
- Connect on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook before and after networking events
- Find common ground (personal and professional)
- Make moves: Don’t sit back and wait for people to come to you
- Network everywhere!!
- Make sure your social networks are professional and “clean” (don’t post unprofessional statuses, untag Facebook photos etc.)
- Invest time to enhance your LinkedIn profile
- Text/leave your phone on when at a networking event or meeting with a contact
- Limit your circle to contacts within your career (you never know who could help you)
- Skip an event because you are not as knowledgeable in the subject as others at the event. Attending is a great way to make new connections
- Be impersonal, try to make a connection with most, and say hello to all!
- Turn down chances for lunch or coffee with colleagues in higher positions or other interns. Let others get to know you on a personal level
- Pass up any opportunity to learn new skills, no matter how complicated they may seem
- Be afraid to ask questions, even the ones that seem simple
From a current intern to a future intern, stitching together traditional and online methods of engagement not only makes connections stronger, but also bridges the gap between more experienced professionals and the new tech-savvy workers of today.
Contributed by Greenough interns Jillian Rosa, Caitlin Cimino, Becca Giller, and Charles Hoang
Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | Leave a Comment
I hope you’re ready to get a little bit meta, because I’m about to discuss corporate blogging… in a corporate blog post. Though they’ve been around longer than almost any other form of social media, blogs continue to be an important channel for companies that want to become a resource to their current and future customers. No other outlet enables a brand to engage through in-depth thought leadership without becoming sales-y – other social channels are geared towards short, snappy posts and responses.
The ideal blog becomes a trusted resource that customers and prospects visit over and over until the blog’s brand becomes synonymous with valuable information. One of the best ways to accomplish this goal is to publish posts that offer commentary on the latest trends, but we all know the reality – long corporate approval processes can make staying current almost impossible. How can you discuss news when the blog post won’t go up for a month? How engaged will my customers really be if I put up a blog post about Game of Thrones or George Zimmerman in August?
As difficult as it may seem to achieve, tying into the latest trends remains important, and there are a few ways around the roadblocks. At Greenough we’ve worked with some clients to establish a “fast track” for topical posts, with a parallel (but slower) approval processes for “evergreen” posts. For example, if your blog publishes three times per week, you might put up a best practices post (written last month) on Monday, a customer case study (written several weeks ago) on Wednesday and a KOL’s commentary on a breaking news story (written and approved that same week) on Thursday. By prioritizing a select few posts, you may be able to keep the blog fresh even if the approval process for most pieces takes months.
Another option is to build posts around a news placeholder. Ninety percent of the post can traverse the approval process, then, the blog editor can go back and fill in a piece of news the day before publishing. These won’t sound as natural – you won’t be tying all aspects of the post back to the news story – but at least you’ll be relevant enough to potentially spark a conversation in the comments section. In these cases, it’s also a good idea to build a placeholder into the title of the post so you can grab readers’ attention with something newsworthy.
Corporate policies usually exist for great reasons, but as every PR person knows, they can be a serious impediment to engagement in today’s fast-paced social media landscape. There’s almost always a workaround to these issues – sometimes it just takes a little creativity to find it!
Jake Navarro is an account supervisor for Greenough. Send him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Friday, June 21, 2013 | Leave a Comment
We finally know that Facebook will add videos to Instagram. While moving from photos to videos may seem like a logical step, I can’t help but wonder if this move simply reflects the pressure that Facebook now feels from Twitter’s Vine app. Pressure or not, “short sociability” is here to stay.
An instant sensation, Vine launched in January of 2013 and already boasts 13 million iPhone users. Only one day after it released an Android version of the app, Vine passed Instagram in total Twitter shares, and it is currently the number-one downloaded app for Android, placing Instagram in second.
There’s no question about the popularity of short sociability. Just look at GIFs (graphic interchange format). First created in 1987, these animated pictures are now more popular than ever. Vine’s six second videos are based on the same idea as Twitter’s 140 character limit. By imposing a limit on social interactions, users are forced to be more concise and more creative. While it may seem easy to shoot a video in six seconds, it actually takes a great deal of thought and creativity to tell a story in that amount of time.
As Vine’s popularity soars, brands are beginning to tap into its potential, including brands in the retail and food & beverage sectors. Lowe’s posts home improvement tips in six-second Vine videos while Bacardi uses Vine to demonstrate how to make a variety of cocktails in six seconds or less. The Gap, Urban Outfitters and Doritos are among many brands also using this platform to engage with consumers. Even General Electric, a 121-year-old company, is using Vine to market to a much younger brand with its #6secondscience clips.
Besides engaging with consumers through uploading short videos of new products, upcoming events, company contests, etc., Vine gives brand marketers the ability to tell a story. The time-limit fosters creativity, forcing brands to make their upload matter, keeping audiences engaged. With Instagram’s new video feature, it is clear that short sociability isn’t going anywhere. Do you plan on introducing short sociability into your marketing strategy? How?
Emma Kieckhafer is an Account Executive at Greenough. Send her an email: email@example.com.
Friday, February 1, 2013 | 1 Comment
Join the conversation.
Tell us what you think.
Share your ideas.
Companies are eliciting consumer input at nearly every turn, but how often do you pick up the phone and call the 800-number on the back of a tractor trailer truck to tell them how they’re driving?
Whether they’re emailing feedback about your company’s latest product or posting a coupon on their best friend’s Facebook page, it’s not about you – it’s about them. The sooner you realize that, the better. So how do you encourage consumers to share and interact with you? Consider the best practices below.
Make it easy
One of the best ways to encourage consumers to do almost anything is to make it easy. Want a busy business traveler to fill out a comment card? Enable them to do it via their mobile device. If you’re a little more old school, give them a self-addressed stamped envelope. Staples aims to leave customers saying, “Now, that was easy” by providing customer service mobile apps and a mobile-optimized website.
On the other end of the spectrum, have you ever tried to provide feedback to the MBTA? It’s not very user-friendly and I can only imagine how much more inundated it would be with the collective fury of Massachusetts Bay if it was super easy to submit a complaint (especially via mobile).
There is, however, one feature that I haven’t seen many customer service portals offer. The MBTA allows you to upload a photo as part of your customer feedback submission. Genius. Sometimes a picture of a filthy subway car, or, on a more positive note, a picture of a T operator helping an elderly passenger with their groceries, is worth a thousand words.
Be open and embrace criticism
If you don’t allow consumers to post negative comments on your Facebook page or you censor unfavorable customer reviews or blog comments, not only are you turning a blind eye to potential problems, you’re telling customers, “if you’re not going to praise us, we don’t want to hear from you.” I won’t name names, but many companies do this, and you know who you are.
Show that you’re listening
I have a habit of falling in love with discontinued products – Crest Lemon Ice toothpaste, my signature shade of Revlon lip gloss, Crispy M&Ms, Trader Joe’s Salsa Tortilla Chips, OPI Lincoln Park After Dark nail polish and Trader Joe’s Chicken, Bean & Rice burritos – to name a few. Trader Joe’s has phased out not one, but two varieties of burritos that used to comprise my dinner roughly three nights a week. I was upset when they suddenly weren’t on the shelves, so I wrote TJ’s an email inquiring “what gives?”
Within a couple of days, I received a personally-written response from Ana at Trader Joe’s explaining that the burritos had been discontinued, along with a detailed overview of why TJ’s discontinues products. She apologized for the inconvenience, suggested a few alternatives I might like and encouraged me to contact her again. Much to my pleasure, one of those varieties of burritos recently reappeared in the freezer section. Within minutes of getting home, I made sure to email Ana and say thank you.
Share success stories
The Golden Rule always applies: Be kind to customers and, generally, customers will show you kindness in return. A grateful fan posted a feel-good customer service story on Panera’s Facebook page and the payoff was tremendous. It’s such a sweet story that I’m compelled to share it here.
A young man named Brandon Cook in Nashua, NH visited his dying grandmother and she mentioned how she wanted some real soup from outside the hospital, specifically, she craved some clam chowder from Panera. Panera only serves clam chowder on Friday, but Brandon called the local manager and asked if he could just have one bowl of clam chowder. She obliged without hesitation and when he went to pick up the soup, they also gave him a box of cookies. It seems simple, but it meant a lot to the Brandon, his grandmother and nearly 815k Facebook users who liked the post and shared 35k comments. Let’s stop for a moment…how much does clam chowder and a box of cookies cost and how much would it cost Panera to garner that many likes and comments using other means? Can you even put a price on that kind of widespread goodwill?
Social marketing isn’t merely having a Twitter account, Facebook page, blog, etc.; It’s sharing, interacting, engaging, and most importantly, listening and reacting. Tune into your real-world “focus groups” and you’ll be amazed at the breadth and depth of the valuable information they provide. Never underestimate the power of the people and their passions, whether they are burritos or the cleanliness of their commute.
Anne Norris is a senior consultant on Greenough’s social marketing team. Follow her on Twitter: @anne_norris
Wednesday, January 23, 2013 | Leave a Comment
Confession: I play adult kickball. That’s right, that game that you played during elementary school recess is now a part of my Sunday routine. And, no, this isn’t some pickup kickball league; this is the World Adult Kickball Association (WAKA). I’m talking playoffs in Vegas. You get the picture.
Adult kickball may sound silly, but frankly WAKA has created a nationwide community unlike any other. With more than 20,000 Facebook likes, an active blog and a presence on Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Google+, Flickr and Foursquare, WAKA may just be the most vibrant amateur sport you’ve never heard of.
As it happens, WAKA is a goldmine for local businesses as well. In addition to hosting weekly kickball games, WAKA partners with local bars to hold after-game “socials,” a lucrative partnership that turns an otherwise dead Sunday afternoon into a win-win. And thanks to start-ups like LevelUp, players don’t even need pockets when they head to Tommy Doyles, a Cambridge bar which partners with WAKA. Patrons can use their smartphones to purchase food and beverages (while also receiving deals and other incentives).
WAKA’s success is due in large part to its ability to make connections. And these connections become even more meaningful as they span different types of media, and people. WAKA has a mobile-optimized site that streamlines registration, it partners with bars that my friends and I already like, and it embraces new technology that mirrors our on-the-go lifestyle.
Mobile payments technology by companies such as LevelUp, Paydiant, ROAM Data etc., are just part of the story. I, for one, am excited by new ways that old (the corner bar) and new (mobile technology) are changing how we socialize, stay active and network. For its part, WAKA is hitting a home run by understanding its audience – twenty-somethings – and catering to it on so many levels.
Monday, September 17, 2012 | Leave a Comment
In addition to Greenough’s social media listening platform, I love playing with tools, widgets and apps out there to test out hypotheses and satisfy my pangs of curiosity. One tool I’m a fan of is a free Twitter analytics service called Topsy. Yesterday, I was playing with keywords and testing different “rivalries” to see how they played out on Twitter. Purely to satisfy my own whim, I compared the number of times Twitter users mentioned the words “Twitter,” “Facebook” and “LinkedIn” during the past month.
A couple of noteworthy observations and patterns that piqued my interest:
- At only one point during the entire month does Facebook fall out of first place as the more-frequently-mentioned social network among Twitter users (on August 18).
- Unlike a lot of closely-related topics (e.g. Democrats and Republicans), Facebook and Twitter generally don’t follow the same patterns of ups and downs.
- Mentions of Twitter declined sharply on Fridays, while mentions of Facebook tended to trend downward on Saturdays.
- LinkedIn is mentioned significantly less than Facebook or Twitter.
One might think that Twitter (the topic) would be discussed more among Twitter users than Facebook (the topic), but that’s not the case. How come? I couldn’t leave well enough alone, so I did some digging and musing to try to identify some possible contributing factors.
Potential reasons why Facebook may have edged out Twitter in mentions:
- When someone talks about Twitter, often they’ll just talk about tweets without saying where they were tweeted (for humans, Twitter’s the only place you can tweet); With Facebook, you use regular verbs that still require you to include the word “Facebook.” E.g. We liked the page on Facebook; He posted the photo on Facebook; I updated my status on Facebook.
- There are more aspects of Facebook to master, meaning that there are more tips, tricks, questions, etc. floating around out there.
- Facebook has more users than Twitter, so it stands to reason that it’d have more mentions, even within the Twitter channel. Facebook is not as open as Twitter and information doesn’t flow as freely, so Twitter is an easier channel through which to seek information or search for like-minded users.
- Facebook is just in the news more than Twitter – IPO, privacy issues.
- Promoting Facebook contests/giveaways
LinkedIn is no small potatoes in the social realm, so why is it barely a blip on the radar when tracking mentions on Twitter? I have a few guesses, but what do YOU think? Share your thoughts in the comment section on this or on any of the other observations that beg for further explanation.
– Anne Norris is a senior consultant, digital and social media. Follow Anne on Twitter: @anne_norris
Thursday, May 3, 2012 | Leave a Comment
How many of our Twitter followers are real buyers? What percentage of our tweets do followers actually see? Are those new Facebook likes really valuable over time? Certainly you’ve posed similar questions to your marketing team or agency.
Getting answers to questions like these is challenging work—and well worth the effort. But even with access to so much data, we can still tell very little about customers and prospects by observing their relatively passive social network participation. To really understand behavior, we must rely on a concept that is both so simple yet so poorly applied in social marketing that it borders on stupidity: stimulus and response.
Most classically-trained marketers understand the concept of introducing an offer (stimulus) and waiting for a response. And over the years we’ve learned to not just measure uptake, but also to understand more about why and when a prospect actually becomes a real marketing-qualified lead. Significant investment is made in refining this process, but I hear too many stories about this discipline not finding its way into social engagement.
Before I go into five discipline-building tips, I must offer one strong caveat: I’m not saying that you should simply treat social networks like any other channel – these are venues for strategic brand storytelling, not lead gen repurposing. So, with that said, I offer five steps for bringing stimulus/response into your social marketing strategy:
- Listen first. Take the time to understand your audience before engaging them – it’s okay to listen for a while. Don’t even think about promotion until you’re sure you understand the community’s vibe.
- Earn your way in. Don’t think offer first. That will probably deliver new followers, friends, members and circle joiners who are undoubtedly there for the wrong reasons. Share, help and tell stories before you even think of asking for something.
- Tailor, don’t generalize. Why not segment your followers, friends, members, etc., for more targeted, relevant campaigns. Sure, it takes more time, but you’d be surprised at how much more lift you get when you really understand what makes different segments unique. Generalize and you’ll just be another marketer to your audience.
- Stimulate in bites, not batches. A campaign within social networks needn’t always be a fully-integrated, highly-structured program that relies on aggregated metrics alone. This is especially true in B2B marketing where five well-nurtured social contacts could actually make a salesperson’s quarter. Try to understand a few prospects better through bites of engagement and tailored offers and see what that yields.
- Study responses by hand. If you’ve listened, earned your way in, tailored your campaign and taken the extra effort to engage in bites, you likely have a good idea of who’s who in your strategically-expanding social ecosystem. Look at who they are, study commonalities and refine your content strategy to match your ideal prospects. Don’t simply generalize anymore.
We love data at Greenough. We pore over it daily, but we also understand that social marketing isn’t driven by data alone. Yes, stimulus and response works well with highly-structured data analysis, and you should have a plan for that too, but don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and use it like a conversation instead of simply a scientific probe.
Scott Bauman is executive vice president at Greenough.
Monday, April 9, 2012 | Leave a Comment
At first, I was prepared to disagree entirely with Christine Dunn’s post from last week, “Email Is Still the Best Way to Share Content among Consumers and Businesses.” I’ve since relaxed my stance, but I still don’t believe it’s the “best” way, although I’ll concede it’s still important and valuable in many instances. But things are starting to change.
Just because email may be the “most-used method” today doesn’t mean it’s the best. Why is that distinction important? Because it continues to provide a false sense of security, especially for traditional marketers who are still overly reliant on tools they’ve always used. Yes, email is still the original killer app, but can it survive fundamental changes in how we interact with our surroundings and each other in mobile ecosystems? I’m not so sure.
I strongly agree with Christine that encouraging “smaller, more intimate groups of colleagues, friends and family” to share content is an important goal for all marketers. But I’m not sure if email is really the ultimate tool for doing this, it just happens to be the most familiar to many. The StumbleUpon study Christine mentions (overview here from AdAge) suggests that its users, a younger demographic, “want a direct line of communications,” but the fact that email is one of the ways information is shared doesn’t prove that it’s the best. Maybe it’s just the easiest from the SU interface. I’d need to see more data.
When I think of “direct line of communications,” however, I think texting. I’d wager that more people 34 and younger are communicating via text than email, at least outside of work. And even people older than 34 are growing increasingly more comfortable with texting. It is more immediate and fluid, something that can also be said of popular mobile apps used today for discovering and sharing content such as Instagram.
The discovery-sharing paradigm is much more complex – and potentially powerful – than standard approaches to outbound marketing. That’s another reason I was so eager to disagree with Christine. In fact, her reference to the BtoB marketing study finding that “email marketing is still considered the ‘workhorse’ of the marketing industry because it’s inexpensive and effective” really set me off because the bar for what’s “effective” in email marketing is often quite low.
The BtoB study offers unsurprising stats about how marketers plan to send more content through email, but that still doesn’t prove its value. The report summary teases the notion that marketers can no longer ignore email/social media integration, but I think strategic mobile integration is even more important; and not just mobile versions of online networks, but new methods to experience content that tap either new technology or new approaches to advance the discovery-sharing paradigm.
No, email isn’t going anywhere soon. But let’s not get carried away with its perceived value, especially considering the source (marketers comfortable with it). I don’t have the answers, but I do think that as we spend more time in a mobile ecosystem, email, at least as it exists today, may not be such a workhorse any more. At least that’s a possible sea change we should all be watching more closely today.