Three Tips for Effective Consumer-facing Social Media*

Written by: Jess on Monday, June 30, 2014 | Leave a Comment 

Photo: Social Media, Flickr Creative Commons, MKHMarketing

From 2008 to 2012, the number of Americans using social sites daily grew from 12 million to 58 million.  As the use of social media continues to expand, companies are increasingly looking to these mobile and web-based technologies as a way to connect with new and existing customers. While many of today’s brands have a presence on popular social sites, simply sharing information about a product or service does not necessarily lead to sales or customer loyalty. Here are a few tips for taking social media engagement to the next level:

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What Do Social Media Managers and Jazz Musicians Have in Common?*

Written by: Jess on Monday, March 10, 2014 | Leave a Comment 

“Good evening ladies and gentlemen, we’d like to remind you that we don’t applaud here at this old place where we’re working, so, restrain your applause, and if you must applaud wait till the end of the set – and it won’t even matter then. The reason is that we are interrupted by your noise. In fact, don’t even take any drinks, or no cash register ringing, et cetera.”

-Charles Mingus

Don’t worry – despite the title of the article, this isn’t going to be like that one presentation at the last conference you went to that had all the depth and insight of an inspirational poster. I’m not going to tell you that social media management is like jazz because “you need to make every note count” or because you need to “improvise if you want to innovate.” No, this post isn’t about what social media managers and jazz musicians both do right – it’s about something they do wrong.

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3 Social Media Lessons from the Government Shutdown*

Written by: Jess on 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

Three Tips for Creating Socially Shareable Content*

Written by: Jess on 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: ekieckhafer@greenoughcom.com.   

Getting Personal: Networking in the Age of Social Media*

Written by: Jess on 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.

thank you

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.

Do’s

Don’ts

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

When It Comes to Corporate Blogging, Be Current!*

Written by: Paul on Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | Leave a Comment 

Image: NS Newsflash, Flickr

Image: NS Newsflash, Flickr

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 jnavarro@greenough.biz

Short Sociability is Here to Stay*

Written by: Jess on 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: ekieckhafer@greenoughcom.com.   

The Burrito Imperative: Why Consumer Feedback Should Be Your Lifeblood*

Written by: Paul on Friday, February 1, 2013 | 1 Comment 


Join the conversation.

Tell us what you think.

Share your ideas.

collaborate-and-listen

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?”

Trader Joe's Burritos

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

 

Kickball: The Way to a Young Adult’s Heart [and Wallet]*

Written by: Jess on 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.

Interested in joining my kickball team in the spring? Shoot me a line: jboardman@greenough.biz  or send me a tweet: @J_Boardman.

What Better Place to Talk about Facebook than…Twitter?*

Written by: Paul on 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.

Topsy analysis of the keywords "Twitter," "Facebook" and "LinkedIn" during the past month.

Topsy analysis of the keywords “Twitter,” “Facebook” and “LinkedIn” during the past month.

A couple of noteworthy observations and patterns that piqued my interest:

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:

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Image via sayingitsocial.com

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

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