Advertising: have you got all the facts?

A cute infographic we created at OpenX for New York Advertising Week this year.

Image  —  Posted: October 8, 2012 in Advertising, Communications, Public Relations, Social Media
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Check out these cool Brits creating e-commerce solutions out of New York agency Pod1.

This article originally appeared on Social Media Today.
 

It seems in the space of just a few weeks Pinterest has risen from a little-known site to a front-of-mind social media platform. It’s certainly now considered one that should be in the tool box of any savvy social media pro.

So what really is the significance of this picture-sharing site, and how are people deploying the use of it as part of the social stack?

For those new to the platform, it can be described as a stylish way to share, like and group, images and infographics. You can ‘pin’ content on boards, categorizing and naming in any way you like. You are able to upload images direct from your phone and computer, or simply use images from other Pinterest users. With an estimated 7.2 million unique visitors already pinning content it’s undeniably growing in popularity, despite still having an ‘invite only’ admission policy. (Not a user yet? Drop me an email and I’ll happily send you an invite.)

Pinterest is being used well by brands like Whole Foods

There are limitations for brands using Pinterest, and it seems that users are prevented from simply sharing images of products that are deemed directly promotional. However, creating communities around the ideas or lifestyle of your brand is acceptable. For example, if you’re a property company specializing in seaside properties in England, then you could create a series of boards showcasing some spectacular coastal scenic views to whet people’s appetites.

A good example of creative use is by Whole Foods who have created a series of boards around recycling matters, art initiatives and more as a way to promote its brand values and demonstrate is commitment to relevant associated issues.

I could imagine a brand like TOMS shoes – who, upon purchase, give customers a branded flag, encouraging them to take a picture of it at a unique location – using the best submitted pictures here, offering incentives to users whose pictures are selected. Or perhaps you might consider a series of ‘how to’ infographics that relate to your product and that cover set-up, Q&As and trouble-shooting.  What will you do with Pinterest?

Co-founder Noah Brier explains how the Percolate algorithm helps brands to be social at scale. Used by companies including American Express and Reuters, Percolate finds relevant content from around the web and feeds it back to a brand editor to add comments, before publishing back out to social channels and websites. Source: Adweek

Often the first result that people want from their social media strategy is a mass of followers. Let’s be realistic here – it often takes time to see large levels of growth, and careful planning and development of a social strategy needs to take place before it will happen.

One important thing to mention here is that any social media strategy needs to be developed with full consideration of your business, organisation or mission aims. Without this planning you are simply wasting your time.

Once you – or your consultant – have spent the time building your strategy, and you’re still seeing a slower level of growth than you’d like, there are various ways you can help accelerate your number of followers.

Innovate and be creative
Remember to be creative about how you use social media, and be sure to use it as an opportunity to extend your brand’s personality and message. Spend some time understanding what your competitors are doing, and identify how you can be better and quicker than them. For instance, you may want to explore giveaways, or rewards to those that engage with you on social media – this is generally a fairly good way to build a loyal and engaged following. Perhaps you could host a live Q&A session for your followers to discuss some of the issues affecting your area of focus, or maybe develop associations and partnerships with other prominent players in your space.

Listen and respond
Aside from just listening to conversations and reacting to those discussing your brand or project, explore how social media could assist you in your product development process and offer your followers a chance to be part of defining some part of what you do by crowd-sourcing their input. This was a successful strategy used by Kodak recently as they developed a closer relationship with customers by appealing for, and integrating, suggestions for future product modification.

Still need more followers?
There are a myriad products and platforms out there that will enable you to simply buy followers (just search ‘how do I get 10,000 followers’ in your search bar and see just some of them), but you need to be serious about the quality of followers you are building this way. Having 100 advocates who are regularly discussing you is going to do a lot more for your brand awareness, volume and reach than 1,000 who have no idea who you are or what you do. Another route to generating a community of suitable followers is to take advantage of Twitter’s Promoted Account advertising. Still in beta testing and available to just a select few, this is a way of gaining followers based on pre-determined criteria such as geographic region or keyword relevance. The pay-per-engagement model means that you only spend money as you get results.

A key thing I always advocate is that it’s better to focus on community-building, rather than metric building. If you are using social media as a tool to stimulate discussion, interact and offer valuable content deemed to have high authority in your subject, you will see a healthy level of growth of followers that will be an asset to your community.

Need help building a social media strategy and growing followers? Get in touch.

Twitter Ads: #Winning?

Posted: December 29, 2011 in Advertising, Social Media, Twitter

2011 saw one of Twitter’s boldest moves to date as it introduced the beta advertising program to a select number of companies willing to test it out.

Twitter has naturally been very cautious in keeping a tight control over how this rolls out in order to prevent any negative consumer reaction and, as such, have limited access to a select number of brands this year. Over the past few months I secured participation in the beta testing program on behalf of a world-leading digital advertising company, allowing us to take advantage of Promoted Accounts and Promoted Tweets. The third area that is currently available for promotion is that of ‘Promoted Trends’, typically being deployed by brands releasing films, video games and other one-off products that can warrant the $100K+ cost-per-day basis.

Through running a series of tester campaigns, I’ve had the opportunity to try out some of the following Promoted Account and Tweet campaigns:

Promoted Account campaigns that:

–       Gave visibility to the followers of competitor brands.

–       Targeted the followers of relevant industry journalists, bloggers and analysts.

–       Positioned the brand in front of those searching for relevant keywords typical in our industry.

Promoted Tweets that:

–       Would be viewed by the brand’s followers, regardless of when they might be viewing Twitter content.

–       Shared positive endorsement of the brand in front of users who we know might be searching for or following our competitors.

–       Were targeted to particular countries using local language for maximum effect.

With reported engagement rates of up to 11% by some, I’m pleased to say that I’ve seen rates slightly north of this for some of our Promoted Tweet campaigns and follow rates of up to ten times the suggested average for the Promoted Account campaigns. There are plenty of case studies on Twitter’s blog here that make for encouraging reading too.

So, what of the consumer reaction to these types of promoted content? A recent Lab42 study showed some interesting results.  48% of respondents indicated that they had seen a promoted Tweet from a brand they consider relevant to them, and 42% have received discounted offers via promoted Tweets. Compare these figures with the 21% of US users who suggest that Promoted Tweets are “annoying and take away from the Twitter experience” and you have a fairly good indication that Twitter is close to getting it right.

As we head into 2012 I fully expect to see more promoted activity and higher levels of creativity around how campaigns are being executed by brands. Looking to maximise your brand on Twitter, drive new followers and improve your content? Get in touch. You can also register your interest in using the promoted products here.

Hootsuite – a great platform to help you manage Facebook (pages and profiles), LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare and Twitter content, and simultaneously monitor keywords, competitors and hashtags. You can also use this to schedule content to publish at times when you might be busy doing other things. The Vancouver-based company also provides a ‘Pro’ version ($5.99 per month) that has further features including additional team member access, Google Analytics and Facebook Insights integration.

Tweetdeck – I personally prefer the iPhone app rather than the desktop platform, but regardless it still provides a good way to keep up-to-date with conversations and keywords on the move or at your desk. Widely used, and recognised as one of the better tools out there, the company was recently acquired by Twitter (May 2011) as they build out their user management and analytics capability.

Ubersocial – ‘the world’s most popular full-featured Twitter app’. With versions for iPhone, Blackberry and Android, Ubersocial helps find the world’s best Tweeters on particular topics, and aims to generate followers amongst those keen to hear what they say.

Tweeteffect – want to know which of your latest Tweets generated most followers? Or perhaps see what may have caused some of them to stop following you? I find this tool a little unreliable, but can still provide a good indication of what content your followers are likely to be turned on and off by.

Klout – find out the influence your social channels have with Klout’s scoring system. Some recent changes in how they calculate scores downgraded a lot of people’s scores, but this is still a good tool to see who you most influence, and in what subject areas. This is useful as you manage your influencer lists and identify who in your follower base is most responsive to your content. Also, if you’re an ‘influencer’ in certain topics, you could qualify for special offers and gifts through the ‘perks’ program.

Have a suggestion that I didn’t include? Tweet me @JamesAldousPR and let me know.