By Brittany Green
When Twitter was first launched, people were uncertain how successful it would be. Now in 2016, there are millions of users and more than 500 million tweets sent out every day. People are using Twitter to find news, share information and connect with people and businesses around the world. It has become a very powerful tool, not only for social purposes, also to help businesses market their brands.Some of the most successful companies use Twitter because it allows them to reach a large audience, interact with them quickly and keep them updated with content information.
Chipotle is a great example of a company that efficiently uses Twitter to interact with it’s audiences. According to a 2011 Nation’s Restaurant News Study, 90 percent of the company’s activity on Twitter is responding to customers through @mentions. Chipotle currently has 743,000 followers that it can interact and share content with. That is certainly amazing, but also something that, in principle, any business can do. If you’re interested in using Twitter to build your brand, here are some tips to help you get started.
Use the search feature
One of Twitter’s most powerful tools is the search feature. It can operate as a “global human search engine” of sorts and allows people to find others on Twitter with relevant information to share. Researchers also can look to see which topics are trending to stay informed and gauge audience interests. Hashtags (#) can help people immensely when searching. Just put a “#” in front of a topic and a lists of relevant tweets will appear. This can save you a lot of trouble and makes it very easy to search.
Know your audience
It is VERY important to know your audience. This will help you communicate clearly and make information relevant to them. If the content is not interesting, they will quickly move on to the next thing that interests them. The search feature can be very useful for learning about your
target audiences. It can tell you what is trending and their opinions on what’s going on. Another option is to look at various profiles and start collecting information. What are their interests and opinions? When are they active? Who do they follow? Which demographic groups do they belong to? These details can help give you an edge when creating strategic messaging for your audiences.
Customize the profile page
This plays a BIG role in visitors’ decisions to either read your content or move on. If your page is boring and doesn’t attract visitors, they probably aren’t going to follow you. The profile page should grab the visitors’ attention and convey who you are and what you’re about. While customizing the profile page, perhaps the most important decision is choosing a good avatar, as it will appear next to every tweet that is sent out. Make it something recognizable and eye-catching. Brand logos often fit well here since they are usually designed with these ideas in mind. An attractive banner image is a nice touch as well, and don’t forget to include links to your other social media accounts and/or website in order to create deeper engagement.
Tweet interesting content
This one may seem obvious, but bland content is still a common mistake that plagues the social media of many businesses. The Twitter feed is built around scrolling endlessly through a series of short posts. To escape the monotony, many people just scroll until something grabs their attention. Content should be fun, interesting and useful. Common themes or ideas in your content can help to establish your brand identity and keep readers coming back. Interesting, personal content is what separates your brand from everyone else, so use it to your advantage.
Engage with other accounts
Engaging with other accounts, particularly those within your industry/field, can be highly beneficial. Building relationships can help to build your reputation, grow your brand, increase awareness, provide sources of interesting content and keep you informed. This can also keep you informed about what your competitors might be doing and the state of the market.
More and more businesses are using Twitter as a professional communication platform, and if you follow these tips, yours can be one of them. On that note, remember to follow Innovative PR on Twitter and Facebook.
By Jamie Jackson
I love Instagram. I really do. It’s fun to post pictures and to get a sneak peek into strangers’ lives (why is this not a weird statement anymore?).
Instagram is a popular social media outlet for personal use, however, it is also becoming popular among companies for branding and marketing. Here are a few tips to get the most out of Instagram for your business (or even your personal account).
Use brightly colored and well-lit photos
An attractive photo stream doesn’t usually involve unedited, dull pictures. Starbucks’ Instagram feed is full of colorful and attractive photos.
However – not all black and white pictures should be thrown in the trash. Leon Bridges’ photo stream has some great examples of how black and white pictures can still be great for Instagram.
Leon is an R&B artist embracing soul music. These black and white images line up perfectly with Leon’s personal brand and the subjects he sings about.
Instagram is effective when people follow you, and you gain followers by giving people what they want. On Instagram, that means aesthetically pleasing photos.
No one wants to see another ad on Instagram. Sure, if you’re a clothing store, post pictures of new arrivals. If you have a great new product, it’s okay to feature it in a post. But Instagram shouldn’t be used as an online store. Try something like this:
Tell stories. Show consumers the faces behind the name.
You are more than an ad agency or a boring, unoriginal company. Show the fun! Unless you really want people to think you’re a boring, unoriginal company – in which case, I’m afraid I can’t help you there.insta
If you use Instagram, actually USE it
Post consistently. Don’t post once or twice, or for a season. If you put an intern in charge of the account, make sure someone else takes over after they leave.
Consistency is key in posting and branding. If you use hashtags on Twitter or Facebook, use the same for Instagram. Use your same logo as the profile picture, link to the same website, use the same voice and use your brand. Instagram provides a unique opportunity to tell your story solely through pictures. As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. Steward them well.
By this, I don’t mean try to use modern slang just because it’s used by young people. You risk misusing or misunderstanding words and phrases, potentially losing credibility and followers. Instead, follow current trends and try to stay fun. This post from McDonald’s is a great example.
Celebrate things like hump day. Be relevant in your posts on holidays or during big world issues. This might seem like it won’t affect sales, but an online presence that seems real and personal is so valuable to a company – especially with younger people.
While Insta is more fun and exciting than a lot of other tools, it’s still very measurable and very valuable. Do it better by evaluating your efforts with Instagram analytics tools. Instagram is great for reaching younger audiences and telling your story with photos. Evaluating any social media effort is a chance to show the C-suite their money is being used well. It also gives coordinators a chance to change their efforts as needed depending on what works and what doesn’t. Evaluation helps to refine and target your audiences and determines if you are indeed reaching them. All efforts are wasteful if not evaluated frequently.
Social media is a wonderful branding tool when used properly. Millennials grew up with this stuff, so employ some of them to help you navigate new waters. It’s worth it. Speaking of social, you’ll want to follow IPR on Twitter and Facebook for the latest.
By Kristina Keeling
Trends in social media come and go, and the big trend right now is live streaming. So how are we, as PR professionals, supposed to know if we should jump on the bandwagon or let it run its course? This week, we take a closer look at the live streaming trend to see if this is something we should take seriously.
Life On Air released this mobile live streaming app in February 2015. When you start recording, it sends an automated tweet telling others that you are live via Meerkat. It was a huge hit – for the first few days – and then twitter decided to pull the plug on its Application Programming Interface (API). Without this software, Meerkat couldn’t integrate Twitter’s social graphs. So what does this mean? Well, when new users joined, they weren’t automatically connected to those they followed on Twitter. This hinders Meerkat because users won’t be automatically notified by the app when friends are broadcasting unless they manually build their followers. This, in turn, means people will not be on the app.
In response to Twitter’s decision to block access to their API and social graph, Meerkat’s CEO, Ben Rubin, told Yahoo Tech, “We are definitely going to start our own network. We are already starting to decouple the social graph.” In the meantime, the app released an update to help users connect, so now users can search for others by their Twitter username.
Why was Twitter so intent on shutting down Meerkat? Well, with a quick Google search, I found out that Twitter bought a competitive app, Periscope, in March 2015 – just after Meerkat launched. Periscope works similarly to Meerkat in that it allows others to know when you are live streaming via tweets and notifications. Twitter pulled their API and made it harder for Meerkat to be integrated with the platform, thus making Periscope the only live streaming app that is seamlessly connected to Twitter.
A quick breakdown of the apps
The layouts of the two services are different, but both are user friendly. When you open Meerkat you are brought to a “landing page” where you can let your followers know what is happening. In Meerkat you are able to schedule live streams, so you can let your followers know that you will be live in the near future or that you are talking about a topic right now. When you scroll down on the landing page you can see who is live now, and further down you can see what is scheduled.
When you open up Periscope, you see who on your followers list is live, followed by featured live streams and your followers’ most recent live streams. Periscope also offers a world map and a list view of who is live.
In short, both apps offer attractive features.
Which one should I use?
In terms of popularity, Periscope is definitely winning the race between live streaming services. Each app, however, has its own advantages and disadvantages that may suit your personal preference. Personally, I enjoy the world map on Periscope seeing who is live streaming around me, but I do like how you can schedule live feeds on Meerkat. Since I downloaded the apps, I have definitely checked Periscope more often, as it has the advantage of notifying me when the people I follow are live streaming.
Live streaming is definitely still in its infancy. I was expecting to see more people I personally knew using the apps and was surprised at how few used them. I do think that live streaming will gain more popularity when major events, such as pro baseball and football championships roll around. Live streaming apps will have an advantage because they will allow people to feel like they are really at the event. Celebrities and major influencers in the social media world will be able to live stream the backstage experience, or other things at major events.
“The Sleeping Giant of Live Streaming”
Periscope and Meerkat might soon have some competition in the live streaming realm, as YouTube recently released its own live streaming capabilities. YouTube will likely target different audiences for its live streaming services, though. Right now, YouTube live streaming is popular with the sports and gaming audience. Once more YouTube “creators” jump on board the live streaming trend though, YouTube may be the go-to destination for live streaming.
I think that live streaming is here to stay – for a while, at least. It is a great tool for instant news and entertainment. What do you think? Is live streaming here to stay? Comment below with your thoughts on Meerkat, Periscope and YouTube Live, and don’t forget to follow IPR on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
by Kristina Keeling
Product placement in television has become more important to marketers because of the way people are watching television. Viewers are able to skip over commercials and enjoy shows without any interruptions. Product placement advertises to consumers subliminally, if done correctly. However, marketers are becoming more aggressive with product placement promotions to reach their audiences.
How does it work?
To put it simply, product placement is when a company pays to have its product showcased on a television show or in a movie, but a lot more goes into product placement than we think. The film, “Man of Steel,” had more than 100 product partners, earning close to $160 million before it hit theaters. Product placement is also in books, video games and even on YouTube. When done successfully, product placements can have lasting impact on viewers. Some agencies actually specialize in product placement promotion because of high demand.
HERO, an advertising agency in Los Angeles, specializes in product placements. Its clients have placed products on well-known shows, such as “Two and a Half Men,” “Glee,” and “The Good Wife,” just to name a few. Its website states that “the brands in a viewer’s favorite shows have a much higher likelihood of becoming that viewer’s favorite brand.”
House of Cards
The Netflix original series “House of Cards” is notorious for its not-so-subtle product placements. The series had such an overload of notable products that the Los Angeles Times said, “House of Cards? More like House of Product Placement,” mocking the hit TV series for its poor use of product placements. The very first sentence of the first episode referenced a Toyota Prius. Netflix spent a total of $100 million producing the first season, but offers no disclosures of any paid product placement, only crediting the product partners by saying all logos were “used with permission.”
Now that “House of Cards” is in its third season it is confirmed by Advertising Age that Anheuser-Busch is the exclusive beer brand for the series, along with Samsung being the tech-of-choice. Anheuser-Busch is not paying for this placement however, but rather supplying production with its product. Samsung also offered its customers Netflix subscriptions when buying select Samsung products. It is rumored that Coca-Cola, Dell and Nike are all working with “House of Cards” for similar deals.
The Emmy Award-winning series, “Modern Family,” now on its sixth season, is another show littered with product placement. Steven Levitan, executive producer and creator, said the show turns down about 90 percent of its product placement offers, and for a good reason. ABC wants to stay true to the characters on its show. The Toyota Prius, an environmentally-friendly car, appeared on the first season, driven by Mitchell Pritchett, who is an environmental attorney. It wouldn’t make sense for him to drive a gas-guzzling truck.
“Connection Lost,” a recent episode of “Modern Family” has sky rocketed to the top of the list of brilliantly used product placement. The episode was shared with viewers entirely through Claire Dunphy’s MacBook Pro. In the episode, Claire is trying to find her daughter after having a huge fight, but she is stuck at the airport and has to use Facebook, iCloud, the app, Find Your iPhone and FaceTime to track her down. The episode didn’t feel like one long commercial, cleverly blurring the lines between entertainment and advertising.
Is this all too much?
Products are everywhere. Your favorite character is going to have to make a phone call or use a computer for research, so why not have them use an Apple product to do so? What do you think? Have “Modern Family” and “House of Cards” gone too far with product placement? Let us know in the comments below.
by Maria Schomer
AMBER Alert is not a term most people like to hear, but a term we all know well. The AMBER Alert was created in 1996 when Dallas broadcasters partnered with local police to create a warning system that notified the public about missing children. Since its inception, the system has helped in the recoveries of 728 children, according to the AMBER Alert government page. Since we are in the digital age, it is only fitting for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and Facebook to collaborate and bring AMBER Alerts to mobile Facebook users.
You may already know that AMBER Alerts are sent to your phone automatically through a text message. Using Facebook to send the alerts allows users to see a photo of the child, along with a possible vehicle description and other important information. Facebook users are now able to share the posting with their friends–a better system than text messages, where we receive is only a few words. This gives people the visual aid that could help find more children in the future.
You won’t see the AMBER Alert unless it is in your area; sometimes you might not see one at all. It all depends on the targeted area for the alert.
Facebook versus Twitter
In 2014, an 11-year-old girl was abducted but was fortunately recovered when a motel clerk recognized the girl from a Facebook post seen on the clerk’s timeline. This story led the NCMEC to see more value in Facebook sharing than Twitter retweeting. According to Forbes, Facebook had nearly 1.3 billion active monthly users in 2014, compared to Twitter’s 271 million active monthly users. In general, people tend to use Facebook a lot more than Twitter, however, 86 percent of time is spent on Twitter’s mobile application, whereas 68 percent of time is spent on the Facebook application. Despite these statistics, the NCMEC found it fitting to have the AMBER Alerts on Facebook.
Considering the AMBER Alert system has worked for nearly 20 years, Facebook and the NCMEC have high hopes that this new system will help bring more children home to their families.
by Nikki Carpenter
For public relations students like myself, there is not an experience quite like Innovative Public Relations. To be honest, I did not know what I was getting into when I joined IPR. I had no idea what projects I would be assigned to, who would be on my team, and the skills I would quickly develop. The only thing I had to compare it to was a sports internship from over the summer.
In August, my team learned that we would be collaborating with the firm’s first off-campus client. Larry Schnieders, a retired corporate executive and UCM PR alumnus, wanted to share a story connecting two Kansas City high schools that have been housed at the same location. Both of the schools and their students prospered when all odds were against them.
The focus of our campaign is to utilize a crowdfunding platform to acquire the funds necessary for the shooting and editing of the film. As specialists with marginal knowledge of this unique fundraising technique, we found ourselves spending our time researching everything possible. From tips to statistics to looking at successful pages, we quickly developed a strategic approach in order to raise the necessary funds.
In partnership with Through A Glass Productions, “Together We’re Stronger” revisits the extraordinary story of Bishop Lillis High’s unexpected Missouri basketball state title in 1961. The team consisted of transfer students and a first-year coach. The film will have interviews of the players and coach of this team, who have gone on to be successful. One player was twice-elected mayor of Omaha, Nebraska. Another went on to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
The documentary will also follow Lillis’ legacy through the building’s current tenant, DeLaSalle Education Center. DeLaSalle is a charter school with alternative-style curriculum, and the only school of its kind in Missouri. DeLaSalle relies on donations and fundraisers to provide at-risk youth a personalized education to improve learning and life skills. The film is expected to bring a new audience to the school that has already reached its capacity of 300 students with a waiting list.
The crowdfunding campaign to raise $18,000 will continue until Dec. 7 on Kickstarter. Check out the page here! For up-to-date information on everything regarding this project, make sure to like “Together We’re Stronger” on Facebook and follow the film on Twitter.
Pictures via Hank Young and Kali Schnieders
by Erin Robinson
Millennials. We have all heard the term, but do we understand its meaning and importance? Before exploring the challenges of marketing to millennials and some helpful ways to overcome them, let’s take a look at who millennials are and why marketing to this generation is so vital to the success of companies and brands.
Who millennials are and why they’re important
Millennials are individuals born from 1977-1995 and they represent 25 percent of the US population, according to Barkley’s report, “American Millennials: Deciphering the Enigma Generation.” There are millions of them, over 82 million to be specific. They spend money, with an annual purchasing power at $200 billion. Lastly, they are making gateway purchases, which Bulldog Reporter Editor Talia Sinkinson defines as, “choices that can influence brand allegiance for the rest of their lives.”
Overcoming millennial marketing challenges
While every company may have different challenges in its efforts to market to millennials, I am going to focus on a few of the most common from my own perspective as a millennial.
#1: Grabbing millennials’ attention
We are exposed to thousands of marketing messages every day, so creating something that is going to stand out in the clutter and remain in our minds is no easy feat.
Fix: Make us feel like a part of your brand, use visuals to engage us and inspire us to take action. Do what hasn’t been done. We like new and bold.
#2: We don’t like when you try to blatantly sell us things
Millennials can sniff out an advertisement from a mile away. We are so inundated with advertisements that we begin to resent them all together and we find ways to block them out any chance we get.
Fix: Sell your story rather than your product. Find a way to relate your brand to us personally and tap into our emotions a bit. We love a good story and want to support things that make us feel good about ourselves. When companies or brands find ways to engage us without yelling “BUY ME!!!” we appreciate it.
#3: Keeping up with us isn’t easy
Our world is constantly changing, especially when it comes to technology. We are also always connected, so we are aware of what is going on around us.
Fix: The companies and brands that keep up with changes and trends in technology and adapt their marketing messages to what is going on around us will be the most successful. Pay attention to what we are talking about and find a clever way into the conversation.
Moral of the story
Marketing to millennials should be at the top of companies’ priority list and will benefit them tremendously if done the right way.
by Stephanie Harvey
Grabbing bloggers’ attention and getting them to talk about your company is becoming more and more important. Even a simple mention by an influential blogger with a large following could lead to a great deal of exposure.
Bloggers have a lot to say. The bigger their following, the more this may be true. That is why in the next few points below you will be provided with four easy ways to get bloggers writing about your company.
Choose targeted bloggers
It’s important to choose specific and targeted bloggers who are interested in or already write about topics relating to your company and industry. You can better understand the blogger by going back and reading over their posts. This may take some time, but it’s worth it. Doing this will help your company gain a better understanding of the blogger. Make sure to understand the blogger’s specific audience. They’re the people you want to reach.
Get bloggers interested
You can get bloggers interested many ways. One of the most common ways is to send them products to test. If your company solely provides services you can invite them to a one-on-one meeting. The blogger might also be interested in attending a product launch party or other exclusive event to gain inside access. Simply meeting the blogger over lunch or coffee and discussing your company may even get them more interested.
Motivate them by building a relationship
Give the blogger further information about the specific product that you are wanting them to promote or talk about. Images and videos are always make great content worth sending. Don’t forget about the highly influential video bloggers on YouTube and other video services.
Make sure to not send the blogger too little or too much content. Give them ways to find content on their own if they continue to show interest. Always make sure not to send them dry content. Giving them a digital and print media kit is a good route to take.
Share the blogger’s content
It also might maintain the relationship if promoting their original content. Bloggers that makes money from advertisements on their sites, so they’ll appreciate the increased traffic. Promoting their YouTube channel would help them as well.
By following the four steps you can not only gain insight into a blogger’s world, get them talking about your company, and most importantly, build a long-lasting relationship.
by Amanda Plachte
Box, a competitive cloud storage company that believes those committed to doing good should have the best tools available to them, has not seen much profit since it was founded in 2005, nor does it expect to do so in the foreseeable future. In the last fiscal year, which ended January 31, the company had earned a revenue of more than $120 million but suffered a $170 million loss due to the continuous investing in its own growth, according to this March 24 Mashable article written by author Jason Abbruzzese.
Abbruzzese notes that the cloud storage industry is one of the fastest growing in the tech world and it is incredibly competitive. Box’s biggest competitors are Dropbox, Google, Microsoft and Cisco. Considering how new Box is and in comparison to deep-pocketed technology giants like Google, competing can be difficult when services such as Google Drive have had a recent drop in price.
With the potential threat of future operations being harmed, the company needed something more effective to set itself apart. In this more-recent Mashable article, author Karissa Bell, details the launch of Box’s new Box.org service. This new service will offer free and discounted licenses to nonprofit organizations around the world.
“In many case, they’re just not as experienced,” said Karen Appleton, Box’s senior vice president of global alliances. “They have created these organizations to solve a problem and they are well-versed in that problem but they aren’t well-versed in how technology can aid them. We want to solve that problem of access and put these organizations on equal ground.”
What organizations qualify?
Those eligible for the Box.org services are organizations officially designated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit serving a charitable or philanthropic mission to benefit communities. Nonprofits with less than 10 employees qualify for free services whereas organizations with more than 10 employees receive a 50 percent discount.
What organizations don’t qualify?
Not all nonprofit organizations are eligible for the free or discounted services. Hospitals and large health care organizations do not qualify unless the entity addresses a special public such as the low-income population or substance abuse programs. Other ineligible organizations include government-affiliated and political groups, schools and individuals.
What organizations have benefited so far?
Box already has more than a thousand nonprofit customers including well-known organizations like the Livestrong Foundation, World Bank Group and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Customers of Box.org are able to securely share internal and external files anytime from anywhere in the world.
by Ana Guzman
Hashtags are so widely used now it is hard to explain the original purpose of them. This unique tagging helps categorize words into topics that can be linked to other Twitter users using the same hashtags. This grouping system facilitates interaction by sorting the links, making it easier for users to find posts with others using the same hashtag. This can potentially increase interaction between individuals around the world posting about the same topic. They can also create hype, therefore creating a new trending topic.
According to the Twitter Support page, trending topics are determined by an algorithm Twitter uses based on the individual’s location and who the person follows on Twitter. Trending topics are not identified by what has been popular for an extended period of time but by topics that became immediately popular.
If used correctly, a hashtag can be extraordinarily powerful. It cannot only create a hype, help advertisers promote a product, get people to interact and state their opinions, but also help individuals find information easily.
According to “A new perspective on Twitter Hashtag Use,” an article by Hsia-Ching Chang, as Twitter grows and evolves, more people are partaking in sharing information and their opinions with the world and providing a like via hashtag. This practice is growing and evolving so fast it has expanded into other mediums. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest have employed the use of hashtags. Television advertisements also have started to associate a specific hashtag with them as a way of prompting more engagement with viewers.
For example, #UpForWhatever was a hashtag used by But Light for a series of commercials where a typical guy named Ian is faced with a wild night full of fun and celebrities. This commercial was released during the Super Bowl and the hashtag was such a success it is still being used now.
In my experience, the hashtag creates a sense of community. It allows interaction between individuals during live events, such as the Sochi Olympics, disasters like Hurricane Sandy and current news trends such as Major League Baseball games.
Some individuals use hashtags as personal descriptions of what they are doing, what they’re wearing, in sarcastic messages or to express feelings rather than meaningful ideas.
Some examples of poor hashtag use are:
- Spam Hashtags – Spam hashtags are when you add a hashtag before every word, for example, #Today #is #my #Birthday. This kind of hashtag is futile and has no concrete categorization in a search.
- Over-tags – This means hashtagging multiple subjects within one message. According to the Twitter help page and Best practices the recommended number of hashtags within one tweet is two. Any more than that will lose meaning and turn into an over-tag.
- Long and meaningless hashtags (#MyDogLovesEatingVanillaIceCream) – Somewhere around the world someone maybe posting about how much their dog loves eating vanilla ice cream, but this hashtag won’t link them to anyone else… unless by coincidence someone else is using it.
Make sure you are getting the full potential out of your hashtags. Make them have meaning and a purpose. I found an article that helped me understand how to properly and effectively use hashtags by making them short and concise and limiting the number of hashtags in one tweet to two.