Monthly Archives: July 2014

Foundation of a Brilliant Brand on Twitter

By: Jenifer Weterau

Twitter and brands should go together like girls and purses or tuxes and ties. It just might be the best way ever for a brand to listen to and react to its customers. But some brands’ may find that their social media strategy isn’t generating the results they expected and they are missing opportunities. With over 255 million monthly active Twitter users, simply posting the same content about what your company does is not going to cut it. An effective Twitter strategy should be made up of a few key essentials:

Be Interactive
The majority of your feed should be interaction with your audience- whether it is answering questions, sending a thank you to brand advocates or supporting a media partner. Showing that you’re an engaged social brand will grow your audience and inspire more interaction. According to Twitter, 85% of followers feel more connected with a small business after following them. (via Twitter) Don’t just start tweeting assuming that the Twitter community is going to accept you with open arms. It’s important that you spend some time just listening and observing the behavior of those who are talking about you or your company. Understand how your customers behave and adjust accordingly.

Share Relevant Content
Providing your audience with smart, tailored content will establish you as a resource. Make sure to retweet and share articles that are aligned with your brand’s industry and personality, making use of @mentions. Tweets containing the words “right now” or “today” average higher engagement than the brand average. Remember to keep your Tweets prompt and timely—a crucial element for Twitter success.

Offer Value
Remember that every follower you have is following you for a reason: to know more about your products and services. In fact, 42% of Twitter users say they use Twitter to learn about products and services. (via Edison) Be generous with sharing tutorials, guides and new product updates.
To be a successful brand on Twitter, you have to build credibility and equity. That doesn’t necessarily refer to the number of followers, tweets, or retweets you may have, although these are important factors. Rather, it’s more about developing a reputation as a trusted source of information or being seen as an expert in a particular subject.

Promote Your Brand
Avoid going overboard with promotional messages, which will result in disengaged and annoyed followers. Brands that are too self-promotional risk losing touch with their audience. Follow the 80/20 rule: Tweet 80% helpful or entertaining content and only 20% self-promotional. Mediabistro found that over 90% say they follow businesses on Twitter to get discounts and promos. (via MediaBistro) Put your money where your mouth is and back up your promotional tweets with special offers for your loyal followers.

Show Personality
Showcase the human side of your brand. Even in our high tech world, people want to know and be able to identify with the people behind the machine. Your Twitter use can appear disingenuous and inhuman if you’re too structured with your approach, to the point where your community may be turned off. Treat your Twitter relationships the same way you would any other relationship.

Although there’s no magical length for a Tweet, a recent report by Buddy Media revealed that Tweets shorter than 100 characters get a 17% higher engagement rate. Similar research by Track Social also found that the perfect Tweet length was right around 100 characters. Their analysis saw a spike in retweets among those in the 71-100 character range—so-called “medium” length tweets. These medium tweets have enough characters for the original poster to say something of value and for the person retweeting to add commentary as well.

Authenticity is the golden rule in social media. We’ve known this for years, but there is another, related rule that is just as important: you and your brand need to be believable. This means spending time listening to your community, observing it, and learning about the dynamics of that community.

How healthy is your brand’s Twitter feed? Are you actively testing your content to find the magic sweet spot for maximum effectiveness?

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read please be social and share.

Your Future- LinkedIn’s Prediction

By Karleigh Creighton

What if a social media site could predict where you’d be in five years? What if it could match your profile with someone else’s through a carefully formulated search, finding the person you’re destined to become like regarding the industry you’d be working in or wanting to work in in the future?

It’s hard to think about an Internet site predicting where our career will take us, especially when it’s common for things to go very differently than we originally plan. The average college student changes his or her major three times before graduating. It’s an example of believing your life will head in a certain direction but over time realizing that’s not where you want to go at all. Interests change and people change, so doesn’t it seem a bit wild that an online social media site could predict our career path when we ourselves can barely guess what lies ahead?

LinkedIn developed a formula to make their best guess at where a particular user will be in a set number of years. It involves comparing the users profile with professionals who are currently in or had previously been in the same industry and then narrowing down the similarities until they find a “best guess” for who the user is likely to become- career wise.

The search begins with keywords related to a users profession. For example, if the user is a Journalist, LinkedIn will likely search keywords like “Journalist,” “Editor,” and “Writer” and then pool all of the matches from its 300 million total user database.
The site continues its search for a user’s future by determining the average length an individual in the specified profession searched sticks with it. After determining the lifespan of a career, LinkedIn gets personal and chooses the career events and skills of the user most likely to be influential in their future endeavors. These more specific filters include: specific skills, internships and specific types of work (using our Journalist example, the “specific type of work” category includes what topics a journalist covers and what outlets they have written for). Filters like gender and University attended are not used.

After searching with these more specific filters, LinkedIn’s public relations team takes over from the social media site’s impressive search function. The PR team narrows down the potential candidates for the user’s “future self” by using a more personal knowledge of the user including specific interests, desired location and favorite areas of study.
So who will you become? LinkedIn’s PR teams leaves users with three choices for their future self and the final decision is made by the person who knows you best, you.
Of course, this search is not indicative of the exact working professional you are destined to become, but it’s a great tool to show you possible career options based on what those with similar interests and beginnings have done.

Imagine the beginning of your senior year of college, graduation is only a few months away and then what comes next- the job search. The prospect of a job search may feel daunting and that might be because you are not 100 percent sure of what you really want to do. You have a general idea of the field you’re interested, but cannot pinpoint the specifics. This LinkedIn search could get you started. With the same formula used to predict a user’s “future self,” a young adult fresh out of college, could find a match to figure out the best place to start.

You may not stick with the job you find through this extensive, formulated search long-term, but it could provide a great place to begin. Or maybe it’s time to start over. It’s possible that the career you chose at age 22 upon your college graduation, no longer fits your needs or interests as your life situation changes and you need help finding a new career path that’s right for you. LinkedIn may be a great resource for help in making this life-changing decision.

According to Mashable, LinkedIn’s fastest growing segment is students and the company is very interested in providing tools that will help them determine the right career choice and find the job they want or if the students are younger, find the college that’s the best fit for them and push them towards an appropriate area of study. This search may be a great fit for that.

Do you think LinkedIn can successfully predict what you’ll be doing in five years? Could this tool be helpful for high school and college students seeking guidance or an older adult looking to start over?

The process described above was an experiment conducted with LinkedIn user Kurt Wagner. “Future Kurt” was determined to be fellow LinkedIn user Mussarat Bata, who shared 12 skills with him. Both Kurt and Mussarat started their careers with magazines owned by Time Inc. and both wrote for their university publications. Wagner chose Bata out of the LinkedIn’s top three choices for his future self because he recognized that both of them got into the field for the same reason, to pursue their passion- Bata, beauty and fashion, Wagner, sports.

Wagner found out that Bata left her career in journalism for a job in social media and marketing at a hospitality and entertainment company after five years, because there is a lack of jobs and money in the industry. Wagner wrote on Mashable that if he had had an opportunity to take a test like this in college, it may have had a major impact on his career choice and he would have greatly appreciated the chance to talk to a mentor-like figure, like Bata.

LinkedIn has not yet finalized an automated search tool to conduct an extensive search like this that is available to all users; however, the company is interested in working on one. Their work with Kurt Wagner created the framework.

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Lollapalooza aka Lolla Cashless – Wristbands

By: Eliza Borish

“Lolla Cashless”: just another reason I am bummed I can’t attend Lollapalooza this August in Chicago. In addition to the awesome line-up Lollapalooza has in store featuring Outkast, Calvin Harris, Eminem & Lorde, Lollapalooza will become the first music festival in the U.S to implement chip-enabled wristbands, known as “Lolla Cashless”. Now, attendees will have the ability to pay for food and drinks straight on the wristband rather than having to carry loads of cash around or making multiple trips back and forth to the ATM simply to purchase another $10 brew.

So how does this magical wristband work? Within the wristband is an RFID chip (Radio frequency identification) that allows attendees to store their credit card information. Venders, on the other hand, have all been given POS machines (Point of Sale) that will allow them to collect payments using RFID enhanced wristbands. To make the transaction even more seamless and safe, those with wristbands will have chosen a PIN number that must be entered during the transaction. Each PIN number is yours to decide and is thus, unique to the wristband. In case the wristband is lost or stolen, fraudulent purchases cannot be made as the person will not have access to your PIN number. Not only does this make transactions safer than someone whose cash happens to slip out of their pocket, but it also makes it speedier and more efficient for attendees and vendors alike. In fact, the machines that are provided to the sellers can collect payments even if they are online. This means that regardless of the notorious poor service that surrounds music festivals, attendees with their RFID wristbands can pay easily.

The wristbands do not cost extra nor are they a hassle; the ticket for Lollapalooza is the wristband itself. Wristbands will be sent ahead of time to ensure that every attendee can enter their information as well have access to the thing that will allow them in to the festival in the first place. The wristband is now a triple threat acting as their ticket, their souvenir and their handy dandy credit card.

While RFID-enabled passes have been used before at other festivals like Bonnaroo to ward off counterfeit passes, Lollapalooza will be the first festival to use the wristbands for transactions and payments. Hopefully, this venture pays off, literally, for those involved. Typically, cashless transactions are greater = than when cash itself is used. I mean, think about it, instead of worrying about the amount of cash you have left to purchase dessert or missing out on a performer because the line is too slow, cashless transactions, like this wristband, take away those anxieties.

Personally, I think these wristbands are a brilliant move. As a concert-goer and festival attendee myself, I always worry about bringing cash and credit cards. It’s easy for things to fall out of pockets or get stolen in such a large crowd. Do I bring cash and risk it falling out or do I bring my credit card and risk losing it? I always empty my wallet to bring exactly what I need and no more, in case I lose my bag, get pick-pocketed or have something fall out. According to Maura Gibson, president of Front Gate Tickets, cashless payments accounted for 30% of food and drink purchases during a test run at Counterpoint Festival in Atlanta this past April. Gibson states, “people who use is don’t really want to carry their wallet around,” something I know from experience and can second that notion.

The future of cashless wristbands is bright. While it is not used as attempt to track attendees’ movements, it is possible to see what people like through their purchases. Someone who buys a lot of beer like Coors Light or Samuel Adams could be offered a discount or promotion based on that information. Right now, knowing the amount of beer someone purchased is not the goal, but ultimately, this information could be used to benefit the attendee through special promotions based on their personal preferences. For example, for attendees who like to drink, notifications that a bar has a short time and low wait time could be sent to the wristband to maximize efficiency. More important than beer, the wristbands could potentially save lives by tapping into the emergency contact information in case of a medical disaster or even, locating a lost child through the wristbands location.

The cashless RFID-implanted wristbands have the potential to change the future of music festivals all over the globe. In order to do so, however; this requires baby steps and that is exactly what Lollapalooza is doing. Patrick Dentler, Lollapalooza marketing director states, “we can start worrying about all the other benefits later” because right now, a cashless wristband is just, well, a cashless wristband. Though, stay tuned, because for wristbands, the future is looking optimistic.

What do you think of this technology? Will you feel safe and see this as the direction of technology? As always if you like what you read, be social and share.

Snapchat and the World Cup

By: Eliza Borish

Did you watch the World Cup and wish you were there? While I couldn’t quite make it, I did feel closer to the action in part because of Snapchat. Snapchat, the photo messaging application that allows users to take photos and videos, add text and drawings and send them to other users for a limited amount of seconds, made it possible to actually feel in attendance through their feature known as Snapchat story. A Snapchat story is a photo or video that is posted to the “Stories” section of your account and is visible to every one of your friends for up to 24 hours. It can be viewed as many times as desired and once 24-hours passes, it is automatically deleted. In addition, any one of your friends that posts a “Story” will appear under the “My Friends” tab and you will be able to watch the story they too posted. Some people will post one photo for 6 seconds while others will post “true” stories documenting a sequence of events in 10 photos lasting for 80 seconds.
In the past, Snapchat stories have just been used for users to share with their friends. However, with the recent World Cup in Brazil, everything has changed. Snapchat, launched a Snapchat story, called Rio “Live” that appeared on every users application. That means during the finals match between Germany and Argentina, every time you went to view a story from your friend, you would also be able to click on the “Rio Live” story. Now what is this “Rio Live” story? Well essentially, instead of it solely being your own personal story, it is now “our story”. This means that anyone in Rio Di Janeiro could submit snaps to the RioLive2014 account where Snapchat personnel would then curate the snaps into a Snapchat story that anyone around the world with a Snapchat account, could view.

Whether users wanted to see the Rio Live story or not, they had no choice. Snapchat added the feature to their account for them instead of asking users to search for the Rio Live account and add it because seeing Rio Live was something that personally appealed to them. This isn’t the first time that Snapchat utilized users’ posts to curate a story and live stream an event. At Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas this past June, users could submit posts to the EDC account that would then be selected to add to the EDC story. The difference factor, though, was that rather than the EDC story simply appearing, users had the ability to opt-in and search if they wanted to see EDC themselves. Rio Live changed this by taking out user control and instead, deciding that the story would appear regardless if the user was actually interested in it or not.

Although, I did not see the EDC story, it was deemed successful for capturing and live streaming the true essence of the three-night festival. I did get a chance to see the Rio Live (well, I really had no choice since it automatically appeared) and I was quite entertained. It was really neat to see what people in Rio were snapping to their friends and posting during such a momentous moment like the World Cup. I was able to see the stadium from a first-person perspective rather than a helicopter just taking an overview from above. There were posts from German fans drawing the German flag on their faces, posts from Argentine fans showing off their light blue décor, posts from fans inside the stadium showing off the vibe of the crowd and posts from people outside the stadium watching on their TV sets or in the streets. And all these posts occurred throughout the whole game: before, during and even after through the celebrations and sorrow (depending on your team of choice, of course). While I probably wouldn’t have opted-in to see the Rio Live story if I was given the option, I am happy I saw them because it offered a unique perspective of the World Cup. The posts made me feel like I was a part of something bigger watching along with all those in Rio and feeling the energy that was filling the air.

From a business perspective, Snapchat could utilize this forceful injection of event stories to their benefit. While the World Cup didn’t pay Snapchat to implement a Rio Live story, the World Cup was being promoted through it. The success with the Rio Live story opens up the possibility of “sponsored stories” within Snapchat; what Rio Live was, but without the cost. Snapchat could charge companies a fee to insert their event into users’ stories, thus promoting the event and brand and offering global visibility to the millions of Snapchat users. By doing so, Snapchat users could see what’s hot at the moment in the world and attempt to be a part of that, whether it be sporting events, award ceremonies, music festivals and anything in between. Therefore, these stories could be beneficial for all involved: for Snapchat who earns the money, the company paying and receiving brand exposure and the users who can now be a part of the action even if they can’t attend.

The power of promotion is at the hands of these Snapchat stories and some big companies trying to garner attention and mobilize consumers may pay to insert a story. Rio Live was not paid for by the World Cup but it seemed to be a huge hit and attract a lot of viewers and maintain a big interest so why wouldn’t Snapchat want to earn money for doing the exact same thing?

The future of Snapchat stories is unknown but if they learned anything from their EDC story and Rio Live story, it is that Snapchat stories have the ability to transform and reinvent live streaming by connecting users across the globe to personal posts and first-hand experiences of the actual event. One perk about Snapchat stories, unlike other promotional tools, is if you don’t want to see or watch the story, you simply don’t have to click them. So even when Snapchat implents a story into your feed about the Summer Olympics and you prefer the Winter Olympics, you won’t be forced to watch, just recommended. And only 24 hours later, it will be gone.

Have you used Snapchat? How were the responses with your friends? As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Tips For An Effective Event Hashtag

Tips For An Effective Event Hashtag
By: MJ Pedone

The majority of events and conferences that you will attend going forward, will have their own hashtag. The hashtag has become prevalent in conversations and it has become strange not to see or use one.
Hashtags are very helpful. It helps event attendees organize and prioritize their conversations online. They are able to express their opinions and ideas about the speakers and stay virtually connected well after the event is over. If you’re planning your own event, it’s imperative to choose hashtags so that attendees can use them easily.
Below are a few hashtag tips that you should use when planning your next event.

1. Make it Unique
The purpose of a hashtag that is associated with an event is to enable event attendees and those non-attendees, the ability to connect with each other, share their thoughts and experiences and continue to have a conversation leading to networking after the event is over.
If another event group is using your hashtag, it interrupts the conversation and makes it harder for your group to converse on Twitter. The best event hashtags are those that are unique to the event. If your event is a chocolate fan event, you probably don’t want to choose a hashtag like #chocolate. You should do a search on Twitter to be sure that the many users on Twitter are not using this popular hashtag. Your chocolate event will be lost in the chatter.
To avoid a hashtag already in use, think of a few hashtags that you want to use and do a Twitter’s search. At least one should be available and if not, you can always think of others surrounding chocolate.

2. Make it Memorable

Your hashtag should be on all signage and collateral materials at the event including the large screens. You should display your hashtag wherever you can.
Although your event attendees will be seeing your hashtag everywhere, make sure it is catchy and easy to remember. If the hashtag has a combination of letters and numbers such as chocolatezw4n9q, it wont be memorable at all.

3. It’s intelligible

Here are some ideas for hashtags that are easy to decipher: #chocolateevent2014 or chocolateeventFebruary. These hashtags are lengthy but easier to understand for anybody who comes across it on Twitter.

4. Keep it short

Try and keep your hashtag short and sweet. The shorter the hashtag, the more room your event attendees will have to share their thoughts. So instead of #chocolateevent2014, you might want to shorten it to #chocolateevent which is much shorter and has the added bonus of being useable after the month of the conference should you want to make it an annual event.

In closing, don’t be afraid to use event hashtags and keep the conversations going. This will keep the event momentum going and can lead to new attendees for the next one.

Need help deciphering hashtags for your next event? Feel free to drop me a line.
As always, I welcome any and all comments and if you like what you read, be social and share.

Social Media Craze at the World Cup

By Karleigh Creighton

There are moments in every sporting event where the players, coaches, commentators and fans hold their breath together. The time feels infinite as a game deciding play is set in motion and everything and everyone in the arena or on the field seemingly stops. It could be the moment a baseball is hit over the fence within inches of the foul pole in the bottom of the ninth with two outs or as that last second shot is fired off from just behind the three point line to decide who will be victorious. The stadium stands still as the last chance pass for a touchdown goes spiraling through the air and most recently, the world has been holding its breath as shots are fired in the World Cup shootouts.
Oxygen is not the only thing lacking as superstar strikers begin their kicks in these dramatic World Cup shootouts, Twitter activity falls into obscurity as well.
Twitter recently released data showing the dramatic rise and fall of activity throughout the course of a shootout. As a player sets the moment in motion, making a move toward the ball, striking it and sending it sailing through the air, it’s like Twitter hits a pause button. Activity plummets down far below baseline while fans keep their eyes glued to the ball soaring through the air intently hoping it will or praying it will not elude the keeper.
Just moments later, Twitter erupts and surges to a record breaking amount of activity with either triumphant fans expressing their satisfaction or discouraged individuals, who didn’t see the result they were hoping for, voicing discontent. Twitter released the graph below to show exactly how dramatic the rise and fall of activity is in only the few seconds it takes for a shot to occur.

Activity was first tested in the Brazil versus Chile shootout. The image above shows the activity during David Luiz’s opening shot. Twitter continued to monitor activity during the pivotal moments of every shootout and found this same pattern of activity to be recurring.
Do you find this pattern to be true in your tweeting endeavors while watching key moments in your favorite sporting events? Can you peel your eyes away to send a quick tweet or do you stay intently focused, waiting to see the result first?
The World Cup is not only causing extraordinary Twitter activity in its timing of tweets, but its leaderboards are dominated by some of the world’s most famous soccer stars.
Brazil’s superstar striker, Neymar, has produced seven of the top 10 most reached posts in the tournament so far. Teammate David Luiz has also influenced the top standing posts with five out of the top twenty.

Twitter is not the only social media site dominated by the World Cup. Facebook is also seeing some remarkable activity of its own.
Early last week, Facebook announced that the World Cup is currently the largest, most talked about event- sports or otherwise- in Facebook history. The soccer tournament has generated more than one billion interactions on the social media site, and is now wearing the crown for most popular Facebook event… ever.
Facebook interactions include the “Likes” of a certain subject, comments on posts about it, as well as original posts created regarding the topic, and 220 million Facebook users have chosen to interact with conversation about the world cup.

To put in perspective exactly how dominate the World Cup has been in Facebook statistics; let’s take a look at the figures for other popular sporting events.

Compared to the World Cup’s one billion interactions, the most recent Olympic Games, the Winter Games in Sochi, generated only 120 million interactions from just 45 million people, while The Super Bowl weighs in with 185 million interactions from 50 million people. These numbers seem large on their own, but are dwarfed when compared to those of the 2014 World Cup.

What event do you think will dominate the social media scene next? As always, if you like what you read be social and share.

Live-Tweeting Your Way to More Followers

By: Gina Mason

Creating a great online presence is incredibly important these days. Whether you are just starting to establish your brand online or trying to build a social media empire, the amount of followers that you have can be very important. Often times, (especially in PR) we evaluate someone’s “influence” in terms of their following and usually one of our first questions is “how many followers do you have?”

From the other side of the business, we are constantly asked, “how do I get more followers?” Although there is no secret formula for boosting your followers from 100 to one million, there are a few techniques you can use to grow your following while getting strategic content out in the Twitter-verse.

I recently read a really interesting article by Mashable’s Editor-at-Large, Lance Ulanoff that had some great tips and tricks to boosting your following. One of the biggest methods that Lance utilizes to grow his personal following is by live-tweeting events. You could definitely call him an expert considering he has amassed over 70,000 Twitter followers by simply live-tweeting.

For those of you who may not be as Twitter savvy, live-tweeting is most easily defined by “sending a series of tweet during a live event.” One example of this is commenting or reacting to things like the Oscars, live TV shows and live events. Lance said that he approaches every live-tweeting event with the “utmost care and enthusiasm. A properly timed tweet, sharp reporting or keen observation can be re-shared dozens, hundreds, even thousands of times.”

So what is the goal of live-tweeting? According to Lance, “It is to convey your thoughts as quickly and concisely as possible, while crafting every single tweet for maximum impact.” Now, how do you do that?

Here are a great few tips Lance shared that may help you become more effective at live-tweeting and assist with building your following:

Every tweet should be a gem:
Lance suggests that every tweet that you send out during a live-tweeting session should be concise, accurate, have the right use of hashtags and have enough space for people to comment. You want to catch people’s attention and be sure that you make it easy for them to quote or retweet your message.

Consider building pre-tweets before an event:
With live-tweeting, it is almost like a race to get your message out first. One way to do this is to build some tweets prior to the event. He suggests this for events like the Oscars or something where there are announcements. For example, every year at the Oscars someone walks away with the title of best actress and you can craft a skeleton of this tweet to save time and get your message out there more quickly.

Can’t stop, won’t stop:
He advises that once you get an audience, you can’t stop tweeting. “If people are following you for insight and play-by-play, you can’t simply quit mid-event. So keep water and nourishment nearby, because it’s unlikely you’ll be moving, sometimes for an hour or more.” Just remember, as your audience grows, your following will too.

Don’t be white noise:
He also cautions Twitter users to avoid tweeting just for the sake of doing it. It will become “white noise” and you want to capture the “big news, most shocking moments.” After all, annoying your followers with useless information will not help build your following.

These are just a few of the fantastic tips that Lance shared so be sure to check out the link below to see what else he had to say:

Do you think that live-tweeting is an effective method of building a greater following? Have you ever tested this method before? What were your results like?

As always, I welcome your comments and if you like what you read be social and share.