Avoiding the pitfalls of social media flops

Is it worth jumping on a new social media bandwagon-

There is no shortage of blog posts and online articles telling you what social media channels your business needs to have a presence on, and it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon as soon as a new social platform starts to generate a buzz online. But it is really important to consider whether each platform is right for your business before devoting any part of your social media strategy, and associated budget, to what you think might become ‘the next Facebook’. So how should you determine which channels are suited to your business? In short, your company should be active on the platforms where your audience is most prominent. It can be tempting to try and look like a trend-setter by creating a presence on a new channel, and the channels themselves could be huge hits, like Instagram or Vine, but it is important to remember that there are many social platform flops too. When was the last time you signed into Ello?

The three Ms  

A handy way to evaluate whether your business should be active on a social channel is to review the platform using the three Ms method:

  • Meaningful: Identify the channel’s strengths. Does the channel, and its primary audience, align with your brand?
  • Manageable: Don’t let your presence on your successful social channels suffer in order to accommodate a new platform within your strategy. Consider whether you can repurpose your content across your channels, keeping in mind the different audiences for each, and tailoring the posts accordingly.
  • Measureable: Are you able to measure the value of the platform? Certain channels, like Twitter, offer their own analytics tools, while others don’t make it as easy to measure but might still offer value to your business. How will you measure your return on investment in the channel?

 

When reviewing your social media strategy, remember what social media should be used for: to build and connect with communities. Do not to let your social media activity become a chore; take a look at one of our previous blog posts on how to manage your accounts in just 15 minutes per day. If used effectively, new platforms can be a great addition to your existing strategy, just remember to use the three Ms before jumping on the bandwagon!

Is Snapchat right for your business?

Visual

Most people have heard of or used Snapchat – the popular mobile app for sharing personal photos and videos, with the unique 10-second self-destruct on all “snaps” (messages) sent. Snapchat was originally launched to help teens stay in contact with their friends; however it is now widening its customer demographic to include businesses. With its primary function rapidly changing, Conscious Communications is here to help you decide whether your business needs to integrate Snapchat in to its social media strategy.  Joining a new social media channel and using it in the appropriate way can help successfully promote a business’ campaign (see these instances when businesses have creatively used Snapchat to their advantage) but before committing to a presence on the platform you must assess and audit whether it is best suited to your business objectives and, as with every social platform, if your company has the skills and manpower to use Snapchat effectively.

Audience

Statistically speaking, Snapchat is a very attractive social platform and could help a business reach an ever-growing network of Snapchat users. When considering whether Snapchat is right for your business, taking a look at its demographic is a good place to start:

  • Currently 100 million people are active on Snapchat daily and 60 percent of them post every day
  • 86 percent of users are aged between 13 – 37
  • 8,796 photos are shared every second
  • Daily video views amount to seven million

 

Transient content

Like it or loathe it, Snapchat is the first social network to make use of temporary messaging; this provides intimacy and immediacy – both buzzwords in the world of marketing. Users are only able to see stories (a string of snaps to create a narrative) for a maximum of 24 hours, creating the ultimate ‘in the moment’ story-telling content. Snapchat users are more likely to frequently check the app in order to make sure they don’t miss out on these transient posts. Any visual a business shares must be short, direct and, ultimately, creative to have the desired impact. The fast paced nature of Snapchat could influence the way your business generates new and exciting ideas to promote a campaign, offering a unique way to showcase your brand – thus combatting the issue of ‘banner blindness’; people’s tendency to ignore banner ads on websites, even when they contain information relevant to the visitor.

Immersive mobile experience

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte, people in the UK check their phones on average 27 times a day. The power of an addictive mobile app is not to be underestimated. Viral app successes such as the hugely popular ‘Flappy Birds’ demonstrate the real potential mobile apps have when it comes to attracting a large, and varied, following. With this in mind, Snapchat’s mobile-friendly app seems like the ideal opportunity for businesses that are looking to engage with the largely younger demographic. Snapchat also features the added bonus of full-screen and vertical content, meaning any posts are perfectly adjusted to the screen – a feature which is extremely important to the time pressured mobile user of today.

So, should your business be on Snapchat? The advice from the team here at Conscious Communications – if your objective is to raise brand awareness and your target audience is on Snapchat, then your business should be too. However, it is worth bearing in mind that Snapchat used to have a reputation for insalubrious messaging, which should be taken into consideration when deciding if the app is right for your business. Steer clear of jumping on social media bandwagons and examine the aims of your social media strategy before committing to a presence on any social network.

If you want to find out more, keep your eyes peeled for our blog post on ‘3 ways to use Snapchat for business’ coming soon.

Are we reading the last (w)rites of journalism?

Are we reading the last (w)rites of journalism-

Journalism is in an existential crisis: revenue to news organisations has fallen off a cliff over the past two decades and no clear business model is emerging to sustain news in the digital era.”

The recent announcement by The Independent that it will no longer be available in print, as of March this year, did not necessarily come as much of a surprise. The fast pace of online news and technological advancement – through online news aggregators, news apps alerting users of breaking news throughout the day, social media allowing sharing of stories that are of interest within a demographic, and live-streaming technology to see first-hand what is occurring across the world in real time – has offered would-be newspaper advertisers a plethora of alternative platforms to which they can allocate advertising spend.

And so, printed newspapers have been consistently receiving less and less revenue from advertising, as well as from a decline in sales. The larger national titles would have, in years gone by, brought in hundreds of millions of pounds per year. Now, as revenues continue to decline, they are no longer able to fund the journalism to the same extent as revenues continue to decline. The solution isn’t as simple as just steaming ahead with an online news portal and expecting immediate success. Those titles that have been pro-active in investing in digital portals (whilst persevering with print simultaneously) have only seen revenues in the tens of millions of pounds from their digital efforts. So until there is a clearer way to earn income through publishing news online, many titles will continue to struggle on, publishing news in print, for as long as they can afford to. But as they look to reduce costs to live within their means, journalists and journalism continue to be invested in less and less – with grave implications.

Spotlight, the double Oscar-winning 2015 film based on the true story of the Boston Globe’s investigative team of the same name, provides an example of why it is so important that journalism is invested in, and allowed to thrive. The Spotlight team uncovered the scandal of child abuse within the local Catholic Archdiocese – resulting in a shake-up of the entire Catholic Church. The repercussions of the discovery are still being felt in 2016, as the Catholic Church and the media continue to investigate the extent of the scandal. Who is to say how different the world would be, had journalists not steadfastly pursued and uncovered the truth, in this and many other situations through history?

One of the co-founders of The Independent, Stephen Glover, highlighted concerns about the quality of journalism being affected by a move to digital publishing – that there was a ‘longer question’ about whether online-only papers could support the same number of journalists and do the ‘same sort of journalism’ as printed ones.

So is the tale of The Independent a one-off? We fear not, with many industry professionals claiming that respected titles such as the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Telegraph will follow suit in the next few years. Although, just as soon as we heard the news about The Independent, we learned about the launch of a new daily paper; the publisher of the Daily and Sunday Mirror – Trinity Mirror – has recently launched a new daily paper titled New Day. Proposed as an ‘optimistic’, politically neutral paper, and ‘bite-sized’ to suit readers who currently no longer buy a paper, we wonder whether, as the i paper is to The Independent, this title will be to the Daily Mirror. We don’t think it will reassure Stephen Glover over his concerns about the quality of journalism… but at least it’s an example of positive action being taken, experimenting with a new format to find a reliable way to deliver printed news in the ever-changing news environment.

We sincerely hope that, through whichever portal and platform, journalism does not have to endure the reading of its last rites, but that journalists continue to write, for the benefit of us all.

The power of storytelling

THE POWER (3)

Over the last few years brands have noticeably changed their selling strategies; they are now marketing products through a narrative – a story that takes an audience on a journey – rather than through presenting the more simplistic ‘BUY ME’ language.

This ‘storytelling’ style of marketing is multifaceted and focusses on telling the brand’s story, and using a variety of methods across multiple platforms. Think social media, print media and outdoor advertising to name just a few. Brands adopt this style of marketing in order to push out an authentic, and consistent, message which, in turn, builds a coherent and trustworthy image of its company. Generally, successful storytelling brands:

  • put the consumer at the centre of the story;
  • adopt a unique personality;
  • have a sense of purpose.

 

GoPro is leading the way with successful storytelling, as its ‘story’ is pieced together using social media engagement by people using its products – genius! The brand loves to share video content, stories and anecdotes from its customers, which builds a sense of community among its users; take GoPro’s Baby Ava YouTube video for example, the consumer is at the heart of the story.

Say it with pictures

Telling stories visually is the quickest medium of telling a story; on average a person’s attention span is between three and eight seconds. Statistics have proven that content marketing is vastly more effective through infographics and visuals. Images can help your business tell its story quicker and, more importantly, with impact and emotion. Our brains decode visual information 60,000 times faster than text. If you’re a small business, we would recommend using free tools such as Piktochart and Canva; online design apps that take little effort to produce high quality graphics. Each tool even offers design templates to cater to those who may not feel creatively inspired.

Start thinking like your customers and focus on their wants and needs. Tell them stories that they can emotionally connect with, create content that informs, entertains and provides value to your audience. In doing so, the content you create will build relationships with your audience based on trust that will ultimately drive real sales and business value.

The team at Conscious Communications can work with you to create unique, engaging and high quality content for all of your digital and print platforms. If you would like to find out more, please contact info@consciouscomms.com.

Conscious Communications’ public relations and marketing trend predictions of 2016

Header image

The New Year is now well underway and Conscious Communications is on hand to ensure your business is ahead of the game with our public relations and marketing trend predictions for 2016. Here’s a summary of some of the things we think will happen this year:

Quality content across all mediums

We all know successful content marketing can be a powerful tool for any business, but this year will bring it into ever greater focus and importance.

Content marketing now needs to extend beyond just quality and connect with an audience across multiple mediums. Using social media, email marketing, infographics, whitepapers, articles, newsletters and even email signatures to attract the right people to view your content will be an essential marketing tactic this year.  In short, quality content needs to be combined with a cohesive strategy to target and amplify it, in order to reach the greatest percentage of your potential audience as possible.

Focus on ethics

As a value close to the Conscious Communications team’s heart, we’re pleased to predict that a greater focus on ethics will emerge in 2016.

A business that possesses an ethical focus is a more attractive prospect to new business partners and suppliers, and to potential staff – people want to work with and for organisations that are principled and decent. 2016 will bring about a focus on social enterprise, driven by growing demand for businesses that are seen to be positively impacting on human and environmental wellbeing. This year public relations and marketing strategies should focus on helping brands and organisations achieve a reputation as a force for good.

Millennials? What millennials?

Millennials will be consigned to the scrap heap in 2016, with marketing set to become ‘age agnostic’.

The fact that people can now download a browser extension which turns every use of the word millennial into ‘snake people’ underlines the point that the term ‘millennials’ is not as relevant as it used to be. Instead, the public relations and marketing industry is beginning to place more emphasis on reaching audiences based on their passions rather than their age. Audiences will be targeted based on specific attitudes and certain beliefs with increasingly refined content which targets different groups within an age range – rather than just an age group as a whole. However, age grouping  will still be an important factor, especially in an increasingly technological age where generational gaps are highlighted by technology. This year marketing will focus on what actually motivates an audience; their interests, hobbies and individual lives, as well as taking their age into account.

Social media

No trend prediction would be complete without a focus on social media – here’s are a few salient points for the year ahead:

  • Virtual reality (VR) – 2016 will be the year that VR becomes a major player, not just for the gaming industry, but also for marketers. Facebook has recently launched its 360 videos (click here for an example) which allow users to experience scenes from different angles, across both web and mobile devices. This technology could offer marketing professionals the opportunity to create some truly interactive content.
  • Immediate, intimate content – platforms like Periscope, Meerkat and Facebook Live provide a new level of immediacy to social media. Marketing now needs to target moments, as consumers expect to see events as they unfold. 2016 will see the rise of live-streaming, providing the immediacy and intimacy that audiences want.
  • Long form social content – social media will no longer favour short messages over longer messages. LinkedIn, Facebook and blogging platform Medium are all looking at incorporating long form publishing on their sites. Not to mention the recent news that Twitter will be increasing their character limit from 140 to 10,000.

#Hashtag

Social media platforms continued to be some of the most influential marketing tools of
2015, with an ever growing amount of content posted every minute and, there is
no doubt that this will continue into 2016. To ensure your social media posts
achieve the greatest reach and engagement on each social media platform, use
hashtags, but be selective with the words you choose. Hashtags are no longer
just used on Twitter, they have spread to Facebook, Google+, Instagram,
Pinterest and Google Search – even LinkedIn
tested them out, so it is important for a business to know how to use them on
each channel.

Hashtags on Twitter

Did you know that a tweet with one or more hashtags is 55 percent more likely to be retweeted? Every business is looking to leverage and increase online engagement of its social media posts and, hashtags have been statistically proven to do
this. Twitter completed its own study of hashtags which concluded that brands can see a 50 percent increase in
engagement, including clicks, retweets, likes, and replies, by using the #
symbol.

Tweeting with hashtags, as shown, is a sure fire way to enhance your online presence. However,
brands need to stay aware of how many hashtags they use per post as research
also indicates that tweets that include one or two hashtags receive a 21
percent higher engagement rate than tweets with three or more.

Hashtags on Instagram

Instagram has been the fastest growing social platform for the last two years and now has
over 150 million users with an average of 16 billion photos shared, and one
billion likes each day. Unlike Twitter, generally the more hashtags used per
post the better, with interactions
the highest on posts with 11 or more
. Remember to keep your
hashtags relevant to the post!

For businesses, big or small, hashtags noticeably increase the reach of your posts,
which in turn leads to more followers. Hashtags also help you find people on
Instagram with similar interests and can aid market research on competitors.

Hashtags on Facebook

Facebook introduced hashtags in July 2013 and the evidence showing the positive and
negative impact of including a hashtag into a post is inconclusive. Research
states that posts without hashtags do better than posts with, however, Facebook
uses them to categorise conversations between people so if you are looking to
feature in specific searches, it makes sense to use them. Similarly to Twitter,
the number of hashtags used in a post influences engagement with one or two
hashtags averaging 593 interactions compared to a post with three to five hashtags
receiving on average 416 interactions.

It is important to use the correct number of hashtags on each social media
platform, but also to use the right hashtags to ensure you feature in the
relevant feeds. Websites like ritetag.com can
help to identify trending hashtags and can tell you exactly when and how they
will reach your audience.

So, what were the popular hashtags of 2015? See below some of the most used
hashtags of the year:

  • #AskRachel
  • #PrayForParis
  • #BlueandBlack vs. #WhiteandGold
  • #LoveWins
  • #IStandWithAhmed

At Conscious Communications, we use market knowledge and audience insight to
define the most effective mix of social media platforms and posts for your
business and can work with you to create a bespoke social media strategy. If
you are looking to improve your business’ online presence in 2016 get in touch
at info@consciouscomms.com.

Spelling is important!

People’s views on the importance of spelling differ widely.
For instance, one of our team members mentioned they had debated the correct
(UK) spelling of ‘focused’ while drafting an email to a group of contributors
for a blog she was writing – she Googled ‘focused vs. focussed’ and ‘focused or
focussed for UK’, and frustratingly found conflicting results. The consensus of
the Conscious Communications team was that ‘focussed’ was the correct answer –
so eventually the email was sent. Are you, like our colleague, likely to give
far less credibility to the sender of an email that includes a spelling
mistake?

 

At the other end of the spectrum are those who revel in
cutting as many characters out of texts or tweets as possible (or beyond what
should be permitted, past the point of communicating any intelligible meaning
from sender to reader…). We recently heard a young person ask, about a school
examination, “does spelling matter?” and we were, of course, horrified that
anyone would feel the need to ask whether spelling matters – about any written
work, let alone a school examination! Phrases like ‘it’s a slippery slope’
spring to mind, and concerns about ever lowering standards of spelling, grammar,
and the adoption of new words such as ‘binge-watching’ by dictionaries.

Stephen Linstead, chair of the English Spelling Society,
writes: “the
spelling of roughly 35 per cent of the commonest English words is, to a degree,
irregular or ambiguous; … a need to memorise irregularity has traditionally
been regarded as a minor and inevitable inconvenience… But there is growing
evidence that this is not just an inconvenience – it costs children precious
learning time, and us – as a nation – money
.”

More conservative relaxing of standards for spelling can be
seen in global businesses’ communications with customers. Have you recently
noticed that Santander’s website mentions ‘pajamas’ (the American preference,
which isn’t even recognised by Word), and Natwest uses ‘nope’ on its website? It’s
safe to say that neither of these are mistakes; rather, they are evidence of
big brands taking a ‘modern’ stance on the language used to communicate with
customers.

These ‘progressive’ examples show support for the views of Simon
Horbin, English professor at Magdalen College, who explained: “People
like to artificially constrain language change. For some reason we think
spelling should be entirely fixed and never changed. I am not saying we should
just spell freely, but sometimes we have to accept spellings change.

Have standards in English changed remarkably in recent
decades, or is this debate only the concern of those sticklers who run to
defend the language as they believe it should be preserved? The government has
re-introduced spelling tests, believing there has been a lowering of standards
– but maybe Stephen Linstead is right to question, in terms of time and budget,
whether spelling warrants being so high on the school agenda? What’s more, many
people who are committed to using correct spelling now do so with the aid of
technology. Spell-checker and predictive text, for example, enable people to
spell correctly without having memorised the spelling of every word in the
language; should the focus in schools and the work-place be on equipping people
to notice and find correct spellings and in encouraging people to check their
work?

As marketers and PR professionals it is unsurprising that
our team falls in to the ‘of course spelling matters!’ side of the debate, and
we do notice typos and errors and ‘lax’ spelling whenever we come across it.
For people working in other sectors, though, perhaps it really is the case that
spelling doesn’t matter. As long as you can communicate your meaning
efficiently, clearly, does it matter whether you write focused, focussed,
focursed or something else? Probably not… at the time. But, then, the more
different forms of words which are used to say the same thing, the more scope
there is for misunderstanding.

Is spelling impotent? Absolutely not! Is spelling important?
Absolutely! Perhaps the language is evolving naturally, as it always has done, and
to keep pace with the world in which it is used we should keep quiet and let
linguistic evolution continue. Even so, we think that the agreed and approved
spellings should be used by students, workers, businesses and the media, until
such a time as the spelling is updated, by consensus, at which point the
‘sticklers’ should accept the decision of the masses.

Click here to start building your PR and marketing strategies