2015 Reality Check

In the days leading up to and following 31 December 2014, my social media feed was flooded with declarations of what 2015 will and will not be and what people will and will not accept in the new year.

Reality check: Your year will be what it will be…

Set your goals and work your tail off, knowing that you’ll win some and lose some. You’ll win some easy ones and you’ll slog your guts out for others with not even a hint of progress.

Don’t. Give. Up!

Your success is not determined by how boldly and loudly you stake your claim at the beginning of the year, but by how hard and consistently you work at it all year long – even when it’s ‘not working’.

Don’t get discouraged when it feels like it’s all falling apart. It’s not really falling apart; it’s just reducing the sum to smaller parts to make it easier to work with…

By all means map your success, write your goals and share them with the world – I do every year – but high-five the stuff-ups, the failures and the frustrations as an essential part of the game…

Happy New Year!

Is Google+ a serious social media contender?

Remember when Google+ first launched in 2011? It was a social media platform that could only be joined by ‘invitation only’, a strategy that generated so much hype that many people where calling it the ‘new Facebook’. Soon after, the hype seriously fizzled out and Google+ soon became open to everyone. Unfortunately, nobody seemed to really care anymore. I remember saying to my friends and colleagues ‘Hey, whatever happened to that Google+ thing? What a #fail’.

While myself, and pretty much everyone else, went back to enjoying Facebook life, Google+ was making some serious updates and changes that would make it the marketing goldmine it is today. To many individuals, Google+ still seems a little foreign, however marketers and big brands are quickly jumping on Google+ and including it in their marketing and PR strategy. Google+ is now the second largest social media platform. I know, right? When did that happen?

So, why should Google+ be taken seriously in your marketing and social media strategy?

This one is obvious, but Google+ is owned by Google. Anything owned by this corporation will continue to update and improve until it reaches its desired popularity. Remember when you could sign in to YouTube normally and then all of a sudden one day you had to make a Google+ account to sign in? This might be why it’s the second largest platform, but it’s a testament to how integrated social media will become in the future.

Essentially, Google+ has taken all the best features of the most popular social media sites and rolled it into one amazing package. There are groups, videos, maps and even the possibility of conference calling.

Google+ may seem like ‘another Facebook’, however there are many important differences that need to be noted. Facebook is mainly about connecting with your friends and family and maintaining your relationship through them. Google+ is about building new relationships and discovering new content, which will expand your interests and horizons. Google+ allows you to set up communities called ‘Circles’ allowing you to categorise your connections with your interests. This is why Google+ is so beneficial to marketers – it’s a platform about information and storytelling and your audience actually WANTS to listen to what you have to say and learn from you.

Google+ also has incredible reach both on and off the platform. Have you ever forgotten you were connected to someone on Facebook and wondered why you never see their posts in your newsfeed? This is because Facebook filters your news to show you only what it thinks you’ll be interested in. With Google+, if you have 300 connections, your updates will show up in every single one of their pages.

Most importantly, Google+ has absolutely insane SEO potential. Every post is continually crawled for content and indexed, just like a website would be. This is why sometimes in your Google search, a bunch of Google+ sites will pop up on the first page. Some people have critised Google for its extreme bias towards its own platform, but in my opinion, if you play Google’s game you’ll be rewarded immensely.

Do you have a Google+ profile? Do you use it for building connections or for its SEO potential?

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Co-ordinator, Stolen Quotes

Quantity versus Quality

Let’s play a game. Imagine I have both of my hands filled with M&M’s – but my right hand is far more full than my left. So full it’s overflowing. And you’re a chocoholic. Which hand are you going to pick?

(If you said left, then you’re either lying or not playing properly.)

Here’s where my metaphor will start to shock. That overflowing hand of M&M’s you’ve picked? All of the chocolate is stale, and mouldy and inedible. In my left hand – the hand that was nowhere near as full as my right, are peanut butter M&M’s. And they are fresh. And they melt in your mouth. And you love peanut butter. Are you catching my drift?

This is the old quality versus quantity debate. Most people will choose the hand with more M&M’s – not questioning the quality. More means better, right?

So how does this relate to PR?

With the convergence of traditional and digital media, the PR landscape is rapidly changing. It’s no longer enough to send out media releases to journalists in the hopes of getting front-page coverage on a metropolitan newspaper.

Today it’s all about digital. A rise in social media platforms, SEO awareness and user engagement has naturally lent itself to the PR industry. Companies today are touting themselves as ‘social media experts’ claiming they can assist with ‘social media strategy’ as a component of an overall PR strategy, getting your company’s Facebook page hundreds of likes in days of launching.

But how do you know you are getting value from these likes and follows? And how do you measure ROI?

This is where strategy comes into play. Before commencing any social media project, make sure to compile a digital strategy report. The report should highlight the varying social media channels including recommendations around whether your company should even be on social media in the first place. That’s right – sometimes it’s better for your company to stay off of Facebook.

If your company does require a social media presence, make sure to work at creating online communities that cater to your business’s target market audience. Facebook insights are brilliant in that they tell you exactly who is engaging with your page; by age, gender, occupation – you name it.

The thing is, anyone can buy your page hundreds, if not thousands, of likes in a matter of days – even Tony Abbott did it. But the insights tool will show you that these likes are from hundreds of people in Mauritius (as an example). Great if you’re launching in Mauritius. Not so great otherwise.

It’s time for businesses to realise that the true value in social media and digital strategy is not necessarily around how many likes your page has, or how many followers like your status. It’s about the quality of the connection – does the follower fit your target market? Will engaging with them online increase sales opportunities?

If your social media page has far less followers than your competitors, but over 80% of your followers are your target market, then you’re onto a good thing.

And you should reward yourself with a handful of M&M’s.


 

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes

A blog about blogging

This is a little blog about blogging.

While many marketers are discussing the death of blog, I’m going to tell you why blogs are still relevant in today’s social media marketing environment.

Blogging was at its peak a few years back – pretty much every man and his dog had a blog. There were marketing blogs, mummy blogs, celebrity blogs and pretty much any other topic that you can think of.

It’s safe to say that many people are over the blogging phase. Over the years we’ve been inundated with so many new social media platforms that having a blog might seem a little irrelevant – maybe even extra work. But whether you’re a small business or a widely recognised national brand, blogging is still an extremely advantageous communication strategy.

For me personally, I love blogging because it gives me the opportunity to get the thousands of random thoughts out of my head and onto paper…or so to speak. Blogging allows me to take complex and scattered thoughts and put them into a logical sequence. The same outcome applies to brands – if you’re a brand that has a complex service offering or is dealing with a public relations crisis, taking the time to write down your thoughts, and logically explain your brand’s position will not only bring clarity to you and your business but to your customers as well. It puts everyone on the same page.

Most brands utilise mainstream social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. A blog allows you to connect with your audience on a much deeper level. First of all, you’re not restricted by character limits, pictures, etc. You can use as many or a little words, pictures or videos as you need to. Secondly, audiences are in a different frame of mind when reading blogs than when on mainstream social media. If they’re reading your blog – they’re in your space and are more attentive to what you have to say. If they’re receiving your communication on Facebook or Twitter – you’re in their space and anything you can say can be taken as an interruption or an annoyance.

According to a 2012 Nielsen article, blogs are mainly written by a higher-educated audience and thus attract more educated audiences than most social media platforms. These audiences may even have blogs themselves, giving them more persuasive and referral power than the average Joe on Facebook.

From a branding perspective, blogs are a great opportunity to showcase your brand personality and differentiate from competitors. It puts your brand in the position to educate customers and gives them greater buying power.

Blogs also have amazing SEO potential. Many of our website hits come from our blogs because we continually update them while strategically hyperlinking them back to our pages.

If you’re still on the fence about the whole blogging thing, here’s a bunch of blogs that we love:

What are your favourite blogs?

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes

Prankvertising – Cheap Lols or a Genuine Strategy?

A couple of episodes ago, the panel at Gruen Planet looked at the phenomenon of ‘prankvertising’ – advertising and PR stunts based on a prank or trick in an attempt to generate publicity.

Chances are you’ve seen prankvertising pop up on your Facebook feed.

Like this one:

And it wouldn’t be a blog on prankvertising without mentioning this one:

The content is created to shock, entertain and, when done successfully, generate publicity for the brand/cause/product. The above videos have both hit well over the ‘one million view’ mark, creating a viral river of shares, likes and comments behind them.

Additionally, the content allows brands to focus on generating exposure on digital platforms, steering spend away from traditional advertising and PR.

Are these videos strategic in that the content has resulted in huge brand exposure and millions of people talking about their video? Or do the videos miss the mark – providing viewers with a good laugh, and not much else?

To put it simply, does the LG ad make you want to buy the TV? Did the Carrie coffee shop prank convince you to head to the movies?

When done strategically, prankvertising can generate talk for all of the right reasons.

Like the following piece by Leo Burnett London:

Didn’t see that coming did you? The clip leaves you thinking, which is exactly the aim of the piece – to leave the viewer with a message (don’t drink and drive), as opposed to selling a product. This is prankvertising done well.

But it doesn’t always have to be shocking. Take it from our friends in New Zealand, who decided to fill an unsuspecting mates plumbing with Tui beer:

A successful prankvertising piece thinks of the target market audience and crafts a clever enough prank that will have the ‘viral effect’ among the intended audience. For Tui Beer, they hit the nail on the head.

What do you think? Is prankvertising the ‘cheap laughs’ of the digital advertising world? Or when done well, can it generate greater brand publicity than traditional advertising and PR?

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.

‘Pinfluence’

According to the GlobalWebIndex, Pinterest has become the fastest growing social media platform in the world. Not Facebook. Not LinkedIn. Pinterest.

While Facebook still remains the most popular social networking site, with 62% of Internet users actively using the page, Pinterest’s active users grew 88% this year and is projected to continue to grow at such a high rate in 2014.

Why is Pinterest so popular?

Pinterest differs from most social media platforms as it’s not about sharing, it’s about collecting. The bonus is that other people can see what you’re collecting, and collect as well. For those not familiar with Pinterest, you can create boards such as ‘Travel’ or ‘Food’ and collect images that inspire you. You can choose to have your boards public (everyone on Pinterest can see them) or private (only you can see them).

Psychologically, people feel less exposed on Pinterest – they don’t need to hand over private details such as birthdates or include an image of themselves. There also seems to be less judgement on Pinterest in comparison to Facebook and Twitter because Pinterest is a site that people use for themselves, not to interact with others.

If we think about the majority of content on social media, images reign supreme. Social media has moved in a direction where visuals attract the most engagement. It’s no wonder a social media platform all about images is growing so quickly.

Pinterest is also an extremely powerful marketing tool. In fact, Pinterest does more than just spread brand awareness – it can directly influence sales. I like to think of this as ‘Pinfluence’ (I thought I coined this term but a Google search proved it’s been around for months).

According to a recent Harvard Business Review article, 21% of Pinterest users bought an item in a store after pinning, repinning or liking the item on the site. The site is acting like a user-generated catalogue for individuals. Individuals are searching products online, pinning the ones they like and then entering a physical store to purchase them. The article suggests that users pin 24% of their images from strangers, 19% from friends, and 7% from retailers. Consider the power and virality of a product image getting pinned just from one individual.

If this isn’t powerful enough, Pinterest is also a great SEO tool in driving traffic to your website. Pinterest was the 7th referral site for one of our clients, whose Pinterest page has only been active for 2 months.

If you’re still on the fence about Pinterest – create a page and have a play with it yourself. Some of the most popular boards are Travel, Fashion and Weddings. You might find that you have been ‘Pinfluenced’.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

Netpage – Integrating Print and Digital

Print media is dead and it’s all about digital, right? Newspapers and magazines may as well pack up shop and leave way for the millions of blogs, websites and social networking pages that are receiving more engagement, readership and, best of all, cost nothing.

If you engaged me in this debate a month ago, I would have understood your point of view. Statistics show readership of print publications have declined, with a preference for their digital counterparts. Popular magazine titles have taken to Instagram and Facebook in an attempt to capture their reader’s engagement on every media platform. Journalist’s have become ‘celebrities’ in their own right, with thousands of social media followers liking their posts, sharing their content and engaging in conversation. The main question I have to ask here is are these activities converting into sales, or does engagement simply stop when followers log out or turn off their phones? (Also, what are the advertisers getting out of this activity?)

Netpage is set to change all of this. Pacific Magazines has recently signed an exclusive deal with the mobile application that claims to turn every page of your magazine into an interactive experience.

Quite a big claim if you ask me.

However, on downloading Netpage and having a ‘play’ with some Pacific Magazine titles, I am convinced this is not the end of the print era – in fact, it’s the beginning of a new, integrated print/digital era that is more exciting than anything I’ve seen in this space before (pick up this month’s Better Homes and Gardens or Marie Claire to see for yourself).

So what makes Netpage different to the old QR code? How does Netpage work?

On downloading the Netpage application to your phone, you are able to ‘scan’ any page of a Netpage-integrated publication, and ‘clip’ the page into your phone, providing you with a number of options:

  • ‘Share’ the image via social media – pin it to your Pinterest board, Tweet it to your followers or share it on Instagram
  • Distribute the clipping via email or text
  • Save the image for inspiration when you are next shopping/planning an event/wondering what to cook for dinner

What’s interesting about Netpage is it does not simply stop at image sharing. The real benefit of Netpage is in the interactivity it provides when scanning ‘Netpage’ articles or advertisements throughout the magazine.

When an advertisement or article highlights the ‘Netpage’ logo, on scanning the page, the page ‘comes to life’.

A great example of this is the September Issue of Better Homes and Gardens Magazine. On scanning the cover (an amazing chocolate cake) you are giving the following options:

  • Watch how to make the cake yourself
  • Purchase any of the cutlery on the cover through their various stockist websites
  • Subscribe to the magazine at the click of a button

This is before you have even opened the magazine.

The E-commerce component of Netpage is what excites me most. Love the dress in the magazine you’re reading and don’t have time to head to the shops? If it’s a Netpage feature, simply scan the dress and it will direct you to purchase it online there and then.

Advertisers are now given the opportunity to engage readers like never before, by directing them straight to an ecommerce site. While QR codes did this in the past, their lack of engagement (read more about that here) was because the everyday consumer didn’t know what a QR code was or how to use it.

The beauty of Netpage is that its simple interface is familiar to the everyday consumer. It’s easy to scan an image and follow the prompts. The added bonus that you can share it on social media is another drawcard.

With Netpage, readers are given more of a reason to purchase their favourite magazines because of the ease of integration with their favourite digital platforms and the extra incentives they will benefit from.

And if that’s not exciting, then call me a QR code.

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes

 

Miley’s Viral Publicity Stunt

Miley Cyrus has recently been in the spotlight of news, social media and internet memes over her recent VMA performance. While many people are laughing and sneering, feeling embarrassed for Miley or believing she has been subjected to horrific PR; I’m not entirely convinced.

Here’s why:

Miley’s PR team meticulously planned the moments leading up to the VMA’s, the performance itself and the days following. While it may have looked like Miley had a brain lapse on stage, stripping off her clothes and twerking, her brand manager has confirmed that those moves were carefully planned, practiced and perfected months before the VMA’s – from the frightening tongue gestures to the famous twerking.

So why did Miley’s publicity team carefully plan a performance that would shock and outrage many of her fans? Let’s think back to Miley’s last year – she has been trying desperately to break free from her Disney girl branding. She cut her hair, got a few tattoos, wore some outrageous outfits and became engaged. Unfortunately for Miley her attempts to subtly rebrand weren’t enough to push out from her Hannah Montana image.

For Miley, there was only one way to break free from Hannah Montana and get recognised for the person she truly is – create a publicity stunt that would shock and stun her Disney fans and get the world talking.

There were two main goals for Miley’s VMA publicity stunt:

1. Kill Hannah Montana

2. Get her name on everyone’s lips

I think it’s safe to say that both of those goals were ticked off the list.

Miley’s VMA performance was all about virality. The performance was carefully staged to be tweetable and meme-able and the celebrity audience of the VMA’s was perfect for sending images and tweets on a mass capacity.

Shortly after Miley’s VMA performance, Twitter blew up with 306,000 Miley-related tweets per minute. Miley also received 213,104 new Twitter followers in the hours following her performance. Celebrities such as Cyndi Lauper and Kelly Osbourne tweeted their thoughts to their fan base, further contributing to the virality of her performance.

Hashtags such as #Twerk and #StayStrongBillyRay began trending. Vine has also exploded with twerk videos and I can’t count the amount of Miley meme’s I have seen on Facebook. For Miley’s PR team, it doesn’t matter what people say, as long as they are talking. And here we are over two weeks later and we’re still talking.

If you think the few last weeks have been pretty intense, be warned – the rebranding exercise hasn’t stopped yet. Like all successful publicity stunts, Miley’s PR team has used additional marketing and advertising of the VMA performance in support of the new Miley brand. Miley’s song ‘Wrecking Ball’ debuted the day of her VMA performance and has since sold over 90,000 digital downloads, not to mention being played constantly on the radio. YouTube has also been inundated with advertisements for Miley’s album and just the other day her new song with Justin Bieber and Lil Twist entitled ‘Twerk’ was leaked. Who knows what’s going to happen next?

While the shock and awe factor is a dangerous road to travel when it comes to a publicity stunt, I must say, Miley has worn it well. She’s stuck to her new brand image, made no apologies and she’s gracefully embracing the good, the bad and the ugly backlash. Miley’s brand manager has also publically announced that her VMA performance “simply could not have gone better”. I commend Miley and her team for achieving their goals and getting the world talking.

What do you think of Miley’s VMA publicity stunt? Would a more subtle approach have had the same viral effect?

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

Media and Politics

With a looming election and faltering economy, newspapers in Australia are rife with exasperate, dramatic headlines, instilling fear and negativity into the households of Australia.

On Monday August 5, the first day of election campaigning, Sydney newspaper The Daily Telegraph ran a front-page article with the headline “Finally you now have the chance to KICK THIS MOB OUT” accompanied by a picture of Kevin Rudd.

This now infamous moment in Australian political journalism has lead to an outcry of opinion pieces quick to blame Murdoch, the journalists involved, News Limited, and the list goes on.

While it is the media’s job to portray news and current affairs consistently and factually to the public, lately the line has become blurred between what is fact and what is opinion.

The Journalism Code of Ethics states that Australian journalists must:

1. Report and interpret honestly, striving for accuracy, fairness and disclosure of all essential facts. Do not suppress relevant available facts, or give distorting emphasis.

2. Disclose conflicts of interest that affect, or could be seen to affect, the accuracy, fairness or independence of your journalism. Do not improperly use a journalistic position for personal gain.

Log on to your online newspaper of choice and readers are confronted with the question – is Murdoch abusing his power by clearly influencing the content of his News Limited publications?

Some say yes, Murdoch’s control of over 65% of all newspaper circulation in Australia is a gross abuse of power, and should not be allowed – particularly with an election in the wings and an obvious political agenda on the cards.

However others fairly state that in a democratic country, readers are free and able to make up their own minds. Do we really believe everything the media presents us?

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts – do you think the above is an abuse of the media’s power, or do you take everything you read with a grain of salt?

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes

 

 

Why exclamation overuse is a marketing crime.

Before reading this post, please watch this quick Seinfeld clip, which sums up my exclamation point views entirely.

There is nothing more cringe-worthy to me than an advertisement or piece of marketing material with an overuse of exclamation points.

The exclamation point says a number of things to me:

  • The writer lacks creativity, inspiration or both and is attempting to make something that lacks excitement, exciting
  • The writer has a limited vocabulary, and instead has resorted to punctuation abuse rather than creative and interesting copy
  • The writer shouldn’t be a writer

I have an exclamation point rule. When reviewing an email, status update or report, I cull a minimum of three exclamation points. (Let’s be honest, if there are three or more exclamation points in your email, status update or report, you need to question what you’re writing.)

Too often I see businesses committing the act of inappropriate, unnecessary exclamation in marketing documents including brochures, flyers and so help me God, annual reports.

Like this one:

To the writers of the world, please, control your exclamation overuse. And that doesn’t mean resorting to capitalising words, it just means saving the exclamation points for births and surprise party invitations.

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.