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

‘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

 

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.

Facebook ‘Bumping’

Facebook is starting to roll out a new algorithm that dictates what appears at the top of your news feed. It’s called ‘Story Bumping’ and it means that older posts will be ‘bumped’ to the top of your feed depending on their relevance.

For those of you who have had enough of seeing the same post promoting a product you don’t care for, by a brand you’ve never heard of, in a product category you want nothing to do with, this might be Facebook’s saving grace.

The Facebook newsfeed will begin prioritising posts that are ‘new to you’ rather than just posts with thousands of likes. Facebook’s new formula will favour unseen posts with more likes and comments from friends who you have interacted with most recently. The result is that newer and more relevant content will be appearing higher up on your feed.

This means as a user, you will no longer have to wade through the murky waters of promoted content and posts of acquaintance’s children to see if there was any new content from your closest friends and favourite pages.

While it is currently unclear what this means for brands that promote their posts, it does mean that non-promoted posts will garner more attention and engagement with an audience that cares about them.

According to Advertising Age, “Facebook claims that engagement for posts from “pages” – which could be from a brand, an organization, or a public figure – were up 8%.”

We think story bumping is a great step forward for Facebook and we’re excited to see what new content pops up in our newsfeed from friends and brands alike.

Also, remember to hop onto the Stolen Quotes Facebook page if you’re a fan of memorable quotes, PR and advertising, and street style photography.

Contributor:

Jason Gieng, Designer for Stolen Quotes.

Events 101

We recently hosted the second annual Christmas In July event for Michael Field Pty Ltd with great success. Our secret to hosting a show stopping event starts with the four ‘P’s of event management:

1. The Plan

The first key step is to determine the objective of your event. What do you want to achieve? Are you after brand exposure? Enquiry generation? Networking? With this in mind, formulate a plan for how to achieve it. It’s important to have a clear purpose – without a well-defined objective, you may end up paying a hefty sum for no real reason. Even Jay Gatsby had a reason for all of those grand, lavish parties he held seemingly meaninglessly.

2. The People

This might seem like an obvious statement, but make sure you know everyone that will be involved, from your own staff to attendees. Make sure your team knows exactly what they are doing, when they are doing it, where it’s being done and who they are working with. Also ensure your invite list is succinct and appropriate for your event – you wouldn’t want to invite a brand ambassador for PETA to the launch event for your steakhouse.

3. The Place

We aren’t selling property, but the importance we place on the event location might fool you enough to think so. Select a venue that’s the right size and that will provide the right environment and ambience for the type of event you want to hold. Make sure it’s easy to locate and close to various forms of transportation. If everyone feels comfortable and welcome, you’ve made a home for these people for the night, and they will be extremely grateful.

4. The Provisions

An attendee who is well fed, well watered and well gifted is an attendee who will have nothing but raving reviews about your event, your team and your company. Ensure you cater for all different dietary requirements, that everybody’s glass is always full and that guests leave with a handful of ‘remember-me-by’s.

Of course, these four ‘P’s are just the beginning of a successful event. If you’d like to learn more, feel free to get in touch to find out how we can help you out with the rest.

Contributor:

Jason Gieng, Designer for Stolen Quotes.

Dealing with social media trolls

All brands on social media should have a comprehensive crisis management plan in the event of a social media firestorm. But how do you deal with a one-off internet troll? While having one person ‘trolling’ your brand isn’t a huge deal in the big scheme of things, if handled incorrectly, it can blow up into a PR disaster.

Step 1. Identifying a troll

Aside from their huge noses and ugly teeth, trolls are normally the people posting inflammatory comments for the purpose of their own amusement. They are the ones purposefully making life difficult – they point out grammatical errors (which you shouldn’t have to begin with; it’s reputation damaging in itself), they make up stories about your brand and they use provocative, sometimes offensive language to get a reaction. It can sometimes be hard differentiating between an internet troll and a customer with a legitimate concern or complaint about your brand. If you are unsure, ALWAYS handle the situation as though the customer is legitimate.

Step 2. Don’t feed the troll

While sometimes it’s tempting to tell the troll where they can shove their comment, never respond to poison with poison. Trolls feed off heated reaction and eat negativity for dessert. There is a recent case where two Arizona restaurateurs got the boot from Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares. After the episode aired, they received a number of disgruntled and trolling comments on their Facebook page. Their reaction was every trolls dream – calling their fans ‘haters’ and telling them all to go “F” themselves. I don’t think I even need to explain where they went wrong. Boy do those guys need a publicist.

The thing to remember with social media is that everyone loves to watch a good fight. Let’s just be honest here, we have all witnessed (and indulged in) a massive argument on Facebook, sometimes spending hours watching it unfold. Trolling is the same with brands – you have more eyes on you than you realise and people are waiting for you to bite back. Don’t.

Step 3. Catch them off guard

Different businesses have different rules for this, but normally as soon as a troll is identified they get deleted straight away. However if the troll hasn’t used offensive or threatening language, deleting them might be more noticeable than just ignoring them.

If you can’t ignore them, always respond with respect, humour and grace. Thank the troll for their ‘insight’ and if you’re feeling it, give them a compliment and throw in your own joke. Trolls aren’t the brightest creatures – this will probably confuse them and they’ll go and bother someone else.

In a recent AdNews article, Guy Kawasaki suggests that if you do engage with a troll, leave it to a three round limit. “Somebody tosses the coin, that’s round one. You respond – that’s round two. They respond. That’s round three,”.

Step 4. Think of a troll as an opportunity

Just remember, trolls present you with the situation to create a positive brand experience. How you handle a troll situation can speak a lot of your company’s values and personality. Be respectful, kind and humorous and you’ll notice trolls won’t find you fun to play with anymore.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

Why a great PR campaign is like a pop song.

This is going to be one of those blog posts that you shouldn’t judge by its title. Or maybe you should, depending on whether you’re a fan of pop music or not.

It dawned on me over the weekend, as I was treating myself to a nineties-music marathon (think Backstreet Boys, N’Sync and Hanson…I am not ashamed), that there a number of similarities between a catchy, cheesy pop song and a successful PR campaign.

Don’t see where I’m going with this? Let me break it down for you.

Verse One: The Media Plan

Pick your favourite pop song. Now, sing the very first verse (in your head, preferably). What does it tell you? More often than not, it sets the scene. You are able to pick up on the direction of the song – it’s theme, genre, whether Pitbull is likely to make an appearance…the list goes on.

A great media plan should do the same thing. It should give enough context into the particular campaign – the strategy, outputs and measurements – without challenging War and Peace. A good media plan is clear, catchy and concise.

The Bridge: The Strategic Objective

The bridge is the repetitive part of the song that comes right before the chorus.

The bridge is generally the song’s underlying theme. You won’t be able to quite put your finger on it, but if the bridge isn’t there in the song, it just doesn’t sound right. The bridge brings the song together.

In a good PR campaign, this is the strategic direction of the campaign. Great PR is nothing without strategy. Take strategy away, and you have an empty campaign.

The Chorus: Key Messaging

Choruses are all about repetition. In a good pop song the chorus is catchy, and makes you want to sing along (Mmm Bop anyone?). It takes the bridge to the next level, and expresses the artist’s key purpose for singing the song in the first place.

This is your key messaging. Key messaging is the lifeblood of a great PR campaign. If you don’t have your key messaging organised, you don’t have a story. If you don’t have a story, you definitely don’t have an audience!

A great chorus is what makes the song. Key messaging is what makes the PR campaign. The clearer and catchier you make your key messaging, the more likely a journalist or your target audience will take interest in what you have to say.

Verse Two: Implementation

Verse Two is all about supporting the song. Without Verse Two, the song ends too quickly and listeners lose interest. A great Verse Two progresses the themes in Verse One, and leads into the bridge and second chorus.

This is campaign implementation. It could be a simple press release, or you could be managing a giant experiential marketing campaign. To be successful, the implementation must support the media plan and strategic direction, and be backed up by the key messaging. Now’s the time to bring out the ‘lalalas’ (promotional activity), high notes (growth in online presence) and maybe even a guitar solo (activation or launch event).

Song Ends: ROI

Before the end of a song, there will probably be the repeat of the bridge and chorus at least once before the singer trails off with their ‘ooohs’ and ‘ahhhs’. (In the context of great PR, this is constant referencing of the strategic objective and key messaging.)

Good pop songs leave you wanting more. They stick in your head and make you want to sing them at the next office karaoke night.

A good PR campaign will do the same. If projected ROI is met, the campaign leaves the client singing your praises and asking for an encore. The target audience will be humming along to your tune and journalists will be belting out your song to anyone who listens.

Now, and only now, is the time to take your bow.

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.