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

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

 

Does the Public Relations Industry Suffer From Bad PR?

“And what do you do for a living, Sarah?”

“I work in Public Relations”

“Oh … Okay. You don’t really seem like the PR type.”

I’ve had this conversation a few times since I started working in the PR industry a year ago. For many people, when they think “PR” they imagine huge ‘Gatsby-like’ launch parties, celebrity gossip columns and fashion events. Some people even think my job is to write spin stories for politicians caught in sex scandals. For an industry that sells reputation management as a valuable service, still maintaining this stereotype isn’t great news.

I’ll be honest with you, PR was never a career path that interested me. I had my first taste of the PR stereotype when I was at university. I studied Advertising and shared many of my classes with people who were also studying PR. While I am sure there were many great, talented and intelligent PR students in my class, my judgment was clouded by loud and overly opinionated girls who were interested in building their careers around parties, celebrities and fashion – none of which I particularly cared for. That’s why people seem surprised to hear someone like me can work in PR – and actually enjoy it.

The general stereotype of public relations has devalued the industry. I see many businesses from prosperous industries such as mining and industrial or financial fail to understand the value of including public relations in their marketing strategy. And why would they include it? How would Fitzy and Wippa hosting their event help them with their reputation?

Over the past year working in a PR firm, “parties, celebrities and fashion” are barely mentioned. I have found PR to be quite exciting – it’s strategic, daring and even creative. PR is all about finding relationships between a brand and its audience and creating credible and engaging content that helps build and maintain these relationships. In fact, this blog that I am writing is part of a larger, comprehensive PR strategy.

I’ve seen some great PR work from brands over the past couple of years. Check out Dove, Oreo and even Rekordelig for some examples.

So, how will the PR industry ever be able to break free from its air-kissing, skinny-caramel-latte-drinking, celebrity-loving reputation?

In my opinion – just keep doing great work. If we spend our time ignoring the stereoptye and keep producing great results – it will only be a matter of time before the rest follow.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

How ‘social’ is social media?

If I’m at a bar and I don’t check-in, was I ever at the bar?

Okay that was a joke question, but it highlights an interesting concept around the way social media affects the way we socialise today.

According to recent statistics, the average Australian person spends around 13 hours a week on social media. If we assume that most of us don’t spend our working hours on social media and we don’t include the time we are asleep, we are spending a large proportion of our free time scrolling through our news feed, updating our status and Tweeting to the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, it’s a huge part of the industry I work in and using social media is an essential part of my job. I spend a good chunk of my working day on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. While I love feeling connected and building relationships through social media, I have to wonder what I miss out on when I completely disengage from my physical surroundings.

When I think about some of the stand out moments of my life – travelling, seeing my favourite band in concert and my 21st birthday, I disengaged from all these moments to reconnect with my online social network. On my birthday, I spent time checking in and taking photos. When I saw my favourite band, I filmed my favourite song and uploaded it to Facebook straight away. When I travelled, I took hundreds of selfies in front of famous icons and put them on Instagram. The scariest (and somewhat embarrassing) truth to the travel photos is that I didn’t take them so they could be treasured memories of my trip – I took them because I know travel photos get a lot of ‘likes’.

So here are some questions for consideration:

  • Has our social media started to dictate our social lives?
  • Does appearing to have a good time mean more than actually having a good time?

Whether we like to admit it or not, I’m sure many of us answered yes to these questions, myself included.

This month the Stolen Quotes team is trialing #LowFiJuly. We are all putting away our mobile phones at lunches, work drinks, networking events and pretty much any social outing. (Ironically we’ve made #LowFiJuly a hashtag – we only tweet about it after lunch, we swear!) So far we’ve all done extremely well and I feel personally more connected and engaged in the lives of my colleagues. It actually feels like a weight has been lifted because I no longer obsessively scan my news feed while trying to tell the team about my weekend plans. Who knows, #LowFiJuly might stick around for August.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

The evolution of language on digital media platforms

The title of this blog post makes it sound like you’re about to read an essay reminiscent of a University media studies assessment – fear not reader, I would never put you through such torture.

What this post is going to explore is the evolution of language (as in how we speak and what we write) as technology evolves.

I’ll give you an example. Today it’s all about brevity. As in “This pic is totes amaze babe, you should defs wear that more ofts.” (Ofts stands for often. I made that one up.)

Today we are cutting words in half and adding an ‘s’ on the end. To be honest, I don’t have much of a problem with this. Give it a year, and we will probably cringe when someone says totes, the way we do now when someone types “nomnomnom” on a food post (or is that just me?)

Flash back to the dawn of the Internet and instant messaging (yes, even before the MSN days) and emoticons were taking the written world by storm. Who would have thought adding a semi-colon and a closed bracket at the end of a sentence would insinuate a flirtation? But now, we don’t bat an eyelid (or should I say, comma!)

From emoticons, language evolved into acronyms. LOL. BRB. ROFL. It was all about the speed of a message – conveying something at the click of your fingers. In fact, it still is! With this in mind, we saw the replacement of words with letters, numbers and sometimes the combination of both. See became ‘c’. You became ‘u’. Mate – m8. U c where I’m going with this?

(That being said, some people got a little too excited about the ‘replacement rule’, resorting to crazy written antics like replacing an ‘s’ with a ‘z’. This doesn’t abbreviate anything, so why oh why do we accept ‘thankz’ as ‘thanks’? I’m sorry, I digress…)

Linguist John McWhorter goes into much more detail in a brilliant TED Talks video exploring ‘texting’ as a language in itself. He refers to what we’re doing as ‘fingered speech’ or ‘writing like we speak’. The best news? He doesn’t see this as a bad thing.

In fact, he goes so far as to say that, when being able to use casual speech via texting and online, as well as writing full, proper sentences in appropriate situations (like work or school) we are practicing bi-dialectal skills, and are even expanding our linguistic repertoire.

How totes amaze is that?

(N.B: This makes no exception for those that use ‘his’ instead of ‘he’s’.)

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.