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

 

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.

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.