Posts Tagged ‘Social PR

On and offline – when there is a surprise, welcome or not, how you respond makes all the difference. For brands and institutions, this can take you down interesting, unexpected and lucrative paths.

Nude Men Leopold Museum

Like Oreos, who achieved 13,734 re-tweets for its Superbowl suggestion to ‘Dunk in the dark‘ after the lights went out. And the Leopold Museum, who has responded to an man stripping off at its exhibition by offering nude viewings of its ‘Nude Men’ collection.

Virgin media “makes a point of responding to every customer online mention whether it is positive or not.” This approach helps Virgin achieve success where telecoms struggle in social.. developing conversations beyond complaints about connections… and consequently generating vast opportunities for positive PR.

I can vouch for this as a customer. I tweeted in frustration a few months back when I found it impossible to record a programme I was watching in delay TV. It’s hard to really explain this problem until you’re experiencing it.. but it’s incredibly irritating at the time…

Anyway @virginmedia tweeted back at me with “it’s hard to record things that are in the past.” This somewhat facetious answer made me laugh, told me they wouldn’t be solving the complaint and ended the exchange with a lulzy acceptance on my part. (And a few minutes reverie around Doc brown and the clock tower).

The example given by Brian Solis is:

In one case, a woman tweeted that her Virgin Media connection wasn’t working and her two year-old daughter was upset at having to miss her favorite TV show, Peppa Pig. Not only did Virgin send an engineer immediately, he was carrying a Peppa Pig toy for the little girl.

By joining up social media listening with other parts of their business, and employing Twitter community managers with the right mix of humour, humility and ingenuity, Virgin media are well positioned to reap dividends from positive sentiment generated by reactive social media engagement. On the flip-side, their activity highlights a vast swathe of missed opportunities for brands that are deaf or timid online.

In times of crisis that require an immediate impact, Twitter’s suite of pay-for-play tools can help do just that. Twitter’s Sponsored Tweets can rapidly keep content at the top of search results, and can now place results at the top of user feeds.

A particularly effective feature allows advertisers to target not only key search terms, but key users as well… For example, if you have a major crisis impacting parents, you can identify this subgroup and ensure your message consistently remains at the top of their streams. Messages that link to rich media, use hashtags, and feature a call to action (“RT PLEASE”) will usually garner the most attention.

Dallas Lawrence

The relationship between bloggers, marketers and brands still attracts controversy. In my view the social web provides unprecedented opportunity for citizens, consumers, professionals and politicians to tell one another what they want and need. Making it possible for products, services, governments and social systems to be more efficient, representative and fit for purpose.

If this view of personal, public and private information exchange is taken – accepting advertising, reviewing products or participating in brand partnerships does not means a blogger is ‘selling out.’

Rather such interactions are progressive ones – for releasing the social world (via bloggers and their commenters) into our products means positive, pro-social innovation. Bringing us full circle to the days when local producers had direct daily interaction with consumers and could easily adapt commercial goods to their desires.

Once past the idea that brand-blogger engagement is inherently insidious – marketers must operate with full consideration that they are facilitating the meeting of very different interests and motivations. The more thought, care and consideration brand representatives put in, the better results will be. GIGO. So here are some practical dos and don’ts to help guide the activity:

  1. DO – go beyond the A-List – don’t assume everyone is obsessed with the top five blogs. And  consider niches in relation to the topic / product you are covering. The long tail of blogging means you can find dedicated bloggers on everything down to garden sheds and ovens.
  2. DO – enough research so that you can personalize your pitch to each blogger you are contacting – know them, their writing, if they have written about similar products or services before
  3. DO – put thought, consideration into the initial approach – is it an email, or can you treat bloggers like VIPs – e.g. send them luxury invitations instead of an email
  4. DO – make sure learnings about each blogger are kept as accessible notes (e.g. in a database / spreadsheet with their contact details) to help you and other members of your project team understand them and the history of the relationship. For example, do they prefer a phone conversation to electronic communication?
  5. DO – see if you can engage bloggers on other social platforms like Twitter – as innocent did with their recent Twitter parties for parents to share tips and ideas for lunchboxes – resulting in a 140 tips in 140 characters (PDF) booklet
  6. DO – ask them what they want – and see if you can make it happen, like Three UK did for its Mums on the Go app development activity (Three was my client at the time of this event)
  7. DO – consider the world of engagement opportunities beyond a static pitch / press release. For example product drops, meetup events, working with bloggers to crowdsource product innovations, private blogger networks like the one set up by NEXT in the UK
  8. DO – respect bloggers’ rights to give honest opinions about your product or service. In their bloggers network NEXT state clearly that they are giving bloggers a forum share their ‘honest opinion’
  9. DO – offer unique items or content to each blogger if you can to show you really value their personal contribution
  10. DO – consider paying them. They are likely to have no income to specifically support their blogging. But bear in mind that paid-for activity must meet social media advertising guidelines (these are for the UK) – e.g. full disclosure on the post about who it is sponsored by. (Sofia’s journal is a nice example of disclosure about paid activity)
  11. DO – provide as many relevant information points and media assets to the blogger as possible. This need not mean a huge long pitch email if you link out to explainers, pictures, apps, video and audio files
  12. DO – say thank you when a blogger has covered your item
  13. DO – keep them warm in between pitches / major activity – i.e. keep up the contact, interact on Twitter, etc.
  14. DO – have a proof-reader for your pitch emails. However well you write everyone words things badly sometimes (that’s why newspapers have sub-editors) – ensure every pitch is given the twice-over
  15. DO – read resulting blog posts and their comments, including positive and negative opinions, carefully and feedback insight to the brand
  16. DON’T send arsey emails to bloggers who are annoyed with you. Be polite and move on
  17. DON’T – Spam lists of bloggers with press releases over and over again when you have had zero engagement with them. You will NEVER win over some bloggers, so if they don’t respond the first or second time you try – take them off your list
  18. DON’T assume bloggers are as impressed by celebrities as you, or the journalists you are used to dealing with, are. Blogging has arisen from a culture of equality – so pictures of celebrities holding products might not go down well
  19. DON’T  – waste a word in your pitch. Brevity is key, don’t fluff it out (kinda ironic for the length of this post I know)
  20. DON’T – secure a blog post and let it disappear into oblivion. Share each appropriate blog post on your Twitter, Facebook, member newsletter, internal corporate social media round-up, even on your advertising.  Integration is key to build relationships for the future and make the most of the unique, authentic, brand-relevant content your engagement campaign has reaped

WordPress buttons image from Nikolay Bachiyski

Influence is a word thrown around like confetti these days. Yet just as there is no homogeneous audience in a social media world, there is no homogeneous influencer.

So those launching social PR or marketing initiatives need to know more – precisely who is influential about what, to whom, and in what context?

However, faced with shiny new topic, a place to start is needed.

To find and prioritize who, of millions of bloggers, to begin to engaging with, follow these steps:

  1. Find relevant bloggers (Try Google Blog Search, Blog lists in the category, these social media tools, Followerwonk to search Twitter and then check the blog rolls of good ones)
  2. Record for each blogger: Awards / List membership, Google Page Rank, Twitter Followers, Klout and PeerIndex (Bear in mind there is ongoing debate about how reliable a measure Klout and PeerIndex are, but they can at least serve as a comparative indicator)
  3. Prioritize based on the overall picture (Make notes and don’t rely on one measure alone. If there is time and the blog is very active, you could make more in-depth ethnographic observations on participation occuring)
  4. After launching the campaign measure referrals back to your target URL – to ascertain which blogs are bringing most traffic /are most goal-achieving

More on brand engagement with bloggers from Eric Schwartzman, including stats from the 2011 Technorati bloggers survey:

Digital confetti image by Frankief

This blog is about utilizing and optimizing the social web for business, pleasure and social change

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