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Snapchat and Brands

Should Your Brand Be On Snapchat?

by Adriana Howell

marketing social media

I’ll admit that I was skeptical of Snapchat when I first heard about it. It’s just another social media fad that will disappear as quickly as its photo messages, I thought. But eventually, reluctantly, I gave in and downloaded the app. Fast forward a year or two and Snapchat is not only still on my iPhone, but it’s one of my most-used social apps - and I’m not alone in my addiction to appreciation for these self-destructing messages.  

Don’t Make These Social-Media Blunders That Businesses Keep Repeating

by BIGfish

facebook marketing public relations social media twitter

The following article, written by BIGfish president David Gerzof Richard, was originally published on Entrepreneur.com

Whether you are bringing a new venture to market or marketing an existing brand, sooner or later (probably much sooner) you will find the need to participate in some form of social-media engagement.

When you do, you better have a well thought-out strategic plan, a strong content strategy and have done your research. Conducting research is a major weak point where many brands frequently slip up -- specifically, a lack of attention is paid to past mistakes made by other brands.

In my experience as a digital media professor and marketing agency founder, I have found there are five regularly occurring social-media blunders brands make. I’m continually amazed each and every time a company repeats another brand’s previous mistake, sending their own brand into a tailspin of apologies, reparations and damage control.

1. Mixing up accounts. Most native platforms and third-party apps make it easy to toggle back and forth between brand and personal accounts, which is convenient, but can also be an accident waiting to happen.

One of my favorite examples of a social account mix up is this tweet from Chrysler: “I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f*cking drive.” A good solution is to use separate and distinct apps for each account -- this ensures there is no chance of confusing which account you are posting from.

2. Social media never sleeps. In this digital age, consumers can interact with brands at any time, requiring companies to man their brand's social media platforms 24 hours, seven days a week. At a minimum, someone should always be monitoring social chatter around the brand to pick up any early warning signs that something is amiss.

British Airways slept through a number of social-media customer service issues, including a case of lost luggage. The airline decided their Twitter feed was “open” only during certain times of the day, even though Twitter is always up and running and the airline itself has planes in the air around the clock.

Had someone at the airline been listening, a quick tweet would have solved the issue. Instead, eight hours later (which equals about three months in social-web meltdown time) a response was made. By that time, what should have been a small blip on the radar became a viral headline.

3. Automated anything. There is no shortage of apps and tools that enable your social accounts to automatically do just about anything and everything you want. These automated duties include sending scheduled posts, changing a profile picture, replying to messages with canned responses and following other accounts based on preset criteria.

If you lump enough of these automated tools on to a single social media account you in essence have created a social media robot. A robot may seem like a cool and cost-effective solution to managing your social media, but online interaction requires personal attention with a human touch.

Automated communications can come off as cold and callous, especially during times of crisis when members of your community turn to your social platforms for assistance and reassurance.

While in the midst of horse meat packaged as beef scandal, the UK supermarket chain Tesco fired off a pre-loaded automated post: "It’s sleepy time so we’re off to hit the hay!" Clearly not the language to use when under the microscope for a horse-meat scandal. Keep usage of automated tools to a minimum, turn off all automation when a crisis hits and always work to be human.

4. Leap before looking. Savvy marketers seeking to extend mind and market share are always on the lookout for opportunities to leverage the relatively inexpensive reach and influence offered by social-media platforms. Two frequently used strategies are tapping into trending topics and hashtag story sharing. Both can result in varying levels of success and sometimes, horrific failures.

Countless companies have used a hashtag without first checking to see if anyone else is using it and what it means. Worse yet are companies that lump their brand on a news trend in some unrelated way, making them look conniving and insensitive.

The largest of these failures though, are brands that develop a promotion for their community to share stories of brand experiences without realizing the interactions they are looking for might turn out to be horror stories. GM, McDonald’s, JP Morgan and the NYPD all made this mistake, which could have easily been avoided had someone looked at past promotions gone awry as precedents.

5. Loose posts sink ships. More than 50 percent of the U.S. population now owns a smartphone. This means there is a good chance more than 50 percent of a company’s workforce is equipped with a mobile device capable of instantly capturing and posting ideas, photos and videos to any number of social platforms.

A number of companies including Google, HMV and StubHub have all experienced rogue posts from employees compromising internal corporate workings, yet few companies have learned from these breaches and established guidelines for employees on what can and cannot be shared.

A social media policy probably won’t shore up every possible social leak, but it will certainly help reduce them as well as provide a framework to manage situations when they do occur.

The Power of Thick Data

by BIGfish

business marketing

In recent years, there has been a lot of hype around “big” data in the marketing world. Big data is extremely helpful with gathering quantitative information about new trends, behaviors and preferences, so it’s no wonder companies invest a lot of time and money sifting through and analyzing massive sets of data. However, what big data fails to do is explain why we do what we do. “Thick” data fills the gap. Thick data is qualitative information that provides insights into the everyday emotional lives of consumers. It goes beyond big data to explain why consumers have certain preferences, the reasons they behave the way they do, why certain trends stick and so on. Companies gather this data by conducting primary and secondary research in the form of surveys, focus groups, interviews, questionnaires, videos and other various methods. Ultimately, to understand people’s actions and what drives them to your business (or not), you need to understand the humanistic context in which they pursue these actions. It’s crucial for successful companies to analyze the emotional way in which people use their products or services to develop a better understanding of their customers. By using thick data, companies can develop a positive relationship with their customers and it becomes easier for those companies to maintain happy customers and attract new ones. Big data will tell you that in 2013, Samsung was able to sell 35 million more smartphones than Apple. But what can these companies really do with this data? Pat themselves on the back or hang their heads in shame? If you are in the market for a smartphone, you’re not going to buy a Samsung because they sold 35 million more than Apple.  As a customer, you probably don’t even know this information. You may, however, buy a Samsung because they offer a multitude of models that you can customize to your preferences, and Apple’s product line is less diverse. Or perhaps you won’t buy an Apple smartphone because it’s not quite as durable, or they don’t have as wide a selection of phone colors as Samsung. Using thick data to figure out why more people are buying from Samsung is key for both companies to move forward and either keep dominating the market, or reinvent to gain dominance. At its core, business is about making bets on human behavior, and those bets backed by thick data are what business models should be based around. Take for example Lego, a successful company that was near collapse in the early 2000’s because they lost touch with their customers. After failed attempts to reposition the company with action figures and other concepts, Jørgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of the Danish Lego firm, decided to engage in a major qualitative research project. Children in five major global cities were studied to help Lego better understand the emotional needs of children in relation to legos. After evaluating hours of video recordings of children playing with legos, a pattern emerged. Children were passionate about the “play experience” and the process of playing. Rather than the instant gratification of toys like action figures, children valued the experience of imagining and creating. The results were clear; Lego needed to go back to marketing its traditional building blocks and focus less on action figures and toys. Today, Lego is once again a successful company, and thick data proved to be its savior. While it’s impossible to read the minds of customers, thick data allows us to be closer than ever to predicting the quirks of human behavior. The problem with big data is that companies can get too caught up in numbers and charts and forget the humanistic reality of their customers’ lives. As this Wall Street Journal article puts it, “By outsourcing our thinking to Big Data, our ability to make sense of the world by careful observation begins to wither, just as you miss the feel and texture of a new city by navigating it only with the help of a GPS”. This is not to say big data is useless. It is a powerful and helpful tool companies should invest in. However, companies should also invest in gathering and analyzing thick data to uncover the deeper, more human meaning of big data. Together, thick data and big data give you an incredibly insightful advantage. -Jess Cook

5 Things You Need to Know Before Hosting a Reddit AMA

by BIGfish

marketing social media

Hosting a Reddit AMA is a fantastic way to reach thousands of people at once. You can find out what the public really thinks about you, your company or your product and receive honest suggestions and feedback in real time. I’m admittedly not a Reddit expert, but the BIGfish team recently met with a local Reddit moderator to learn more about AMAs and the Reddit community. Below I’ve listed some of the the must do’s and the cringeworthy do NOT do’s you need to know before taking the plunge into the world of Reddit. 1) Get familiar with Reddit. If you’re not familiar with Reddit, it’s worth it to spend some time navigating pages, posting links and photos and replying to others’ posts. There’s nothing worse than when a person hosts an AMA and starts posting answers to the wrong questions. Read through past AMAs and see what kinds of questions were asked, what works well and what doesn’t, etc. It helps to be familiar with the platform, but if you’re not a seasoned Reddit pro, don’t pretend to be. 2) Prepare for the worst and answer every question. Woody Harrelson’s AMA was one of the worst ever. When redditors asked personal questions or brought up his controversial past, he refused to answer or got defensive and angry. Remember: this is an “ask me anything.” The Reddit community is notorious for sniffing out exactly what it is you don’t want to talk about and exposing those points. Prepare in advance for tough questions and decide how you’ll answer them. Not answering a question, whether it’s pointed and difficult or silly and irrelevant, is like signaling for an attack. 3) Find a moderator board that’s helpful and responsive. Check out the AMA schedules (on the right hand sidebar) of some subreddits to see how often they do AMAs, who hosts them and if anyone else is hosting one the day you’re shooting for. You’ll want to target subreddits with a solid subscriber base (you can see the number of users who subscribe to that specific subreddit in the right hand sidebar), but finding a subreddit with responsive moderators is more important. Narrow your search to 5-10 relevant subreddits and message their moderator boards. Let them know who you are, why you want to do an AMA and when you would like to do it. If you find an awesome moderator who’s really into your AMA, it’s worth asking if they’ll make your AMA a sticky post so that it stays at the top of the feed all day. 4) Schedule and draft your AMA. Ideally, you should schedule an AMA anywhere between a few weeks to a few months in advance. Users from around the world might be jumping online at different times so it’s a good idea to make it an all-day event. Once you figure out where your AMA will be held, you’ll have to prove that you are, in fact, who you say you are. Celebrities often post  an image of themselves holding a piece of paper stating they’re hosting an AMA. Social media posts including your Reddit username, date and time of your AMA, also suffice (see samples of our Facebook and Twitter posts for BIGfish client FINsix). Once you have this squared away, it’s time to draft the post title and description to be used during the AMA. Titles typically follow the formula “I’m XX, AMA,” (BIGfish client FINsix’s AMA post read: “I’m the CEO & co-founder of FINsix, the company that created the Dart – the world’s smallest laptop adapter. AMA!” Next, the description should give some brief details about who’s answering questions, why you’re hosting, link(s) to your proof, and any additional relevant background information. The description box is also where you should post updates during the AMA, like if you’re leaving your computer for a bit and won’t be answering questions for a few hours. 5) Spread the word. In order to make sure people know you’re hosting an AMA and to encourage existing fans or customers to join in on the conversation, you’ll want to start promoting your AMA a few weeks in advance. I recommend promoting the AMA using organic posts on Facebook and Twitter, sending emails to friends, family and/or customers, social media ads and promoted posts on the Reddit homepage (so that users who visit but who don’t already have accounts will see it) as well as on relevant subreddits. Always Remember:

  • Answer every question.
  • Honesty is always the best policy.
  • If you have something to hide, don’t host an AMA.
  • Never be too promotional.
-Brigid Gorham

BIGfish PR

When is it Time to Hire A Public Relations Firm?

by BIGfish

business facebook marketing public relations social media

Since public relations is one of the most misunderstood professions, it’s probably not a stretch to assume many companies don’t see the benefit of a PR/marketing firm or don’t know when it’s time to hire one. Below we’ve listed a few telltale signs that it’s time to invest in marketing.

You see your competitors in the news

If someone’s reading an article about one of your competitors, they’re probably interested in what you have to offer as well. Want to get in on that story? Hire a marketing firm. It’s our job as PR and marketing professionals to pitch your news to the right people and get you published. With a mention in an outlet like TIME, Fast Company or The Wall Street Journal, your brand is getting millions of impressions and therefore increasing overall awareness. Being published in a well-known news outlet also establishes your company as a leader in the industry and helps to build credibility.

You need help telling people what you do and/or you’re camera shy

If you want to be in the news, it’s important that you have your messaging nailed down. A PR firm can help you refine your company’s mission, vision and key messages. If you’re clear and concise when speaking about your company, listeners or readers are more likely to easily understand what you’re about. Camera shy? Most marketing firms offer media training, which is a great way to prepare for interviews and helps interviewees feel more comfortable and confident when speaking with the media.

You’re a startup

Don’t have the budget for an extensive advertising campaign? Bill Gates once said: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” It’s especially important for a startup to define its messaging and properly introduce itself to the market. PR is a cost effective way of increasing brand awareness and establishing your company or CEO as thought leaders in the industry. Hiring a PR firm is like bringing on an experienced partner to help you navigate the media and introduce you to millions of customers.

You’re not invested in social media

If you’re neglecting your company’s social media platforms, you’re doing it wrong. Social media offers the unique opportunity to eavesdrop on and converse with consumers around the world. Social media is also the first place people go to complain about a brand, so you need to be there to immediately address any issues. Have a student posting updates for you occasionally? Doesn’t really cut it. Digital media marketing requires a strategic plan, an advertising budget, a content calendar, 24/7 monitoring and constant evaluation and analysis. By posting relevant content, acknowledging users and engaging with them, you can create a community that loves to share and engage with your brand and each other (like we have for our client Iceland Naturally). It’s not an easy or fast process but trust me, it’s worth it.

There are plenty of reasons to hire a PR firm and we’ve named just a few. What would you add to our list? When did you decide it was time to hire a marketing or PR firm? We’d love to hear from you - tweet us @BIGfishmarket!

-Brigid Gorham

 

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