Soon after Apple’s new iPhones went on sale last Friday, rumors began to surface that the iPhone 6 plus literally bends under pressure. When brand-damaging videos emerged, the company’s stock quickly plummeted and Twitter exploded with #Bendgate tweets. Eager to get in on the social media conversation, brands like Heineken, Coca Cola, Pringles and Papa Johns offered their spin on #Bendgate.
The World Cup has already seen a record number of viewers this year - up 44% from 2010 - and where there’s a big TV audience, witty tweets can’t be far behind. As of July 1, there were more than 300 million tweets related to the World Cup. Twitter even set up a unique #WorldCup page that features a scoreboard, a list of verified team and related accounts, and of course, a compilation of #WorldCup tweets, photos and videos. With these kinds of numbers, it’s a no-brainer for brands to get in on the conversation - and a few unexpected events set the stage for some interesting real-time tweets.
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.
After 22 years, Jay Leno passed the Tonight Show torch to Jimmy Fallon on February 17, 2014. As expected, Fallon’s debut was a huge (and hilarious) success. But we noticed something else about the show, too: #FallonTonight went viral on social media.
Why is this so important? “The ascension of Mr. Fallon, 39, to ‘The Tonight Show’ throne represents a new era in late-night viewing, one where advertisers value a show’s total audience--its viral video viewers and Twitter followers along with the TV watchers being lulled to sleep by topical monologues and skits,” wrote AdAge. While attracting viewers to the show is, of course, important, Fallon must also engage with fans online.
Fallon may be new to The Tonight Show, but he’s already a seasoned social media pro and each of his social profiles has a larger following than those of his competitors. Read on to find out how Fallon leveraged his strong online audience to promote his Tonight Show debut.
Readying The Troops
Social media is the perfect place to promote an event. At BIGfish, we utilize Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and Twitter to promote events for our client Iceland Naturally. Whether it’s a festival, tweetup, or TV premiere, you should always start posting about the event on social media in advance. Make sure fans and followers know what’s going on, how they can get involved, and why they should be excited! This is a great way to build buzz before the event even starts.
Fallon spent the week leading up to his Tonight Show debut getting his fans pumped for the show and expressing his own excitement. He sent out tweets, like this one:https://twitter.com/jimmyfallon/status/435256832115101696 And also promoted the show by simultaneously engaging with fans, as he often does: https://twitter.com/jimmyfallon/status/434490532430381056
Five days before the first show, the Fallon Tonight Instagram started a daily countdown. Then, 12 hours before showtime, it featured hourly updates with photos of the Tonight Show mug at different NYC landmarks and encouraging users to use the #FallonTonight hashtag.
Fallon’s Tumblr blog also featured several posts promoting Fallon’s Tonight Show debut, and the official YouTube channel was not overlooked. There they posted an interactive “Ask Jimmy: What’s Coming to the Tonight Show?” video, further engaging fans and spreading the word about his new show.
If all that wasn’t enough, Fallon announced the launch of the Late Night App that enables users to easily tweet about the show, submit videos for the latest challenge, play free games and see show-related content. By sharing information about #FallonTonight in unique and fun ways on several platforms, they created buzz around the big debut and gave followers a reason to not only watch but also Like, follow and share the new Tonight Show.
Give ‘Em Something to Talk About
In our world of mobile devices and 24-hour news, content becomes ‘old news’ fast. Waiting to post content after an event is often too late. Users want and expect live updates. This was something the Fallon Tonight team did better than any other late night TV show has in the past.
Once the show began, the Tonight Show team posted updates and clips online, making it easy for users to view and share. Almost immediately after Fallon and Will Smith performed the “Evolution of Hip-Hop Dancing” on air, the video clip was uploaded to YouTube and posted to the Fallon Tonight Facebook page. The result? The video got more than 100,000 Likes and 13,000 shares on Facebook and now has more than 7 million views on YouTube (and still climbing every day).
The Fallon Tonight Tumblr page also featured several .gifs and videos from the show - a perfect place to put media that makes it easy for users to share and send to friends. All of these tactics extend the reach of the show far past those viewing it live.
Always Be Yourself
Brands work hard and long to craft their brand voice, and social media is a great place to refine and express that voice. Having a consistent brand voice, whether it be serious, friendly, sarcastic or sincere, strengthens the overall brand personality and helps build relationships with fans. Jimmy Fallon’s social media profiles are a shining example of this in action.
“Mr. Fallon is a charming and gifted comedian who, on his first night, chose to be subdued and at times even serious. That said as much about the uncertain future of “Tonight” as it did about its new host,” The New York Times wrote of Fallon’s Tonight Show debut. Fallon’s honest, humble personality that makes him so likeable is also clearly visible in his social profiles. Fallon’s personal posts garner lots of engagement from his followers, and the consist voice from platform to platform helps keep the Fallon Tonight brand in tact.https://twitter.com/jimmyfallon/status/430531164638420992 "February 17, 2014 This is it. We are starting a new chapter of the Tonight Show. I can't even begin to describe what we are all feeling right now here at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, NYC. But - I know that we'll never have this exact feeling ever again. By this time tomorrow we'll no longer wonder what it would be like to do the Tonight Show. We can't put that feeling - that moment back in the bottle. All we can do is try to make the best show that we can and make people happy. And we will. Here's to the first of many. Fun." Fallon wrote in this Instagram post. What other TV shows do a good job of integrating and leveraging social media? Tweet @BIGfishmarket and let us know! Update On February 28, the Today show reported that some 10.42 million people viewed Jimmy Fallon's first week on The Tonight Show, with delayed DVR-watchers factored in. This is the biggest audience since Johnny Carson hosted the show from 1962-1992. Weeks into his new show, Fallon is still giving "night owls a good reason to keep watching," but I believe Fallon's initial social media success also convinced people who missed the debut show to tune in for the rest of the week. Fallon's perfect mix of social media expertise, likable personality and shareable content are clearly a recipe for success! -Brigid Gorham
If you use Twitter, chances are you’ve heard of Hootsuite. The social media management system is one of the most popular social media tools for brands, enabling users to schedule, listen and engage all in one place.Although we’ve been using Hootsuite for years at BIGfish, we’re constantly on the lookout for new tips and tools for managing our clients’ Twitter profiles. The newest tool we’ve added to our arsenal is Buffer, a platform for scheduling and analyzing tweets (and Facebook posts, if you’re so inclined). But which tool is better? Let’s find out!
1) SchedulingWhy It Matters: For me, scheduling is hands-down the most important feature of a social media management tool. There are about 128 hours a week when I’m not at my desk, which translates to 128 hours of potential missed opportunities. Scheduling posts in advance is critical to ensure your profiles are always active - even when you’re not! Hootsuite: Scheduling is pretty run of the mill with Hootsuite. To schedule a tweet, you either write it directly in Hootsuite or use the somewhat clunky Hootsuite extension. Rather than notifying you when you’ve hit 140 characters, Hootsuite simply cuts off your tweet with an ellipsis - making your tweet look sloppy and potentially removing vital information. Hootsuite does have a nice “Auto Schedule” feature, which pre-selects a time for “optimal impact,” but I found myself selecting times anyway to ensure tweets were properly spaced out.
Buffer: Buffer definitely takes the cake on this one. First off, Buffer lets you set up a daily posting schedule for when you want your tweets to go out. For example, you can set it to automatically schedule your tweets at 9 a.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. If you want to send a tweet at a custom time instead, that’s always an option as well. Second, Buffer’s Chrome extension is just amazing. Once it’s installed, scheduling a tweet is as simple as clicking the Buffer icon in your browser - the extension will then automatically make that webpage into a tweet. If you have text highlighted, it will pick that up too and insert it as a quote before the URL. You can even right click any image on the web and select “Buffer This Image” to tweet it! More on this later, though.
2) Link Shortening
Why It Matters: Believe it or not, the way you shorten your links is important. Take a look at the recent performance history for common URL shorteners and you’ll see what I mean. From February 5-11, bit.ly was operating normally, while ow.ly has had performance issues everyday. Which URL shortener would you rather be using?
Hootsuite: Unfortunately for Hootsuite, its default URL shortener is ow.ly. Your other options are ht.ly, owl.li and htl.li - none of which are even considered the most popular URL shorteners (meaning they’re probably less likely to get clicked).
Buffer: Looks like Buffer wins this one as well. Buffer lets you select your default shortener as the well-known bit.ly, and also offers buff.ly and j.mp.3) Pictures
Why It Matters: Sharing pictures via social media has always been a great way to drive engagement, especially when you have a client like Iceland Naturally. And now that Twitter automatically expands photos, tweets with photos are 2x as likely to get retweeted.
Hootsuite: Herein lies Hootsuite’s fatal flaw. The platform does not offer a way to schedule tweets with pic.twitter images, which was the ultimate deal breaker for me. Technically, you can still share images in Hootsuite - however, they will show up as ow.ly links rather than as embedded images, meaning they will not automatically expand or even show up in Twitter unless someone clicks the link.
Buffer: One of my favorite things about Buffer is how easy it is to schedule tweets with pic.twitter images. There are a couple of ways to do it: by directly uploading an image in the Buffer app; by right-clicking an image on the web and Buffering it with your extension; or by retweeting someone else’s tweet with an image. Buffer also allows you to turn off link shortening at anytime, ensuring that your image will show up as an embedded pic.twitter image rather than a bit.ly link. Now I know why they call it “The Awesome Plan.”
Why It Matters: Keeping track of what your followers are saying on Twitter is essential to maintaining a successful Twitter account. Not only is it important to monitor your @mentions, but it’s also a good idea to keep an eye on what similar brands and companies are tweeting about.
Hootsuite: It’s your time to shine, Hootsuite! Social media monitoring is definitely one of Hootsuite’s strong suits, primarily thanks to its ability to create various streams. The interface makes it incredibly easy to get a quick preview of what’s going on in the Twitterverse. Beyond simply creating streams for your @mentions and sent tweets, Hootsuite allows you to set up custom streams based on keywords, phrases or lists. For example, we have a stream that displays every tweet containing #Iceland and a stream that displays tweets from our Twitter list Made in Iceland, among others. You can learn more about the various capabilities of Hootsuite streams here.
Buffer: Buffer doesn’t have much to offer in terms of listening. It’s meant to be a scheduling tool, and it focuses on perfecting that function. Points go to Hootsuite on this one.
Why It Matters: Do I really need to explain this? Analyzing your tweets’ performance is the final crucial step in running a successful Twitter account. From retweets to mentions to favorites, there are several key metrics to study when determining how to improve your engagement rates and follower counts.
Hootsuite: Depending on how much you’re willing to spend, Hootsuite can offer a wide variety of analytics tools. With Hootsuite Pro, your analytics reports are customized to your liking, but limited based on how many “credits” you have available.
Buffer: The analytics tools in Buffer are basic but solid. While you can see the number of retweets, favorites, mentions, clicks and potential reach for any given tweet sent through Buffer, The Awesome Plan does not offer a more comprehensive summary of how your Twitter account is doing.
As you can see, Hootsuite and Buffer each have their pros and cons. If I had to pick one, it would definitely be Buffer - their scheduling tools are hard to beat! But overall, I’ve found that using a combination of both tools is the best way to manage our various Twitter accounts. Hootsuite obviously shines in the listening department, whereas Buffer edges out the competition with its intuitive scheduling tools and clean interface. Neither is particularly great with analytics, but then again, that’s not really what these tools were created for. There are certainly additional solutions out there that can do it all, but we tend to gravitate toward low-cost, flexible options instead.
What social media tools do you use? Do you have a preference for Hootsuite vs. Buffer? Tweet at @BIGfishmarket to let us know what you think!-Jacqui Johnstone