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8 steps to clean up your online reputation

Posted in Tips on 11 April 2014
Sean McGinnis recently wrote an interesting post about online reputation and how he ended up in porn.

 

One day, he Googled himself to discover an adult movie called "The Fluffer" had been released and the star character’s name was none other than, you guessed it, Sean McGinnis.

An SEO expert and Web strategist, he set about to take back the rights to his name on Google.
As you can imagine, it wasn’t easy.

Negative reviews, untrue comments, and trolls are pushing their way to the top of search rankings so, when someone Googles you, they find all of these negative things said about you online that might be 100 percent false.

Cleaning up your online reputation is now a very real thing—and just one person, or one movie, can ruin for you fairly quickly.

The proper process goes a little like this.

Conduct an online audit

Likely you already know what’s there, but it doesn’t hurt to do a Google search, see what is being said, and where it lands in search results (second listing, first page or third listing, second page).

Do this both logged into your Google account and logged out (or you can open an incognito window in your browser without having to actually log out; do this in Chrome by going to “file” and then click on “new incognito window”).

Logged-in results will show you what your friends, colleagues, peers, and clients will see, and incognito results will show how the rest of the world perceives your online reputation.

It’s important to have both.

Use terms such as “I hate COMPANY NAME” or “COMPANY NAME sucks.”

Also, do searches on key employees or executives at your organization.

Create an online reputation strategy

Based on what you learn from the audit and what internal and external implementation resources are in place, put together the company’s online reputation strategy—and make sure it’s tied to your goals.

The very first thing you should do (if you haven’t already) is set up Talkwalker alerts to let you know when someone says something about you online—positive, neutral, or negative. 

Then write down what it is you’re trying to accomplish (push one review from the first page to the second or fill the first page of search results with positive information about your organization) and get to work.

Create a clean-up list

With the online reputation audit complete and your strategy in place, now comes the clean-up.

As you create the list, read the reviews, read the comments on blogs and in discussion forums, and read all other negative things people are saying about you.

Aggregate all of that information into one place to help you decide if your products need to be tweaked, your customer service needs to be enhanced, or your operations need some work, particularly if there are negative comments about the same things over and over again.

More often than not, people just want you to respond to them. They want to be heard. When they post something and it goes unanswered, their fire is fueled.

As you create the list of things that need to be cleaned up, make a list of sites where your team should respond to complaints.

You will want to create some pre-approved messages for your team to use when responding—such as, “I am so sorry to hear about your troubles with our company. If you’ll privately send me your phone number or email address, I’ll be glad to help you offline.”

What this does is show anyone else who reads the complaints that you are responsive, but takes the conversation offline where you can be helpful.

In the best cases, the person will go back to the site after you’ve helped them and post how grateful they are for your help.

Assign a person or a team to do the work

They will need usernames and passwords, branding guidelines, sign-off on copy/images, and the power to make changes without a laborious approval process.

The one thing you should think about when you assign a team to do the work, particularly for those who are responding to customer complaints, is that these people are representing your organization in a very public forum.

Just like you’d only send experienced people out to meet with high-profile clients or to close a big sales deal, you want your clean-up representatives to have enough business experience to make informed decisions.

That’s not to say an intern or a young professional who has great social media expertise can’t help—they can.

You just want those people to be supervised by someone who has the expertise to make the right decisions devoid of emotion and defensiveness.

Begin the clean-up

Some of this is painful because you’ll need to work with the social networks’ customer service departments to reset login data, delete a profile, or take down an untrue review.

This could take weeks.

According to the social networks, you are guilty until proven innocent. They assume you’ll say and do anything to take down negative reviews…especially if they are true. You have the burden of proof on you and they’ll make you jump through a gazillion hoops to make sure you’re telling the truth.

Be patient. Follow the messaging outlined above. Create compelling content that is written both for humans and robots. The negative reviews will move.

Build your online reputation through social media

There was a time when social media didn’t make sense for every organization. Now, though, it is the best and most efficient way to connect with your customers and prospects.

There is one social network every organization should be on, no matter what you sell: Google+.

Not only does Google rank you higher if you use their social network to promote your content, it helps to push down the negative content if it has been shared on Google+.

Google also now allows you to connect your social networks to your analytics so you can see not only the biggest drivers of traffic to your site, but what keywords they used to find you, what conversations (or pictures, or links) drove them to you, and what they did once they arrived.

Content is prince

Like McGinnis, you may find a fictional character has your name. Or you may find untrue reviews, blog posts, or stories.

But many of you will have negative reviews that are, unfortunately, true.

The very best way to manage these is to create content that is interesting and valuable, and something people want to share.

You cannot delete the negative information. The best you can do is push it off of page one results.

Implement the strategy

Once you’ve cleaned up the organization’s online reputation and figured out how you’re going to use content to build a strong reputation, it’s time to put your strategy into action.

You’re about to become transparent.

In the past, we had the perception that we are in control of our reputation even with an issue or crisis.

The curtain has been pulled back now, and the only way to participate in the conversation is by being transparent: You’re opening yourself up to criticism and feedback.

  • Allow employees to talk about your products or services publicly.
  • Establish a one-to-one communication channel where customers can engage and converse with you in real time every day.
  • Proactively ask for feedback.
  • Don’t hide criticism: Address it publicly.

Once you’ve decided to be transparent, honest, authentic, and human in your online conversations, the content, brand ambassadors, influencer marketing, customer reviews, and a solid product or service will help you cross the marathon finish line.

Warren Buffett famously said: If you lose money for the firm, I will understand. If you lose reputation, I will be ruthless.

An organization’s online reputation, today, is only as good as its search results.

 

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Calling a journalist? Avoid making crucial mistakes

Posted in Tips on 11 April 2014
Contrary to what many texters, chatters, tweeters, and emailers would like us to believe, reports of the demise of the phone call have been greatly exaggerated. 

For PR professionals (and those who profess to be), those coveted reporters and editors we try so hard to reach might offer a lesson: It is dead. At least it is in the sense of picking up the phone, calling a reporter, and pitching away. 

As someone who has been in PR for a "few" years—long enough to remember when the phone pitch really was king, before email, and way before social media—I have learned through many firsthand experiences how important it is to continually modify my approach. 

If I am trying to get a reporter on the phone, I almost always begin with an email, conveniently tagged with a read receipt. If the journalist and I have a great relationship but I don't want to include the pitch by email, I typically say I have a story idea that I think warrants consideration and then ask about talking briefly on the phone. 

A great reporter here in the Washington, D.C., area is WTOP Radio's Neal Augenstein, who is also a prolific tweeter—now well upward of 17,000 tweets. I couldn't help but "LOL" today when I read this tweet from him, leading to the following exchange: 

Not long ago you could make a general determination on when a "good time" would be to call a journalist. Daily newspaper reporters used to have one or two hard deadlines each day. They had one job then: They wrote for the newspaper. 

Today, they still do that, but they also blog, tweet, post, and even capture video for a story. They are on deadline all the time, and they cover far more territory than they used to. Having a "beat" is a veritable luxury that no longer exists for many reporters. 

So getting a cold call from a PR pro, even if there’s a good relationship in place, is not high on the list of how journalists want to be pitched. Don't get me wrong: They still want and may very much need to talk to you. 

Reporters won’t hesitate to hunt you down to respond, if needed. Understanding the pressures they are under and reaching them first with email or some other written communication—which can provide much-needed context and the chance to digest it when they are focused—can help them to sort out whether it's newsworthy. 

Am I saying you should never call a reporter? Of course not. 

Before you dial that phone, especially before you ring that cell phone number that a reporter gave when working on a previous story of yours, stop and think—and send a quick email first. Maybe even a second email, in case the reporter was on the run and just couldn't reply. 
 
If you don't hear back, then call. At least then the journalist will know why you're calling. Ultimately, you'll be a lot more successful when pitching your news. 

 

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Why Google+ still has a ton of value for marketers

Posted in Tips on 11 April 2014
Google+ may not be a big part of your marketing strategy now, but it may be worth taking another look. 

It’s been a couple months now since The New York Times dubbed Google+ a “ghost town.” New research from Forrester claims that the platform has more users than LinkedIn, Pinterest and Instagram, but having a Gmail or YouTube account signs you up for it by default. 

The real story lies in brand engagement. 

A recent Forbes headline boldly announced “Why every marketer should use Google Plus.” Long assumed by many that the only reason you would post your brand’s content would be too boost its search engine optimization, there are actually other benefits. 

So, there’s the user base, which is large and growing. Forrester’s Nate Elliott continues in theForbes article: 
Second, and more importantly, Google Plus generates much more brand engagement than you think. Recently we studied more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks. The result? Brands’ Google Plus posts generated nearly as much engagement per follower as their Facebook posts — and almost twice as much engagement per follower as their Twitter posts. 
Surprised? I was. There’s more, too. A Shareholic study claims that Google+ referrals spend more time on your site and visit more pages. That means G+ users are, on average, more engaged (and therefore, perhaps more valuable) than users of other sites. 

According to this video from Freshwire, Google+ also benefits from simply being “Not Facebook,” because Facebook has made a few moves that have made advertisers mad: 

 

In my recent social media work with IBM Cloud, we’ve been sharing most of our visual assets and our high-performing content—infographics, blog graphics, video and blog posts—with varying results on the platform. It’s not our most impressive venue, that’s for sure, but it costs us nothing to cross post the same content to our Facebook page, meaning it isn’t a huge time investment for us. 

Looking at our blog data from the past few months, we don’t exactly align with the trends mentioned above. Users coming from Google+ are fairly average to below average when it comes to time on site and pages per visit. It could be a B2B factor, or it could just be a lack of targeted effort. 

Either way, it’s clear that G+ shouldn’t be ignored.

 

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Wells Fargo the latest brand to open social media command center

Posted in News on 11 April 2014
Wells Fargo is the latest corporation to jump on the social media command center bandwagon. 

They’re certainly not the first brand to do it, or even the first financial institution to do it (MasterCardhas been there, done that).

Here’s how it works, according to AdAge
The bank has a dozen people in San Francisco -- as well as a team of six in Charlotte, N.C. -- to monitor and post to social-media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. (A launch on Pinterest was set for early April.) They sit in front of a bank of TV screens that broadcast mentions of the brand and how social sentiment is trending. 
The command center also has a customer service angle, which allows the company to immediately address any customer issues that may arise via social media. 

I’ve spoken with several people who have worked in these types of “command center” environments, and the consensus I’ve seen is that it’s a great way to mollify execs who are frantically asking (and please pardon the jargon), “How can we better leverage our social media insights in real time to help us interface with our fans?” 

In other words, it’s a great way to make your company look progressive and committed to social media (not to mention get some easy press in the meantime), but unless you have the infrastructure in place to create responsive content in real time, it’s just a bunch of numbers on a really expensive screen. 

That’s not to say that Wells Fargo doesn’t have this. They absolutely may. But read between the lines of the AdAge article, and you’ll see why this model will only sort of work: “Anything to do with lending services and offers gets vetted by a lawyer.” 

There’s a small time frame window where a piece of real time content marketing can be effective. The moment something is sent to the legal team, you might as well slam shut that window. 

In my experience in working with Fortune 500 companies on their social media strategy and execution, very little significant social work happens in real time—there are way to many people who require way too many approvals. 

Of the brands that I know to have social media command centers, I can’t say I’ve seen any of them use it to create a memorable piece of real time marketing. 

 

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Group M wins Vodafone's £600m media account

Posted in News on 11 April 2014

Vodafone has awarded its estimated £600 million global media planning and buying account to Group M's MEC, with the UK account being run through a 'Team Red Media' unit.

Vodafone: the wait by Grey London

MEC and 'Team Red Media', which is made up of resources from Group M's agencies, beat the Denstu Aegis Network in the final stage of the pitch.

Omnicom’s OMD was the incumbent on the global business, but was knocked out of the review process in March. Vodafone also works with local media agencies in some markets.

In the UK, Vodafone spent £47.4 million on media in the year to 30 September 2012.

 

Vodafone retained OMD to the global media planning and buying account, after a review, in August 2009, when the business was thought to be worth £800 million.

 

When the pitch was revealed in January, a spokesman for Vodafone said the review was "in keeping with good corporate practice, and following the advancements in the media and digital landscape."

OMD had worked with Vodafone for 17 years, except for a six-month period in 2009.

 

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Government seeks agency to show apprenticeships are not 'the second choice'

Posted in News on 11 April 2014

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has called a pitch for an advertising agency to work on a year-long contract to promote apprenticeships to young people.

Government move: BIS set to promote the benefits of apprenticeships

The Government department is aiming to reposition apprenticeships as a viable option for young people when they finish school, rather than a "second choice" after studying A-Levels or going to university.

This will start with a major campaign in late summer, aimed at young people and people who influence them, such as parents.

A brief was sent out in March, which said BIS would be "significantly increasing our level of ambition for marketing in the coming year."

 

BIS has approached the agencies on the Government’s creative services roster through the Crown Commercial Service, which handles pitches for government contracts.

 

The campaign has been devised by No10 and is supported by the Cabinet and the prime minster.

BIS was unable to provide a comment by the time Campaign went to press.

 

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Turn a Great Idea into Many Great Ideas with Content Repurposing

Posted in Tips on 07 April 2014
content
 
I recently started working with a new client in a social media, content creation, copywriting and PR context. The client is currently at the point where most of the website has been set up and a few Facebook posts have been sent out, but little else is going on. The client needs content for multiple platforms immediately — not when inspiration for all of these platforms strikes.

For those who are just starting out, or who have a limited number of ideas on what it is you want to do after a content strategy session, content repurposing could go a long way toward helping to build that content. Such a session will give you content across platforms without too much brainstorming or time spent dreaming up ideas.

You don’t have to have an original idea each and every time you want to post something to one of your social platforms. This would be quite difficult to do for a company that has Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and e-mail marketing to worry about.

Who has the energy to create something new for each one? Those with a big marketing budget, sure, but what about those of us who don’t have enormous budgets like Microsoft, Nike or Starbucks?

What is content repurposing

This concept is where you take a great idea over on your YouTube channel, where you have a great tutorial that people responded to, and you then take the script for that video, give it some editing for the platform, and turn it into a blog post. You didn’t have to spend time thinking up a new idea, you just had to change it to fit a certain platform.

This can be done with nearly any kind of content you have:

  • Popular Instagram pictures can become Facebook posts with a little commentary.
  • A podcast can become a video with whiteboard explanations to flesh out the material.
  • An eBook that sells can become an audiobook for the daily commuters.
  • Your video with a host can become a slide presentation.
  • A popular tweet can turn into a full-length blog post that expands on the topic — then you can tweet it out again.

This list can go on and on to include every type of social media content being adapted for another. It is important to do this because it lessens the burden on you as a creative person who needs fresh content, and it helps your audience find content that is presented in a way they identify with.

The main benefits of content repurposing

It helps your SEO, and not just for your website.

Content repurposing can increase the ways people find you. Someone may search Twitter hashtags for a topic related to your bsuiness — if you only had that information on your website you would miss out on that person. SEO is about more than just how well your website ranks, it is about how easy it is to find you everywhere online.

You can find people across platforms

Not every one of the people you are trying to market to has a YouTube account, so why not send them the same information you’re delivering over that channel to your Twitter followers? A multi-channel approach to marketing is quite common — no company uses only one social media platform — so why would you use a piece of good content on only one of those platforms?

Flesh out ideas and offer different perspectives

You just can’t hit the same level of detail in a tweet as you can in a video, but you also cannot have the same immediate impact in a video as you can in a tweet. Different social media platforms allow for different wording, tones and perspective. If you can hit just the right style for each one, you will have maximized your idea and content to the fullest, cutting down on brainstorming sessions and new content creation.

How this approach is helping my client

This practice is allowing my new client the chance to build up some great content in a hurry, without having endless Skype calls where we hem and haw over the merits of new ideas. We know what works and we are spreading it around.

For a brand new company, with limited resources, this is helping get the word out on different platforms with less effort and time taken. We’re freeing up resources to get me working on different content, allowing the client to get on with perfecting other aspects of the company — like selling things.

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10 Twitter Tactics to Increase Your Sales

Posted in Tips on 07 April 2014
twitter-bird-blue-on-white

Many of the most popular social media sites started as more of a personal place for friends to socialize but quickly became powerful tools for businesses to market their product and services.

Statistics have revealed that participating in social media networking can increase your business by leaps and bounds.  Social media is now the number one activity on the Web and it can yield more power for your business than ever. More than 90 percent of marketers use social media for their business.  Twitter is the second most popular social media site and should definitely be a part of your social marketing arsenal.

Below are 10 tactics you can use to help increase your sales and make your business more successful.

1. Be Consistent — Nothing can kill a social media account like an inactive user.  Don’t think you can post once or twice a month and keep an active following.  You have to be consistent and you have to participate.  Work out a tweeting schedule and stick with it.  Retweet items of interest.  People are active at different times so tweeting items of interest one time will not achieve the results you need.

2. Always Respond to Comments — By always responding to a comment you are acknowledging that person and letting him or her know what he or she has to say is important to you.  This will encourage more people to interact with you and build the relationship needed to form a lasting business connection.  By responding promptly to all comments, your credibility will flourish and your reputation will precede you. Ignoring comments will make the potential lead for your business go away.

3. Develop Leads from Giveaways — Holding a giveaway on Twitter cannot only bring you new leads, it can also improve your ranking in the search engines.  Have people enter on a sign-up page and send a specific tweet.  This tweet will contain your link and relevant keywords.  You can also search for people who would be interested in winning your giveaway for more possible entries.  If you are giving away a natural beauty kit, then use those keywords to find people who would want to win that prize.  Let them know about your giveaway and what they have to do to enter.  Once your giveaway is over you can use the list of entrants to screen viable leads for your business.

4. Use Photos or Images — As you probably already know, images and photos can greatly increase the response to a post or tweet so you should definitely take that into consideration.  Emotions greatly influence what we buy and what we don’t buy so use photos to bring out the emotions needed to trigger a person’s decision to buy your products and/or services.

5. Specials and Discounts — Regularly tweet discounts, coupons and special offers.  Let your followers know you always have something going on from which they will benefit.  Be creative and make these specials unique.  Holidays are a great time for fun promotions and contests.   One that I have always like is an Easter Egg Hunt.  ‘Be the first one to find the hidden Easter egg on our site and get 50 percent off your first order.’  You could take it a step further and have different color eggs with each color offering a different prize.

6. Hashtags — By simply using hashtags, you can increase the chance of your tweet being found and read.  People searching for specific tweets can find you through your hashtag.  Your hashtag can also build your brand. Hashtags can stir up the buzz about a specific business or marketing campaign.  For example: Domino’s Pizza asked people to tweet with the hashtag #letsdolunch.  Once a certain amount of tweets were posted, Domino’s would then lower their prices by 50 percent for an allotted time.  You can also use hashtags in your contests and giveaways.

7. Make It Mobile — Make sure you are mobile-friendly.  More people are going mobile every day and you need to make sure your sites and pages can be viewed properly on mobile devices.  Be sure to take advantage of Twitter’s mobile features.

8. Share Testimonials — Periodically tweet short fresh testimonials from your customers.  For example:  Thank you John who says: using #ZitBeGone has given me more confidence to make every day a success!   Tweets like this can help give a potential customer the boost they need to visit your site and possibly purchase your products.

9. Schedule Tweets — It is impossible for us to be on Twitter sending tweets 24/7 so the next best thing is to regularly schedule our tweets.  When scheduling tweets, the first thing to do is determine the best times to tweet.  A free tool that can help you find out the best times to tweet is Tweriod.  It will analyze your followers’ tweets to find out when they are active on Twitter and when you should be active as well.  If you find these times to be difficult to tweet then you can use tools such as Hootsuite to schedule those tweets.  By using such tools, you can remain active at all times keeping your Twitter account more alive, thus attracting more potential customers.

10. Search for Customers — You can use your Twitter account to search and find customers.  By using keywords that relate to your products, you can find people who are talking about these products and you can then offer the solution they are seeking.  Get involved in these discussions so you can make yourself available to help find the solution.  Use the Twitter search function to find these leads.  You can also use a tool called Tweetdeck to set up searches.  Respond to these people quickly and make a connection.  Many people will go with the first business to respond to their needs.

These 10n tactics are just the tip of the social media iceberg.  Use social media to its fullest capabilities and take the time to map out your strategy.  Social media is here to stay so don’t resist it, embrace it.

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Google Jumping on TV Bandwagon

Posted in News on 07 April 2014
Google Logo

 
Losing track of who’s trying to take over your television viewing?

With Apple, Amazon and Roku all recently launching some type of TV product it’s time for Google to catch up. It’s been awhile since Google TV was discussed but that idea only resulted in static.

Until now, apparently.

The Internet lit up over the weekend with news — leaked, but news nonetheless — of Android TV, Google’s apparent bid to enter the TV fray.

The Verge started the buzz when it reported it had obtained information indicating Google is on the verge of launching the service.

“Android TV is an entertainment interface, not a computing platform,” wrote Google, the site reported. “It’s all about finding and enjoying content with the least amount of friction.” It will be “cinematic, fun, fluid, and fast.”

It didn’t take long for other sites to jump on the story and, by Sunday evening, a simple Google news serach showed no less than 4.6 million stories. It seems Google’s latest product is creating quite the buzz.

Of course, with no official word, we’re left to speculate just what Android TV will be but it’s widely believed it will be similar in nature to those other services with a box that will stream movies, shows, games and more directly to the users’ television set.

For more information on the service, which Google has declined to comment on, you may want to, well, Google it.

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Dash Makes Shopping Easy for AmazonFresh Customers

Posted in News on 07 April 2014
Amazon image

Amazon is looking to make grocery shopping more convenient with its new digital shopping assistant.

Dubbed Amazon Dash, the handheld device enables users to add products to their shopping list. But here’s the rub: the gadget is only of use to those who actually live in a city whereAmazonFresh — the e-retailer’s online grocery business —is available. So far, the service runs in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Amazon image

Amazon image

“Every member of the family can use Dash to easily add items to y our AmazonFresh shopping list,” the website reads.

“Keep it on your kitchen counter or hang it on the refrigerator. Did your kids just eat the last of the cereal? Conveniently refill and restock your home’s everyday essentials, and have fun doing it.”

By aiming the end of Dash at the bar code on a product, such as an empty cereal box, and pressing the scan button, the device nabs the data from the code and sends it to the cloud. Then, the next time the user places an AmazonFresh order, the cereal will already be on the shopping list.

Users can also say which items they need into their device.

“Just press and hold the voice button to speak into the microphone,” the site reads. “It’s voice search that actually works.”

Dash works by connecting to the user’s home Wi-Fi network and is connected directly to the person’s AmazonFresh account. Users can view the list on their computer or mobile device to purchase and schedule delivery.

AmazonFresh offers overnight delivery that is free on qualifying orders.Thousands of items are available, including fresh groceries such as produce, dairy, meat and seafood.

An example of the products available with AmazonFresh.

An example of the products available with AmazonFresh.

 

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