September 4, 2012

Video: Presidential Campaigns and Social Media

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 7:52 am

This morning, I talked to KATV about the presidential campaigns’ use of social media. You can read more about the campaigns’ use of digital communications channels over on the Waiting for the Elevator blog. And check out the interview video here:

KATV – Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

August 17, 2012

Video: Digital News Weekly 8.17.12

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media,Video — Emily Reeves @ 7:30 pm

A quick update on the digital news this week.

Digital News Weekly 8-17-12 from Emily Reeves on Vimeo.

August 6, 2012

I Love GroupMe

Filed under: Research,Social Media,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 7:25 pm

GroupMe is a text messaging app that allows you to create groups of people in your contacts and create ongoing conversations via text with the people in those groups. And I love it. It has cut down on the continuous string of emails I get when my friends and I are planning events, nights out, trips or just generally sharing our lives. It has almost become a mini-Facebook where we post pictures, share where we are, “heart” each others’ posts and ask for advice. The messages come through like texts, but are compiled in the app, so if you are out of commission for a few hours, you can easily catch up on the conversation documented in chronological order with an avatar representing each person next to their response. It is a beautiful tool. You can create as many groups as you would like–a project team, a department, family, different groups of friends, a travel group, etc. and keep all the conversations organized, accessible and immediate.

And GroupMe keeps getting better. I’ve noticed that I can integrate GroupMe into Foursquare so when I check in on Foursquare, I can now automatically share my location with a GroupMe group.  Then there is an “Discover” feature where the app recommends group types and features brand-sponsored group opportunities. For example, featured groups include: Olympics, The Sea Wheeze (a Lululemon sponsored race, and one of my absolute favorite brands!), Oprah Book Club and Vans Warped Tour, among others. And now, they are introducing “Experiences,” a feature that makes it simple to organize and pay for the experience, alleviating the usual hassles that individuals might encounter when trying to organize a group outing.

“Experiences” isn’t available in all markets yet, but promises to hold even more opportunities for brands. Ideas so far have included:

  • Branded VIP “experiences.” For example, this could be a brand-sponsored trip in which cyclists get to ride with a celebrity.
  • Brand-underwritten “experiences.” Here the brand would foot the costs, and in return gain access to the participants for opinions and other research. The company’s goal would be to unearth consumer insights from highly targeted social groups.

As a research junkie, I am loving the second idea as a new approach for gaining qualitative insights as opposed to traditional focus group research.

July 26, 2012

Talking Location

Filed under: Social Media,Technology,Video — Emily Reeves @ 7:25 am

I visited this morning with KATV to talk about location-based apps and the predictability of users travel patterns. Check it out here:

KATV – Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

July 18, 2012

Google+ Users More Satisfied Than Facebook Users

Filed under: Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 9:29 am

Yesterday, I wrote about Google+ and the reasons for brands to consider using it. And then yesterday afternoon, I discovered a report that said Google+ users were more satisfied with Google+ than Facebook users were with Facebook. How timely! My favorite quote in the article:

“Facebook is the addiction we hate, but just can’t kick.”

It is so true. Facebook has become on our connection to friends, family and even news–world, national, and local. It is the one place we can go to get all the information we have selectively aggregated for our interests and needs. Which means that we are highly dependent on it and addicted to it (even checking while in the bathroom).

But why do we “hate” it and why are satisfaction reports saying that we don’t love it as much as we used to? My speculation is that in addition to just not liking that we need Facebook, we are frustrated with Facebook’s constant changes (it is just as frustrating for individuals as it is for marketers). It is hard to keep up and adapt to the changes, though eventually, everyone gets over it and loves the new things. And we are never sure if our privacy settings remained in tact, or even how to check to make sure that they are set as we want them in the first place. I’ve talked to many people that are on Facebook, but really don’t use it because they are scared that something about their posts won’t remain private.

“The survey attributes Google+’s high marks to the social platform’s ‘superior commitment to privacy,’ lack of traditional ads, and overall better mobile experience. Those surveyed by ACSI expressed distaste for Facebook’s Timeline feature, ads and privacy policies.

Enter Google+, where people are supposedly more satisfied. Google+ has a few features that differentiate it from Facebook. And it is a little more obvious as to how to control who sees your messages. And it is too new to have a lot of changes flying at us constantly. But one of the sole reasons for Google introducing Google+ was to use your Google+ content to customize your search results. So concern for privacy can not be the reason that people are more satisfied with Google+ as compared to Facebook. Google will be making relevant recommendations based on our profiles, habits and location. Google+ is socially annotating our search results with friends’ activities and recommendations and garnering an uptick in click-through rates of 5-10% as a result. This can be a good thing, or a scary thing, depending on your point of view.

I like the idea of Google+, but I am not a committed user quite yet. It is overwhelming to me and I don’t know as many people using it regularly yet to be able to count on it to get all of the information I need and want. Ultimately, I can see myself using Google+ differently than I use Facebook. I am quite addicted to Facebook as a connection and information source. Both networks have their places in our worlds and may not need to be compared to each other if we are going to use them in different ways.

July 17, 2012

“Give me your thoughts on whether we should be on Google+.”

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 10:15 am

These kind of requests pop up throughout our days on a regular basis. And they are good questions to ask. It shows thinking about new channels and an understanding that jumping in without planning is not usually the best approach. This particular question came up yesterday, so it seems timely to share some considerations towards a decision to include Google+ in communications plans.

Google+ is a social media channel. Before deciding on a channel for communication and engagement, we must first have an understanding of what we are trying to achieve. This is a too common mistake when it comes to social media: brands want to be on a channel and don’t think through whether it is right for them. And we shouldn’t let a channel drive our strategy. We want to think first and foremost about  (1) who the target audience is and (2) what we want to achieve and (3) then figure out if a channel, Google+, is a channel that will help meet those objectives.

Who is on Google+?
A full two-thirds of Google+’s users are men. A sizable number of Google+ users (42%) are single, and the most popular occupation listed is “student.” While it has a long way to go before it catches up to Facebook in popularity and adoption, with over 100 million users, it would appear that Google is off to a decent start. However, everyone who has a gmail account is automatically signed up for Google+, whether they actually use the service or not. This inflates the number of users making the service seem more popular than it is so far.

Why should a brand consider a presence on Google+?
Google+ is influencing the integration of search and social. Searches for brands on Google are showing Google+ pages near the top. And content and pages that have received +1s also show near the top of Google search results. For SEO purposes alone, Google+ is worth the investment in time and effort. For example, someone who is logged into Google (any Google account is a Google+ member, remember), and may have played around with Google+ by adding a few people to circles or uploading some images to Picasa, but is not really active on the network, will still see their connections +1s in their search results, giving those results a great weight in importance. There is definite value in the tie to search results as Google turns on its social search function. This means that a brand’s content that fans share will be more widely seen by their peers in relevant search results.

It is not a bad idea to claim your space before someone else does. Even if you are not sure how you will use it, or if you will, claiming the brand name while you decide will save you trouble later.

Google Hangouts. Hangouts is a feature unique to Google+ that makes it worth using if video conversations would be relevant and effective for the brand.

Engagement with content will mostly be driven by photos and videos. If the brand has highly visual content or can come up with a way to share highly visual content, Google+ may be a viable outlet for sharing and engaging. Take care, however, not to post the same information on Facebook; give fans more than that. Consider posting original content, like archival photos or live video chats with team members. Ask fans what kind of content they want and figure out a way to deliver that.

What should a brand expect from a presence on Google+?
Keep in mind that Google+ doesn’t have the user base yet that Facebook has and the user base they do have is quite different. So, don’t use Facebook as a gage for expectations on Google+ engagement. And as with any other social network, a brand is only going to get results out of Google+ if they put effort into developing and maintaining good content.

As a benchmark, consider Ferarri. On Google+, Ferarri has a 1.2 million circle count, but has more than 8.8 million likes on Facebook. Or consider Adidas, which has a 3,000 circle count, has an equally impressive 8.5 million likes on Facebook.

1, 2, 3, 4

July 11, 2012

Foursquare Connected Apps

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Marketing,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 3:07 pm

“Foursquare is setting itself up as mobile users’ go-to app for socializing around a location.” - TechCrunch

Discovery, serendipity and exploration are all words that Foursquare has been using to describe the promised evolution of their location-based check-in app to a tool that gives you more. Foursquare has delivered on that promise with the introduction of Connected Apps.

Connected Apps are apps that function within Foursquare and are triggered by check-ins. The examples provided by Foursquare:

“For instance, Eat This, Not That can suggest healthy dishes the moment someone checks in at a restaurant. Or The Weather Channel can tell people the forecast when they check in to a new city.”

These kind of apps expand and enhance the user experience, providing them with information, suggestions and revelations they might not otherwise have encountered. The information delivered is customized for that user’s location and delivered exactly when it is relevant to them to make a decision about how to interact in and with that location.

This addition gives users a new reason to check-in and could drive increased use of the app. With these check-ins, Foursquare continues to grow its database of user preferences to further power its recommendations for new business, products and services nearby, making it a more valuable tool for businesses and brands to engage with consistently.

“Foursquare is setting itself up for an interesting niche in the future of the mobile/local/social web. Facebook is the network of people, but Foursquare’s Connected App platform could see itself turning into the network around places. For a service that’s struggling to remain relevant as the lure of gamification wears off and the local offers plan fizzles, becoming the go-to app for the location-based social web is not a bad position to take.” - TechCrunch

It will be interested to see how brands and marketers take advantage of this opportunity to communicate messages within the Foursquare app about new products, services and surrounding opportunities to the location where the user has checked in. I see brands partnering with the third party apps, not Foursquare to create their own apps. For example, restaurants might partner with a travel app to negotiate recommendations for their restaurants in cities where a user checks in. Or gyms might partner with the healthy eating app to push messages about nearby workout facilities. The possibilities are many.

Shazam Basically Like an Audio QR Code Scanner?

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 9:58 am

Shazam is so much more than I originally thought that it was, and I like its potential.

I’ve seen the Shazam logo popping up on commercials and television shows the last several month and just couldn’t understand why I would Shazam these things. In commercials, I can never get my phone out and Shazam open quickly enough to capture the sound. In television shows, I just didn’t get it. My use of Shazam has always been for identifying a music selection that I liked and wanted to note and/or buy.  This seemed good enough to me and I liked it for just that purpose.

But then I saw this article about Shazam partnering with the Olympics and I got curious. Though they don’t describe it this way in the article, it seems that Shazam can be used for “scanning” to get more information about what you are hearing, like scanning a QR code gives you more information about what you are seeing. This is actually pretty cool:

“Viewers who tag the broadcast from their Shazam app will be able to see additional information on the athletes, engage in polls, view the competition schedule, check the latest results, keep tabs on the medal count and share on social media.”

The tricky part of this for brands and advertisers is going to be consumer education. If consumers are familiar with Shazam at all, they are going to know it only as a music identification app, like I did. But, like any other new tool and technology, once people figure it out and start using it, it has huge potential for communicated extra and bonus information to its users. I like that.

July 10, 2012

An Approach to Pinterest

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 6:38 am

Pinterest is still the latest tool that brands are eager to jump into and try out with their messages. I thought I would share some things from the tip sheet I put together for planning discussions when the topic of Pinterest is raised.

A Few Random and Interesting Pinterest Facts

(Relevant as you are thinking about the audience that engages with Pinterest)

  • Pinterest users are three times more likely than average Internet users to have visited Disney World in the past year.
  • Their favorite magazines are Good Housekeeping, followed by Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, Woman’s Day and the AARP magazine.
  • 80% of pins are re-pins (for comparison, only 1.4% of tweets are re-tweets).
  • See more stats here.

Sample Objectives That Using Pinterest Might Help Achieve

  • Drive sales through new products boards.
  • Create brand affinity (with boards related to topics in which the brand target audience are really interested).
  • Build community acquisitions (with pinning of images of things related to the brand offerings).

Some Pinterest Tips

  • Claim the username that you want to use and ignore all others. While Pinterest currently offers little, if any, resolution for squatters, if the community continues to grow in popularity it will eventually create a verification program similar to Facebook and Twitter and the squatters will be revealed and exiled. In the meantime, learn from them, take their ideas and make them better for the true brand.
  • Image should take center stage. Make sure all images are nicely photographed. If the story can’t be told visually, Pinterest is not the right place for the brand to spend time.
  • The information should be presented in a sleek and icon-free presentation.
  • Users can attach price tags to pins by typing in a “$” sign followed by one or more numbers in the description box. The price tag appears not only in the description, but also in the upper lefthand corner of the pin thumbnail and image. However, when brands affixed price tags to product pins, users behave differently and are far less likely to repin images with price tags.
  • Put the “Pin It” button on all digital presences (websites, microsites, online store, etc.).
  • Provide link to “official” Pinterest page on all web properties.
  • Create board names and topics that spark interest, going beyond things like expected titles like “products,” “photos,” etc.  Instead, get creative with the names/topics, considering titles that align with brand attributes and brand personality.
  • Leverage internal resources (employees) to create Pinterest boards beyond products and focus on interests related to the brand and the target audience.
  • Consider arranging products in groups that go together in themes such as gift boxes, outfits, complete decor (you get the idea, but it really depends on what products/services your brand offers). Don’t just post a product that is available for purchase; put it in some context. Pull in products from outside the brand that complement it. Always consider the visual appearance of the posts.
  • Avoid pure, blatant promotion. Pin a nice balance between brand-only boards and boards that highlight others.
  • You can pin videos. Do it, in the relevant board categories.
  • Tell a story of their history through photos.

Tips for Building Followers

  • Repinning others
  • Following others
  • Commenting on and liking others’ posts
  • Share pins on the brand Facebook page
  • Share pins on the brand Twitter page

Monitor how much traffic is driven to site from Pinterest.

  • Which posts are driving the most traffic? Consider why and work to repeat those efforts.
  • Which posts are being re-pinned? Consider why and work to repeat those types of posts.
  • Which posts are garnering the most likes and comments? Examine the users that are commenting and liking, follow them back and respond when relevant.

A note on requests for a “Pinterest strategy.” Pinterest is a social media channel and we shouldn’t let a channel drive our strategy. Think about who your target audience is and what you want to achieve and then figure out if Pinterest is a channel that will help meet those objectives. Don’t jump into Pinterest just to be there.

You can follow my boards on Pinterest here.

June 12, 2012

Social Media Use in Political Campaigns

Filed under: Social Media,Video — Emily Reeves @ 7:09 am

I talked to Alyson Courtney of KATV today about the use of social media by politicians and their elections campaigns. Check out the interview here:

May 22, 2012

Presentation: AdAge Digital Conference 2012 Recap

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Presentation,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 4:06 pm

Last month, I attended the sixth annual AdAge Digital Conference. Today, I gave a presentation to our agency recapping some of the key presentations and learnings. Here is that presentation:

May 17, 2012

Creating an Online Brand When Job Searching

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 8:20 pm

Today, I talked to Today’s THV about recent college grads looking for jobs in a tough market when everything you can do to stand out makes a difference.

It is time for college grads to start their job searches and the competition is stiff for the number of jobs compared to the number of candidates. Standing out among the competition is more important than ever. And an online brand can make all the difference in getting the call for an interview.

When it comes to an online brand for these candidates, there is a seeming indifference. They are restricting their professional lives and online representation to LinkedIn, then write and post about anything and everything but their career of choice. The bottom line: your are getting Googled before you get called for an interview. And searched on Facebook and Twitter. And the potential employer is definitely looking you up on LinkedIn. Do you know what they will find when they perform these searches? What do you want them to find? It is time to think about yourself through the lens of an potential employer. This isn’t just about removing embarrassing moments, but also about showing that you are curious and intelligent. Think about who you are and what job you want; this is your personal “brand.”

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Build online profiles in places and with content relevant to your personal brand. Determine where to do this and what to talk about based on the searches you do related to your industry, your specific career interests and your location. Look up the people that you admire in your industry and those that you would likely be interviewing with: what are they doing that you can emulate?
  • Google yourself. What do you find? What would you like an employer to find? Google your likely competition for the job. What are they doing that you can learn from?
  • Get your LinkedIn profile fully completed. Too many LinkedIn profiles have only a name and the school from which they graduated. Fill in all the fields. Tell your personal, professional and educational story. Think about it like telling a story.
  • Create a “professional” blog around your interests in the industry in which you want to work. While a personal blog is great and can help potential employers get to know you, if you are writing about the industry relevant to your degree and the job you are seeking, they can see that you are really interested in the work and know what you are talking about. Use Google Alerts, Twitter searches and blog subscriptions (RSS feeds, Google Reader) to stay on top of your industry, then write about it. Create original content; writing about your own discoveries shows that you’re processing the information you are reading.
  • Create a public Twitter profile for sharing industry and professional news. If you have a personal Twitter profile that you don’t want potential employers to see, go ahead and protect that and keep using it as you have before, but make sure you have all the privacy settings adjusted. Respond to thought leaders in your industry via Twitter. Show that you have an opinion and a backbone.
  • Adjust your privacy settings in Facebook so that only friends can see your content. Be wary of friending potential employers, employers and co-workers. Consider the content that you post to Facebook and what you want them to see. Facebook has sophisticated privacy options: if you are not comfortable not friending someone, consider categorizing them to only see certain content. If there are pictures that others have posted of you that are not flattering, consider un-tagging yourself (once you have untagged yourself from a picture, you can not be retagged).
  • Consider creating a website for your resume where you provide links to all of your online presences, making it very easy for an employer to see all that you are and all that you are doing. How can you be creative in the way you display your resume? Think about using video as a way to personalize the resume.

Keep in mind that the differences between a personal brand and professional brand online are blurring. You can have separate profiles, but it is hard to maintain and mistakes can be made. And Google can find almost anything. It is better to assume that everything you put online will be seen by a potential employer or employer and be mindful of what you put out there.

Good luck!

May 16, 2012

Social Media, Advertising and Awareness

Filed under: Current Events,Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 6:47 am

This Fast Company article reveals that advertising people aren’t normal when it comes to brand and advertising awareness in social networks. I was reading this article while watching “Morning Joe” this morning where they were talking about Facebook being overvalued because no one clicks on the ads (meaning they don’t click on the ads, of course).

I don’t know the future of Facebook, or the future of social networks in general, but both these channels this morning aren’t talking about the other half of the story.

On advertising people being more aware of advertising: duh. It is not because they are the ones running the ads or because they are more susceptible to advertising. It is because they are paying attending and learning. Advertising people know that an audience of 800 million people is not to be ignored or avoided. They are studying how brands are using Facebook, both for content and for advertising to learn what works, what doesn’t and how to improve the communications for the brands they represent. This only means that the advertising and the content shared by these brands is going to get better, and better content and advertising gets clicked, shared and incites interaction.

On no one clicking on Facebook ads: if advertising is not getting clicked, it is because the message is wrong for the audience who is seeing it or the advertising is bad or confusing. If we put the right message, delivered in an engaging way, in front of the relevant audience, it works. Additionally, Facebook is continually changing how brands can deliver content and advertising; ads will be moving out of the sidebar and into the news stream as sponsored content. This is dangerous if advertisers continue to deliver bad and irrelevant content because users may be frustrated and leave. It is the brand’s responsibility to make its messages engaging to the audience it is targeting and to target the right audience.

While the future of Facebook is not guaranteed, it is not fair to say that the advertising is not working and ad people are the only ones aware of the advertising. Facebook is still relatively new, and with the rules constantly changing, we are all just trying to learn and keep up with what is working, what will work and how to not ignore a captive audience of 800 million people.

May 8, 2012

Facebook Sneakily Sharing Brand Comments by Friends

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Marketing,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 1:01 pm

While doing some research today for a client planning session, I was searching the client’s competitors on Facebook. I noticed something I hadn’t previously noticed on brand pages under the new Timeline structure: friends’ posts that mention that brand are showing up on the brand page when I view it, without the friend having officially “tagged” the brand and without having posted the message directly to that brand’s page. These posts were mostly several months old and all were negative. As a marketer and manager for brand pages, I definitely don’t like this. As a user, I think it is pretty relevant, however.

As a marketer, I don’t like this because the brand managers don’t even know these comments exist. Since the comment wasn’t tagged with the brand or posted on the brand’s page, the brand manager has no way of knowing that the comment exists. So he or she can’t respond to it and he or she can’t control what a user sees on the brand Facebook page. Facebook acknowledges this as user privacy:

“Posts about a Page respect the privacy settings of the people who create them. Page admins won’t see posts about their Page that people haven’t shared publicly even though people visiting the Page might see them if they’re part of the audience the post was shared with. Pages themselves are public spaces, and posts added to a Page’s timeline will be visible publicly and are eligible to appear in the Recent Posts by Others box. “

If the comment is positive, this doesn’t matter to the marketer one way or another (other than it would be nice to have those to report back). But the problem is the negative comments, which were what I saw today on all the brands that I was visiting for my research. Facebook is basically amplifying negative word-of-mouth. As a user, I might not have noticed my friends’ posts several months ago, or paid little attention to it in my stream. But it suddenly becomes relevant as I am on the brand page and it sticks out like a flashing beacon.

As a user, when I land on a brand page and see a friend’s comment immediately, it gives me a new perspective on the brand. If it is one that I was considering engaging with in some way and I saw a negative comment from a friend, I believe this would impact my engagement with that brand or I would reach out to that friend to learn more. I love this as a user because it helps me make decisions, helps me learn more and is extremely relevant.

We’ve been hearing and talking a lot about socially annotated search and banner advertising the last few months. The stats say socially annotated search gets a 5-10% better click-through rate. Having just experienced a version of socially annotated brand commentary, I see why it works so well.

April 18, 2012

My Favorite Quotes and Facts from the AdAge Digital Conference 2012

Filed under: Advertising,Digital Strategy,Marketing,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 8:08 pm

Here is a round-up of things heard at the AdAge Digital Conference that resonated with me in some way, shape or form:

  • “Snow White” was the first full length feature animated film. It was also the most financially successful film when it came out. (“Gone With the Wind” beat it next year.)
  • Stop thinking about the technology and instead think about the purpose.
  • Go back to your startup mentality. What was it that excited you? Don’t think about digital as something you do to stay relevant; think instead about how to communicate your message.
  • Every marketer mines data. It is how you use the data that makes the difference.
  • People would rather give up their toothbrush than their mobile phone.
  • People look at their mobile phones an average of 40 times a day.
  • Over 50% of Facebook users are accessing the network via mobile device.
  • Social is not a what, it is a where things happen.
  • We have to scale platforms for two-way engagement with consumers.
  • Consumers now have the power of media and a consciousness of marketing. Consumers talk about how they know what a brand is doing with its marketing. Keep this in mind.
  • Don’t reduce the whole world of social networks to two or three social networks.
  • Consumers talk about brands as “they” rather than “it.” Brands have to figure out how to behave as people. Brands are positioned as people on social networks, so they should act like people.
  • 80% of consumers are using their phones to shop smarter, sometimes on the spot, at the shelf.
  • Learn what people are engaging with and build content to match.
  • People don’t change their TV very often, only every five to seven years. A tablet probably gets upgraded very 18 months.
  • Customers are lazy, stubborn and loyal. Don’t force them todo things they dont want to do.
  • 500 million people listen to music online illegally.
  • Viral ads are no longer a happy accident. Every campaign today needs to be interesting enough to be passed around and shared on digital networks.
  • The definition of content has changed. It used to take money and power to distribute content. Now the cost is practically none. Content distribution is happening in mass scale. It is about empowerment and democratization.
  • The challenge is now the curation of content. How do we find what is meaningful to us? We are increasingly using Facebook and other places like it: we turn to friends for what to read, listen to, watch, eat, buy, etc.
  • Social technologies change the way the stories are seen and shared.
  • Consumers are 50% more likely to remember an ad when they see a friend’s name associated with it (socially annotated ads).
  • Technology is enriching and enhancing our experiences.
  • Beer is the original social network.