1. Social media is popular — really, really, popular

You don’t need to be a dedicated reader of tech blogs or an expert in online marketing to know that social media is really popular among consumers.

According to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of American adults use social networks, which means that social media will touch nearly every customer that walks through your door.

Having a social media presence that’s accessible via mobile can improve the chances of your business getting found when someone is searching for a place to eat or a product to buy, while on-the-go.

 

2. Social media helps you gain valuable customer insights

Social media generates a huge amount of data about your customers in real time. Every day there are over 500 million Tweets4.5 billion Likes on Facebook, and 95 million photos and videos uploaded to Instagram. Behind these staggering numbers is a wealth of information about your customers—who they are, what they like, and how they feel about your brand.

Through daily active engagement and social listening, you can gather relevant customer data and use that information to make smarter business decisions.

 

3. Social media reaches all ages and demographics

Social media defies age barriers. A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that 65 percent of US adults are using social networks.

Between 2005 and 2015, usage among ages 30-49 has increased by 69 points from 8 percent to 77 percent. So, no matter how young or old your target audience may be, chances are most of them are already logging on and waiting for you to get started.

 

4. Social Media increases brand awareness and loyalty

When you have a presence on social media, you make it easier for your customers to find and connect with you. By connecting with your customers on social, you’re more likely to increase customer retention and brand loyalty. A study by The Social Habit shows that 53 percent of Americans who follow brands on social are more loyal to those brands.

 

5. Social media users are active

One thing you have to know about social media users is that when they say they are on social media, they are really on social media.

Social media users in the US check their accounts 17 times a day, according to an Informate Mobile Intelligence report. While a customer may visit your store once a week, they could see your social media posts in their feed multiple times during the week.

 

6. Social Media provides rich customer experiences

Even if you aren’t on social media, most of your customers expect you to be. Over 67 percent of consumers now go to social media for customer service. They expect fast response times and 24/7 support—and companies that deliver win out. A study by Aberdeen Group shows that companies engaging in social customer service see much bigger annual financial gains (7.5 percent YOY growth) vs. those without (2.9 percent)

 

7. Social Media helps generate higher converting leads

Social media increases sales and customer retention through regular interaction and timely customer service.

In the 2015 Sales Best Practices Study from research institute MHI Global, world-class companies rated social media as the most effective way to identify key decision makers and new business opportunities. In the State of Social Selling in 2015, nearly 75 percent of companies that engaged in selling on social media reported an increase in sales in 12 months.

 

8. Social media is cost-effective

Social ads are an inexpensive way to promote your business and distribute content. They also offer powerful targeting options so that you can reach the right audience. 

For example, if you run an ad campaign on LinkedIn, you can segment by things like location, company, job title, gender, and age—the list goes on. If you’re running a Facebook ad, you can target based on location, demographics, interests, behaviors, and connections. You can track and measure the performance of your social ads in real time.

 

9. Social media can make a big difference for your email marketing

Social media has completely changed the game when it comes to how small businesses think of email marketing. Sharing your email newsletter across your social networks can open your content up to a whole new audience and generate the type of buzz you’ve been looking for.

Not only that, but you can also use sites like Facebook to attract more readers by including a Join My Mailing List link right on your Page.

Together, these two powerful tools have reshaped the marketing landscape and have really leveled the playing field for small businesses trying to better connect with current customers and reach new audiences for their business.

 

10. Social Media helps build relationships

Social media isn’t about blasting your company’s sales pitch on social, it’s a two-way channel where you have the opportunity to enrich relationships with your customers. It gives you the chance to engage and interact directly with your customers to build a bond.

For example, social media allows tourism brands to create dialogue with travelers, therefore creating relationships with customers before, during, and after they have booked a trip with the company. This kind of social media dialogue between brands and customers is something traditional advertising cannot achieve.

https://blogs.constantcontact.com/why-social-media-marketing/
https://blog.hootsuite.com/social-media-for-business/

 

 

Hashtag2

Most communications specialists know how to take advantage of hashtags, whether it’s to optimize your posts, follow industry trends or keep tabs on a topic or event.

However, there are several ways PR pros can benefit from hashtags that are often overlooked, including:

Following the Right Hashtags

While trending hashtags get a lot of mention in the press, Ciaran Blumenfield notes they’re not always the most relevant to your company. 10 Hashtags Your Business Cannot Ignore identifies the categories of hashtags that are important for any business or not-for-profit organization.  They include:

  • Competitors
  • Industry topic
  • Industry experts
  • Industry conferences
  • Trade organizations
  • News
Analysis

Each business should then identify the hashtags specific to its industry and issues. Useful Twitter Hashtag Analytics Tools reviews three tools to identify influencers, find useful links and references, analyze trends and more. Among the tools listed:

  • Tweetbinder, which allows you to analyze chats to see who is engaged in conversations, who is most influential and which tweets and links were shared.
  • Tweetcategory, an iPad app that organizes your tweets around topics and hashtags.
  • Hash Tracking, which provides hashtag analytics like tweets, reach, number of contributors and their followers.

Benchmarking

How to Use Hashtags for Competitive Analysis delves into one key application of hashtag monitoring: benchmarking. If you’re tracking your competitors (and you should be) it’s also a good idea to evaluate which hashtags they’re using and how they’re performing, Blumenfield affirms. She includes the types of hashtags to keep an eye on:

  • Brand and Campaign
  • Events
  • Alliances and Partnerships
  • Community Conversations
  • Pop Culture

Measurement

Though not specifically about hashtags, 10 Ways to Measure Twitter Audience beyond Follower Count shares methods into measurement of reach and influence of tweets. As Nate Smitha explains, measuring your follower count helps you understand your Twitter audience and how to grow it more effectively. Measuring the reach and engagement of your hashtags is good practice to test what’s working and what isn’t.

 

For more information: http://www.cyberalert.com/blog/index.php/4-beneficial-ways-to-use-hashtags-in-pr/

5 huge mistakes PR interns should never make

By Mickie Kennedy | Posted: May 6, 2013

An internship can be a great way to get your foot in the door in the PR industry, but if you don’t take the right approach, it can also be a sure-fire way to ruin your reputation and kill your career before it gets off the ground.

Make no mistake—you’re going to make mistakes along the way. That’s perfectly okay. That’s what being an intern is about. You’re learning; people expect you to screw things up now and again. No sweat. But honest mistakes coming from a hardworking intern are one thing; the following mistakes are ones you simply cannot afford to make.

Act like you’re above lowly tasks. As an intern, you’re going to have to do a lot of boring, lowly tasks. You’re not going to get the exciting projects right out of the gate. Your boss wants to see that you are dependable and have a good work ethic before he or she will hand you more interesting work.

Dress unprofessionally. Dress for the job you want to have, not the job you have. If you come in dressed like a casual student, no one will take you seriously. Pay attention to how the true professionals in the office dress and try to mirror that in your own dress.

Talk bad about others in the office. No one likes the office gossip, especially when he or she is an intern. Keep your mouth shut, and respect everyone around you. Not to be too harsh, but you’re the lowest person on the totem pole, and you’ll never gain respect by talking bad about others in the office.

Not thank the people who help you. A lot of people will take time to help you as an intern. It might be a co-worker showing you how to do something, your boss offering helpful feedback, or someone giving you a recommendation for a career opportunity. No matter the situation, always offer a heartfelt thank you. Show everyone just how appreciative you are for their help.

Not learn or improve. Internships are learning experiences, but you have to be committed to actually learning and refining your skills. I recommend always having a pen and notepad on you so that you can take notes and avoid asking the same questions or making the same mistakes over and over again. Write everything down. You never know when that information will come in handy. If you’re committed to bettering yourself every day, your skills will improve, and that’s all anyone can ask from an intern.

PR pros, what mistakes did you make during your internship?

The Hidden Benefits of Social Media Marketing: Why Your Strategy May Be Working Better Than You Think

Stephanie Chandler, Contributor

Most businesses venture into social media expecting to see a big return on investment. The hope is that new customers will come in droves, and that the benefits and revenue generation will be huge. However, this is rarely the case. It takes time to build momentum with social media, and the benefits aren’t always as obvious as we would like.

If you’re feeling a bit skeptical about social media marketing and whether or not it’s worth the effort, following are some reasons why it may be working better than you realize.

1. Brand Recognition – One of the most powerful ways to use social media is as a brand-building tool. With social media, you get to decide how you want to position your company and what you want people to know about what you do. With consistent effort and great content, you can build a reputation for your brand around your company’s values, benefits, and advantages.

2. Community – There is nothing like social media when it comes to cultivating a community. When your followers become part of your community, you gain instant access to them. That means you can find out what challenges they are facing and what they like and don’t like about your offerings. You can engage in ongoing dialog that can be more valuable than any kind of paid market research.

3. Repeat Exposure – There is an old marketing adage that says it takes six to eight exposures to a product before a customer decides to buy. A clear benefit of social media is repeat exposure with your network. You have the opportunity to remind them over and over again about what you have to offer, which can shorten your sales cycles dramatically.

4. Authority – For coaches, consultants, authors, speakers, and other service-based businesses, social media can be very powerful in helping you establish authority in your field—making you the go-to resource for your target audience to seek out for help. Share great content, answer questions, and serve your audience, and you will inevitably build loyal fans.

5. Influence – As your following increases, your influence grows. Having a substantial social media audience creates a snowball effect that can attract new customers, media interviews, joint venture partnerships, and all kinds of other opportunities. It’s a bit like when you see a crowd hovered around something. You can’t help but want to see what all the fuss is about, so a large audience will only attract more interest.

6. Website Traffic – Many people don’t realize that social media can be a leading traffic generator. When you share blog posts, videos and other content from your website, you give your audience a reason to click through and visit your site. Once there, you have the opportunity to inspire those visitors to take action by inviting them to sign up for your mailing list, make a purchase, or call to schedule a free consultation. Install traffic monitoring service, such as Google Analytics, and if you are committed to your social media efforts, you will clearly see that social media brings traffic. Also, make sure that your visitors receive a clear call to action when they visit your site so that you can convert that extra traffic into business opportunities.

7. Ahead of the Curve – Whether you realize it or not, your prospects and clients are checking to see if you are engaging in social media. I always find it a bit odd when I’m investigating a potential service provider online and I can’t locate a social media presence or worse, I find Facebook pages that haven’t been updated in months, empty Twitter feeds, and a clear lack of interest in engaging. Social media isn’t a fad and it’s not going away. Even if it’s not your top priority, if you stay current with activity, your prospects will notice.

8. Mindshare with Lurkers – There may be days when you wonder if anyone is paying attention to your social media networks. But if your efforts are consistent, I guarantee that more people are paying attention than you realize. Give it time and you’ll start to understand what’s happening behind the anonymity of the internet. You will eventually hear from people who say, “I’ve been following you on Twitter for ages. I love your posts!”

9. Competitive Advantage – The reality is that most of your competitors aren’t likely doing a very good job with social media (most companies aren’t), which gives you the chance to stand out. Also consider the flip side. If you avoid social media, you leave a big opening that allows your competitors to capture your audience.

10. Big Wins – While many businesses large and small are trying to justify the cost and time investment for managing social media marketing, an important benefit often gets overlooked: Big Wins. For example, if someone from LinkedIn connects you with a significant government contract, then that would certainly qualify as a Big Win. If a major media outlet finds you on Twitter and interviews you for a national article, then that is also a Big Win—one that you can’t measure based on revenues directly generated.

Big Wins don’t happen often, but when they do, they make it all worthwhile. It’s easy to forget results like these six months down the road you’re trying to assess whether your social media efforts are paying off. But that one contract you landed could cover your social media marketing costs for years. And that major media interview could lead to subsequent interviews and a line item on your resume that impresses a corporate sponsor three years from now. Never forget to factor in the Big Wins in social media.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2013/03/12/the-hidden-benefits-of-social-media-marketing-why-your-strategy-may-be-working-better-than-you-think/

12 things to expect from a PR firm

By Beth Monaghan | Posted: January 25, 2013
How should I choose a PR firm?

Each time someone asks me this, dozens of answers flutter to the forefront of my mind, but I always choose two fairly tangible criteria: fit and experience.

On the surface, it can be easy for all agencies to sound similar, which makes fit and experience crucial. You need an agency that understands your audience and your market, and the reporters you need to reach. Fit is equally important. You’ll be working closely with the PR agency every single day (and many evenings), so you’ll need to be able to work well with the assigned account team.

However, fit and experience alone will not make your agency successful on your behalf. Here are some important qualities you should expect form an agency that is committed to your success. You need an agency that:

1. Owns the process. You want an agency that will never say, “Well, we sent you the guidelines for the Forbes contributed article three months ago and never heard back.” Your agency should be a professional nagger—they should never let you be the reason for a missed deadline.

2. Pushes back. You are hiring a PR firm for its expertise, so find one that provides firm recommendations. If your account team is constantly nodding their heads and yessing you, there is a problem. The success of your PR program requires a team leader who can adamantly say no in the face of tough scrutiny when something just won’t work.

3. Knows when to give in. There are times when other company goals, such as sales campaigns, take priority over PR (for example, when a sales team is under the gun to meet quarterly goals and needs to push out a direct email campaign in advance of the press release). Your PR firm should tell you the optimal plan for getting great media coverage, but should also accept it when PR is not at the top of the list.

4. Makes it happen. Only clients should have the luxury of asking big questions without offering solutions, such as, “How can we maximize our attendance at an upcoming trade show?” Good PR firms know that the right response is a list of viable options, not more questions.

5. Surprises you with unexpected and creative ideas. Your PR firm should march to the beat of the PR plan, but they should also bring you unexpected and creative ideas. This demonstrates that they are paying active attention. Only intellectually hungry people will tie the right pieces together to make you relevant in a way that matters to the press.

6. Owns mistakes. If your agency needs to be right all of the time, it’s a problem. You need an agency that abides by the rules of crisis PR (even when the crisis is a very small one): tell it all, truthfully, and tell it now. This takes confidence and humility, but it is the sign of a great communicator.

7. Hustles. Look for an agency that is pushing you, not the other way around.

8. Writes well. Content marketing has changed PR forever. Adequate press release writing skills are no longer enough. You need an agency that can sift through mountains of information, zero in on the interesting angle, and ghost author an article for your spokesperson. Ask for samples, and look at the agency’s blog.

9. Listens intently. PR people are renowned great talkers. We need to be. However, we need to know how to listen, too. You need a PR agency full of the kind of analytical and open minds that can scan the conversation for points of interest, drive the discussion toward them and relate them to your broader industry.

10. Empathizes. You need a PR agency team that can imagine what it’s like to be you. What pressures do you face internally, from your board, from competitors, others? Is PR central to your role or tangential? Coincidentally, this skill also makes PR people great at media relations—we must imagine what it’s like to be each reporter if we have a prayer of selling a story.

11. Navigates options and contingencies like an attorney. There are many decisions we must make along the winding route between the pitch and the placement. You need an agency that understands the media landscape—which outlets (and journalists) compete, which reporters require exclusives, which ones care about embargoes, and which angles will compel coverage.

Sifting through these and responding appropriately when an embargo is broken or an exclusive falls through tests the skills of the best PR professionals, so make sure you have a team that can bend gracefully when a critical relationship is at stake, and hold firm when your company goals require it.

12. Thick skin. PR people sit in the middle of two constituents whose goals are not always aligned: the media and our clients. Finding the common ground that creates successful outcomes for both requires an ability to handle discord well.

Anything you would add?

Of course, success is a two-way street. Stay tuned for my next post on what clients should bring to the relationship for success.

By Carrie Peterson | Posted: October 24, 2012
Social media is the new public relations of the marketing industry. Newbies think it’s the “exciting” marketing discipline. It is a great field, but it’s more than tweeting around the clock.Saying you want to work in social media, so you can play on Facebook all day is like saying you want to work in PR because you like people. Good for you, but that’s just not what we do.

These are the requisite traits for success in social media. It’s not as easy as it looks. You must be:

1. Nimble

Social media is the fastest-changing industry ever. You have to religiously monitor the environment and adapt quickly to change.

2. Educated

You have to be committed to reading constantly about social media and measurement, and searching aggressively for the latest trends and best practices.

3. Dedicated

There is little to no off time in social media. It happens 24×7, so you have to be ready to respond at any time. If someone posts something negative on your Twitter stream and you don’t respond for 24 hours, good luck finding another job in social media.

4. Clever

Social media enthusiasts are quick and clever. You need to be, too, or you will come off looking like your grandma or, worse, like a corporate mouthpiece.

5. Strategic

Social media doesn’t exist in a universe by itself. It’s part of a larger, strategic marketing mix. You must see and understand the overall goals, strategies, and objectives before you can implement social media tactics.

6. Meticulously organized

You have to write, post, monitor, respond and measure for countless social media channels. You have to be organized, but not such a perfectionist that you can’t move quickly, and it’s so important to have great monitoring systems in place.

7. Playful 

Some of the most successful social media folks are funny, lighthearted and don’t takes themselves too seriously. Hello, “NOT COOL, COOKIE!”

8. Analytical

Yep, that’s right. We don’t just sit around and tweet all day. We have to measure our results just like anyone else. Having science and math skills is a big plus.

9. Well-rounded

Though it’s important to be an expert in this category, it’s not good to be too focused on one skill. To truly be a valuable contributor, you need to understand the big picture of marketing.

10. Social

Yeah, that’s right, I said it: You need to be social to work in social media. Get out from behind the computer and have a few face-to-face conversations. Enjoy the life that you’re posting about.

Do you have another trait that you’d add to this list?

 

http://www.prdaily.com/socialmedia/Articles/13002.aspx

7 deadly sins of PR

By Joe Cohen | Posted: September 17, 2012
Editor’s note: Last week, PR Daily hosted its PR Best Practices Conference at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. One of the presenters, MWW Senior Vice President Joe Cohen, shared with us his list of the public relations industry’s seven deadly sins: 

1. Thinking like a journalist, but not as a marketer 

PR practitioners need to understand both mindsets and strike a balance when delivering messages.

2. Hating math 

We must no longer utter phrases such as, “I went into PR because I’m bad at math.” Saying that hurts our credibility. In today’s business environment, measurement, analytics, and the ability to quantify results are essential.

3. Fearing to admit failure 

We must have the confidence to admit failure, but we can never accept it. We can’t be afraid to acknowledge internally when programs are failing and be ready to recalibrate when necessary.

4. Failing to measure 

Though it’s true that measuring public relations versus advertising is comparing apples and oranges, PR can be measured. For our industry to be viewed on par with the other disciplines, we must be able to quantify our work. Social media has made it possible to do so in a cost-effective manner. The Barcelona Principles’ metrics framework is a great resource for measurement approaches.

5. Chasing the shiny objects 

For every Pinterest and Twitter, there is a MySpace or Second Life—social networks that wither and die or fail to take flight. At times, we will need to take big bets, but we must make them smart wagers backed by research and analytics.

6. Suffering from an inferiority complex 

PR has a tendency to view itself as a second-tier discipline behind advertising and marketing. In today’s media environment, there is a unique opportunity for PR to lead. To do so, we must educate ourselves on the other disciplines and understand the larger landscape.

7. Getting a (cheap) thrill from deadline pressure 

Many PR pros pride themselves on their ability to pull last-minute miracles out of their hats. When working within a larger marketing framework this is untenable—we must plan ahead (as best we can) and align our efforts with the other disciplines so that PR doesn’t live in a silo.