Top of the natural search listings for ‘life insurance’.
Smartphones are no longer a luxury carried around by board members and geeks. They are rapidly becoming the standard mobile device. Broadband is soon to be in every home, city and rural alike. Both of these factors mean even more purchase decisions are starting with a Google search. And it doesn’t matter what product or service is being searched for, the method is the almost identical.
Journalists, even five years ago, always wrote in print as well as sometimes online. Now, there are journalists who only write online and not always on traditional news outlets. There are also people with strong online followings who aren’t journalist at all. For example, they might be local businesses who have built enough trust to recommend products or services from other, seemingly unrelated sectors. The lifecycle is also a lot more fluid. The way that news can be spread is so rapid that there are now online monitoring tools built specifically to manage online mentions around a brand or an individual.
This is an example of the new media we encounter. Greer McDonald only writes on her blog, but she does it on a mainstream news outlet, Stuff.co.nz. She also tweets to a very engaged community of followers. There are over 20 similar blogs on Stuff, most of which are not written by traditional journalists.
Here is Greer’s Twitter feed and an example of how these new media individuals can be very powerful and influential brand advocates.
This is Stuff.co.nz’s technology blog and an interesting example of the different time frames that now operate. Luke Appleby, the author of the blog, works from 6pm until 2am in the morning, writing one blog post a day. This allows him to post stories as they are happening on the west coast of the US, the hot bed of tech news.
This is from one of the business blogs and shows the huge amount of interaction taking place...
TV stations are no longer just about the TV. Take this example of TV3. Their website is a normal news site as well as a hosting blogs and linking to their Facebook page and other media properties.
There are also sector specialists such as Ben Gracewood, who is a blogger at ben.geek.nz. He has a full-time job as a software architect for DataCom, but is also regularly used by TVNZ for anything gadget-related. He represents a great alternative approach for getting technology products on to TV, but is also underutilised. This is a recent clip from a summary of the different mobile networks he did for TVNZ, which we instigated by pitching the Producers and suggesting Ben as the reviewer.
Russell Brown is completely different from Greer McDonald, but is also an example of the new media now wielding great influence. He runs a website called ‘Public Address’ that is the home of his own blog, but also many others. It has quite a targeted, older intellectual crowd but own that engages regularly with the website’s content.
Glen Williams presents a morning radio show on Kiwi FM called ‘Radio Wammo’. But he also broadcasts it live via video link online and sends Twitter and Facebook messages out during the show. This enables a larger and more diverse listenership. More importantly for today’s session, this shows the way that media is converging.
Jayson Bryant runs a wine shop on the edge of Auckland. He transformed his business by embracing online. He regularly films wine review videos and also tweets prodigiously. As a result, he has become an authority on anything wine related and sometimes on other related subjects. He’s a great example of how small businesses can play with the big boys through some savvy online initiatives.
This is a screen grab from his video blog where he regularly reviews wine alongside other passionate wine lovers.
When you type ‘wine shop, auckland’ into Google, Jayson’s small store in Grey Lynn appears as one of the first links. This demonstrates the power of social media.
Personalised YouTube page to drive more interaction with the brand and therefore more customers...
Facebook page with over 11,000 fans. Giving info about free tastings, product ingredients...
Right at the top of Google’s search rankings, which means more business.
Choosing the right tone of engagement depends on your brand. Some brands choose a combination of tactics, but these are the main strands and here are examples of each.
Using social media to promote competitions is a tricky balance to get right. You need to make sure people feel they are part of something. This is why competitions are often best utilised for campaigns and not as a long-term strategy. Here is a screengrab of Virgin America’s (airline) Twitter page. They are a classic example of using social media for competitions...as well as highlighting events they are sponsoring and re-tweeting others who mention their brand. It works for them as they are a particular type of corporate and some would argue as they do this well, they probably don’t need to do more than this.
And here’s a local example in the form of Burger Fuel. Again, nothing wrong with what they are doing, but just because you have an easy opportunity cost in the form of relatively inexpensive products to giveaway, doesn’t mean you can’t attempt something more. That said, they haven’t been on social media for very long so it makes sense to start with what’s achievable.
Starbucks is one of the most frequently quoted social media case studies and there’s a reason why. They nail customer service and never miss a marketing opportunity. Here are a couple of example tweets from the Starbucks main Twitter account. There are also lots of store Twitter accounts which give great localised customer service.
A surprisingly large number of people research products on YouTube before purchasing. Telstra Australia has responded by posting videos on a customised YouTube channel such as an overview of how to watch their BigPond TV and videos on your T-Box. If you look at the YouTube page, it also elicits a large number of useful customer feedback comments.
IBM has been the global leader in encouraging and empowering staff to take part in social media on behalf of the company. This has gone a long way to helping IBM move away from traditional perceptions of being boring and staid. This is a great example of large scale engagement across the organisation. If the business is based on innovation, this style of social media is an appropriate way to represent.
Deloitte Australia created their own internal platform called the ‘Idea Academy’ to better leverage the knowledge of their workforce. This is an example of how digital engagement doesn’t have to be external. PR’s role is to work with the client to ascertain whether a social media campaign should be internal, external or both.
Timberland clothing company has a campaign called ‘Earthkeepers’, designed to promote environmental action. It’s an interesting and thoughtful way of digitally engaging with consumers. Rather than simply setting up meaningless conversations around their brand, they’ve aligned themselves with a worthwhile cause and built positive association around the brand as a result.
Commonwealth Bank in Australia recognised the need to target customers early as people don’t tend to switch banks very often. They did this by launching an animated online game, Coinland.com.au aimed at teaching primary school children how to manage their money. This is a clever example of creating your own external community away from the typical platforms.
There are tons of New Zealand examples when it comes to this approach as it suits the SME dominated economy. This is one of our clients – Alistair Helm, CEO of RealEstate.co.nz, the property portal. By having his own personal blog and being honest and open with his views on the market, he has built trust to the extent that he gets re-tweeted by mainstream media sources like the NZ Herald. We suggested this approach, in addition to traditional media relations, because it was a cost-effective way of building brand profile.
As touched upon earlier, it’s unclear whether Foursquare, Facebook Places and other geo-location services, will be the future of social media. However, one thing they are already widely used for is helping cafes, bars and restaurants do away with the physical loyalty card and go digital. This is a way for local businesses to connect with customers and develop an ongoing relationship.
There is a dizzying array of free and paid-for measurement tools when it comes to social media. The paid-for ones are a good option if you can afford it, as you save time when it comes to analysis. However, there will never be a tool that can fully replace a human and it’s still a big time commitment to manage a measurement tool for a brand. PR is perfectly placed to manage this for the client and inform them about the essential data.
The role of the PR agency depends, increasingly, on the client. We’ve found that some clients want to share access to monitoring tools and some just want regular updates on the top-line, snapshot stats. But, regardless of the client/agency balance, there are a few stock questions we ask when it comes to online monitoring.
If you’re using social media as an extension of the customer service channel then it’s useful to manage who responds and when. Some tools help you do this and some don’t.
2. Are you a company driven by innovation? If the company is a large entity, spread across a geographically wide area and you want to gather ideas, some tools enable this better than others.
Do you want to measure mentions by geography? For some brands, it’s important to look at global sector trends, for some it’s more important to focus on local trends. Which one are you?
Do you want to measure number of mentions with a broad overview of sentiment? If this is what you’re looking for, you may be fine using a free tool. However, I would argue that you probably aren’t getting the most out of social media if this is the case. For those of you who want a more in-depth discussion on the different tools available, please have a chat with me at the end of the session.