Three Ways To Change Up Your Social Media Strategy

Every PR team knows that social media is more than simply a nice thing for companies to have; it’s an imperative. Fifty-three percent of customers who follow a business are likely to be loyal to that business, and 63% of consumers who search for goods and services online are more receptive to those with an engaging social media presence. 

While it’s important to identify and stick with a consistent brand personality for social content, there are times when social content becomes stale. Or, the social content strategy may lag behind trends. In addition to general social media tips such as posting at certain times for maximum views (we like 11:00 AM or between 1:00 and 2:00 PM), PR and social media pros are regularly challenged to tweak social media strategy to increase engagement and attract followers. Here are some ways to do exactly that. 

Mix up your posts

Part of any successful social media strategy includes drawing your audience in through a visually appealing, constantly changing page. If your posts are starting to sound a little repetitive, mix things up. Although voice and messaging may be a constant, one way to keep content fresh is by varying the type of media posted. Alternate between accompanying your post with images, gifs and videos. Definitely change up the images you’re posting on Instagram since it’s such a visual platform. Consider alternation coloration or tone – go black and white, or minimalist or psychedelic. 

Also keep in mind that short videos can be highly effective in engaging viewers. For example, LinkedIn launched LinkedIn native video in 2017, in an effort to expand from being just a long-form content site. With native video, you can record on your phone or computer and then upload recordings to the site. As LinkedIn video continues to grow in popularity, 87% of LinkedIn video marketers say it’s been an effective channel for them. In PR, we make sure to post earned media stories to amplify their reach and to keep our posts interesting – which is effective since LinkedIn posts with images, videos or links get 39% more engagement than text-only posts on LinkedIn. Since 57% of all engagement on LinkedIn is via mobile, the content has to be mobile-friendly – i.e., short and sweet.

Another idea is a social media takeover. If it fits with the tone of your page, have an employee run the social page for a day. Or, consider jumping on the ephemeral content trend, and create content that is scheduled to disappear after a certain amount of time. Ephemeral options are widely available on platforms including Instagram, WhatsApp, TikTok, and Facebook. In 2019, TechCrunch reported that there were 500 million daily active users of Instagram’s Stories features. By simply changing up your posts, you will notice an increase in engagement and followers. 

Give a go at interactive posts

As we saw in several Super Bowl ads this year such as Mountain Dew’s “Major Melon” ad offering $1 million to the first viewer to tweet the exact number of bottles in the ad, people like free stuff and competitions — and brands should deliver. An interesting way to maximize engagement is to run a contest or giveaway on your page. According to data from social media scheduling tool Tailwind, 91% of Instagram posts with more than 1,000 likes or comments are related to a contest, and accounts that run contests on a regular basis grow 70% faster than those that don’t. Or, consider creating a survey on your company’s Instagram page’s story, and keeping followers posted on results. Of course, having interactive posts also includes maintaining your company’s page by regularly responding to DMs and comments. 

Another great way to be interactive is with livestreams or Q&As, whether on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. Livestreams, or online streaming media simultaneously recorded and broadcast in real time, are a great way to highlight news for short, high-profile announcements or milestones. They work particularly well if a brand has an influencer or celebrity-driven initiative. Consider a Facebook Q&A, or going live on Instagram. Showing a face can make the brand come across as more authentic, and it will amplify your story. Remember to promote who is going to livestream and when, through banners on social media, email invites or paid ads on LinkedIn or Facebook. Since you have less control over livestreams than on other forms of social media, you will want to prepare for possible questions ahead of time. You can even ask viewers to send in questions beforehand. In 2018, HBO announced the air date of Game of Thrones season seven via Facebook Live – and attracted around 3.5 million viewers.

Be timely

Although a social media strategy requires advance planning, some of the best engagement may result from day-of content that reacts to real-time news events. Try ranking scheduled posts on a scale of importance from one to three, and then overriding some of the threes with more relevant content from that month, like responses to news stories, reposts, or other timely content. Remember, not all of the content on your page has to be generated by you! Peppering in timely retweets or partners’ relevant announcements will not only prove timely, but also help mix up your page’s content. It may be worth delaying that evergreen photo in favor of more pressing news, whether in the news cycle or from within the company. The goal is to maximize engagement and earn new follows. Jumping on relevant news is a great way of doing that, even if it means pushing off posting some of your planned content.

When social media users choose to follow your account, or when existing followers read and engage with your posts, they are giving you their time, even if it’s only a few seconds. Therefore, if you’re managing a social media page, it’s on you to make the content worth their time. When it comes to social media, the secret sauce is having both quantity and quality for the highest engagement. Meaning, post frequently but make sure frequent posting doesn’t come at the expense of quality content. By incorporating these tips into your next social media strategy, you can create a high-quality social media page that really stands out. And don’t forget to track social media engagement stats so you can figure out what works, and where you can improve next time.

Does Facebook Work For B2B PR?

As the social media landscape becomes more complex, PR pros debate whether Facebook is still an essential platform. This is particularly true for B2B PR and marketing teams. For B2B communications, LinkedIn is typically the top social destination, and Twitter may also be useful, but few brands prioritize Facebook. 

Yet it may be a mistake to overlook Facebook. It remains the primary content distribution channel for marketers. Forty-six percent use the platform – more than the 33% who use LinkedIn. Facebook also overshadows other social channels with its sheer size. It has a user base of 1.6 billion, who spend an average of 35 minutes a day there. In 2021, marketers should reassess how they use Facebook and make full use of the tools it offers. But are these stats meaningful for B2B campaigns?

When to use Facebook for B2B marketing

Here are B2B social strategies that perform best on Facebook.

Advertising offers a strong return

Looking to build brand awareness? Remember, business buyers are people, too, and most of them are on Facebook. With the right audience data, Facebook advertising can get your brand in front of your targets. Its relatively low CPM offers a better return on advertising spend than LinkedIn in most cases. It may also offer a greater reach, and its ad tools are far superior. Facebook’s advanced machine learning algorithms, user data, and web tracking and analytics enable greater conversion optimization for ads. 

Retargeting is easy

Facebook Pixel, an analytics tool that can be installed on a website to measure Facebook Ad performance, lets you track leads across various devices and retarget visitors with ads on other platforms. LinkedIn offers a similar tool; its Insights Tag can be used for retargeting but is more expensive than Pixel.

Target groups with thoughtful content 

Facebook Groups offer ways to locate a specific audience and direct commentary on relevant topics to its members. Since Facebook changed its algorithm in 2018, the newsfeed has prioritized posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion, which include posts from Facebook Groups. 

Facebook Groups for business give brands the opportunity to organically build engagement while discussing technical and insider information, with lead generation as an added benefit. 

Targeting local and small businesses

Most small business owners find Facebook to be the best social media platform to connect with their customers. For large B2B marketers who target SMBs, Facebook may be an ideal environment. Small business owners are likely to check their feeds on a daily basis, making them easily targetable with product and service marketing messages.

New and useful Facebook features for B2B PR and marketing

Facebook isn’t the same platform today as it was just two years ago. It has introduced new ways for marketers to share content with an intended audience. Here are some B2B marketing tactics that brands should consider using on Facebook.

Video thrives on Facebook Lives

The rise of social channels like TikTok has propelled video as a major content trend in 2020 – and this is projected to continue into 2021. “Lives” marries the content trend to the popular theme of personal connection. Facebook isn’t the only platform that offers its users the Live feature; LinkedIn has a similar feature – but Facebook allows all users access while LinkedIn requires prior approval.

Brands can commit to conducting a Q&A or demo on Facebook Live once a week, which is a brilliant way to increase video content and repurpose it on all social channels. Facebook Live videos can be republished on YouTube or LinkedIn, and edited for shorter clips to post on Twitter. Video summaries of current blog posts are another way to ramp up video content.

Many marketers recommend that 20% of published social media posts have a video element to them – even animated GIFs count! 

Try unpolished images to drive engagement

Marketers know that posts with images are more likely to make audiences stop scrolling and engage. As social media evolves and algorithms change, users are scrolling more and more. One emerging trend on Facebook to stop the scrolling is nixing polished stock photos for more candid-looking, unvarnished images. This trend applies to both paid and organic Facebook posts.

Think you’ll be met with pushback? Consider testing a consistent brand image versus a more relaxed shot of what looks like could have been posted by a friend. That way, any changes will be data-driven.

Facebook Messenger allows personalized comms

Personalized communication is another emerging social media trend. Human-to-human (H2H) conversations in comments and DMs drive more conversions compared to a messaging campaign or post. 

Facebook Messenger, which uses bots to set up and send personalized messaging, can be an effective tool for engaging and converting page followers. Marketers report significantly higher engagement with Messenger as compared to email. Brands can send messages free for the first 24 hours, then assess their effectiveness through automated tools. If a portion of your customer bases uses Messenger and  you have the budget, a Messenger test could be well worth it.

Customer service and customer sentiment 

B2B companies should be actively working to strengthen relationships with their current customers, as well as limiting any reputation damage that results from posts by unhappy ones. Marketing should work with the customer service to address negative posts in real time. Never let requests for help or complaints go unanswered.

A “listening station” that monitors Facebook for any mention of your brand, products, and events, as well as those of competitors, can provide valuable information about activity on the platform.

Change up your social strategy

Social media is constantly changing. Social strategies need to shift with consumer habits, so most brands rethink or reevaluate their social approach regularly. While Facebook may not be the first line of defense for B2B marketing, but the data shows it can be very effective.

How To Make A Killer Content Calendar

In PR, a content calendar is a key part of any public relations plan. For B2B clients like those we represent, it can include the topics and suggested resources for bylined articles, blog posts, social media posts, digital video, and longer-form content like white papers, among other elements. A good content calendar is like a roadmap that helps a brand tell its story. Here are some ways to construct a killer content calendar and get the most out of it.

Start with tentpole events and initiatives

Winging it is not an effective strategy, and taking the time to create a full content calendar will save time and alleviate stress in the long run. When building your calendar, start with upcoming company tentpole events and announcements, then fill in the rest according to seasonal marketing activities and anything else you find relevant. After, you can build out the corresponding content. 

For example, you may plan for a company’s product launch to generate a press release, a social post linking to the press release across social channels, a social post with a top media placement across social channels, and an in-depth blog post for the company website. For social media specifically, quality and quantity combined make for the highest engagement. Companies that publish more than 16 posts a month typically generate three and a half times more traffic than those which publish less than four. Meaning, there should be frequent posts, varying in topics from article promotions to National Cookie Day, if you could think of a way that it’s relevant to your brand. Looking into lesser known holidays that may be relevant to brands in advance can make for fun social media posts!

Be sure to space out announcements

Content calendars are a visual way of seeing what’s in store for the future, making them effective for planning. Seeing all of a brand’s initiatives on paper makes it more obvious if announcements are scheduled too close together, or whether messages compete or overlap. Ideally, you want your messaging to be a progression; for example, a funding announcement, followed by senior-level hires, after which an ambitious new company initiative is unveiled. If news items aren’t planned carefully, the company’s announcements may not get the attention they deserve. Of course, a good plan will take into consideration major news-generating events like Election Day, for example, which should be avoided. Yet most external happenings are unpredictable, so it’s best to build in flexibility but not stress over unexpected events. 

Refresh with formal creative sessions

You may be surprised by the new ideas you can generate when you schedule the time to sit down and think. Throughout the day, projects and deadlines may keep us busy, but forcing a focus on new ways to tell a brand’s story for the next month or quarter can give way to a productive brainstorming session, particularly if you have it with other team members. However, make sure that your meeting is a productive use of time for everyone (a recent study from the Harvard Business Review found that 71% of senior managers said meetings in general are unproductive and inefficient.) During the brainstorm session, do not shut down any ideas, no matter how far-fetched they may seem, as you never know which remark can plant the seed for a great idea. Other tips for a productive brainstorm include coming prepared, creating a time cap, and taking thorough notes.

Measure performance daily

You can actually keep track internally of how many stories a particular company announcement garnered, or how well a social media post performed, right in your content calendar. Of course, every content calendar is different, but tracking the numbers right in the doc may work as a way to stay organized. You can even set goals, and if you fall short, adjust accordingly for the next quarter. Besides Excel and Google Sheets, some other tools for creating content calendars include monday.com, Smartsheet, and Wrike.

Park future ideas so nothing is lost

You can make the most out of your content calendar by using it as a live document and keeping it constantly updated. It’s best to do a formal update once per quarter, according to the business or marketing plan, but you may choose to refresh it far more often. In addition to planned content, you can establish a “parking lot” for ideas and potential topics that may not fit in at the moment but can be useful later. It’s also effective to list social keywords for each piece of content to all creators are on track.

Include client quotes or thoughts

If you plan to newsjack an upcoming event, it can be helpful to get quotes or thoughts from the brand in advance, to be used for a future blog post or even reactive commentary. This can be stored right in your content calendar. By keeping all relevant materials together in one doc, you can prevent these thoughts from getting buried in your inbox. The nature of newsjacking is such that most often you won’t know the news in advance and you’ll have to act swiftly for your brand to be included in media coverage. Yet if you do happen to know of any events that may be relevant, then it’s great to be prepared.

Include competitive messaging

It may make sense to keep track of competitive content or even media coverage in your content calendar, in a separate tab. This makes for easy visualization for how your brand’s messaging and tone should stack up compared to competitors. After all, what we do is all about differentiation. 

Planning and time management are very important in PR, so any system to help stay on track and on schedule is useful. Don’t be discouraged if some ideas are scrapped as things move around – you may even be able to use that content later on! 

What are LinkedIn Stories and How Can PR Pros Use Them?

Since LinkedIn launched its Stories feature last month, it has won mixed reviews. But PR professionals shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss it!

Of course, with over 706 million global users, LinkedIn is the go-to social platform for B2B professionals, and it’s probably still the best way to build a network with colleagues, classmates and industry professionals. It’s also a great place to have conversations around hot topics in tech, leadership and current events. 

LinkedIn Stories is similar to Instagram or Facebook stories, allowing users to post an update that will stay live for 24 hours. The story feature makes sense for Instagram and Facebook where you can share real-time updates, but why did LinkedIn feel they needed this feature? 

According to LinkedIn, “LinkedIn Stories enable members and organizations to share images and short videos of their everyday professional moments.” In a pre-COVID world, this feature would have been great to use during industry conferences and events. While the timing of launch may be odd, this is definitely a feature PR pros should convince executives to include in their social strategy. Here are five ways to incorporate LinkedIn stories into yours.

Share professional tips

Instagram and Facebook stories are a great place to share real time pictures, videos and updates, so why not try this out on LinkedIn Stories? Create a social schedule of quotable tips from executives that can be shared a few times a week. The goal here is to share comments or quotes that are short but impactful. You want to grab your audience’s attention very quickly. Make sure content is easy to digest and you’re not cramming everything into one story. If you want to share five tips, create five slides and space out the updates to make a bigger impact.

Highlight ‘events’ in real time

One of the big trends of 2020 was a shift to virtual events, primarily on Zoom. In PR, we believe that securing speaking events for executives is a strong way to promote thought leadership and position clients as industry leaders. Share clips from virtual conferences with short soundbites of high-impact statements from business leaders. When the event is over, if you have access to a full recording, you can tease it in stories as well encouraging connections to watch the full talk if they missed it. 

Host a Q&A

A fun feature on stories is opening a question on your story and asking for followers and connections to weigh in. Consider hosting a weekly or monthly Q&A around current events in a given industry, — maybe on new tech launches or reactive comments around breaking news. Create a two-way conversation between business leaders and their connections. If you’re looking for a way to spread out content, ask connections to submit questions in advance and answer them a few days later. 

Preview company announcements and launches

One of the benefits of LinkedIn Stories is that when users log on, the stories will be featured at the top of the page before they start scrolling. Sometimes user posts can be lost in endless scrolling, but if you have a story, you have a better chance of higher engagement. Did your company just acquire funding or are launching a new tech offering? Tease this announcement in your story. Perhaps preview the headline of a press release to gauge attention and direct users to your company’s page or your own – wherever the press release link is live. Continue this momentum by posting any coverage you generate from the announcement.   

Highlight personal and company achievements

LinkedIn is the perfect place to share job promotions and personal achievements. Use LinkedIn Stories to highlight these wins. On an executive’s LinkedIn Stories, you can also share personnel changes and moves highlighting achievements and accolades. Connections will see how proud a business leader is of their staff, for example, and positive encouragement motivates and inspires any team to exceed expectations. 

How will you use LinkedIn stories? Let me know on Twitter @colleeno_pr.   

How Paid And Organic Social Media Work Together In PR

Social media marketing and PR have become inseparable. That’s because social media plays a large role in most consumer and B2B PR programs. Of course, the right strategy is key to success, but for amplifying or growing the results of a strong PR program, the best option is usually a blend of paid and organic social media. Fully 86% of B2B marketers combine paid and organic social tactics. Here’s why.

Paid vs. organic social

Organic content uses free social media tools to share posts, photos, videos, and stories with the people who already follow a given brand or individual. The only way social media users can see posts organically is if a brand’s followers share its content or they’re following hashtags used by a brand to attract those searching for a specific topic. 

Organic social is the best way to begin to establish a connection with relevant audiences, but it has other benefits.

  • There is no cost to use it

  • Builds brand awareness

  • Extends the reach of thought leadership content 

  • Helps build a community around common topics or interests 

  • Develops campaigns with custom hashtags 

The reach of organic social sharing, however, is self-limiting. That’s where paid social media programs come in. While organic posting is key to reputation and relationship-building, algorithms that drive social content have made the paid social necessary for many campaigns. Its benefits are obvious.

  • Paid social connects brands with audiences that would not have discovered its content 

  • Paid campaigns can reinforce or amplify the message of organic social content

  • B2B companies can use audience targeting to reach industry decision-makers 

Integrating paid and organic social programs 

Organic social media reach is dwindling across most platforms. Organic posts on Facebook only reach about 5.5% of brand followers since Facebook’s algorithm decides which posts users see, and in what order. Here are some tips on finding the equilibrium of paid and organic social tactics for your social media strategy.

Where to post

The balance of paid and organic social media in a given program should be determined according to the social platform involved. The mix should vary according to program goals, and you may choose to incorporate more paid media one platform while organic may better suit another. Promoting a webinar can benefit more from paid posts on LinkedIn compared to Facebook, and audience engagement can thrive on Twitter when using organic tools such as polls and hashtags. People visit different social platforms for different reasons, and knowing which content to share and where to engage will play to the strength of each platform. 

Serve targeted ads based on organic audience

By using organic social media to build relationships with a given audience, you gain data insights about them. Information such as job title, age, and location can help build ads that are as relevant as possible. 

The beauty of social platforms is that they create lookalike audiences according to the data that closely matches a preferred audience segment. This could be webinar registrants or people who have actively engaged with brand content. A lookalike audience consists of people with similar demographics but are new to the brand and thus very valuable.

All promotion isn’t equal

Ads aren’t always the way to go – a captivating, creative organic post can generate buzz and compel your followers to share. In our view, organic social is most useful for amplifying an announcement, namely earned media coverage, change in leadership, or a new partnership. Use relevant hashtags and tag companies, people, or media outlets to ramp up impressions engagement. That being said, if the reach of organic posts isn’t meeting your goals, then you may want to back your content with spend.

An organic post that performs well can be “boosted” by paying to get it in front of more people – one of the benefits of marrying paid and organic social. Boosting is the perfect introduction to paid social and is low-risk, since there’s no need to produce an ad designed for a specific campaign. A running of your weekly or monthly analytics report will include likes, conversions, and profile views to determine the top-performing posts for boosting.

A/B testing

Before finalizing the social media budget allocation, most of us will run different versions of an ad in front of a small audience to see which performs better. You will want to test copy, graphics, ad placement, and audience targeting before deciding on a set budget in order to maximize the campaign’s effectiveness. You can also test organic content performance by setting up manual split tests and tracking results by using UTM parameters.

Optimize for success

A winning B2B social media strategy will typically include both paid and organic social media elements. Determining which approach works best for a given brand will take some testing and adjustment, but once you find what works, the results will be well worth it.

How (And Why) PR Pros Should Use TikTok

There’s a new social media app taking the world by storm. It’s called TikTok. Ever heard of it? 

Seriously, TikTok has been on the PR radar for a long time, and most recently it made news for different reasons. Media interest peaked over the weekend with reports that a deal involving TikTok, Oracle and Wal-Mart would avert a ban of the app in the U.S. The agreement is still tentative, but it’s meant to resolve the simmering controversy about the app as a potential security risk.

TikTok’s users, however, don’t seem concerned. The app has surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Snapchat, with 1.65 billion downloads to date, more than 30 million active monthly users in the U.S., and more than 500 million active users worldwide. TikTok is currently the sixth largest social network in the world. 

What started out as a Snapchat-like platform for younger generations of social media influencers and general users for sharing video snippets has grown into an essential platform for marketing and advertising. Whether a brand’s focus is fitness, fashion, food, or anything else, TikTok can connect it to a highly desirable and sometimes elusive audience. 

Why TikTok? 

New and creative social channels should be key elements for consideration in any PR plan, especially for brands aiming to reach a younger audience. TikTok is essential for this demo, as 60% of U.S. users are between the ages of 16 and 24. The app is intrinsic to its users’ lives;  the average Tik Tok visitor opens the app more than eight times per day, spending about 46 minutes on it daily.  

One of the most appealing aspects of TikTok, especially for those younger users, is that everyone is a creator. It’s open to all formats, and there are no distinct guidelines or rules on how the app should be used. Creativity is the only rule. Videos range from singing and dancing, to comedy, reaction videos and challenges. On the flip side, users can find more serious content, with videos focused on topics like politics, climate change, and the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Depending on individual users’ personalized recommendations, TikTok plays videos instantly upon the app’s opening, immediately drawing viewers in. This is TikTok’s most central feature – its AI-driven algorithm that shows videos based on user preferences. This same feature helps guarantee that a brand’s videos will reach its target audience – an important distinction TikTok has over other social media platforms. 

TikTok is a powerful brand marketing platform

TikTok makes it easier than ever to promote a brand – reaching the right people in the right ways. Over the last year, it introduced self-serve advertising platforms, including branded hashtags, video ads, branded lenses and much more. Based on a company’s wants and needs, there are a variety of formats to choose from. 

Branded hashtags drive discovery

Branded hashtags encourage users to create videos with a certain hashtag, often accompanied by a specific song or dance move. Videos with branded hashtags are not only available in a user’s normal feed, but also in the Trending section of the Discover tab, making these videos widely viewable. In fact, with TikTok, users rely heavily on hashtags to navigate the app. It’s “For You” discovery page engages far more than Instagram’s “Discover” page, for example.

Pepsi’s #SwagStepChallenge, a great example of a branded hashtag campaign, spread like wildfire on TikTok, as well as on Twitter and Youtube. The challenge became the fastest hashtag challenge using a branded effect to reach one million video creations globally and a whopping 95.5 billion views through user generated content (UGC) on the platform.

Video ads for the win

Video ads are understandably the most common format for ad and marketing purposes on TikTok, with brand takeovers, in-feed videos and top-view videos being popular. Brand takeovers are pop-up ads that typically last 3-5 seconds. They can be videos, GIFs, or images that include links to a landing page. TikTok only allows one brand to take over a category per day, but it guarantees five million impressions, a promise that may well be worth the investment for many. Additionally, brands get immediate attention, as the ads display upon opening the app. 

Branded lenses jump on trends

With branded lenses, brands partner with TikTok to create 2D and 3D lenses for users to “try on” and share. Branded lenses also let companies land in the Trending section of the Discover tab for ten days. According to Prowly, about 64% of TikTok users have tried facial filters and lenses, making it another valuable option for marketers. 

Influencer partnerships spice it up

For any marketer wanting to incorporate TikTok into a brand PR strategy, TikTok influencers are essential. As on other platforms, TikTok influencer marketing ads partner brands with creators to generate and share sponsored content. When the partnership is authentic and the creators are given freedom, these partnerships can be highly successful. 

For example, David Dobrik, one of the most popular social media influencers, with more than 22 million TikTok followers, partnered with Chipotle for its Lid Flip Challenge, a Cinco de Mayo campaign to promote the chain’s free delivery for digital orders. Chipotle discovered that Gen Zers order delivery more than any other segment, making them the perfect audience. To participate in the challenge, users only needed a phone and a Chipotle burrito bowl. 

According to AdAge, in just the first six days of the Lid Flip Challenge with David Dobrik, 111,000 videos were submitted and the promotion garnered a record-breaking digital sales day for the chain, driving app downloads and delivery among the key Gen Z audience.

But Can It Work for B2B?

B2B companies might be hesitant about TikTok because it’s so consumer-oriented, but they shouldn’t count it out. Companies wanting to reach business customers have the same end goal of reaching and forming lasting relationships with their target audiences. So, for B2B companies, how can TikTok help? 

With any brand, it’s important to feel approachable. Stronger relationships can be formed when customers feel connected to your brand on a more personal level. TikTok users want the platform to stay a creative, authentic channel for human-to-human interaction. Do you have a CEO with a unique story? Maybe how he/she established the business, or maybe insights on building a strong culture at work? Sharing tips or short stories in visually appealing ways can engage viewers and make lasting impact. For example, marketer Adrian Brambila shares his success story on TikTok by explaining how he established himself as a marketing leader, and to date, his videos have generated more than 4.7 million likes. 

TikTok is overflowing with innovative, fresh ideas, so brands must be clever with their posts to be noticed. Even for brands thought of as “boring” that is doable. For example, just before the global shutdown in March, The Washington Post began sharing content on TikTok, but they weren’t posting videos of daily headlines. Rather, the outlet shared relatable videos on the daily struggles and adjustments of working from home, incorporating popular trends. They must be doing something right, because the content has generated more than 25.8 million likes. 

Staying relevant, influential and top-of-mind is important for all brands, whether B2B or B2C. Keeping up with content trends is one way of doing that, and some of the best, most buzzworthy ideas online are shared on TikTok. Viral TikTok videos make great templates for high-performing content on other platforms as well – Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. 

With TikTok, B2B companies can connect and engage with more of their audience and show prospects the more creative and personal side of their business. B2B companies not leveraging the app may be missing out on opportunities. 

TikTok: making connections and driving lasting impacts 

TikTok is the first app of its kind. What separates it from other social media platforms is the creativity it affords users. It lets them be both creators and viewers, and exposes them to an endless stream of personalized content. More importantly, the sense of community on TikTok is what draws users in and keeps them coming back for more. It will continue to play a key role in the PR efforts of brands appealing to younger users. If you’re looking to engage with the elusive teen or young 20s demographic, chances are you will find them on TikTok.

20 Retail Journalists You Should be Following on Twitter in 2020

Twitter is an invaluable resource for both PR pros as well as top media and influencers. Love it or hate it, when news breaks, Twitter is the go-to source. It’s also a great platform for relationship-building for anyone in public relations or content marketing.

This week we’re thinking about retail and e-commerce. In a post-COVID-19 world, the retail space may look drastically different from what we currently know. Unfortunately, much of the news is bad — store closings, bankruptcies, CEO turnover, and more. But there are also stories about innovation, new retail startups, and the strength of ecommerce. Every PR professional should have a curated network of journalists for the latest news, trends, and insights. Check out the list below of 20 great retail reporters you should be following to stay ahead of breaking news.    

Tonya Garcia @tgarcianyc

Tonya covers retail and e-commerce for MarketWatch. Reporting for MarketWatch, she also follows major retailers stocks and how they impact retailers and their businesses. 

Nathaniel Meyersohn @nmeyersohn

Nate covers breaking news to original stories, at CNN, in retail analyzing trends that impact major retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Target and Best Buy to name a few. 

Steven Barr @steven_j_barr 

Steve contributes to Forbes as a senior retail leader focusing on emerging trends and the evolution of consumer markets. 

Dan Berthiaume @DBerthiaumeCSA

Chain Store Age is a great source of news for retail news for smaller retailers like supermarkets, drug stores, department stores, etc and Dan is their tech editor reporting on how tech is impacting the retail space. 

Arthur Zackiewicz @arthurzaczkiew1

Arthur is the executive editor at Women’s Wear Daily where he publishes breaking news, industry insights and data reports around major retailers. 

Aine Cain @ainecain

Aine is a retail reporter at Business Insider covering major retailers like Walmart, Target, Costco, Home Depot and Target. Her focus is reporting on stories about how labor issues affect retail employees. 

April Berthene @ByAprilBerthene

Are you more interested in e-commerce and technology? April at Internet Retailer is your go to reporter! 

Madeline Stone @MadelineLStone

Business Insider is a great outlet for in-depth retail news and Madeline is BI’s senior reporter covering consumer-related stories focusing on e-commerce, fast-food, department stores and the recent downfall of shopping malls. 

Suzanne Kapner @SuzanneKapner

Looking for news on your favorite department stores? Suzanne at WSJ is  covering news pertaining to Macy’s, J.C.Penny and Neiman Marcus. 

Mary Hanbury @MarySHanbury

Mary at Business Insider, reports on Big Box retailers, retailers filing for bankruptcy and most recently how COVID-19 is affecting brick and mortar shops.

Anna Hansel @ahhensel

At Digiday, Anna covers retail and internet marketing focusing on digital strategies of big-box retailers and DTC startups. 

Khadeeja Safdar @khadeeja_safdar

Khadeeja has been writing for WSJ since 2013 where she covers US based retail companies, including brick-and-mortar chains and e-commerce. 

Phil Wahba @philwahba

Phil covers consumer goods, retail, and restaurants for Fortune, focusing on how large companies like Walmart and JCPenney are changing to stay relevant in the industry. 

Adrianne Pasquarelli @SheLikesToShop

Since 2015, Adrianne has been covering marketing strategies for retailers for AdAge. Her stories focus on how retailers and their marketing efforts impact the industry. 

Kate Taylor @Kate_H_Taylor

Kate covers a wide variety of retail topics at Business Insider from restaurants, food, beverage and retail for companies like McDonald’s, Starbucks, and Chick-fil-a. 

Hayley Peterson @hcpeterson

Hayley writes breaking news, analysis, and investigative pieces on large public and private companies like Amazon, Walmart, department stores, and major grocery chains. 

Matthew Boyle @bizboyle

Matt covers retail at Bloomberg News focusing on big-box retailers like Amazon, Walmart and their impact on larger retail trends. 

Lauren Thomas @laurenthomas

At CNBC, Lauren is your source for everything retail. She covers major retail trends and news and even covers a bit of real estate news!

Jason Del Rey @DelRey 

Jason has been covering commerce at Recode for the past six years. He focuses especially on news pertaining to Amazon, e-commerce and how tech is transforming brick-and-mortar.  

Ben Unglesbee @Ben_Unglesbee 

Ben reports for Retail Dive, an industry go-to, covering retail policy, finance and bankruptcy and how these trends are affecting major corporations. 

Any retail journalists I should be following? Let me know @ColleenO_PR.

3 Social Platforms Tech PR Pros Need To Know

If you’re in tech PR, you try to know a lot about every social media platform. You have to — either for research, to promote clients, for personal branding, or to connect with journalists. Still, it’s a challenge to keep up with the latest social sites and services, because every day brings something new. With that in mind, here are three up-and-coming social media platforms tech PR pros need to know and use in 2019.

3 social platforms tech PR pros need to know

TikTok

The Atlantic’s Taylor Lorenz has an excellent explainer on TikTok, so check that out. But, in a nutshell TikTok is a short-form video social network for Gen Z. Users post 15-second clips and the content ranges from vlogs to (mostly) musical performances to brain teasers, and beyond. I’ve seen everything on TikTok (follow me at @bravacadotoast). The content is hilarious and weird. For tech PR pros, TikTok is an opportunity to research content preferences among younger audiences and identify nascent memes that could be useful for marketing campaigns. For tech brands interested in a unique marketing channel, it’s also ripe with potential. TikTok campaigns have built-in PR value simply because the platform is sexy right now. Take advantage.

Imgur

Imgur is a personal favorite. Look at the site. It looks like someone vomited memes on a page. That’s what makes it great. It’s an image and photo hosting and sharing site that has actually been around for 10 years. At one point it was a platform for image hosting, and the social piece grew out of that years later, popularized through Reddit. According to SimilarWeb, Imgur gets 500 million monthly visits. It’s insanely popular and a great place for tech PR pros and brands to research memes, get inspired by content and understand what young men in particular are thinking. From the always incredible Kerry Flynn: “More than 80 percent of users are male, and more than 50 percent are millennial male.” As a more tactical use case, it can host press images for you if you’re in a bind. But make sure to only use it to host something you are okay with being public.

Houseparty

Launched three years ago, Houseparty is another video-powered social network, but with a different use case. I like Business Insider’s description of it as “a group video-chat app most easily described as FaceTime but with more people.” Users are typically in the early 20s, so they’re a bit older than TikTok. While its popularity has stalled a little as wealthier competitors like Snapchat and Facebook have taken it on as competitors, the user numbers are still impressive. Today Houseparty says 20 million people spend an hour on the service every day. That’s a captivated and engaged audience that tech PR brands — particularly on the consumer side — can potentially connect with through influencer marketing or even sponsored chats. Tech PR pros need to use the service to identify opportunities and guide clients who want unique activations.
What sites did I miss? Let me know on Twitter at @chrisharihar.

Who Is Fighting Fake News? [article]

Web 2.0 has radically changed journalism and public relations, two industries that rely on the free exchange of information and ideas. But one highly undesirable outcome is “fake news.” It’s a war of information being waged on keyboards and in the cloud and it affects all of us. The online communications revolution has unleashed a Pandora’s box of disturbing problems that threaten privacy, democracy — even the concept of objective truth.

But whose responsibility is it to fight fake news? If the big tech platforms try to identify and sift out hate- mongering posts or users, then they become editors. If big tech chooses to sift out bad news sites, then they become publishers. Another dilemma for the platforms is that both human intervention and technology algorithms have disadvantages, so in a way, they ‘re in a trial-and-error phase.

The tech giants

Alphabet

Alphabet’s Google News Initiative earmarked $300 million in the war against misinformation. So, what does that entail? They will work to curb bad information during breaking news by attempting to prioritize accurate and legitimate news. The initiative will create a subscription tool for consumers, so readers can safely subscribe to their favorite news outlets through Google. It also includes the development of educational programs for young journalists and programs to assist the growth of reputable news outlets. It’s their way of supporting journalism into the future, which is a good thing.

YouTube

After catching heat for a Parkland shooting conspiracy video, Google’s YouTube took steps to thwart the promotion of extremist or misinformation videos. Any time YouTube finds a questionable piece of video content, it will add a text box linking pertinent “factual” information supplied by Wikipedia. The platform will label government-funded videos as such. It’s also launching a media literacy campaign as part of its larger strategy.

Facebook & Twitter

Even before the Cambridge Analytica controversy, Facebook had come under fire for its role in featuring fake news that may have influenced the 2016 presidential election. For well over a year, Facebook has been trying various tools to curb the spread of misinformation. In February, the platform retooled its algorithm to deprioritize paid publishers’ content.
Now, Facebook is considering vetting news organizations. This comes in contrast to the approach taken by Alphabet, which warns that social platforms shouldn’t become news editors. Meanwhile, Twitter is attempting to weed out fraudulent news outlets manually. It has recently been fighting spambots and retooling its automated posting options.
But the big tech companies aren’t the only ones fighting fake news.

The startups

What’s interesting about the fake news crisis is that some tech startups are also fighting misinformation. Newsguard Technologies will in effect create a ratings system, or as they put it, a “nutrition label” for news sources. They say that a battalion of journalists will be vetting the legitimacy of news sites. Another software startup, the UK-based Serelay, claims to be able to find fraudulent online photos by combing through the metadata and the pixels to detect manipulation. Of course, for every AI company charging ahead to parse out misinformation, there’s likely an AI company working to spread misinformation.

Government regulation?

If Facebook and Google decide it’s not their job to regulate the content, and tech startups cannot do the job, then the government might decide to do so. Despite protests, the Malaysian parliament passed a fake news bill. The bill will punish the malicious spread of false news with a fine of up to $170,o00 or up to six years in prison. Such harsh government censorship of media, however, is unlikely to work in the U.S.

The truth is we have unleashed a beast of sorts with Web 2.0. In some ways the billionaire creators of this social media revolution have lost control of their creation – and are scrambling to regain it. Time will tell which actors and methods prove effective in the battle to preserve journalistic integrity. One thing is certain: the fight against fake news is not only a technical problem, but is also a moral and ethical one.

Improving PR Content Strategies

Content is fire. Social media is gasoline,” according to writer Jay Baer, and most in public relations would agree. The trick is how to create content that is “fire” and will fire up audiences about your brand. We look at an eight-point plan that will help any team create, produce and promote meaningful content.

Bringing an earned-media sensibility to the effort increases the credibility for some content that is overly commercial, badly targeted, or stuffed with obvious keywords.

Best Practices For PR Content

All good content marketing initiatives begin by getting everyone on the team in agreement with campaign goals.

Set content marketing goals

Start by knowing who your audience is and what they care about.

Then ask how reaching the audience through targeted content can help move the needle. “The needle” can mean drawing more customers to a retail website, lead generation, attracting donors or investors to a cause, or increasing app downloads. With a clear set of marketing goals, the team can more easily determine what the content output will consist of and better show how content marketing can help meet business objectives.

As with any PR or marketing campaign – leadership needs to know how it will impact the bottom line. What are the cost and revenue metrics that will make the program meet goals? For some brands, seeing content marketing as a way to reduce customer acquisition costs is a powerful motivator.

Define challenges and opportunities

Speak to others and help develop a clear short list of challenges, which can include anything from competition in the marketplace to overcoming a dated or muddled brand image. As well, offer up opportunities. Brand opportunities can include things like a truly differentiated USP or a seasoned management team with a stellar reputation. Whatever the list may look like, it is up to the content team to create stories that help conquer the challenges and leverage the opportunities. We like the way American Express has built its online publication  Open Forum, directed at small businesses. The brand has many small business initiatives and has been very good at providing a ton of good info for companies who may not have initially thought that Amex was the appropriate credit card partner for them.

Develop a sound content strategy

Content marketing costs 62% less than traditional marketing and generates about three times as many leads, according to DemandMetric, but many brands still have a haphazard approach to strategy. Here are the important factors to consider when planning custom content. Focus on who you’re really targeting. Often a B2B marketer may think they are targeting CEOs with their content, only to find that it’s actually those who report into the C-level who read and vet things to put before leadership. It may seem subtle, but it does affect how teams create effective content.

Using a custom content partner like HubSpot can help better define your audience and provide actionable assistance to increase readership. Learn what kind of content resonates best with the target – blog posts, in-depth “how-to” downloads like this, white papers, e-books etc. The strategy should also include design elements for custom content, subject matter and, importantly professional editorial guidelines, like any publication.

Appoint a content manager and team

It may take a village to plan and create a great content program, but it’s best to assign responsibility for the effort. Aim for an editor and one or two writers, if possible. The goal is to task great writers and to make posting a “real job” within the company and not a thrown-together afterthought where folks are scrambling to put out a blog post or keep to a social media posting schedule. Nothing creates better PR writers than a rigid writing schedule. People assigned to content creation and marketing are performing a very important service to the brand and should think of it as a plum assignment.

Calenderize a content schedule – but be flexible

Once you know your target and have defined editorial guidelines, coming up with content ideas should be less challenging. We regularly look at our own internal metrics to see what topics “pull” the most with our readers. This helps greatly in setting a content schedule. There are traditional seasonal and holiday “hot topics” as well as evergreen ones with a fresh spin. And, as important as a content schedule is, we also value flexibility to take advantage of breaking news which can offer up great opportunities to demonstrate PR expertise on a variety of topics. Once content editorial has been defined, it’s important to determine how often the team will post and on what platforms. Typically, a 1000-word blog post per week is effective, with scheduling of downloadable e-books and newsletters slotted quarterly to keep pipeline varied and full.

Create a content promotion plan

Here’s where the all-important gasoline gets added to the fire. There’s no point in publishing a bunch of terrific content that no one sees, so a crucial part of content development is promotion.  To begin with, most smart marketers today employ a professional content marketing tool that offers products, assistance and analytics to turn any content effort into a well-oiled machine. But true success goes beyond simply retaining a firm. The brand needs to promote its efforts on applicable key social platforms, maximizing the targeting capabilities of Facebook for B2C visibility, using LinkedIn, which is influential for B2B marketing, and Twitter, which is useful for reaching business influencers and journalists. We also recommend a strong backlinking effort to ensure readers get to and from information in our posts. Additionally, linking relevant content within company newsletters and other output helps draw a larger audience. Other best practices include seeking quotes from influencers important to the brand’s target, emailing content directly to sources who are quoted, and creating content “snippets” that can be posted on social platforms and communities for days and weeks after the original publication.

Scale content through smart repurposing

Today’s consumer connects across a broad spectrum of social channels and savvy marketers realize that any new piece of content can be repurposed in several different ways. We recommend compiling blog posts into an ebook, for example, or turning a byline article into a how-to video for YouTube or slide presentation for SlideShare. We also like to package terrific client content and use it to interest conference and event planners in potential speakers. With so many established sites such as Mic, Quartz and others hungry for well-written thought pieces, content developed for one platform can reach exponentially greater audiences via such outlets.

Maintain high quality standards

Whether you’re creating a single piece of content per week or scheduling more often, set and adhere to producing the same level of quality with each piece. As teams build an audience, there will be a level of expectation and you don’t want to disappoint. Quality checks might include keeping the content fresh and interesting, peppering in visuals and making sure that grammar and syntax are correct – remember 10% of readers don’t scroll through articles at all. It’s helpful to develop an editorial checklist like this to make sure all boxes are ticked. However, even though a checklist is important to check on quality issues, its equally important that each post reflect the brand’s personal voice. The most visually appealing, well-edited blog will not attract an audience if its perceived as dull or inauthentic.