Fortune 500 Companies Experiment On The Edge Of Social Media

Posted by on 11:39 pm in social media | 0 comments

When Absolut Vodka launched its Limited Edition Absolut Unique collection in Argentina, the Pernod Ricard brand took a particularly unique approach: the company turned to WhatsApp. Woonky, the company’s South American advertising agency, planned an exclusive launch party for the drink and made two invitations available to the general public. To win the invitations, users had to talk their way past a virtual bouncer called Sven. The bouncer was given an account on Facebook but users could text him using the app. The idea was to build awareness of the product and develop close communication between the brand and potential buyers. Faced with a doorman who wasn’t going to be easily persuaded, users got creative. They pleaded, they flattered and they attempted to bribe. They edited videos, wrote songs and one person even tried to pretend she was the queen of Holland. The result was a ton of coverage for the new product, 600 new contacts, three days of constant communication with users and more than 1,000 images, videos and audio messages created to persuade Sven to let them in. HashSlush, an online magazine for creatives, called the promotion “the first Whatsapp marketing campaign.” It’s hard to say whether that’s true but the title does suggest a dearth of brands on the multi-billion dollar communications platform. While brands know now that they have to be on Facebook, Whatsapp’s parent company, companies are still uncertain about how texting can be helpful at a time when images are dominating engagement in social media. It’s not just Whatsapp that’s challenging brands as they experiment with other social media platforms, however. A number of platforms, old and new, are still attracting some of the world’s largest companies — and they’re using them in some surprising ways. Flickr Is Now A Platform For Corporate Communications Flickr is one of the oldest social media platforms on the Web. Launched in 2004 and bought by Yahoo a year later for $35 million, the site was intended as a way for users to share pictures. Those users included brands who saw it as a more serious way of building engagement than MySpace. Years of neglect by Yahoo, however, meant that the platform lost much of its casual users to Facebook. Mobile photographers went to Instagram and many of the remaining artistic photographers have drifted towards 500px. Despite a revitalization of the site under Marissa Meyer, which has included more storage and a more user-friendly mobile app, Flickr remains a long way behind its younger and more dynamic rivals. Few companies now use the site for promotional purposes but some are using it for corporate communications. The Facebook page of WalMart, for example, is entirely consumer-facing. Posts and images mostly tell users what they can expect to find in the stores though a few also show staff and stores, and appear to aimed at recruitment. The company’s biggest Flickr page, however, is corporate. Its total of more than 1,500 images show grand openings, its community work and even its fleet of delivery trucks. Mostly though, the pictures show its shareholders meetings. The set of images depicting the 2013 shareholder meeting contains 355 photos including addresses by Tom Cruise and Hugh Jackman. Walmart Corporate shows the big guns on Flickr. Home Depot used a similar strategy but even this...

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The Psychology Of Successful Fortune 500 Social Media Images

Posted by on 1:52 pm in social media | 0 comments

That the pictures posted on Nike’s Facebook page receive thousands of shares each should come as no surprise. With a potential reach of nearly 17 million, the company has a huge audience only a small fraction of which need to see, like or share an image for Nike to have engagement figures in the thousands. What is surprising though is that some images do so much better than others. The image above, for example, was posted on Nike’s timeline in August 2013 and was one of the most successful the company has placed on Facebook. It garnered over 80,000 likes and nearly 6,500 shares. A different image posted at the end of the year showing joggers running towards a beautiful sunset however, generated fewer than 6,500 likes and just over 850 shares. Nike’s Facebook followers prefer shoes to sunsets. Both pictures are colorful, attractive and professionally shot by photographers hired by Nike or its advertising agency. The first contains no slogan or branding message. It focuses on the product and even Nike’s instantly recognizable logo is almost lost on the shoe. The second photo carries a timely quote that followers might want to share with their friends as the new year approaches. The product is barely visible but the logo is placed clearly on the image giving the company branding benefits when it’s shared. And yet in comparison to the earlier photo, Nike’s fans barely shared it at all. So what makes one image shareable, popular and successful while another barely makes a ripple? What are the ingredients of a successful social media image for large companies? And what sort of images should brands be producing if they want to generate the organic reach that social media promises? And Why Do We Like What We Like? Although plenty of studies have looked at how much users share posts on social media, few have examined the motivations behind those actions. One report conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group found that images were the objects most likely to be shared, and notes that people hit “share” or “like” only after careful consideration. They do it to largely to share useful information or to show support for causes they care about — and to show others exactly what they care about. 94% carefully consider how the information they share will be useful to the recipient. 84% share to support causes or issues they care about. 78% share information online because it lets them stay connected to people they may not otherwise stay in touch with. 73% share information because it helps them connect with others who share their interests. 69% share information because it allows them to feel more involved in the world. 68% share to give people a better sense of who they are and what they care about. 49% say sharing allows them to inform others of products they care about and potentially change opinions or encourage action. The inference of those results is that Nike’s followers care more about colorful running shoes and consider them more useful to their friends than the resolve to actually use them. That may be true but Nike’s most successful Facebook post doesn’t show any shoes at all. Nor does it contain any useful information. This picture of Brazilian soccer player Neymar picked up just short of 300,000 likes on Nike’s Facebook page and nearly 13,000 shares. The motivation for those actions had nothing to do with usefulness and everything to do with the second motivator that drives...

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Visual Hashtags, Big Brands

Posted by on 2:01 pm in content marketing | 0 comments

For more than fifty years, Charles Frost has been the name behind the American Express credit card. The “CF Frost” that appears at the bottom of the cards was an executive at Ogilvy & Mather in the 1960s, a time when “social media” was the newspaper that got passed around the bar during a liquid lunch. Recently though, Charles Frost has made a comeback and he’s shown that when it comes to the latest social media marketing platforms, he’s right up to date. In February 2014, American Express allowed people to track Charles Frost’s activities on Instagram. For two weeks, images tagged with the hashtag #CFFrost showed the cardholder’s activities. American Express’s 34,000 followers saw his platinum card pay for a $600 bill at a New York restaurant, buy first class tickets to Miami for a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway and give him access to NY Fashion week. Each of those actions, the total story of Charles Frost’s two weeks, was shown through images and captions, and made discoverable through a hashtag. The idea was to promote a credit card to an audience younger than people old enough to remember the sixties. “We saw this as a unique way to tell our brand story with a different lens and tone,” Mona Hamouly, vice president, social media communications at American Express told Clickz. “People come to Instagram for insider access or a behind the scenes look that gives them insight into the brand. We wanted to show how we facilitate the passions of our members.” The kinds of images shared during the campaign varied — and they varied surprisingly in their results. Pictures showing New York and Miami landscapes were popular but so were any picture that depicted the card itself. According to Hamouly, American Express did not have any specific goals when it created the campaign but over those two weeks, it did pick up about 1,000 new Instagram followers and the hashtagged images generated about 6,000 likes. The company was said to be “pleased” with the results. Visual hashtag campaigns aren’t new but American Express’s campaign stands out for its creativity. The company created a character and told his story in professional pictures posted on Instagram. The images were detailed and inviting, and the medium through which that story was told suited the campaign completely. Instagram’s followers are used to tracking lives through imagery. American Express used the features of Instagram that people find most attractive, and inserted its own form of product placement. Armani has been equally creative but instead of supplying images, it used Instagram as a source for crowdsourcing. As part of their Frames Of Life campaign, followers needed to add the #framesoflife hashtag to their tweets and when users visited the company’s Pinterest page, those pictures would appear alongside their frame styles. For the brand it was a powerful but easy way to show their products used in the real world by one set of customers on Instagram to another set of people on Pinterest who might well become customers in the future. Not all visual hashtag campaigns on social media are that sophisticated. But they don’t always need to be. The Rules For Competitions The simplest visual hashtag campaigns are competitions based on user-generated imagery. Users are invited to submit pictures and those...

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The Content500 Complete Guide To Visual Content For The Fortune 500

Posted by on 2:14 pm in content marketing, social media | 0 comments

The Web might not have been around for too long but it already has a clear direction: away from text and towards images. The first blog platforms invited users to write posts of 1,000 words or longer. Facebook’s smaller text field told people to talk less and update more. Twitter cut things down to 140 characters and the rise of Instagram and Pinterest have made clear that people want to stop typing altogether. They want to show not tell, look not read. You can see that trend in the figures. The fastest growing social media platforms over the last few years have all been image-based. Pinterest’s growth between 2011 and 2012 was over 1000 percent. It took less than eighteen months for Instagram to go from start-up to over 100 million users and a valuation of a billion dollars. Two factors have driven that move towards imagery. The first is the nature of the hardware. According to a recent Pew Research Report into the state of the Internet, two-thirds of US adults use their phones to go online, 58 percent do it on a smartphone and a third of cellphone owners say their phones are now their main way of accessing the Web, not a desktop or a laptop. As online usage has drifted towards smaller screens viewed for shorter periods, so publishers have turned increasingly towards content formats that can transmit the most information in the shortest period of time. That format is visual. The second factor has been the results that companies have seen as they turn towards images. Local businesses have found that 60 percent of consumers are more likely to contact them if their images appear in local search results. Engagement on Facebook posts increase by 37 percent if those posts contain pictures. An ROI study in 2012 found that 44 percent of respondents were more likely to engage with brands if they post photos rather than any other media. However they measure it, companies have consistently found that as users turn to mobile devices and spend more of their time on social media sites, posting pictures has proved to be more effective at building connections with customers than writing text. Different Pictures Tell Different Stories… And Trigger Different Responses The effect that those pictures have though varies depending on the type of image the company is using. Dan Tynski, VP of Business Development at, broadly divides imagery into two categories based on their ability on Google Plus to win +1s and comments or shares. Users, he argues, approve and comment on images for which they show “appreciation.” But they share pictures which chime with their own identity and which allow them some form of “self-expression.” Companies looking for likes, +1s or comments can even post branded content “as long as it’s amusing, aesthetically pleasing, inspirational, or communicative of another positive emotion.” One example that Tynski uses is a picture of a pyramid of Starbucks drinks that received nearly 1,500 “‘likes’ because it’s a fun, aesthetically pleasing picture.” That’s a strategy followed by many B2C brands especially in the drinks sector. Bud Light’s Facebook stream consists of little more than well-shot product pictures. Those images, appealing, attractive and heavily branded, generally pick up around 1,000 “likes” each. Bud Light wins “appreciation” for its appealing...

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The Art — And Imagery — Of Storytelling In Marketing

Posted by on 11:32 pm in content marketing | 0 comments

In 2004, Neville Isdell, Coca Cola’s then-CEO and Chairman, declared the giant drinks company “creatively bankrupt.” The company had no creative agenda and no comprehensive global strategy. It didn’t even have an international campaign ready to support the launch of its new Coke Red brand. Looking today at Coca Cola Journey, a website the company launched in 2012 as part of its Content 2020 plan, it’s hard to imagine that the conglomerate ever struggled with ideas or with brand marketing. The site is presented as a magazine with sections on food and culture, business and brands. Articles tell stories of the first African-American woman to appear in the company’s advertising, the employees who create the product, and even Coke-based recipes. In one section, photographer Scott Kelby takes readers behind the scenes of a shoot on board a US aircraft carrier. Nowhere in the story is Coca Cola or any of its products even mentioned. They don’t have to be. By placing the interview in its online magazine, the drinks company is associating itself with a symbol of American power and patriotism. The pictures and the text are telling a story: the story of Coca Cola is the story of America. That strategy of using storytelling to build brands, forge customer loyalty and turn a product into an experience that customers will remember and treasure isn’t new. But it has become increasingly important for companies using an ever-broadening range of channels to reach and retain customers around the world, and visual imagery is a vital part of that storytelling. Once Upon A Time The definition of a story in marketing can vary considerably. For some experts, it can be something as simple as the advertising image of a model wearing an article of clothing. That story is aspirational: “buy these clothes and you will be magically transformed into this character.” But it’s simple and fragile, a story that’s credible only for as long as the customer is willing to believe that he or she is only a short step from the ideal person shown in the picture. It may be the most common story told in advertising but as Ankit Oberoi of AdPushup shows, it can be beaten by something as plain as good copywriting: although Men’s Warehouse stresses the story of the ideal wearer, the conversion rate of the company’s website is 25 percent lower than that of rival Jos A. Bank where copywriting has a stronger role. For other marketing experts though, storytelling goes beyond presenting an image of the perfect use of a product; it reaches the very heart of the company. According to advertising executive Jim Signorelli, author of Storybranding: Creating Standout Brands Through the Purpose of Story: The truth about any brand is its foundational story. It’s the one about universal beliefs and values that customers will readily identify with. It’s the one that is propelled by a brand’s internal cause that is passionately and irrevocably adhered to. Many brands, Signorelli argues, have lost touch with that core story, that sense of who they are and what sets them apart from other businesses. Instead of talking in their own voice and hoping that customers will like them, they try to copy the customer’s voice in an attempt to please them, and end up with mimicry...

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Pinterest For Corporate Communications

Posted by on 3:21 pm in corporate communications | 0 comments

Businesses have finally figured out the strategy for Facebook. Build a page, place visual content and add the odd link. Buy ads to push that content through the platform’s EdgeRank filter and while you can’t expect direct sales, you can expect to pick up the kind of brand awareness previously provided by traditional advertising — combined with the engagement and viral spread that only social media can deliver. Pinterest, however, still has the corporate world confused. The site places a greater emphasis on sharing than on original content. Instead of writing about their lives, users pin on their boards pictures they find on the platform and across the Internet. That gives companies plenty of opportunity to obtain organic reach — provided they can post imagery that’s attractive enough to win pins and comments — but the demographics are heavily skewed; no less than 80 percent of the site’s 70 million followers are women. It’s not too surprising then that the most popular pins tend to be pictures of wedding favors, home décor, hair styles and even salads. For companies that sell consumer products of interest to women, Pinterest can provide rich pickings, helped by the ability to place price tags on product pictures. But for large firms and those that provide services, especially services that have little appeal to Pinterest’s specific demographic, the site can look like a challenging environment. Many, in fact, have chosen to stay away. Of the top 200 companies on the Fortune 500 we found that only 71 have opened Pinterest accounts. That might appear a healthy percentage but of those just 24 have actually used their accounts to create boards and pin images. The remainder have simply chosen to grab their company names before other people do. While they have websites and they may have Facebook pages, barely 12 percent of the world’s 200 biggest firms have seen a reason to manage a platform that only allows them to post pictures. They may be right. Of those that do manage their boards, even the most active have relatively few followers. Microsoft’s 21 boards, for example, have just over 2,000 followers, making it one of the most successful of the Fortune 500 firms on Pinterest. On Facebook, by contrast, the company has around 4 million likes. Even though its posts on Facebook won’t reach all of those potential followers, its potential organic reach is far higher than its maximum audience on Pinterest. And yet even though Pinterest appears to be a platform on which women primarily collect pictures of clothes and cushion covers, some companies are putting real effort into their Pinterest activity, posting not just their products but information about their firms. Comcast California Shows Remote Controls Comcast, for example, operates a number of regional boards of which the most active is Comcast California with fifteen boards and more than 300 pins. Some of those boards contain the kind of content you might expect to see from the company’s marketing department. Under Technology, followers can see pictures of the new remote control, embedded video from the company’s YouTube channel and shots of the Comcast X2 home screen. Those are content items that may be of interest to users, although few have actually been repinned or marked as favorites. Another board, called California Life, has...

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Using The Net Promoter Score For Employee Engagement And Review

Posted by on 3:46 pm in employee communications | 0 comments

Back in the early nineties, Fred Reichheld, a researcher at Bain & Company, launched a research project to find an efficient way to rate and monitor customer satisfaction. Traditional customer surveys, Reichheld argued, took too long to collate data and the results were rarely analyzed quickly enough to generate responses that could change behavior. Reichheld and his team found that for companies in mature, competitive industries, surveyors really needed to ask just one simple question: What is the likelihood that you would recommend Company X to a friend or colleague? Respondents were asked to provide the answer on a scale of 1 to 10. The higher the value, the greater the likelihood that they would give a recommendation. Reichheld then divided the respondents into three categories. Those who offered scores of 8, 9 and 10 were classed as “Promoters.” They were seen as loyal enthusiasts who would continue buying from the company and would urge their friends to do the same. “Passives” provided scores of 6 and 7. They were seen as “satisfied but unenthusiastic” and could be persuaded to switch supplier by a rival company. “Detractors” were those customers who provided scores of between 1 and 6. They were unhappy and might only have continued to buy from the company because they felt they had little choice. By deleting the scores supplied by Detractors from those supplied by Promoters, Reichheld was able to generate what he called a Net Promoter Score for each company. Average firms, he found, typically had positive Net Promoter Scores of between 5 and 10. In other words, their Promoters were only a little stronger than their Detractors. Industry leaders, however, would have Net Promoter Scores of between 50 and 85. In 2012, for example, USAA had the highest Net Promoter Score in the banking industry with 83. Amazon topped online marketing with a Net Promoter Score of 76. Companies in trouble have negative scores. According to The Ultimate Question, the book Reichheld later wrote to promote the system, Net Promoter Scores could explain between 20 percent and 60 percent of the variation in organic growth rates among competitors. “On average,” he argues, “an industry’s NPS leader outgrew its competitors by a factor greater than two times.” By simply asking customers how likely they were to recommend the company to their friends, businesses would be able to track the speed at which they would be able to grow. The Ultimate Follow-Up Question But having asked just one question, companies could go even further. After enquiring about the likelihood to recommend, Net Promoter Surveys ask a second, open-ended question that asks the respondent to explain why they would or wouldn’t be willing to promote the firm. In practice, top-down NPS surveys, which examine comparative attitudes towards several companies at the same time, typically have between 10 and 30 questions. Bottom-up NPS surveys, which focus on just one company and are often held shortly after a transaction, might have just two questions and a request to follow up. After buying a product in an Apple Store, for example, there’s a good chance that you’ll be asked to complete a quick Net Promoter Survey to help the company rate its service. The survey takes about five minutes. The system isn’t foolproof and it doesn’t work in every...

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You Don’t Have to Be Smart — or Original — to Win Engagement on Twitter

Posted by on 10:44 pm in social media | 0 comments

A survey of the most successful brands on Twitter has thrown up some interesting results — the kind of results that will have you banging your head against the desk and wondering you wouldn’t be better off conducting your firm’s corporate communications by pigeon carrier. The research, performed by Forrester Analyst Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, began with a list of the 100 brands on Twitter with the largest numbers of followers in February 2013. Using InfiniGraph, a statistical tool, Dr. Petouhoff then measured the engagement rates of each of those brands for the content posted on Twitter from February to March 2013. The results, based on an engagement rate measured by the numbers of retweets, clicks and replies, led her to five conclusions: Having more followers does not always mean more engagement. Posting a large volume of content does not always result in high engagement. Having a high Klout score does not always mean the highest engagement. Wednesday at 4pm is the most popular day for the most engaged brands to post but companies should “discover the best days in your industry to post the right content to get highest possible engagement.” Studying the content streams of your competitors — and understanding which posts are producing the best engagement rates — can help you to increase your own engagement. One of the recommendations was to look at “the type of content you are posting. Make sure it’s the type of content that get the highest engagement in your industry.” We’re also told that “part of high engagement is consistently posting engaging content.” The Good Advice Behind the Fluff It’s easy to dismiss this kind of bland fluffery that’s often churned out by social media experts, but hidden beneath the statements of the stunningly obvious was one important nugget of useful information. Dr. Petouhoff used a broad definition of brands that allowed YouTube and Instagram to top the popularity lists. It also allows Notebook of Love (@notebook) and Disneywords (@disneywords) to be rated as the timelines with the highest levels of engagement. Strictly speaking, neither of those timelines represent brands. Notebook of Love is a website, Twitter timeline and Facebook page that appears to do nothing more than post quotes, targeted at women, about love and relationships. It’s female equivalent of “Hot or Not.” Disneywords does have an association with a brand but the company itself doesn’t appear to be posting the content. The email address is a Yahoo account, and there’s no attempt to promote any product. Like Notebook of Love, the timeline is entirely uni-directional. There are no replies, although Notebook of Love does post the occasional retweet. And both timelines contain nothing more than quotes. The content on Disneywords is the wisdom of Disney films: The content from Notebook of Love seems to come from… well, it’s not quite clear where it comes from. Perhaps Hallmark cards: And yet both timelines are popular. Notebook of Love has more than 4.6 million followers; Disneywords has more than 2.3 million. And they get retweets and faves. For corporate communicators, the takeaway here isn’t the fluff about posting consistently or being sure to shoot out a tweet in the middle of the afternoon in the middle of the week. It’s that quotes work. People like them. They retweet them and they...

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Compliance Battles Effectiveness for Social Media Marketers

Posted by on 2:44 pm in social media | 0 comments

In July 2012, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings posted an update on Facebook that he might have considered to be nothing more than a note of thanks to his staff. Congratulating Ted Sarados and his content licensing team, Hastings declared that the company’s monthly viewing figures now exceeded 1 billion hours. “Keep going, Ted,” he said, “we need even more!” That figure, though, represented a 50 percent increase on the number of hours that the company had described in a January blog post and in its letter to shareholders – an improvement that had an effect on the company’s valuation. When Hastings made his post at 11 am Eastern time on July 3, 2012, his company’s stock was worth $70.45. At the close of trading the following day, Netflix was selling at $81.72. The SEC wasn’t amused. It opened an investigation into Hasting’s potential breach of disclosure obligations, using the post as an opportunity to review how companies were using social media to share financial information. The commission concluded that platforms like Twitter and Facebook could be used as channels for financial disclosure provided shareholders and investors were told in advance where they needed to look. Coming after the FTC’s .Com Disclosures report, it was a ruling that changed the way businesses need to think about social media. It’s no longer enough for a firm’s social media manager to simply tweet about the company’s success or pay an important influencer to mention one of their products. They also now have to consider the consequences of those posts and their obligation regarding disclosure and compliance. If You’re Not Compliant Now, You Will Be That’s a new responsibility for people using social media on behalf of their companies. “Until recently, I’d say awareness—and compliance—has been all over the map, particularly for those in non-regulated industries,” says Sara Hogan, Head of Marketing at CMP.LY, a firm helping companies to meet their disclosure obligations. “If brands and agencies haven’t yet put resources toward understanding and implementing disclosure and compliance obligations, they will soon. If they are still relying on ad hoc disclosure methods, hashtags, traditional social listening tools or screenshots it is time to look at a more comprehensive solution. The regulatory agencies have made it very clear that now is the time to get serious about these issues.” CMP.LY has a long list of ways in which it has helped businesses concerned about compliance and disclosure obligations on social media. They include providing disclosure in space-constrained formats such as tweets and status updates; implementing compliance procedures across brands, agencies, platforms and programs; and managing the use of third-party influencers and advocates who are promoting the brand. A company running a competition on a social media platform would be able to use CMP.LY to ensure that the link to enter the competition leads to a page carrying the content’s official rules. In early May, for example, Nissan Leaf posted this tweet: Today’s the last day for #ElectricTaxi Trivia! Be sure to submit your answers by 5pm CT for a chance to win!  The link, provided by CMP.LY, leads to a page containing the competition rules, the sort of small print that corporate legal departments consider necessary and social marketers would struggle to fit into a series of 140 character tweets. Other URLs...

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