I love learning something new every day, but when I can count new pieces of knowledge on two hands, that is a darn good day.
Two weeks ago I attended a PRSA event in which Erica Swallow was the featured speaker. She is accustomed to both sides of journalism – news and information, and strategic communication. Erica has an impressive resume: contributor to Forbes, The New York Times and Mashable – to name a few.
A key talking point in her presentation was about pitching through Twitter. One of the main reasons I was drawn to the PRSA event was because I had pondered the “Twitcher” concept before. I’ve noticed most editors, reporters and writers have a Twitter account. Some journalists are extremely active on it, too – as though it’s a side job. In fact, I know that some companies require all of its employees have individual Twitter accounts, like KCTV5, for example.
So, as these journalists take on added responsibilities, they put out content on their own personal accounts and are more likely to engage with readers through social media than they would through comments on their publications’ websites. Would I be overstepping my boundaries by pitching a reporter through Twitter?
I realize now that the answer is, “Of course not.” Unless it is clearly an account intended for personal use, dedicated to their non-work life, then “all systems go.” Based on my personal experience researching reporters, I’d bet about eight out of 10 journalists with active Twitter accounts post content relevant to their beats. It’s because they do want that feedback, and want to connect with people who will inspire their future stories.
As PR professionals, we seek journalists who will cover client news. Despite inevitable rejection, they still need us, too. They seek our resources – from exclusive statistics to subject matter experts and beyond. Besides, why else would they create helpareporter.com (HARO)?
Furthermore, “Twitcher” takes a more humanized approach to pitching, because you’re more transparent and relatable. Crafting a pitch within 140 characters also cuts down on jargon and unnecessary language. Media relations professionals understand pitches should be as short as humanly possible, and “Twitcher” is a smart way to appeal to reporters with short, attention grabbing story ideas.
Erica estimated that the response rate to email pitches is likely around 50 percent, while she has almost always received some sort of reply on Twitter. I encourage you to follow relevant reporters and try “Twitcher.” I’m excited to measure how it positively plays out for my clients.Tagged Erica Swallow, Hannah Babcock, media pitching, Media Relations, media relations tips, Morningstar Communications, Pitching Stories, PRSA, social media, Twitter
Watch out social media world, there’s a new app in town and its already the number one most downloaded free app on Apple’s App Store. Vine, from the creators of Twitter, is a video sharing app that allows users to share short, six-second video clips on Twitter and Facebook.
The people at Twitter discovered something magical when they limited tweets to only 140 characters, and they’ve done it again with Vine’s six-second limit. While some reacted by saying that six seconds was too short of an amount of time, we have to remember that the same reaction was made in regards to Twitter. In time, Twitter has grown to become one of the largest social platforms in the world and the brevity of tweets combined with their instantaneous sharing ability has allowed us to consume massive amounts of content and create a global platform for conversation in real time.
Setting a restriction on time, or characters, forces users to be more creative and concise with their content. The six-second time limit encourages users to create stories that capture a point or central message in an amount of time that is easy for others to watch, pay attention to, and share.
Vine’s touch screen capabilities allows for videos to be chopped into sections by simply lifting up your finger and pressing down again for the next segment or shot. This gives users the ability to capture various angles or even create stop motion shorts.
Here are a few examples of Vine videos I’ve created in my free time so you can see these features in action:
By tapping the screen every few steps up the hill, I created a sense of motion that takes the viewer right along with me. Then I sat at the top for about fifteen minutes, taking a snapshot of the same angle every minute or so. The final product is a sunset at the top of a hill, all captured in less than six seconds.
Here is one more to show how shooting from different angles can create a 360 degree view:
Vine adds a new dimension to Twitter and the social world as a whole by making video sharing simple and concise, allowing content creators to quickly take video in a creative way that tells a story or shares a current event.
Brands have already jumped onto the Vine bandwagon. How would you use Vine?
You can download Vine for iPhone at the App Store, here.Tagged eland, korab, Korab Eland, Morningstar Communications, social media, Tips, Twitter, Vine, Vine App, Vine Tips
More and more companies are taking to the Twittersphere in hopes of further engaging with key audiences and heightening visibility. Social media is an important part of a comprehensive marketing program, but some brands are much better at it than others.
I recently came across an infographic posted by Ragan online. It has some helpful statistics to help maximize your company’s tweets. Here are a few highlights:
The holiday vacation is over and 2013 is in full swing. The New Year always brings with it a certain feeling of renewed vigor and optimism. This year is no exception and it’s easy to see why. Here are a few good reasons for marketing and communications professionals to be enthusiastic about the year ahead:
It will be interesting to see how the industry continues to evolve and grow in 2013. What do you predict will be the biggest marketing and communication trend this year?Tagged Marketing, Michelle Boyd, Morningstar Communications, online marketing, social media
In contrast, the “Netflix amendment” to the Video Privacy Protection Act was met with enthusiasm from the online movie service’s users who have yearned for the ability to share their viewing habits via Facebook.
With polar opposite responses from users, what do the new social policies of Instagram and Netflix have to do with each other?
They both give signs that 2013 will be defined by the power of the consumer.
Instagram and Netflix have realized traditional word of mouth as one of the most successful means of advertising. That’s the motivation behind the companies’ end-of-year policy changes.
For years, Instagram-ers have been creating ads without realizing that’s what they’re doing. Every time users post filtered pictures of their Starbucks Frappuccino, it’s an advertisement for Starbucks.
The power lies in the genuine nature of the ad; the picture is backed by the personal recommendation of someone the viewer is personally connected to. All this realization by Instagram means is those personal “ads” are now worth something to businesses that are paying attention.
The same is true for Netflix. Commercials for movies and the online-viewing service lack the personal connection consumers find from a friend’s recommendation.
So what does this mean for consumers? We have all the power.
Embrace your new role as personal recommender. Be a brand advocate for the places or products you love. Don’t be afraid to post pictures to Instagram – think of each picture as your personal endorsement for the product.
At first glance, all of these new privacy changes might seem like a huge intrusion on the personal lives of consumers. If we look harder though, these companies are really giving us the biggest voice we’ve ever had in the online world.
This isn’t your typical 2013 blog post, folks.
Everyone is blogging about how companies can prepare for the New Year, whether it be embracing new technology, adopting new practices, etc. Instead, I want to share some thoughts on how Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram can step up their games in 2013. While these social media network giants probably won’t read this, here are some ways they can better engage and serve users:
Note: I’m sorry to all you Pinterest lovers. I am aware this network can be extremely addicting and time-consuming, so I have been trying to refrain from it despite my creating an account over the summer. I know, I know. I’m missing out on all the fancy art projects and delicious recipes, right? Perhaps one of these days…
By the way, according to a December 2012 social media report by Nielsen, Pinterest boasted the greatest increase in the number of audience members and time spent interacting with its boards. However, I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that Facebook is still the largest, most-visited social networking site.
There have been instances when I’m killing time on Facebook, and I think to myself, “I wonder if anyone has seen X movie in theaters yet, or if anyone bought Y’s new album?”
Facebook should allow people the option to search for key words they want to know more about. So, I realize this would somewhat be ripping off Twitter, but it would be different because users would be filtering through friends only. Facebook revealed that any given post (whether by an individual or company) reaches approximately 16 percent of its audience. If Facebook added this extra search option, that percentage could increase, based on your friends’ and fans’ interests and how you cater to them.
Another thing – I was thrilled when the timeline came out. I had always wanted to look back on what I was saying when I first created a Facebook account as a high school student in 2007. However, it would be nice to have an easy-to-access calendar to seek out past interactions rather than having to scroll and scroll to get there.
When national news explodes in the U.S., I’m anxious to see whether other countries are talking about it. When my favorite professional athlete pulls off a ridiculous play, I want to see if another distant city recognizes my pro sports team. Not only would it be easier to check these other locations I may be interested in, but I could also compare the trend rankings across the board.
I’m impressed with LinkedIn’s upgrades to users’ profiles. It looks much more modern and polished. I applaud the people of LinkedIn, because the new layout just might attract users to interact more often. It’s important for LinkedIn to stay fresh, and I think they need to make these kinds of “look and feel” changes more than any other network to keep people coming back. Some professionals look at LinkedIn as a chore, especially if they’re happy with their careers and aren’t seeking a job. Nevertheless, it’s important to stay relevant within your industry and show your connections that you are – no matter how content you are with your job.
I just have one minor suggestion: Allow bullet points to be formatted into resumes once it’s been imported. Most resumes I’ve seen coming out of college have bullet points. It makes for a cleaner, more organized look.
Much to my disdain, Instagram wasn’t included in Nielsen’s report. I tend to think of Nielsen as a credible source, but perhaps they define social networking differently. This blogger compiled a report of the most-visited global social networks to the best of his ability. When discounting the other networks belonging to other countries, Instagram makes the top 20, but just barely misses the top 10.
Still, a lot of people haven’t caught on to the photo sharing application just yet. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, considering I have found myself trying to recruit my friends to it (with some successes, some failures). I do think there are some stigmas attached to the network, but I foresee its popularity increasing come 2013.
Instagram, I still have a message for you, as I announce my fandom: Stop cutting off my pictures! It’s frustrating when I’m eager to share a photo with friends, and it won’t fit to the screen. I always have to zoom in on an image (and therefore crop sometimes necessary objects out) so it doesn’t have black around the edges. There are times I try to settle for the black edges; and I’m serious when I say this – it’s a less than attractive border.
Instagram should also take Twitter’s approach in allowing lists to be made. I love browsing through Instagram when I have five minutes to do so, but having to keep scrolling gets tiresome, especially because I’m the type of person who I doesn’t want to miss a thing. I follow 143 users, and I’m hoping to limit it to that until a change is made. I know people who follow up to 500 users! It would be nice if users could separate followers into lists – from closest friends to acquaintances to celebrities.
What do you think about my suggestions? Are they realistic? Do you envision them being implemented at some point over the next year? What changes would you make to social media sites?Tagged advice, engagement, Facebook, Facebook Timeline, followers, Instagram, LinkedIn, Networking, photo sharing, social media, social networking, social networks, suggestions, Twitter
We’re all guilty of it; we’re spending time with our family or friends, perhaps having dinner or conversing at a party and suddenly, you get that itch. That itch to dig out your phone, check your email, refresh your Twitter page and see what’s happening on Facebook. It’s not that you don’t enjoy the company you’re with, but if you’re anything like me, living and working in the “digital age” has left me with an involuntary itch to “stay connected.” But now that I’m living even further away from home, making opportunities to see my family very rare, I’ve decided to make a conscious effort to ditch the smartphone itch this upcoming holiday season.
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I thankfully (no pun intended) stumbled across this article from Mashable that asked the question, “Should You Take a Vacation from Checking Your Email?” The article does make a point to say that checking your email (and social media platforms) isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just important to keep in mind how often you’re logging on, updating, refreshing, etc.
Some helpful tips I plan on using to balance both my family and (Twitter) followers this holiday season include:
Do you plan on taking a break from your smartphone this holiday season? If you’re on the fence, I’ll leave you with this last interesting fact: according to research done at University of California, Irvine, people who took a break from checking their email for more than five days “experienced more natural heart rates,” which simply means they were happier and less stressed.
LinkedIn is a powerful tool for making business connections. There are many ways to optimize the usefulness of this tool and it is entirely up to the individual to work it to their advantage. Since LinkedIn is part of your professional image, it is important that you invest the time to present yourself in the best way possible. You should update your LinkedIn page regularly.
Following are some do’s and don’t's to optimize your LinkedIn experience.
Do upload a picture of your self: Having a professional looking headshot on your profile helps people put a face to the name. If you are not comfortable that anyone who checks your profile online can see “you,” you can change privacy settings on your account so that your picture is visible only to your connections.
Do post your status: Updating your status gives you visibility within your connections. If you have a “pearl” you want to share or you have some good news at work you wish to share, you can spread the word around via LinkedIn.
Do have recommendations: Three recommendations are all it takes to “complete” your profile on LinkedIn. However, having more does help to bolster your online profile.
Do connect wisely: Ignore any invitations to connect if you don’t know the person extending the invitation. Apply caution when accepting an invite yourself. On the other hand, when you send an invitation to link, be sure to tell the contact how you know them and why you want to connect.
Do join and participate in groups: LinkedIn has thousands of groups that you can join and get involved with for some targeted, work-related social networking.
Do treat your profile like you would your resume: Make sure it is formatted, clean and free of typos and grammatical errors.
Don’t lie. Falsehoods and embellishments on your profile will eventually come back to harm you and may cause you embarrassment, or cost you your job in the worst case scenario. It is simply best to keep it honest and transparent.
Don’t have an influx of recommendations. Getting five recommendations on the same day appears suspect and leads to speculation that you are in the market for a new job. You might be just getting around to striking this off your “to-do” list, but a better way to do it would be to make it a weekly or monthly task to “ask” for a recommendation from a past or present colleague, client or contact.
Don’t make drastic and plentiful changes to your profile in a single day: Remember, any changes in your profile sends a notification to your connections highlighting the fact you have done it. The message that comes across to employers and colleagues may not be what you had in mind so space it out gradually.
I hope these tips help you use LinkedIn more effectively.Tagged Morningstar Communications, Suchitra Kamath
They say social media is an entrepreneur’s best friend.
And the small businesses’.
And mid-to-large companies’.
Who doesn’t benefit?
If you don’t know, now you know.
Here’s a video from HootSuite on how to convince your boss social media is worth the time investment, just in case he or she hasn’t hopped on board already:
If that doesn’t sell your boss, give him or her the lowdown about how these big-name brands have touted themselves as social media kings, in no particular order:
Zappos works hard to put its customers on a pedestal, as they have an impressive customer service department that aims to respond to customers’ needs 24/7. Another way it spotlights customers is through its ongoing “Fan of the Week” contest. Fans send in photos of themselves or something else with a Zappos box in the picture, then they have a chance to be voted by other fans for having the best photo of the week. This strategy keeps people coming back for more, as Zappos works to create real relationships with the people who matter most to them.
Kia launched contests in recent years to generate buzz. Once its Kia Soul hamster commercials went viral, Kia took advantage of YouTube. In the now-global car company’s recent contest the first prize winner will get a free Kia Soul for making the best 90-second TV commercial, then the second and third place winners will receive a Canon video kit and a Macbook Pro, respectively. I literally spent an hour surfing YouTube watching contestants’ videos, then I set a calendar alert on my phone to remind me which day the winners will be announced. Celebrity judges, then public voters, will determine the winners.
People don’t do business with businesses – they do business with people. Southwest Airlines understands that, as it works to put a face on its brand. Its blog is a prime example, as it shows the many faces of its many employees, giving their own insights on day-to-day stuff. The kicker is that the blogging leverages its employees, as they talk about things they’re passionate about. These people love their jobs, and the “Nuts about Southwest” blog is their hub for exchanging quirks and memories.
Southwest is also very responsive on its social media accounts. If someone has an issue, you can be assured that it won’t take Southwest 10 hours to respond to a concerned customer. Southwest is a good talker, but an even better listener.
You don’t have to be a big-name brand to employ any of these social media strategies. Tweak them, and make them your own.
I’ll leave you with a handful of tips for branding your business online:
What else makes for an excellent social media campaign?Tagged Blogging, Branding, Facebook, Hannah Babcock, Kia, Morningstar Communications, social media, Southwest Airlines, Twitter, Zappos
The October issue of Fast Company profiles Ben Silbermann. He is one of the founders of the social media phenomenon Pinterest. The first few paragraphs gives us a glimpse into the exhausting schedule this 30-year-old new father is experiencing.
This summer, Silbermann declared it the “Summer of Apps” for the 35 employees of Pinterest. He mandated everyone to come early, stay late, cutting off all access to the outside world to build the best app possible for Android and Apple iPad users. He even made T-shirts.
I read the entire article and can only remember this part. I was thinking how difficult it would be to know your only focus would be work, work and more work. No time in the sun, no swimming, no barbecues, no picnics, no vacation days for team Pinterest.
On the flip side, how exhilarating must it be to be involved in something so revolutionary? Between January and April, Pinterest doubled its users to more than 20 million. That’s incredible. In today’s world your digital experience is everything. Maybe those employees will look at it as a small sacrifice that will pay off in the end when they are enjoying all their summers by the pool because they are able to retire early.
Have you checked out the new Pinterest App yet? How did those 35 employees who weathered the “Summer of Apps” do?Tagged Rachel Spear