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Category Archives: Facebook

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Vector American Football Field, Ball, and Helmets

What PR Pros Can Learn from the NFL Playoffs

The National Football League (NFL) playoffs are one of the most popular (and watched) events of any calendar year. In fact, last year’s Super Bowl was the most-watched TV event in the United States. Ever. And while I’m not thinking much about the impact of PR when my New England Patriots are dismantling the Indianapolis Colts, I can’t help but wonder how the NFL playoff storylines relate to PR after the clock expires. While we could look at the playoffs in general, the story of one Peyton Manning provides the perfect test case for this latest exercise in relating mainstream topics to the science of public relations. Below are four insights that PR pros can take from the NFL playoffs. Apologies in advance to the Peyton Manning fans.

  • We all love stories about people

It’s true. It doesn’t matter if you’re addicted to the NFL or the Kardashians, we all love to hear about other people and their personal stories. This is one of the main reasons why People Magazine and US Weekly have combined circulations of more than 5.5 million. Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine have combined circulations of more than five million. These sports publications are newsstand staples not because they provide a recap of game that you have already seen 25 TV highlights for, but because they deliver insights into the personalities of the individuals making the plays. This has certainly been the case with Mr. Manning, who is receiving as much attention for his upcoming decision to play or retire next season as he is for his poor play a couple Sundays ago. As PR pros, it’s important to always remember that personal stories are often just as, if not more, important than the technology breakthrough, new product, funding announcement, etc. If you need a further proof point, just look at the majority of Forbes or Fortune profiles which more often than not focus on an individual to tell the company’s story.

  • Opinions can change in the blink of an eye

For Peyton, it was his own Denver fans booing as he ran off the field following another failed third-down conversion. These were the same fans that cheered for him so passionately when he shattered NFL records last season. We need to remember to constantly monitor how a company is perceived by key opinion leaders. A good product review six months ago does not guarantee identical results even with the same journalist this month. Much like it did for poor Peyton, the opinions of your core influencers can change at a moment’s notice. Stay in front of and try to control these perception shifts, and ensure that you have a plan in place for when the tide turns.

  • Social media is an early driver of opinions while traditional media reinforces these opinions with the facts

Twitter and Facebook are almost as fun to “watch” as the games themselves, with friends and strangers making comical, angry and insightful posts on the competition’s ups and downs. These posts often convey the sentiment that a number of people are feeling at any given moment. For Peyton, there were endless tweets (see below) mocking him to the tune of the Nationwide insurance jingle that he sings throughout a popular TV commercial. There were also several social media posts that highlighted Manning’s lackluster play in the post season. Following those posts, there have been endless articles on sites like ESPN.com and CNNSI.com all diving into the big data of sports statistics to prove that yes, Manning does struggle in the playoffs, speculating that age has possibly caught up with him and pontificating on his future in the league.

Peyton Manning Nationwide jingle

This all reinforces the need to drive influence and opinion on social media while using it to direct partners, analysts, customers, prospects, etc. to other sources of content that provide not only additional information but often hard data (think surveys, industry stats, etc.) that back up and reinforce what they are reading on social media.

  • New storylines take over and you get a fresh start (almost)

The good news for Peyton and the rest of us is that another story always comes along. No one will be talking about his poor play or age at the Super Bowl in two weeks. Even his retirement decision will likely be a blip on the NFL interests radar screen. However, when he does actually make his decision to play or retire, then the older stories will be recycled. In the PR industry, we know that the past, particularly the not-so-pleasant past, can often come back from the dead. For instance, when a company that once filed chapter 11 or dealt with a compliance scandal announces its profitability, there is little doubt that those profitability stories will rehash some of the previous negative news items. We need to do our best as PR professionals to keep the media looking forward to what the positive news means for the future of the company, its customers, the local economy, etc. The past is impossible to bury, but making it clear that it has no relevance on what’s to come can help keep everyone focused on the right messages. While most public relations case studies on the NFL focus on crisis communications, the storylines coming out of the playoffs provide good reminders on the core elements of many successful PR programs.

I’m quite certain there are even more synergies between the NFL and PR, and I’ll be sure to give it some more thought…after the Patriots Super Bowl game.

Read more from Keith Giannini
Shocked man covering his mouth with hands

The Story Behind Click Bait Cluttering Your Facebook Feed

The Manufacturing of Virality Through Click Bait’s Shock and Awe 


I probably should have titled this piece, “The Shocking Facebook Fact That Will Blow Your Mind!!!” I’ve been complaining about my Facebook feed, which is cluttered with the click bait of inspiration and outrage, some well meaning, some not.

At first I thought I might be getting jaded as I approach age 40, but it turns out that my sincerity filter is working quite well. I’ve identified the root problem: BuzzFeed seems to have have spawned some fairly ugly stepchildren who are vying for our clicks and likes. Have you heard of Most Amazing Galaxy, Damn, Buzz Newsworthy, OMG Facts or Dose? I hadn’t either. But you’ve seen their headlines, which accompany beautiful photos and often include phrases such as “blow your mind,” “then this happened,” and “you won’t believe.” Many like the “!?” combination and others employ the “!!!” for extra emphasis. In college, a professor told me that women use more punctuation than men because they can’t express themselves as well, so I’ll let this last point go in the event that I’m scarred and therefore biased. Here are some recent examples:

Titanic Dog Woman

I became interested in how these posts proliferate on Facebook, so I picked a story and followed its path. The piece below was posted by a Facebook page called, “How Many Likes for This Photo?” With a black and white horse running in a pasture as its cover photo and a thatched-roof beach house hovering over a teal blue ocean as its profile photo, this page is affiliated with http://www.mostamazingviews.com/, which has a “contact us” form, but no information about who runs the site. Its Facebook page offers just this: “Combination of all sorts of pics and videos that contain heart warming stories and amazing events from many walks of life from all over the world ♥” Even so, 280,000+ people have liked it, including some of my own Facebook friends. I did find out who runs the site though: a man in Cairo. If you want to take a look, you can find out who owns any site by doing a domain registration search through Network Solution’s WhoIs.

Piano

This is a phenomenon of what Sam Whitmore of Sam Whitmore Media Survey calls the “attention economy.” Websites and Facebook pages like those I described above aren’t in the content game: they’re in the attention game. They want clicks to fuel ad sales as far as I can tell, but the business model behind these headlines is still a bit of a mystery since some don’t have ads). If you visit their home pages, you may or may not find information about who runs them.

However, you will likely see this type of pop-up ad. Apparently 312,000+ people have liked Damn.com on Facebook, which I’m guessing is the source of most of its traffic.

Like Us On Facebook

BuzzFeed started this party and imitation, as the saying goes, is the sincerest form of flattery. I have no quarrel with BuzzFeed though. I admire its approach to reinventing the news business. Whitmore says that BuzzFeed is amassing the requisite revenue to become a formidable source of original and award-winning journalism, aspiring even to winning Pulitzers one day. He also pointed me to BuzzFeed’s data blog, which is a directional hint at where “engagement science” is heading. There’s no denying BuzzFeed’s traction. Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report put it at 130MM+ unique visitors with 3x year-over-year growth. And as you can see from this Nieman tweet, even The New York Times is taking BuzzFeed seriously.

Nieman tweet

BuzzFeed aside, while consumers scrutinize Facebook’s privacy policies, they aren’t yet aware of the machine behind “virality.” Very often, virality is manufactured. In the Jan 5, 2015 issue of The New Yorker Andrew Marantz’s “The Virologist” describes the efforts of one company, Spartz Inc., which has built a thriving business by creating websites dedicated to click bait. Marantz quotes Neetzan Zimmerman, former chief aggregator at Gawker, regarding the originality of Spartz’s content for one of its flagship sites, Dose. Zimmerman said:

“On Dose, you see entire lists that are ripped whole-sale from other Web sites and passed off as their work.” He noted, however, that it does not make Spartz’s work any less lucrative.

This all rubs me the wrong way, more so because the approach works. I’d like to think we’re all smarter than that — that we don’t fall for the manufactured (albeit luring) bait. On Facebook it doesn’t matter I suppose. We’re all just there for fun, after all, and what’s wrong with a little inspiration? Nothing really.

I’m in the business of ideas though as the co-founder of a PR firm. I’m not interested in temporary traction. My clients want to build “customer loyalty” and create the right “customer journey.” These terms may be tired buzz words, but loyalty is not a joke. Loyalty requires a company to earn its customers’ interest, and then expand that into trust. A click is the first date and if your content is boring or inauthentic, it’s the last one. To get a person to click, read and come back for more, you need thoughtful and original content that sprouts from unique and validated viewpoints. That is what makes platforms like Medium so powerful (Medium prioritizes reads over clicks).

Will these click bait headlines continue to proliferate on Facebook? I don’t know. Facebook has a history of requiring authenticity. Last year it stopped letting drag queens use their stage names and in 2012, it disabled millions of pet accounts because they were “fake” (the drag queen rule has been reversed and I see a lot of pets on Facebook these days). Is click bait authentic? Probably. Original? That’s questionable. It might not matter though because the rules for personal and business pages are different, which likely puts this in the realm of preference versus policy. Whatever happens, it has my attention and I’m going to keep watching (while I try not to click).

As for me, I’m spending more time on Instagram (owned by Facebook), which, by its inherent nature focuses on beautiful — and original — photos. Have you seen the @Food page? Sarah Phillips, the creator, has 340,000 followers and a recent profile in The New York Times, The First Family of Instagram.” For you dog lovers, check out #DogsofInstagram. More please.

Food Instagram

Read more from Beth Monaghan
3

The Six Most Attention Grabbing Hashtags of 2014

Hashtags. You see them in almost every form of communication these days. Your friend from high school tweets that it was #legday at the gym and your cousin posts about their #blessed weekend. Jimmy Fallon even has an ongoing skit where he and the guest on his show that night talk exclusively in hashtags. In fact, you can barely watch a TV show without being shown its hashtag encouraging viewers to join the conversation (thank you #PeterPanLive). If you’re trying to be cute about not really apologizing, #sorrynotsorry is a good one, but it’s not all snark like at Thanksgiving, when we are all #thankful.

So what were the most attention grabbing hashtags of 2014? These are my picks:

  1. #ALSIceBucketChallenge – This summer the #ALSIceBucketChallenge was inspired by Pete Frates, former baseball captain at Boston College. Pete Frates was diagnosed with ALS. The challenge consisted of individuals dumping ice water over their heads to support ALS and then challenging other friends to do the same or donate (or do both!). First it was just everyone’s friends and family taking part in the challenge and then quickly got the attention of Hollywood: Ben AffleckJennifer Aniston, Leonardo Dicaprio, and Neil Patrick Harris to name a few (those are really just a few, so many celebrities took the challenge!). To date, the #ALSIceBucketChallenge has raised more than $100 million for ALC research. In fact, Cathy Corwin recently included the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in her #breaktheinternet post.
  2. #Sochi – The Winter Olympics were held in Sochi, Russia this year and seemed as if the conversation around the games started before the games actually started. There was controversy around the 51 billion dollar price tag and concern that the city would even be ready for the games. Then, the stories of the poor accommodations of journalists came pouring in and another hashtag was created – #SochiProblems. That hashtag took off so fast that an account for @SochiProblems was quickly set up. Once the games started, people couldn’t stop talking about Bob Costas’ pink eye and the dangerous courses plaguing the athletes. All in all, the games went smoothly but social media sure had fun following the drama.
  3. #BringBackOurGirls – At a UNESCO event on April 23 Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, the vice president of the World Bank for Africa, gave a speech for the opening ceremony honoring the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt as the 2014 World Book Capital City. In her speech, she mentioned the recent kidnapping of over 200 school-age girls, issuing the call to “bring back our daughters.” A Nigerian lawyer named Ibrahim M Abdullahi was watching the streamed speech in Abuja (the nation’s capital), and phrased Dr. Ezekwesili’s emotive words on Twitter using the hashtags #BringBackOurDaughters and #BringBackOurGirls. He unknowingly sparked an online social activism campaign that was top news story across the world. Soon, the likes of Michelle Obama, Mary J. Blige, Amy Poehler, and Hillary Clinton were joining the conversation but voicing their support. The social movement was called a lesson in Twitter activism.
  4. #RIPRobinWilliams – Towards the end of the summer, beloved actor Robin Williams passed away at the age of 63. As soon as the news was announced via social media, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram were flooded with quotes and images from his great films (Mrs. Doubtfire anyone?). Disney posted a tribute to their Facebook page and it took off like wildfire. They also scheduled viewings of Aladdin on their channel with the tribute at the end. There was also much social conversation around the matter of his death but we’d rather keep this mention a positive one.
  5. #MH370 – In March, Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 departing from Kuala Lumpur and scheduled to arrive in Beijing disappeared into mid-air. Literally. Air traffic control received the aircraft’s last message when it was over the South China Sea, less than an hour after takeoff and hasn’t been heard from since. Social media took off with theories of what could have happened (my personal favorite was one that connected the disappearance to LOST, the classic ABC drama). Even Courtney Love was making her theories heard, offering herself up as an expert. To date, the plane is still missing.
  6. #Ferguson – In August, an unarmed teen named Michael Brown was shot by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, MI. It soon sparked a fire on traditional and especially social media. As Brown was an unarmed, black teenager and Office Darren Wilson (whose name wasn’t released to the public for quite some time) was white, a race war was ignited. Protesters and people who just wanted to get the story were following and engaging with the #Ferguson hashtag. Many of the speculations around what really happened, who saw what, played out via social media as it usually does with this type of news. On the evening of November 24, it was announced that Officer Wilson would not be indicted for the murder of Michael Brown which only ignited the fire more both on the streets of Ferguson (and other large U.S. cities) and on social media.

So there you have it, 2014 as told by a handful of the year’s most attention grabbing hashtags (for more about the top hashtags and happenings of 2014, check out this blog from Twitter). I for one am looking forward to see what conversations gain traction in 2015. #SeeYouLater2014

Read more from Kristen Zemeitus
31

Storify Upgrades its Platform to Embrace Collaboration

 

If you’re reading this blog, you probably don’t need a lesson in the power of social media to bring your message to the masses. However, with a relentless timeline of real-time tweets and Facebook posts, it can be challenging to extract stories and themes.

This is where Storify comes in handy. In case you’re not familiar with it, Storify is a Web platform that allows you to curate and publish social information from around the Web into one central location. Its beauty is it allows you to aggregate a collection of social elements from many voices and then publish them as a singular story. If you’re in need of an example of this platform (and a laugh), enjoy the best case of viral marketing I’ve seen in a while: The Storify of a guy live tweeting a couple’s breakup on the roof of his apartment building. We’ve used Storify several times here on the InkHouse blog and reporters often use it as reporting tool, assembling differing points of view on a topic, like this one by Matthew Ingram – or for gathering a selection of social posts from a news event, like this one from Andy Carvin.

As the next stage of its evolution (and likely as a move to bring some additional revenue in for their owner, Livefyre), Storify announced an enterprise version this week which included a redesigned homepage, an updated story editor and a host of new features. Targeted at its big name publishing customers like BBC, Yahoo! and HBO, these new features offer a premium option to those seeking to optimize their online storytelling.

Most notably, Storify has taken a page from Google’s notebook, offering more opportunity for real-time collaboration. Much like with Google documents, with Storify Enterprise you can now have multiple people editing, adding to and fact-checking stories all at the same time. The new platform also features integration with Google Analytics, SEO compatibility and premium-only support technicians. By using analytics to determine the successes of your stories, you can inform your future strategies, honing your ability to create engaging content.

Finally, as a light-hearted bonus, the folks at Storify have hidden a few Easter eggs around their website – including, strangely, an image of Matt Damon somewhere on their homepage. We’ll go ahead and leave that one to you to find on your own.

Storify is an obvious tool for consumer-facing brands, but it can also inject personality into b2b technology companies and non-profits that are seeking to break down the walls that separate them from customers. Ultimately, no matter what vertical you’re in, if your business values social media as a core part of your engagement strategy, Storify provides a tool that can bring it to life.

Read more from Alex Ingram
4

New E-book: Read It, Watch It, or Tweet It – How Americans Read and Share News

We live in an age where reputations can be made or broken in seconds on Twitter, when potential criminal suspects are identified by communities on Reddit, and President Obama is doing online video interviews with Zach Galifianakis on Funny or Die’s “Between Two Ferns.” It’s up to 304,000 Facebook likes.

The news media is undergoing a powerful transformation as new outlets sprout up to reinvent an aging business model. At InkHouse, we’re closely watching The Information, Circa, re/code, TheOnSwitch, and of course, Buzzfeed (if I listen to the results of its quizzes, I should move to Tennessee, become a writer and live the rest of my life as Bill Clinton).

We wondered how people’s habits have really changed in the wake of all of the hype, so we teamed up with GMI Lightspeed to find out. We surveyed 1,000 people ages 18+ to find out how they prefer to get their news, what they trust more and how they share it. Some results were surprising, some were funny, and some were what we expected.

Check out our ebook for the complete results and our recommendations.
Just want the highlights? See our infographic below and our press release.

Read more from Beth Monaghan

Four Tips For “Spring Cleaning” Your Social Media Accounts

The benefits of owning an air couch…

Though it may not feel like it yet, spring is (technically) in the air and if you are anything like me, you can’t wait to say farewell to this lengthy winter we’ve had. As we prepare to pack away coats and boots and open up the shutters to welcome the approaching warmer weather, it’s also a great time to start thinking about spring cleaning, especially for your social media channels.

I’m talking about more than a quick spritz of Febreze. After all, you don’t want to leave digital dust bunnies accumulating in the corners. The reality is that, without a thorough clean up, your social channels can get stagnant.

Here are four tips to help you pull on those rubber gloves and buff up your social and digital personality.

1)      Take out the trash: It is good social media hygiene to make sure you are following and being followed by the right people but, with an overwhelming number of social participants, how do you know who to keep and who to toss? Check out sites like Friend or Follow, JustUnfollow and FollowerWonk, which help you analyze your followers more carefully and figure out if people are following you in return. There are countless other social media tools, and Inc. recently published a helpful list of the top 8 here. You might have thousands of followers, but if they are infamous Twitter bots – what value does that add to your social media credibility?

2)      Assess the mess: While it is nearly impossible to monitor and track the success of your social campaigns in the moment, it is good practice to look back and review them every few months. Measurement and analytics can be provided through sites like Hootsuite and even Twitter itself.  By evaluating your past campaigns, you can determine whether the approach you’re taking is giving you the best outcome to help you maintain stronger tactics and cut out the weak methods.

3)      Polish your assets: Take the time to revamp and freshen up your profile by updating your pictures (personal, cover and background) on all of your social sites. It is also a great opportunity to revise your personal bio or update company descriptions.

4)      Don’t be afraid to renovate: We can easily get stuck in the practice of posting the same type of content, following the same people and sharing on the same platforms. In fact, Twitter celebrated its eighth birthday by introducing a tool to show you your very first tweet on the platform. For some of us, looking back on our first tweet shows how far we’ve come using Twitter and how it has evolved as a critical communications platform. But it is equally important to look forward to maintain a strong digital position. In 2014, we can expect more brands to act as publishers. Today, content publishing solutions like TekGroup and Pressfeed, help companies integrate online newsrooms into their content strategy. Another trend is the rising popularity of specialized or niche social media platforms. For example, new anonymous apps Whisper and Secret are creating buzz and advertisers are trying to figure out how to take advantage of that. But it may or may not make sense for you or your brand to join them. Stay on top of the latest and popular trends and then assess whether it’s a worthwhile social investment or merely a passing fad.

Even though spring is fast approaching, it is never too late to get a head start on a thorough, social spring cleaning. Create a list of goals, establish a timeline and watch your social media blossom.

Read more from Zoe Nageotte
11

Seven Tips for Making Your News Mobile

Mobile news consumption is on the rise. Raj Aggarwal (@AnalyticsRaj), CEO of InkHouse client Localytics, a mobile app analytics and marketing company, found that “people spend more time in news apps over the course of a day than most other apps.” In fact, time spent on news apps is up five percent for 2013.

Almost half of Americans own smartphones. News apps such as Circa are taking on mobile news in compelling ways. Just last month, Seeking Alpha launched a new app called Tech Investor, which according to PandoDaily had 70,000 daily users just after its debut. PandoDaily also reported that overall, Seeking Alpha’s apps have 600,000 to 800,000 daily users.

It’s not just the startups paying attention to mobile news. Yahoo acquired Summly in March for a reported $30 million, and then Google acquired Wavii for the same amount. Meanwhile, traditional media properties are also seeing big numbers through mobile news. In July, the BBC News received more traffic from mobile phones than from desktop computers on two weekend days. Mediapost reported that, “The New York Times…saw mobile increase its reach by 41%, up from 33% in February, while Hearst saw a gain of 38% versus 31%.”

So what exactly does it mean to make your news mobile? Not surprisingly, much of what works for social applies to mobile. Social is mobile. According to the New York Times, Facebook now claims 819 million mobile users (and it was the driver of Facebook’s rise in stock price, which hit its highest since the IPO on July 30).

To make your blog post/press release/you name it mobile, you need to consider two audiences: your target audience(s) and the press. Following are seven tips that will help you reach both by making your news more mobile (and social):

  1. Keep press releases to 400 words. Brevity is important. Circa’s story on the Bradley Manning trial was just over 400 words. That’s a good length for a release or blog post.
  2. Write headlines you would click on. Take a lesson from Buzzfeed. Lists work, and controversy breeds interest. Make your headlines interesting! And PR Newswire recommends making headlines no longer than 100 characters.
  3. Stick to the facts. News apps such as Circa report only on facts. Marketing collateral masquerading as a press release won’t cut it. Keep your press releases to the facts. Your point of view is important though:  that goes in your quote.
  4. Make it easy to email. Localytics found that, “The largest chunk of content sharing from news apps is not happening via social channels. 80 percent of content shares from apps are actually by email.” Add an “email this” plugin to all press releases and blog posts on your website (which should be optimized for mobile, of course).
  5. Use visuals to pop through. Compelling photos and short videos can help you break through the clutter. Think about how often you click on a photo versus text when you’re using Facebook or another social network. And if that doesn’t convince you, consider these facts. 90 percent of the information transmitted to our brains is visual and we process that content 60,000 times faster than text. Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app, hit 100 million users earlier this year, and marked 5 million videos within the first 24 hours of debuting the offering.
  6. Make your quotes tweetable. Circa notes that it may uses tweets as quotes, so make them crisp and brief – 120 characters or fewer to allow for retweets.
  7. Link. Link. Link. Make it easy to click for more information. On mobile, no one wants to type in a search term. They want to click. (But be mindful of the new Google guidelines if the “news” is in the form of a press release.)

 

Read more from Beth Monaghan

The New Commercial – Why PR Should DIY

Instagram’s new video feature, launched last month, has already started flooding social media channels and online publications. Most of the pre-launch hype focused on Instagram’s comparison to Vine and how it would impact the popular video platform, but the key takeaway from the rapid success of both video applications is how quickly and aggressively the do-it-yourself video is transforming the media environment.

More than half of the top 100 brands are using Instagram videos to define and promote their brand personality, gain a larger social following and transform an advertisement into likable media. Instead of hitting the skip button, followers are tapping twice on artistic or humorous brand videos to express their approval. The trend toward DIY videos is not surprising as 90% of the information transmitted to our brains is visual, which Beth Monaghan noted in a recent post, and we process that content 60,000 times faster than text. Videos provide the visual medium to attract widespread attention and the message is reinforced with audio and text components. It is becoming such a popular communication tool that Cisco predicts video will account for two-thirds of the world’s mobile data traffic by 2017.

With the impending dominance of video, PR professionals should explore successful case studies and best practices to implement in future campaigns and strategies. The end goal in PR is “earned media” and videos are really effective tools to achieve it. Moreover, what distinguishes PR professionals from advertisers is that we place “free” content across media channels rather than paid creative campaigns. With DIY videos, we can now combine the creative campaign with PR tactics to generate more media opportunities. Whether it’s using a video for a pitch or pushing creative company videos through social media channels, videos will garner attention in ways that traditional methods cannot.

Here are five reasons for businesses to use Instagram video:

1.)    Establish your brand’s personality: Lululemon posted an Instagram video with more than 23,000 likes with the caption “Every mat has a story to tell. #justmymat.” The video characterizes the playful, fun and sporty character of the brand while also appealing to customers’ unique fitness choices. In PR, it’s important to help client’s establish their voice and define their brand. Video provides a great outlet to show others how your announcements, product and employees represent your brand’s image.

2.)    Create an engaging pitch: A captivating video that showcases a new product or story may go further than the traditional pitch. Martini is a group dating application created by a Harvard graduate student that brings together different groups of friends. Using the Vine video would substantiate a pitch by showing how it does this and why it’s unique.

3.)    Promote an event or a company launch: MTV recently announced nominees for the Video Music Awards on its Vine and Instagram accounts. Using video for a company launch or a big event is great way to tease or preview an announcement to get your target audience excited in a way that a standard press release may not.

4.)    Product announcement: Similar to a launch, showcasing a new product through a video can illustrate the product’s capabilities or just make a statement that intrigues followers or reporters enough to check it out. Taco Bell created an Instagram video that promotes the company’s new “Doritos Locos Tacos” by spelling it out with fire. Caution is recommended when using fire for a video, but the video is attention-grabbing and appropriate for the spicy product.

5.)    Develop videos as an effective social media tool: GE regularly shares videos that range from basic office tips to showcasing the company’s engineering capabilities. Videos that have engaging content and are promoted across social channels, on the company website and on online forums and news aggregators will drive website traffic and increase social followers.

Videos are on the rise so get creative and DIY. We did!

Read more from Rachael Tucker
22

Sheryl Sandberg’s Wisdom About Mentorship

Has InkHouse succeeded because we’re lucky or because we’re smart and we work hard? According to Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg, while men tend to take credit for a company’s success, women often ascribe success to “luck, help from others, and working hard.”

Sandberg has started a national discussion that has gone from the Silicon Valley, to Oprah, to The Daily Show and last Friday, to Boston at a breakfast hosted by the New England Venture Capital Association at the Harvard Club (if you missed it, you can watch the livestream video).

One of Sandberg’s tenets is the importance of fostering confidence in women. This week, Andrew Ross Sorkin interviewed Irene Dorner, president and CEO of HSBC USA in The New York Times. She said the problem of the glass ceiling is matched by the “sticky floor” (women who don’t proactively seek higher-level positions).

How can we build this confidence? Sandberg reminded us that we should feel free to make our own rules, since the old ones aren’t working that well. Women need to mentor other women. It’s an easy slide into the “I did it the hard way and so should you” mentality, which discourages  young women who need mentors more than critics. Don’t be a queen bee (a woman who achieved success in male-dominated environments and tends to oppose the rise of other women). Sandberg said, “A great boss gives credit to everyone else when things are going well and when they are not, says how can I fix it?”

Following are a few of my favorite pieces of advice for women from this broader discussion:

  • Balance. Sandberg said, “Families with more balance are happier.” Anyone who’s interviewed at InkHouse has heard us talk about the importance of balance – it is a foundational element of our culture. You have to show up for work and your personal life with equal passion if you want to be good at either one. Of course, balance is not something that is attainable every single day or week. A culture that strives toward balance is also one that fosters teamwork and wards off resentment when deadlines bring late nights.
  • Process is not progress. Irene Dorner said, “Women do funny things. They do things like work very hard and expect to be noticed for it — and they’re not, because it doesn’t work like that.” Knowing the difference between hard work and smart work is elemental to success. At InkHouse, our clients don’t give us credit for working hard. We get credit for getting great results. It’s up to us to shine a light on those great results. No one is going to do it for us.
  • Done is better than perfect. In InkHouse words, you need to know when good enough is good enough.
  • Sit at the table. Not in the back of the room or at the side of the table. When preparing for important meetings, we tell employees that you only get one chance to make a first impression. Walk into the room, look the person in the eye, shake his or her hand confidently, and behave as though you belong at that table.

Sandberg’s Lean In foundation is doing amazing things to support women and to move this from discussion to action. Last year I was thrilled to see Liza Mundy’s piece in Time Magazine about the progress women have made. Nearly four in 10 working wives out-earn their husbands (up 50 percent from 20 years ago). More needs to be done, and as with all change, it starts with small steps. Sandberg suggested that each person begin by simply inviting a woman to the table, today.

A big thank you to C.A. Webb at the NEVCA for organizing this amazing event. She leans in to every single thing she does, and this event would not have been possible without her grace and energy.

 

Read more from Beth Monaghan

Social media tips for your company from a 140-year-old museum. Really.

In PR, case studies are like gold. People love reading about companies or people that did something cool or interesting that they can borrow and do for themselves.

This is the story of an unexpected case study: a 140-year-old museum focused on fishing and art in a coastal Massachusetts town. It’s not a huge, well-funded museum like the Met in New York or the MFA in Boston. It’s the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Mass.

Founded in 1873 as the Cape Ann Scientific and Literary Association (catchy name, right?), the Cape Ann Museum has lots of works about the history of Gloucester, the nation’s oldest fishing port, but also an art collection by the surprisingly large number of artists who’ve lived on or been inspired by Cape Ann.

But Cape Ann isn’t a big place, so this 19th-century museum has turned to 21st-century means — Facebook and Twitter — to raise its profile and attract new members from the social-media-savvy younger crowd. Here are five lessons any company can learn from the Cape Ann Museum:

1 – Engage, engage, engage. On Twitter, the museum frequently retweets others and thanks them for posting their content. On Facebook, they ask lots of questions to encourage readers to respond and interact. One post, a century-old photo of a fishing crew on a schooner playing with a dog, asks for suggested names for the oceangoing pup. (One response: “Fish bait!”) Engagement strengthens the bond with your online fans. How are you engaging with your social audiences?

2 – Know your audience – and give ‘em something they value. Is your audience stay-at-home moms? Information technology directors? Business travelers? It’s important to identify the audience you want to reach before you can create content that will interest them. The museum posts a mix of ongoing family events, fun historic photos and arts-related news that cater to its Cape Ann members and arts-interested audience. Don’t just push company news at your audiences. Give them something they want and value.

3 – Make smart use of hashtags. The museum uses hashtags to include itself in social conversations where it might otherwise not be included – tags like #artnews to reach people who care about art but don’t live in Massachusetts or #GloucesterMA to reach people who live in Gloucester but might not be museum members (yet). Which hashtags are used by the people you want to reach? Find out – and start using them. (My colleague Beth Monaghan has a great cheat sheet on hashtags and other Twitter tips here.)

4 – Post frequently. To build an online audience, you need to commit to posting on a regular basis. The value of social media is in forming relationships with your audiences. You can’t do that with a torrent of tweets or posts on a single day followed by long silences. People have short attention spans and will forget about you quickly. The Cape Ann Museum posts frequently on Facebook and Twitter so their followers and friends think about them often – including posts that preview upcoming events just when families are planning their activities for the weekend.

5 – Show some personality! Let’s be honest: Museums aren’t normally known as a House of Laughs. But the Cape Ann Museum’s social media identity is fun, colorful and even humorous. In one post, a photo from 1946, two fishermen at sea enjoy a below-decks concert from a shipmate. “The man on the right is playing the bagpipes,” the caption reads. “The men on the left appear to be enjoying the spirits.” If a 140-year-old museum can have fun and show some personality to connect with its audience, your company can, too.

Read more from John McElhenny