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Category Archives: Social Media

Tag Archives: Social Media

Police siren

Jump on It: Responding to Breaking News

When all news seems to be “breaking news,” rapid response is a critical tactic for PR and marketing pros. Our expert rapid responder, Lisa Mokaba, recently explained that the best way to handle rapid response is to channel the Fresh Prince and “jump on it.”

If you don’t act immediately, you’ve already missed the opportunity to insert your voice into a short conversation.

News audiences tune in for breaking news updates more frequently and from more devices than ever before. The American Press Institute found 33 percent of Americans read their news throughout the day, and 78 percent use their smartphone to get news.

Further, social media is climbing its way into the top spot as a news source thanks to millennials, as our Beth Monaghan noted in a recent post. Millennials are nearly evenly split between TV (28 percent) and social media (26 percent) as their primary source for news. But the trend is moving away from TV and toward social media. Facebook just announced it will begin directly hosting articles from leading news organizations, including NBC News and The New York Times.

Given this context for how readers are consuming news, we understand that edging into the news cycle requires rapid response. Strategically responding to breaking news, however, demands a balance of thoughtful foresight and planning and immediate action.

You never want to regret hitting send on an email to a reporter containing poorly crafted commentary so it’s important to develop a strong foundation for how your brand and its leadership fit into the ebb and flow of news in the industry.

Take the time to develop a unique perspective about what’s happening within your industry today and where it’s headed. Once the message is well-defined and understood by everyone at the company, your thought leaders can respond to breaking news with timely commentary that adds value to the developing story and reinforces your position in the market.

Here are three additional tips for rapid response:

  • Obvious, but critical – speed: Reporters don’t have time to wait, so neither do you. As soon as a new story breaks and you have insight to add that helps relay this news to readers, get it out there. Reporters will appreciate thoughtful commentary that arrives before they finish filing their pieces.
  • Short soundbites that matter: When you have something unique to say that aligns with the established company principles, frame your thoughts as short soundbites. Whether over the phone or in an email, reporters need quick insights that strengthen their stories, not long-winded paragraphs. Given the time crunch, short and valuable contributions matter most.
  • Establish yourself as a thought leader: If you continue to provide valuable insights about breaking news, you’ll fortify your position as a thought leader in the media. Reporters will come to rely on your expertise, and you’ll reach a wider industry audience through continued dialogue about breaking news events.

Rapid response is a powerful tool to reach the media, but it requires planning to nail the choreography and win the audience.

Read more from Rachael Tucker
Teenagers taking a selfie

Marketers Need to Create Ephemeral Content Right Now

It was five years ago when I started my career in social media marketing, and the marvel of posting witty, geeky content to show my love of all things Internet-y has come back to haunt me on the occasion, thanks to the Timehop app (not to mention every #tbt that will surface again and again for the rest of my life). Post-Millennials (Generation Z) are savvier than I, however, growing up with technology in the palm of their hands. They don’t want to follow in my footsteps and archive their every move; instead they put their best selves in the public eye and let the mediocre moments they share disappear. “They don’t want open social networks, they want intimacy. They don’t believe every action has to be meaningful and permanent. They imagine the web as deletable.” TechCrunch has put it best – this is the rise of the Ephemeralnet.

Aside from traditional social media players that have been in the space for some years now, the birth of newer platforms include a visual feature as their primary communicator, and many are shifting their focus to ephemeral content – as in content that has an expiration date, and then self-destructs. This is due to a new perspective on what the Internet means to blossoming generations. Those generations, especially Gen Zers, are important to content creators and advertisers as they grow into the next sought-after market. But they expect content to work on their terms, in their language and offer more value than just a “you should like us because” message that many of us have become too comfortable with in our communications. So what can we do to become better content creators for the next generations and how can we adapt to the platforms where they choose to communicate with us?

 

Look to the leader
Ephemeral content is still a fairly new concept that marketers and platforms are working to adopt, but we can take a cue from the platform that birthed this new, temporary way to communicate – Snapchat. Since 2011, Snapchat has been rolling out innovative ways to share content that is succinct, and short-lived. We can send private snaps to our friends and share multiple photos or video clips in “Our Story” to our public network. More recently, brands have been able to capitalize on this content by contributing to sponsored stories in the newly branded “Live” area of the app. Snapchat features live events happening around the world. Indian culture in the “Mumbai” feed, fashion highlights from the “Dior Cruise” and sweet moments between Snapchatters and their Moms for Mother’s Day are just a few of the Live stories I have seen this week. Brands can now intertwine their sponsored content with user-generated content during these valuable live events, most notably Samsung sponsoring the American Music Award’s red carpet updates on the app.

Another major feature Snapchat rolled out in the recent months is Discover, their content hub containing twelve major publications issuing daily content, ranging from Cosmopolitan to Yahoo!. Discover has generated a lot of chatter and has marketers looking to the future of quickly digestible news, but Snapchat’s core users are not all convinced it is working. One surveyed Millennial sums it up well, “It would never occur to me to get all my news from Snapchat. I think Snapchat as a media platform is interesting. It makes sense in the way that it’s all self-destructing so it gets replaced every 24 hours with new news, but I don’t see society gravitating to Snapchat to get their news.” Content creators have some work to do, it appears, but we may be headed in the right direction.

It’s important for marketers to remember that Snapchat, unlike older platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, is being conscious of who they let into their exclusive ring of advertisers. Snapchat emphasizes their decision to offer only native advertising, as in advertising that doesn’t interfere with the user experience and is voluntarily viewed by Snapchatters when utilizing the app. Snapchat is also mindful of their demographics, primarily made up of Gen Zers and Millennials, so sponsored content must be relevant to the lifestyle these generations are passionate about, and inevitably what they want to see from brands.

phone pictures at a concert

 

 

Streaming now vs. hearing about it later
For these younger generations, it’s also not enough to hear a story about the latest festival, fashion collaboration or product launch a few hours after it’s happened. Millennials paved the way to wanting on-demand content, and now Gen Zers and younger expect the same content in real-time, but they don’t want to hear about it – they want to see it. As we look to our leader again, we can see why: Snapchat Stories have normalized real-time video storylines to share what’s going on around us. Cue Meerkat and Periscope, the latest live-streaming app offerings that have already made an impression in their first few months.

The NFL is one of many recent adopters using livestreaming methods for communicating that otherwise would have come through TV or the Internet, then plastered across social media in the form of breaking updates. Fox Sports used Twitter’s Periscope to livestream the NFL draft, a favorable decision for many that will continue to put less reliance on living room viewing and allow for real-time updates across a number of devices.

Even bigger than the NFL draft was the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight that was bootlegged across many Periscope accounts two weeks ago to offset the steep $100 Pay-Per-View television premium fee and lack of an official online stream. Within an instant, thousands were tuning into these illegal streams to watch the fight of the century. If a stream dropped off from one person’s apartment in New York, another stream inevitably went live from someone’s house party in San Francisco. Even though the quality of these streams was worse than your 1992 tube television, the overwhelming viewership makes a bold statement: on-demand content at cheaper rates is expected and younger generations growing up with these ephemeral apps will do anything to get it. So why not share content the way people want to consume it?

It’s no surprise why marketers are salivating at the idea of bringing brands to livestreams and certainly aren’t hesitating to voice needed features to better leverage sponsored content. As we watch Meerkat and Periscope develop and react to these occurrences in the next few months, it will be important for marketers to brainstorm future events that can add value to live and on-demand content consumption.

Firstborn’s senior strategist Scott Fogel, however, makes an important point, “added features could threaten the allure of live-streaming—the idea that what you see isn’t overly orchestrated, or produced, and [remains] true to real life.” Now more than ever it’s essential to preserve brand authenticity as savvier generations grow into the market. They’ve grown up with the ability to judge advertising with a critical eye, and can easily detach from messages that do not resonate with them in today’s content clutter.

 

The verdict: ephemeral content is temporary, but here to stay
Given the wave of these new platforms in the last five years, we can be assured that although content is disappearing every second at the disposal of younger generations, ephemeral apps are making a permanent mark on content consumption. So how do we as marketers adapt to meet the needs of these savvy, mobile and critical generations when it comes to the messages we serve them?

Like Fogel mentioned, it’s important to remember that relevance is key. Snapchat, Meerkat and Periscope are not going to induce on-the-spot conversions, so curb the sales-y talk and focus on brand awareness. With the ability to use photos, videos and emojis coupled with a live experience – your brand can shine on these ephemeral apps and keep users coming back for more updates. If your brand’s content reflects messaging that younger generations can adopt into their current chosen lifestyles, your brand has a better chance of growing with them through the years. As Alexandra Levit puts it, “Gen Zers are growing up in a healthier economy, and appear eager to be cut loose. They don’t wait for their parents to teach them things or tell them how to make decisions.”

As I reflect on myself as a middle-child of the Millennial generation, and how I have come adopt the Ephemeralnet into my daily communications, I offer my advice to those who begin to explore this content for themselves and their brands: keep it real. And keep it real short. That’s what keeps me coming back for more – even if it is to track a surprise comeback burrito from Taco Bell.

Read more from Jill Jankowski
Twitter Homepage

Why Twitter Changed its Homepage and What it Means for Brands

Believe it or not, 42% of B2B brands either have no account or are inactive on Twitter. Shocking, right? Especially considering that 83% of Fortune 500 companies have accounts and Twitter reported last week that it has more than 300 million active monthly users.

However, these B2B companies aren’t alone – only 19% of adults maintain an active Twitter account, which may seem high, until you find out that nearly 60% use Facebook on a regular basis. Additionally, Apple, arguably one of the most influential companies, has never tweeted, engaged with users or even uploaded a profile picture on their company profile on Twitter.

Ultimately, these companies are missing out. With so many users, Twitter successfully reaches most industry spheres. It’s no secret that Twitter has proven to be an effective, and free, way to engage with a targeted audience, obtain pertinent news (in real-time, no less) and convey your brand’s personality.

So how can Twitter convert these non-believers? They have decided to address this issue by getting fancy, starting with their homepage.

Up until a couple weeks ago, the Twitter homepage was quite barren, with a simple message prompting you to “Follow your interests,” by signing up for an account. Yet, it gave no glimpse into what was behind that login page, why the 300 million dedicated users continue to use Twitter on a regular basis.

Now things look a little different:

New Twitter Homepage

Instead of its formerly stagnant landing page (ironically on one of the most interactive sites that comes to mind), Twitter’s home page now features collections of topics that lead you to curated Twitter feeds for news ranging from celebrity chefs to technology to travel guides. Filled with newsworthy and visually appealing tweets from some of the top Twitter users, it is hard not to want to engage with and share what’s on these feeds.

However, you can only access this if you are not logged in to Twitter. These feeds are created to entice the non-user, to let them see what they are missing. As Twitter put it “… we’re making a big change for the many millions of people who visit every month who don’t log in but still want to know what’s happening.”

Twitter knows its strengths and is hoping that by giving non-users a little tease of what they could be a part of, their active user numbers will grow.

Time will tell whether or not this will effectively convince the account-less B2B brands to join the Twittersphere, but it serves as a reminder that valuable opportunities can be unlocked by signing up.

Read more from Linnea DiPillo
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Up your pitching game with Twitter’s new DM feature

Last week, Twitter introduced a new feature that allows people to receive direct messages (DMs) from any user, whether they follow them or not.

Many people who appreciate the privacy features of Twitter are happy to hear that this is an opt-in feature. In other words, the setting to receive DMs from anyone will be turned off by default, so users won’t receive messages from strangers unless they decide to change their settings.

However, as cold calls become a thing of the past and journalist email inboxes continue to overflow with misdirected pitches, we have to imagine there are a good number of reporters who will open up their Twitter profiles to being contacted through DM.

We already know many reporters who prefer to be contacted via DM. For instance, Farhad Manjoo of The New York Times (@fmanjoo) says right in his Twitter bio: “I prefer DM PR pitches.” And Roberto Baldwin of Engadget (@strngwys) has said that “the people in PR that are doing a good job actually do pitch me via DM on Twitter now.”

So for those journalists who choose to open themselves up to receiving pitches from anyone and everyone, here are some best practices for getting their attention without stepping on any Twitter toes:

1. Build relationships first

If you don’t already have a relationship with a reporter, you are essentially cold calling with just 140 characters. Unless you catch them with the perfect topic at the perfect moment, this likely isn’t going to work.

Before you pitch a reporter via DM, work on building a relationship with them first. As my colleague Samantha McGarry points out, “Reporters are people too…So get in there with some chitchat about common interests, opinions, the weather, the Red Sox, whatever. Have a dialog. Relate to each other. Make a connection.”

A great way to start is by simply monitoring what they are tweeting about. What current events are they talking about, what are they retweeting, what personal anecdotes are they sharing? You can tweet at them with a link to an article they may be interested in, or tag them in a tweet so they see it. If you haven’t worked together before, this will put you on their radar and leave a lasting impression for when you do eventually reach out.

2. Use DM selectively, otherwise it’ll just be spam

While email is still the preferred method of communications by journalists, according to this survey, many have complained time and again that it is impossible for them to sort through the hundreds of email pitches they get every day, many of which are misdirected and completely unrelated to their beat.

Enter DM. For now, pitching via DM is still novel to reporters. They see PR representatives who pitch via DM to be tech-savvy and on top of their game. That is, until everyone catches on and Twitter becomes yet another vehicle for journalists to be bombarded with irrelevant information.

Let’s be smart PR folks and not let this happen. Use Twitter to gauge a reporter’s interest, monitor what they are covering, and what conferences they are attending. And when the time feels right, shoot them a DM with a story idea that is so up their alley, they’ll be begging you for more information.

3. Move the conversation off Twitter

Trying to tell your story idea within 140 characters seems nearly impossible. The good thing about this is that it forces you to be concise and share only the most important details. Once you share your brief pitch with a journalist, ask for permission for a longer exchange and move the conversation over to email. Not only will this result in he or she keeping an eye out for your message (especially if your subject line references your Twitter conversation), but will also make them much more likely to respond.

Keeping these strategies in mind as you take your pitching to Twitter will not only show your value as a PR representative in the mind of a journalist, but may just land your client a story.

Read more from Kristen Raymaakers
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Does Twitter need a strategy refresh?

Last week, Gary Vaynerchuk, an entrepreneur and early Twitter investor, spoke at the Guardian Changing Media Summit in London and boldly stated that, “Twitter will die if it doesn’t fix its ‘noise’ problem.”

This noise is the stream of unsolicited information that is flooding users’ feeds with sponsored tweets from users that they do not already follow. So how can Twitter fix its noise problem and prevent itself from joining the ranks of social media “has beens” like Friendster and Myspace?

1. Dismiss irrelevant content: Allow users to identify suggested content that they are uninterested in. The current “dismiss” feature just removes that particular tweet from the user’s timeline, however, there should be an option to never see any recommended content from a particular Twitter feed in the future unless you decide to follow that user.

2. Tighter monitoring: No one appreciates troll accounts following them, favoriting content, or direct messaging them. Even worse, there are troll accounts set up to mimic companies’ pages, with a letter or two off in the spelling so that some users may not even realize at first glance that it is not the real company. Twitter should purge spam accounts more frequently and more thoroughly in order to maintain credibility.

3. Add new features: Keep the site fresh by frequently adding new features, and phase out those features that don’t take off or deter users. This is tricky because while you cannot please everyone, you can work to make the most active users happy. One way would be to invite users into the innovation process. The company could create a poll for users to regularly weigh in on the features that would be most useful to them, perhaps on a quarterly basis. The key will be to communicate what the results were and to make a splash when the new features chosen by users are up-and-running. This will in turn create buzz and make users feel like they are part of a greater Twitter community.

Ultimately, I think that Twitter is here to stay. There is already a strong user base of 288 million users including media outlets, businesses and even celebrities, on top of the “average Joe” users like me who have come to rely on the valuable content that we find on there each day. The key is to engage with users and not be afraid to change up the strategy often in order to keep the site relevant.

Read more from Christine Comey Lewis
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Three things you need to know about Snapchat Discover

snapchat discover

Snapchat is no longer only for millennials and the ugly selfie you hope the receiver is too slow to screen capture before it “disappears” into cyberspace. While I admittedly get joy from watching my Snapchat score rise with each embarrassing Snap, the marketer in me always questioned when Snapchat would take it to the next level for branded, editorial content. Eventually, brands would move in to reach these consumers. How would brands use Snapchat to advertise? How would they reach the more than 200 million Snapchat users? What would be their goal or message?

Last month, Snapchat launched Snapchat Discover. In a blog post announcing arguably the biggest upgrade Snapchat has ever made, the Snapchat team said, “Snapchat Discover is a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams. It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first. This is not social media.”

Here are three things you need to know about Snapchat Discover:

1)      It’s about storytelling: What struck me about Discover is Snapchat’s emphasis that “this is not social media.” The team says Discover is built for creatives and is dependent on editors and artists. There are currently 12 “editions” across various topics including: CNN, Comedy Central, Cosmopolitan, Daily Mail, ESPN, Food Network, National Geographic, People, Vice, Yahoo News and Warner Music Group. Snapchat announced in June 2014 that Stories – a compilation of Snaps that last only 24 hours – was its most popular feature. In fact, Stories drew more than 1 billion views daily. Therefore, what was the most obvious way to integrate brands onto the platform? Through the use of storytelling. I would argue that “storytelling” rather than plain old “content” now reigns as king. There needs to be a beginning, middle and end. What is your message and how can you connect to your audience? Discover is based on stories.

2)      It’s timely: Just like Stories, the content on each Discover edition is replaced daily – after 24 hours. News is now old after one day. And since these editions on Discover happen to be from media outlets, they want to share the most timely up to date content. Snapchat enlisted publishers in this ad supported revenue-sharing partnership to emphasize storytelling.

snapchat tip

3)      It’s not just for photos: Discover allows for customizable content. From photos, to videos, to articles and long form content, Discover is a collage of the publisher’s news for the day. Click on the icon to open the publisher’s stories of the day. Usually an image or video will play with an intriguing headline, guiding you to swipe up to read the full article or the helpful tip, watch the full video or learn the latest breaking news. When you want to go to the next story, swipe left. When you want to move onto the next publisher, swipe down to head back to the Discover home screen. Food Network has the “Tip of the Day.” Today happened to be, “Superfood Breakfast Toast.” With a single swipe up, I have instructions on how to make a coconut butter spread with cocoa powder, almonds and honey. ESPN had a series of videos titled, “NBA Top Players Who Beat Lebron for No. 1.” Must admit, that headline pulled me right in to see who could have possibly beaten “King James.”

While some report Discover looks like an online magazine, and others say it is a new medium parallel to Twitter and Facebook, there’s no denying this is big. We’ve come a long way from my embarrassing selfie of #iwokeuplikethis. Now, in PR, will we start pitching reporters articles for Snapchat? We just might.

Read more from Danielle Laurion
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What’s on our PR Wish List this Holiday?

As December 25 looms and the holiday hustle and bustle dies down, we have been collectively thinking about what is, or what should be, on our “PR Wish List” this season. Much has happened in 2014 with Boston business journalism, on Twitter and even in the AP Stylebook. And let’s face it: we are in an industry that is constantly changing. So here’s our list for Santa of what PR folks really want for Christmas this year.

1.       Controversial, newsworthy ideas  

Touting a unique point-of-view is important but what’s even more of interest to reporters are stories and perspectives that “challenge conventional wisdom,” says Sam Whitmore of SWMS. This was reflected in a recent conversation between our West Coast General Manager Jason Morris and VentureBeat’s executive editor Dylan Tweney, which discussed the relevance of storytelling in an age of speed. In the coming year, the publication will be even more committed to in-depth reporting, with the goal of telling more complete (and often nuanced) stories.

2.       More breakfast meetings

Thanks to Digiday’s “What’s in and what’s out for 2015,” it turns out that breakfast meetings are back. Who doesn’t like breakfast? But more importantly, we know reporters are busy so the breakfast meeting could be an efficient but personable way to nurture relationships. Managed well, these kinds of meetings result in interesting dialog, inspire  outside-the-box thinking and can set the stage for great opportunities for media, speaking or content.

3.       A comeback of editorial calendars

Understanding how publications plan out their media calendar for the year ahead used to be mainstay but in the past few years, as reporting has become more real-time and with the arrival of native advertising, the traditional editorial calendar seems to have disappeared, except for trade publications. But don’t count the “ed cal” out for good: a mid-November article in TechCrunch told us that the publication will be experimenting with an editorial guide for thematic guest columns topics in 2015. In January, parts of TechCrunch will be dedicated solely to consumer technology (to coincide with the Consumer Electronics Show) and in March, focused on tech and politics.

4.       Retire old words and find better ones

Samantha McGarry’s annual Words to Retire post highlighted the shallow or overused words and expressions from 2014. We’re ready to say goodbye to bae, basic and blessed – among others like literally and leverage. In 2015, using more eloquent and meaningful words will make the difference between marketing speak and a powerful pitch.

5.       Capitalize on “what’s working” to reach audiences

What we really want this holiday is to continue to reach the right audiences and to explore new channels. We’ve covered a lot of what happened in this space this year on the blog, including lessons from Reddit, Tumblr, Storify, Instagram, Ello and data behind the stories on Medium. With the variety of channels and tools available, it’s important to study what’s working and tailor your approach accordingly.

The pace of change in PR and media is expected to accelerate in 2015, and driving awareness for our clients through their unique point-of-view has become even more important. Do you have other wishes for PR this year? Share with us in the comments.

Read more from Rachel Nelson
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Let’s Chat: Social Marketing in 2015

Are you planning on being social in 2015? Chances are the answer is yes, and I’ve got the stats to prove it. According to a survey conducted by eMarketer, 89 percent of us plan to utilize social media as a marketing tool in the next year. Additionally, we plan to allocate 13 percent of our 2015 marketing budgets to social campaigns. As social media becomes a staple in the everyday lives of consumers and businesses, it is imperative as communicators that we seamlessly incorporate social media into our marketing initiatives.

I sat in on an eMarketer webinar recently that discussed social marketing trends to keep an eye on in 2015. Here are my top four takeaways from the presentation. Keep these in mind as you commence your marketing plans for 2015.

1. Ad spends will increase

As organizations prioritize and position social media to be the “quarterback” of all marketing campaigns, more attention will be paid to advertising on social platforms. eMarketer expects that 9.4 percent of 2015’s marketing budgets will be allocated to social advertising. In fact, as of September 2014, Facebook’s share of digital ad spending is outpacing adults’ time spent on the social platform in the United States.

2. Less is more when it comes to content

Content marketing has been a successful marketing strategy in past years and most organizations promote their content on social media, but the key in 2015 will be standing out amidst the constant push of information. Interaction rates for brand posts on social sites are small (less than 1 percent on Facebook and Twitter) according to recent study published by Forrester. Marketers will need to be more strategic in regards to content and cater to audiences that they know will engage socially. Fewer, more thoughtful posts tailored to the target consumer will succeed on social media in 2015.

3. Mobile will be a priority

Statistics show that most social activity occurs on mobile devices. According to Facebook, 30 percent of their worldwide users are mobile-only. Not convinced? comScore media reports that as of June 2014, 71 percent of social media activity in the United States takes place on a mobile device and eMarketer claims that 8 out of 10 social media users will use a phone to access social networks in 2015. Gone are the days of scaling initiatives down for mobile, it’s time to make it a priority. Organizations will need to design campaigns that can be viewed in passing and on smaller screens. Make it easy for the consumer to learn about you, and keep it short and sweet.

4. Tailored social measurement

Measuring social media success has always been difficult to define. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to measuring ROI on social media campaigns, and a study conducted by eConsultancy found that 40 percent of marketers worldwide considered their social media measurement capabilities “poor.” As social media becomes a staple within the marketing silo, proper measurement tools become imperative. Social analytics platforms such as Brandwatch can help organizations identify where social conversations lie and which initiatives garnered the most success. Brandwatch recently published a blog post on proving the value of social media efforts if you are interested in learning more.

Trends and predictions aside, socially successful organizations will need to be nimble in the next year to adapt to the ever-changing landscape of social media. What are your social media predictions for 2015?

Read more from Marissa Toselli
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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
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Is Tumblr the next big thing? 3 reasons to join the fastest-growing social platform

In less than a year, Tumblr has gone from being “Yahoo!’s next problem” to the fastest-growing social platform. The Yahoo-owned platform is considered an easy blogging tool for users and companies looking to engage with a younger and increasingly mobile audience. TechCrunch recently dug into research from the Global Web Index to shed some light on the changing social landscape, which shows that Tumblr’s active user base grew by 120 percent in the last six months, while Facebook’s only grew by 2 percent.

That kind of growth is nothing to sneeze at, as Marissa Mayer and her team knew when Yahoo! purchased the platform in May of 2013. Yahoo! pointed to growth as a huge driver in this acquisition, and noted that brands are hungry to engage with users of the platform.

The latest results from the Global Web Index are good news for brands looking to use Tumblr. Here are a few reasons why:

Tumblr has an active, engaged user base.

PR practitioners will know that you want to post content where people will engage with it. Tumblr’s huge growth in active users means that the site represents a pool of users looking to interact with content – re-blogging and sharing your posts with their followers. Tumblr users also reportedly spend more total time on the site than on bigger networks like Twitter, LinkedIn or Pinterest. Companies like Adidas use Tumblr to engage with customers through good interactive design and the humor behind the Denny’s brand comes through on their Tumblr blog.

The platform is rich in multimedia content.

Multimedia and visually engaging content is a huge draw to Tumblr users, who spend more time creating shareable content and connecting with other users via the platform’s built-in social network. At InkHouse we’ve learned that visually engaging content is a great way to connect with readers. Tumblr makes this easy. For example, users frequently engage with posts by General Electric, one company consistently sharing stunning visuals and multimedia graphics on Tumblr, proving that many short, informal posts are fantastic for driving engagement.

Tumblr users are flocking to mobile devices.

Tumblr has invested in making the mobile experience user-friendly and beautifully designed, and it’s paying off. A huge number of Tumblr users are accessing the site from a mobile device – 65 percent of active users, up from 50 percent in January – which is not surprising since “mobile is the social platform of choice for more than 50 percent of users ages 16-34,” according to the Global Web Index. This same age group makes up more than 70 percent of users on Tumblr and Instagram (the youngest audiences out of all social networks). With mobile rising to become a first-choice device for many social network users, brands should consider getting in front of a growing population of young, engaged consumers.

As if you need another reason to open an account, Tumblr is SEO friendly as well. Web marketing expert Lorrie Thomas Ross points out on PR Newswire that “Tumblr was architected to be search-friendly and help search visibility.”

So what are you waiting for? By creating a Tumblr blog for your company or brand you will join an active, engaged community and have the opportunity to reach more mobile users with multimedia content than ever. As we say at InkHouse, now is the time to jump right in and “publish, publish, publish.”

Read more from Molly Kalan