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Category Archives: Twitter

Tag Archives: Twitter

Periscope_for IHpost

A Marketer’s Guide to Twitter’s New Periscope Live Streaming App

While Meerkat and Snapchat Stories and Discover features have fans buzzing, Twitter’s recently launched Periscope app is taking the live casting category by storm. So what is Periscope? According to Twitter’s blog post on the launch, Periscope is “a new app that lets you share and experience live video from your mobile phone”… but that doesn’t fully capture the new world this app delivers. While I wasn’t convinced I needed a live streaming app; once I checked it out for myself, it was easy to see the potential for more creative social sharing, news coverage and branding opportunities for marketers.

My first experience watching a live broadcast on Periscope came courtesy of Josh Constine of Tech Crunch and he had me hooked from the first minute to the last.

Josh

Josh livestreamed the capabilities and potential of Periscope, by asking followers “what should I do next?” Viewers of his livecast asked him to complete tasks in real time including; serenade a woman on the street, bark at a car, ask someone for directions to Central Park (poor guy on the street fell for it), give a girl a flower, buy a Coke and some Mentos at the grocery store (and make a lame volcano), climb a palm tree, interview a street performer, and many others. His energetic jaunt from task to task was hilarious and the entertainment value was non-stop.

For marketers, Periscope is particularly powerful as it provides a new avenue to interact with fans and adds another powerful dimension to your social strategy.

Now is the time for marketers to experiment and test out live broadcasting with Periscope and other apps like Meerkat, to gain first mover advantage with this growing and engaged audience.  My colleague Lee Glandorf shared her thoughts on Meerkat and some great ideas for how marketers can experiment with live broadcasting — you can check them out in her post: Meerkat: Everything You Need to Know About the Live Streaming Video App.

After reading all of this great info on live casting, you’re ready to jump in and try Periscope for yourself, right? Well here are a few final tips to get you started:

1) Be sure to check out other live broadcasts so you can get ideas for how you may want to use your Periscope. You can comment on the video in real-time, or simply tap the screen to give the broadcaster “hearts” to show you like the show.

2) Once you are ready to do your own broadcast, be sure you give it a descriptive title to tell your followers what you are doing

3) Select your privacy options; you can leave location or privacy on or off and /or post that your broadcast is starting to your Twitter followers or not

4) Start broadcast by tapping “start broadcast” and stop it by swiping the screen down.

5) You will see people “join” your broadcast and any comments on the bottom of the screen and your “hearts” will scroll on the right side of the screen.

6) To turn the camera around while broadcasting, just double tap the screen.

7) When you stop your broadcast Periscope will start to save it for replay broadcast. As it’s loading you will have the option to cancel the saved recording (if you prefer not to give access after) and will also have the option to save the video to your camera roll. Periscope also gives you the ability to shut comments off or save the broadcast with or without comments, so you can remove any unwanted troll talk from your saved video for re-broadcast.

8) Lastly because all marketers love metrics; after your broadcast airs you can see how many people joined, what percentage stayed engaged, who they were, and how many hearts you received.

Are you a Periscope fan? We would love to hear about your favorite live casts or best marketing use case examples.

Read more from Heather Bliss
feature_tweets

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
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
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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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#ShopSmall, #SmallBizSat – another win for Small Business Saturday – and for social media

Black Friday is played out – these days, it’s all about Small Business Saturday. Started in 2010 as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday encourages shoppers to patronize brick and mortar businesses in their community and invest in the local economy. Even those fatigued with the hyper-consumerism often associated with the holiday season can get behind supporting the local businesses in their community.

However, it can tough for small businesses to compete with national corporations with substantial advertising budgets and wide reach online and off, especially around the holidays. That’s where social media has proven to be particularly impactful in recent years. For smaller enterprises, social channels provide an accessible, affordable and engaging platform through which to spread the word about promotions and interact with members of the surrounding community. The official social media presence of Small Business Saturday – aptly named Shop Small – has served to elevate the event and to showcase participating businesses to its 37,000 Twitter followers and 7,000 Instagram subscribers.

This year, smaller businesses and shoppers alike took to Instagram, Facebook and of course, Twitter in droves. Based on analytics from Brandwatch, the two official hashtags, #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat were the most popular: #ShopSmall was included in more than 62,000 tweets and retweets, garnering more than 320 million impressions, while #SmallBizSat was included more than 29,000 tweets and retweets garnering more than 334 million impressions. Furthermore, American Express and National Federation of Independent Businesses credited social media with increasing awareness of Small Business Saturday, reporting that more than 126,000 tweets were sent about the day on Saturday alone, up 10 percent from 2013.

The social promotion seems to have paid off. Some 88 million people shopped at small businesses, up nearly 15 percent from last year, and spent approximately $14.3 billion, according to a survey released today by American Express and the National Federation of Independent Business.

The Small Business Association reports that there are 23 million small businesses in the country, and the number of small businesses has increased by 49% since 1982. At a time when more people than ever before are striking out as independent business owners, it’s a good thing when social media is leveraged to rally communities in support of local commerce.

Read more from Emily Barge
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Four (OK Five) Twitter Changes Coming Soon

Yesterday, Twitter announced the availability of improvements to the private messaging feature allowing us to talk amongst ourselves a little more freely within the Twitterverse. Originally announced last week, in conjunction with Twitter’s first-ever analyst day, the company also revealed a few other significant feature changes we can look for in the weeks and months ahead. Here’s a quick synopsis of the highlights of these new Twitter improvements and engagement tools and how they can work for you.

1)      Improved Private Messaging:  In addition to the ability to switch a public message to a private one, Twitter also has its eyes on the overall messaging market. Yesterday they rolled out the ability to move public tweets easily into private ones. Will we all start using Twitter in place of our mobile messaging apps? Time will tell. In the meantime, for PR pros and marketers, this will come in very handy when wanting to share a news item or tweet with a specific person. It will also help should a reporter publically request sources on his or her public feed – now you can easy respond via private message within the same conversation.

2)      New Video Tools: These much anticipated improvements are expected to make it easier to record, edit and upload videos from within the ‘compose tweet’ interface. This will undoubtedly come in handy when tweeting video from tradeshows, media events and even for capturing the timely, on-scene reporting of breaking news. It could also offer advertisers a whole new creative outlet to promote video content.  

3)      Timeline Highlights: This nifty tool allows you to stay on top of conversations that matter most to you. According to Twitter’s blog post: “… we’re experimenting with better ways to give you what you come to Twitter for: a snapshot of what’s happening. We can use information like who you follow and what you engage with to surface highlights of what you missed and show those to you as soon as you log back in or come back to the app.” According to images shared via Mashable, it also appears it will allow users to jump back into the conversations and updates that mean the most to them, even after disappearing from the Twitterverse for a while. This will come in handy when trying to cut through the clutter in your timeline to get the skinny on what happened while you were away.

4)      Instant Timeline: This appears to be a way for Twitter to attract more newbies to engage with the Timeline. Twitter will begin to add people, whom they deem relevant to your interests, to your Twitter timeline stream (even if you aren’t following them) creating an instant timeline for those slower to build out their own. Stay tuned for more random, and hopefully relevant, people following you now that these instant recommendations will be more prevalent.

One additional caveat, this may not be a welcome change for those that prefer to control their own timeline.

Extra Bonus Twitter News

5)      Improved Archive Search: On Wednesday, Twitter also announced the ability to search in-depth into the Twitter archive. Amanda Schupak of CBS News reports: “History seekers can use advanced search to narrow to a particular time frame. For now, archival search results will show up in the “All” tab on the site and mobile app, but over time, Twitter intends to tailor search to making digging through old material easier.”

In fact, they will allow for searches all the way back to beginning of Twitter in March 2006. We look forward to all those awkward and poorly worded first tweets re-surfacing!

What are the features you are most looking forward to checking out? If you have other tips on how communicators can use these new features, please share.

Read more from Heather Bliss
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Twitter’s Biggest Ecommerce Move: The Buy Button

Hold the breaking news tweets and the flitter of media updates that flood your Twitter stream. Last week, Twitter made one of the biggest moves it’s ever made in ecommerce. Twitter is officially testing a “Buy” button, letting you buy something directly from a tweet. It’s about to get even easier to shop on your mobile device.

Twitter said in a statement on their blog, “Users will get access to offers and merchandise they can’t get anywhere else and can act on them right in the Twitter apps for Android and iOS; sellers will gain a new way to turn the direct relationship they build with their followers into sales.”

As Mashable reported, Nathan Hubbard, the former Ticketmaster CEO who joined Twitter a year ago, Twitter has been working on this ecommerce project for over a year. It was the natural, next ecommerce step after letting users add products to their Amazon shopping carts by adding the hashtag #AmazonCart and partnering with Starbucks to let customers buy a $5 gift card.

Twitter didn’t take on this endeavor alone. In fact, they worked with a variety of different companies to bring together this service including:  Stripe, an online payment service, The Fancy, Gumroad and Musictoday. Through this partnership, the “Buy” button enables users to make a purchase in just a few taps.

Right now, Twitter is testing the buy button with a group of brands, artists and non-profits organizations. Some of the testing accounts include: @bradpaisley, @burberry, @HomeDepot and @RED.

Once this feature rolls out to more brands, we want to think about how this can help with an overall content strategy or campaign. It might mean fewer Twitter ads for certain clients – especially consumer clients – or a focus on the right messaging in 140 characters or less to drive a sale. As the holidays approach, Twitter could not have chosen a better time to make us all more addicted to reading every tweet in our stream, and following all of our favorite brands.

Have you seen the Twitter Buy button yet on any tweets?

Read more from Danielle Laurion
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At First Glance: How the Apple Watch Will Change the Media

Last week Apple introduced its highly anticipated Apple Watch and launched us into the era of wearable technology. As a new medium for instant connection to the world around us, wearable technology complicates an already multifaceted media environment, and Apple’s association of “glance” with the watch is making waves before it’s even in stores.

The popular phrase “at first glance” comes to mind when thinking about Apple’s use of the term. Our first glance is the most important. We form quick judgments and make initial decisions within seconds of viewing something.

Consider the popular mobile dating app Tinder, which is now valued higher than $750 million. You open your account and a profile image of a possible love connection appears on your phone. You swipe right to like or left to pass, and make a critical (or not so critical) relationship decision in a matter of seconds.

In fact, it takes a tenth of a second to make a first impression, and these impressions don’t often change with time. This inclination in all of us, merged with technology, is driving the success of dating apps like Tinder, but it’s also impacting the way we communicate, share news and stay connected.

We experience everything faster today. In 2006, Twitter cut down an 800 word article to 140 characters and transformed how we consume news with its Twitter feed and mobile app. But the Apple Watch incites an even more dramatic shift in media delivery.

Dan Shanoff from NiemanLab said, “Glance journalism makes tweets look like longform.”

While the Apple Watch isn’t at the stage where it’s independently providing a constant feed of news, social media updates, emails and communications, it’s likely not far off and it will benefit all media professionals to start thinking about how to adjust their content now to get the right first impression later.

So how can we prepare for the glance?

The glance suggests we will give only a tenth of a second to the updates we will wear on our wrist and it will be primarily visual, and, for the first time, somatic. Marketing professionals and journalists will need to focus on three mechanisms to successfully reach their audiences through wearable technology:

  1. What we feel: This one is the game changer. Apple’s digital touch through pressure sensors will change how we experience communications and will allow media influencers to literally touch their audience. Will breaking news come to us in the form of a rapid heartbeat? Or will funny video content tickle us? We need to consider how the tone and message of our content would translate to physical touch and how that may be an even more effective tool to get our message across.
  2. What we see: We already know images and videos are the best forms for engagement. A recent study from Simply Measured proved Tweets with photos and links receive 150 percent more engagement than brand averages. So it will be essential to adapt our photo and video content to the watch format, whether it’s through apps or internal design. GIFs may even take a more prominent role as they are essentially a mini video with an image, an emotion or action, and a message. Regardless of preference, wearable technology makes visual content a top priority.
  3. What we read: The Apple Watch demands an even shorter version of Twitter’s 140 characters to fit its face. Shorter headlines can be the most attention-grabbing, but media professionals still need to deliver the news, messaging and updates accurately. We need to improve on telling stories and crafting messaging in just a handful of words to succeed in a future with wearable technology.

While I’m personally a black sheep as a late adopter in the tech world, I recognize the impact of the Apple Watch will be enormous for the marketing and media industries. It will not only change how we deliver and digest content, but how we measure the effectiveness of our campaigns. We will reap the benefits of wearable technology if we start preparing in advance for its disruption.

Read more from Rachael Tucker
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Blogging and Brands: Five Takeaways from BlogHer 2014

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Over the last ten years, blogging and social media have provided women with a platform for communication, self-expression, activism, community and revenue. During this time, blogging platforms evolved, smartphones became ubiquitous, social media became second nature and brands, businesses and even politicians realized the influence of women and blogging.

This year, the BlogHer conference celebrated its tenth anniversary. What started out as a gathering of a few “mommy” bloggers has grown into a powerful enterprise that attracts a passionate gathering of more than 3,000 bloggers, the crème de la crème of keynote speakers and a who’s who of consumer brand sponsors. Attendees were entertained, educated and awed not only by powerhouse speakers/household names like Arianna Huffington and Kerry Washington but also by Twitter’s VP of brands Melissa Barnes (interviewed by “the most feared and well-liked journalist in Silicon Valley,” Kara Swisher), eBay’s CMO Richelle Parham and comedian Tig Notaro. We heard from some of the “original” bloggers from ten years ago and learned how the act of blogging for a decade has transformed their lives – both personally and professionally – as well as impacting society. And we were moved by the eloquence, courage, wit and insight of many individual bloggers who narrated their most powerful and personal stories during the Voices of the Year session. (Worth a read, believe me.)

There were many themes that resonated throughout BlogHer14. What struck me most – and which PR professionals and brand marketers should pay attention to – was that despite the quest for SEO, page views, traffic, monetization and buzz, the following five fundamentals still matter the most:

  1. Storytelling: Even if monetization is the goal, storytelling remains the essence of blogging. Stories matter, words matter, passion matters – these themes echoed. “Words make the world,” said blogging veteran, @schmutzie. Personal blogger @addyeB, who eschews SEO, described her approach: “Words burn hot and I need to get them out there.”  To build a connection with bloggers, PR and brand marketers must find a way to mesh their goals with the stories that bloggers want to tell. This is different from pitching reporters, according to @BusyDadBlog who commented: “Media is driven by information; bloggers are driven by passion and storytelling.”
  2. Authenticity: Having a voice and being true to it is something bloggers care about and are not willing to compromise for the sake of a brand. “Every sponsored post is a shot at your credibility,” explained successful blogger @kristenhowerton. She provided the example of a brand that pitched her to write about granola bars. She didn’t want to write about granola bars. But she did want to write about the benefits of unstructured play for kids and was able to weave granola bars into her story which made it all the more authentic, relatable and ultimately, more successful for both Kristen’s blog and the brand.
  3. Community: “Finding your tribe” was another consistent theme of BlogHer. The power of blogging to connect people with a common cause or passion. A vibrant community can amplify a message, propel activism and build strong connections and allies. But the conversations between members of a community may take place in many places – on social, in blog comments, forums and so on. For PR and brands, figuring out how and where to engage these communities can be very powerful.
  4. Dealing with negative comments: Blogging and social media gives people a platform to tell stories and speak their minds but they also give negativity a channel. There was a lot of discussion among the bloggers at the conference about how to deal with such negative content with options raising from block-and-delete and fighting back tactics to taking the high road and even learning from the trolls. @kristenhowerton explained her rationale: “When people like your stuff, they share it. When they don’t, they comment.” @Djazzo advised us to “Lean into the discomfort of negative comments. They inform the gravitas of your writing.” Equally, brands and business people are often subject to negative comments and, like bloggers, should use them to acknowledge and understand what motivates or annoys their audiences. You can find some good tips here.
  5. Influence: Bloggers and their communities wield enormous influence, especially when it comes to women, the ultimate target demographic for many brands. @BusyDadBlog acknowledged, “Bloggers have the power to change conversations and to make or break brands.” He commented that, with influence, comes the responsibility to be fair. eBay’s CMO Richelle Parham told the audience that eBay actively seeks out “passionate experts” to deliver “micro-endorsements” for brands selling through the platform. What makes a good influencer? “Someone who has a point of view, passion, a distinct voice and something unique and special to say,” she explained.

The chief takeaway for PR and brands: don’t overlook the fundamental motivations of bloggers and blogging communities. Find ways to help them tell the stories that matter to them. (You can find other practical tips for pitching mommy bloggers here.)

BlogHer14 drove thousands of tweets during its three days and after – here’s a handy dandy synopsis as told through 140 characters and images.

Read more from Samantha McGarry
april92014post

Things Biz Stone Told Me

Photo Credit: JD Lasica via Flickr

Silicon Valley is full of its fair share of innovation rock stars. Names like “Elon Musk” or “Travis Kalanick” tend to stir up excitement whenever mentioned. But Biz Stone, one of the original founders of Twitter, is in a league of his own. Unlike many (many, many) other startup founders, Stone didn’t become notorious for tantrums or product exactitude. Stone stands apart for his borderline oppressive optimism and general cheerfulness, which is not diminished in the face of CEO turnover, The Colbert Report, or Kara Swisher, who interviewed Stone on Monday night at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.

Stone was ostensibly there to discuss his new book, “Things a Little Bird Told Me: Confessions of the Creative Mind.” But Swisher, being co-executive editor of Re/Code and all, wanted the dirt, specifically digging into how Stone ended up on the founding team of Twitter and its well-chronicled rocky beginning (described by Swisher as a “hipster Game of Thrones”). Nestled in Stone’s origin story were some great lessons and insights for anyone interested in business or trying to create something new. Here are my three favorites:

Fake it till you make it

This is something our own Beth Monaghan has written about. After his first venture Xanga failed, Stone moved back into his mother’s basement, sans prospects and with a lot of debt. He started a fake company, Genius Labs, and claimed to be doing all kinds of wild things on his blog, Biz Stone, Genius. Stone went so far as to announce the company had been purchased by Google. It hadn’t. But as Stone kept writing about crazy things Genius Labs was doing on his blog, he started to hit on real ideas. Those eventually got the attention of his future Twitter co-founder, Evan Williams, who ultimately got him hired at Google and set him on the path to Twitter.

Get emotionally involved

Williams and Stone left Google together to start Odeo, a podcasting platform. But, as Stone told it, “neither of us podcasted and we didn’t listen to podcasts.” They weren’t emotionally invested in it. He feels confident that the company could have made them the “kings of podcasting,” but eventually they realized that they didn’t want to be the kings of podcasting. For all the drama that came with the leadership changes at Twitter, that’s what happens when you become emotionally invested in your work. Everyone just wanted what was best for the company and they all believed they had the answer. And, as Stone pointed out, Twitter is now extremely valuable and had a successful IPO. The founders’ emotional investment is what made it successful.

Twitter needed Twitter

Though now a venture of “lasting value,” as Stone put it, Twitter had a very slow start. It relied on literal word of mouth to get going, and most people, including its founders, didn’t realize its potential to completely change how news and information is spread. By comparison, Stone’s new app, Jelly, had more users in 24 hours than Twitter had in a year. The difference? Well, Twitter. Twitter has completely changed how people share new apps and things that they’re into, leading to the new phenomenon of the overnight app success (see:  Flappy Bird). Any new creative venture, company or launch absolutely has to have a Twitter strategy to be successful.

For more on Biz Stone’s talk at the Commonwealth Club, including full audio of the talk, visit its website.

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