NEW MEDIA OR UFO?

ufo_pastel.jpgLol! @ my grand-folks who repeatedly tell me to “go into the google” to get the answers to questions I don’t know. As if the answers are all in a drawer somewhere in the google cabinet. Lol! @ that thought. Of course, this is years after they became accustomed to navigating the web. Now, its like an invasion. I receive whatsapp hellos and emails sometimes three times per day, which conclude with the customary “Lol, ok, just checking if you’re there and well.” #SoCute.

According to the Pew Research Center, Internet use among those 65 and older grew 150 percent between 2009 and 2011, the largest growth in a demographic group. Furthermore, their 2012 study showed that of those that go online, 71 percent do so daily and 34 percent use social media. Another observation is that while millennial and many 40 + use social media in a “selfie” sort of way, the elderly, who are very sensitive to privacy issues, use it to connect with family and like-minded individuals.

The statistics provided speak specifically to the United States, but Jamaica is quickly catching on. Computer classes at senior centres are growing in popularity. Classes on computer basics as well as instruction in using email and other social media platforms such as Facebook have become more common.  Conversations with some members of CCRP, Caribbean Community of Retired Persons – a non-profit membership organization for persons 50 and over, retired or preparing for retirement, revealed that this is fast becoming one of the most popular part of the program.

Personally speaking, it does appear seniors might be one of the few demographics with a lot of online growth yet to come, and perhaps an undervalued market for internet-based products and services. I mean, before every doctor visit, my grandmother religiously checks Web MD for information, or as she calls it “Second opinion” #NeverADullMoment.

To marketers, I guess the question which comes to mind is, if senior citizens are your target market, should you be using social media to market to them?

Navigating Journalism & #PersonalSpeak

53a1320ecf4c21.69186106Social media has changed the way that people around the world get the news, and journalists and the organizations that employ them have had to quickly adapt. Today, most people find their news on Facebook or twitter. Journalists have also confessed, they too use these social media platforms in search of potential, ‘breaking news’. In the same way, many journalists have been urged by newsroom management to use these spaces as a place to share their work and connect with the public. But are they successfully navigating the space, separating news from personal opinions?

The Elderman Media Forcast notes that 75 percent of journalists say that they use Twitter to build their own brand. Not the brand of the agency they represent, but their personal brand. What seems to be the result is industry leaders are today expressing mixed feelings about newsroom staff using social media to engage with readers and sources, partly because of the risk that they will give opinions rather than facts. Also, part of the debate about how journalists should use social media centers on audience members, specifically, how this trend impacts their view of journalists and their work.

Yes, journalists need to evolve with social media in order to retain their eminence as the go-to news source, and no one is disputing that. The challenge is, while social media may bring a wider variety of people to an issue and can give a voice to those who were once voiceless and overlooked, the line between a journalist’s personal opinion and newsroom facts are so blurred, many still wonder who is speaking – the journalist or the news agency. So again the question remains, do journalists have a right to personal opinion especially on issues that are current? Steve Buttry, Director of the Buttry Diary gives some perspective on the matter. Have a read and share your views.

  1. Opinions are not fundamentally unethical journalism, but to be safe, should be left editorial writers and columnists.
  2. Opinions matter, and the place of opinions in journalism is being reassessed on many fronts. While this is true, one should be very careful as readers may read a column or personal note that expressed a viewpoint and then expected to see that viewpoint reflected in stories by that journalist.
  3. Decisions about using Twitter should be guided by good journalism ethics, not by special rules or practices for Twitter. – If your editor and you decide it is best not to express opinions (at all or on a particular issue such as Occupy), that doesn’t mean you can’t show some personality in social media. You can show some humor, you can tweet about your family, you can tweet sports loyalties (perhaps not if you’re a sports writer), you can tweet about other interests such as gardening, travel, etc.

See link below to his full blog post from the Buttry Dairy. https://stevebuttry.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/questions-and-answers-about-journalists-opinions-in-social-media/

Blogging VS Vlogging

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There remains some debate on whether blogging is still relevant in today’s social media marketing environment. There are those who feel blogging is one of the most valuable tools that businesses have to engage with customers and ultimately make their lives easier. While others believe video blogging, or vlogging, with its immediacy and image design, have made blogging irrelevant. Well, the latest HubSpot survey says, 60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers, so, let us hear what the pro-bloggers are saying.

  1. Blogs are cost-effective marketing investments. Every post you publish is a long-term asset that helps build brand awareness and promote your expertise, products and services, and creates free PR. Business bloggers are often interviewed by journalists as industry experts.
  2. Blogging fuels SEO. Search engines love valuable content and will reward you for it.
  3. A blog allows you to tell your brand’s story. It is a great place to offer more insight into your company, philosophy, employees, and ideas. Tell your customers why you’re in business and how you can help them.

Ok, good points, and the same could also be said for the other information channels. Vlogging, for example is free to run on YouTube or Vimeo. What’s a vlog you may ask? Vlogging stands for video blogging. You create videos about a specific topic. It is also like an online diary, but in video. Today, like content, video is king, so it is not that difficult to see why more businesses and social individuals will resort to vlogging over blogging. Well, that is, once you’ve acquired a video camera and gotten over your fear of being in front of a camera or filming. Here’s what digital storyteller, Cameron Munro has to assay about the benefits of vlogging.

  1. Shows personality – Whether your message is marketing strategies, make-up tips, fitness help or dog grooming, adding your face / personality to your message goes a long way.
  2. Adds legitimacy – Going along with the personality factor, having a voice and face behind your messages ads legitimacy to your cause. People are far more likely to purchase your products if they know who is behind them.
  3. More traffic – Plain and simple, today’s generation would far rather watch a video then read text. YouTube itself is the second most used search engine in the world so you will likely get more traffic on your YouTube channel then your site. PLUS you can point that traffic back to your site to sell your products.

So, on blogging vs vlogging. They both allow for SEO, making money, and gaining traffic, therefore it’s really just a matter of deciding what works based on your location, interest and the product or service you have on offer. Which would you chose?

Busting the myth on Viral Marketing – Strategic or Accidental?

Ok, so I’m not usually a Wikipedia user, but I do like the definition they provided on viral marketing (VM), which by the way is also referred to as viral advertising, or marketing buzz. VM refers to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networking services and other technologies to try to produce increases in brand awareness or to achieve other marketing objectives (such as product sales). Said another way by PracticalEcommerce.com, viral marketing is a business strategy that uses existing social networks to promote a product. Its name refers to how consumers spread information about a product with other people in their social networks, much in the same way that a virus spreads from one person to another.

Who uses viral marketing?

Marketing schools.org notes that viral marketing is useful as a stand-alone marketing tool or as a part of a larger campaign that uses multiple kinds of marketing. It is especially attractive to smaller businesses or companies because viral marketing can be a cheaper alternative to traditional marketing efforts. Once a company knows what its target demographic wants and how they communicate, they begin creating content those people will want to share.

Of course, this is not to be confused with social marketing campaigns that happen to go viral because something in a video or print ad has had an unusually appealing effect on viewers, causing mass sharing across social media platforms. The blog site Social Times defines this as; the brand losing control of message distribution, yet messages remain intact. No. Viral marketing is strategic, systematic and requires careful planning and a team with a diverse range of skills in new media technology, creativity, and communications.

PracticalEcommerce.com lists six elements that an effective viral marketing strategy should include.

  1. Gives away products or services – Free products, free download free trial never fail.
  2. Provides for effortless transfer to others – Effortlessly convert and transfer from one platform to another.
  3. Scales easily from small to very large –
  4. Exploits common motivations and behaviors – desire to be cool. Greed drives people. So does the hunger to be popular, loved, and understood.
  5. Utilizes existing communication networks – Learn to place your message into existing communications between people, and you rapidly multiply its dispersion.
  6. Takes advantage of others’ resources – The most creative viral marketing plans use others’ resources to get the word out. Affiliate programs, for example, place text or graphic links on others’ websites.

Will the Real Gatekeepers Please Stand Up

banner-960x480There is no doubt that the web has changed the world and practically revolutionized how information is stored, published, searched and consumed. Marketers are now able to reach clients instantaneously, and also be more strategic in their methods of approach, using social media. Journalists are not excluded from this evolving phenomenon. They too are now learning to navigate their way through the policies and ethics of social media, fast becoming influential as a communication and news-breaking tool.

In the days of traditional media reporting, a journalist was given a lead or went out to find a story. Today, many stories are received third hand (sometimes even fourth or fifth hand) on various social media platforms, twitter being the most used.  In many instances, by the time a story is assigned to the reporter, the story in some form or another is already out there in the social media universe. A good example is the news about the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, Facebook and Twitter users broke the story ahead of any major news network. Looking locally, the recent death of prominent journalists, Gary Spaulding, twitter users broke the news first. What then does this mean for societies whose democracy support press freedom? It means that the gatekeeper role is no longer the job of journalists and media practitioners. The interactive culture of social media has now removed that wall which separates the reader from the journalist.

Smart technology has now put in the hands of citizens, smart devices which gives them the power to report on events or situations of horror. Social media users are both receiving and giving real-time commenting as it breaks, using social media platforms, such as Periscope, Snapchat and the Facebook live video feature. The recent killings in the United States, where one incident was captured and reported via Facebook live, is but one example of just how social media is changing the way we receive breaking news, making reporters out of mere citizens.

This then begs the question, will the traditional method of journalism survive the age of social media?

Getting it Right

According to Nielsen’s 2012 Social Media Report, nearly half of U.S. consumers use social media to ask questions, report satisfaction, or to complain—and a third of social media users prefer “social care” to the phone.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have become more than just platforms for random musings or marketing and advertising, many companies now rely on these platforms for customer opinions and customers intern view these as important channels to ask and receive customer service.

Lauren Horwitz, Executive Editor, Business Applications and Architecture, notes that increasingly, customers want real-time, high-touch, high-quality service wherever they are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Periscope on a company website, and from their smartphones. Therefore, the fact that brands are present on social media, users increasingly expect to be able to reach out to them there and receive an effective response.

So, if you haven’t yet invested in this new social customer service trend, here are five reasons why you should, according to Search Engine Watch:

1) It is convenient

The idea that social media provides a faster response to customer service enquiries is not necessarily true, as this can depend on the complexity of the requests, the volume, and how well-equipped a company is to deal with them. But what it does provide is convenience.

2) People expect a response – and they like to be heard

While customers have a limited amount of patience nowadays, they absolutely still want to be heard; they’re just using different channels to communicate with brands. Research commissioned by Lithium Technologies in 2013 found that 53% of people who tweet at a brand expect a response within the hour. This figure shoots up to 72% when people have a complaint to make.

3) A good impression counts for a lot

The way you respond in any situation can make all the difference to your brand’s reputation and profile. Social media has been a game-changer for customer service in that it makes brand-customer interactions much more public, making companies accountable for the way that they deal with customers. It also provides companies with a major opportunity to create a positive impression for their brand, and showcase their commitment to good customer experience. Perfect example is the Taylor Swift exchange with Apple iTunes. To Apple, Love Taylor http://taylorswift.tumblr.com/post/122071902085/to-apple-love-taylor …

4) Customer service makes a huge difference to customer retention

According to data gathered by Zendesk, 40% of customers began purchasing from a competitor brand based on its reputation for great customer service, while 85% were willing to pay up to 25% more to ensure a superior customer service experience.

5) It can be beneficial for product research and marketing

As Matt Owen wrote in our ‘Social Customer Service: Best Practice Guide’, “In addition to providing information, social media channels should provide an open space for customers to discuss issues they have with a product or service, and the more constructive businesses will see this as a valuable source of product feedback, which can guide their own internal focus and reduce wastage.”

Influencer Marketing the Next Best Thing?

 

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Maybe not all the rage, but Jamaica is slowly catching on. Influencer marketing is definitely making its rounds and marketers are cautiously ‘buying’ into the fact that consumers own the buying power and if companies want to stay relevant to today’s consumer, they have to start listening.

So, for the unfamiliar, who are influencers? These are consumers with large audience/followers who trust what they, the influencer, has to say. According to the latest stats, they are the new powerful voices that drive purchase decisions. Why? Because today’s consumers look to fellow consumers to inform their purchasing power.

“Influencer marketing programs delivered an average of $11.20 for every dollar spent in 2015. That figure is up 63% from the previous year, and continues to grow.” (Tapinfluence.com)

As Tapinfluence.com further explains, most influencer campaigns have some sort of social-media component, where influencers are expected to spread the word through their personal social channels and contacts. Many influencer campaigns also carry a content element in which the company creates content for the influencers, or the influences create the content themselves.

As mentioned earlier, Jamaica is no stranger to the trend. We see companies such as Jamaica Public Service Company (JPS Co.) utilizing Quiteperry in their new energy conservation campaign. On Instagram alone, Quiteperry has approximately 245, 000 followers. Was he the right fit for the brand? It would be good to know the ROI for that campaign.

Important tip: Before you make the decision to engage an influencer, be sure they are a good contextual fit to your brand, otherwise their post or tweet would be moot as far as driving leads and customers.

Quiteperry n energy conservation – “If appliances could talk” https://www.instagram.com/p/BF-YODopEq-/?taken-by=quiteperry&hl=en

 

I am data-driven, are you?

Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape once joked, “If we have data, let’s look at data. If all we have are opinions, let’s go with mine.”

Business person analyzing financial statistics displayed on the tablet screen
Business person analyzing financial statistics displayed on the tablet screen

Let us be clear. All businesses, the successful ones anyway, rely heavily on the technologies and human perception to collect, disseminate, and act on insights. Therefore, it’s only natural that technologies delivering faster, cheaper, more accurate information create opportunities for strategic planning. Of what do we speak, you may ask. whatis.com defines Data-driven decision management (DDDM) as an approach to business governance that values decisions that can be backed up with verifiable data. The success of the data-driven approach is reliant upon the quality of the data gathered and the effectiveness of its analysis and interpretation.

According to Forbes contributor, Jon Bruner, there are five key steps for making data-driven decisions. These are:

  1. Understand what the real business question is. Ask the stakeholder what she really wants to know. “Why is this person asking this question? What’s the context, what are the impacted segments?”
  2. Create an analysis plan with hypotheses. “What are your fundamental beliefs about this problem? Let’s do a guided exploration. This is where you decide what methodology you’re going to use–am I going to use correlation analysis, is this a profiling problem, am I going to go into predictive analysis?”
  3. Collect data. Based on step 2, you’ll know what sort of data you need to collect.
  4. Gather insights. “Now that you’ve collected data, you’ve ordered it, validated it, triangulated it, then you get into the analysis part based on the technique you’ve chosen.”
  5. Make recommendations. “It’s not only the technical aspects that are important, but also the soft aspects: what are you doing with your stakeholders? You are an analyst. What are you doing with the folks on the other side? How are you building alignment so that when you say ‘here are my insights, ta-dah!’ somebody is going to be able to work along with you. If you’ve not brought your stakeholders along, then they won’t necessarily take your recommendations.”

A fundamental problem observed in many firms in Jamaica, and this is generally unique to small businesses, there is very little or no accessible data available locally to assist owners in making better business decisions, and for those who do make the effort to do primary research, find it expensive.

Is content really King?

Content is king, content is king, again I say, content is king! But is it really?

Content_is_king_on_social_marketing

Image from http://www.socialmediamktg.it

Content marketing is not a new concept in the world of digital marketing, but right now, it does appear to be more important than ever before. As businesses use websites and blogs to prove their own expertise, there are those who are of the view that content is at the heart of today’s social media marketing strategies. Yes, product displays have its place, and telemarketing can go so far and likewise media advertising, but all find it difficult to always reach the intended target audience. The fact is, a one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice when it comes to content marketing.

Because of the distinct nature of social media platforms to reach a specified audience, marketers have to now focus on creating unique, high-quality and authentic content that is not only entertaining, but useful and interesting for consumers. Whether you decide to use text, video and imagery or info-graphics, surveys, webinars and podcasts, whatever your preferred content medium is, it is only wise to have it be shareable and relevant to your business.

According to Jon Gelberg, Principal, The Dilenschneider Group, a well-executed content marketing strategy:

  • Puts a human face on your business
  • Bolsters search engine optimization efforts
  • Establishes you as a thought leader
  • Creates greater customer loyalty
  • Supports public relations efforts
  • Provides fodder for social media

Gelberg also notes that when done well, content marketing can do amazing things for a business. When done badly, it can be a waste of time, money, and energy. At the very worst, poor content can do irreparable damage to a brand.

Have employees gone wild?

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In my last blog, we looked at the power of social media and whether it influences  ‘Thinking out loud’. In this blog, we will look at personal or private information on social media.

Social networking has become very popular in our culture, and I’ve often wondered if the technology is influencing peoples’ views about ethics at work and within their own social spheres. Social media has very unique characteristics when compared to traditional media. Its speed and scope means that once content is published, it is available instantaneously, to a potentially global audience. While the decision to post videos, pictures, thoughts, experiences and observations to social networking sites, is a personal right, a single act can create far-reaching ethical consequences for individuals. Similarly, when an organization uses social media in an irresponsible way on behalf of an organization of through their personal social networking site, it not only exposes the organization to integrity risks, but may undermine the company’s commitment to ethical practices.

Cases in point: Government officials who continually post personal opinions on topics of national concern without scant regard for the office they hold. Should a judge express a personal bias on an issue in a public sphere? Consider too, a news agency tipped about the death of a public figure, do they discuss with the police and await notification of the death to next-of-kin, or do they rush to publish the story in the name of ‘Breaking news’ or ‘You’ve heard it here first’? Also, journalists who post personal opinions about news headlines via their personal social networking platforms – readers may assume that they speak on the employer’s behalf, making it difficult to separate the journalist’s personal views from the news.

Personally speaking, all news agencies should have social media guidelines or policies such as: “Don’t publish names of the deceased until next of kin is notified, Don’t discuss articles that have been published, meetings you’ve attended or plan to attend with staff or sources, or interviews that you’ve conducted.”

@IMSocial876