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On February 16th, W2O Group had the pleasure of sponsoring/speaking at the Holmes Report’s 3rd Annual In2 Summit in San Francisco. The event focused on bringing together “the industry’s most innovative minds to explore the future of influence and engagement.” [You can read our agency-wide recap here.]

At this years’ event, BrewLife was honored with the In2 SABRE Award for “Use of Social Media or Analytics for Audience Insights or Influencer Targeting” for our Tejava Tea social media campaign – an award we are extremely proud to receive.

BrewLife partnered with Crystal Geyser’s Tejava Tea last summer to help raise awareness and increase sales for their summer tour in LA. Tejava would be giving out samples at outdoor concerts and along the Santa Monica Pier, sponsoring events, and running billboard and radio ads throughout the area over a six week period. Our agency was tasked with developing a cohesive and consistent voice across all of Tejava social media platforms, which included Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Lifestyle ChangersWe kicked off the project the way we always like to: by tapping the W2O Analytics team to help identify Tejava’s target audience in the LA area. This was done through a SocialGraphics analysis, a proprietary analytics tool that identifies key interests and affinities, demographics, and the most important product features to our target persona. After looking at the results, we deemed our target segment the “Lifestyle Changers,” people looking to make healthier life choices – like switching from soda to Tejava’s zero-calorie, unsweetened tea.

We then completed a conversation-based analysis which highlighted all of the conversations “Lifestyle Changers” were having on social media over the past year. The results allowed us to identify groups with common characteristics, which we could then target throughout the campaign.

We used Tejava’s unique spin on unsweetened tea and all-natural elements to come up with the #PerfectNothing campaign, celebrating the moments of “nothing” in life. Our creative team showcased the #PerfectNothing lifestyle through candid posts showcasing the simplicity of Tejava’s unique fans’ healthy lifestyles.

Social PostsFor two weeks leading up to the LA tour and then six weeks throughout the tour, we posted 2-3 social posts per week. Once the campaign was underway, we tracked performance and adjusted our strategy to optimize each post. For example, analysis showed active imagery and group shots performed better so we adapted the creative to maximize on these insights.

Additionally, we worked with our Analytics team to identify social influencers and place paid ads to target them specifically. Our SocialGraphics and conversation-based analysis allowed us to place ads and use social influencers that would come in contact with “Lifestyle Changers” through common page likes, conversation topics, and more. This was a great way to increase awareness as well as visibility across social channels.

This award means a lot to us because it demonstrates the added value of working with BrewLife, a W2O Company. Not only do clients get the insights and intelligence of the BrewLife team, but they also get the input and analytical capabilities from our long hallway at W2O. The Tejava #PerfectNothing campaign is a great example of how collaboration across various teams allowed us to create and launch a successful (and award winning) campaign!

This summer, BrewLife celebrated the successful completion of its first hospitality engagement with the grand opening of Hotel Zephyr, a one-of-a-kind hotel property in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf. BrewLife collaborated with Zephyr’s management organization, Davidson Hotels & Resorts, for a little over a year to create this fresh, irreverent and standout hospitality brand.

BrewLife kicked off our engagement by using our proprietary social analytics to understand the interests and behaviors of both visitors to San Francisco as well as global travelers who have indicated a preference for visiting boutique hotels. Results from this analysis helped shape customer personas as well as key elements of the brand and guest experience.

Identity design came next, with our talented designers creating a playful and colorful logo for the property that both represents the hotel’s cargo ship design narrative and its centerpiece amenity, “The Yard, ” a 10,000 square foot adult playground. Your standard hotel logo this is not.

Zephyr Logo

With our baseline look and feel established, BrewLife moved on to creative campaign development. Also diverting from the usual, the property’s launch creative campaign, entitled “Twisted”, challenges preconceptions about what constitutes an upscale hotel stay through hotel scenes and characters that have surprising twists related to the Zephyr story. From a bellhop with a fishtail sticking out of a suitcase to a prim and proper maid with a raucous sailor tattoo on her arm, it’s apparent that things at Hotel Zephyr are just a bit different. The creative campaign has made an appearance on Hotel Zephyr’s website and across collateral.

In the months leading up to the hotel’s launch, BrewLife’s PR team worked to raise awareness of the property, engaging national and local travel journalists and influencers through press releases and trend pitches. At project wrap-up, our team had secured over 50 placements, including features in the digital or print editions of Travel+Leisure, The Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Business Times and Hotel Chatter. These placements garnered a cumulative 45 million media impressions.

At BrewLife we often talk about the fact that our clients outside the healthcare space provide a fertile experimentation ground that allows us to explore tactics and technologies that might be a few years away from mass adoption by our biotech, medical device and digital health clients. Hotel Zephyr has certainly been one of those projects.

Visiting San Francisco sometime soon? Book a room at the Hotel Zephyr at hotelzephyrsf.com.

In the one second that passed while I was writing this blog post, there were 100,181 YouTube videos viewed, 2,045 Instagram photos uploaded and 9,109 Tweets. Whether we like it or not, we are constantly bombarded by all types of media and the fight for attention will continue to increase as digital technology enables our 24/7 consumption of content.

Standing out is hard, but building trust is harder.

Rising above the crowd is a tough order today. Marketing by interruption only gets you a few seconds of attention and if there is nothing relevant at that exact moment to engage your audience, you can be sure they have probably already moved on to something else. The fallout from a failed interruptive marketing execution is that the technique starts to get a bad reputation. Just like how I can’t wait to click away any banners that takeover my screen (Where is that clickable X?).

What does this mean for companies? For non-profit organizations? For us personally?

It means that if you are trying to influence anyone, sell anything, or say anything at all, it has to be relevant to your target audience. The message has to be delivered at the right time and be educational or entertaining, or better yet both. To build long-term relationships, your audience needs to trust you and in this world of social media, there is no escape.

You cannot run and you cannot hide in today’s marketplace.

Organizations are made up of people and people leave digital footprints whether we like it or not. Today more than ever, customers interact with companies and organizations at so many levels there is really no desk to hide behind. In fact, the prevailing strategy that seems so obvious but becomes so scary for most is to embrace transparency and utilize it to build your reputation. As Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz stated, “The currency of leadership is transparency”. How companies choose to use this currency determines the fate of their brand.

We need to seek permission through continuous authenticity.

To seek permission from your audience is to establish trust in your relationship. Seth Godin coined the term “permission marketing” years ago, but the concept is more relevant now than ever. He proposed that “Permission marketing turns strangers into friends and friends into loyal customers.” This idea rings true in the newfound popularity of content marketing and is also the core to Gary Vaynerchuk’s book on social media marketing titled “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook”. Establish trust through a stream of relevant content before you offer up a product or service.

Authenticity begins by looking within.

Prophetic, isn’t it? But how do you gain permission by building trust? How do you know what to say? How do you avoid your audience sniffing out your misalignment? You need to start from the core. Branding. Branding is not an icon, it’s not a font, and it’s not a website. It’s the culmination of every touch point between your organization and your audience. And these touch points expose who you truly are. That’s the essence of your brand.

Don’t leave your brand to chance by letting your audience tell you (and others) who you really are through ruthless reviews or buying decisions. Instead, embark on a brand insights process to methodically architect your touch points. Even if your brand is not in your hands, developing a brand strategy is more predictable and infinitely smarter.

Ultimately, a brand needs to align externally.

A winning brand sells more products, services, and ideas. Nothing matters if the brand essence does not translate to a brand promise that is relevant to your audience. Delivering upon that promise every single day is what makes a strong and trusted brand.

Below is a typical process that reveals, builds, and protects your brand. It is comprised of three phases: Self-Discovery, Internal and External Alignment, and Interface Architecture. Some guiding questions are provided to kick start your creative juices.

(1) Self-Discovery

  • Who are you?
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • How are you different?

(2) Internal and External Alignment

  • What is the best way for you to be presented to your target audience?
  • What will you look like?
  • What would you say?
  • How will you say it?

(3) Interface Architecture

  • When are all the times you will interface with your audience?
  • What are the assets, capabilities and systems needed to consistently reflect your brand?
    • Assets
      • What content or materials do you need?
      • What channels will you use?
    • Capabilities
      • What competencies do you need to tell your story over and over?
      • What tools will you need to optimize the experience?
    • Systems
      • How will you measure your success?
      • What processes do you need to automate a consistent experience?
      • How will you incentivize a culture to support your brand?

The next time you find yourself loving a brand, you will instantly understand that it is no coincidence. Each and every touch point is painstakingly orchestrated for you to feel that way. Now the questions is: Is your brand worth caring for?

Each year, more than 25,000 interactive experts visit Austin to hear about what’s next and reflect on what it means for their organizations. It’s very easy to get caught up in the buzz. Very hard to sort through it all and figure out what really matters. Basically, what is the trend underlying an innovation or what is the truth that we should live by as we lead our communications teams? Here are four key trends related to innovation and four pearls of wisdom from leading professionals that emerged at SXSW. Each is focused on how it will influence our work.

1. The importance of Meerkat. On its face, it’s simply an app that allows you to share video via Twitter. In reality, visual content is our favorite way to learn and it is driving many innovative models.

The Fortune 500 is doing a poor job of leading with video first, however. In fact, often it is just an add-on to our work. Big mistake.

We prefer to learn visually, technology is making it easier to do so and the marketplace is creating more visual solutions. Are we evolving our own use of video inside our companies?

2. Speed kills old models. We groan as we wait six to nine months for a campaign to be created, approved and released. The good news is that technology enables speed and when speed gains enough momentum, it destroys old models. We’re moving into the era of the agile campaign, where hours matter, not months. You can see it in how companies share news at SXSW. More important, communicators can develop libraries of content in advance of trends and then react within minutes when necessary. Speed + Right Content + Right Window = Results.

3. Data scientists are the new media planners. Customer behavior (earned and shared media) will influence greatly how we plan for paid media. We should always know what our customers actually do online before we develop a paid media plan. Earned media makes paid media smart.

For communicators, this is a gift from heaven. Will we be ready to take advantage of how analytics is reshaping the market? Do our communications teams have geeks on staff? We should.

Source: W20 Group

4. Responsive experience trumps responsive design. We used to focus on ensuring the same website experience was shown in the same way via any device. This responsive design approach now is table stakes.

For our owned media, we need to ensure the right experience, not the same experience, is shown each time. With more than 50 percent of content consumed by mobile phone, we only get one chance to get it right. It’s critical for communicators to understand search habits, who visits their site and what that experience should be. We can’t just count site visits.

And here are some tips from senior executives patched into business communications:

1. Change is normal. “One thing I’ve learned about being a communications professional—especially in digital—is to be open and flexible to change. As you know, the digital landscape changes approximately every 6 months. You have to think about how you’re going to reach your customers on the platforms they use, it’s not the other way around.”

Paul Buckman, Director, Online Communications, US Food and Drug Administration

 

2. Say hello to real KPIs. “It’s very easy to say that communicators need to be data-driven, but the real trend needs to be communicators focusing less on rear-view mirror measurement and more on what helps to inform the road ahead.

It’s great that the goals for a particular campaign were met, but how does that information help us plan the next campaign?

How does it help us hone the list of people we plan to engage with for the next quarter? How does it help us use the right sort of keywords in our copy? How does it help us achieve greater brand lift for the upcoming quarter? Rear-view mirror measurement doesn’t always help answer those questions, and the industry is still doing far too much of that sort of work.”

Chuck Hemann, Manager, Analytics, Intel Corp.

 

3. New school ROI. “Too often we are caught up in vanity metrics like the number of views or clicks and likes and less interested in or able to explain the true business value related to our effort.

Did we create a piece of content that can be leveraged by marketing, sales or recruiting? Are we moving the needle on corporate reputation or adding value to the brand?

Whether it is positioning the company, selling product or recruiting new talent, communications professionals need to explain more succinctly what we are doing, why we are doing it and the value it brings.

Doing so allows us to tangibly show that our communications outcomes are creating true business results.”

Michael Marinello, Head of Global Comm., Technology, Innovation & Sustainability, Bloomberg

 

4. Avoid content pollution. “We are on the cusp of a new horizon for communications professionals but are dangerously close to messing it up as a profession. The modern communicator needs to meld great content with the science of content distribution and the insights of big data.

We can no longer shout messages and hope they stick. Instead we need to be data modelers, big data and insight experts, digital channel pros and world-class storytellers who create content that cuts through the clutter, minimizes content pollution and is measureable by its impact.”

Andrew Bowins, Senior VP, Corporate Reputation and Engagement, MasterCard

As we sort through the innovation as well as some hype, the message is pretty clear. We have the best opportunity in our lifetimes to evolve the communications profession. We also have the most urgency to do this now with intent, purpose and skill.

CONTACT:

Bob Pearson is President of W20 Group and author of “Pre-Commerce: How Companies and Customers are Transforming Business Together” (John Wiley and Sons). He can be reached at bpearson@w2ogroup.com

This article originally appeared in the March 16, 2015 issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.

Rare Disease Day 2015

As a W2O company, BrewLife undoubtedly has adopted the commitment to a true network of care, healthcare that is. While we certainly serve a breadth of clients, we pride ourselves on supporting the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device industries. It is these industries and our clients that make days like February 28, 2015 all the more special. To many it is just another day, but to us, Rare Disease Day® is an opportunity to show our solidarity and support to the network we directly effect.

Rare Disease Day raises awareness amongst the general public and decision-makers about rare diseases and their impact on patients’ lives. Launched by EURORDIS and its Council of National Alliances in 2008, the campaign has become a progressive phenomenon recognized by as many as 84 countries.

Rare Disease Day LogoJoin us and become a friend of Rare Disease Day by completing the form here and utilizing your social channels and/or website to raise awareness. There are no costs involved, just your time and effort. #MakeItHappen by using the hashtag #RareDisease and take a look at three ways you can get involved:

  1. Post Your Event – Whether you’re an individual or an organization viewing this post you can get involved. Post your event using this form on the Rare Disease Day official website.
  2. Raise and Join Hands – This symbolic gesture can be done before the Day or on it to show solidarity with rare disease patients around the world. Record the action and upload it to the Rare Disease Day website here.
  3. Tell Your Story – Whether you are living with rare disease or caring for a loved one or friend who has one, we want to know your story. Upload a photo, video or written story here.

Pledge your support and make your mark on Rare Disease Day, February 28, 2015. For more information, visit www.rarediseaseday.org. Together we can put rare diseases in the spotlight!

Super Bowl Ad Review

 

The Super Bowl audience is 46% female according to Nielsen data, and something like 85% of all consumer purchases are made by women—so you’d think that advertisers paying around $4.5 million to run a 30-second spot, would have figured out long ago that they’d want to appeal to us. Or, at the very least, not alienate. Well, the message may finally have gotten through.

This year’s ads were more inclusive than in the past, likely in large part because of the NFL’s terrible year as regards to scandal, abuse and sexism. Brands advertising in the Super Bowl were particularly sensitive to not seeming to endorse any of that bad behavior. (The NFL donated airtime for a gripping “No More” PSA addressing domestic violence.)

Super Bowl tweetsMany female creative directors, including myself, participated in a live Super Bowl Tweetup organized by The 3% Conference using the hashtags #3percentsb, #mediawelike and #notbuyingit. (The 3% Conference, founded by Kat Gordon & Rebecca Rivera, builds the case for more female representation in advertising leadership.)

The general consensus seemed to be satisfaction that there were only a few egregiously offensive ads. (Yes, we’re talking to you Carl’s Jr.) There weren’t many ads where women were portrayed as half-dressed eye candy (Ahem, Victoria’s Secret.) Even GoDaddy was a non-offender with an understated ad that made its point. There were noticeable efforts toward more equal representation of men and women (WeatherTech showed women working as equals next to men), challenging of clichéd gender stereotypes long outdated by real life (Dove’s Men+Care), more multiculturality and inclusivity (Toyota and Microsoft featured a Paralympic athlete and an active little boy with prosthetics. Dodge featured older people, and not purely for comedic relief. Loctite Glue had a diverse mix but were we laughing with them or at them?) I also enjoyed the realistic father-daughter relationship in Toyota Camery’s “My Bold Dad”.

That’s not to say that an ad is great just because it presents a more positive and realistic view of women. But great creative can’t afford to only be relevant to half its audience.

Touchdowns:

#LikeAGirl • The empowering “Like a Girl” spot from Always/Procter and Gamble got the hastag #LikeAGirl trending. Jet Blue quickly joined the conversation, tweeting a photo of two female pilots flying.

 

Fiat Super Bowl Ad• Fiat’s “Pill” was a well-played twist on that little blue pill that engaged both men and women, and strongly communicated the product benefit.

 

 

BMW• BMW’s “Newfangled” was humorous and charming, but next time Katie should drive and ask Bryant if he can twerk. (Women are responsible for 65% of new car purchases.)

 

 

Nationwide_Mindy• Nationwide Insurance has a gem in “Invisible Mindy”. Who hasn’t looked around the conference room and wondered if she was invisible? The execution was great but the line that tied it to Nationwide flew by so fast I almost missed it—Join the Nation that sees you as a priority. Nationwide. On your side.”

Coca Cola

• “Download Happiness” from Coca Cola admirably took on bullying and hate speech, changing mean messages into positive ones.

 

View all the ads here: http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/49/commercials

And tell me what you think…

In a recent article I proposed that the role of Investor Relations should, to a significant degree, focus on providing information that clarifies a company’s risk and uncertainty profile while not engaging in communication practices that could adversely alter that profile for investors. I concluded that this goes a long way towards supporting a fair valuation of a company’s securities. In follow-up, I’d now like to propose a method of implementing Investor Relations communications.

I’ve named the method “TACTful communications™.” TACTful communications are those that are Transparent, Accurate, Credible and Timely.

–   Transparent communications provide complete information about a company’s business (to the extent reasonably allowed by business and legal considerations), including its strategy, markets and products.

–   Accurate communications provide information that is correct and not subject to change or interpretation.

–   Credible communications are trustworthy, often borne out by reliability over time.

–   Timely communications relay information without undue delay.

These factors are consistent with established best practices. Communications encompassing all four elements, and communicated effectively in a public manner, will create an arena where investors will have equal access to information needed to make informed investment decisions.

Further, TACTful communications will support efforts to not only provide sufficient information to identify and handicap the company’s risks and uncertainties, but favorably impact its risk and uncertainty profile. For example, a company that is consistently timely in its communications increases an investor’s ability to quickly react, and generally make investment decisions based on current information. Or, consider a company that does not communicate accurately, but discloses information that ends up needing correction or clarification, befuddling the facts and confounding investment decisions. Further, where there are communications that are not credible, i.e. where the company sometimes does and does not execute consistent with its own guidance, uncertainty is created because there is no way to predict the reliability of the company’s statements.

Essentially, by communicating in a predictable manner a company can reduce the possibility of creating additional investment risk or uncertainty. These same communication practices will also support creation of management credibility, another important element that gets tallied into investment decisions. While other factors, including those external to the company such as price and economic climate, also influence an investment decision, TACTful communications—designed with an understanding around the need to address risk and uncertainty—create a basis upon which investors can more efficiently and fairly value a company.

David Walsey
David Walsey

The TACTful approach complements efforts to address risk and uncertainty, more broadly serves communication objectives, and is vital to effectively implementing Investor Relations best practices.

Although plenty of studies support the claim, most good marketers just know intuitively that Earned media and WOM (word of mouth) are more impactful marketing vehicles at the individual level than paid advertising…  You are significantly more likely to try something because your friend recommended it than because you saw an advertisement.  The challenge with Earned media is that it’s hard…  You have to rely on someone else (journalists, bloggers, etc.) to buy into your message and convey it effectively.  That makes it difficult and unpredictable.  It also rarely scales like Paid advertising.  Occasionally the story is so compelling that it can scale, with hoards of influential media writing about it.  That’s rare, though.

WOM suffers from the same issue of predictability, but is infinitely more scalable.  While there are a limited number of influencers you can Earn media from, anybody can become a vessel for word of mouth.  Importantly, both Earned media and WOM also suffer from a problem with Measurement.  Whether Paid advertising is actually all that measurable is a debate for another day.  Earned media and WOM are clearly “less” measurable than Paid media.
Enter Shared media.  Shared media is a slight but important pivot on social media, and refers to any marketing channel in which brands participate on an equal footing with their external audiences.  It’s important to differentiate Shared from social media because most leading social media sites have elements of all PESO media formats (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned).  Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or the top blogs, you can buy ads, build proprietary apps, pitch top influencers, and also engage on an equal footing with your audiences.

Why is Shared media so important?  Because it finally brings three critical (and missing) components to the Earned / WOM conversation:

  • Scale.  You can have conversations with millions of people in a cost effective way.
  • Predictability.  You can build an audience over time and continually engage with them.
  • Measurability.  The data here is real – not estimated based on circulations or panels.

Many marketers are beginning to understand the value of Shared media for these reasons, however, very few have effectively combined all PESO approaches to leverage the benefits of each.  Below is a chart that outlines the various PESO media formats and their associated benefits.
PESO Media

 

– Paul Dyer

 

November brought a bunch of new updates to social media, with changes spanning over multiple channels. Be sure to share these updates with your clients to keep them aware of what is going on within the social media world and how it will affect their brand. Please let us know if you would like to be featured in the December blog and make sure to Socialize!

What you need to know in November:

  • Facebook Tests Star Ratings Vs. Simple “Like”
    • Facebook is testing out star ratings on Facebook brand/company pages, as opposed to just “Liking” the page. Ratings will be posted on the top of the page and users can see a preview of these ratings in their News Feed. http://w.cg/1cVw78z
    • Why it matters: This new feature will help brands/companies understand how their customers truly feel about their service. Facebook pages will now put an emphasis on customer service, rather than just a page for fans to go and “Like.”
    • What you have to say about it: “From an analytics standpoint, adding company Facebook page star ratings gives an analyst another data point to analyze and draw insights upon. If one is able to eventually export these ratings (via third party platform) it would help paint a better picture, in terms of brand sentiment, and have a greater influence on key findings than a single, inconclusive number of ‘likes.’” Meghan Evans, Analytics Associate, New York, NY
  • Facebook Introduces Autoplay for Videos
    • Facebook began rolling out a new digital video feature that will automatically play videos when users scroll over the freeze frame. This feature will only apply to videos that have been uploaded directly to Facebook or Facebook owned sites, excluding YouTube, Vimeo, etc. http://w.cg/IB6Cjs
    • Why it matters: Facebook is on the road to becoming a one-stop-shop. If brands can upload a video directly to Facebook and watch it without have to go to a third party site, then brands will be more likely to promote their videos, Facebook will benefit in promoted revenue and users/fans will be more inclined to watch the video while it is right in front of them.
    • What you have to say about it: “I think the new Facebook Autoplay function is going to be great for brands, eliminating third parties should really increase engagement. This feature would have been great this fall when we launched 5 videos on YouTube for Sanofi Pasteur’s Fluzone Intradermal FLUgitives campaign. Essentially the autoplay is forcing users to be exposed to at least a little video content if not the whole posted video – this could really mean great things for our clients.” Meredith Crowder, Healthcare Associate, New York, NY
  • Twitter’s New DM Option Pulled
    •  Last month, Twitter announced that users could receive a direct message from any user, not just those who they follow. This month, Twitter pulled the option for some users.  http://w.cg/1cVwbVX
    • Why it matters: This new feature made it easier for brands to connect with their fans. Now, brands will have to revert back to asking users to DM them in order to contact them privately, which many fans do not understand and then the communication opportunity is lost.
    • What you have to say about it: “I think it was a good idea for Twitter to run a short-term test of the new DM option, and then consider the feedback from users and media outlets before making any official decisions. I do think that the DM option would be beneficial for larger brands’ accounts, so it will be interesting to see their next move. On the other hand, a standalone DM app would not be as beneficial, and I assume would be directed more toward users’ personal accounts. “ Amanda Cillo, Consumer Associate, New York, NY
  • Twitter Launches Custom Timelines
    • Twitter launched a new timeline, allowing users to customize and organize their own timeline feed. The customized timelines will cut back on twitter noise and list tweets in an order that is meaningful to the user. http://w.cg/1itGGa7
    • Why it matters: This is a great opportunity to for brands to create content that is “timeline” friendly. Brands will want to be included in user’s customized timelines. Brands too can add competitor brands to their timelines to see what competitors are up to, as well as adding top fans to ensure that posts mentioning the brand are acknowledged.
    • What you have to say about it: “As Twitter has begun to show its capabilities as a real time news source for both global and local events, custom timelines will strengthen this ability allowing brands and consumers to pinpoint their focus of interest in a more clear and targeted manner. By growing beyond simple hashtags, timelines have the potential to increase hyper segmentation as audiences create custom timelines to suit their particular needs and interests, which will likely emphasize the need for brands to create content of interest and value as timelines allow audiences to cut out digital noise. In addition, the timelines support the growing shift towards online and offline integration, allowing streamlined communications from events and conferences into easily accessible and sharable content capsules, providing new opportunities for brands to engage consumers in both planned and organic communication efforts.” Allison Barnes, Analytics Associate, Austin, TX
  • Twitter Advances Search Process with New Filters
    • Twitter announced that it will be adding new search filters to its mobile apps, available on Android and iOS. Users will be able to filter by topic, by followers or by trending events and television shows.  http://w.cg/1hu67qJ
    • Why it matters: Brands want their pages to be easily searchable. This is great for real-time tweeting and campaigns.
    • What you have to say about it: “The new search filters on Twitter will impact how users find relevant content and will get them closer to what they are looking for, more quickly. Active users on Twitter use the platform as their source of news; that is, if a brand is talking about the news, they are more likely to land those search results. The brands that will benefit from this new search function are the ones that are engaging with their audiences in culturally relevant ways. For example, we create content for HP’s social channels that live in that sweet spot of “what’s trending” and brand relevance, and we have experienced higher-than-average engagement on those types of posts.” Kelsey Carroll, Technology and Social Commerce Manager, Austin, TX
  • YouTube Updates Comments With Google+ Integration
    • YouTube has updated their commenting system, integrating thread replies and Google+ integration. Top comments are a compilation of comments from users within your Google+ circle, video creators and popular personalities. Conversation with high engagement will be pushed to the top, keeping comments current. http://w.cg/18W295p
    • Why it matters: Brands will have more engagement on both platforms Google+ and YouTube, due to indirect cross-promotion and sharing comments across both channels. Keep conversation active and current. Also, now is the time to hop on the Google+ train!
    • What you have to say about it: “While it is true that the move has angered some in the YouTube community who want the ability to leave anonymous comments, I think it will ultimately help in two ways 1) Reducing spam and 2) Reducing the amount of hateful/ offensive/ abusive comments that appeared in comment streams in the past. It will take time, but Google has already shown they are committed to implementing new security measures to address new types of spam that are happening since the change, and also adding additional capabilities like bulk moderation. While there are detractors, I think just about everyone agrees that YouTube comments needed to be cleaned up at some level. Ultimately, I think the Google+ comment integration will work. Besides cleanup, I also think it will lead to more engagement, which is especially a good thing for brands.” Lionel Menchaca, Director, Content Engagement, Austin, TX
  • Instagram Rolls Out Sponsored Ads
    • Instagram began rolling out sponsored ads on the site, starting with an ad by fashion designer, Michael Kors.  Many advertisers will try to make ads blend in with other images in the feed; however, the distinction will lie in the “sponsored” label, found in the top right corner of an ad. There is no timetable for when other brands will jump on the bandwagon. http://w.cg/1eJ2lFu
    • Why it matters: This is a great opportunity to promote your brand, especially during campaigns.  Watch out for backlash from users who are upset that ads will appear in their feeds.
    • What you have to say about it: “These ads look and feel very similar to the ads in a Facebook Newsfeed, (which makes sense because they’re the same company now). As long as there are not too many ads at once, I don’t think people will mind them. I’m not sure how these ads actually drive traffic back to the advertiser sites. In Facebook, fans are used to clicking through to a web site or page. That behavior seems to be less common on Instagram, so it’s possible Instagram ads will see lower ROI.” Stephanie Nordstrom, Senior Manager, Consumer, Los Angeles, CA
  • Pinterest Launches First API
    • Pinterest is launching its first API, allowing third-party sites to embed pins, making it easier to post content to the site.  Existing pins will be more useful to sites and brands will be able to track engagement between pins and their site. Multiple additional APIs will continue to rollout in the early future. http://w.cg/IH1ICq
    • Why it matters: Customers will be able to pin directly from the site, keeping them on the page longer instead of having to leave the site, interrupt their shopping/browsing, and thus not returning to actually pin the material. Brands will also be able to better track engagement/traffic between pinning and their site.
    • What you have to say about it: “As a consumer and a frequent Pinterest user, this will change so much! It will definitely increase my pinning and allow me to share more pictures and ideas with my followers. From an analytics standpoint, this elevated engagement will increase the data that becomes available. It will be easier to calculate which sites or brands are generating more traffic that ultimately reflects brand recognition and the effectiveness of campaigns.” Alexia Moustroufi, Analytics Associate, New York, NY

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