Tag Archives: engagement

Viral marketing: how to create contagious content

Viral marketing: how to create contagious content

by Sasha Seddon

The word ‘viral’ has connotations of aggression and invasiveness. Drop it into the context of marketing, however, and it is instead a potent means of spreading a company’s message and engaging customers. Wilson (2000) has described viral marketing as “any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message’s exposure and influence”. Knight (1999) has made the far less poetic analogy of a “digitalised sneeze”.

Cultural evolution theories provide an interesting perspective. Social media posts can be viewed as memes, a term coined by the evolutionary theorist Richard Dawkins to refer to “a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation”. A successful meme is an element of culture which self-replicates; it propagates itself from one mind to another, out-competing other ideas and remaining intact (not subject to distortion by Chinese whispers!) Once seeded online, the message can propagate itself via re-tweets, post-sharing and email-forwarding. It can replicate itself exponentially, creating a kind of social contagion. The message is the virus and the mind is its host. However, while planting a seed can lead to the growth of something great, it can just as easily be fruitless; the message can falter and fail – a social media non-starter.

Social media platforms such as Twitter are ideal environments for this; a single tweet can be re-tweeted quickly, can reach a huge number of people simultaneously and, as it is basically copy-and-pasted, the original message stays the same.

Certain memes are more effective than others. What kind of content thrives in the world of online marketing? There are many different factors to consider.

Emotion

Milkman and Berger (2012) examined all the articles published by the New York Times over a three month period, and identified the emotional content of successful posts (ie. the articles most likely to be shared via email). They found that the most popular content does at least one of the following:

  • elicits a strong emotional reaction

  • is practically useful

  • is positive in nature

High-energy emotions such as anger, happiness and awe are more likely to be shared than low-energy ones, such as sadness.

For The Flash Pack, a company specialising in organising small group and bespoke travel, a rather interesting image was the cornerstone of their success – with relevance, humour and positive emotions all playing their part. Their ‘First ever selfie with Jesus’ viral campaign featured travel blogger and photographer Lee Thompson climbing inside Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer statue and then taking a picture at the top. The photos were posted on Instagram three weeks later, to coincide with the beginning of the FIFA World Cup in Brazil. The post went viral during the World Cup and 1.4 million hits were received by the company’s website in just four days. Thompson describes this as a “priceless marketing campaign”, as it cost nothing to do but resulted in a huge success. There were about one million hits on their website in six days, the photo has been shared around 50 million times on Facebook and Twitter, and the video received 900,000 hits on Youtube.

Interactivity

Burger King struck gold when they launched their ‘Subservient Chicken’ campaign, which included a website appearing as an interactive webcam. The site enabled people to ‘control’ a man in a chicken costume, using pre-recorded footage of him carrying out actions such as push-ups, moonwalking and laying eggs. It embodied the idea that customers of Burger King can have their chicken any way they like it – “Have it your way” – and to promote the new TenderCrisp sandwich. Within a week, the site received 20 million hits and a month after the debut of their new product, the fast food franchise reported that sales had steadily increased by around 9% each week. Although a causal link between the marketing and sales cannot be established, it is likely that the campaign improved the brand’s identity, associating them with humour and fun, and increased awareness for the new product.

Another, more common example of brand-consumer interactivity is the use of quizzes. These are popular when it comes to shared posts. Many brands use these to engage customers and update them about new products; for example, Food52 regularly posts quizzes such as ‘Which cake are you?’ and ‘Find out your spirit sandwich’. Just three days after posting their cake quiz on Twitter, it had been viewed over 20,000 times, leading to a great deal of brand exposure and customer engagement.

People like posts which identify themselves and let others know what they are like. If it makes them look good, then it appeals to the narcissistic side of sharers, as does the sharing of content which makes a person seem intelligent, thoughtful or successful.

Visuals

Posting images is another way to appeal to customers and increase the number of shares. BuzzSumo’s analysis of 100 million articles identified many factors associated with more success – that is, the more times the articles were shared online. They found that having at least one image in a post results in more shares for both Twitter and Facebook content.

The power of numbers, words and days

BuzzSumo also found that lists are commonly shared posts, with those containing the number 10 to be the most popular, and those containing the number 23 to be the second most popular.

Articles including the word ‘actually’ in their titles are shared more than similar articles without this word – for example, ‘Which career should you actually have?’ is more successful than ‘Which career should you have?’ Quotes are also commonly re-tweeted, more so than questions; this is also thought to appeal to the egocentricism of sharers – posting quotes can make people seem knowledgeable, profound and thoughtful. Visuals may be important but, on Twitter, text is re-tweeted more often than images or videos; for Twitter users, at least, it seems that a picture is not worth a thousand words.

The best day to publish social media content appears to be a Tuesday. Facebook and Twitter show the most activity during the daytime, while Pinterest is more popular in the evening.

Financial incentives

An excellent case study of how incentives can lead to increased sharing is the Bird’s Eye pay-by-picture restaurant. The company launched a pop-up restaurant in which diners could try their new chicken and fish products and then settle the bill by uploading a picture of their meal to Instagram. It was highly successful for exposing people to the products on offer, directly through the incentives and sharing, and indirectly through the media attention given to the campaign.

Relevance, practicality

Blendtec’s ‘Will it blend?’ videos are a perfect example of how to draw attention to a product and showcase its benefits, while also adding in some humour. The series showed scientists testing how different household items can be blended, exhibiting the effectiveness, strength and durability of the product.

Berger and Milkman also found that ‘practical utility’ was a more pertinent factor than ‘interest’ concerning sharing articles.

These are just a few things to consider. The German writer and politician Johann Wolfgang von Goethe observed, ideas are “like chessmen moved forward; they may be beaten, but they may start a winning game”.

Let’s hope these tips can help you start a winning game.

How engaging are your tweets? You can find it out with View Analytics Details

How engaging are your tweets? You can find it out with View Analytics Details

By Antonia Di Lorenzo

Twitter

Are your tweets any good?

Twitter is experimenting with mobile tools to figure that out, thanks to the feature View Analytics Details on the bottom of the tweet view, showing the statistics of impressions, engagement, rate and more.

Twitter started utilizing analytics for all users on its website last year. However, the new functionality makes it easier to access on phones.

As explained by The Verge, not all the users have access to it and it is not clear when and if the news will reach all the users.

The idea, as mentioned by The Next Web, is the promotion of the single tweet through an easy process. Nevertheless, the company does not make any comment and the feature has not been included among the news on the agenda, as it is probably still in a testing phase.

The feature gets its data from Twitter’s Analytics platform, which was recently made available for anyone on the service to use. The logical evolution of this new feature would be to directly promote tweets inside the mobile app.

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It looks like a sort of social media monitoring on your Twitter account. Basically, you can find out how many people have seen and clicked your tweet. By monitoring your account, you can find out the results of your tweet and eventually increase them by reading the statistics, to be more engaging and improve your presence on the social media platform.

Trevor O’Brien, Twitter Product Manager, in his article The spirit of experimentation and the evolution of your home timeline, says: “As we’ve shared a few times, we constantly try new experiments around here, which serve to inform the evolution of the product. We believe that each successful experiment, big or small, can make your Twitter experience simpler and more relevant to you.”

According to him, the main goal would be to continue improving the home timeline.

“We recently ran experiments that showed different types of content in your timeline: recommended Tweets, accounts and topics”, he says.

“Testing indicated that most people enjoy seeing Tweets from accounts they may not follow, based on signals such as activity from accounts you do follow, the popularity of the Tweets, and how people in your network interact with them. These experiments now inform the timeline you see today.”

According to TechCrunch, the quick glimpse at how your tweet is faring seems like something that would be very useful for brands and others who thrive on social media success. But the feature will probably go unnoticed or unused by most who don’t care about that kind of thing, probably getting close to Facebook, even though it is essential to figure out the different purpose of Twitter, that also involves a different range of users.

On the one hand it fears a poor interest from the general audience, on the other it is believed that these experiments with engagement statistics directly in tweets can open a new frontier of communication on this social media platform.

Also, whoever says that they don’t care what people think, are sometimes not telling the truth.

Social Media Monitoring: some tricks to do it better

Social Media Monitoring: some tricks to do it better

Everything you should know to increase your social media strategy.

by Antonia Di Lorenzo

social-media-conversation

 

Would you be able to drive with a covered dashboard, without knowing how much petrol you have, how fast you are going, if you have any problems? I don’t think so.

At the same time, you cannot know how your activity is going if you don’t monitor periodically what happens on your website, what your strengths and weaknesses are, and if you are achieving your goals.

Social media monitoring is a magnifying glass on your company, that allows you to know how, from where and who visits your website. As Jasmine Jaume, Marketing Manager at Brandwatch, writes on the blog, “social media monitoring is the act of using a tool to monitor what is being said on the internet”.

The clients’ feedback is the most effective instrument to orient your brand, to plan your future actions and to optimize your website. Conversations on social media channels reveal authentic users with needs and opinions expressed in a natural environment. It is a sort of crossfire between you and your clients that allows you to understand how and why to act.

Grow3 met Domenico Armatore, Founder of Community Manager Freelance, who explains to us in an interview tricks to create the best social media monitoring strategy.

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  • What is social media monitoring and why should PR start tracking?

Social media monitoring is a set of activities aimed at listening to the conversations on social media. The internet is now a place where people express opinions on certain topics, and very often also talk about the brands they love or hate. Knowing exactly what happens online is therefore crucial for companies. In these activities PRs play a central role because they can anticipate and resolve various kinds of crisis.

 

  • How can it be managed by companies?

My advice is to commit to professionals who are able to read the tone of the conversations and then help companies to take action on any trouble spots. Listening is often not enough, you have to know how to intervene and “enter” into conversations related to the brand. In order to do this, very specific strategic skills are often required that companies do not have.

 

  • How important is Social Media Listening to build a solid reputation?

Understanding what people think about a particular company is central to any brand reputation strategy. You cannot build a solid reputation if you do not know what are your weaknesses. It’s the client who often gives the most useful and relevant feedback and in recent times the internet is the tool most often used.

 

  • How can we gain the trust of customers?

Social media is a great way to create strong relationships with customers or potential ones. Companies must be able to know how to listen and to give definite, relevant and fast answers. Brands must make every effort to show that the customer is always at the centre of their activities. Quite often you can achieve this goal by giving unique and targeted experiences, where the element of personalisation can make a difference. If you look at digital campaigns of the last few months, you’ll notice that the customisation is central to all of them: personalisation of experiences, products and so on.

 

  • Could focusing directly on customers be the key to gaining their trust?

As I said before, the answer is absolutely yes. Social channels are to be used in this way and, in my opinion, companies that are able to do it as best as they can win a very strong competitive advantage.

 

  • How can you handle negative feedback?

As Social Media Community Manager, I often find myself having to deal with negative comments or criticism from various channels of my clients. My advice is to always respond with grace and apologise if necessary. Depending on the severity and the impact of the comment, it is essential to activate different tactics. Most importantly: the crisis management on social media should not be left only to the Community Manager, but always requires the participation of various departments of a company.

 

  • And the positive ones?

The positive comments on social channels are a very important resource for companies. They reflect the reliability of the quality of a brand, its products or services. Surely thanking is the first step to take in the event of congratulations or appreciation of various kinds. If, for example, we find a number of positive comments on a single topic, we could use this insight to develop activities that give visibility to a company’s strength.

 

  • In this regard, some people have said “stop talking about yourself and start listening to the others” can be useful to become number one in your business. Do you agree?

As I said before, listening is one of the most important tasks that the brand has to do. In my opinion, this is for a basic reason: the conversations of people about a company often reflect the perception that these people have of the brand. And sometimes, as you know, the perception of the brand is more important than the brand itself.

 

  • What should we monitor? What is the main aim of an operation of social media monitoring?

It depends. The monitoring must be calibrated according to the needs of the brand. There are not, in my view, unique directions.

 

  • What are the prices of the instruments used for this operation?

Around the web there are several sophisticated tools to help you monitor online conversations and in particular on social media. The prices change depending on the quality of the instruments. Recently on our blog we published two articles analysing the avalaible tools. You can read more here http://communitymanagerfreelance.it/blog/category/tool-2/.

 

  • Are there any free tools?

There are some free online tools, but if you work with major companies, I always recommend buying one that returns accurate insights. Among the free packages, one of the best is SimplyMeasured (link: http://simplymeasured.com/free-social-media-tools/).

 

  • How can organizations get the most out of establishing workflows for increased analysis and management?

I believe that companies should begin without creating any distinction between digital departments and non digital ones. The analysis on social media is an important resource not only for those who create the communication, but also and firstly for marketing departments. The analysis often allows you to have real time views of people about a certain product or service, although it has not yet been launched.

Listening to internet communication can also help in the development of a product that has the features required by the market. As you might guess, it can mean a big competitive advantage.

 

 

Domenico Armatore

Domenico Armatore, Italian, Founder of Community Manager Freelance, co-founder of Pinterestitaly  and teacher of Community Management and Pinterest Marketing for Ninja Marketing, Il Sole 24 Ore and other Italian realities. Co-author of the e-book “Pinterest for the business”.

 

The importance of Ethics in Sales: the opinion of Nick Lee, Honorary Professor at Aston University, Birmingham

The importance of Ethics in Sales: the opinion of Nick Lee, Honorary Professor at Aston University, Birmingham

by Antonia Di Lorenzo

nick lee 2009

As water and oil for some companies or bread and butter for other ones, Ethics and Sales is one of the thorny problems which involves the new frontier of the business.

As if I were one of his students, Nick Lee, Honorary Professor at Aston University, Birmingham, explained me in an interview the importance of “being ethics” and how to connect this aspect to the main aim of making profit.

Author of Journal of Management, Journal of Business Ethics, Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management, Dr. Lee’s work has also featured in popular outlets such as The Times, The Financial Times and BBC Breakfast.

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  • Dr Lee, what relevance does ethics have in business and why?

I think it depends, there are a lot of ways you can say it is relevant. It depends on what you mean by ethics.

  • What does ethics mean for you?

I think you talk about behaving in a fair manner. Essentially not taking advantage of the organization or customers in sales. In sales I think this is a very important thing. We have to be realistic. In sales the main objective is to make profit but automatically I think the important thing is to talk about long-term profit.

If we behave in an unethical way we tend to focus on the short-term. If we see companies having problems this is because they don’t have very good long-term prospects on relationships. Some of the reasons for the financial crisis was that there was too much short-term focus on making profit. If you think about long-term continuing relationships and continuing business, then  ethical behavior is the natural thing to do.

  • How would you recognize an ethical business? What characteristics do ethical business have in your opinion?

There isn’t a model that you can look at a business and you can say that it is ethical. You don’t have to say “we are an ethical business”. I guess what ethical organizations have in common is that they have good ethical role models, that is people who behave ethically and show you can be successful by being ethical. A lot of problems with ethics is that people make bad decisions. But they don’t make bad decisions because they are bad people, but because they don’t have experience or a knowledge what the right decision can be or they feel under pressure.

  • What do you mean for “bad decisions”?

Defining what makes a behavior ethical or unethical is actually a difficult task. Everyone knows you are wrong if you go to a customer meeting and you hit your customer with a baseball bat. But what about if you are in a customer meeting, you have to make a target by the end of the week and the customer maybe is thinking he wants to delay the decision for two weeks. What do you do? Do you lie to the customer? You can say if he orders after the end of the week, his order will be not quick enough because many factory facilities are overstressed, so he has to order quickly. And it is lying to the customer.

Lying is unethical in a philosophy point of view, but you can look at a practical one. Is anybody really being hurt by unethical behavior? Do you just think of unethical because of the behavior or the consequences? This is one of the questions we always have to think when we talk about ethics. But also why people behave like that. One reason may be they are under pressure or they don’t realize the importance of behaving in a truthful manner or they don’t have a good role model as sales manager.

  • What about Trust and Credibility? Firstly, how is possible to get the customer’s trust? How long does it take to develop a strong relationship with a customer?

If you have ethical behavior you can build trust. Sometimes people behave unethically because they are afraid. According to an economic theory, if you think someone is harming you also feel you can advantage of them. Building trust from the customer is always a difficult task.  As every relationship, it takes a long time to build a good relationship but it doesn’t take very long to break the relationship. Usually in a long term is always an ineffective strategy to be unethical, but in a short term you can relate to a great performance.

  • How much can the reputation influence a customer?

Company reputation can play an important role at the beginning of the relationship. It can help a lot to build trust.

  • If credibility comes from performance and professional reputation, what is the role of the social media? How much can they influence what people think about you?

Social media plays an important role. I think it is easier to influence people in a bad way rather than in a good way. I think it takes more to build a positive reputation. A lot of campaigns were wrong because people who were running them didn’t expect how consumers will take that. A lot of companies don’t know what it is going to happen when you put something online.

  • Can spending time together and sharing the same interests be a way to get the customer’s trust? If yes, which is the borderline?

Yes, it can. Psychologically we know that sharing interests can help to build a relationship together. But the important thing is to avoid to pass the “borderline” and be genuine. The company has to look genuine, in terms that you have to look real, not just an act.

  • Do you believe there are many organizations currently adopting an ethical approach in terms of engagement?

I think it is hard to say. It is hard to really place ethical frameworks around what people are doing. There are a couple of things to be worried about: one is how important you think being authentic is unethical or to be presenting an image to the world that is not true. But companies do that as part of their job. But probably the image ethical concerning everybody, consumers and staff, related online, is the data collection and data protection.

  • At the recent London conference by Ethisphere on ethics and governance one attendee suggested “sales trump ethics every time.” This was asserting that for most companies if it’s a choice between ethics and sales, the latter always wins. What do you think about that? Do you believe that sales always trumps ethics?

It is a kind of false choice. It is easy to say things like that, but we don’t have any reference. If you face people with the right choice you can always influence what they choose. But the problem is between Ethics and Sales on a long term prospective. On a short term basis perhaps that’s the case, for individual salespersons sometimes the choice can concern choosing the easier and the more beneficial outcome for themselves. What we have to do is showing very clearly the benefits.

People always choose the benefit over no benefit. That’s the truth. We have to present the ethical choice as long term benefit, rather than a short term benefit. The problem we had in the past concerns that there were a lot companies focused on short term performances and influenced by unethical behavior. Ethical behavior is more about long term relationships generation.

If you think about your personal life, for example, if you married with somebody you have a long term prospective or if you have a long term relationship, it is in your benefit to place wider criterion of your decision rather than your short term benefit when you are out on an evening or in a night club. Business is not different to life. If we have long-term prospective the ethical choice is always the highest performance choice. The problem is when we motivate people with short-term prospective.

If we have effective long terms wider intensive motivational programs, people will be motivated to behave more ethically. Our job is saving the long-term prospective as preference.

Got-Ethics

Ethical Leadership: Women do better!

Ethical Leadership: Women do better!

donne-e-coworking 

Today, I opened door n° 68 at 9:15 am. I took a seat and made a coffee.

There were ten people working this morning, eight of them were women. Mothers, wives or girlfriends. But it seemed everyone had something in common: a potential for ethical leadership.

According to a study at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, women are less ready to compromise their ethical values for money and social status.

It sounds good, but let’s try to understand why and how.

Firstly, ethical leadership is about understanding your core values and having the courage to express them in all parts of your life, in service of the common good.

It starts with an inner journey, in search of values which define one’s own identity, developing a vision as a frame to articulate one’s actions, and finally, finding the voice with which to express it, in order to lead the whole community.

It sounds like this person would be organised, with a deep commitment to her priorities, able to juggle work and everyday life, never once taking their eyes off their goals, always ready to serve others, following a moral code. It looks almost like a portrait of a mother.

Supporting this thesis, Liz Earle, British entrepreneur, but foremost a mother of five children, reveals that the working mothers’ approach is the key to success in an interview released in the Irish Times on 30th September 2014.

She told the Irish Times: “I always say if you want something done well ask a woman, but if you want something done really well and fast, ask a busy woman.”

According to Liz, women are able to think faster than men, because they naturally have to do so. She co-founded the Liz Earle Beauty Company in 1995 when she was a young, working mother, sold it fifteen years later to Avon. Today, it is a global brand with 600 employees.

Jessica Kennedy, the paper’s lead researcher and a post-doctoral fellow in Legal Studies and Business Ethics at Wharton, said: “It is the very need of ethics that is driving many of us to talk about bringing the ‘feminine’ relational characteristics to the masculine ‘wield power’ characteristics of the workplace.”

Nevertheless, the headline of a global development article on the Guardian, entitled “Women are better off today, but still far from being equal with men”, explains that, despite the improvement in women’s role, in both industry and government, the faces remain stubbornly male. According to the statistics, the number of women owning a small and medium-sized business is estimated to be between 8 and 10 million.

An article in The Independent published on of the 28th September reports the initiative of one of the world’s leading executive headhunters, Egon Zehnder, to end the male dominance in the boardrooms of the UK’s top firms. Under the guidance of Miranda Pode, the managing director, Egon Zehnder has promised to re-organise the male-dominated executive roles, to push women to the top of the UK’s FTSE 100 companies.

Currently, there are just five women covering the big boss role, such as Carolyn McCall of Easyjet, Véronique Laury of Kingfisher and Olivia Garfield of Severn Trent.

It seems women cover support roles but are far from the leadership of a company.

You could ask me why. I could reply to you with another question that could be useful for reflection. If it is true that women are potential ethical leaders, following core values in their actions in the business more than men, the lack of female faces at the top of companies leaves open some questions:

  • Is ethics still a taboo in developing business topics?
  • Considering the wish to renovate the male-dominated executive positions, can ethics and business work together to innovate the old view of business?
  • Can following a moral code save the business or is it just blocking the interests of other parties?
  • Can core values and showing the emotional side of a company create an engaging environment in the office and transmit it to the clients?
  • Can clients be more engaged, feel like a part of a community, be more mindful of their real necessities?

If the answer to all the questions above is yes, it means you are ready to start the change. Put the business in the hands of a woman, she will make sure it is successful.