Should We All Scream for Live Stream?

Thinkstock Photos
Thinkstock Photos

It wasn’t that long ago when social media changed the way we looked at PR and marketing.

No, seriously. The very first tweet was sent out in 2006, but for a good half-decade, most were simply tweeting to let everyone know what they were having for lunch. I never fell into that category. Over the past several years, companies have now gotten a firm grasp on how they can leverage social media to engage their different audiences.

Now comes the latest social content evolution: live streaming.

Live streaming apps like Meerkat, Periscope and Hang w/ are now all the rage for sharing content, and are perfect for real-time viewing. People and brands are using these apps to share thoughts, answer questions and connect more personally to their followers, in the moment. But since the concept of live streaming content is still in its infancy, some of us are still trying to decipher how this latest form of sharing can be leveraged.

There are many pros for content marketers using live streaming apps to promote their brand. For starters, it can be used as a live “ask me anything” segment with the company’s CEO or other key figures. Having a prominent brand advocate speak live to the company’s audience makes for great expert commentary and brand transparency (because sometimes blog posts and event tweets can sound robotic when all your content is so carefully edited). It can also be used to stream live company events, announce a promotion or offer a great limited-time deal. A celebrity takeover might also work wonders for the company – imagine if Steph Curry or LeBron James live-streamed a party at the Google campus. This could easily go more viral than your typical 30-second TV spot – and without any media buy required.

Now for the cons. Live streaming means you’re doing it all in one take, meaning if you screw up, you can’t get all Bill O’Reilly and ask for a do-over. Second, some live streaming apps have a built-in forum for followers to comment in real-time. You know what that means? Trolls! Even though trolling has been around longer than email, it can still be a nuisance when the comments are directly attached to your brand’s content. Periscope has tried to control the situation with its follow-only mode, which allows for only your Twitter followers to view your stream and content. But that doesn’t do much good for companies with tons of followers (some trolls, undoubtedly) or that are looking to engage non-followers. If you have an idea on how to keep all trolls off live streaming apps, then the rest of the Internet will be happy to pay you millions of dollars to have them removed from other platforms, too.

Most importantly, understand that there are great risks when live streaming on behalf of your brand. Trolls can be ignored during those “ask me anything” segments, but what about those who begin asking questions about topics you really don’t want to discuss? Just like any live in-studio interview, be prepared for any unforeseen questions that might come your way. It’s up to you if you choose to ignore it, or want to acknowledge it. Regardless of how you want to handle it, remember that everyone’s looking at you, and it’s important to stay composed throughout the recording.

My advice: Though live streaming at our fingertips isn’t necessarily a “thing” just yet, it could be very soon. And if you want to leverage this new technology to push your brand and messaging, be sure to have a fully scoped plan behind your campaign. It’s just like shooting a live, one-take commercial … and the feedback will be instantaneous. So know what you want to say, have the right person in front of the camera and please be safe when filming live.

Wait! What? 6/12: Non-Sportsball News of the Week

"Let's take a break from this to discuss the latest technology trends." (Thinkstock)
“Let’s take a break from this to discuss the latest technology trends.” (Thinkstock)

While you were all busy cheering on the Warriors this past week (Cleveland fans, please see yourselves out immediately) and contemplating whether anyone actually looks good in Golden State yellow (the answer is no), we generously took some time out of our rigorous viewing schedules and compiled some top tech newsbites for you:

  • Somewhere, a Target PR intern scheduled their first press release this week. We’re going to assume it was also their last. Whoops.
  • In news that really rocked the tech world this week, Blackberry and Android are contemplating what could potentially be the least consequential business partnership ever.
  • A little blue bird told us that Dick Costolo stepped down as Twitter’s CEO this week, but we’re not really sure since we were too busy checking our Snapchat stories and Instagram feeds to care.
  • Whoever called Mayweather v. Pacquiao the fight of the decade definitely did not anticipate Apple Music v. Spotify. In one corner, Taylor Swift and Drake. In the other, everyone who’s been listening to music since iTunes stopped being a thing in 2011.
  • And in what was legitimately the coolest tech development of the week, Facebook and Microsoft announced that the Xbox One will be in virtual reality thanks to Oculus Rift starting in 2016. We’re brushing up on our Super Smash Bros skills this very moment.

Now, back to sports.

Wait! What? 4/17: The Great Video-Streaming War of 2015 Continues

boxingimage
BigStock

It’s been a great week for television. Game of Thrones is back (our office was pretty excited), and we saw the return of our favorite nerds in Silicon Valley. HBO and Uber didn’t waste this opportunity to shamelessly exploit fan dedication to The Throne to promote the launch of HBO Now – we only wish they had brought some to San Francisco. Onto the rest of the tech news this week:

  • Reddit has gone legit, pushing its way into the publishing game by joining the likes of The New York Times with a weekly email newsletter of hand-selected content, Upvote. The hope is that this will help people better understand the “concept” of Reddit, so we’ll see about that.
  • Is Twitter cyberbullying celebs into using Periscope? According to TechCrunch, the answer is yes. Twitter’s influence in Hollywood may signal the end of Meerkat’s short-lived time in the spotlight.
  • Another day, another Snapchat scandal. The social media giant is allegedly using geotag filters to poach engineers from Uber. Where is Silicon Valley’s reality show? This is getting juicy.
  • If you’ve been living under a rock for the past two weeks, you might have missed Hillary Clinton announcing her presidential candidacy. If you’ve been off the Internet, you definitely missed the birth of “Hillvetica,” a font inspired by her campaign logo. #cringe
  • Tidal might actually be worth that $20 subscription fee. Apparently artists can log in and see who is listening to their music, and this is provoking them to make personal calls to subscribers. BRB, I think Jay Z is calling.

That’s all, folks – now go enjoy your weekend, and don’t do anything too foolish à la Twitter/Snapchat.

Wait! What? 4/10: Apple diversifies emojis, Sparks fly between Tinder and Bud Light

#InclusiveEmojis, courtesy of Apple.
#InclusiveEmojis, courtesy of Apple.

Happy Friday and first weekend of Coachella! Maybe you’re mentally/physically preparing for a weekend at the happiest and most branded place on the planet, or maybe you’re just ready to kick back and enjoy a drink or two (you deserve it) in a more relaxing setting. Either way, here’s the tech news of the week you need to know:

  • iOS 8.3 is here and Apple pleasantly surprises us with hundreds of new emojis to reflect various races of people across the globe. All goes well until Clorox gets involved on Twitter…
  • Speaking of Twitter, they’re just killin’ it with the new tweet within a tweet. This feature allows people to share and comment on tweets without having to shorten the original tweet, thus preserving meaning and context. We’re into it.
  • Want to take a trip to Whatever, USA? Bud Light introduces native videos to Tinder, tempting users to swipe right for Bud Light for a chance to win. If you’re #UpForWhatever, at least that’s one match that can offer some potential.
  • Hulu has provided users a catalog of GIFs from its TV shows, which in theory sounds thrilling. But branded with a Hulu hashtag, accompanied by a disclaimer, and created with a choppy frame-rate, we just can’t recognize these as the GIFs we know and love.
  • Brands have been flocking to the baby of Siri and promoted tweets, otherwise known as ads on Kik. The app lets consumers get cozy and engage with brands through messaging. Are these conversations more engaging than your Tinder ones? Hard to say.

And that concludes this week’s #WaitWhat. If nothing else I hope we have at least inspired you to take your dating app game to the next level this weekend. See you next Friday!

Social Posting 101: The Skinny on Sharing Good Content

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

A few months ago, we discussed the optimal time for posting on social media. Here we are again to set the record straight: more content doesn’t always mean better content, and posting for the sake of posting should be avoided at all costs. Social media content should be aimed to delight, engage, educate and (sometimes) even create some controversy with your audience. Follow these tips to make sure you’re on track with your social content:

Facebook

Facebook doesn’t make it easy for brand posts to be successful. In short, if you want promotional brand posts to appear, it won’t be free. However, this does not mean that all content goes unseen – Facebook is mainly filtering out posts they consider to be “promotional,” meaning that quality content will still be organically distributed. Now the questions remains, what is quality content?

Kevan Lee, content manager at Buffer, has pulled together a list of what makes the “perfect” Facebook post:

  • Must contain a link: Research conducted by Facebook itself found that users prefer displayed links over photos with text displayed above.
    • This same research found that 80 percent of users preferred not to see “click-bait” headlines, but rather headlines that helped them decide if they wanted to read the story or not.
  • Keep it short: A study done by Buddy Media found that posts that contained 40 characters or less received 86 percent more engagement than longer posts.
  • Relevance is king: Guess what? People want to share real-time news with their friends! No surprise there, but you might not know that the Facebook algorithm boosts posts that are “trending” or being mentioned across the platform. Follow conversations and see what your audience is talking about to boost engagement.
  • What’s your content strategy? The most engaged-with brands on Facebook have a strategy when posting content. Consistence and frequency are crucial, though this doesn’t mean post five times a day. But make sure you have a regular cadence of content being shared with your audience.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has about 260 million users and leads the pack for professionals among the social networks listed. It can be both a way to connect with old colleagues, as well as a powerful tool for lead generation. Econsultancy found that LinkedIn sends four times more traffic to your company’s homepage than Twitter and Facebook. Additionally, the platform has the highest visitor-to-lead conversion rate at 2.74 percent. How do you make sure you’re maximizing this potential?

  • Let us repeat ourselves, consistency is crucial to the success of your profile. Whether it be a personal or brand page, consistent messaging ensures that your profile effectively conveys your message if a visitor decides to read one post or twenty.
  • Make sure your content is appropriate for the platform. LinkedIn members are professionals; they aren’t looking for cute cat videos (albeit, don’t hesitate to share these elsewhere). In fact, according to research from LinkedIn, 6 out of every 10 users are interested in reading industry insights, followed closely by company and product news (53 percent and 43 percent of users are interested in this type of content, respectively).
  • LinkedIn has two tools for marketers to determine what content is resonating best with their audience: Content Marketing Score and Trending Content. You can learn more about both tools here. These aim to arm you with the insights needed to post the most relevant and engaging content to both personal and brand pages.

Twitter 

Twitter is a bit like the Wild West of social media. Finding the best content to post often takes some experimenting to see what hashtags, articles, and voice resonates the best with your audience. Nick Lewis, PR and social media expert, compiled a list of the components of a good Tweet:

  • Don’t tweet with nothing to say: Does your Tweet serve a purpose? Does it warrant engagement from your audience? Over-posting without adding any value will likely result in reduced engagement, so the purpose of your content should be clear.
  • Link to associated sources: Due to Twitter’s character count, it’s sometimes tough to convey your whole message in a single tweet. This is where directing your audience to a related source (i.e. an article, blog post) comes in handy.
  • Include images: It’s simple. Tweets that include an image receive 150 percent more retweets than those that do not.

Instagram

Instagram is the fastest growing major social media network in the world with over 300 million users, including more than half of all online young adults. It’s no secret that visual content is exponentially more engaging than written content, especially with millennials. What is the secret to Insta-fame? Let us explain:

  • Context and relevance are key: Think before you hit the ‘Share’ button. What value does this add to my customer’s life? How do they benefit? Why would they be interested? How can I make this relevant to my followers?
  • Hashtag brilliance: Branded hashtags are a great way to not only engage with your audience, but also a great way to curate photos to share on your brand’s account. The clothing brand, Aritizia is a great example of a successful, branded hashtag.

For examples of what not to post, check out this article from The Huffington Post.

Regardless of the network, one piece advice rings true – know your audience before you say anything. What trends do they care about? What annoys them? What content are they seeking out on social media in the first place? And what are they posting?

Once you begin to answer these questions, you’re well on your way to posting engaging content.

Spring Forward Your Social Channels

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

It’s finally springtime! While you adjust your sleeping schedule and relish in the longer evenings, now is also a great time to embark on some spring cleaning – and we’re not just talking about your hall closet and under the bed; you should also make it a habit to revisit your social media channels.

Two channels in particular, Twitter and LinkedIn, are now used by approximately 25 percent of online adults, according to a recent Pew Research Center report. Here are a few easy to implement changes to ensure you’re getting the most from these platforms:

Twitter:

  • Follow-up! Twitter is only as interesting as the people you follow. Think about the last five articles you’ve read or shared with friends, then add those reporters to your list. Made some new PR contacts lately? See if they’re regulars on Twitter. If you’re still at a loss, check out these lists for inspiration: Top 10 Techies to Follow on Twitter, Refinery29’s 10 Best Comedians or TIME Magazine’s ever-popular Twitter 140.
  • Plan your attack. If you’re using Twitter for more than listening, tweeting consistently is critical to adding new followers and engaging in conversations. Third-party tools like Hootsuite or Twitter’s TweetDeck can help you stock up on tweets at the beginning of the week so you’re using Twitter more regularly.
  • Get a social content face-lift. Aesthetically, make sure your Twitter page represents you as well as possible. Try adding a new Twitter background to liven things up. Check out your short bio and make sure the details are still relevant. Add some recent photos or videos for viewing on your profile page. Thanks to recent features added by Twitter, users can now capture, edit and share videos right from the Twitter app.

LinkedIn:

  • Practice makes perfect. Check out your list of skills and make sure they’re up to date. Start by spending five minutes thinking about your most challenging projects from the past year. What were your biggest roadblocks and what skills helped you tackle them? Now add those skills to your LinkedIn profile. Think of your profile as your personal brand – keeping it updated ensures you’re putting your best foot forward and offering an accurate picture of who you are in the real world. Don’t have time? Here are nine more reasons that will help you get motivated.
  • Mix and mingle. Engaging in groups related to your professional interests will expand your network. From the “Groups” button on the navigation bar you’ll be able to search for new groups or manage the ones you’re already in. Start by using groups as a way to keep up with industry information and when you’re ready, start proposing and answering questions to make new connections. There are more than 200 conversations happening every minute across LinkedIn groups, so if you look you’re bound to find something that appeals to you!

The best part about these easy-to-make changes is that they can be implemented in under an hour. Talk about a quick turnaround!

Wait! What? 3/6: Deep space branding and Vince Vaughn’s stock photo debut

It's really not that different from other stock photos. (Getty/Fox)
It’s really not that different from other stock photos. (Getty/Fox)

Thousands flocked to Barcelona this week for sunshine and sangria – er ahem – Mobile World Congress, meaning we’ve seen a ton of posts about cool new gadgets and cutting edge tech. Aside from this delightfully weird smart pocket watch, here’s what made the headlines this week:

  • Apple will bump AT&T off the Dow Jones Industrial Index at the end of March, providing more evidence of technology’s dominance in the U.S. economy.
  • Twitter plans to give advertisers access to 1,000+ target audiences who have expressed “purchase intent.” We clearly didn’t already have enough ads in our streams.
  • Vince Vaughn and his co-stars posed for ridiculous (and free) stock photos ahead of the release of their newest movie “Unfinished Business.” A great example of how PR stunts can bring joy to the Internet, which can always rally around ridiculing stock photos.
  • Speaking of PR stunts, or rather, missteps, the controversy over Hillary Clinton’s year-long use of private email for government business, is a good example of what not to do when it comes to email security at work.
  • Finally, in case you were wondering about the universe, it turns out innovative technology for deep space missions also needs social media for branding. Just ask NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs.

Those were our favorite stories of the week; hope you enjoy! Otherwise, you’re free to continue debating whether Jarod Leto’s or Kim Kardashian’s big blonde reveal was better.

Wait! What? 1/9: Innovative brewing at CES and Microsoft’s mysterious new browser

A toast to technology. (Thinkstock)
A toast to technology. (Thinkstock)

After a lengthy holiday break, we are back to the grind. Let’s see what the first week of 2015 had in store for us:

What stories caught your eye this week? Feel free to share them with us @BlancandOtus and check back here every Friday for a new round of “Wait! What?”

Socially Acceptable: Disclosure on Social Media

Thinkstock
Thinkstock

I’ve previously discussed the importance of disclosure – that is, making it clear as a day if compensation of any kind occurred for a piece of content, per Federal Trade Commission guidelines. In that post, I noted the FTC’s requirement to disclose within any social post if the content that is linked to is sponsored.

Well recently, the FTC exercised this mandate, settling charges with Deutsch LA for what the FTC deemed deceptive Twitter promotion. The notion that the FTC won’t actually monitor agencies’ social media activity as it relates to clients can officially be put to rest with this important wake up call.

Maybe you’re thinking the agency in question engaged in outrageous practices to mislead consumers. Well, you’d be wrong – the firm simply promoted a campaign for PlayStation (one of its clients) from employees’ personal handles, without disclosing PlayStation as a client. Did agency employees link to sponsored content they should have noted was paid for? Nope. Individuals were simply asked, not told, to tweet positive endorsements of a product while using a specific hashtag.

This isn’t meant to call out a specific agency and its campaign. This really could have been any number of agencies in an effort to build awareness for clients. Most, if not all, agencies only have one goal in mind: to do the best work they can for their clients. But in doing so, it’s easy to forget that while the client effectively operates as the agency’s “customer,” agencies must always keep their client’s customers in mind.

At Blanc & Otus, we have a long-standing policy in place that requires our team to call out whether a company is a client in promotional social posts. However, the rules are constantly changing and this is a great lesson as much as a cautionary tale. Disclosure can’t just occur via the agency social feeds – it extends to every employee of that agency, even those who may not work on or have anything to do with the specific account. Agencies should also take the measures needed to educate their employees on various disclosure mandates. For instance, this case was unrelated to disclosure of sponsored content, just content related to clients.

One easy quick fix to appease FTC regulators: simply add a #client or #ad hashtag to your post. I hope this helps and if you work in PR, communications or any other area where this might apply, feel free to get in touch with me with any questions at ndesai@blancandotus.com.

Wait! What? 11/26: Where tech and turkeys collide

"It's been an honor serving you, Mr. President." - Turkey (Thinkstock)
“It’s been an honor serving you, Mr. President.” – Turkey (Thinkstock)

It’s been a short week leading up to Thanksgiving, but that didn’t stop us from cooking up five juicy news bullets for your gobbling pleasure. Already regret writing that.

  • While you gather with friends and loved ones this weekend to reflect on all that you’re thankful for, we can tell you with certainty what Lyft is thankful for: Uber’s PR nightmare. The ride-share service reported its biggest week for rides ever following one of Uber’s roughest.
  • New ammo for the age-old white vs. dark meat debate: turkey lobbyists (real thing) only allow white turkeys to be presidentially pardoned, meaning brown and black turkeys are doomed to serve their duty to the American people in political obscurity. #THANKSMICHELLEOBAMA
  • Speaking of turkeys, now you can vote via Twitter on which one should spend the rest of its days in genteel luxury in Virginia, and which should end up on Obama’s Thanksgiving table… May the odds be ever in their favor.
  • We all know creating trash is central to American values, but one startup is determined to ensure our turkey scraps don’t go to waste. You can thank the cloud, Big Data and several other buzzwords.
  • If department stores have taught us anything, it’s that Christmas basically starts right after Halloween – so hurry up and finish that turkey because ’tis the season to be shopping. PSFK’s 2014 Gift Guide includes unique wearables and smart gadgets like posture sensors that essentially scold you for slouching. Our favorite is the stress tracker that tells you when…you’re stressed…? We need it!

Still not satiated? Connect with us @BlancandOtus to stay on top of the latest in tech and media, although personally, we’re going cold turkey on it until Monday. Enjoy the break!

Julia van Broek, Christine Pai, Colette Keane and Victoria Stevenson contributed to this post. It takes a village.