Be Careful What You Ask For: 4 Rules To Mitigate Risk With Social Engagement Strategies

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Recently I saw yet another case of a social media “campaign” campaigning for something completely the opposite of its original intention.

Dr. Oz’s social media team set out to solicit health questions from his 3.58M followers. An idea that seems harmless, well helpful really.

Dr. Oz asked Twitter for health questions

And it was helpful…for some.

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But for most…it was just humorous…

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Long story short, it got a little out of hand.

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And there are plenty, plenty more.

Now, I’m not here to re-hash the Dr.Oz story. But I am here to ask, was this preventable? And if not, what does that mean for social engagement strategies? And, how do you respond when your hashtag is taken over?

Those are some pretty lofty questions. But in my experience, I’ve found that honesty, trust, and transparency are the keys to getting through or preventing something like this from happening. It’s happened before (remember Bill Cosby Memes gone wrong?) and it will happen again.

And this is precisely what scares big and small brands alike from trying to actively engage with people on Twitter. The problem is, interaction is what Twitter is meant for. You can’t go around it. You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You have to go through it. It’s the only way to get to the other side of the Twitter success and karmic bliss.

There will always be risk. But there are steps you can take to mitigate that risk:

RULE #1: NEVER IGNORE & ALWAYS PARTICIPATE

Check out Dr.Oz’s Twitter feed. There is nothing, nada, zilch in response to this hashtag takeover. If you’re going to be on Twitter, you have to actively participate. You can’t ignore conversations, and you especially can’t ignore the 254 tweets (according to Topsy) that you solicited with your ostensible “Q&A.” Let’s face it, there’s no “A” happening here, except for the “A” that stands for “Avoidance.” So, responding is a must. And when you do…

RULE #2: BE HONEST & PROACTIVE

The collective vent session via #OzInbox is the result of quite a few publicly harmful tidbits provided by a licensed doctor. Something Dr. Oz has never spoken out to apologize for or even defend. We get it…Things happen. You will say things that wish you had never said or things that will come back to bite you (and probably somewhere you really, really don’t want to be bitten). If you don’t proactively nip this kind of stuff in the bud by giving your own HONEST and transparent response, then when your attempt at engaging via a Q&A will likely garner the same results as Dr.Oz’s. People will use it as a chance to converse with you finally. And this conversation will, most likely, not be good. Consider the Renee Zellwiger new face controversy a few weeks ago. Twitter was abuzz about her supposed plastic surgery and her response was perfect. What happened after? People gave her kudos and moved on.

RULE #3: FOSTER CONVERSATION AS A HABIT, NOT AS A ONE-OFF. 

It’s disingenuous to begin a conversation for the sake of engagement, with no intention of actually engaging. You can’t post a Q&A that sits among several other auto-scheduled tweets. If you are going to participate on Twitter, make sure you participate as often as possible. As often as regulations allow. And, as often as the industry demands. If not, when do you post a question, it will seem coerced – like something your social team developed, without fully thinking it through. And that’s frustrating to everyone, not just social media nerds like me.

RULE #4: BE READY.

No matter what the conversation is that you’re trying to start or be a part of, be ready for anything. Have responses ready. Know your brand personality and use that to drive how you participate in the conversation and how you might respond to any negativity. Check out Taco Bell for instance. Its brand personality is snarky. So it tweets that way and it responds to conversations and mentions whether they’re positive or not:

Taco Bell Twitter Responses
Now, not all brands can be Taco Bell. But they can be creative and true to their brand. If that means needing to create conversation guidelines and examples, do it. If that means having one creative and conscientious person man your feed, than do it. This is how you prevent negativity and come out on top.

The morale of the story is this: the only way to prevent negativity is to be there and be prepared, always. And to recognize that when you’re playing in the conversational, two-way, two-to-many world that social media has created, you have to have to have to interact and you have to expect the unexpected. Otherwise, the consequences could be dire.

How do you plan for Twitter crises or foster engagement on Twitter?

Twitter Ads: Convert & Converse

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Twitter AdvertisingThough paid social has been around for a while, right now we’re experiencing a real boom in its global acceptance across industries. It may be the shiny, new ad products or (and more likely), it’s because we’re finding that paid social ads work, especially Twitter ads.

There’s a whole army of social ad types including: LinkedIn Sponsored Updates, Promoted Facebook Posts, YouTube Video ads and Twitter Promoted Tweets (Instagram ads are in the pipeline as well as Promoted Pins on Pinterest & Promoted blogs on Tumblr). However, as is often the case, with more options comes greater confusion, which can ultimately paralyze a brand from using any paid social at all. Or worse, to use some paid social haphazardly without reaping the full benefits. Which is why we’ve been getting more and more inquiries from our clients about how best to leverage paid social.

Choosing a social ad type should depend on the answers to the following questions: Where’s your target audience? How do you want to engage with them? What are your goals?

Because of its ubiquity and conversational manner, we are actually pretty partial to Twitter’s ads products. And there’s one more important reason we include them in our recommendations: Promoted Tweets are actually proven to convert more prospects than organic tweets -  yep, Twitter ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users (Convertro 2014).

Why is this? Twitter has a unique combination of targeting, timing, and ad unit options that are both engaging and effective.

In addition to the normal demographic, location and device-based advertising, when we target with Twitter, we’re also able to use strong relational and interest-based targeting. We’re able to target users based on hashtags, interest categories, the Twitter handles they follow, etc. We can even upload our own list of prospects to either include OR (and this is new) exclude. And, if you use Sysomos or SimplyMeasured, you’ll soon be able to target users by the specific keywords in their Twitter bios or based on things they’ve tweeted about in the past 30 days. So as long as you’re smart about what you advertise, to who and when, you can easily create something very relevant using Twitter.

This is especially so, because of the amount of ad units available. Twitter gets it. They know brands need to be able to justify media spends with clear metrics. Depending on your objective, you can usually find a Twitter ad unit that allows you to reach a goal AND to engage–convert & converse! And isn’t this nice – we’re here to help you navigate through them. Here are a few of Twitter’s ad types and best practices:

Promoted Tweets
If a brand is looking to engage with its target audience, increase its followers, and create a conversation, Promoted Tweets are the way to go. These tweets appear in a user’s timeline, in search results or in a user’s Hootsuite dashboard, and can contain images or links. The best way to use them is by including great stats, quotes, promoting new blogs or articles you’ve created, or simply by participating in a Twitter chat.

Twitter Promoted Tweet Example

Promoted Account
An offshoot of the Promoted Tweet, Promoted Account ads allow brands to get their Twitter handle in front of a specific target audience AND, in conjunction with a tweet, make a case for why a user should follow them. Users see these ads in the “Who to Follow” area and the tweet appears in their timelines. Promoted Account ads are very successful when done alongside traditional Promoted Tweet campaigns and really do result in high new follower counts. The catch? You have to engage with those new followers ASAP. Give them content they want to consume, or you’re very likely to drop off their radar.

Twitter Promoted Account Ad - Example

Lead Gen Cards/Website Cards
Oh how we love Twitter Cards! Introduced a little over a year ago, Twitter’s Lead Gen Cards allow advertisers to showcase an offer, a piece of content, a registration, really anything in exchange for that user’s information. And it all happens with the click of a button. Lead Gen Cards appear as a link within a tweet and upon click, expand into a user’s timeline. Once a user clicks to claim your offer or read your white paper, Twitter automatically collects and provides their twitter handle, name and email address. You can even have this information automatically imported into your CRM so that you can follow up with an email. Post-click users are then directed to a custom landing page of your choice.

When to use these? Well if your goal is to generate leads it’s an obvious choice. But it’s also great if you have pieces of content you know your target audience would love to read OR if you have a great discount to promo.

Recently, Twitter also unveiled Website Cards, which are similar to Lead Gen Cards, except the offer is always your website or landing page. Good to use if you have a game or something experiential on your landing page to provide users.

Twitter Lead Gen Card Example

Promoted Video
Still in beta, Twitter’s Promoted Video ads will be available as a self serve option for all brands soon. These are done on a cost-per-view model (vs. cost-per-enagement for the other ad units) and streamlines video playback with a one-tap viewing experience. These ads create an even richer sense of engagement with your target audience. An average Promoted Tweet costs anywhere from $1.50-$3.00 (depending on audience size). So if Promoted Videos stick to the standard, brands could also use these as a way to test out various videos before launching with larger online video or even TV strategies.

Twitter Promoted Video - Example

Promoted Trend
Last, and most expensive, is the Promoted Trend. This was Twitter’s earliest ad unit, as it places your hashtag in user’s trending topics area. However, from our experience promoting a trend for just one day can cost you $15,000! And you would be remiss if you promoted a trend without using Promoted Tweets and Promoted Account ads in conjunction. So, you’re likely going to exceed $20,000 for just one day of exposure. And you have no control over the other trending topics your hashtag might be showcased alongside.

However, if you’re looking for mass exposure, Promoted Trends are the way to go. These are great when used to enhance other large PR announcements to exponentially increase impressions and awareness of this news.

Twitter Promoted Trend Example

 

For more information about Twitter’s ad units or other paid social media efforts, feel free to contact allie_rees@lpp.com.

Things Will Never Be The Same: The Growing Necessity of Paid Social

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The Growing Necessity of Paid Social As social lovers and marketers, we all knew there would come a time when our favorite social platforms would find themselves answering to their investors. That’s just the way it is.

And now, unfortunately, things will never be the same.

(At least where organic vs. paid social is concerned.)

Last week Twitter announced its intention to filter user’s Twitter Feeds. In effect, choosing the content that does and does not get seen by each user. There are two schools of thought around this:

  1. The average Twitter user feels quite overwhelmed by the amount of content that appears in his feed, which inevitably leads him to be less active. Lower active user counts, then, disheartens investors.
  2. The Twitter connoisseur enjoys her ability to follow who she wants and always see the most recent content in her feed. She loves that as long as she follows her local news station, for instance, she’ll see any/all breaking news stories in her area.

But if Twitter does decide to create its own algorithm (much like Facebook’s EdgeRank), no content is guaranteed to make your feed, especially if you haven’t interacted with a tweet from a particular user in a while.

Twitter is doing two things here. It’s addressing the information-overload complaint from average users while also forcing brands to amp up their efforts by using their paid options. Promoting your tweets will eventually be the only way to make 100% sure that your followers see your content, not to mention reaching your potential followers.

After a change similar to this on Facebook, AgoraPulse and Mark Schaefer found that more than 70% of all companies across 104 industries had a decline in organic reach of 30% or more. And while the question on whether the brands are to blame for their decline in reach is still valid, the hard truth is that Facebook’s algorithm change has led to a very steep decline in organic reach and engagement rates across the board. And this same trend will likely rear its ugly head on Twitter as well.

The answer: dollars.

Innovation and relevancy have always been the pathway to success on social. But the almighty algorithm is driving the need for brands to invest in not only great content, but also in sponsored and paid social advertising – especially, if they want to see their social programs succeed.

Conversion Rates for Paid vs. Organic Social Network Advertising by emarketerThe good news in all this is that paid social ads actually have proven to achieve higher conversion rates than organic content (via emarketer 2014 Q1 study). Especially on Twitter, where ads were more than twice as likely as organic tweets to convert users.

So now, the questions will not be, should I spend money on social ads? Rather how much, when, and why?

 

 

The Rise of 2nd Screen Viewer Engagement: Implications for Advertisers

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The first time I heard the term “second-screen viewing” or “second-screen viewer,” I rolled my eyes. Hello…we have been watching TV and eating, reading, doing homework, “studying,” emailing with clients, etc. for as long as the TV tray has existed.

But what we haven’t experienced for decades is the ability to track what viewers are doing while they’re watching. Are they playing Candy Crush and sort-of watching CSI or are they watching The Voice and following the singers virtually as they sing on screen? In other words, are they tuned out or hyper tuned in?

Thanks to social media (and our inherent need to share), we’re now able to pinpoint just how engaging our shows are. And, more importantly, we’re able to capitalize on this engagement with ads.

But just how much second screen viewing is actually happening and what’s the potential for second screen engagement?

In 2012, Nielsen reported that 40% of smartphone and tablet owners used their devices while watching TV. In just 2 years, that number has increased to 80 percent! So as advertisers and “official engagement engineers,” how do we capitalize on this?

Thankfully, technology has given us the ability to track the real-time interactions happening across multiple networks, platforms & devices and associate those with what’s happening on TV. And they’re not mapping back to to the TV guide to determine when something’s airing. It’s way more sophisticated than that –  companies like Bluefin Labs (now a part of Twitter) have technologies to determine what’s on TV in conjunction with real-time conversations on Twitter and Facebook.

All of that aside, engaging with TV viewers is now not just an opportunity, it’s a necessity. But what does this mean for advertisers?

  1. In-depth knowledge of your target audience. Gone are the days of shot-in-the-dark intuitions around where your target audience is and what they’re talking about. To engage in the second screen, you have to KNOW what shows your audience is watching, when they’re watching it (live or DVR?), and what networks, hashtags, etc. they’re using while viewing.
  2. Live Interaction. Okay well that’s sort of a given. With social, you need someone manning your account basically 24/7. But if you want to engage with TV viewers, you must also watch along with them – otherwise how would you know what they’re even referencing in their #scandal tweets?
  3. On-the-fly Content Creation. Brands always struggle to find the perfect balance between getting content approved before it goes live and creating content that leverages real-time conversations. But with the second screen, this balance is even more important. You can’t wait until the second commercial break to promote a tweet about something that happened in the first two minutes of a TV program. So you either need to be able to predict a few content areas and have the ability to adjust based on the show OR you need the ability to create images and associated text with an “ask for forgiveness, rather than seeking approval” mentality, forgoing the approvals process.

How do you engage with brands and/or TV shows while watching the tube?

Twitter TV Ad Targeting: Qualifications for Advertisers

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This morning at its #Twitter4brands conference, Twitter unveiled two new services: TV Ad Targeting & Twitter Amplify. We’re most excited about the new TV Ad Targeting project, but have discovered that it may be a VERY long time before advertisers and brands will actually be able to use it, especially because of its budget restrictions and exclusivity.

Here’s what we learned about the new products:

Twitter Amplify:

We knew when they announced the Vine app that Twitter was trending toward making video a more prominent part of the Twitter user experience. But we had no clue what was on the horizon. This morning we learned that media brands and their ad partners can promote short television clips on Twitter. It’s been in Beta for a while, with 5-10 second replays from NBA basketball games. But brands will now be able to include their message at the end of the clip. For instance, a clip from “The Weather Channel followed by an ad for a restaurant chain,” (Mashable). How this smaller advertisers will be able to take advantage of this, we’re not exactly sure yet. But what we do know is that promoted videos are an amazing way to really engage an audience.

TV Ad Targeting:

I’ve always been a fan of the technology behind Social TV analytic company Bluefin Labs. Since being acquired by Twitter, though, we had yet to see any major changes in the platform. Until now. This morning Twitter announced a new product that will allow you to promote tweets to users who have just watched your ad on tv, thereby securing post-commercial viewing engagement.

Twitter is now enabling brands to consider the entire Social TV experience and giving them a chance to break through. Want users to watch your commercial and then visit your amazing website or start playing your social game? With TV ad targeting on Twitter, this is now a reality. The Social TV movement has finally come full circle.

But you’ll have to hold your horses, because the project is currently in Beta and only being offered to current Twitter ad partners. I was also sad to find that the reality is that this is a product only brands with large marketing budgets can afford.

Here are the qualifications needed before Twitter will allow you to use Twitter TV Targeting (as confirmed by an account executive at Twitter):

  • Run national TV advertisements in the US that span multiple days (ideally across multiple shows and/or networks)
  • Run TV ad targeted campaigns for a minimum of one week, in line with TV schedule
  • Promote tweets that reinforce the same message as TV ads
  • Allocate a minimum of $100K incremental (per handle) to “Promoted Tweet” campaigns coordinated with TV ads.
    • $50K of this must be allocated to TV ad targeting, with remaining funds to be allocated at the client’s discretion.
  • Have spent at least $25K with Twitter in 2013

With these new opportunities, will you rethink your Twitter advertising budget?