Marketers it’s time for some spring cleaning on social media

May 18th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

SM spring cleaningWe are in the midst of a crisis and no I’m not talking about the economy or politics, I’m referring to a social media engagement crisis.

According to research and consulting firm Forrester, per-follower interaction rates on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus have drastically fallen in the last year. The only social media platform that showed growth in engagement was Facebook, but Forrester attributes this to paid advertisements on posts.

What’s odd is that followers and numbers of posts have actually skyrocketed in the past year. Forrester recently conducted a study of how the top 50 global brands market use social media platforms. The study included 11.8 million user interactions on 2,489 posts made by 249 brand profiles.

The research found that the top brands on average have 18.1 million Facebook followers, which is double what it was in 2014. In addition, the average number of Instagram followers reached just over 1 million—five times higher than last year. Lastly, follower counts on Twitter and Google Plus have almost doubled.

Forrester also shows that marketers are posting more than ever. The top 50 brands post 18.3 times a week on Twitter and 6.5 times per week on Facebook (on average), which is more than 2014. On Instagram, brands post on average four times per week—a 50 percent increase over last year.

So what is going on? Followers and posts have risen and yet engagement has dropped.

This lack of engagement indicates the challenge of cutting through the noise – more low quality, poorly targeted content is not the answer. With all these social media platforms engagement starts, appropriately enough, with engaging content. Marketers need to put in the extra effort to create content that will resonate with audiences. Moreover, it’s important to carefully adapt your content to be appropriate for each social media channel.

It’s vitally important for a brand to interact and engage with its audience. Why have thousands of followers if they’re not interacting with you? If you don’t have great content in your posts, people won’t engage and isn’t that what’s important?

So what do we at McKenzie Worldwide suggest? For starters, try introducing guest contributors – experts and luminaries with a real point of view. Ask probing questions to get people to respond, engage and comment on your posts. Make each post interesting and about something timely that will get people talking. Focus on the quality of the content first and foremost and engagement will happen. It’s all about building a connected community and a positive culture.

Is it time for some “spring cleaning” to clean up your social media programs? Give us a call to learn more about how we can help you boost engagement with your audiences.

Don’t forget the strategy when it comes to your Content Marketing program

May 16th, 2016 by Rob Goodman

e-Spirit logoOver the past year I’ve seen quite a bit of coverage devoted to Content Marketing. Many people I’ve spoken with and articles that I’ve read highlight the importance of having a content distribution machine in place to deliver content to the masses. However, the reality is that while many companies talk a good game, most don’t have a content strategy in place and many don’t follow up on the plans they do implement.

According to research conducted by the Content Marketing Institute, 55 percent of B2B marketers say their organization is unclear on what content marketing success or effectiveness looks like. The same report indicates that only 44 percent of B2B marketers meet daily or weekly to discuss the progress of their content marketing program. The bottom line is that while many companies continue to crank out content to share with their customers and prospects, many don’t have a plan in place designed to ensure success.

One of the companies we work with, e-Spirit, just recently had an article published in CMSWire that our team wrote and placed in the publication that focuses on the CMSWire logoimportance of having a content marketing strategy in place. In addition, the article highlights the importance of being able to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.

Does your company have a defined content marketing strategy in place? More importantly, does your company regularly check to see if it’s following that strategy?

Strike when the opportunity is hot

May 13th, 2016 by Rob Goodman

One of the more important aspects of public relations is being able to uncover opportunities and being agile enough to ensure the best outcome for your clients. When an opportunity to help a client presents itself, you need to move fast. But it’s not just about turning around something quickly, it’s also about knowing the company’s audience, understanding market issues, and presenting a coherent discussion. Being smart, agile and quick can lead to great results.

For example, when a busy reporter was about to decline a time-sensitive story idea about the Portland CyberPatriot Camp recently, we seized the opportunity to offer up a guest column instead and drove hard to get it turned around in a day. Since many of us at McKenzie Worldwide are former journalists, we know what makes a good article or guest column. We quickly identified one of the leading companies in cyber security (Galois, Inc.), discussed the opportunity with the company’s marketing team and quickly wrote up the guest column for the CEO.

We ended up developing a guest column on behalf of Galois that focused on hot trends in the cyber security space and also promoted the Portland CyberPatriot Camp (an event that McKenzie Worldwide is sponsoring) which was published in the Portland Business Journal within two days. We also promoted The Galois Foundation’s sponsorship of this cyber security camp for high school students while highlighting their focus on supporting Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education.

It was a win-win for Galois and provided great exposure for the event.

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Content marketing: Not just another fad, but the path to real results

May 4th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

C.M. photo 3Are you sick of tracking marketing fads? Direct marketing morphed into digital marketing, which is giving way to content marketing. Very often there is plenty of substance behind the fad – which is why it became popular in the first place – but only if you do it right.

Another challenge to throw into the mix is the issue of shifting technologies and customer preferences. Over time, traditional digital marketing – essentially non-stop email blasts – has devolved into a less-than-mediocre form of marketing, due in part to the rise of the Internet and social media over the past 10 years or so.

Anyone can easily slap some ridiculous YouTube video up on Facebook and capture many opt-in leads that are then spammed into submission. However, these low-quality, high-volume approaches rarely lead to the kind of results digital marketers are hoping for in their programs.

Looking for a better way, many folks are jumping on the content marketing bandwagon. Unfortunately, effective content marketing takes much more work than many marketers anticipate.  Simply putting up a few random posts on a blog isn’t content marketing. Content marketing, just like digital marketing before it, can be effective when it’s backed up by smart strategies and appropriate levels of investment.

Of course we’ve all heard the phrase, “content is king.” Without question, this statement is true on many levels. The right content tailored to the right audience is critically important, but many people seem to have missed the memo. You can’t simply write a white paper or freshen up a data sheet and call it content marketing. That’s not quality and is unlikely to generate the kind of long-term engagement and loyalty that you’re looking for in your company’s customer relationships.

Content marketing is all about delivering information that your customers and prospects find useful. If they see you as a resource they are going to be much more inclined to turn to your company when the time comes to make a purchase. Effective content marketing and strategies cut through the noise and the clutter, offering useful information and real value to readers.

Now, of late, people are asking if content marketing is just another fad. After all, isn’t there enough superfluous amount of “junk” on the Web already?  Indeed, there is. But there’s never enough useful, valuable information that people need.

At McKenzie Worldwide, we’re here to add quality content back onto the Web and into your company.

Wouldn’t you much rather have your company benefit from earned media attention from respected publications and quality self-publishing streams resulting from smart strategy and the dedicated work it takes to build trust in your brand? False followers and a bunch of random likes due to another click bait blog post are not going to get you there.  Let’s talk.

What implications will Facebook’s latest updates have on marketers?

April 26th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

facebook eyeballFacebook has made some new changes to its News Feed. The changes are so subtle that, like a gentle breeze, you may not have even noticed.

In an effort to improve overall user satisfaction, Facebook asked thousands of people daily to rate their experiences and make suggestions on how the News Feed can be improved. The survey was called the “Feed Quality Program.” After collecting and analyzing the data, Facebook discovered that what people share, comment, click on or like on their News Feeds doesn’t always tell the whole story as to what they are interested in viewing.

For instance, if a family member dies or there’s been some horrific natural disaster, those stories will be meaningful and important to a user; but he or she is not going to “like” the content. This does not mean the person won’t want it on their News Feed.

In an effort to better determine what stories, posts and articles are important to users Facebook is now factoring in the amount of time a user spends reading a post.

To make the process even more streamlined, Facebook can also take into account the time between clicking on an article and reverting back to the original News Feed. For example, if that time is a matter of seconds, that would suggest that the article wasn’t what he or she expected.

In addition, the clock doesn’t start ticking until the post or video has loaded to better gauge how much time is actually spent on one post. With all this data, Facebook will give users more of what they’re actually reading and watching.

Users will no longer need to weed through the uninteresting posts to find something appealing to their own personal tastes. Everything of interest will be there from the moment a user logs on.

The update could have positive and negative implications for marketers, as well. For one, marketers can rest easy knowing that information pertaining to their products or services is only being viewed by those who actually care about it and are interested in it. In short, marketers will be able to target their specific client base.

Here’s the caveat: marketers could be losing out on potential customers. There will be some people who will never hear about your product or service, people that might have turned into customers if only they saw your post.

If you want Facebook users to see your post, we suggest creating an enticing and eye-catching headline complete with rich content. This will not only get users to click on your post, but also continue reading. It’s easy to get clicks, not so easy to get people to keep reading.

That’s why at McKenzie Worldwide we work hard to develop content for our clients that is interesting to readers and compelling enough to promote brand engagement.

Bottom line, the longer people read your Facebook posts, the more news from you they will see.

Instagram’s new change will force brands to focus on quality content

April 11th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

InstagramIn the next few months, Instagram will be unveiling a slight “timeline tweak” with a new algorithm. Don’t panic! This change will actually be a good thing for brands.

Currently, the photo and video sharing platform employs a chronological timeline. This format optimizes a post based solely on its popularity, which is great for people who only look at the number of followers and not the quality.

The new algorithm, on the other hand, will take into account the relationship between a poster and a viewer and reward them for interacting with each other. Oh, the horrors! You mean that now we actually have to engage with our audience? Seriously… communicating with each other is obviously a great thing for brands. This change will encourage marketers and brands to produce high-quality content that speaks to their audience.

However, many people in the blogosphere and on social media are not too happy about the extra work this Instagram change will entail. Let’s face it, creating quality, compelling content that engages your audience is no easy feat. But, at McKenzie Worldwide we are extremely happy about this change and the end of the “filler” posts that some companies think will work on Instagram on other social media platforms.  Why are we so happy? Because at our agency we specialize in creating high-quality content that’s compelling and engaging. We also specialize in developing overall social media programs that increase the level of engagement with your customers.

Look at it this way: If you have 5,000 Twitter followers, but the majority are scams, fake or are irrelevant to your brand, does it really matter that you have that many? Isn’t it much better to have 1,000 loyal followers who are engaged and active with your brand or company? What’s needed most and seriously lacking these days for brands is loyal, interactive and engaged followers.

Like a great teacher, Instagram is not letting people strive for mediocrity. The social media company is forcing brands to get more creative, produce high-quality content and engage with their audience. Perhaps we will start seeing less “junk” on the Web. One can only hope.

Here at McKenzie Worldwide we have a team dedicated to producing high-quality, engaging and compelling content for your brand. Give us a call to see how we can help you build trust in your brand!

Twitter is now 10 years old, but where’s the innovation?

March 23rd, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

twitter birdTwitter celebrated its 10th birthday on Monday this week but it left many experts asking, “Where’s the innovation?” A decade ago Twitter exploded onto the social media scene. Since then seemingly everyone from millennials to journalists, entrepreneurs, celebrities and even world leaders like President Barack Obama, have been tweeting their thoughts non-stop, all within 140 characters or less.

However, in recent years, Twitter has struggled to grow. The fledgling San Francisco-based company has seen its stock plummet, a chief executive leave and its staff slashed. This year Twitter’s stock prices hit an all-time low—nearly half of its price after going public in 2013. What’s even more troubling is that even as its revenue grows, the company is still racking up losses.

So, how could a company that has more than 320 million users be doing so poorly? First, that number of users has been stagnate since the end of 2015. Second, the company can’t seem to keep up with its fast-changing, ever evolving rivals, like Facebook.

Facebook is consistently updating, changing and improving, which has kept it relevant and exciting for the past decade. I had a Facebook account when that company was still a baby, roughly nine years ago. Back then Facebook was primarily just for college students. The layout of the site was entirely different. It was bland and lacked all of those colorful emojis. Also, instead of typing in whatever status you felt like, there was a drop down menu where you would select which emotion you felt at the time. For example, if I was feeling tired I would select “feeling tired.” Those words would pop up next to my name. I could also choose from a pretty limited selection of “bored,” “sad,” “happy” and “hungry,” among others. Back then Facebook was, well, uninspiring. However, it was the best social media tool available at the time.

If Facebook had stayed that way and never changed, it might never have surpassed the one billion user mark. Facebook’s evolution throughout the years has kept the brand in the forefront of everyone’s daily lives.

If Twitter wants to get its mojo back, it needs to change; it needs to improve and find a way to stay relevant. On the other hand, it’s clear that with all the users and celebrities on Twitter, some people do love the social media tool. Twitter is a great tool for business people to share their thoughts during tradeshows. Politicians use it to tweet their campaign strategies or to announce upcoming events and celebrities use it to give their loyal followers a peak into their personal lives.

However, for a growing number of people, it appears Twitter isn’t the top choice. Flight VC partner Lou Kerner noted recently that Twitter has been showing signs that “people have tired of it.”

Although, according to Rob Enderle of the Enderle Group, Twitter isn’t dead yet. “Watching all the metrics, you see they are not getting a lot worse but they don’t seem to be getting better either.”

Based on the numbers and what people have been saying, it’s obvious that Twitter needs to do something to not only grow, but to also stay in business.

What do you think Twitter needs to change to stay relevant?

What is the brand impact of a CEO Statesman?

March 22nd, 2016 by Rob Goodman

In a recent article titled “On the Stump,” the Economist positions CEOs from tech companies as the new CEO Statesman. “He is an evangelist, out to persuade theStriped_apple_logo world of the righteousness of his chosen causes.” The genesis of the article came from news about Apple CEO Tim Cook who is garnering headlines about privacy and government regulations with regard to unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone. While media-savvy executives and CEOs who seek the spotlight have been around in the tech industry for many years— think Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison—I started thinking about the impact their actions can have from a PR perspective.

“The CEO-statesman is not content with just accepting a job in the government; nor does he simply lobby behind the scenes. He is an evangelist, out to persuade the world of the righteousness of his chosen causes.”

Taking a stand on a legal or socially responsible issue, such as child labor laws, partner benefits or equal pay, is seen as a noble effort. Similarly, Mr. Cook’s issue with the government isn’t about the technology behind the iPhone. Rather, it’s about personal privacy vs. governmental need for security. He’s taking a stand on behalf of his company which, to me, is a noble gesture. Are his efforts helping or hindering sales of the iPhone? It’s hard to say. However, what he is doing definitely has an impact on Apple’s brand.

I see Mr. Cook’s efforts in a positive light. He’s doing what he believes is right, regardless of the consequences, and I applaud him for that. But, what if he was leading a charge against a hot political issue like abortion? Would I stop buying products from Apple because I disagree with his political stance?

Starbucks_Coffee_Logo.svgLook back at what Starbucks head honcho Howard Schultz did last year. At his request, baristas were asked to write “Race Together” on paper and plastic cups in an effort to get people talking openly about race relations. While the media backlash was quite negative, I thought it was an interesting move by Mr. Schultz to get people to start having an open dialogue about an important social issue.

From my perspective, the CEO Statesman can have a huge impact on a company’s brand and I applaud those CEOs who take that role seriously regardless of the impact it may have on their company. For instance, outdoor retailer REI gives employees paid days off to get outside or volunteer in the community and this makes me want to purchase their products. Part of building a brand is about what the company stands for and if I know that a CEO is willing to stick his or her neck out, as well as their company’s stock price, I am inclined to support them and their company.

What do you think about having a CEO Statesman for your company?

Do e-commerce sites have phablets to thank for building brand trust?

January 15th, 2016 by Jessica Bettendorf

phabletsAs mobile device usage grew last year, so did online shopping. According to GeekWire, 40 percent of online sales took place through mobile devices. A huge part of this growth was due to the smartphone/tablet hybrid or “phablet,” such as the iPhone 6s Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 5, which begs the question: Without the ease and convenience of smartphones, phablets and the corresponding apps, would e-commerce sites like Wanelo and Etsy be able to increase customers and therefore build trust in their brands?

Phablets are essentially super-sized smartphones with, typically, 6 to 7-inch screens or slightly smaller tablets. With their enlarged screens, phablets enable users to check email, complete work assignments, with apps like Microsoft 365 and shop online. It’s much easier to do all these things with the phablet’s larger screens as opposed to the roughly 4 inch screens on traditional smartphones.

Take the massive, “digital mall,” Wanelo for instance. The online shopping site features 12 million products that are posted online by users from more than 300,00 stores, ranging from big brand retailers to individual sellers.

Wanelo is simple to use and slightly addicting. One may find themselves spending hours glued to their phablet, browsing the millions of different products available, from clothing, makeup and jewelry to home décor. The Wanelo shopping app has made it, dare I say, too convenient and too easy to spend money. With the wide selection and vast array of eye-catching goods, coupled with ease and convenience, Wanelo is a retailers and consumers dream. However, would the e-commerce site have been able to blossom had it not been for mobile devices and their corresponding apps? Maybe not.

Let’s take a look at the e-commerce site, Etsy for example. Etsy is an online shopping site that offers handmade and vintage items, such as art, clothing, jewelry, home goods, toys and much more, with all vintage items being a mandatory 20 plus years old. The site is essentially an online craft fair, offering sellers their own personal storefronts. Etsy has been around since 1998. But, it didn’t break the one-million-dollar mark until 2007; that’s roughly around the time that smartphones began to gain popularity – coincidence? As of December 31, 2014, Etsy had 54 million registered users and growing.

So, what do you think? Are online shopping apps like Wanelo and Etsy trustworthy because of their reputation, or do they have phablets and apps to thank for making it easier to shop?

Does PR Overhype Unicorns?

November 30th, 2015 by Rob Goodman

unicorn8Interesting article in a recent Economist about the hype surrounding high tech start-ups. The article, The Fable of the Unicorn, discusses a Silicon Valley darling called Theranos. The company has created a new type of blood test technology that could possibly turn the industry on its side. According to the Economist, that is a $75 billion a year industry so we’re talking about big money.

_76894099_theranos-logoThis article, and many like it that I’ve read over the years, highlights a big issue in the public relations industry—What responsibility does a PR manager have to give honest feedback and perspective to both the company’s executives and to the market in general? If the goal of a CEO is to build the valuation of the company, how much hyperbole is allowed? Lying can get you in to trouble, but is it a lie to merely hype the new company or product and paint a vision of where the company can eventually be?

“Yet in other ways Theranos evokes a central theme in today’s tech industry: startups which promise to disrupt lucrative businesses and become valued on the basis of fantasies about their potential, rather than present reality. Investors are so keen to get a piece of any sexy-sounding startup that they lap up entrepreneurs’ hype—and anyone who asks awkward questions risks being cut out of the funding round in favour of someone more trusting.”—The Economist

Our industry is full of examples of companies or products that were over-hyped only to crash and burn. The issue of FUD is also a part of this but that will be for another blog post down the road.

Promoting a company or product in order to gain attention and build valuation or secure investors is part of our job. To me the question becomes, who are we responsible too? I know that if I was working with a CEO or CMO who wanted us to over-promote something, or outright lie about it’s potential, I would have a problem with it. We always counsel our clients to be ethical and we expect them to behave the same.

Anyone who has had to give someone constructive criticism knows how awkward it can be. Imagine if you were working with a CEO or CMO and you knew they were bending the truth or outright lying, what would you do? Have you ever had a similar experience?


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