Archive for the ‘SOsays!’ Category

The world belongs to those who understand it. In the social media ecosphere, we at Strategic Objectives believe those who understand their audiences best have the highest likelihood of generating the best results. PRs need to understand how to tell a brand’s story and make it speak to audiences so effectively that the message can transcend all platforms and inspire sharing. PRs are natural communicators, but even here, you really need to understand your audience to maximize results.

Everyone is trying to figure out user behaviors online. Once we understand behaviors, we can better understand how to reach our target markets and build the best and highly-engaged online communities for our clients. What if we were to say most gamers have never been to college? What if we were to tell you there’s a strong use of social networking in the workplace?

Social Media Today recently released some statistics on social media usage and its demographic landscape. The statistics are deduced from 900 websites that average 9 million visits/month per site and offer some very valuable, not-so-surprising and nonetheless interesting results on user data. That data can be found in the chart below, where we have also created a quick summary of the research findings.

 

 

Demographic Findings:

  • Social networking is dominated by younger generations with no children, and online networking activity picks up in college
  • Social networks are most popular among the youngest generation (18-34) and are used less frequently for each successive age group over 35
  • Youth ages 18-24 tend to use social networks to supplement social life, learning, and having fun.
  • The most diverse use of social networks comes from the 25-34 year old age group.
    • Continue to use the services they used in college, but less often
    • As they start to have new interests (business, family), they are most likely to use online social engagement to benefit their business/career, discuss or plan travels, and share family-related experiences online
  • The 35+ demographic show technological bias against social networking.
    • High likeliness of these age groups to use business, family, and dating networks
    • Stats also suggest that social networking’s popularity among youth may be not just be due to technological differences, but to a better fit of interests
  • People with college-level education tend to have a higher rate of social for participation with networks across the board.
    • This suggest the expanding network once in college
    • Also demonstrates there is a tremendous amount of information shared between students

 

Outlier Findings: Two categories break this trend

  • Gaming has an unusually high participation rate among people without college experience
    • Likely that a high percentage of gamers are young
  • Places has a very high participation rate among people with graduate-level schooling
    • Likely positive correlation between graduate school and income, and between income and travel.

 

Male VS Female Findings:

  • Gaming is strongly dominated by males
  • Lifestyle and family is strongly dominated by females
  • Dating, Places, and Business are used more often by females
  • Education networks are used most by males

 

Location Findings:

  • Strong use of social networks in the workplace
    • Distraction or sign of increasing application of social websites for practical purposes?
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There’s considerable ongoing discussion of influence — how to get it, work it and hold onto it — underway in the social universe. This intense interest has resulted in a wide variety of FREE tools people can use to track their/your social influence and thought leadership. These tools include Klout, Twitter Grader and Twitaholic, to name only a few. In the past year, the reliance on follower count, as a prime measure of influence has lost credibility, with a pronounced shift to a more considered evaluation based on a concoction of mystery analytics and far-reaching connections.

Klout, currently the most popular and buzzed about industry standard for rating social media influence is a highly-debated tool that measures thought leadership and engagement by its own secret analytics and gives you a score based on more than 35 variables including retweets, followers, engagement and the quality of the people following and engaging with you. Klout scores range from 1 to 100, with higher scores representing a wider and stronger sphere of influence.

Despite Klout’s newfound klout, when it comes to measuring “influence,” one very influential and respected word of mouth agency, Likeable Media, asserts that thought leadership can indeed be measured by numbers: specifically, your number of Twitter followers.

This begs the question: Is follower count the best way to prove social media competence and authority?

“I was extremely surprised, given the way social media measurement is evolving, to see a highly respected, early adopter like Dave Kerpen, a founder of the Word-of-Mouth Marketing Organization and CEO of Likeable Media, announcing an employee competition, challenging his staff to grow their Twitter followers to prove their thought leadership, based on follower count,” says Strategic Objectives president Deborah Weinstein, who is herself hyper-active on Twitter. (Follow her @DebWeinstein)

“There’s been so much time and energy spent discussing social media measurement and its impact — how to create it, how to report it to clients, how to prove its value and ROI — over the last year,” Deborah continues. “I was astonished to see a leader like Dave reverting to the most basic and rudimentary measure, follower count, to prove the influence of his crew.”

“I simply had to go to our team — who do the same kind of work and seek the same kind of impact, results and influence for our clients — to ask their opinion and advice as to whether Strategic Objectives should do something similar,” she says.

At the end of the day, our SO Engagement team agrees, it’s important for our staff to be socially engaged because it’s what we do. As to whether follower numbers count? Our bottom line advice is that it’s preferable to judge thought leadership based on social sphere, influence, engagement and community participation. Someone with only 200 followers can have major influence in an online community through authentic engagement, and play a key and valued role in aligning and affiliating with your brand.

 “I question whether ‘getting the most followers’ is the way to really engage a community and position yourself as a Twitter expert,” says @SO_pr Account Manager Monika Rola, who adds that measurement by followers is a flawed process because it’s too easily gamed. “We can all grow numbers with the help of Tweet Adder software. If someone wants to be underhanded, they can even pay companies to find followers for them.” 

Andrew Stewart our @SO_pr Community Manager agrees, “Everyone starts off with one follower. It’s easy to get followers; it’s keeping them that’s the hard part. Judging anyone or anything, prima facie, can speak more to your flippant need for quick answers than real influence,” he says.

Why Numbers Lie (No S*#t, Sherlock!)

It is our opinion that setting measures on social media success should match up to your goal, strategy and tactics. Looking at follower count is as effective as following the newspaper horoscope to guide your daily decision-making. Measuring and reporting ROI by follower and fan count, rather than context, audience demographics, etc. is all too common in the agency world.

A contact of ours recently shared a twitter influenced list with us to review. It comprised approximately 150 Toronto Twitter accounts with the highest number of followers. We vetted the list through our usual filters to make sure it was totally targeted and were totally surprised.

After filtering out the spammers, corporate accounts (no relevance to our campaign) and accounts which had gamed the system by obviously buying followers (few tweets, thousands of followers), we were left with approx 40 real people with any real influence. Of that 40, only a handful would have been interested in engaging with our story.

Don’t get us wrong — we do believe a large and engaged audience is hugely important in both social and traditional media. However, we urge you to look beyond the numbers to find the context behind the numbers. Be curious, Sherlock Holmes! Investigate.  Don’t be lazy.

Measuring Leadership: beyond the numbers

We believe that measuring sector and category thought leadership should extend way beyond Twitter to the work that you do and the results you achieve. It should include IRL speaking engagements, Twitter lists, blog posts and articles published in major media outlets and so much more. You can have as many engaged followers as you want, but if you’re going for the title, Thought Leader, your soap box needs to be prominent in more places than Twitter and your ideas should be thought-provoking and original.

Community manager Andrew Stewart agrees, “Thought leadership is all about perspective. These days original thought is hard to come by and an original point-of-view is rare and very refreshing. You’ve delivered genuine insight if you can make me see something in a new light or from a new vantage point,” he says.

So how do you cut through the social noise, echo chamber and back-patting to be deemed an authoritative thought leader?

Andrew recommends listening and observing to discover the real influencers who matter most to you, “If you see that someone asks questions but doesn’t follow up with answers, it may just mean no one’s really connecting with them. It’s no wonder!” – “If we must follow numbers, lets look at twitter lists. It takes effort, reasoning, thought and categorization to add someone to a list so why not measure that as a standard of real influence.”

Measuring Measurement

Like the “if a tree falls in a forest does anyone hear” metaphor … I like to say If a tweet goes unretweeted, did that tweet ever exist? Retweets are but one small way to measure social success and influence beyond follower numbers. In fact, we recommend a mix of measures including:

–          Followers

–          Retweets

–          Sentiment

–          Clicks (links)

–          Views (of image or video)

–          Unique visits

–          Comments

–          Likes

–          Lists

–          Interaction

–          Sales

–          Buzz and trending topics

The list goes on and on, but we’re sure you get the point. There are also several, useful PAID services to help measure thought and brand leadership, including Sysomos and Radian6.

Andrew also suggests looking at how many lists someone appears on, “Lists are a good start if you want quantifiable measurement. Tools like Klout are also starting to show some traction in proving influence.”

I’ll conclude now with some wise words from our socially-savvy president, Deborah Weinstein: “Social media has become the wild, wild west of marketing with a multitude of disciplines jostling with each other to own the space; and a plethora of self-styled gurus hawking their wares to ill-informed, but hopeful clients, businesses and brands. Make sure to look beyond the hype to fact-based analytics and research when recruiting a marketer to promote your brand and business. True thought leaders will stand out based on their actions and deeds,” says Deborah.

There’s no question there is a need to establish and measure new high standards for “influence” and “thought leadership.” In the meantime we urge smart marketers to resist the temptation of buying into the big social numbers game, as digital budgets begin to rock and rule in the new economy.

Following on this theme of social media measurement, we’ll take a more analytical look at follower counts next week.

 

Technology reigned supreme once again at one of North America’s largest and most influential annual interactive festivals, South by South West Interactive (SXSWi). Situated in sunny Austin Texas, the conference, which is often referred to as Spring Break for Geeks, is jam-packed with information and events including key notes, sessions, networking opportunities and an omnipresent diet of BBQ.

Strategic Objectives’ resident geek, Melissa Smich, put on her cowboy boots and joined the fun, and even led a panel entitled Naked Dating: How to find love in 140 characters or less. It’s ok if you couldn’t make it out to Texas, SO has you covered with Melissa’s inside-look at the technology and online trends that will affect marketing and PR in 2011.

Content

If content is king, then two key trends wear the crown this year: Curation and Context – and its not as simple as you think.

Curation

Imagine for a moment the cumulative content from the beginning of time until 2008. Now imagine that same volume of info being produced online every 48 hours. Imagine no more, it’s reality and the thought leaders at SXSWi believe we are now so overloaded with information, that we no longer search for content; rather, content is finding us. Hence our need for curation.

Curators are traditionally known for their vast knowledge in spaces like the arts, architecture and history. They are specialists in who sift through and vet all the junk, looking for the good stuff. Online curators find and share only the very best information, links, articles and videos in the digital space – which makes most of us are content curators, in some form or another. If you’ve ever tweeted or retweeted a link to a great article, shared a video with your facebook friends, or even written a blog post linking to your favourite stories of the week, consider yourself a curator!

I predict we’ll see content curation emerge as a high-demand online editorial role in the near future. Moreover, PR and marketing agencies will value content curators over content creators since curators will have higher clicks/visitors. This looming paradigm will have huge implications since the content creators will miss out on advertising impressions; forcing content creators to implement standards and boundaries for the sharing and repurposing of their original works.

Context

There’s no doubt the rise of social media has caused brands and marketers alike to fall in lust with new social tools and platforms that have propelled them to interact with individual consumers in two-way communications, otherwise unheard of in the past. For instance, could you imagine receiving an instant and personal response from a political leader a decade ago? With Twitter, this has now become reality and this unprecedented outreach is now renamed the humanization of the brand.

Little wonder New York Times bestselling social media author, Gary Vaynerchuck says, “If content is king, context is God.” In a world where we can tweet or write on the walls of our favourite brands and expect them to respond to us, context is increasingly important. How will your brand respond? Will you offer a canned or highly personalized response?

In the new social media world, consumers expect personalized responses from their favourite brands. We want them to get to know us, what we like and tailor their outreach to us accordingly. In the near future, companies will be expected to woo consumers individually and the brands who do so effectively will win their consumers’ loyalty for life. How are your brands preparing for this?

Mobile

Mobile media consumption is growing exponentially and is expected to eclipse desktop web browsing by 2015. This is NO passing fad – personalized device technology will change the way we consume media. Brands must be prepared for this shift, as it will happen quickly and suddenly. This is why we stress the importance of brands having agency partners that understand mobile technology and can help navigate you through those sometimes perilous waters.

This year’s biggest trends in mobile can be summarized in two acronyms: QR and LBS.

QR codes

It seems as though we hear the same thing every year: this is the year of QR (Quick-Response) codes. They’ve been around since1994, and while definitely popular in Asia, they have yet to reach critical mass in North America.

QR codes were my big prediction for 2010 and while their adoption by major brands this past year has shown promise, it hasn’t achieve mass popularity. Worse still, we rarely see companies doing it right, as detailed in my previous post.

While this may sound critical, I do see hope yet for QR codes this year — if Facebook adopts QR code technology as it has location-based check-ins. The possibilities of a seamless integration with Facebook are plentiful: you could scan to add new friends, scan to check in at locations, and much more.

Otherwise, I’m underwhelmed by QR codes’ lack of mass appeal and wondering if they’ll ever make it big in North America.

LBS

Location Based Services (LBS) are my BIG prediction this year along with Location Based Advertising (LBA). Mobile phones are the one device we use that’s highly personalized and truly our own. Unlike a personal computer that’s commonly share with colleagues, family and friends, your mobile device is with you every step of the way and is solely your own. The possibilities for personalization are endless for brand marketers!

Google’s Marissa Mayer spoke at SXSW about Location, Location, Location – and let me tell you, Google LOVES location. Google Maps for Mobile has amassed an amazing150 million users, meaning a whopping 40 per cent of all Maps usage is mobile.

Riding high on the location wave, Google also recently introduced Hotpot – a Yelp-like feature to integrate with your Google Maps searches. It features reviews and check-ins from your friends on the side bar of your Google Maps search, as long as you are logged in to your Google account.

This connection between location, search and your social graph is a big deal in the social world. Location based services allow us to identify exact demographics, in precise locations and based on accumulated data on that user’s behavior and browsing history, and allows us to then reach out to them with highly targeted messaging. There is no question location will be a powerful tool to leverage in future mobile and integrated marketing campaigns.

In the much further future, I am excited by Mayor’s statement that she envisions a day when your mobile phone will know everything. This signals Google may be working towards a singular web, where all devices are intelligently interconnected, the way Tim Berners Lee originally intended the web to function, way back when.

In Conclusion

What do Curation, Context, Location Based Services and QR codes all have in common? These trends seem to fall into two key areas of growing importance: Data (collection, analysis and sharing), and Personalization (messages, advertising and social media). We will see the rise in humanized outreach from brands; and brands will increasingly depend on our consumption data to successfully target us. Brands will need to quickly find their sweetspot in mobile outreach efforts so as to not be intrusive, but rather personalized and valuable as more people turn to their mobile phones for media consumption.

Our Strategic Objectives team will be hosting a Lunch and Learn on these topics, so please check back here next week for the video!

You can find more on SXSW here and to learn more on QR codes, click here.

By Melissa Smich. Consultant at Strategic Objectives

 

Public Relations has awesome power to reach into the hearts, minds and wallets of targeted consumers.

Never has this been more true than now, in the social era, when everyone has the right to be their own publisher and to spread info they/we believe is important, relevant and engaging for our audiences.

My work in Marketing Public Relations began back in the 80’s when I co-founded our national, full-service PR firm, Strategic Objectives, with my sister and partner Judy Lewis. Both former TV and radio producers with CBC, CTV and Global TV networks, we’d been on the receiving end of copious off-target PR communications for many years. We knew there had to be a better way to share and spread brand information and to harness the value of credible third party endorsements from key influencers, the media, stakeholders and consumers.

Looking back now, more than 25 years hence, I am reminded of the French saying “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” – the more things change, the more they remain the same!

Yes the world has become much, much smaller with the advent of the fax machine, PC, cell phone, camcorder, digital camera, laptop, smart-phone, tablet and social networks – all devices and platforms that allow us to communicate instantly. But the basics of results-driven communication and the practice of PR remain the same as when we started Strategic Objectives back in 1983.

  • Craft a solid, reliable, relevant story
  • Tell it to the right audiences that need/want to hear it
  • Be honest and real; show integrity with everything you do
  • Be innovative, integrated, inspired and inspiring
  • Be proactive, reactive and follow-up meticulously
  • Be prepared for issues/crisis management
  • Be consistent and true to your brand –
  • Be cautious, the internet forms a permanent record –
  • Be nimble, seize the day and every opportunity –
  • And most importantly, love what you do!

At #SOSlam we’ll discuss the brave new world of social sharing and networking; and the profound impact it has on the way we see, do things and conduct business. But it’s important, at the same time, to remember that social media is a tactic, a tool and sometimes a weapon. What it is not, is a strategy, a foolproof path that will take us directly to the fulfillment of our personal and professional goals.

Social media is an awesome new avenue that, like most technology, allows us to do more for ourselves, faster, easier and more independently. It is also uncharted territory, an ever-evolving landscape that challenges, titillates and provokes us with the thrill of the unknown, not-yet-mastered and still unconquered.

I look forward to learning more about social media with you at #SOSlam and to meeting the awesome tweeps who will converge on Knoxville from 12 States and Canada (pick me), on Wednesday, April 13. See you there. Can’t wait!

For more info on SOSlam please check out: www.socslam.com

Deborah Weinstein, @DebWeinstein, is president of Strategic Objectives,

 

Our Strategic Objectives PR team was proud to welcome Marshalls, one of the world’s leading off-price retailers, to Canada this Spring! Marshalls, with more than 820 stores across the U.S. launched its first three Canadian stores in the Greater Toronto Area on Thursday, March 17, with three more stores set to open in Ontario this fall.

To get the media on board with the story our SO team hosted a media sneak preview on March 16, the day before the official store opening, to share news of Marshalls’ arrival with Canada’s national and Toronto-based traditional and social media types.

Canada’s fashionistas were thrilled to tour the new store; discover its enormous and stylish offering; learn how to find Spring’s hottest looks and brands at unbelievable discounts; and interview Marshalls spokesperson, Hollywood’s stylist to the stars, Phillip Bloch. Mr. Bloch has worked with celebrities ranging from Jennifer Lopez to Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry and Sandra Bullock and is the author of several books, including The Shopping Diet. Funny and friendly, he was happy to share tips on how to create Spring’s hottest looks on a shoestring budget at Marshalls.

More than 20 top Canadian media outlets made the pilgrimage to Marshalls’ sneak preview for the inside scoop on Canada’s hottest and newest fashion retailer.

“I made Canada’s first purchase at Marshalls!” says Rita Zekas of the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest distributed newspaper. “I bought a come-to-me-mama pair of shoes. They’re going to follow me home and get along with all the other shoes in my closet. I’m calling them my Gucci coup.”

The media was generous with its coverage. Please check out these great stories.

Toronto Star

Toronto Sun

Winnipeg Free Press Business

Winnipeg Free Press Lifestyle

Globe and Mail video

 

Strategic Objectives was delighted to partner with Marshalls  and celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch to build fame and fortune for the brand in Canada.

 

The reason marketer-backed “viral” videos never actually go viral is because today’s public can smell a fake, marketer-backed attempting-to-be-viral video a mile away. (Just ask Microsoft)

 

 

Here at Strategic Objectives we are always challenged by our clients’ and our own desires to create news that goes viral.  We are always pushing ourselves to create spreadable info that’s shareable, meaningful and relevant to the media and consumer audiences we relate to.

That’s why we’re SO stoked to see a video that gets everything right.

The smartwater video works because it owns up to the difficulties marketers face when trying to harness the power of social media, while effectively getting our attention, making us smile and achieving its goal – publicity!

Smartwater comes out and says it: we pretty much have no idea what we are doing with this viral video thingamajig.  But look at the cute animals! The double rainbow! Someone getting hit in the crotch! They took viral video memes, turned them on their head and used them for their own benefit, all the while pretending they were just bumbling their way through. Genius!

Jennifer Aniston turns out to be an amazing spokesperson, allowing smartwater to make fun of her former life as “Rachel” from Friends, her sex symbol status and even a very sly wink at all those tabloids that scream that Jen is “desperate for a baby.” She’s so desperate that they put dirty dancing babies in her video.

Well played smartwater. 2.5 million hits and counting. You took on the savvy, cynical consumers of 2011 and made us smile. It’s no David after dentist, but we are SO impressed.

By: Lori-Anne Isber, Consultant at Strategic Objectives Toronto

 

 

We here at SO are a huge supporter of QR codes when used properly. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case.  I constantly find QR code fails – like on ads in the subway where no one receives reception, therefore rendering the code completely useless.

Last night I was enjoying a wonderful dinner with some friends and found a QR code on the back of our bottle of wine. I see a lot of wineries embracing QR codes on their labels, yet  rarely, in my opinion, done properly.

But this one stood out – it was a lovely local VQA wine from a respected Ontario winery. We scanned the QR code and it took us to their event page – featuring events from 2009!! It was such a mobile marketing fail, I couldn’t quite believe my eyes.

The saving grace was that the winery had a mobile-optimized website, which showed there was hope yet for the brand. But too often I find QR codes on wine bottles doing nothing more than directing the consumer (or potential consumer) to the winery’s website. What’s the point of directing to your website beyond an utter lack of strategy and forward thinking? As a potential consumer, I want more info as to why I should buy your wine at the point-of-purchase. As a consumer, I want to scan to find out more about the tasting notes, and how I can enjoy this wine and others like it in the future.

What do I recommend as a mobile marketing strategy for QR codes on wine bottles? Easy: I want to see tasting notes, pairing tips, and storing/drinking tips. I’d also like to see recommendations for other wines I might like from your winery if I enjoyed this one. Additionally, for those enjoying it from outside of Canada, I’d like to see where I can find it/order it online, and for those enjoying within Canada, I’d like to know its cost at the LCBO.

My other recommendation? Hire Strategic Objectives next time. We’ll put together a proper digital and mobile marketing strategy for you.

What are some of the biggest QR code fails you’ve seen? Please share in the comment section below!

By: Melissa Smich Consultant at Strategic Objectives