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Five ways to embrace Twitter as a visual medium

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We’ve been hearing a lot lately about the importance of using visuals in your social media. Because human minds process visuals faster than text, they can be a much more succinct way of communicating your point. While words themselves probably aren’t going anywhere anytime soon (you are reading this, after all), incorporating more visual elements into your social efforts can catch more attention than just words alone– particularly on a fast-paced platform like Twitter.

Twitter’s updated features support visual media

The good news is that Twitter has made some updates in the past few months that support visual content on their platform, perhaps because of the growing popularity of photo and video platforms like Instagram, Vine and Snapchat.

Although many people took Twitter disabling Instagram display cards as a blow to cross-platform sharing, there’s a workaround for it that doesn’t require you to directly upload Instagram images to Twitter (although that might not be a bad idea; tailoring content for individual platforms is a best practice). 

Last fall, Twitter improved embedded images in tweets to make them bigger, bolder, and much more noticeable. 

And while less public, another update made it possible to send images privately in DMs and let the world know that Twitter understands the importance and impact of visual messaging as their users have been asking for it.

Finally and most recently, Twitter launched an update that lets you embed tweets within tweets. These appear more like an image than just a wall of text and can be a good callback to a point you were making previously, or to call back to a blog post you shared if it’s relevant in a conversation you’re currently having 

 What does this mean for brands using Twitter?

You can no longer rely on 140 characters of words alone to get your message across; snappy visuals are more important than ever. Not sure how to approach it? Here are a few tips to get you started:

  1. Figure out what kind of information you’re trying to convey. Can you get the entire message across in a picture, or should you choose an image that will catch attention and direct it back to a longer post elsewhere? 
  2. Infographics are popular, but they’re not right for everything. Especially if you have a very large or long infographic with tiny detail, don’t try to post the entire thing on Twitter. Post a section of it instead; this will pique interest and redirect traffic back to your blog or website.
  3. Test the same posts with different images. Try pairing an eye-catching image with one tweet, and an eye-catching image with text overlaying it on another. See how both do, and keep testing. Soon you’ll know which type your audience prefers. (But remember, this could change over time.)
  4. Test the same image across platforms. One style might do better on Twitter than on Instagram or Tumblr. See what your audience likes and tweak things for each platform.
  5. Be sure you’re using images you have permission to use. Use photos with a creative commons license if you don’t have your own photo resources.

The final word.

Before you post something or propose it as an idea to your team: Is it interesting and eye-catching to you? If it’s not, then you might want to rethink your approach.

Written by Sarah

August 19th, 2014 at 9:19 am

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In case of emergency: Cruise lines and crisis communication on Twitter, Part II

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Costa Concordia Instagram

People fascinated by a disaster will create their own news accounts, that may or may not contain misinformation. This is happening on networks outside of Twitter as well, like this example on Instagram.

We’ve previously discussed how airlines should handle crisis communication in case of an emergency, and recently we shared the first part of the plan for cruise lines to do the same. This is the second part, which picks up after looking at what cruise lines should look for on Twitter, to what they should measure during and after a crisis, plus what to look for on platforms outside of Twitter.

What to measure on Twitter in times of crisis, and after

Now that you know what to look for, you need to have a plan in place for how to measure it. What, exactly, should you be measuring on Twitter as a crisis unfolds?

Before; or what you should have set up right now

Ideally you will already have Trackers set up to capture what we mentioned previously- tweets directly to your official handle, mentions of your brand in any variety of spelling imaginable, any well-known nicknames your brand has (official or not), and the ports you operate from. If you’re not already doing that, now is the time to implement Trackers or take frequent snapshots (using something like our aptly named snapshot reports) around those terms once a situation arises and begins to unfold.

If your resources have grown since you first made your plan, consider monitoring your major competitors and major keywords related to your industry as well.

During a crisis

Often during a crisis situation, a hashtag will be born organically. If you’re being proactive about communicating via Twitter, however, don’t hesitate to create one of your own and immediately set up a Tracker to measure it, or take continual snapshots of the situation. If another hashtag emerges organically, use that one in your messaging as well and be sure you’re tracking both.

After a crisis

If everything flies by too quickly and you’re a small enough team not to have time to set up Trackers or take frequent enough snapshots of the situation, a historical option to capture the entire incident is available. This can also be used to fill in any noticeable gaps in your data once you’ve begun to look through everything you’ve gathered.

In the aftermath of the event, you might also want to track a specific news story (using specific key words from the title if it’s unique enough not to return a lot of noise, or you can track via a specific URL) that went around if it directly involved comments from your brand, or got a lot of circulation with commentary from people passing it around. This will give you a much more accurate read on the sentiment around your crisis messaging, and let you see any missed opportunities, as well as highlight every win.

Go the extra mile

Once you have all of this data and you can clearly see how the situation unfolded and evaluate the strength of your response, take it a step further: What can you plan better next time, with this experience? What did you and your team do really well, that you should be sure to praise and also pass on as protocol to new team members? This knowledge can be distilled and turned into training and on-boarding materials for any new communications employees in the future.

If you’re not a cruise line (or an airline) a lot of these tactics still apply to you; if you’re a hotel, for example, you can offer to put up stranded travelers or victims of a natural disaster or other tragedy. Car rental companies and car sharing services can work out deals to get stranded people home if they don’t have far to go. For a less serious crisis, tour companies can even offer to keep stranded passengers entertained with local sites while they’re waiting for delayed travel to get sorted out.

Any of these companies can work out deals with each other ahead of a crisis to come in and support each other if and when it makes sense to.

Platforms other than Twitter

While Twitter is the best platform to use during a crisis because of the speed at which you’re able to share information and connect with concerned parties as well as news outlets, you need to be sure you have messaging in place on all of the other platforms you also have a presence on in the case of an emergency. For Facebook, be sure to make periodic, informative updates and answer as many questions as you can from concerned parties that may not be on Twitter. Do as much as you can with the resources that you have; don’t be afraid to make a post and then direct everyone to Twitter or your website for more information if those are the two places you plan to concentrate updates.

Tumblr will support text updates and it’s also a place where you can reblog information from the news outlets also on Tumblr, but it’s much more difficult to answer questions if they come in the form of reblogs. Do answer any questions directed to your inbox, publishing those that may help answer the similar questions of others.

Photo-based platforms like Snapchat and Instagram are more difficult to navigate; it’s hard to think of a tactful snap for announcing information around an emergency situation, but if that’s the only line of communication open to you and you’re in touch with your customers there, don’t hesitate to do what you can. If you do feel it’s appropriate to post a screenshot with emergency update protocols on your Instagram account directing followers to your website or Twitter for ongoing information, do so. Many of these details will depend on what’s right for your brand, the nature of the crisis, and the resources available as it unfolds.

The takeaway

The bottom line is to listen and step in where you’re needed, even if you’re not expected to.

Written by Sarah

August 12th, 2014 at 10:12 am

In case of emergency: Cruise lines and crisis communication on Twitter, Part I

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Costa Concordia News

An unofficial Twitter account for Costa Concordia news that sprung up in the wake of the ship’s running aground. If you don’t come forward in these spaces, someone else will do it for you.

The Costa Concordia is back in the news this summer, being towed away for salvage after its disastrous running aground two years ago. We’ve written about airlines and how they should use Twitter for crisis communications, and thought we’d  make that same approach more specific for other areas of the travel industry.

This first part will cover what cruise lines should be monitoring for before a crisis- meaning the plan that you have in place- and in the early stages of a crisis breaking out.

What cruise lines should look for on Twitter

Social media is both a blessing and a curse in a time of crisis. While companies are able to rapidly disseminate information, share updates, and directly interact with the public in real time, misinformation can also spread very quickly on platforms like Twitter.

For something as high stakes as trans-oceanic travel, it’s important for cruise lines to know what to listen for and measure, particularly during the stressful summer holiday travel season. We have some advice for creating just such a plan, or reassessing it if you already have one.

What to look for on Twitter during a crisis

First, you need to set up a monitoring plan for Twitter. Exactly what you’re looking for will depend on the nature of the crisis you’re dealing with and your communication goals around each type of crisis.

In case of common crisis

For ship departure delays and stranded, angry customers who might have missed a boat, for example, you’ll definitely want to focus on catching every mention of your brand on Twitter and doing everything you possibly can to make affected customers feel listened to and understood. If possible, give your customer service representatives on Twitter the power to offer reconciliations: everything from drink packages, to discounts on future cruises, full or partial refunds; even free accommodations on a future departure if the situation is bad enough.

This is vital for turning an angry person who swears they will never cruise with you again- whether the circumstances of the situation were under your control or not- and someone who will brag about your customer service on the same forum they just used to share their unhappiness, while remaining a customer.

In case of not-so-common crisis

If the situation is more serious- like the Costa Concordia running aground off the coast of Italy, or a natural disaster like a hurricane- you don’t have to bother to look for misinformation; it will already be out there. Use Twitter as a way to let everyone know you’re aware of the situation, that the safety of your employees and passengers is your first priority, and to make any updates you can on the situation, waiting as long as possible to confirm new information before you send it out while still making any corrections as necessary.

In both cases- and the rest of the time, as a general rule of thumb- you should be monitoring not only direct replies to your brand’s handle on Twitter, but also mentions of your company name in any variety of spelling imaginable: any well-known nicknames your brand has (official or not), and the ports your operate from. Depending on your resources, you might want to include the names of prominent employees, such as founders, board members, and c-level executives. Something like our TweetReach Pro Trackers will allow you to do this. (We’ll talk more about what to measure in part II.)

Go the extra mile

Monitoring mentions of the ports you operate from will be vital should a tragic incident occur and you need to reroute your ship or make accommodations for passengers waiting to board, and the rest of the time it will give you an advantage in listening to and addressing problems you might not have caught otherwise. Is one of your passengers stuck with a delayed flight home and without a hotel room? If you have the connections to help them, you will change everything about how they end up perceiving their trip.

Monitor your competitors too: Is a passenger stranded by a competitor somewhere you have a ship in port, or are approaching, and you have room onboard? You’ve just filled an empty cabin and probably won a new loyal customer.

If you go the extra mile and make someone’s day, you’ve reversed their story of a bad trip gone awry and will more likely be the first brand on their mind the next time they travel.

What next?

Look for part II, which covers more about what to measure during and after a crisisplus what to look for on platforms outside of Twitter.

Written by Sarah

August 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am

How can I use Twitter’s analytics alongside TweetReach?

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Twitter’s new activity dashboard includes a set of metrics to help you understand the performance of your tweets. It provides a great complement to the Twitter account metrics we provide with TweetReach Trackers. Want to know how you can use them together to make the absolute most of your tweets? Here are a few suggestions.

1. Understand your brand’s impressions

Twitter’s analytics will tell you how many actual impressions your tweets received (defined as the number of times a user is served a tweet in their timeline or search results). Here’s an example of metrics for a tweet from our @unionmetrics account.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 10.54.58 AM.png

With TweetReach, we provide a measure of potential impressions (defined as total maximum deliveries of a tweet) for each tweet. Here’s an example from a TweetReach Tracker showing maximum possible impressions for the same tweet above.

Screen Shot 2014-07-23 at 10.54.29 AM.png

Use these impressions numbers together to understand what portion of your audience you’re reaching and how impactful your tweets are.

2. Improve your tweet performance

Twitter’s new activity dashboard includes detailed metrics for each tweet, letting you know what kind of (and how much) engagement they receive. Over time, you can use this to learn what kinds of content perform better and use that to inform your Twitter strategy.

With TweetReach, we can drill even further into the content in your tweets – the hashtags and URLs you share, including those from Vines or Instagram photos cross-posted to Twitter, which is especially helpful during a campaign that spans platforms. Here’s an example:

TweetReach tweet content

Combining these sets of data you can clearly see which types of content are being shared more, clicked through or favorited more, or some combination of those. Use it to test the same content shared in slightly different ways to see which clearly resonates most with your audience, and build a stronger content strategy tweet by tweet.

Twitter activity

3. Measure engagement with your account

With Twitter, you’ll see stats on retweets, clicks, favorites and replies from the past month, including how these figures compare to the month before, like the image to the right. It’s broken down by tweets from your account, retweets and replies, and promoted tweets.

With TweetReach (pictured below), you get retweets and replies, and how that breaks down into an average retweet rate, in addition to an overview of your follower growth and the reach of your tweets. Look at an all-time overview of how many tweets you’ve sent with an average tweets per week stat, and all of your mentions, with an average tweets per contributor stat. This lets you understand your engagement levels with those who are contributing to the conversation around you; we’ll talk more about this in a minute.

TweetReach Twitter account metrics

Putting these together, you can see exactly which kind of content gets the most – and the best – engagement. If your how-to posts and tips and tricks are all getting favorited, you know which kinds of customers are looking for those resources and saving them to reference later. If your question-style headlines are getting the most clicks, you’ll know to write more of those in the future if you want to get your posts in front of more eyeballs. If your product posts are getting the most replies, look to see how many people ask further questions and how many thank you for sharing the information. Use their questions to inspire new posts and fill gaps in your FAQs.

4. Identify your biggest fans or advocates

Who’s engaging with your content and mentioning your account? TweetReach gives you a list of the top contributors to the conversation with your Twitter account, letting you know who your biggest supporters and advocates are, telling you who you should be paying attention to, engaging with, and rewarding and thanking. Being able to identify your brand advocates is absolutely invaluable to growing your following and increasing engagement.

TweetReach top contributors

Additionally, knowing who interacts with your account can help you understand more about who your audience is on Twitter. Is this the audience you want to reach? Should you shift your strategy to try and reach a slightly different audience? Twitter’s analytics will also help fill this part of the puzzle out; their follower analytics tell you where most of your followers are tweeting from and what they’re interested in.

Using TweetReach’s contributor list augmented by Twitter’s follower details will help paint a deeper portrait of the people who are most engaged with your account and the content you’re sharing. This will help you build the most informed Twitter strategy possible.

Want more?

These are just a few ways you can use TweetReach together with Twitter’s internal analytics to improve your Twitter activities. And that’s just account-based metrics. We can also track hashtags and keywords on Twitter to help you understand larger conversations and trends. Want to learn more about how we can help you measure and optimize your tweets? Let us know!

Written by Sarah

July 24th, 2014 at 12:51 pm

3 questions to ask to refresh your Twitter strategy

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Business Cat encourages you to ask these questions annually.

As new social platforms become ubiquitous in the business world, it can be easy to let strategy for their content and use become stale while focusing on building your presence on the latest thing. If you’ve let Twitter sit on the back burner for a while, now is the time to bring it forward and be sure it’s still working for you– not to mention playing well with your presence everywhere else.

1. Why are you on Twitter?

Has the reason changed since your brand first signed up for the platform? If you started out just looking for a place to periodically share your content or coupon codes, things have probably evolved. Consider the following:

  • Have a solid strategy in place for answering customer service questions; know who is responsible for this, what resources they can point customers to, and perhaps even a script with consistent company messaging they can work from (but not stick to verbatim every time, as people like talking to people and not robots). 
  • Invoke the 80/20 rule if you haven’t already. 80% of the content coming from your account should not be your own, promotional content. Share things that will be useful to your customers and help you build relationships with them. Share your own content and promotions 20% of the time.
  • If you’re just looking to engage with customers and followers, be sure you’re replying to every (non-spam) @ appropriately. People quickly lose patience with non-responsive accounts. If you have limited resources establish a time of day to jump on and catch up with asks. It’s better than nothing at all.

While these are obviously not all of the reasons a brand might be on Twitter, it’s a good starting place to rethink why you’re there.

Another important point: If you’ve never done the research to see where your target customers are spending most of their time, now is the time to do it. If it has been a while since you’ve done it, now is the time to take a look again. Has it shifted to or from Twitter? This might drastically change your reasons for being there, and what you’re going to do next. 

Speaking of which. . .

2. Where do you want to go from here with Twitter?

Perhaps you’ve been on Twitter for a few years, tending to customer questions, chatting with your followers, keeping a casual eye on the competition, and sharing a useful mix of your own content and that of others. Now you have the time, resources, and experience with the platform to take things a little further: You want to use it to gauge your share of voice in your industry.

First, use Twitter to measure your share of voice in your industry by comparing your metrics to the overall conversation about your area. Once you know where you stand, you can work to increase your share of voice by tweeting more, being sure you’re talking to everyone that it makes sense for you to be talking to, and working to bring the conversation from other platforms back to Twitter.

Which brings to our final question. 

3. Is Twitter playing well with my presence on every other platform?

Do you have your Twitter account linked to your Instagram account? Do your Twitter updates automatically feed to Facebook (we recommend turning that feature off; it will simply annoy customers who follow you in both places)? Check your sharing settings in each place and decide what makes the most sense for your brand moving forward. Content should absolutely be tweaked to perform its best in each place. 

This is especially important if you’re launching a cross-platform campaign soon, or hosting an event and want to utilize every platform that your followers and customers are on: Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, as well as Snapchat and Pinterest.

Any other questions?

Leave ‘em in the comments, or find us on Twitter.

Written by Sarah

July 22nd, 2014 at 11:43 am

Marketing your conference across platforms: Snapchat and Pinterest

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While Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr are the main three platforms brands tend to work with, other brands are making strides in places like Snapchat and on Pinterest. If you have the resources to play around with these platforms in addition to the big three- or if you know that’s where you audience spends a large amount of their time- take the opportunity to see what you can do in these places to supplement and enhance everything you’re doing elsewhere. They’re particularly fun platforms to utilize in a cross-platform campaign.

Snapchat

We’ve covered the basics and specifics for brands on Snapchat, as well as showing which brands are using it well. Snapchat is a perfect way to keep in touch with event attendees in a lighthearted way throughout a conference; you can send snaps showing upcoming events, or recapping a session or a cocktail party. You can ask for snaps back in order to share free drink tickets or admission to a packed keynote; your creativity is the limit on Snapchat in terms of interaction with your followers. Like Instagram, it’s a great way to show off the atmosphere and get future attendees more interested in booking their trip for the next year.

It’s also a great way to foster conversations between attendees; intimidating names in a field can seem more approachable to build a connection with when they’re willing to send a silly snap.

Photo 6-25-14, 11 59 11 AM

 

A snap from Mashable attending a Google event in San Francisco. 

Just be sure you’re letting attendees know ahead of time across your other platforms that you’re on Snapchat, because most won’t think to look for you there. Having signage up around your conference will also let attendees know where to find you across platforms, and keep official hashtags in play, making post-event tracking easier for you!

Pinterest

Pinterest is a great way to help attendees get organized around a conference; build boards for them so they know what to pack, and what sites to see around town if they decide to come a few days early or stay a few days after. You could even encourage speakers to build their own boards around their areas of expertise, driving traffic back to their sites and letting attendees have a better idea of who they are and what their professional and personal focuses are.

SXSW Pinterest

 

An example of a Pinterest board from SXSW, showing off photos from Instagram and helping attendees figure out what to pack. 

The number and variety of boards you want to build up for your event is up to your creativity, time, and resources. Also keep in mind that Pinterest is great at driving sales, so pinning books your speakers have written after an event is a good idea as well as the same kind of snappy visual reminders you put on Instagram around deadlines for ticket prices.

The bottom line

The bottom line remains the same as in our previous post covering the big three social marketing platforms (aside from Facebook): Play to the strengths of every platform you have a presence on, but especially with these two, don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun.

If you have any questions or examples of great conference marketing we missed, please leave it in the comments!

Written by Sarah

July 15th, 2014 at 8:36 am

Marketing your conference across platforms: Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr

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We recently discussed 3 dos and don’ts for running a campaign across platforms, but what about marketing a conference or similar event across platforms? Successfully marketing an event requires tailoring your message for each platform, just as with any successful campaign. We’ll break down some of the specific uses for each platform here, playing to their individual strengths and making note of what to keep in mind based on how each works and interacts with the others.

Twitter

We’ve covered 16 ways to use Twitter to improve your next conference and 7 tips to maximize your conference attendance using Twitter, so what’s different when you’re adding other platforms to the mix?

When building your communication plan for your conference you want to keep in mind the strengths of each platform to plan which content you’re going to disseminate where; Twitter’s strength lies in it being the ultimate real-time tool. Use Twitter to broadcast quick updates and reminders throughout your event, such as:

  • Remind everyone of the official hashtag
  • Make announcements and reminders of keynotes, session start times, and any other events like a cocktail hour or party 
  • Let everyone know if a session, talk, or cocktail hour has been delayed, canceled or moved to a different location
  • Make suggestions about where attendees can head for meals or drinks offsite, tagging the handles of those businesses where applicable
  • Introduce speakers by their handles
  • Thank speakers, organizers, and any companies that have provided staff for catering or bars (and be sure to mention their handles too)
  • Answer any questions from attendees, and resolve any problems they bring to light quickly

Also be sure to prominently and consistently use and track the official hashtag you’ve created for your conference, which will tell you everything that went well and everything you can improve for the next time.

SXSWV2V Twitter

Instagram

Instagram is new territory for many marketers, which is why we’ve written a series for those new to the platform over on our Union Metrics Tumblr. Specifically for events you’ll want to check out how to effectively use hashtags, the nuances of sharing to other platforms via Instagram, and even the different moves personal brands should make there (in case you’re an event attendee in the future, wanting to promote yourself and connect with other attendees and organizers).

So whether you’re established on Instagram when you decide to market your event there, or you’ve decided to make the conference the official launch of your Instagram presence, there are a few things to keep in mind. Instagram’s purely visual nature is a strength for any brand looking to tell a succinct story in photographic terms. However, the single-track feed on mobile means that too many posts can easily overwhelm your followers, so established brands with a large following who know only a portion of that following will be present at an event will want to consider setting up a side account if you plan on frequent event updates.

With that in mind, some of the ways to use Instagram at a conference include:

  • To show off the conference venue, including what the weather in the host city is like
  • Share photos of sites to see around the host city
  • Tap into other big communities on Instagram by showing off the #food available on and offsite of your conference (be sure to tag any offsite restaurants and bars that have an Instagram presence, and follow their accounts)
  • Post reminders about meetups in other cities leading up to the conference, or after it, like this one from SXSW V2V
  • Share engaging photo reminders of deadlines for submitting speaker applications, getting a discount on event passes, and more
  • Post photos of keynote speakers, tagging their Instagram accounts with permission so that attendees can get a better idea of who they are
  • Post photos to highlight your event organizers, staff, and even regular attendees to give a behind-the-scenes look at everything that goes into the work of organizing and executing a conference (and tag their accounts too, where appropriate, or at least follow them)

Bonus: If you’re short on resources, use the snappy photo reminders around deadlines as a starting point to share the same reminder across platforms, tweaking the message for each. For example, hashtags don’t seem to increase engagement on Facebook, so if you’re going to use the sharing buttons native to Instagram, wait to post all of your hashtags in the first comment. They’ll work the same way for categorization and discovery across Instagram as when you put them in your initial photo caption, but they won’t clutter your post across platforms. 

SXSW V2V Ig

Tumblr

More and more brands have been experimenting with marketing on Tumblr and seeing some fantastic results. The built-in social aspect allows for amplification of announcements and photo recaps of any event or conference in  a way that’s not possible with traditional blogging platforms. A brand hosting an event on Tumblr might use the platform to:

  • Go into more detail about deadlines and what’s required on applications for speakers, but be sure to put it all behind a cut and underneath a snappy visual (maybe a version of the same one you used on Instagram!) 
  • Use the photo post-type collage option to show off the mood of the event, the venue, official accommodations, shots of the host city, past event parties and attendees, speakers and more (Tumblr automatically builds a collage as you upload multiple photos in one post)
  • Do a series using each of the ideas above, or pull a few of each type into one post for a photo overview. Pull these from Instagram or post a mix of Instagram photos and those from other sources
  • Use embedded video posts to show clips from the speakers you’re featuring, or a video summary of a past event; even a video tour of the host city
  • Video post types will also host SlideShares of presentations using their embed codes, perfect for recaps and previews of sessions and topics from speakers
  • Link to articles or blog posts from event speakers, or quote things past speakers have said using the quote post-type
  • If past event attendees have written up their experiences, link to those as well, or quote excerpts from what they had to say

Remember that Tumblr’s reblogging feature is what makes it so powerful; be sure to reblog anything appropriate or related to your conference from the Tumblrs of your upcoming or past speakers, regular attendees, organizers and more. Doing so will only encourage them to reblog you, amplifying your message to their audiences and possibly tapping new audience members. 

Conference Speaker on Tumblr

Example of a post from a speaker that SXSW V2V could reblog– if they had a Tumblr. 

After all, if they follow your speakers and attendees, it’s likely that they’re interested in the type of event you’re putting on.

The bottom line

Play to each platform’s strengths, and put in the work ahead of time to figure out where your attendees spend the most time. If you have limited resources, put your work into those places. Anything else after that will be a bonus.

Oh, and one more bonus tip: All of these platforms use hashtags, so search each one for any hashtags you can think of that are related to your conference or event to see how people are already talking about it in each place. Keep that tone and style in mind as you plan your approach, or use it to tailor and rethink your approach if you already have a presence there.

Got any questions, or have any ideas or examples of great conference execution across platforms that we’ve missed? Leave it in the comments!

Written by Sarah

July 9th, 2014 at 12:28 pm

Snapchat for brands part II: Brands who do it well

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We’ve already covered the basics of how Snapchat works and some of the specifics for how brands should be using the app, so now we wanted to show examples of how some different brands have been using snaps and stories to connect with their fans and followers. Consider their work as a guide and inspiration for how you might want to use Snapchat yourself.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell was one of the first brands to embrace using Snapchat, behind a yogurt chain called 16 Handles who used the platform to send out coupons. Taco Bell initially the app to advertise its Beefy Crunch Burrito:

And since then has used the new features that launched in May to start a Doodle War with its Snapchat friends, among other things:

Mashable

Mashable uses Snapchat as a way to show some behind-the-scenes office culture- birthday celebrations, etc- and more of what the company is up to, such as events they’re attending, like in the snap below:

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Mashable is a good example of how using simple enhancements like the pencil tool in several layers of text can make a snap more vibrant and interesting. To ramp up engagement, they have also hosted weekly Snapchat Challenges, like this emoji challenge:

MTV

MTV uses Snapchat as a way to share brief interviews with and photos of different celebrities and artists with their Snapchat friends, and to do show promotions like their first ever Snap promoting their show Teen Wolf. (MTVTeenWolf is now its own Snapchat account.) MTV UK previously used it as a way to promote their show Geordie Shore, the UK version of Jersey Shore.

A snap of Teen Wolf star, Tyler Posey.

Audi and Pretty Little Liars (PLL)

PLL teamed up with media sponsor Audi to send out snaps during episodes of the show meant to line up with certain scenes in the first campaign of its kind. PLL fans get exclusive content they can’t get anywhere else to enhance their favorite program, and Audi gets to introduce itself to a new and younger demographic. While that demographic might not be in the market for luxury cars now, they will have an established relationship with Audi for the future.

A fan response snap to PLL and Audi.

Pitch Perfect 2

The cast of the sequel to Pitch Perfect has been sending mostly behind-the-scenes selfies to their Snapchat friends, the same kind most users send to their Snapchat friends who double as IRL friends. This creates a sense of intimacy above what even a 10-second video interview from your favorite artist via MTV does; they’re framed so that it looks like the star themselves might have snapped the shot and sent it to you.

Anything else I should know?

Yes! Be sure you share your Snapchat username with your fans and followers on other social sites who might want to add you! Most audience members won’t think to search for brands there, so you need to be proactive about letting them know that you’re there.

And that’s about it.

Got any questions, or know of anything that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

Written by Sarah

June 30th, 2014 at 10:09 am

Snapchat for brands part I: The basics & brand specifics

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The trend of platforms providing a place for users to exchange ephemeral content isn’t an obvious one for most brands to join in on; after all, why spend hours planning and executing content only to have it disappear in moments once it hits your audience’s screens? But just like any other social platform, if Snapchat is where your target demographic is, then it’s where you should be spending some of your time. If that’s the case- or you’re just a marketer or brand who loves to experiment- read on to find out all you need to know about marketing on Snapchat for brands.

What do I need to know before getting started?

If you’re already familiar with Snapchat then you can skip this section and head straight for the second section. Otherwise stick around for a basic breakdown of how the platform works.

The very basics: Snapchat scores & finding friends

Your score is simply the total number of snaps you have sent and received, as per Snapchat themselves. That’s all there is to it!

As for finding friends, Snapchat has step-by-step instructions for how to find and add friends that includes screenshots. You can add those who have added you, and find friends via your contacts, or through searching for their Snapchat username.

Stories vs. individual Snaps

Every time you take a snap you have the option to add it to “My Story”- a collection of snaps that add up to tell a bigger story and are viewable for 24 hours- and stories are now more popular than snaps. Stories are also a better choice for brands above sending individual snaps, and we’ll discuss this more in the next section.

Our Story

Snapchat just launched a new feature called “Our Story” that is meant to let Snapchatters collaborate on a bigger story around an event they are physically attending. At the moment the first and only event to have “Our Story” is the Electric Daisy Carnival, but the wording on the page about the feature suggests it will be open to other events in the future. People who aren’t currently attending an “Our Story” event can still add the event as a friend to view the ongoing, collaborative story so they don’t miss out on the experience entirely. This is a great way for event organizers and attendees to persuade them to attend in the future.

Replaying Snaps

You can only replay one snap every 24 hours, so choose carefully! Also keep in mind that your audience can only do the same; that’s important to keep in mind if you’re designing a Snapchat contest or sending coupons.

Notifications

Snapchat notifies the sender of a snap whenever a recipient takes a screenshot of their snap or a chat between them. They have different icons to let you know if your snaps and chats have been sent, viewed, and more. Snapchat will also notify you if someone replays a snap.

And that’s it for the basics; if you have more questions you can find answers to them in Snapchat’s own support site.

What do I need to know specifically as a brand?

This is where we get into the specifics for brands using Snapchat; while creating consistently intriguing content is a given, there are also different settings you’ll want to consider than if you were using Snapchat for personal reasons.

Settings

In your settings you’ll want to make sure that you set “Who is allowed to view my story?” to “Everyone”. Otherwise only those you’ve added as “My Friends” will be able to see it, and you’ll be missing out on voluntary eyeballs until you manually add everyone who adds you. With a popular brand that could be quite an undertaking.

The manual aspect of individual snaps can be a daunting prospect for brands- as of now there’s no way to create a single snap and click on a “send to all” option; you have to go through your list and choose each recipient individually-  but the workaround is adding all of the content you create to your story. (Whether or not you choose to let your audience send you snaps back is up to you, and would mostly be useful in terms of building engagement through reciprocation they can see- the icon will let them know you viewed their snap- or in conducting a Snapchat contest. The option of who is allowed to send you snaps is controlled in “Settings”.)

Also be sure to check out “Manage” under “Additional Services” to turn on the “Front-Facing Flash”, “Replay” option, and enable “Special Text”, all of which will enhance the content of your snaps.

Kinds of content to post

Truly creative content is what makes Snapchat sing, so you’ll want to plan and execute content using all of the features we mentioned earlier to make your snaps as interesting as possible:

  • Draw on your photos using the pencil icon in the upper right-hand corner using the full range of colors available; this gives you the ability to turn your snaps into just about anything

  • Tap on the screen to add text; turning on special text lets you alter it to be larger and adjust the positioning

  • If you have an emoji keyboard on your phone, Snapchat will support adding these characters in with your text

Other than utilizing those features, the kind of content you want to share will depend on your brand and what your goals are with the platform. Is it to share behind-the-scenes company culture? Is it to share brief behind-the-scenes interviews and photos with the stars of your show or movie? Is it to show off your products in new and interesting ways?

We’ll look at a few different types of brands using Snapchat in the next post to give you some ideas of what kind of content has been successful.

Frequency of snaps

While regular snaps are limited to a maximum time limit of 10 seconds, stories aren’t limited except to a 24 hour period of existence. However, since Snapchat was built to be a quick and fleeting experience, you might not want to be the first to discover what the limits of a story are. Keep it simple, sweet, and relatively short; set up stories of different lengths and see if you get an increase in activity around one type or length above others.

What do we mean by increased activity? Well, measuring Snapchat is difficult, but pay attention to things like how many people are adding you to their friend list, taking screenshots, choosing to replay your snaps, or even sending you snaps in reply if you choose to make that option available.

Anything else?

That’s it for now! Check out the basics in the first section of this post if you need to, or stick around for our next post covering which brands use Snapchat well. If you still have questions, leave ‘em in the comments!

Written by Sarah

June 26th, 2014 at 8:40 am

3 dos and don’ts for running a campaign across platforms

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Every social media platform has its own way of operating that stems from its users reasons for being there; the same person might use Twitter mostly for professional work connections and news, Facebook for family updates, Instagram to connect with friends, and Tumblr to keep up with the fandoms around their favorite shows, for example. If that person matches the ideal customer for a brand and that brand wants to run a social campaign across most or all of those platforms to reach that person, they need to tailor their message for each place.

How? Get started with these do’s and don’ts.

1. Don’t: discount a platform because you think you know what people are there for.

Do: The research to see how conversations form around things that matter to your brand. Instagram, for example, is often thought of as a place where people simply share photos with friends and family, but that’s not necessarily the case. Big events like the World Cup have enormous conversations happening around them on the photo-sharing site, and smart brands like Adidas have caught onto that.

Our Instagram analysis* showed that Adidas was a top publisher around the World Cup conversation on Instagram, and they received 22.7k actions (likes and comments) on their 5 World Cup related posts, earning 6.3 million impressions. That’s a big return on a relatively small effort, especially considering fan-run sports accounts and even official soccer athlete accounts are making anywhere from 14-128 posts related to the World Cup.

 2. Don’t: assume you know how to talk the talk.

Do: Listen first, then join the conversation respectfully. Tumblr, for example, has many different communities that all have different ways of speaking to each other, making jokes, and presenting information, all of which is part of the larger Tumblr community and culture. What works well in Twitter or Facebook advertising will not work well here; the users are part of a larger creative community and they respond well to brands who take the time to understand how Tumblr really operates (or they’re smart enough to hire and work with someone who does).

Denny’s, for example, has an extremely popular Tumblr that users have responded well to because it speaks in the language of Tumblr. It isn’t just an attempt to ape it.

Denny's Tumblr

3. Don’t: Be afraid to experiment.

Do: Learn from and build on your failures and successes alike. FIFA has a Twitter account for their official match ball. While normally inanimate objects spontaneously get their own parody Twitter accounts following a big cultural event with social coverage (Pharrell’s hat following the GRAMMY’s, for example), FIFA decided to give their match ball its own autonomy and hashtag early.

Running a quick free TweetReach report shows that the conversation and engagement around #ballin is already good, and there’s still more than a month of World Cup matches left to go. While something like a snapshot report gives a good idea of the general success of the account relative to the hashtag- it’s not just a bunch of people using the term in other, World Cup unrelated ways- more in-depth monitoring could tell FIFA what was successful and unsuccessful in their approach specific to Twitter, and help them plan better for next time. (You can read more about how to monitor a Twitter campaign with TweetReach here.)

So what does this mean for campaigns, exactly?

The bottom line is that you have to tailor your message to fit in each place, and that can only be done by taking the time to understand how the conversation around what your audience is interested in operates. Adidas looked at how sports fans use Instagram, Denny’s hired someone familiar with the culture of Tumblr and gave them the freedom to do it right, and FIFA is experimenting with giving their match ball its own voice.

After you’ve decided on the messaging for each platform- visual for Instagram and Tumblr, with different wording and approach on Twitter, for example- build goals based on how the audience you aim to reach in each place talks to one another about you or your industry. Are you there to increase your share of voice in the industry (here’s more on how to measure share of voice, and how to grow it), or to build engagement with your existing fans, while hopefully earning new ones? Your goals for the same campaign might be different for each platform, which increases the necessity for tailored messages in each place. 

The basic approach is the same in each place, however: Research, plan, test, measure, rinse, and repeat.

 

*Interested in our Union Metrics for Instagram analytics? Learn more here

Written by Sarah

June 18th, 2014 at 7:58 am