Archive for the ‘Guides’ Category
Every time we’ve discussed running a campaign across social media platforms, we’ve emphasized how important it is to tailor content for your audience in each particular space. The kinds of content that perform extremely well on Facebook might not have the same effect on Tumblr, and vice versa. We understand, however, that not every department has the resources to create custom content for each channel. With that in mind we offer these tips for creating content that only requires some tweaking on each platform.
1. Start with visual content.
Visual content is striking and memorable, and it works well on all social media platforms. Even on Twitter, which is typically considered more of a text-based channel, tweets with photos perform better than those that don’t. If you don’t have the time to create custom content for each channel, then start with an image with some visual impact that you can use across social media. You can pair it with different taglines or headlines in each channel (more on that shortly).
2. Choose an image that will have impact across platforms with some simple adjustments.
Keep in mind what types of images work best on each platform. Does your audience respond well to long, vertical images without faces on Pinterest, but engages more with photos that includes faces on Instagram? Work with the same image and crop or edit it so it has maximum impact in each place.
Experiment with text placement, as well. Do photos with text superimposed over them do better on Instagram, or should you leave all the text in the caption? What about on Pinterest, Twitter, or Tumblr? Pay attention to how text placement performs on different social networks, and adjust your plan for the next time.
3. Tweak your tagline for each platform.
Start with some basic copy about your campaign, and then tweak the wording so it works the best in each channel. Keep it short and snappy for Twitter, avoid using a wall of hashtags on Instagram, leave the hashtags off entirely for Facebook, and don’t let the ability to make a long post on Tumblr let you think that’s the best place for it. If you haven’t tested long-form content on Tumblr before, now might not be the best time to do so. Do what’s best for your brand and a particular campaign with the resources that you have. (After the campaign is over? Test away!)
If you have a unique campaign or event hashtag, it’s a good idea to use the same hashtag across social media platforms. But if you’re using more general hashtags to participate in existing conversations, you may want to use different hashtags on different social media sites, even if you’re pairing those tags with the same image across channels.
4. Work from industry research about visual and content copy in each place.
Definitely base your content decisions on the data you collect from your own followers’ engagement, but don’t be afraid to also use what you know more generally about what your target audience likes in each place. Here are some resources to get you started:
- Best practices for brands on Instagram
- From our Tumblr: Our series for brands on Instagram including Personal brands on Instagram
- Download our whitepapers: Success on Instagram: A data primer for brands, and our two on the Instagram fitness and fashion and beauty communities, giving you insight into how they use the platform
- Also check out the Instagram for Business blog including their online guide for businesses
- Best practices for brands on Tumblr
- Find everything from our Union Metrics Tumblr about brands on Tumblr here
- Be sure to check out Marketr, Tumblr’s official Sales and Brand Strategy Team blog
- As well as The Quick and Dirty Guide to Tumblr for Small Business from Mashable
- Best practices for Twitter
- Best practices for Pinterest
- Best practices for Facebook
Coupled with your own analytics about what your current, ideal and target customers respond to in each channel, you should be receive the maximum impact with the minimum amount of work!
Got questions or examples of campaigns you’ve pulled off using similar tactics, or something we missed? Leave it in the comments.
All TweetReach reporting includes a number of engagement and listening metrics for Twitter. Two of the main metrics we provide are potential reach and impressions. Let’s talk a little more about what reach and impressions are, and why they’re so important to your Twitter strategy.
Reach is the size of the estimated potential unique audience for your tweets. TweetReach calculates reach algorithmically, based on data we’ve been collecting from Twitter for more than five years. It’s the best way of knowing how large your audience on Twitter can be, and takes unique recipients into account.
Impressions measure the size of total potential exposure. This shows you how many total timelines your tweets were delivered to, so it’s a count of the maximum total impressions possible for your tweets.
Both of these estimated audience metrics are essential for understanding the full impact of your tweets, especially when used alongside Twitter’s internal analytics. Here’s how.
Reach and impressions for your Twitter account
Twitter’s analytics calculate actual impressions for each of your Twitter account’s tweets. That shows how many people actually saw that tweet. TweetReach calculates total possible impressions for those tweets. Use actual impressions and potential impressions together to fully understand your impact on Twitter. The number of actual impressions received will vary from tweet to tweet and account to account, but your actual impressions will likely be between 1% and 20% of your potential impressions.
Knowing how your actual impressions compare to your potential impressions shows you exactly how well your tweets are performing, how large your audience is, and how large your audience could be. What’s the ratio of your actual impressions to potential impressions? Are your tweets on the low side? Do some perform better than others? Use this information to determine how you can improve your ratio. Which tweets are seen – and engaged with – by more people? What makes those tweets different? Maybe you used a particular hashtag or included a photo. If so, try doing more of that to see how you can activate more of your potential audience, and improve your ratio of actual to potential impressions.
Additionally, you can use other TweetReach metrics on engagement (like retweets and replies, average retweets rate) and contributors (such as contributors who have engaged the most with your content and generated the highest exposure) to understand not just how far your content is reaching, but how and with whom.
Reach and impressions for competitors’ or influencers’ accounts
While Twitter’s activity dashboard focuses on your own Twitter presence, you can use TweetReach to analyze any Twitter account, including your competitors, influencers in your industry, celebrities, or any other public Twitter account.
Start with a quick share of voice analysis. How do your reach and impressions compare to those of your closest competitor? How about other similar Twitter accounts? Remember these are potential impressions, so know that – just like for your own Twitter account – your competitors’ actual impressions will be a similarly small percentage of their potential impressions.
For a more advanced analysis, dive deeper into competitive intelligence. Run TweetReach reports or Trackers for your competitors, then take a look at the popular content and top contributors in these conversations. What Twitter accounts are engaging with your competitors? Who are they and do you follow them? What hashtags are your competitors using? Are there any new or relevant hashtags you could use? What tweets are resonating in the conversation?
Reach and impressions for hashtags, keywords or other terms
With TweetReach, you can measure more than just a Twitter account – you can measure the impact of anything in a tweet, like a hashtag, a phrase or keyword, even a URL. Twitter’s activity dashboard only includes tweets posted from your account, so you can’t use it to analyze impressions for the overall conversation around a hashtag, for example.
You’re probably using a variety of hashtags in your tweets – some for specific campaigns or events and other more general hashtags to signal participation in a particular industry or conversation. Do you know the reach of those hashtags? With TweetReach, you can understand the potential reach and impressions for any hashtag, which helps you understand the size of the conversation you’re participating in. If a hashtag has a low reach, then you’ll be able to have a large impact in a smaller space. If the hashtag’s reach is high, you’ll less likely to make a big impact in the overall conversation, but you’re participating in a more popular topic. The best Twitter strategy includes a bit of both; use a combination of specific and general hashtags in your tweets to reach the most people.
Interested in learning more about how you can use potential reach and impressions to improve your Twitter strategy? We’d be happy to show you how to use TweetReach’s Twitter analytics to better understand the full impact of your tweets. Let’s talk!
We’ve already looked at 5 ways to use our premium historical analytics, including an in-depth look at how to use them to build brand voice, and now we want to go over some more non-traditional use cases for them.
Even if you’re part of a more traditionally minded marketing team, these could inspire some new approaches to your content strategy. Plus, we’ve paired each of these use cases with a more traditional marketing takeaway.
Use our historical analytics to see how a story broke out on Twitter, and how it spread. How did the people on the ground at the incident share information? Did local and national news sources communicate with them and contact them to be interviewed for newscasts, or did they send their own people ? How were those journalists’ social media reports different from those of civilian witnesses? A journalist who was on Twitter when a story broke and might have most of this information cataloged in screenshots already could use our historical analytics to fill in any remaining gaps in the story. New story leads or witnesses could be discovered in this way, and investigated or interviewed.
Traditional marketing takeaway: This is the same style of research you can employ to see how a social crisis broke and spread on Twitter, and help build your own crisis communication plan accordingly.
Running low on material? Reach back through past periods on Twitter to rework some old jokes into something new for your next standup show or writing gig. Likewise you can look at another funny person you admire’s timeline to see how their skills developed over time, inspiring new joke styles, approaches to writing, or even just timing.
Traditional marketing takeaway: If it fits with your brand, don’t be afraid to be funny. Have you used humor in your content strategy in the past? See how those tweets performed vs. neutrally toned tweets that were conveying similar types of information. If it doesn’t fit with your brand, don’t force it.
Running a charity campaign on social media is tricky; you want to strike just the right balance of reaching the maximum amount of people in and just outside of your network who might be interested in contributing, without annoying them. Know of a campaign that nailed it? Use historical analytics to sample their campaign, or even study the entirety of it and model your own approach after theirs.
Traditional marketing takeaway: Use this same approach to study a past campaign that your company- or a competitor- has run either successfully or to lackluster results. What worked and what didn’t? Use that to inform how you plan and execute your next campaign in the same space.
Want to get started and learn more?
Fantastic! You can read more about our premium historical analytics here, and even request a quote. And remember, we can analyze anything and everything ever posted to Twitter, all the way back to the very first public Tweet posted in March 2006.
Visual content marketing- particularly in the form of videos- is the hot topic of marketing at the moment. Videos are attention grabbing, and when done well, attention holding. They can elicit strong emotional response. Brands like Budweiser have capitalized on this with their horse-and-puppy friendship Super Bowl commercials. Most brands don’t have the same level of resources, however.
Make the most of the resources you do have and get the most out of the video content your brand shares on Twitter, with these three tips. The best part? They don’t require a multi-million dollar budget or dedicated video team to execute.
1. Tease pieces of a longer video
Drive traffic back to your YouTube channel or website by posting 6-second clips of your full video on Vine, 15-second clips on Instagram, and sharing both of those on your Twitter account. Pick the section of video that will be the most interesting to the audience on each platform, and take note of which one performs best when shared on Twitter.
2. Make a series of shorter videos leading up to a longer one
Even if what you’re planning to release is a longer video that covers different aspects of change in your business structure or that demos a product, you can still use this approach; just film quick 6-15 second clips of stand-ins acting as customers, asking the questions that your longer video will address. Tweet these with the promise that an answer is coming soon, and use them as an opening to get your customers to share their most frequent questions with you so that you can address them.
3. Use Twitter to source material for your next video
Whether you’re just getting into video marketing or your well of content ideas has run dry, Twitter can help you out. Do you host or attend any Twitter chats? Ask the attendees if there is a topic they’d like to see addressed, and plan your next video around it. Consider hosting a weekly Q&A on Twitter where you collect the best questions and have them answered in video format and shared back on Twitter. Use a unique hashtag for your Q&A so you can track the conversation over time, and so your question askers will have an easier time finding the new video answers as you post them.
The bottom line
Twitter is fantastic for amplification of your video messages, and for connecting with your audience in real-time way that isn’t possible with video comment sections.
Does your brand have a successful video content marketing strategy? What tips would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.
Below: A quick Instagram demo of the visualization of the Union Metrics for Tumblr analytics we had on display in our suite at SXSW 2013.
Watch reblog connections grow before your eyes: A visualization of Tumblr data powered by yours truly at Union Metrics, last #SXSWi. #TBT #ThrowbackThursday #SXSW
Ever wanted to measure the impact of a past event or hashtag on Twitter? You can with TweetReach premium historical analytics! They’re a powerful tool for researching, planning, executing campaigns and so much more on Twitter. Here are just five ways you can utilize our historical Twitter analytics to your benefit.
But first, where does TweetReach’s historical Twitter data come from?
At Union Metrics, we have licensed commercial access to the full historical Twitter archive from Gnip, which means we can reach all the way back to the first public tweet posted in March 2006. This goes beyond the scope of basic Twitter search and anything that can be pulled with Twitter’s public API; the information you can get from those sources is limited to data from the past few days or weeks. Our historical access includes the full archive from Twitter itself, and you can’t get that just anywhere.
The possibilities for using our historical analytics are as varied as the content on Twitter itself. And if you’ve ever used our TweetReach Pro Trackers, the analytics in our historical reporting is similar: potential reach, exposure, volume, individual tweet, hashtag, URL and contributor metrics. It’s delivered in the same detailed format as our Trackers, so you have comprehensive reporting and interactive metrics, allowing you to drill into interesting trends.
So, how can you use our historical Twitter reporting? Here are a few ideas.
1. Nail a pitch
Are you an agency trying to win over a new client? Want to prove to your boss that you can handle bigger and better projects? Use our historical analytics to build out comprehensive proof of the performance of campaigns you’ve managed in the past, or evidence that those you managed performed better than those of your competition. It’s hard to argue against numbers.
2. Create an airtight content marketing plan
A quick Google search will provide thousands of content marketing best practices, but the bottom line is that you can only know what works best for your industry, and more specifically, for your customers, when you measure it. Do you have chunks of missing data from the performance of past campaigns? Use our historical analytics to fill in any gaps in your history of data, or to build out a history if one doesn’t already exist, either because of a lack of budget or a change in your role. Get the metrics you need to fully understand how your content performs on Twitter.
3. Plan for crisis communications
Has your company faced a crisis in the past? What about anyone else in your industry? Are there notable past social media crises you’d like to study to help model your own crisis communication plan after? Our historical analytics can give you a clear picture of what happened in the course of an entire event: who reacted when and how to which tweets. Understand which communication tactics worked, and which backfired. Use this information to build out a comprehensive crisis communication plan, should such a situation occur when you’re at the helm.
4. Conduct research
Similarly, you can use our historical analytics to understand how a past event unfolded in Twitter in order to write about it from a journalistic, academic, or other point of view. Want to know how many tweets were posted about an election last year? What hashtags were most popular at a previous conference? The top picture shared during a protest? We can search on any keywords, hashtags, usernames, URLs – anything that appears in a tweet. Use this to unearth and study conversations about past events.
5. Build your brand voice
We’ve discussed in detail how you can use our historical analytics to build a brand voice from scratch, or even learn (or rebuild) the voice of a brand you’ve recently taken over for. Once you’ve solidly established your brand’s voice, you can work on increasing your share of voice in your particular industry.
Want to learn more or run your historical Twitter analytics report? Start here.
It happens. Brands tweet first and check the meaning behind a hashtag or topic later; never a good idea. The latest installment came from DiGiorno Pizza when they jumped on a trending hashtag without checking its origin first:
Unfortunately, it was a hashtag on which women were sharing their experiences with domestic violence. When many who saw the tweet reacted with the kind of snark DiGiorno is known for, saying there would soon be an opening for a new social media manager, the brand took action immediately. While it’s important to have a social media crisis communication plan in place, brands also have to act on any unique situation that presents itself in a way that best reflects their brand values.
DiGiorno did three things right immediately to take control of this potential social media crisis.
1. Deleted the offensive tweet, immediately.
Although things can never be permanently deleted in an age of screenshots- like the one taken from the Huffington Post article detailing the offensive tweet in question, above- taking the action alone signals that a brand understands that they have done something wrong and that they are taking action to right it. An important first step in the right direction, provided it is done immediately. Waiting to delete a tweet until intense backlash builds signals that a brand doesn’t think they’ve done anything wrong, or doesn’t care enough to do anything about it.
2. Apologized, and then reiterated the apology.
Immediately after deleting the tweet, DiGiorno followed up with an appropriate apology:
A million apologies. Did not read what the hashtag was about before posting.
— DiGiorno Pizza (@DiGiornoPizza) September 9, 2014
And a day later they reiterated it:
We heard from many of you, and we know we disappointed you. We understand, and we apologize to everyone for this mistake.
— DiGiorno Pizza (@DiGiornoPizza) September 9, 2014
DiGiorno is working to communicate that they understand the magnitude of their mistake, and they know it cannot be fixed in a single tweet. Or even with two. Which brings us to the third thing they did right.
3. Personally responded to those who were offended, individually.
Most brands delete an offensive tweet, apologize, and lay low before moving forward when enough time has passed. DiGiorno took things a step further and reached out individually to Twitter users offended by their tweet:
That takes a lot of time, and shows that DiGiorno takes their fans, followers and customers seriously. They are willing to respond to those who have reached out to them with concerns – and not simply with a canned, repeated answer.
The bottom line.
This is a powerful lesson for brands: Take the time to research any trending hashtag or topic before joining the flow of conversation. As DiGiorno said above in one of their individual response tweets, that’s an inexcusable and highly avoidable mistake. But mistakes happen; and DiGiorno owned up and made amends as quickly as possible. DiGiorno did that part right.
Want to make TweetReach a part of your social media crisis plan? We can help: Using TweetReach to monitor a social media crisis. And talk to us if you’d like to start monitoring tweets about your brand.
In the fall of 2012 Yale University started using our Union Metrics for Tumblr analytics to get smarter about how they were using the social blogging platform to share information and relate to their students. Since then, many more colleges and universities have created accounts on various social platforms in order to stay connected with their students in the places those students already spend their time. Here are a few examples of what universities are doing to reach students across social media.
1. On Tumblr: Share information with targeted groups
Tumblr’s unique position as a blogging platform with a built-in social element works especially well for universities wanting to target different groups of current or potential students. The tagging system means different types of posts can easily find their way to their respective communities across the site, and some universities even carve out separate Tumblrs for different areas of their university and resources. For example, the University of Texas at Austin has one Tumblr for their School of Architecture, one for the Blanton Museum, another for the Harry Ransom Center, and one more for the LBJ Library. That gives diehard Longhorns the chance to keep track of all resources UT offers, while those only interested in what the Blanton has to offer can narrow their focus.
MIT, on the other hand, chooses to focus their approach to just Residential Life & Dining on Tumblr, giving incoming students a chance to learn about their options before they arrive on campus, taking a lot of the stress out of a big life change.
The bottom line? Tumblr is the best way for universities to reach specific communities. (A full list of all the universities with a presence on Tumblr can be found here for those interested.)
2. On Instagram: Capture attention with compelling images
Many universities have a presence across platforms, and they play to each platform’s strengths. Yale, for example, uses Instagram to show off campus and the school’s history, beauty, and people. Instagram images can easily be shared to other platforms like Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook to quickly catch the attention of followers in those spaces.
Meanwhile the University of Texas at Austin encourages students to share their photos with them, using specific hashtags: #HookEm, #Longhorns, #UTAustin, #UTTower, and #WhatStartsHere along with specific seasonal or event-based hashtags like #UTsummer. This helps current, former, and potential students feel connected to the university even when they’re not on campus– or feel like they’re not missing out during a semester abroad.
They also have a separate Instagram account just for Longhorn football.
The bottom line? Instagram is the best place to share engaging images that will make students feel more connected to them, or attract them to become students in the first place.
3. On Twitter: Share information quickly in critical situations
Twitter has already proven itself to be an invaluable resource for quick dissemination of information during a natural or man-made crisis, on a campus or otherwise.
Shooting reported on campus. Bldg Electrical Engineering; Avoid area; Shelter in place. Check http://t.co/vQnl8blHvd for updates
— Purdue University (@LifeAtPurdue) January 21, 2014
In less serious situations, universities and colleges can use it to answer FAQs from new or prospective students, provide information and reminders about university events and deadlines, and share resources for students.
— Purdue University (@LifeAtPurdue) August 25, 2014
They can also host tweet chats to address specific topics of interest to current students, incoming students, potential students, and alums. For example, the University of Michigan Medical School hosts tweet chats to answer questions about their program, and the University of Central Missouri has hosted two allowing attendees to chat with the school’s president.
The bottom line? Twitter is the best way for universities to connect with their communities in real time.
4. On Facebook: Provide an easily-found base
Facebook is the perfect social home base: A university profile can share resources and lead students back to other platforms. Users are comfortable using it to ask questions, and page administrators can answer them in a place that makes it easy for them to be seen by someone who might come looking to ask something similar. There’s also a review system in place, to let potential and incoming students know what life is really like on campus, like these from UT Austin’s Facebook page:
5. On Pinterest and Snapchat: Go the extra mile
While most people- especially the younger generation- expect to find some kind of social presence for businesses and institutions, they don’t expect them to be on the newer platforms. Universities with the resources have the opportunity to really connect with their students in these places, providing additional resources that will really make a difference. What do you pack for freshman year of college? How can you decorate your dorm room in a way that’s more unique than just slapping up a Pink Floyd poster? A pinboard can answer those things and more, while Snapchat can give quick and intimate looks at life around campus, snippets of lectures, a look at a spontaneous snowball fight, and more.
The bottom line? Meeting students where they are and don’t expect you to be- in a way that isn’t condescending or pandering- will win major bonus points.
The bottom line?
Universities engage their students best when they speak to them and share resources in their own language, in the platforms they already use. Strategies should play to each platform’s strengths, without sacrificing creativity.
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).
— Michael Calore (@snackfight) September 25, 2013
Last fall, Twitter improved embedded images in tweets to make them bigger, bolder, and much more noticeable.
Good morning! Perspective – Sunday is a fine day to go for a walk with a friend. pic.twitter.com/P3uDfjYsEU
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) August 11, 2013
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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
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 bottom line is to listen and step in where you’re needed, even if you’re not expected to.
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.
Look for part II, which covers more about what to measure during and after a crisis, plus what to look for on platforms outside of Twitter.