Is omnichannel key to your social media PR strategy?

Our transformation into a mobile media society keeps on accelerating. Last week, the BBC reported an increase of 46.5 percent in UK smartphone sales since last year. What’s more, as a PR agency that’s passionate about social media, we weren’t surprised to see that there are as many as 24 million Britons logging onto Facebook every day, and 80 percent of them are accessing the social networking site via their smartphone or tablet.

In order for brands to stay relevant and offer the very best in customer service, they need to be offering a consistent level of experience across the board – from increasingly vital social media and mobile channels to traditional communication streams. This is where the so-called ‘omnichannel customer experience’ comes into play, aligned to how consumers want to be able to use all available channels at the same time.

social media PR agency

A recent CIPR blog post discussed the need for uniformity across consumer channels. Firstly, it rightly stated that personality is key to your social media strategy. However, when it comes to customer issues, if your back office customer service team don’t have the goods to support this and actually resolve reported issues, then you’ll start to rapidly lose any credibility you’ve built up with your customers using social.

An omnichannel approach to customer experience will become ever more critical. We are only at the beginning of a major demographic change in customer behaviour. So far the Millennial Generation, aka ‘Generation Y’, has driven this first major use of social media. But, it’s their children who’ll be taking control next and there’s no doubt that they will be even more demanding of how social a brand or vendor is. As PR professionals, we can play a vital role in how brands take action now. We can help them to ensure they’re covering all bases in delivering a consistently high level of customer experience by using our in-depth knowledge of social media platforms to offer high-level strategic advice.

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Creating the Modern Holiday in the Era of Web 2.0

As the holiday season kicks into full swing a question popped into my mind: ‘what impact has the digital age had on our behaviour when it comes to choosing a holiday?’

10 years ago you probably would have gone to your local travel agent or searched Teletext TV to book a holiday. However, with the explosion of the digital age and internet accessible on the move i.e. by 2015, 9 out of 10 consumers will have a mobile smartphone subscription, it is not surprising that we are now using different modes of technology to communicate two-way conversations with other like-minded travellers.

Take for example, if I wanted to travel to Rome, Italy the logical thing to do would be to search comparison sites to find the cheapest air deal, then venture onto TripAdvisor to find a selection of hotels which meet my budget. Next, sit back and filter through travellers reviews until I found the right one. Then maybe post on Facebook, twitter or forums asking anyone if they have been to the area and any good tips as to what to do there.

This method is currently used most when booking the modern holiday. But this growing trend is shaking up the holiday industry; what people are now calling ‘holiday 2.0’  is catching on and encouraging entrepreneurs to come up with a range of social sites, whereby individuals can share their holiday experience and their homes, opening up the new personal, transparent and trustworthy holiday experience.

Firstly you have Airbnb (now worth $1billion), which allows you to find a home or room to rent for the week; users update their profile making the experience more personal and trustworthy with reviews. Mainly picking up momentum with the young (65% under 35), it’s a great way for you to meet, travel and make new friends and to experience the city in a more cultural way. Another, Triptrotting has become a global success whereby people meet up with other travellers and share the best activities and tours for their holiday.

So why are people choosing social travel sites such as Airbnb?

  1. It is cheaper
  2. People are fed up with over expensive hotels which are detached from the culture of the area they are in
  3. A way for solo travellers to connect with friends and locals they have just met and from there, customise their travel plans
  4. People are getting fed up believing the marketing ploys of certain hotels and are more likely to trust individuals who have been there and experienced the holiday

From a PR perspective it is important that hotel brands turn the phenomena of Web 2.0 to their own advantage.  To do this, companies need to adapt business models to become digital focused and have social media plans in place for every step of the holiday 2.0 journey.  The key to success is in three steps: listen, engage and be transparent when communicating messages to customers. Only then will you succeed in being a trustful and respected presence amongst the new ‘holiday 2.0’ consumer.

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LinkedIn: Boost Engagement through Targeted Status Updates

This week has seen the official release of a new service from LinkedIn. Targeted Status Updates allows you to reach out to specific groups, sectors, roles, and regions in a few simple clicks. Not dissimilar to the object of Google+ where you can target specific circles, however it is a step forward for the social media platform. More and more companies are taking to this new tool and reaping the benefits.

Here is a video which explains how the service works.

The main benefits of this tool, in a similar way to Facebook‘s message insights, is that you can see a breakdown of statistics which outlines the number of followers in the targeted group and the impact of its reach from clicks and shares to measuring the percentage of engagement. This will help marketers understand what is attracting attention and what is slipping through the net. According to LinkedIn, they found ‘that 67% of members follow a company to gain industry insights, 61% for company news, and 49% for the peer community’.

I personally like the changes to LinkedIn. I am able to check how many new followers I have got that week (also the rise in percentage form) and being able to see the number of people I have in my network who are in a certain job position, industry, company size and location. Monitoring engagement across the social media platforms is a necessity in business and it is about time that LinkedIn jumped on the bandwagon to make it easier to do so. Like all social media platforms, there is a slight snag, in that your updates must reach at least 100 followers after the segmentation process, but hopefully this restriction will ease up in time. As we all know, relevant content is key to engagement and LinkedIn has made it easier to produce relevant content for all your business connections.

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Engaging your Audience: The Art of Storytelling

The concept of storytelling may have originated as folk art, yet it is a form of expression we can all relate to, especially in the world of social media where we are all storytellers. It offers entertainment; a chance to have fun, play with words and go on an imaginative journey. But most importantly, it is a form of communication which can bring people closer together and help people connect with one another. In social media, the best conversations start with storytelling.

It is easy to forget that in telling a good story, it is not what you are talking about that will engage a listener, but how you talk about it that will make the difference. A good example of this can be seen in the Sky advertisement with Dustin Hoffman. Sky had a beautiful message to convey about storytelling, which captivated listeners and made them pay attention to the brand and the message. Another great example is the ‘Hunter and the Bear’ video campaigns for Tippex. This campaign told a story, got the audience to interact and participate in the story (interactive YouTube video!) and allowed for various plots and situations to occur based on the audiences’ input and reactions.

There are various ways you can tell a good story using various media such as pictures, videos, blogs and social media platforms. Facebook timelines are also a great way to get the complete story of your brand across, from creation to present day. If a story is to be successful, it should trigger an emotion from your audience, which can be seen through audience response with ‘likes’, ‘retweets’, ‘tagging’ and sharing posts. Companies can use this to ensure their audience can remember their brand, product, understand their vision and build loyalty.

With everything moving so fast in the world of social media, it is important to slow the pace down when telling the stories that you want heard. Here are a few refreshers on the art of telling a good story:

1) Really believing in and loving your product, service or brand will make your audience believe the same thing. This ‘quick-learn’ video will demonstrate how to get your story just right.

2) Make it personal: Add your own personal touch to your story and believe in what you are talking about. Showing enthusiasm, passion and having belief in what you are talking about will be channelled through to your audience.

3) How you present your story is key to engagement: finding great visuals to support the words you use will help engage your audience and keep them interested.

And remember it is how you deliver your message that will make all the difference. You will get the response you need by how well you tell the story.

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Never work with children, animals…and celebrities?

 

Celebrity endorsements are tried and tested ways of getting media traction for any brand. It’s a risky strategy because not only is it tricky to find that perfect someone that embodies your brand values, has media clout, can be managed to deliver your messaging, they also need to be within budget! As if that wasn’t enough, you also have to have faith that if (or when) they fall out of favour with the public, they won’t take your brand down with them.

Two PR campaigns linked to celebrities hit the headlines this week, both demonstrated how a name attached to a brand can secure column inches and drive social buzz, but neither managed to fully swerve the potential pitfalls.

Firstly, virtually unheard of dating site CougarLife.com claimed that it offered Caroline Flack (32-yr- old  ex-girlfriend of 17-yr-old Harry Styles from boy band One Direction) £500,000 to be the face of the site. The PRs behind this deserve top marks because there is absolutely no chance that Flack would accept the offer, meaning they would never have to part with the cash. The fact that a start-up dating site is highly unlikely to have even have half a million to dedicate to PR, is besides the point. The coverage came thick and fast with Flack joining the conversation and jokingly tweeting, “Half a million to be the face of CougarLife.com?? YES! Finally I can afford my stannah sex swing!”

It may have grabbed the headlines, but the downside was that it was so clearly a PR stunt, the public saw through it. As a result a large proportion of the public attention and social media conversations highlighted questions about the brand’s ethics.

The second unsuccessful celebrity paring was the revelation that ‘Celebrity Mum of the Year’ nominee, Stacey Solomon was caught smoking during pregnancy. For a campaign hinged on celebrating inspirational motherhood, this could have been a  serious PR fail. However, sponsors of the award, Foxy Bingo acted quickly, ousted her from the line-up, issued a statement and Solomon delivered an emotional apology on TV.  The reputation of the awards have undoubtedly been jeopardised, as have Solomon’s commercial value. I’d like to think Foxy Bingo is now out of hot ewater and can look ahead to announcing the winner next week, but with the likes of Peaches Geldof, Natasha Giggs (who had an 8-year affair with her brother-in-law, Ryan Giggs) and TOWIE’s Chole Sims on the shortlist, you never quite know.

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