Creative Concepts Looks at Social Media Tools Brands Should Be Using

Brands are using an increasing number of digital channels for their marketing and PR efforts. Social media networks are part of these digital strategies and all have different demographics and purposes.

Managing your social strategy and messaging through social networks can be difficult. This infographic “25 Awesome Social Media Tools Your Brand Should Be Using” from the 2013 Social Media Strategies Summit is a great road map.

The categories are grouped into 5 types of tools: Social Listening, Social Conversation, Social Marketing, Social Analytics and Social Influencer.

What tools are you using? What have you seen success with?


Creative Concepts Looks at PR Tips to Improve Results on Instagram

ID-10061287Instagram recently released a Windows phone app which makes it now available on the top three mobile OS platforms. By offering a Windows phone app, Instagram increased its possible reach by 10.2%.

Although the Windows app has been criticized for its lack of video support, the rollout still offers brands the potential to reach a larger segment of its customers.

PR News wrote a few PR tips to improve returns on Instagram. Sure, the social network is difficult for brands to penetrate due to links not being allowed, among other things, but some brands are thriving.

Here are a few tips from PR News:

  • Every picture should tell a story. Tell your brand’s story or one of your customer’s. Make sure your images connect with your audience. Get creative. How are you involved with your community? Show behind the scenes activities or highlight a partner or customer.
  • Actively participate in Instagram. Engage with your followers. Learn what they like and share the love. Create a board for your fans’ posts.
  • Be real, be authentic and have fun. In an age where social platforms are being purchased and ads are appearing in streams, brands that are authentic and real will have the most success.

Wondering what photos drive the most engagement on Instagram? Business Insider reports the following findings from a new survey from social media analytics firm Curalate:

  • Images with a high degree of lightness generate 24% more likes than darker images.
  • Images with a vast amount of background space generate 29% more likes than those without.
  • Images with a single dominant color generate 17% more likes than images with multiple colors.
  • Images with low saturation levels generate 18% more likes than those with more vibrant colors.
  • Images with high levels of texture generate 79% more likes than those without.

Also be sure to incorporate hashtags for people searching topics related to your brand.

As with other social networks, discover what works for your brand by trying different ideas, finding what works and connecting with your core audience.

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Creative Concepts Talks Twitter Tips

Twitter tipsA Twitter guide recently released by Econsultancy shows businesses how to create compelling marketing tweets.

The guide is chock full of tips from basic user how to’s to advanced marketing tactics.

Why Twitter? It’s ranked as a top 3 social networking site for businesses. Consumers feel more connected to businesses through social media. It is all about engaging with your audiences. Consumers research for products and services online and expect to see businesses interacting with customers online.

Here’s a roundup of the guide and the top tips:

  • Learn how to use Twitter. It sounds simple, but many people do not know how to fully use Twitter. Mashable has a great starting guide for Twitter basics to get started.
  • Tease your followers.
  • Be careful how you edit your 140 characters. Without proper punctuation, the tweet might be misconstrued.
  • Have a voice. Create a strategy and messaging to reflect it.
  • Nostalgia rules. Tweet about your history and interesting facts.
  • Use video. Showcase your company characteristics using Vine or YouTube.
  • Watch for media mentions and tweet about it.
  • Share the human side of your company. Do you give back to the community? What programs are you involved in?
  • Tweet your blog content in an informative way.
  • Curate. Share information about your industry and interests for your followers.
  • Minimize tweets from conferences and events. Not everyone is attending so be aware.
  • Don’t forget your profile page! Make sure it is filled out with keywords and neat imaging.

For more details and great tips, check out “The Complete Guide to Creating Compelling Marketing Tweets.”

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Creative Concepts Looks at Retail Promotion Tips for the Holiday Season

retail holiday pr tipsThe 2013 holiday retail forecast looks to be modest with predictions of 2.4% growth from the 2012 season, according to ShopperTrak. The National Retail Federation recently launched a survey about shoppers’ holiday gift giving budgets and reports that they will be more cost-conscious this season.

The survey reports that shoppers plan on purchasing 40% of items online. Shoppers are buying gifts early to spread out their budget and are cutting down on self-gift giving. Sales and discounts will drive their purchases and the top preferred gift is holiday gift cards.

What does all of this mean for retailers? You will need to get creative with your promotions and find ways to stand out from the competition. Here are a few public relations tips for promoting your retail business this holiday season.

Holiday Gift Guides: If you are promoting products, your holiday gift guide pitching should begin in July, according to Cision’s “10 Tips for a Holiday Gift Guide Campaign.” It’s not too late, but be sure to research relevant media outlets and blogs and tailor your pitch accordingly. Since the holidays are weeks away, you will have more success by pitching online outlets that have shorter lead times. Make notes for next summer if you want to pitch print outlets with longer lead times for their holiday gift guides.

American Express Open Forum talks about “5 Ways Retailers Can Compete for Customers This Holiday Season.” Here are highlights from the article.

Start promoting now. Retailers promote their holiday campaigns in hopes of drawing the early holiday shoppers. NRF reports that many people start holiday shopping in September and October – an estimated 40% of all holiday shopping is done before Halloween.

Improve your e-commerce. E-commerce sales are on the rise.  With 40% of shoppers planning to purchase online, make sure you are able to accommodate holiday shoppers’ buying preferences.

Go mobile. Emarketer estimates that 16% of holiday sales will be done this year on mobile devices such as tablets and phones. Make sure your website is mobile friendly and be sure to incorporate social media marketing into your holiday campaigns to increase visibility among your customer base.

Offer competitive pricing. With shoppers looking for sales and discounts, finding ways to offer deals is important for the holiday season. Smaller businesses can compete by offering superior customer service and amenities such as free gift wrapping.

Offer stand-out promotions. Be creative and offer shoppers the most rewarding shopping experience whether online or offline. Find ways to stand out and draw in new customers. Reward your current customers with VIP shopper campaigns.

And last but not least, don’t forget about holiday social media campaigns. They can be a cost-effective way to promote your business by encouraging your fans to spread the word.

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Creative Concepts Reviews Top Social Media Marketing Trends for 2014

social media trends 2014As we enter the fourth quarter of 2013, experts begin to take a look at what worked and what didn’t work in social media marketing this year and make predictions for next year.

Businesses are seeing tangible benefits of engaging on social media with their customers and measuring results through lead generation, referring web traffic and revenues.

Content marketing and social media management takes lots of time and resources. Look at any job site and you’ll see that hiring for social media specific titles is on the rise rather than giving current employees additional social media tasks.

To that end, Forbes recently posted “The Top 7 Social Media Marketing Trends That Will Dominate 2014.” See how your social media marketing goals align with these trends as you prepare for next year.

  • Social media investment will be “a necessity, not a luxury.” Businesses are integrating social media into their marketing and public relations plans and learning how to include social in the marketing mix. The question of having a social media presence will be replaced with “what channels do we need to be present in?”
  • Google + will become a big factor. Google is king. By adding Google+ to the mix, your business will improve SEO and visibility among many other benefits.
  • Visual networks will continue to grow. With the success of Pinterest and other visual social networks, using images and video to tell your story through social sharing is important.
  • Micro-Video is on the rise. Short video snippets are the latest trend with Vine and Instagram offering video sharing on their sites.
  • Foursquare is struggling. Foursquare traffic is on the decline and the struggle to stay ahead of the location based services pack like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter remains to be seen.
  • MySpace reborn. MySpace has rebranded and received a new makeover. With its focus on music, it will be interesting to see how it stands apart from the rest of the social networks and if it can build a userbase.
  • LinkedIn becomes a major player for B2B growth. The top networking site for business professionals continues to dominate and recently added an Influencers program. LinkedIn and Twitter both continue to be sweet spots for the B2B crowd.

The giants Facebook and Twitter also continue to grow. Facebook is focusing on mobile markets as well as its advertiser base. Twitter announced plans for its IPO and continues to connect people worldwide on topics like politics, news, television, sports, media and more.

Thanks to social, businesses are engaging with customers and consumers like never before. Consumers want to be heard and the businesses that listen and respond will succeed in the future.

What networks work best for your business? What social networks do you think will explode? Which will fade away?

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Creative Concepts Discusses Public Relations Tips for Brands and Small Businesses

pr tips for getting media coverageBusinesses face many challenges while building, supporting and marketing a product or service. In the face of major competition, finding ways to stand out remains a priority. Getting publicity is one of those ways to stand out and set your business apart from the rest.

Media Leaders recently hosted a Google Plus hangout and asked PR professionals at over a dozen companies to share some of their best public relations tips that they use to get press for their company and/or clients.

Here is a summary of the public relations tips that were shared:

  • Have a story to tell. Journalists are easier to reach these days but you still need to get their attention. Have a hook and tell your story. 
  • Focus on a small group of media outlets. Usually companies have a small pool of journalists who cover their industry. Create your hit list and get to know them. Read their blogs, follow them on social media. Become a source and offer help even if your company doesn’t directly benefit.
  • Form an alliance with a technology partner. Sharing success stories with your technology partner can improve chances that your story is picked up. Show how you and the tech partner helped a business solve a problem. Share the story on both of your websites and through your channels.
  • Ask for permission. One agency found success through asking permission to send pitches for start-up clients. Once they found out journalist preferences, they saw higher engagement and ultimately more success.
  • Use LinkedIn InMails. If your company subscribes to LinkedIn, utilize the InMails to send a short pitch to your target media. Customize the pitch to that person. Don’t send all of the details – if they are interested, they will respond.
  • Send mail. Since most people are online, there is less snail mail being sent. Try sending a pitch through the US mail.
  • Use video. Share informational snippets and create a YouTube account. Use keywords in your description and send links in your email signature.
  • Research incoming links. Find out who is linking to your website and your competitors’ websites by using a tool like Majestic SEO. Discover what your competitors are doing in PR and stay informed.

For more useful tips and a video highlight, check out “Getting Press 14 Public Relations Tips for Brands & Small Businesses.”

What tips do you have to share for getting press?

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Creative Concepts Looks at New Facebook Promotions Rules

like thumbs up FacebookIn August, Facebook announced changes to its promotions rules in its Pages terms. Basically, Facebook has removed the third-party app requirement to run Facebook contests and promotions.

What does this mean? It makes it easier for small and mid-size businesses to directly run a contest or promotion from their Facebook business page timeline. Larger businesses using third party services such as Wildfire and Vitrue will probably continue to do so due to ease of use.

The rules change gives more flexibility for businesses to offer promotions on the fly and for free. The flipside is that these types of promotions will have to be manually run increasing chance of error and creating extra work for employees running the promotions.

Now Facebook promotions and contests can run on the business page timeline and in third party applications.

Facebook outlines the following guidelines. Businesses can:

  • Collect entries by having users post on the Page or comment/like a Page post
  • Collect entries by having users message the Page
  • Utilize likes as a voting mechanism

One thing that has not changed is that businesses can’t run promotions on personal Facebook timelines.

There are also tagging guidelines for businesses that Facebook specifies:

  • It’s OK to ask people to submit names of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize
  • It’s not OK to ask people tag themselves in pictures of a new product in exchange for a chance to win a prize

These guidelines ensure tagging accuracy for brands so people aren’t tagged in content that they don’t actually appear in.

For more information regarding their promotions policies, check out the downloadable Promotion Guidelines, which includes best practices for running promotions through Facebook.

How will these changes affect your business Facebook page?

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Creative Concepts Discusses Crisis Communications Tips

social crisis communicationsIn August, The Children’s Place recently found itself in a PR crisis when consumers complained through social media channels about messaging on a girls’ t-shirt that they found offensive.

Multichannel Merchant reported about the crisis in “The Children’s Place Goes Social with Apology.” The Children’s Place quickly responded to this article as well as many other concerned voices online with an apology and they pulled the t-shirt in question off the racks.

In the article by Multichannel Merchant, Creative Concepts founder Valorie Luther offers insights into how to handle a crisis. Luther agrees that for a short term fix, The Children’s Place did the right thing by promptly responding with an apology and removing the offensive t-shirt from their clothing line. Being transparent and timely is important in the first line of crisis communications.

When preparing to issue a statement as TCP did on Facebook and Twitter, Luther states to “bring all the players together for the brand in deciding how you want to handle the situation, what the feelings are and what strategy you plan to implement through traditional public relations methods, social media and other ways you as a brand communicate. ”

Apologize and then listen. Listening to your customers is very important. If the backlash is really bad, taking the conversation offline where talking in-person is extremely valuable. “It is about making a personal connection.”

How the company will prove its merit moving forward will depend on if they change their internal processes “so they honor girls in the future instead of stereotyping.”

Make sure your organization has a plan in place for a crisis. Review your internal processes and communication plan to be sure you are prepared.

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Creative Concepts Looks at Search, Social and Content Marketing

ID-10047471In the past few years, content marketing has emerged as an important part of integrated marketing and public relations programs. Traditionally, marketers were in the business of sending one way broadcast-type messaging to its audiences through advertising, direct mail and the like.

Now marketers are engaging in two way conversations with audiences. Buyers are seeking solutions on their own and suddenly marketers are finding that they need to become more like publishers to be found on search engines and through social channels.

The tide has turned. Buyers have more control in the marketplace and marketers have added inbound marketing and content marketing to their strategy to adjust and build online presence.

Recently, the Content Marketing World team hosted a Tweet Chat discussing the intersection of search, social and content marketing. Here are some of the highlights from the chat. There is also a full transcript of the chat and a slideshare presentation with the findings.

  • People first, search second. Write for your audience and the search engines will follow. Ask your customers how they found you. If it was a web search, ask them what keywords they used. People search similar to the way they ask questions. Create content with answers to your top questions, like an FAQ sheet.
  • Search and social are connected. Search engines now weigh social signals so there is a definite relationship and importance in having your content shared across networks. Some content is better suited to be shared on social to educate whereas search brings seekers directly to your content.
  • Optimize images and videos for search. This is an often overlooked opportunity to help search discover all of your content. Tag and add relevant copy where you can.
  • Create transcripts for videos, audio and presentations so the information can be captured in search. It is also useful for people who don’t have time to watch the video or presentation but want to read about it while they are on the page.
  • Content, social and search will continue to grow together. Learning how to make it all work is an ongoing process.

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Creative Concepts Discusses PR Tips from Journalists

pr tips from journalistsA recent Hubspot survey of journalists, bloggers, producers and editors sheds some light on how journalists really feel about behaviors of PR professionals. Namely, what are the things that bug journalists the most and tips on how to avoid making these mistakes.

The bottom line?

Do your research. Know the journalist and topics they cover. Read their stuff. Follow them on social networks. Learn how they want to be contacted.

Brevity is king. Tailor your PR pitch accordingly. Keep it short and sweet. Limit phone calls to those people you have a relationship with or had a response from.

Be a resource. Be prepared to give more details, arrange interviews, be helpful. Don’t spam, use all capitals in emails or call repeatedly.

What PR tips do you find work the best?

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