How Optimization Influences Communications

Why are you reading this blog post? That, I’m not really sure about.

Who are you? Why are you reading this blog post? I can take a good guess. You probably have marketing, communications or PR in your profile somewhere. Chances are, you’ve read a post on a similar subject or even read something on the Zer0 to 5ive blog before. If our readership mirrors a site such as MarketingProfs, you are likely a professional at a small or medium-sized business in North America.

How do I know this? Because we’re inside an optimization loop. It’s similar to the social media bubble of our own design that keeps the unpleasant posts of our crazy uncle out of our feed and keeps feeding us posts that we’ll like, comment and share on. The optimization loop is more automated and more invisible. Every Google search (at least 5.5 billion a day), Amazon purchase (600 items a second on Prime Day 2016), or Facebook like (500,000 a minute) is being captured and analyzed to keep us clicking, buying and engaging.

Past performance is generally regarded as a good predictor of future behavior online, so the optimization loop keeps on working to drive more clicks. For those trying to get someone to take a new action online, the loop can be hard to break into. Here are a few ideas on how you can get your message out (or your client’s message, since you’re probably from an agency!):

1) Publish Outside Your Box

When creating content for potential customers to read, it’s important to get it published in the right places and engaged with by the right people so that it leaves your brand’s loop and enters the content loops of your prospects. This can best be accomplished through contributed content to publications or blogs that serve a target audience. When it comes to Google, they will have stronger authority on the content topic, and will be more likely to make your content rise to the top of search results.

There are also ways to leverage social media to try and break into new areas (e.g. hashtags in Twitter, audience targeting in Facebook), but if your account is outside of the loop, it’s less likely to be effective. With systems like Facebook’s algorithms in place that rely on thousands of factors tied to affinity and actions around a company’s page and individual posts, having your content pushed out by a well-regarded third party is a great way to increase impressions on your message. Plus, it allows you to use your brand and personal accounts to spread that message rather than relying on self-published content, which is likely to receive fewer eyeballs.

2) Become an Expert to Your Audience

There used to be ways to fake it online without real content, but the methods employed by Google and Facebook to determine valuable content are largely driven by user behavior. Bounce rate, time on page and post engagement all matter when it comes to rankings and visibility, so time spent creating good content will pay dividends over time. By combining strong content and wider distribution, it’s possible to become an expert source for target audiences.

This emphasis on quality carries over to email marketing as well. Gmail and other services increasingly monitor user engagement to determine if an email will be delivered. They examine behaviors at a macro (sending account) and micro (individual email) level to build reputation scores, so if your emails are ignored for being of little value (let alone marked as spam or unsubscribed), it’s going to keep your content from being seen.

3) Understand the System

It takes a lot of work to keep up with the changes being made by the big online platforms. Keeping up with what’s working on Google and updating your content and communications strategy on an ongoing basis to match can pay big dividends. Factors go beyond content too. For example, if web pages are slow loading, not mobile friendly, or not protected with SSL encryption, there can be penalties from Google because your site is not providing a good, secure user experience.

There’s also a degree of “follow the money” that smart users can capitalize on. If Facebook wants to push Facebook Live video to users to increase its popularity, it would be wise for you to use it and break through the walls that the algorithms put up. Being aware of best practices and using them to influence your communications strategy can create a lasting competitive advantage, as the optimization loop only gets stronger in your favor.

By: Bob Minkus, Director

How to Leverage Cultural Fads to Maximize Marketing Efforts

A great way to promote your brand is by leveraging popular trends. Through a few well-managed steps you can create a strong link between your product and a popular trend, giving you an extra boost from the association. One notable example is the recent AR/mobile hit Pokémon GO. The game itself garnered massive amounts of media attention and numerous marketing capitalization articles to follow. In light of such a successful launch, I want to detail how you can successfully capitalize on the next big trend when it gets here.

Timing

In baseball, if you swing a second too late then you’ve missed the ball. The same applies to the launch of a PR or marketing campaign. Timing is important because there will be a surplus of companies and individuals racing to produce content surrounding any trend that beings to grow in popularity.

Pokémon GO launched in mid-July last year. If you hadn’t introduced your marketing idea by at least the first week of the launch, you were already edging on late. Joining the party a month in? You missed your chance. Trends move quickly in the digital age and it’s always better to be one step ahead of the game than even a millisecond behind.

When planning a trend-based PR or marketing campaign, make sure to carefully monitor the news for any pre-buildup of the trend and make sure to launch as close as possible with the actual hype of it. This way you ensure that you can be one of the first thought leaders commenting on the trend or one of the first brands to interact with it.

Focus on the Right Trends

Everyone loves a one hit wonder, but hits like that won’t have enough traction to sustain your PR and marketing efforts. What made Pokémon GO such a great trend to promote was the longevity of the brand and the multigenerational fan base. The first whisperings of this project had both adults who grew up in the ‘90s and young fans of today jumping with excitement to see their favorite characters come to life before their eyes. Buzz for this game started well before the release, and the hype kept growing the closer we got to the game’s release date.

If you are going to use marketing efforts in line with a popular trend, make sure it’s a trend that will last for a while. Even though Pokémon GO has had a decrease in users, it’s still popular and, more importantly, successful. It might be some time before we see another trend as popular as Pokémon GO, but it’s important to keep your eye out for the next trend that will have a potent presence in the media.

Find the Connection

Anyone can associate themselves with a trend, but the more meaningful the association, the more successful the campaign will be. To ensure people are paying attention to your brand amidst the hype of the trend, you need to make sure that your brand has a logical and meaningful connection to the trend. Don’t just talk about a trend for the sake of talking about it. Talk about it because it is relevant and you have something to add to the conversation. In any media or marketing relationship, you are looking to provide each other with relevant and useful information.

So, if you are trying to promote your brand in association with a big trend like Pokémon GO, find the logical connection before you promote. If you are a floral shop, a marketing idea could be creating Pokémon-themed floral arrangements that you give away to local stores with Pokéstops, an integral feature in the game. This type of “trend ride” is relevant, fun, and helpful for others, which is a great recipe for receiving positive media praise.

Overall, trend-based campaigns are an exciting and creative way to help promote your brand. With the correct attention to detail, you can create an interactive campaign that helps form a meaningful bond to a trend and successfully promote your brand. Pokémon GO may have had its time to shine, but will you see next year’s hit trend before it’s here? And, more importantly, will you catch it in time to capitalize on it?

By: Jaimie Yakaboski

5 New Ways to Increase Your Twitter Followers

Increase-Your-Twitter-Follower-Count-Easy

“If you build it, they will come.”

Maybe that statement works for building baseball fields, but it doesn’t hold true for boosting Twitter followers. Gaining followers takes work. Half the battle may be creating an account (and getting the best handle name known to man), but the other half is what matters most – following and being followed. It’s essentially the entire premise of Twitter.

For PR specialists, Twitter can be a vital tool for disseminating messages, reading breaking news and reaching reporters or editors. Growing your followers can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. My colleague discussed this topic on our blog a while back, below are five additional suggestions on how to increase your followers on Twitter:

1. Treat Twitter like a short-term addiction

A recent article in Forbes, written by @dorieclark, suggests making Twitter your top priority for a month or two and creating lots of content. Studies have shown that the more you Tweet, the more followers you’ll get. Therefore, Tweet as often as possible!

2. Live Tweet

Top Ten Social Media (@TopTenSM) suggests, “being a live Tweeter for events in your industry.” Determine what conversations your followers react to and then join in on the live convo. In fact, according to a Nielsen Social data report, AMC’s Breaking Bad had the greatest reach of any TV series on Twitter in the U.S., from Sept. 1, 2013 through May 25, 2014. Thanks to stars Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul live tweeting during the series’ finale episode, a record 9.1 million people were reached on Twitter.

3. Start using Twitter Cards

Just this past June, @twitterintroduced Twitter Cards that promise to drive traffic to your website and make your Tweets more engaging by attaching rich photos, videos and media experience to Tweets. Simply add a few lines of HTML to your webpage and users who Tweet links to your content will have a “Card” added to the Tweet that’s visible to all of their followers. This can help make your Tweets more engaging and thus increasing the odds of gaining more followers.

4. Show your true colors

More simply put – show yourself. Your Twitter will become boring to followers if it’s a list of article links that you find interesting, and followers can’t sense a personality behind the screen. Tech writer @jmbrandonbbsuggests inserting a few jokes here and there. Followers may be more inclined to stick around longer when they feel like they’re interacting with a real person and not a robot.

5. Ask questions.

That’s what my dad always told me, anyways. In an article posted on Mediabistro, writer @AllisonStadd advises to ask for a retweet (RT) in your composed Tweet. This can help you expand your network quickly!

Boosting followers can be a game of trial and error. Figure out what works best in your industry, come up with a game plan and execute. What other tips do you have to help users increase their Twitter followers? Leave suggestions in the comments section below.

Post by Lindsay Hull, Senior Strategist