Wednesday, December 11, 2013

“Why invest in PR?”

A frequent question we receive from clients is, “Why invest in public relations when I can just buy ads instead?” We are often challenged to define the value of public relations and its influence on consumers. For businesses outside of the marketing world, it can be difficult to recognize how a magazine ad can have a different influence than a magazine article or how a television appearance can have a different influence than a television commercial. Here is some insight on how public relations differs from advertising and how it is important to a growing brand:
Paid vs. Earned - While both public relations and advertising aim to influence consumers and increase interest in a brand, they apply two different methods. A simple way to differentiate the two is to understand that advertising is paid media, whereas PR is earned media. Advertising consists of paid placements on websites, in print, on television, or on radio. Public relations achieves media coverage through pitching newsworthy stories to journalists.  
Credibility - Public relations provides credibility through the point of view of an unbiased journalist. Advertising is more likely to be viewed with skepticism because it is a paid-for message. According to a study conducted by Nielsen, a staggering 92% of consumers say they trust earned media above any form of advertising. With earned media, readers view a brand as part of a story, as opposed to being directly promoted in an advertisement, which is proven to be significantly more influential.  
Think of a new restaurant opening in your town. What would have a greater influence on you making a reservation, a commercial displaying the restaurant’s amazing food and ambiance or an article by someone outside of the restaurants referring to it at the greatest dining experience they had ever had? Most people would agree that an outsider’s point of view would have a greater influence ton their decisions. 
Longevity - In addition to being more persuasive, earned media has greater longevity. In the digital world, a written article, television appearance, or blog post can have an indefinite existence online. Online media also has a direct effect on search engine optimization. Digital content can be shared by other journalists, bloggers and by social media users at no cost to the company. Unlike earned media, a business must pay for the continual display of an advertisement. 
Actively Viewed - Another important distinction between the two is that consumers actively receive PR generated information.  The audience makes the decision to view, listen or read the story. Advertising is a one-way form of communication. Consumers have the option to skip or simply ignore an unwanted ad. According to the guardian, 86% of viewers skip over television commercials.
Not to say advertising is not valuable and effective. A tearjerker television commercial for a children’s hospital or a print ad featuring a stunning model wearing the latest trends can certainly influence consumers. While advertising is much more expensive than public relations, many companies chose to advertise because it is a more straightforward approach that allows complete creative control over the message.

Overall, public relations is an excellent tool to establish a relationship of trust and communication with consumers. Campaigns that combine effective advertising with strong public relations efforts will build and maintain a favorable brand identity.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Art of Engagement

Social media has become a marketing machine and, like every machine, operating without direction can have disastrous results. The most important direction: don’t just promote, but engage. How? We’ll start with the two most popular social networks: Facebook and Twitter, which have 1.11 billion and 218 million active users, respectively.

Just a few years ago, businesses balked at using Facebook. Today, 15 million brands have active pages. Clearly, not all of them are successful but those who are have some similar tactics to engage their desired audiences.

Pictures - It’s always been said that a picture is worth a thousand words and this goes for Facebook posts as well. 93% of Facebook posts gain the most attention, like and comments, when there is a photo involved. Facebook also now offers the option of commenting using a photo rather than limiting you to text. This tool is especially helpful for posts that receive multiple comments, as it allows your comment to stand out from the chatter. Bright and colorful photos that depict human interaction, will personalize your page as well as draw attention

Videos- The only thing that may be better than a photo is a video. Videos leave less for the imagination and anything with a play button grabs attention. When videos are incorporated into a post it gets 100% more engagement than if it were to be just text or a photo. It is obvious that watching a video takes more attention than browsing pictures so it is important to entice the audience: make sure to have an eye-catching default frame, keep it short, and keep it simple.

Give Back- People will always take advantage of free things. To keep fans interested, offer occasional sweepstakes, giveaways, coupons, or discounts. Two thirds of fans will “like” a brand or page on Facebook to be eligible for some sort of reward. 

Utilize Facebook Feedback- Facebook has evolved tremendously in terms of helping brands analyze and get the most out of their efforts. Facebook now highlights and points our which posts of yours reaches the most people and experiences the most engagement. Use this tool to take note of what kind of posts worked better than others. Also, watch for notifications of successful posts and promote them even further with Facebook’s ad programs. Asking questions to your followers is a great way to peak their interest, as well as dig deeper into what they are looking for. The trick to success in social networking is to encourage the opinions and comments of those who support your business or company.

 Twitter- Some still wonder: why have a micro-blogging social network limited to 140 characters or less, when you could have a blog with an unlimited amount of space? Well, for starters—no matter how fascinating you think your brand is, most people are not interested in reading an endless piece of writing to gain information. We live in an instant-gratification world, and Twitter has harnessed that mindset. Here are some secrets on how to increase favorites, retweets, mentions and follows that every brand craves.

Tweet relevance not advertising- When tweeting for a company or to promote a product or idea, stay away from simply tweeting facts about whatever it is you are marketing. Instead, it is crucial to be able to connect with the designated audience. Come across as not only knowing your product, but your industry as well. For example, if you are marketing for a clothing line, make sure to use those 140 characters to relate to existing or potential customers. Instead of tweeting the different styles of sweaters you offer , try: “Wow is it chilly this week or what?! I love sweater season!” with a picture of different sweaters you are selling this season. Most people can relate more to the fact that they need sweaters because it’s cold out than they can to your advertising copy.

Respond to your mentions - Well-known brands with many followers receive countless mentions each day. As time consuming as it is to give individual attention to all, it is important to respond to as many--if not all--tweets that come your way. This not only personalizes the relationship between the company and its followers, but also boosts your reputation. Many people will either respond back or retweet that their favorite company or person tweeted at them. Therefore you are reaching a much wider range than just that one follower.

InstagramInstagram has about 150 million users, including 123 Fortune 500 companies. The Instagram team is constantly releasing updates to better this product and aid in the success of the users. Captions are used within the posts with no character limit, however this particular app really focuses on the visuals. There are specific strategies that companies can use to keep their followers interested.

Diversity- Instagram recently began allowing users to post not only pictures but video footage as well. One of the most important mindsets to have while deciding on posts is to keep your audience on their toes. If a shoe company posts a picture each day of a style they offer, this will bore the followers. Mix business related posts with fun posts as well. For example, Anthropologie posts pictures of their products they sell, but also posted a picture of a puppy one day that received 7,640 likes. These types of posts as well as “behind the scenes” pictures will create a more intimate relationship with followers, as well squash the idea of “all work no play” within the company.

Videos- Nothing personalizes a user or company more than video footage! Instagram now allows 15-second videos, eligible to be filtered, while Vine offers short videos that loop. Make use of video to announce upcoming events, promotions or changes within the company that would be of interest to your fans.

Utilize Connections – Take advantage of hashtags or other accounts as a gateway to your Instagram. Instagram provides the option to connect your other social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest and so on, with your Instagram. Therefore with one post you can reach multiple networks simultaneously.

Pinterest- Pinterest is all about photos with even shorter captions than used on Instagram. However, your followers can also be seen as your marketing team. When someone is to re-pin one of your original pins, it reaches a much broader spectrum of people. Re-pinning on Pinterest can be compared to retweeting on Twitter. Re-pinning puts your company or brand on the map for those who maybe have never heard of it, but follow someone who re-pins your posts.  

Pinning- Success with using Pinterest is based on the ratio of re-pins you receive. The average re-pin ratio is approximately .3%, therefore if you have 1000 followers, 3 of them will re-pin one of your posts. Like other social networks, repins cause a ripple effect.

Be Specific- At first glance, Pinterest can be overwhelming. It is important when organizing your boards to be specific with the contents of each. This will help those users who are looking for something particular, link to your pins when they are searching. Organization is key.

Engage Your Community – Make sure to comment on pins that have to do with your specific brand or message. Adding personality to your page by acknowledging your followers will only motivate them more to share your posts. Soon enough your dedicated followers are marketing and promoting your company as much as you are.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Successful Social Media Strategies for Restaurants

As we have said before, social media plays a key role in successful marketing plans for all luxury brands, but it is especially important for restaurants that face tough competition and rely on customer satisfaction. According to a recent study done by Forrester research, 90% of food industry executives agree that social media has completely changed the way consumers interact with their businesses. Social media is an excellent way for restaurants to build the identity of their brand, as well as engage their customers outside of the dining room. Here are some tactics that will help you in developing a successful social media strategy:

1.     Develop a Calculated Plan – The most successful social media campaigns start with selecting one overall message to deliver. All content should bridge back to that initial message.  It is important to understand your target market and know what engages them. The more your content is shared, the wider your audience becomes.

2.     Get Visual – What is more appealing than a photo of a delectable dish? According to socialbakers, photos make up 93% of the most engaging posts. With our client, ON20 we have found that our social media audience gives a greater response to visual posts, such as behind the scenes looks of Chef Lizotte in action or the restaurant’s breath-taking views of the Connecticut River.

Platforms that focus on visual content, such as Instagram and Pinterest have proven to be effective communicating tools for restaurants. Pinterest is a great way to build your restaurants identity by creating boards that relate to your brand. Show how your restaurant gives back by pinning pictures of a fundraiser you hosted. Instagram also has a visual appeal but is much more immediate.  Restaurants can snap photos of today’s most appetizing specials and instantly share them. Adding hash tags are a great way to build your following and reach people that you have never connected with before.

3.     Encourage Customers to Participate  – Posting about dining experiences has become a trend on social media. Restaurants should be encouraging to patrons to tweet about their experience, instagram a photo of their meal, or check in in on Facebook. There are many ways to influence customers to digitally interact with your restaurant. Adding QR codes to your menus and print materials are an excellent way to direct traffic to your social media. Contests are also a great way to engage customers.

4.     Use Industry Platforms - Leading platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. are necessary components of a social media strategy, but there are also industry specific sites that are important to your digital brand as well. Foodspotting is a rising star when it comes to restaurant social media.  Recently acquired by OpenTable, the website and mobile app allows users to rate specific dishes that will appear on a local map. Restaurants can create accounts to promote their own dishes as well. Nombe, a San Francisco-based Japanese restaurant, has created customized recommendation guides and scavenger hunts on Foodspotting in order brand themselves and attract potential customers.

Many restaurants offer rewards or incentives for checking in through location-based platforms. AJ Bombers, a Milwaukee restaurant was able to drive sales up 110% through a foursquare promotion. When the restaurant’s Foursquare page featured a tip about the Barrie Burger, with no additional promotion or advertising, sales for the item grew 30% in the first week. AJ Bombers is now up to 15,000 check-ins. 

5.     Create an open dialogue – It is important to engage your audience, but it is also important for you to be engaged as well. Answering all comments and tweets shows authenticity and keeps fans involved in your social media. Live tweeting is great way to build lasting relationship with followers. Many restaurants have found success in live tweeting from special events. Using hash tags can help further the conversation and spread the word about specific campaigns.

Morton’s Steakhouse made national headlines when responding to a mid-air tweet, humorously requesting a Morton’s porterhouse steak upon arrival at Newark Airport. Morton’s responded to the tweet by sending a driver and full meal to the airport to meet the customer. While this may seem like an extravagant gesture, the story is still being talked about two years later.

In conclusion, when used efficiently social media can be a remarkable tool for engaging customers and generating new ones. Social media plays a fundamental role in brand identity and maintaining a dialogue with consumers. There is plenty of discussion of food in the digital world and you need to be a part of that conversation.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Instagram Heats Up The Social Video Scene

Roughly two seconds after we posted our blog about Twitter’s social video app Vine, Facebook’s Instagram—the app well-known for glorifying pictures with various filters—announced their new video feature. While the move cemented the importance of social video, it set social media analysts abuzz regarding the two services.

Out of the gate, Instagram has set itself apart by providing effects that Vine has not brought to the table just yet, including:

  •         Up to 15 second video clips
  •         Thirteen customized filters to edit the look of your video
  •         The ability to choose a cover frame instead of it being the first frame of the video
  •         The ability to delete certain sections without deleting the entire video
  •         A feature called “cinema” to stabilize the video and remove jumpy cuts
  •         Unlike Vine, there is no looping feature

So which app is going to win this seeming battle of social video? So far there have been mixed predictions. While Mashable believes Instagram’s existing strength will “take the wind out of Vine’s sails”, opines that Vine’s growing community of creatives and designers, will continue to blossom. Here at Miamore, we (at least in the immediate future) believe the two will co-exist with different usages—much like Facebook and Twitter. Given how difficult it is for most small businesses to create a compelling (and quality) 15-second video; along with the challenge of seamlessly mixing video and photography on Instagram, we still favor Vine and its quick videos and looping feature.

Do you agree?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Get on the Vine

So, you have a brand Facebook page and Twitter. But does your company Vine ? If not, you may want to check out why 13 million users (posting 12 million videos daily) have made this app the rising star of the social media world. 

Vine (which was recently acquired by Twitter) allows users to create and post 6-second video-clips. Similar to Twitter or Facebook, users follow people and can scroll a newsfeed to view their videos.
Vine, which launched just 6 months ago, has already passed Instagram in popularity and, as of this week, Vine has the number 2 spot for the most popular app in the apple store.

So why is Vine causing so much buzz among social media users and, especially, marketers? Today, visuals are one of the most powerful marketing tools. And, as businesses slowly move away from traditional advertising and toward innovative social ways to engage consumers, Vine is perfectly poised as a creative way of marketing.

Ready to Vine for your brand? Here are some of the effective, eye-catching ideas that are useful for business:

·      Display your work
·      Engage customers in a conversation
·      Showcase the office
·      Promote a contest, sale, or special offer
·      Bring presentations to life
·      Some of your favorite products, or recommendations

A few basic user tips:
·      While tags work well within Vine, don’t expect them to always translate to Twitter or other devices, so use hashtags, too.
·      Rather than one continuous clip, try combining multiple short clips to create an action shot.
·      Be creative and have fun!

What are your Vine ideas? Have questions, let us know.