Social Media Epic Fail

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This day in age, we are all, hopefully, aware of the impact social media has on our lives and the benefits of using platforms for personal and business purposes. Social media campaigns can be done well or fail miserably, and the PR professionals of an organization are usually called upon to help discern the best approach to certain audiences and demographics.

I recently discovered possibly the worst social media fail of this year, which involved a San Antonio, TX business called Miracle Mattress. CBS New York covered the story, which surfaced prior to the fifteenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack. The store posted a video on Facebook promoting their “Twin Tower Sale,” and the backlash received caused the removal of the video, as well as the closing of the store for days due to death threats from the public.

In the video, employees of Miracle Mattress described how customers could purchase any mattress for the usual price of a twin mattress. At the end, two employees fell backwards into two towers of mattresses representing the destruction of the Twin Towers. The main woman in the video screamed, “oh my God,” then looked at the camera and stated, “we’ll never forget.”

Anyone could see how offensive this video is for the people that lived through or had family members that perished in the devastating attack on 9/11, and the public made sure that the mattress store knew how outraged they were with comments on the business’s Facebook page. After the deletion of the video, a public apology was issued by the store owner and posted on the Facebook page. This was not enough for the public however, and people are still commenting on the page about their disgust of the company.

I have learned from this social media fail just how important PR professionals are to organizations. I am almost positive that this incident would not have happened if there was a PR employee approving all posts.

While the idea to create such an offensive video about a tragic day in history seems like common sense to most of us not to do, this business is not the only one who has posted content undesirable and offensive to the public. I understand that in-the-moment decisions are sometimes made, but having a strategic plan for social media use in an organization is necessary to prevent situations that harm the image and brand of a company, such as Miracle Mattress.

Deep in Digital Marketing

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What are the keys to success in the digital marketplace? If you ask Rebecca Wardlow, digital marketing entrepreneur, she may say the keys are a willingness to learn and 1 ton of candy. I understand most of you will not be able to make the connection between the two, but Rebecca explained the link when she spoke to my Social Media Strategies class recently.

For Rebecca, the start of her six-figure social media marketing and ecommerce career was a social media contest to win 1 ton of candy from Walgreens, in which the winner was determined by most likes and shares. She admits she is quite competitive which gave her the drive to enter and ultimately win the contest. She took what she knew about traditional marketing and translated it into the digital world, as well as physically handing out promotional flyers to put her in the lead.

As you may know, marketing and public relations are quite similar in strategies and execution. While Rebecca may be more on the marketing side, her presentation was more than applicable to me and my fellow PR majors. She talked mostly about promotional calendars, or social media content calendars as they would be called for PR professionals. They act as a roadmap for a particular campaign or promotion, allowing for consistency of brand image and message across multiple channels. As much as I am not a fan of these calendars, I realize the significance and usefulness of them for PR. They must be important if people keep talking about them, too, right?

The three main goals of a promotional or social media content calendar are:

  • Awareness: creating freely available entertaining, educating, or inspiring content
  • Evaluation: gated content used to capture emails for an email list
  • Conversion: building relationships with readers through stories, comparisons, or free trials

In the spirit of promotions, Rebecca’s bread and butter, she offered a three step process for creating and distributing promotional messages. They are as follows:

  • Acquisition: building an email list
  • Activation: engaging and exciting email list by offering member exclusives
  • Monetization: selling via email

While I learned several keys to success in the digital marketplace from Rebecca, I believe the most important one was that deleting and ignoring posts or comments is simply not an option to fix an issue in the digital world. Being strategic and thinking before posting will benefit you in the long run, and promotional/social media content calendars are a tool to help in this area.

 

Advice from Matt Kelly

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If you don’t know who Matt Kelly is, then I suggest you go find out. He recently spoke to a few of my public relations classes and offered advice that I will surely benefit from in my future career.

Matt was a graduated college with a Bachelor’s in journalism and continued his education to obtain a Master’s in public relations. It seems that most PR professionals today have taken this route, as undergraduate PR programs were not necessarily easy to find years ago. I would have also had to follow the journalism path if the PR program at Olivet was not founded last year.

Matt expressed his love for the PR industry, as well as warned students about the commitment that PR professionals are expected to uphold. I will say that he made it seem as though the benefits far outweighed the costs of entering this rewarding field. I am much more at ease with my career choice now, to say the least.

Matt offered a few pieces of advice pertaining to social media and the PR world based on his experiences at the companies he has worked for, such as State Farm, Weber Shandwick, Ogilvy and presently, Golin PR agency.

Some of his advice includes:

  • Creating and maintaining a LinkedIn
  • Cleaning up social media accounts
  • Sending thank-you cards after interviews
  • Posting relevant content on social media

Matt also discussed the common topic of differentiating PR from marketing and advertising. He suggested that social media has made the lines between these concentrations blurry, but social media is a PR tool.

One statement Matt made that will stick with me and aid me in separating these industries is all three areas concentrate on the brand of a business. When the brand is faced with a crisis, however, then the concentration is on reputation. PR professionals are the only people to go to in these situations, and they have the obligation of retaining a good reputation for the company.

 

Social Media Content Calendars

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This week was BOOT CAMP. No, I am not talking about a physical boot camp for the Army or Navy. This boot camp was for my Social Media Strategies class, in which we learned about and created social media content calendars. These calendars are used by organizations as a way to plan their social media posts from daily, to weekly, to monthly and yearly. The date, time to post and post copy are all included and organized in a content calendar, along with the type of platform the post will be publicized on.

The first time I heard of a social media content calendar was earlier this year in a meeting with my fellow PR Agency colleagues. We discussed the idea of creating a calendar for our client, the Kankakee County Chamber of Commerce, who asked us to assist them in optimizing their social media accounts. My account executive, Hayden, assigned us each a week to plan posts and create a calendar. This deadline just so happened to fall on the same date that our class calendar was due. We were able to pick an organization of our choice for the class, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and do the Chamber.

I have to admit, I did not think creating one of these calendars was going to take so much time and thought. I have learned to never underestimate an assignment again, that’s for sure. If you can think about the time it takes for you to craft the perfect caption for a picture on Instagram or how long it takes you to boil all of your thoughts down to 140 characters for a Tweet, then you can imagine the struggle of creating 60-80 posts for a content calendar.

I have a new appreciation for social media managers for corporations, as it really does take a lot of time and strategic planning to manage multiple social media accounts. I can’t say, after this assignment, that this would be my dream job once I graduate. However, I wouldn’t mind creating the occasion calendar from time to time.

I learned that social media content calendars are time consuming, yet they offer the best return on time invested. Having a plan for daily posts prevents stress in social media managers, and the time it takes to create one is worth it in the end.

 

Hootsuite

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How many social media accounts do you currently have? If you are like me, then you have about eight accounts that you either keep up with religiously or barely pay attention to. Social media has exploded in the last decade, and society is doing its best to keep up with content from each platform, but there comes a point when people realistically cannot manage each account effectively.

The creators of Hootsuite, a social media account manager tool, realized this growing problem and have offered society a helping hand for their social media accounts. Hootsuite allows for the integration of all social media platforms into one vicinity, offering an “owl’s eye view” of all content. The tool makes life easier and more time more efficient for businesses specifically. Large corporations have millions of mentions, comments, and messages each day, which would take an army of employees to sift through. Hootsuite takes all of those mentions, comments and messages and organizes them for users.

The tool also allows for multiple platform posts with just a few clicks. Instead of having to login to each social media account, users can choose the accounts they would like to post their content to and then schedule the post for a later time. There is also an option for auto-scheduling, which uses an algorithm to determine the best time for each specific user to post to increase views. Tagging other users or mentioning them in posts is as easy as 1, 2, 3 with the overarching search tool in Hootsuite. The program goes through all platforms and a person can choose which account to tag/mention.

Much like TweetDeck, Hootsuite has “streams,” which are custom to each user experience. These streams can be filtered for specific hashtags, platform comments, location check-ins, etc. Managing comments seems to be the most useful aspect of Hootsuite for users. A person can reply, like, approve or delete certain comments for multiple platforms all in one system.

Hootsuite has also created a mobile application for users to make life even simpler. This app syncs directly to the desktop version of the tool and alerts users with push notifications to approve scheduled posts. People may view their streams, search tabs, compose and publish options and settings on the mobile app.

Hootlet, an extension of Hootsuite is a downloadable icon on web browsers which makes the sharing of content from any site extremely easy. If a user is viewing an article on a news site, they can simply click the Hootlet icon and share to multiple platforms instantly. I want Hootsuite simply to have access to the Hootlet icon.

I could go on and on about the benefits and efficiency of Hootsuite, but I think I have covered the basics of what everyone should know about the tool. If you want be more efficient in the way you manage your social media accounts, then give Hootsuite a try. I promise you won’t regret it and will wonder why you didn’t invest in the tool earlier.

Social Media Misconception

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How many times in your life have you heard people tell you that you’re on your phone too much or your social skills are deteriorating because of how much you use your phone? My guess is you hear it fairly frequently from the older generations which surround you, whether they are family, employers or professors.

I have struggled a decent amount with the question of whether or not social media does more harm than good for our society. I believe there a quite a few misconceptions about social media sites and the way people use them, but I also believe there could be some truth to the harms of them.

Personally, I was amazed by the new technology which created a way for people to connect across the world. It made me excited and curious, and before I knew it, I had about five social media apps that I kept up with religiously. I spent more time on these sites than I would like to admit, and I’m sure I’ve missed some precious moments in my life because I was immersed in online content.

The older generations of our society, who didn’t grow up with technology at their finger tips, are usually pretty weary of what the younger generations are looking at and caught up in all the time. This may cause them to be less accepting of the fact that social media can be used for extremely positive causes and campaigns. While I can see both sides of why social media is good vs. bad, I have been seeing it in a more positive light since I have been taking a Social Media Strategies course at Olivet.

One person can influence millions with little to no cost and at the click of a button. With this power comes great responsibility, as my Spiderman enthusiasts already know. The influence a person has can be positive or negative, and sometimes a comment or post will come back to bite the content creator. Using social media in a positive manner, though, can create a movement of change, which could ultimately change the world. This type of opportunity, available to all people, is something to get excited about.

Social media, if used too much in the wrong way, can become detrimental to society. However, learning to use it the right way, a way that is positive and generates creativity and change, can make society better.

A World Without A’s, O’s & B’s

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Can you imagine the English language without the letters A, O or B? Not only would reading books be difficult, but reading signs and advertisements would be a challenge as well. Individuals of Engine Group agency, MHP Commuications, decided to use the omission of these very important letters in ads for a social media awareness campaign in 2015, using #MissingType on most platforms . The campaign was created in an attempt to gain blood donors in the U.K., as A, O and B make up the various human blood types.

Watch the NHS Blood and Transplant ad here.

This campaign was relaunched in August 2016, in the U.S., which urged companies to omit the A’s, O’s and B’s from their advertisements and logos. When the campaign was launched in the U.K., 30,000 new donors were the result, and blood donation organizations are hoping for even higher marks from the U.S.

The U.S. blood type distribution is approximately:

  • O-positive: 38 percent
  • O-negative: 7 percent
  • A-positive: 34 percent
  • A-negative: 6 percent
  • B-positive: 9 percent
  • B-negative: 2 percent
  • AB-positive: 3 percent
  • AB-negative: 1 percent

In the past few years, blood donations have declined almost 30%.

Social media gives people an opportunity to voice their opinions, promote content and gain followers. The #MissingType campaign can save lives and can be supported by anyone with a social media account. While awareness campaigns have had negative reactions in the past, this campaign is something to get excited about and share!