Archive for the ‘Photos’ Category

5 Ways to Legitimately Increase Your Twitter Followers

By John Foley, Jr., Chief Executive/Marketing Officer at Grow Socially

Twitter can be a mighty tool in your social media arsenal. You can reach a specialized audience with carefully constructed tweets, relevant links, and engaging material. Of course, you can maximize the effect of those efforts by having a solid number of followers.

Here are five quick ways you can legitimately increase your Twitter following:

  1. Follow other people. Unless you’re a celebrity, there may not be hordes of people taking the time to find and follow you on Twitter each day. Thus, you need to engage other people by following them. Find users with a similar industry background who would be interested in the content that you’re sharing.
  2. Retweet. Another way to get attention on Twitter is to put in the time and effort to retweet great content. Retweeting can increase engagement and awareness. Also, it may even flatter the original tweeter! Making someone feel important is normally a good thing.
  3. Be interesting. People see thousands of marketing messages each day. How can you make yours stand out? One way to do this is to provide a variety of content. This applies to the topics you tweet about and the format as well. Don’t be afraid to share some personal items (favorite bands, sports news, etc.) Also, don’t simply post links to articles in every tweet! By sprinkling in photos, videos, and conversations, your Twitter profile will become more attractive to others.
  4. Participate in hashtags. When it comes to Twitter, hashtags can be a great way to group people around a certain event or topic. Find ones that are relevant to your industry and take the time to participate in them.
  5. Fill out your bio. Make sure your biography is filled with pertinent information that your prospects and customers may be searching for. And as things in your industry change, make sure your bio adjusts with them.

6 Reasons Social Media Campaigns Should Include Flickr

By Emily Johnson, Media Relations Specialist at Walker Sands Communications

The photo-sharing site Flickr is a valuable but often overlooked social media platform. Here are six reasons why marketers and communications professionals should add Flickr to their campaigns:

  1. People are visual. With Flickr, you’re able to tell a story in a way you can’t through other mediums. Let’s face it—people like to look at pictures. Plus, the change of scenery images offer is nice. We stare at text all day; mix it up to create more ways to engage with and inform your audience.
  2. You can share your photo stream. The Flickr community is not the only place where people can see the photos you post to the site. Flickr makes it easy to share photos across all social media platforms.
  3. It’s good for searches. The tags you assign to your photos are used in search, allowing people with your interests to more easily find you, enabling your audience to grow beyond those who already know about your brand.
  4. Higher picture quality is important. Photo quality is much higher on Flickr than any other social media platform. On Flickr, you will have fewer grainy images, and your presentations will be much sharper.
  5. Creative commons provides protection. Flickr offers a safe platform for images via creative commons, which means you pick the stringency of your copyright. This feature can give you peace of mind that others aren’t using (or misusing) photos without your permission, which is something you don’t always get with other social media platforms.
  6. You can start discussions. Flickr allows you to create groups and comments, just like all other social platforms. Although the focus is photographs and videos, people are still interacting with each other and could be interacting around images and videos of your brand or client.

So the next time you plan a social media marketing campaign, don’t forget the value that Flickr can bring!

Wow, What a Story!

By Adam Karwoski, Founder of Social Brand U

Isn’t social media cool? Since I graduated college in 1992, I’ve been involved with two of the biggest fundamental shifts in communications in our history: mobile phones and social media. I started selling cellular phones in 1994 for BellSouth Mobility and just left that industry last summer. I started dabbling in social media since that time, and I’ve uncovered a new-found passion. Long story short, six months later, I’ve started my own social media consulting company. (I think that’s kind of cool, too. Owning your own business is part of the American dream, right?)

I began to put pen to paper to find out what really jazzed me about social media. What’s the catch? In my last blog post, I talked about a friend of mine who in 2009 asked me if I was on Facebook, and I said, “No, I’m not 16 years old.” Little does he know that I remember that comment to this day.

Here are the reasons why I think social media is cool and why people love it, companies love it, and our culture loves it:

  • I love technology, and I think we all do. Social media is a new kind of technology. In a lot of ways, it’s a lot like cellular technology back in the day. You couldn’t see the voice transmissions of a cell call, but making a call on a Motorola flip phone was just “cool.” Social media is real-time communication on a speakerphone with the world, where everyone or just a few loved ones can see talk, write, send videos, share photos, write articles, find jobs, get advice, or listen to what their favorite movie star or football player has to say. Technology is awesome, and social media has taken it to a new level.
  • Our entire existence is based on relationships. No matter where we are or what we’re doing, chances are we’re communicating constantly and building relationships. A hundred years ago, it was around a campfire in the wilderness. Fifty years ago, it was in a mother’s home over tea and Tupperware. Today, it’s online and on our smartphones almost every hour of every day. There are plenty of downsides to social media, but that’s for someone else to write about. I love people, I love building relationships with people, and I love to learn from other people. Social media allows me to do all three all the time—and that’s cool.
  • The best parts of social media are the stories; e.g., your story. Everyone has a story to tell. And I would argue that almost everyone has a compelling story to tell. If the volume of books, articles, and blogs are any indication of how many of us have a story to tell, then it makes complete sense to me why social media has exploded in recent years and will continue to evolve, expand, and become even more popular. Small business owners are learning that social media allows them to listen to their customers’ “stories” while allowing them to share their own. That conversation is taking place every day on social media.
  • Stories draw people in. There’s power in telling stories. Look no further than Hollywood (Mark Zuckerberg has a cool story to tell). And social media success stories are everywhere, especially in business. Many small businesses understand social media and use it quite effectively because they haven’t forgotten how to tell their stories, which helps build relationships with their customers. But it requires you to be transparent and genuine. That builds trust. Trust with your customers builds your business. And whether it’s an idea, a product, or a vision, people buy from who they know, like, and trust.

Technology, relationships, and stories. Those are the reasons why social media has exploded. What’s your story? Whatever it is, share it and start a conversation. You will build relationships with others that will inspire, teach, encourage, and “wow” you.

Social Media and the News

By John Foley, Jr., Chief Executive/Marketing Officer at Grow Socially

Just 140 characters—140 strikes on the keyboard by thousands of people in a few-hour span was the culmination of one of the biggest news stories of this generation. When Osama bin Laden was killed, Twitter, among other social media sites, became the catalyst for a national frenzy.

“Twitter says bin Laden’s death generated the highest sustained rate of tweets ever,” according to an NPR release. “From 10:45 p.m. on Sunday to 2:20 a.m. on Monday, users pecked out an average of 3,000 tweets per second, according to Twitter. The traffic peaked at 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, minutes before the President’s televised briefing, with 5,106 tweets per second.”

“Twitter users are being credited with breaking the news,” said NPR, “thanks in part to a man in Abbottabad, Pakistan, who tweeted the details of the U.S. raid on bin Laden’s compound as they unfolded near his home (he was prompted by the sound of helicopters and gunfire but hadn’t known the reason for the commotion). Within moments, the man gained 14,000 followers.”

“If anyone isn’t a believer in Twitter as an amazingly powerful news vehicle, last night should convert you,” tweeted Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post’s political website, “The Fix,” the day after bin Laden’s death.

Also consider the recent tragedy in Joplin, Missouri. The tornado-torn town has been a hotbed for social media coverage. There have been videos uploaded to YouTube chronicling the destruction. And Flickr has seen an influx of photos from the natural disaster.

Facebook has also been a critical forum in Missouri. Jen Lee Reeves of KOMU radio wrote on MediaShift about the impact her station’s Facebook page has been having in the tornado’s wake. “My newsroom’s normally local-focused Facebook page quickly became a clearinghouse for updates about how mid-Missouri could help the tornado-ravaged community,” said Reeves. “Fans are using the page now to share news, photos, videos, information on relief efforts, and in general to connect with each other in a time of crisis.”

The tornadoes in Western Massachusetts also were chronicled in social media. Photos and videos were uploaded simultaneously as the area was hit with the unfamiliar and unforgiving weather.

Social media is tremendously successful when used as a reactive tool to breaking news stories. It has also become a consistent political podium, always open for announcements for anyone who feels like they have something to say. For example, Newt Gingrich announced his candidacy for the 2012 Presidential race on Facebook and Twitter, and he also released a web video. Even more recently, Mitt Romney released a YouTube video explaining his intentions to run for President, one week after tweeting a desire to run again.

Social media’s legitimacy is skyrocketing. Internationally relevant political news has been broken by social media, and one can’t help but take notice.

The gravity of these stories is immense. We condense them into a Facebook status or a 140-character tweet. This does not diminish the importance of the events; rather it amplifies it. We have taken our social networks and made them the fastest possible avenue for our news.

The Online Newsroom: The Factory that Runs a Brand’s Content Engine

By Ed Lallo, Principal at Newsroom Ink

Google your company’s name and see what comes up. Do the stories at the top of the search results reflect the business you’re running? If not, why not? Maybe it’s because your company has a better story to tell than is currently being told.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google have changed the playing field for integrated marketing communications. What has not changed is the need for companies, organizations, and even politicians to communicate their stories from a unique perspective that only they can offer.

Social-integrated marketing communications offers an ever-increasing amount of tools to connect with targeted markets, but what has been lacking is a centralized content engine that drives conversation and integrates the elements of the promotional mix of advertising, public relations, direct marketing, and sales.

The online newsroom is the factory that runs a brand’s content engine. It’s the place to address brand issues, public relations, crisis management, marketing, and communications—all aligned with the CEO’s agenda. It’s the one place that consumers, vendors, and employees—as well as local, national, and international media—can obtain stories, photos, and videos told from your unique perspective, 24 hours per day.

But an online newsroom can be much more than just a newsroom. It can become the “landing site” for the social media efforts of companies, organizations, and political campaigns. The online newsroom translates your corporate agenda into a compelling story that the press, your customers, employees, vendors, and stakeholders want to read, learn more about, believe in, and contribute to on a regular basis. Using a proven model that delivers timely and influential news, the newsroom becomes an indispensable tool for a brand’s communications program.

A recent study of online newsrooms by the Corporate Executive Board—a member network of the world’s leading executives that spans more than 50 countries and represents more than 85% of Fortune 500 corporations—showed online newsrooms to be the top channel for disseminating information and effectively telling a company’s story.

Dynamic online newsrooms are not about pushing the company agenda from the top down, but instead letting the voices of others tell your story in a way that increases the credibility of your company’s brand. This “corporate journalism” style adds balance and influence and gives your brand a unique distinction.

With cutbacks in budgets, staff, and resources, print, broadcast, and digital media have turned to online newsrooms to obtain information and story ideas. According to the 2009 Journalist Survey on Media Relations Practices conducted by online public relations site Bulldog Reporter, “Public relations practitioners should shift their energies to online newsrooms, blogs, and social media,” and “journalists’ usage of these technologies continues to increase.”

Most importantly, online newsroom results are measurable. A recent study for the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board by Cision, a leading media tracking firm, found that for a three-month period, media exposure of Louisiana had reached an estimated audience of more than 3.4 billion in the United States. The Board used the online newsroom as the content engine, supported by traditional PR, Twitter, and Facebook.

Turning the online newsroom into a landing site for social media creates a centralized place to openly engage audiences, tell your brand’s many stories, and paint a picture of the uniqueness of your organization. It is like inviting someone into your house so they can see everything at a glance, and at the same time, putting the CEO’s agenda in the middle of the news.

Social Media Marketing in a Crisis: VISIT FLORIDA and the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

By Will Seccombe, Chief Marketing Officer at VISIT FLORIDA

The Challenge

On April 20, 2010, the BP/Transocean Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank, resulting in a massive offshore oil spill. The spill became the top news story of the summer, and the live video feed of oil gushing from the failed “blowout preventer” was a real-time, persistent reminder of the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history. In fact, 99 percent of Americans were following the story of the spill, 54 percent were following it closely, and virtually everyone was talking about it.

The stakes were high for the Florida tourism industry. Every year, 80 million people visit the Sunshine State, and more than 25 percent of those visitors choose Florida because of the 825 miles of beautiful beaches. Those visitors spend more than $60 billion and support nearly one million Florida jobs, making tourism the largest industry in the state.

As the official tourism marketing organization for the State of Florida, VISIT FLORIDA had managed hurricanes and “red tides” before, but the uncertainty surrounding this situation was unprecedented. How and where would the state’s coastline be affected? How do you balance the interests of directly impacted areas with unaffected areas fighting misperceptions? How do you keep visitors informed and continue to encourage travelers to visit the state? How can a marketing company be a trusted source of information in a time of crisis?

The Response

VISIT FLORIDA’s response to the oil spill focused on open, transparent, and proactive communication to provide consumers and stakeholders with easy access to credible local information to help them make informed decisions based on facts—not misinformation or confusion. An aggressive integrated communication program was launched on April 30 in coordination with the activation of the state Emergency Operations Center (EOC). (A complete timeline of VISIT FLORIDA’s response to the crisis depicts exactly what occured and when.)

The first step in addressing the spill was the activation of a Florida Travel Update on VISITFLORIDA.com, with daily updates on the status of Florida’s coastline from the EOC, as well as links to official information and FAQs from the Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Health, and the Department of Agriculture.

As the centerpiece and call to action for all crisis communications, VISIT FLORIDA developed and launched a new digital platform, Florida Live. Florida Live is a unique combination of content from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and live Web cams that allowed travelers to see with their own eyes that, despite the massive media coverage, Florida was in fact open for business.

VISIT FLORIDA also activated Floridians from around the state to counter the negative images spewing from the oil spill. Residents were encouraged to upload real-time photos of their favorite beaches to Facebook, and more than 2,000 time-stamped photos were then featured in real time on Florida Live.

To communicate the scale of the state’s tourism product and address the hyper-local nature of the crisis, VISIT FLORIDA added Twitter feeds to the Florida Live site from local convention and visitor bureaus with up-to-the minute information on the status of their beach communities. The site also linked to live Web cams from around the state, daily fishing reports, daily videos, daily photos, blogs, and live weather reports.

Additionally, VISIT FLORIDA’s official corporate blog, Sunshine Matters, served as a hub of stakeholder communications to coordinate, inform, and align the tourism industry and to share industry resources.

The Results

The marketing response was both visible and credible:

  • 44 percent of Americans were aware of VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts.
  • 49 percent attributed the marketing efforts to VISIT FLORIDA by name.
  • 73 percent said they trust VISIT FLORIDA.
  • Traffic to VISITFLORIDA.com increased 46 percent in June and 16 percent in July versus the same periods in 2009.
  • People who visited the Web site were 31 percent more likely to visit Florida before Labor Day.
  • Most importantly, total visits to the state increased by 3.4 percent in the second quarter (in the heat of the oil spill crisis) versus the same quarter in 2009.

Florida Live has since been recognized as a best practice in crisis communications, primarily because the Florida tourism industry embraced it, the media endorsed it, and consumers trusted it.