Do NOT Hire a Social Media Consultant Before You Ask These 10 Questions

What is a “Social Media Consultant”?  It could be anyone with a personal Facebook Page and a large number of Twitter followers wanting to sell you on their services.

I too often see someone touting this service (for far too high a cost) who have only a Twitter account or not much of a personal or business presence anywhere on the web.  And while these “consultants” might be available the question is are they right for you?  

You ONLY want someone who knows your industry 

and has the maturity to know what NOT to post too.

Once you make the decision to outsource, you’ll want to strongly vet potential consultants and/or agencies.

Here are 10 things Social Media Today recommends you ask or consider:

1. Can they demonstrate a proven track record?

Ask what brands the person or agency has worked with and is currently working with (to ensure they’re not working with a competing brand).

Don’t be shy about asking for references. Ask about a brand they worked with where something didn’t work out – how did they handle that? Were they able to quickly adapt and change course? Do they have the necessary experience in your industry to properly advance your business?

The more they know about your industry, the less of a learning curve there’ll be, and the more resources they’ll bring to your brand. What are their first steps when taking on new clients?

2. Where can I find current and past examples of your work?

Anyone with experience will be readily able to show you a portfolio of work as well as links to initiatives they’ve either run or been involved in creating.

Look for campaigns that have been repeated. You know things are working when you keep doing it.

Have the campaigns led to brand exposure? Sales leads? Will this experience help your market?

3. Who will be handling my account and what background does this person come from?

This is the biggest question – don’t buy into a sales pitch and then get a very junior person.

The background of each person working on behalf of your brand is important. If you’re looking for marketing, PR and/or social media help, you want people that have leveraged those skills working with prior companies.

Do these people have knowledge and experience with trends in these areas?

4. How will we track ROI?

We know that not everything has immediate return that’s trackable when it comes to social media. But you can track most things.

You want to know that this consultant or agency isn’t simply looking to add likes, followers or fans, but is actually able to analyze conversion rates.

Brands that hire an outside agency will want to know that the agency or consultant is consistently monitoring results, and is being held accountable. You’ll want to know there’s a standard monitoring and reporting process in place that works for both you and the agency or consultant.

5. What is their process for reporting?

How often will you meet with them? How often will you be provided status updates or check-ins?

If the agency doesn’t have a method to suggest immediately to you on how they’ll communicate, it might be a red flag that the agency isn’t as connected with their clients as you’ll want to be (or that they haven’t even thought of this yet).

6. What will you do if something goes wrong?

How would you handle a social media crisis? This is the question that will give you real insight into their value.

Marketing campaigns that look great on paper can go wrong in application, no matter how seasoned the consultant is.

How will they react? How do they respond to negative reviews? Tweets? Negative Facebook comments?

7. How do they come up with strategic plans?

How much does writing content figure into their experience and plan for your business? A good consultant will have a workflow that works for them and you.

They’ll know how to integrate social media with PR and traditional media.

They’ll want to talk to your sales team and find out what plans they have and will know how to integrate them into all they are doing.

8. How will content be developed?

And, will you have to approve all of the content written on behalf of your brand? Will it all have to be planned, or will you trust this person or agency to create on-the-fly content for you? Does this person have the experience necessary to understand the nuances of writing content specific for each platform?

Content developed for your brand needs to be likeable and shareable. A consultant or agency should be able to show you examples of previously created content for other clients, as well as their content calendar, or what their content creation process looks like.

9. What does success look like, and how will we measure it?

Brands that are investing in consultants and agencies must have clear goals in mind when starting this process. An agency should be able to help you achieve your KPIs. The consultant or agency you choose will help you establish these KPIs and will (with you) write strategies and tactics to hit those goals.

10. What will this cost?

Outside of the monthly retainer or fee you agree to with the consultant or agency, you want to know that your budget is being kept in mind in all they’re doing.

Thank you http://www.socialmediatoday.com – one of my favorite sources for all things social!

AI Is What’s Next – As Communicators We Are The Front Line

Do a quick Google search for AI and you get a new definition from WikiPedia:  Artificial intelligence is being defined as Intelligent Agents.  Let that sink in.

AI is becoming part of all businesses and part of nearly every part of our lives.  From the way your communications are answered to the way you get to work – everything is changing thanks to artificial intelligence.   Having just attended three different conferences for clients; one on real estate, one on travel and one on school nutrition – I can tell you all three had at least one seminar on how this technology is changing our world.  As one speaker said:  “Ten years ago we did not realize the impact of social media, AI is already here and moving into the marketplace at warp speed.”

As communicators we are the front line.  We need to embrace this technology, understand it deeply and be able to explain how it is impacting our companies and clients to others.

As machines become intelligent there will be great ethical debates and concerns – be ready as you will be needed to shape the conversation.

TED has an excellent playlist about AI – https://www.ted.com/topics/ai

         This New York Times piece offers a summary of where we are: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/magazine/the-great-ai-awakening.html

The post below came from AdAge, here is a direct link to the full article:  http://adage.com/article/agency-news/chief-ai-officer-big-title-media-agencies/309667/?ito=792

Any time an explosive new technology takes hold, agencies have to navigate how it fits into their business. While some may be waiting until it has taken a deeper hold, others, like New York-based Crossmedia, are bullish.

The independent media agency just hired a new executive director of cognitive solutions, who will head up the agency’s work in that area — covering everything from client projects that use AI like chatbots or Alexa skills to other areas of cognitive solutions. The field includes data-driven creative work that might change according to weather, stock fluctuations or time of day, and data science, which encompasses deep learning and pattern detection.

For Karim Sanjabi, who’s taking on the new role, it’s a step agencies are going to have to take. Sanjabi previously started Freestyle Interactive, which was acquired by Carat Interactive in 2003, and most recently was CEO of Robot Stampede, a creative tech company based in San Francisco.

“If agencies don’t make this kind of change right now, and really understand they have to really commit to it, we’re going to have an evolutionary separation,” he said. “We’re going to have two different species of agencies: One that evolved with AI and one that didn’t.”

He said snubbing AI would be akin to an agency turning its back on social media 10 years ago.

Though Sanjabi has taken the top seat at Crossmedia’s new cognitive consulting practice, he wants to handle it in a way where the work bleeds across the entire agency, instead of siloing AI off into a separate business unit. His mandate, he said, is to help the agency sift through the tech options and find ways to improve internal operations and client solutions using these new concepts.

“I want our existing media buyers and planners, I want everyone in the company to think in terms of cognitive solutions,” he said.

“I just want to be a resource to everyone in the agency to help empower them to come up with this kind of stuff. This isn’t a standalone, separate thing — this is the core of the agency. We’re changing the way everyone thinks about this.”

Champions over chiefs
As the possibilities of AI are becoming known, agencies are grappling with the best way to bring in that knowledge.

“The power of this stuff is such that it surpasses traditional agency shiny object syndrome,” said Dave Meeker, a VP who focuses on innovation at Dentsu Aegis Network-owned digital marketing agency Isobar. “We see really the capabilities of what a well-trained or well-designed AI is capable of.”

Isobar doesn’t have a head of AI, but does rely on employees’ expertise to understand how it can help the business until it’s more deeply ingrained. Meeker said employees work on the forefront of new technologies, and once it really catches on, the company starts more formalized training across all employees. The company has an “Isobar Academy,” an online curriculum available to its 6,000 employees.

“Right now, we’re in this age of understanding this stuff. You need people with really specific domain expertise,” he said. “In time, that expertise becomes cooked into a lot of the software and things that we’re doing, to where it’s not like you then have to have an AI person because all of us kind of have the tools at our disposal that do that.”

Whatever the approach, the key to success, say agency vets, is incorporating the new technology in ways that everyone across the agency can master it. Which in turn could ultimately render the need for a chief of AI obsolete.

Tom Kelshaw, director of innovation at GroupM shop Maxus, said agencies have a history of hiring executives to head up areas like data, digital or innovation. The risk there, he said, is that “it tends to become stale.” Kelshaw pointed out that transformational new ideas should be absorbed across all leadership once a topic is understood, instead of letting it live with a sole executive or business unit.

At Maxus, Kelshaw said when it comes to AI and innovation more generally, his company relies on employees to figure out where tools and techniques can deliver operational efficiencies and improve clients’ business.

“It’s about getting champions, rather than chiefs, into the business,” he said.

Too soon?
Some agencies may feel it’s on the early side to make big investments into this area. Though digital agency PMG does a fair amount of work using AI, the agency doesn’t have any defined titles relating to cognitive or machine learning or artificial intelligence.

“Advertisers and brands realize the need for artificial intelligence, but very few are at the point where they’re going to the board and saying, ‘We’re betting everything on artificial intelligence,’ said Dustin Engel, head of analytics and data activation at PMG. “They know the risk of not being part of AI, but they’re not quite willing to bet the farm on that risk.”

He said factors like data quality make some areas of AI still relatively immature. PMG does work with clients on data onboarding, cleansing and standardizing so it will one day be useful in AI applications. It also uses AI when it come to data science and data innovation.

Engel added that AI appears to be polarizing with advertisers.

“Some are excited about it but don’t have clear use cases. Some are skeptical of the hype of AI being the business disruption panacea. Some are cautiously optimistic — stressing cautiously. So it may be early for advertisers as opposed to the agencies,” he wrote in an email. “As for PMG, we not only see AI possibilities in our client media programs but also in managing the operational complexity of our fast-growing business.”

So what is your company name?? Tips for outdoor event success.

Expert tips for promoting your company at an outdoor event

Attending outdoor events is an exciting opportunity to get your name out there, attract new customers and create a buzz around your business. So, when it comes to designing your products – whether it’s signs, banners, posters or giveaways – it stands to reason that you’ll want to get them just right.
There is no more important place to have your name and logo everywhere … consider that you are not in context, the customer may have never heard of you and you only have a second to help them remember you for their next purchase.
Best tip:  Consider a fun stand-up sign that guests can pose in front of for Facebook or other social media channels – be sure it has your web address and a fun headline – and be certain when they stand in front of it your information is just above their heads.
One of my pet peeves – booths who only have their name on the front of their table.  The moment a customer steps up to your table you have to keep the name recognition going – on the top of the table, on the wall behind you – on your product and on you!  Keep it memorable:  Name, logo, website, physical location and telephone number!  You might suggest your customers take out their cell phone and take a photo of your signage.

These tips come from Vista Print – one of my go-to printers, with a great guarantee too.  

Picture the scene

A helpful first step is to get a feel for the event you’re planning to attend – what the space will be like and how other competing businesses are likely to present themselves. Try looking up images of the event if it’s run before, or if it’s a new event, pay a visit to the location and think about how you’ll need to stand out. Will you be on a street or in a more natural outdoor setting? How many other stands or stalls are there likely to be? The more you can picture the scene, the better prepared you’ll be to create the right presence for your business.

Simple tips for looking professional

  • Embrace space
    When you have space to play with, it can be tempting to fill it with text and images just because you can! But you could also do yourself a disservice. Remember that people have many distractions at events so you need to compete for their attention – the best way to do this is to give them clear, minimal information that’s easy to scan and take in.
  • Be hierarchical
    You’ll want to grab people’s attention and quickly get your message across. The way to achieve this through design is by creating a clear hierarchy of information, varying the size of your copy by importance so visitors know where to look. For example, key pieces of information such as your strapline, main offering and phone number should be more prominent. Also, be strict with yourself when deciding what details to include – focus on what customers want to know and make it easily scannable, using bullet lists where needed.
  • Use fewer fonts
    There are so many fonts and typefaces to choose from but when it comes to creating a professional look, less is definitely more. When attending an outdoor event, you’ll want to stand out and create a clean, consistent look. So, when it comes to fonts, stick to one or two maximum.
  • Limit your colors
    The same applies to your color palette. Sticking to just a few colors will help create a stronger sense of identity for your business. Choose the main color from your logo as the “lead”, with no more than one or two to complement it. Also, consider the space you’ll be in – will there be buildings or parkland in the background? If green is your main color but you’re going to be surrounded by trees, you might want to use a white background to create contrast so you’ll stand out.
  • Choose high resolution imagery
    If you’re going to include photos on any of your products – especially if you’re going to print them at a large size, it’s essential that they are 300 dpi (dots per inch) resolution. Don’t stretch or enlarge images to fill a space as this will make them appear pixelated, grainy and of poor quality – which isn’t the look you want for your business.
Give each product a ‘role’

Remember that when you attend an outdoor event, you’re putting your business on show – with you and your team playing the leading role. So, think about how the different products you take can be your supporting ‘cast’, acting as useful props to help you make the strongest impact, both on the day and later as prospects you meet turn into customers.

  • Banners for getting noticed
    Large banners should be clean and simple to have maximum impact. Treat them as flags rather than advertisements, making your presence known and confidently inviting people in. Your name and logo should suffice. Once people come closer, you can let your other products do the work.
  • Posters to draw people in
    Hopefully your booth will be buzzing with people – the challenge is being able to attend to every one of them. Posters can help entice and ‘warm up’ visitors while they’re waiting to speak to you or try products. Keep them simple with a clear message. Remember you’ll want people to read them from a few meters away, so keep this in mind when choosing your font sizes.
  • Flyers to create awareness
    Flyers are great for handing out to invite people to your booth or stall, or to visit your store on another day. You’ll probably want to include some details about your products and services – but again, don’t overload them with info as it’s important they stand out amongst the other flyers people are likely to pick up.
  • Imprinted shirts and hats for everyone working!
  • Business cards for keeping you in mind
    It goes without saying that you should take plenty of business cards to any event, both for handing to customers you speak to, as well as keeping on display for passersby. Make sure your business card design is up to date and matches with the other products you’ll have with you for a consistent, professional look.
Outdoor events offer so many opportunities for your business. With a little preparation in advance and by following these expert design tips, you’ll be all set to step out with confidence.
Make sure to put multiple outdoor events on your marketing calendar to be sure you are maximizing opportunities to meet new customers.

More Events To Build Your Brand? Yes Please!

New Study Shows Brands Expect to Invest More in Events

The research surveyed more than 1,000 marketing professionals across the globe for insights on budget, technology, and more.

Looking for a top notch dose of what’s new, cool and works?  subscribe to Biz Bash at bizbash.com and you will find event nirvana!  Photos in this post are from a global tourism summit recently produced by Bennett & Company.  From chocolate cake for breakfast to a live social media wall it was the kind of brand building experience that accelerates awareness and is worth every minute of planning.

Brand experiences—from trade shows and sponsorships to virtual- or augmented-reality experiences and pop-ups—are an essential part of the marketing mix, and one in three chief marketing officers expect to spend as much as 50 percent of their budget on such experiences, according to new research from Freeman.

The 2017 Freeman Global Brand Experience Study, which the company commissioned from research firm SSI, surveyed more than 1,000 marketing professionals from North America, Asia, and Western Europe. Released Tuesday, the research shares insights on how marketing professionals view events and experiences, budget, digital and technology integration, and more.

According to Freeman, the results show that “more than nine out of 10 of them agree that brand experiences deliver stronger face-to-face interactions and more compelling brand engagements.”

As a provider of brand experiences, Freeman’s business is built on creating these types of events, and the company believes in their effectiveness, but it commissioned the study because “we wanted to validate that externally,” said Chris Cavanaugh, Executive Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at Freeman.

“Experiences, when integrated with the marketing mix, build brand affinity, bringing people into the tunnel and dimensionalizing the brands,” Cavanaugh said.

While marketing professionals value experiences and plan to invest more in them in the next three to five years, the research showed that they have yet to make the transition. The top three ways brands are connecting with their audiences are their website, social media, and email marketing.

As brands look to invest in experiences, Cavanaugh said they should plan “highly personal, in-real-life experiences.”

The survey also asked about technology. It found that brands involved in more events—20 or more a year—are more likely to integrate technology into their experiences. Among this group, nearly 30 percent use touch-screen technology, 21 percent use location-mapping or beacons, 16 percent use virtual reality, and 15 percent have added gamification elements to events.

“These are highly engaged people who want to lean into events,” Cavanaugh said.

VISUAL CONTENT MARKETING – When Words Are Secondary

Sometimes words are secondary …

Take a look at more visuals below which tell the story of Visual Content Marketing – and ask yourself if your video, photography and graphics budget might need an increase?

General Visual Content Stats

1) Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.

2) When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of that information three days later. However, if a relevant image is paired with that same information, people retained 65% of the information three days later.

3) 46% of marketers say photography is critical to their current marketing and storytelling strategies.

4) 34% of marketers selected visual assets as their most important content, behind blogging (45%) and before videos (19%).

5) 65% of senior marketing executives believe that visual assets (photos, video, illustrations and infographics) are core to how their brand story is communicated.

6) Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images.

relevant-images-stat.png

Image Credit: QuickSprout

7) Only 27% of marketers have a process in place to aggregate, organize, and manage the visual assets being used across their marketing teams. Tweet this stat! (Source)

8) 39% of marketers believe that more of their budget should be allocated to the acquisition or creation of compelling visual assets. Tweet this stat! (Source)

9) 73% of content creators plan to prioritize creating more engaging content in 2016, and 55% plan to prioritize creating visual content. Tweet this stat!(Source)

b2c-content-priorities.png

Image Credit: Content Marketing Institute

Video Stats

10) 51.9% of marketing professionals worldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.

11) Shoppers who view video are 1.81X more likely to purchase than non-viewers.

12) Using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65% and reduces unsubscribes by 26%.

13) Midway through 2015, mobile video plays exceeded 44% — up 74% from 2014 and up a whopping 844% since 2012.

rise-of-mobile-video-2015.png

Image Credit: Ooyala

14) Between April 2015 and November 2015, the amount of average daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion video views per day to 8 billion.

15) In July 2015, Periscope users were watching 40 years’ worth of videos every day.

periscope-time-watched-per-day.jpg

Image Credit: FastCompany

16) In Q2 of 2015, mobile phones (34%) and tablets (15%) combined for 49% of video ad impressions — up from 38% in Q1 of 2015. Publishers saw PC impressions drop from 62% to 50% in the previous quarter. 

17) Syndacast predicts 74% of all internet traffic in 2017 will be video.

percentage-of-internet-traffic-video.jpg

Image Credit: Syndacast

Big thanks for these 17 tips in 2017 to http://www.hubspot.com!

Learn Something Good From United Airlines’ Very Bad Reaction

Another case of the big guy blaming someone else – and losing the opportunity to do something good.  Not only was the incident of the man being dragged off the plane horrific to see and hear, but the response from the president of United was nearly as bad.  Have these people learned nothing about kindness or corporate responsibility?

My social media is still full of reactions to this; none of them good.

United also did not apologize, did not take responsibility, and did not demonstrate empathy in either the leggings or the viral video case, as it did with the system outage. Further, the company used industry terms like “Contract of Carriage,” “overbooked,” and “re-accommodate” instead of talking like their passengers would talk.

These stories are a reminder to all brands that offline experiences can quickly come online, and if brands don’t get the offline experience right, they will suffer the consequences in social media. Everyone with a smartphone can snap a photo of their poor experience and post it to Facebook or Twitter in mere moments – and they’re doing so, at an alarming rate for brands.  When this happens, friends and followers are witnesses to the experience and often rally to support those who feel affronted.

Here is a link to an excellent review of this situation on Social Media Today… take a few minutes and let’s be the professionals who stand up for what is right.

http://www.socialmediatoday.com/smt-influencer/uniteds-social-media-nightmare-what-went-wrong