Moderating Social Media Comments

Comment keyboard key. Finger

Moderating comments is thought of as a bit of an art form in the social media world.  How to best communicate with the irate customer or dissatisfied user?  I would encourage you to look back at my blog on reputation management for a list of key components to a social media crisis plan because many of those points are also relevant when moderating comments, and I’m not just talking about the negative ones.

I think the best way to understand how to moderate comments, is to look at what other brands are doing.  Just go on Twitter and Facebook and read through a company’s few posts.  You’ll, inevitably find some negative comments and their responses.  Some good industries to look at for this are airlines; two of my favorite are KLM and JetBlue.  Hotel chains and restaurants are good companies to look at, too.  It’s like many thing in social media: learn from what your competition is doing and try to do it better.

One thing to think about when moderating comments:  What you say and do online when addressing a user’s comments is as much for those folks reading it as it is for the person who wrote it.  Other customers will see how you respond to others, and this will have an effect on how they view your brand.  So, even if you are in a bad situation with no hope of helping or bringing understanding to the complainer, you can still help your brand by providing clear, calm words that instill confidence in the service you’re providing, as an arm of the customer service, for the brand.

So, now let’s take a look at a couple of practical examples of moderating comments.  How should we moderate the following audience/customer comments if left on your organization’s Facebook page?

To a hotel:
“I am disgusted about the state of your restaurant on 1467 Justin Kings Way. Empty tables weren’t cleared and full of remains of meals. It makes me wonder what the state of your kitchen is?!!! Gross.”

Here is one way to respond:
“Hi, <insert first name here>.  Thanks so much for reaching out to us and letting us know about this situation.  What you’ve described is not up to our standards, and I’ve contacted the manager at that location to make sure he looks into it right away.  If there’s anything else you’d like to share with us about your dining experience, please follow this link to a private chat: <insert link to customer feedback chat here>.  We appreciate your feedback and look forward to having another opportunity to raise our level of service with you. Thank you. <am>”

What did here with my response:

  • I let her know I heard her.
  • I used a conversational and calm voice.
  • I did not apologize, because I don’t know all of the facts, but…
  • I let her know it is being looked into.
  • I took the conversation out of the public view.  This is especially important if there are more bad details for her to share.  We would want to know about them, so they can be addressed, but not have them posted on Facebook.
  • I reassured her that we would do better next time.
  • I signed the post with my initials, letting her know she’s dealing with a real, trackable person.  This can help establish or build some trust with the complaining customer.

Now, a negative comment doesn’t mean that a customer won’t come back.  In fact, if that comment is handled well and the customer feels heard, you may end up with an even stronger brand loyalty from that customer.  However, sometimes, there is nothing you can say or do that will take away a customer’s negative opinion.  In those cases, it is even more important that you remain calm and take take the conversation off of social media, into a private conversation elsewhere.

Now, let’s look at an example of a comment made to a mainstream news network: 

“Your reporting on the Middle East is biased in the extreme. You gave almost all your air time to spokespeople for the Israelis last night and there was no right to reply for the Palestinians. The conflict upsets me so much and your reporting of it, saddens me even more and makes me f**king furious.”

(We will assume the reporting was balanced, with equal time to both sides.)

Here is one way to respond:

“Hi, <insert first name here>.  Covering the Middle East is a challenging thing, with all of the heightened emotions connected with this subject, but we at <insert channel ID here> always strive for excellence in our coverage with unbiased reporting.  Looking back last night’s report, the coverage did give equal time to both sides.  However, we will continue to listen to the feedback of our viewers to help us improve.  We appreciate you taking the time to share your views with us.<am>”

Why I responded the way I did:

  • You’ll notice I did not delete the comment due to the profanity.  I’ll talk more about that in a moment.
  • I recognized the emotion involved in his response due to the sensitive subject matter.
  • I corrected, gently, his misstatement about biased, unequal coverage.  If there are fact involved that are misstated, it is (usually) right and important to correct them.
  • I let him know we are open to all feedback — even criticism — which helps the brand look more human.
  • I thanked him.  Remember, social media is made for conversations.  Being able to respond to negative comments without loosing your head, shows brand strength.

Why didn’t I delete the comment due to the profanity, even though it was, essentially bleeped-out?  Personally, I hate any use of all profanity, but in this case, the comment is made on Facebook.  I think responding on Facebook is actually different than doing something like moderating a comment on your own discussion board or blog, and it’s important to try to not be too heavy-handed in such a public setting.  Also, the profanity needs to be looked at in context, believe it or not.  Is it threatening?  No.  Is it attacking?  No.  The user is just REALLY frustrated.  He is creating his own brand for himself for other users to see in using the profanity.  When you, as the moderator, respond with understanding and kindness — especially in the face of a comment that contains profanity — you create an opportunity to elevate your brand to the other readers.

What do you think?  Would you have left the profanity, or deleted it?  Do you consider Facebook and other social media sites to be different than your own personal blog or website discussion boards?  Should there be different standards when moderating?

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Reputation Management

Reputation management is a tricky thing in today’s social media landscape.  While the days of rogue tweets being sent out by an employee seem to be much fewer than in previous years, the power of social media when it comes to a brand’s reputation is huge.

The best thing a brand can do to be prepared for times of crisis is to have a solid plan in place.  Having strategies in hand whether you’re dealing with a disgruntled customer or employee, or are on the wrong side of a trending hashtag, are crucial if you want to make the best of of a bad situation.

Key components to a social media crisis plan are:

  • Reply swiftly.
    • People don’t just want a quick reply, they expect one.  Not replying quickly is equated to not caring.
  • Acknowledge you are listening.
    • Even if you’re in a holding position, let them know they’ve been heard.
  • Be honest about your mistakes.
    • Did you make a mistake?  If so, apologize.
  • Be human.
  • Write like you would talk to them if they were in the same room with you.
    • “I’m sorry… “ “I know how you must feel..” “We will work to make sure this will never happen again…”
  • Explain why it happened, and explain your course of action.
    • What will you do, and what have you already put in place to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  • Follow up afterwards
    • This isn’t always done, but following up after the crisis has ended is an added layer of customer care.

Unfortunately, the Seattle Seahawks had such an occasion to test out their social media crisis plan on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  After their incredible comeback win against the Green Bay Packers in overtime of the NFC championship game, the Seattle Seahawks posted a photo of their inspirational quarterback, Russell Wilson, as an MLK Day tribute on Twitter.

Here is a copy of the tweet:

They later deleted the tweet.

Many folks responded very negatively on social media, expressing negative comments that the Seahawks would compare winning a football game to the fight for civil rights.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 15.07.35

This was just one of many, many tweets admonishing the Seattle Seahawks for what many believed was a poor choice of a MLK Day tie-in.

The Seahawks then issued this apology:

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 15.05.24

After which there were more mixed comments.

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 15.05.11

So, let’s evaluate their response, based on the key components listed above.

  • Reply swiftly.
    • The Seahawks posted the initial tweet at 2:45 and by 4:28 had issued their apology.
  • Acknowledge you are listening.
    • Deleting the tweet and issuing the apology also does this.
  • Be honest about your mistakes.
    • They even used the words “We apologize.”
  • Be human.
    • The Seahawks were clear that they did not intend to make the comparison to civil rights.
  • Write like you would talk to them if they were in the same room with you.
    • They didn’t sound detached; they used a tone that was sincere. (and I’m a Packers fan!)
  • Explain why it happened, and explain your course of action.
    • Again, they said they didn’t intend to make the comparison of a football game to civil rights.
  • Follow up afterwards
    • I didn’t find any follow up.  I don’t think it was necessary in this case because the offended party wasn’t just one person.  To have followed up after their apology may have reminded folks of their mistake after the crisis had dies down.

Based on their reaction, the Seahawks clearly had a plan in place to deal with a social media crisis, or, at the very least, had a team in place to deal with the crisis when it happened.

What do you think?  Did the Seahawks do the right thing?  Would you have responded differently?

I Trust Mike Rowe

Questions about the Trust

What is trust, exactly? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines trust as, “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.” It then goes on further to say trust is “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something one in which confidence is placed; dependence on something future or contingent.” I think this is why the notion of trust on social media is such a hard thing to define.  In terms of trusting an individual online, it’s hard to feel those feelings for people you haven’t spent time with.  So how do we determine whom to trust online?

Steve Rayson, in an article on Social Media Today takes a look at the equation authors Chris Brogan and Julien Smith argue for in their book “Trust Agents.” They say the formula for trust is:

Influence + Reputation = Trust

Rayson gives his reasons for a new formula:

social media trust formula-white-160

(Authority x Helpfulness x Intimacy) / Self-Promotion = Trust

I didn’t feel like their formulas represented why I trust people and companies on social media, so I tried to rewrite the formula myself.  Not liking the inclusion of self-promotion, I scrapped it.  Some of my favorite personalities online self-promote, and unless it’s the only thing a person does, it doesn’t bother me.  In fact, if it weren’t for their self-promotion I’d probably never have heard about them in the first place!  Then I replaced Authority with Credibility, Helpfulness with being Interesting, and Intimacy with Honesty.  This is what I came up with:

Credibility + Interesting + Honesty = Trust

Now, I wasn’t really good at math in high school, so I tend to feel like formulas like these are pretty good guides, but they can’t always explain why we trust who we do online.  I started to ponder, who do I trust on social media, and why?

I remembered a post I had read on Facebook from television personality, Mike Rowe.  It was about a liquor store owner who posted photos of shoplifters he’d caught on camera in his store as a deterrent to others.  Here’s the post.

Photo from Mike Rowe’s Facebook page

Now, I don’t agree with everything he says, I really don’t like any use of profanity, and I don’t follow him on social media, but whenever I’ve seen his statuses shared on Facebook or read an article about something he’d written there, I’ve always appreciated his voice.  I like that he’s real.  Can there be a formula for that?

From a business/marketing standpoint, his Twitter profile seems to be purely re-posts of his Facebook content, which isn’t an effective use of that platform.  But from a trust standpoint, I don’t care.  When he posts something on Facebook that is newsworthy, I read it, and I appreciate it.  His down-to-earth “everyman” persona on Facebook has become a bit of an anomaly to me.  He’s controversial, but he’s not mean.  I like that he comments on hot-topics and points out things that rub him the wrong way in our politically-correct society.  I find it refreshing from a celebrity, and that has led to my trust.   He is honest and entertaining.   As a result, I find myself interested in his television projects and foundation more.  So, my re-written equation actually applies.

Credibility + Interesting + Honesty = Trust

But the real equation that matters is:

My Trust = My Support

If I trust you online, I’ll support you.  I’ll watch your movies or television shows or buy your book.  I may even give to your favorite cause, if it lines up with my values.  The point is, trust is a valuable thing to gain on social media.

I’d like to hear from you!  What do you think of my formula?  Have you ever trusted someone on social media that you find it hard to explain why?

Terms and Conditions Do Apply

Handwritten Underlined Terms and Conditions Texts

Have you read the writing on the wall?  How about the Terms and Conditions for your favorite social media sites?  Well, whether you’ve read them or not, if you’ve checked that “accept” button and are using the site, they apply to you.

I think most of us feel about website Terms and Conditions the way that comic, Eddie Izzard, describes in this video.

For the purpose of learning more about social media sites’ Ts & Cs, I read through Facebook’s and Twitter’s and some others, as well.  I’ll be taking a closer look at the User Agreement for LinkedIn.  I chose this document out of all of the ones I read through, because I felt it took the most balanced approach.

First of all, I really like the format. LinkedIn tries to communicate to the user in easy-to-digest bites of information and organizes it with a sidebar, whose only purpose is to help explain what they’ll be covering in each section.  If you took a look at Facebook’s  or Twitter’s Ts & Cs, you know that that is not always the case.

LinkedIn Terms and ConditionsI also like how LinkedIn seems to be trying to use real conversational language in their Ts & Cs whenever possible.  From an ethical perspective, this is important because I think it shows that the company is making its best effort to make sure their Ts & Cs are not just binding, but understood.  The inclusion of this video at the top of the page also helps communicate that to their users.

In terms of safeguards, LinkedIn is very clear that, “When you share information, others can see, copy and use that information.”  They also make it very clear in their Disclaimer and Limit of Liability that they are not liable for any damages, loss of services, opportunities, reputation, data, profits or revenues related to their services.  Here’s where is gets tricky.  After having read through so many of these Ts & Cs, I now look at them as the contracts that they are.  Companies, like LinkedIn, should be allowed to protect themselves by making statements like these in their Ts & Cs.  Otherwise, they’d never be able to operate.

Terms and Conditions wordle

It’s certainly a balancing act that sites like LinkedIn are doing in their Ts & Cs.  For the most part, I think LinkedIn is doing a great job of both protecting themselves while explaining to their users the best way to conduct their business on their site.

It’s true.  Their List of user “Do’s” is much shorter than the “Don’t,” but as I read through them, I felt that they are reasonable, which is more than I can say for many others!

So, read the Ts & Cs of the sites you are a part of.  Are there any that stick out to you as being outrageous?  Which social site do you think has the best Ts & Cs?

My Introduction to Social Media Ethics

holding hands

Greetings!  Thank you for visiting my blog.  My name is AnnMarie.   I’m a wife, mom, avid reader and sometimes writer, and I have a secret desire to someday be a polyglot.  When not online (and often in conjunction with being) you can find me cheering on my favorite sports teams.  Currently, I work directly with non-profit organizations, helping them tell their story in this digital world.   This blog is, primarily, a reflection of my curiosity about how to help brands and organizations form lasting relationships with customers, volunteers, and donors via social and digital media platforms.

While I was not an early adopter of the social media phenomenon like folks like Gary Vaynerchuk, once I joined the social media party, I became one of the most enthusiastic participants.  Now I’m the host!  As a professional, I think it’s always important to keep learning in this field.  The landscape is always changing, but many key concepts are lasting.  Recently, I’ve become more interested in the ethics involved in social media and digital publishing, so for the next several months that will also be one of the focuses of this blog.  What’s okay to publish, tweet, share, etc, and what’s not?   How do those choices effect people, brands, and the world around us?  I am fascinated by the the legal ramifications of ethical social media choices, but also how they effect things like brand loyalty.

Since I currently work with a viewer-supported television station and also a private school, things like privacy and copy write issues are usually my biggest ethical challenges.  What are the biggest social media ethical challenges with your clients?

Amplify Your Brand! — Using IMC To Reach New BullHorn Media Customers

This post is a small part of the beginning of an IMC plan I have put together for Orlando-based corporate, event, convention, and trade show video production company, Bullhorn Media.  This post is for educational purposes.

Company Analysis

Bullhorn Media is a recently launched video production company by Mark and Lisa LeGrand. It is a family-owned, small business. They have been a leading videographer in Central Florida as the company Pro One Video since 1992. They decided to create a whole new brand when they chose to split the corporate side of their video business from the wedding side. Mark and Lisa are looking to generate buzz about their new brand, Bullhorn Media, and to generate and capture leads through content, social media, SEO and more.

The target audience for Bullhorn Media is businesses and nonprofits located in or coming to Orlando for an event. Ideal connections would be with meeting planners, event planners or destination management companies, and with organizations sponsoring parties.

Strengths

Although Bullhorn Media is a new brand, Mark and Lisa have a great professional reputation and have been in the video production business in Central Florida for 22 years. They have a strong history of working with small and large organizations and have great client list including Google, Give Hope, Nielsen Group, Orange County Bar Association, Hewitt Packerd, Planet Hollywood, Gatorade, TGIFridays Restaurants, Maison & Jardin and The Rosen Hotel, among others. Even though they are a new brand, this amount of experience helps show credibility when seeking out new clients. You also offer great features like on-site editing which is a good selling point. You are creative, but listen to your customers, and you have a great closing rate.

Opportunities

There are a lot of opportunities for business here in Orlando. In 2013, Orlando was only behind Las Vegas and Chicago with the number of trade shows hosted. USA Today says Orlando is the top destination for conventions. All of this amounts to a lot of opportunity for Bullhorn Media solely based on its location.

In terms of specific opportunities for the brand, Bullhorn Media can make its own mark as a new business. Not having the moniker of being a wedding videographer and instead focusing on corporate work will give Bullhorn Media a blank slate to create the exact brand persona they want moving forward. It’s an exciting time!

Why Use Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC)?

Bullhorn Media is in an ideal position to benefit from IMC.  The consistency and results from an IMC strategy will be a huge benefit to Bullhorn Media moving forward.  Establishing yourself as an expert in your industry should be fairly easy, given your extensive portfolio and experience.  The best method to do that is to combine video, a blog, your website, social media and email marketing.

14-social-marketing-trends

Conclusion

Although there is a lot for you to consider and implement, moving forward with IMC, it’s an exciting time for your new brand, and I’m glad to be a part of it in this small way.  Remember the old marketing adage that “content is king” and use IMC to your company’s advantage.  You can only improve upon what you currently have, so be encouraged!  Get out there are #AmplifyYourBrand!

 

Reputation Management — Responding To Negative Reviews Online

Reputation Management - Arrows Hit Target.

Reputation management is such an important part of a brand’s social media and online presence.  What happens when a company receives a negative review, or a review that is downright damaging?  How they choose to respond or ignore the situation can have lasting effects on their brand persona.

Let’s look at a situation that unfolded with FedEx  as a brief example of how to respond in crisis management.  FedEx used social media, including Twitter, a blog, and YouTube video to apologize and respond to the YouTube video of their employee knowingly damaging a customer’s property.  They apologized, sincerely, for the actions of their employee, stating that it was unacceptable.  FedEx’s sincere response to this crisis helped folks see FedEx’s conviction over this incident and their commitment to customer satisfaction.

When responding to negative reviews or press there are some good guidelines to remember:

  • Do your research.  What was the situation on site that caused the negative review?  Get as much detail as you can, so you can best address your customer’s concerns with facts and not just automated-sounding responses or platitudes.
  • Don’t put your head in the sand.  Ignoring a bad review or bad press usually only makes people think you either don’t know, which is bad, or don’t care, which is worse.  While there may be a company policy to keep matters private, you should not ignore the need to correct the record or apologize, depending on the situation.  A great example of what not to do can be seen in the recent situation Conn’s had with the Times.
  • Apologize, sincerely, if needed.  Don’t apologize if the customer’s complaints aren’t a result of your company’s wrong-doing, but still make sure you acknowledge and address the negative review or complaint.
  • Be honest.  Don’t create a fake account to praise your company online.  Not only is it unethical, if you do get caught, you’ll have an even worse PR situation on your hands.

For educational purposes, let’s take a look at some sample reviews of hotels, and I’ll share how I would respond.

Note: I am not affiliated in any way with TripAdvser, Hilton or Hyatt Hotels.  This exercise is purely for the purposes of education.

Review:

Hilton-example-2014My response:

At Hilton we do our best to listen to and address our customers’ concerns.  We appreciate you bringing this to our attention.  Please accept our sincere apology for what you encountered during your recent stay.  We have contacted this location’s manager, and they are working closely with their staff to make sure this does not happen again.  Please contact us in a private message, so we can continue this conversation directly with you.

Review:

Hyatt-example2014My response:

We appreciate you taking the time to review the Hyatt Regency Orlando!  Repeat guests, such as yourself, make up more than half of our business.  During your next stay, we hope you’ll try our new Napa Breakfast Buffet where kids 0-3 eat FREE and kids 4-10 eat for the price of their age!  Our staff is committed to creating the best possible environment for our guests during their stay.  Thank you for highlighting Ralph from one of our restaurants, Fiorenzo Italian Steakhouse.  We will pass along your praise to his manager.

 

Event Marketing — A Closer Look at Cosmoprof 2014

Note: This post is for educational purposes only.  I am not affiliated with Cosmoprof or their marketing efforts in any way.

cosmoprof Facebook

According to Wikipedia, Cosmoprof is “a series of beauty and cosmetics trade shows that occur in locations around the world. The flagship event in Bologna is in its 46th year and draws 2,300 exhibitors from seventy countries and more than 170,000 visitors.”

Being a trade show, this is clearly a B2B event, and their marketing efforts are targeting beauty business professionals, not retail customers, so I’m going to be taking a look at their event marketing for their most recent show that took place July 13-15, 2014 in Las Vegas, NV.

Facebook Video post July 15

Cosmopro had links to their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram channels from their webpage.  In addition, they used their webpage, blog, and had some YouTube content, as well.  From a branding perspective, Cosmoprof used similar colors and photos throughout their social media channels and had a consistent logo.  I would’ve liked to see their Twitter and Instagram accounts have the same name.  As it were, they were @cosmoproflv and @cosmoprofna, respectively.

CosmoProf Instagram

Leading up the show, much of their posts focused on Twitter and Facebook.  A lot of the content on Twitter consisted of retweeting others’ excitement about the upcoming show.  They seemed to be advertising sponsors and also cross-promoting other channels, too.  I appreciated that their Facebook channel linked back to the website.  I also liked the idea behind the Twitter status update pictured below.

CosmoProf Twitter -- cross promotion

I wish the above tweet had contained an actual link to the Instagram account, especially since the link from the Cosmoprof website didn’t link directly to their Instagram account.  Rather, it linked to an aggregating service which seemed to post others’ Instagram photos when they checked in at the event.

CosmoProf Instagram WebSTA

This was a big miss, in my opinion.  While it was nice to see all the content from those who had checked in at the event, a better way to see the content would have been to advertise a specific event hashtag and encourage users to tweet and post using it.  As is were, the event didn’t seem to have an official hashtag, and several incarnations were used: #cosmoprofna, #cpna2014, #cosmoprof2014, #cpna.  While users often invent their own hashtags for events they attend (I’ve done it), if an official hashtag is promoted and then consistently used by the brand, this can allow for users to embrace the use of it themselves, therefore furthering the event brand.

CosmoProf Opening Day of Show Website

Their best tool before the event was clearly their website.  This was the clear highlight for me when looking at their online marketing.  There was good information about the event, such as registration, media links, exhibitor information, and much more.  Their website was, by far, their best promotional tool, and, as a result, I think they should have been linking back to it in many more of their posts.  As it was, they only linked back to their website occasionally.

CosmoProf Website floor Plans and moreOne simple way to do this would be to link a map of the floor plan to their tweets advertising certain booths.  An even better way would’ve been to have a current app that had the schedule, floor plan, and other details available at the attendees’ fingertips.  Cosmoprof did have an app available on their website, but it was not current and was from the year before.  Perhaps there wasn’t much interest the year before, but they should have updated it nonetheless, since we are certainly moving in a more mobile smartphone direction as a society, and that’s only going to continue to increase.

CosmoProf Website Interactive area

Cosmoprof did a good job advertising their Interactive Experience Area on their website, as well.  I’d like to see them do more cross-promotional social marketing on other channels.  I’d also like to see more content from this area showcased on their social media channels.

One of the best examples of integrated marketing took place on their website, where they had information about print buzz, press releases, marketing opportunities, and a newsletter to sign up for.  Interestingly, there were no updates from the newsletter throughout the event.  There was not even a confirmation email sent when you signed up for it.  Another miss.

CosmoProf Instagram PreShow Bloggers

I liked how they promoted their blog partners prior to the event in the above Instagram post.  Cosmoprof got a lot of their content from users.  This was especially true on Instagram and especially Twitter, where they retweeted a lot of sponsor and user content.

During the event, from July 12-July 15, their Facebook likes increased from 5,059-5,113, and as of today they’re at 5,138.  Twitter followers increased from 2,646-2,709; now they’re at 2,725.  Their LinkedIn group went from 2,406-2,418.  Instagram showed the biggest increase with their followers going from 1,897-2,743 during the event and now, a few days later, it’s at 2,896!  This is amazing, given that they only posted only 36 time on Instagram.  Obviously, this is a social media channel where they should’ve dedicated more resources and should certainly do so for future events.

CosmoProf Pinterest

Their Pinterest page went from 270 followers to only 273 during the days of the show and is now at 275.  I was most disappointed with their Pinterest page, since this is an industry that really does quite well on Pinterest, with how visual it is and how many beauty tips that could have been given.  This could also be a great place to showcase sponsors.

CosmoProf Pinterest CPNA News Flash Blog

The blog posts shown on Pinterest were also from last year.  This channel did not seem to be very current, and it made me wonder why they chose to link to it from their website, when it was so sparse.  LinkedIn was a closed group that should have been an event page or open group.  It was puzzling to me that this would also be one of the channels linked from their website.

That brings me to their YouTube channel, which was not linked to from their website and for good reason.  It contained two videos, one of which was labeled as 2014 highlights, but was really posted before the event, and should’ve been titled better.

Twitter was by far the most active channel during the event; they tweeted over 280 times!  While they did a lot of retweeting, they also showcased certain booths, which was a good choice.  Much of their content seemed spur of the moment, and I would’ve liked to have seen some more planned posting during the event — on all of the social networks.

CosmoProf Website 2015

After the event, there was little to no official activity.  The banner on the website changed to a  new countdown to next year’s event.  This was another great use of their website.

CosmoProf Instagram Discover Beauty Award

The only official content that I saw on social media after the event was announcing the Discover Beauty Award Winner.  With the website already gearing up for next year’s show, this would be a great time to continue building momentum from this year’s event into excitement for next year’s.

All in all, the social media efforts were fine.  They were not great.  Cosmoprof clearly sees the relevancy of social media at their event and is incorporating it into their marketing efforts.   They still have a long way to go, but they are on the right path.

Engaging Your Customers Through Video — A Closer Look at Vine

What is Vine?

Vine is a short-form video sharing social network (Wikipedia, 2014). It allows users to record six-second long video clips (WikiHow), which, on the surface, doesn’t seem like long enough to record anything worthwhile. However, in the Twitter age, where brevity is key, the six-second loops on Vine have inspired creativity in a way that sets it apart from longer-form videos. After capturing the video, it can then be published through Vine’s social network and shared on other social networks like Twitter and Facebook (Wikipedia, 2014).

While it is primarily a content network, the best Vines also engage other users, making it a social network, too.

History

Vine was founded in June 2012 and was acquired by Twitter in October 2012 (Wikipedia, 2014).   Vine debuted on January 24, 2013 (Sippey, 2013).  Until recently, Vine existed solely as a mobile app. Vine Web profiles, which can be accessed directly from a desktop or laptop, allow users the convenience of enjoying Vine on a larger screen, where they can watch Vines in TV mode, which will, undoubtedly, contribute to folks spending even more time on Vine (Cicero, 2014).

Features

Vine’s key feature is its brevity. Six-seconds isn’t a long amount of time to get your message across. As a result, marketers are forced to created content that is “both highly engaging and highly condensed” (Cox, 2014).

While many initial Viners were using the platform for quick pithy or comedic moments, brands like Lowes and GE have shown that using Vine as a form of content marketing, providing useful, educational videos can “create a strong connection between brand and audience, adding meaning to the relationship” (Thomas, 2013a).

Vine videos loop, which means that they will keep playing over and over while you are watching them. Target is a great example of a brand that takes full advantage of this feature.  As you can see, Vines are also embeddable (Tiland, 2014).

Much like Twitter’s retweet feature, on Vine you can “revine.” This allows users to share content from others with their followers.

Vine’s video recording feature is stop-motion capable. This allows users to stop and continue recording to the same video later (Brouillette, 2014). This feature has enabled the most creativity on Vine.

Vine uses hashtags, which make exploring content on their network easier.   It also has verified badges for high-profile users (Mashable).

A drawback for Vine is that users need to record their videos on the network itself, rather than have the ability to upload previously recorded content. Initially, only the most tech-savvy users could get around this by using, what I would consider, a complicated hack (Kif, 2013). Now there are several apps that allow users to upload recorded content. This is an important outside feature for marketers that allows us to edit our content rather than recording directly in the Vine app, which doesn’t give much leeway for error.

Another drawback is that Vine does not restrict nudity (Tiland, 2014).

Target Market, Users, and Growth

The majority of Vine users are teenagers and young twenty-somethings, thus comprising a much sought-after demographic for marketers (TopTenSM).  The majority of users are single, and the average age is 18.2 (DemographicsPro).

Vine saw a 515% growth from February 2013-December 2013 (comScore, 2014).

Comparisons & Competition

Comparing a short-form video service like Vine with YouTube is “like comparing a Tweet to a blog post” (Cox, 2014). The constraints of Vine’s brevity actually inspire creativity and ingenuity from its users.

Vine’s primary competition is Instagram video. When Instagram introduced its fifteen-second video feature in June 2013, some wondered if it would be the end of Vine (McGrail, 2013). After all, Instagram already had a built in audience of 130 million users on an app that allowed easily uploaded content – a feature that Vine lacked.

However, Vine is uniquely useful to marketers, again, due to its brevity. Brands are “tasked with creating compelling content that people will enjoy and share, creativity and originality is key.” For brands that have embraced the “creative nature” of Vine, Instagram video doesn’t offer anything new (Thomas, 2013b).

Best Practices For Brands

Using Vine is much like having an elevator speech prepared (Sonoso, 2014).  There are a lot of great tips and lists of how to best engage and use Vine to promote your brand.  You can find some good ones here, here, here, and here.

Here is my list:

  • Engage other users.

Testimonials are great for this, as are contests.  A great way to engage other users is to ask users to create your content for you.  The best brands on Vine all do this.  Most recently, Milk-Bone gained followers through a Vine initiative where they offered $2,500 and a year’s supply of dog treats (Johnson, 2014).

  •  Share interesting content regularly.

Whether that’s spotlighting staff, sharing tidbits about your company’s history, or showcasing your production process or finished product, sharing content that interests users is a key to developing brand loyalty on Vine.  Content is key, but consistency is the other half of that equation.  Making sure you keep giving your followers a reason to engage with you.  Post regularly.

  • Use hashtags.

It may seem like a simple thing to mention, but you’d be surprised how often they’re not used or not used effectively.  Hashtag use ensures that your Vine will be searchable easily on the network (Cicero, 2013).  Creating specific hashtags for contests helps engage users and also makes it easier for you to track results.

  •  Be sure to cross post.

A well produce Vine video should be shared!  Make sure you not only share your Vine videos on Facebook and Twitter, but that you write good descriptions when you post them (Brouillette, 2014).

 

For more information about Vine, see my Prezi HERE.

Citations

Brouillette, P. (2014, May 29). #HowTo: An Overview of Using Vine for Brands and Businesses. Retrieved from http://www.searchinfluence.com/2014/05/howto-an-overview-of-using-vine-for-brands-and-businesses/

Charley, C. (2013, April 26). Getting Creative with Video Marketing on Vine. Retrieved from http://www.siliconbeachtraining.co.uk/blog/vine-twitter-marketing

Cicero, N. (2013, June 3). Samsung Makes a Marketing Splash on Vine for Android. Retrieved from http://socialfresh.com/samsungvine/

Cicero, N. (2013b, July 30). 5 Vines are tweeted every second – Visualizing Vine [Infographic]. Retrieved from http://socialfresh.com/vineograph/

Cicero, N. (2014, January 3). Vine introduces Web profiles. Retrieved from http://socialfresh.com/vine-introduces-web-profiles/

comScore Data Mine. (2014, April 11). Camera Content Drives Surge Among ‘Mobile-First’ Social Networks in the U.S. Retrieved from http://www.comscoredatamine.com/2014/04/camera-content-drives-surge-among-mobile-first-social-networks-in-the-u-s/

Cox, J. (2014, February 26). Fruit of the Vine: The Race to Conquer the Six Second Video Platform. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/coxy/2210121/fruit-vine-race-conquer-six-second-video-platform

Cunningham, Tasha. (2013). 10 creative ways to use Vine to promote your business. Retrieved from http://miamiherald.typepad.com/the-starting-gate/2013/07/10-creative-ways-to-use-vine-to-promote-your-business.html

http://www.demographicspro.com/analysis?s=vineapp

Hines, K. (2013, March 4). 16 Ways Businesses Are Using Twitter Vine. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/twitter-vine-creative-uses-for-business/

Johnson, L. (2014, June 23). Dogs Drive Vine Views for Milk-Bone Builds more than 2,700 followers in month-long push. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/dogs-drive-vine-views-milk-bone-158529

Kif. (2013, August 13). Hack Vine to Upload Videos Shot Outside the App. Retrieved from http://www.wired.com/2013/08/ht-custom-vines

Mashable. Vine. Retrieved from http://mashable.com/category/vine/

McGrail, M. (2013, June 21). Instagram Video for Brands and Users: Experts Weigh In. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/mike-mcgrail/1549791/instagram-video-brands-and-users

Sornoso, E. (2014, February 20). How Marketing on Vine Can Help Your Business. Retrieved from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/marketing-vine-can-help-business/88313/

Thomas, J. (2013a, May 10). Lowe’s Case Study: The Difference Between Fun and Useful Content in Social Sharing. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/jonthomas/1448666/difference-between-fun-and-useful-content-social-sharing

Thomas, J. (2013b, June 27). Why Instagram Isn’t A Vine Killer. Retrieved from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/jonthomas/1562441/why-instagram-isn-t-vine-killer

Tamba. (2014, January 30). [Infographic] The rise of Vine. Retrieved from http://www.tamba.co.uk/thinking/blog/the-rise-of-vine/

Tiland, R. (2014). Things You Should Know About YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, and Instagram. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2014/05/04/things-you-should-know-about-youtube-vimeo-vine-and-instagram/

TopTenSM. 10 vine social media strategies for your business. Retrieved from http://www.toptensocialmedia.com/social-media-business/10-vine-social-media-strategies-for-your-business/

Sippey, M. (2013, January 24). Vine: A New Way To Share Video. Retrieved from https://blog.twitter.com/2013/vine-a-new-way-to-share-video

Wikihow. How to upload videos to Vine. Retrieved from http://www.wikihow.com/Upload-Videos-to-Vine

Wikipedia. (2014). Vine (service). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vine_%28service%29