Negative comments are a fact of life for brands, but losing control of the conversation doesn’t have to be. In this month’s Digital Guide, we share tips for effective day-to-day comment moderation, and our new Case Study profiles how The Almond Board of California addressed negative feedback on a much larger stage — an unflattering segment on The Daily Show. In our Feature, we highlight Snapchat’s recent brand-friendly additions, and in the latest On Workflow installment, Account Supervisor Beca Mueller shares her approach to leading teams and managing projects. All this plus stats, the latest news in social media and digital advertising, and more.
“Four leading international news publishers have joined forces to offer access to their combined online advertising inventory as they attempt to compete with global digital platforms like Google and Facebook. The Guardian has teamed up with CNN International, the Financial Times and Thomson Reuters to create the Pangaea Alliance, a digital advertising offering that will use programmatic technology to give brands access to their combined audience, which they claim totals 110 million users.”
Source: Ad Age
Pangaea’s goal is to differentiate itself from other programmatic buying programs with smarter placement of ads next to higher-quality content. The Guardian claims that one-fifth of Pangaea’s audience is C-suite executives, and one-fourth is in top income segments. The combined readership of these publishers spans North America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Asia Pacific region. If you’re already engaged in programmatic buying through Facebook or Google, this new alternative is one to watch.
“Facebook and Twitter combined will represent approximately one-third (34 percent) of U.S. digital display ad revenues by 2017, while Google and Yahoo’s share will dip, according to eMarketer. The shifting numbers show that marketers are putting more of their ad spend toward the social networks, perhaps in an effort to reach much-desired younger demographics.”
The rise in digital ad spend on Facebook and Twitter relates directly to the rise in ad spend allocated to mobile platforms rather than desktop. And of course, as social networks collect more and more user information, they’re able to offer increasingly robust targeting capabilities to advertisers. The kind of detailed user info Facebook and Twitter leverage for targeting is tough for companies like Yahoo and Google to match.
“Instagram added a new ad unit last month designed as a digital analog to the multi-page print magazine spread. In each so-called carousel ad, advertisers can include up to four photos that people can swipe through as well as a link to a dedicated landing page. In an interview with Ad Age in March, Instagram’s global head of business and brand development James Quarles said the carousel ads were an answer for advertisers looking to do deeper storytelling with their ads…”
Source: Ad Age
Carousel ads offer more than extra image space; they allow brands to juxtapose visuals in unique and compelling ways. While some are taking a straightforward approach — highlighting multiple items in a product line, for example, or different characters in a TV show — others getting are more creative. Tiffany & Co. mixes images of its new men’s watch with photography of New York City to evoke a shared aesthetic, while Samsung has created sequential photo tutorials for certain smartphone features.
“After CNN.com revealed yesterday that Taylor Swift had purchased TaylorSwift.sucks and TaylorSwift.porn, it became evident that marketers are on the clock when it comes to deciding whether owning those domains is the right move. Until June 1, certain entities, such as trademarked brands and celebrities, get right-of-first-refusal for many domains.”
The possibility of someone else owning yourbrandname.sucks may seem nerve-wracking, but keep in mind, this isn’t a new or unique opportunity — for example, someone could already buy yourbrandnamesucks.com. If a brand-targeting .sucks site is going to be anything other than a momentary novelty, it will need solid and compelling content. If someone is creating that kind of negative content around a brand, that’s a bigger problem than a specific domain choice.
“Nine in 10 digital buyers in the U.S. admitted to abandoning a shopping cart, and issues related to shipping were the top reasons for doing so. Nearly six in 10 respondents from the U.S. said they had abandoned a basket after learning that shipping costs made the total purchase value more than expected, meaning retailers would be wise to include this information up front.”
This study is relevant even beyond the scope of ecommerce. Consider it a fable about the importance of creating a good user experience. Users don’t like it when they’re not given useful information (like shipping costs) early and clearly. An average site user will only tolerate so much misdirection and confusing navigation before abandoning the site entirely, which can mean the difference between converting or losing a potential customer.
about Brands is Spam
“Networked Insights, a Chicago-based analytics firm, recently released a report claiming many of the world’s best-known brands are primarily mentioned on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media platforms in the form of spam, coupons, or adult content — essentially, their brands are hijacked to lure unsuspecting users to click through to unrelated material.”
Source: Fast Company
This report breaks down social media spam into three categories: Coupons and coupon-related posts (which account for 6% of brand discussion), adult content (2%), and general spam (1%). The study found that spam is most prevalent on web forums, blogs and blog comments, and Twitter. The next time you’re reviewing impressions figures for a major social campaign, keep in mind that while your results are proportional to your true success, you may need to take top-line figures with a grain of salt.
“There are important cultural differences in mobile consumption that make creating a powerful messaging platform in the U.S. more challenging than in Asia… In Asia, free text messaging and Internet-powered voice calls are attractive because many consumers are on pre-pay mobile deals… But the high use of iMessage and the [very low] cost of SMS in the U.S. makes it trickier to make such a compelling use case.”
While other countries have demonstrated the market-dominating potential of messaging apps, duplicating that success in the United States with Facebook Messenger won’t be a simple matter of copying the same tactics. The key to success will be whether Messenger can “lower the friction point” for using additional capabilities integrated into the app. Messenger needs to make it easier for users to perform tasks like finding a GIF or ordering takeout by staying in the experience rather than switching to another app.
Snapchat is best known for its short-lived “Snaps” — photo and video messages that disappear within 10 seconds. In 2013, the service introduced “Stories,” Snaps strung together into a narrative, which disappear after 24 hours. With “Discover,” editorial teams at Snapchat and select partner publications can share their own bite-sized Stories, collected into chapters in daily editions. So far we don’t have much hard data on Discover’s performance, but a spike in mobile data consumption among active Snapchat users indicates that it’s a hit. The short, highly visual stories offer a compelling alternative to conventional web articles.
The initial publishers include well-known media brands like CNN, Cosmo, ESPN, National Geographic, and People. Since Snapchat’s demographics skew younger than most other major social platforms, Discover offers these brands access to a different audience. The format stands apart, too: Speaking to Digiday, Daily Mail North America CEO Jon Steinberg explained, “Among the pantheon of platforms, it’s the closest thing to a cable network. There’s actual programming involved here.” Discover is a contained unit without outside linking; as a result, its content is less promotional and more focused on sharing information and building brand loyalty.
As Nieman Lab writes, “These are not newspaper stories or TV pieces stuffed awkwardly into new containers.” Publishers are formatting their content specifically for the platform, with a vertically framed, single-panel presentation for each piece of content. The results feel both slick and surprisingly intimate. If a viewer is intrigued by a “Discover” panel, they can swipe up to access a longer piece of content, like full article text or a video.
Snapchat has enticed publishers to customize and host their content on Snapchat with the promise of sharing often-elusive mobile ad revenue. According to Re/code, publishers split revenue with Snapchat 70/30 if the publisher sells an ad, and 50/50 if Snapchat sells the ad. Ads appear as sponsored content frames in between a publisher’s panels in a Discover channel. Early sponsors include BMW for CNN and Nabisco for Food Network. Currently, advertisers can expect to pay around $100 for every one thousand ad views. The rate exceeds pricing for ads on the Web or even premium video publishers, but many advertisers find it a worthwhile investment in reaching Snapchat’s coveted demographic.
Snapchat launched “Our Story” last June and has been expanding its use since then, most recently with the creation of a channel specific to New York City. Users submit photos and video clips from designated locations or live events, and Our Story compiles them into a Snapchat Story. The result is a community collection of individual moments accessible to fellow Snapchat users in real time.
According to Snapchat’s stats, “Our Story” content can exceed 25 million views, which is on par with audiences for popular TV shows. Indeed, Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel claimed in October, “More people are watching college football on Snapchat than they are on television.”
Brands that host large events are seeing huge success with this feature, and the events aren’t just sports matchups or concerts. Political rallies, charity benefits, and other occasions are also providing brands with fantastic publicity and user-generated content. Last Thanksgiving, Macy’s officially sponsored an Our Story for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, meaning Macy’s was able to intersperse 10-second ads directly from the brand among the collection of user-submitted Snaps. Samsung took a similar approach for November’s American Music Awards; the Our Story for the event featured intermittent content marked as “Powered by Samsung Galaxy.”
Right now it’s still at Snapchat’s discretion which events and places merit an Our Story, but this feature is one to watch.
Ghost QR codes are simplifying how users add accounts to their lists of friends. Rather than searching for a username, a user can simply open Snapchat and point the in-app camera at another user’s QR code to add them to their friends list. These codes make it easier for brands to publicize their Snapchat accounts and encourage followers on other social media channels to connect on Snapchat, as well.
– Tero Kuittinen, on the risk of conflating app hype with app success
Getting Everything in Writing
I have to-do lists all over the place — sticky to-do lists, Evernote to-do lists, to-do lists on my phone. I start a new one wherever I am, based on what I’m carrying around with me to Boy Scouts or clients or conference rooms. Evernote is a godsend. But I still like the satisfaction of crossing off items with pen and paper.
I tend to make separate to-do lists for separate projects and topics. I keep Google Tasks open during the day to manage hour-by-hour deadlines, and Evernote to manage bigger-picture, project-based tasks. I even scribble on the back of my checkbook on the drive to work. I have an hour-long commute, and it’s very productive. Until voice-to-text gets better at understanding me, I have to keep some stuff handwritten.
I work at a standing desk covered in tons of Disney Vinylmation and video game action figures, plus a phone I never use. I have a Macbook Air and an iMac monitor. I always keep a notebook and pen on hand.
Grab a sheet of paper and start brain dumping everything that will need to get done, before any sort of formal documentation is written up. It’s a good exercise for me to think through the whole process, and then manually number and organize it. It’s a tactile way for me to work through it before I write it up on the computer.
One of my roles as supervisor is to help team members start to think above their level. Every day I send a PPD email — the “push-pull-drag,” for how I’m pushing, pulling or dragging them to the next level of thinking. The PPD is a look at what I’m thinking about or want to initiate group think about — everything from prepping clients for holidays to planning PTO coverage to finance worksheets. It’s the menial tasks and the 12-month planning all in one place, to initiate them into that thought process.
I find if a brainstorm is too structured or formal, people get intimidated and it doesn’t flow very well. You have to state what you’re brainstorming and why, but I try to keep it as casual as possible with colorful markers and ridiculous ideas. I minimize the amount of information I share ahead of time so no one comes in with preconceived notions. At the beginning we don’t want to think about scope, legal restrictions or budget. That comes later.
As some background, the PlayStation global publishing program is a collaboration between PlayStation US and PlayStation EU. In April, the US team also took over publishing for the LatAm region, which includes a Spanish-language blog that serves the greater Latin American community and a Portuguese-language blog that serves Brazil. The ramp-up of the program included a partnership with PN offices in Brazil and Ft. Lauderdale and training new team members on the global publishing process. The kick-off was a success, the teams hit the ground running, and they’re now publishing in step with the US and EU blogs.
As California fights its worst drought on record, almonds and almond farmers have received some pointed criticism. While the industry has reduced water usage by 33 percent per pound over the past 20 years and is continuing research to further increase efficiency, almonds are commonly cited as a water-intensive crop. The Almond Board of California, a Porter Novelli client representing the state’s almond industry, has been on a PR offensive since last Fall, to combat negative press coverage and misinformation.
In March, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart featured a segment that explored reactions to climate change in both Florida and California. As part of the segment, Stewart spoke to a personified almond, suggested that eating almonds was irresponsible during the drought, and portrayed the industry in a less than flattering light. Though the segment was short, it had immediate impact, reaching the millions of U.S. viewers who consider the show one of their primary news sources. By the next morning, The Daily Show’s Facebook post featuring the segment had been “liked” more than 2,000 times and shared more than 200 times.
The Almond Board reacted immediately, constructing a multi-faceted response featuring a supportive op-ed from the Los Angeles Times that had run on the same date. The op-ed points out that many other crops use more water than almonds and notes the many sacrifices almond farmers have been making during the drought. In addition to reaching out to targeted media with the points raised in the op-ed, the Almond Board featured the op-ed in a social media campaign to reach Daily Show viewers.
The Almond Board promoted updates linking to the Times’ op-ed on Facebook and Twitter. On Facebook, promotion targeted fans of The Daily Show and of Huffington Post Green, which had also mentioned the Daily Show skit in a post. On Twitter, the promotion ensured that anyone who had recently expressed interest surrounding almonds and the California drought would see a tweet from the Almond Board featuring a fact sheet about the industry’s actual water usage. The social media promotion allowed the Almond Board to inform fans of the The Daily Show without directly confronting the show itself and risking a harsh response.
The precision of paid social promotion can be invaluable in crisis response scenarios. Focusing social media targeting on The Daily Show fans in response to the show’s criticism ensured that the Almond Board’s message was efficiently communicated to those most likely to have seen the segment. It was also vital that the Almond Board provided credible sources to back up its rebuttal and took care not to appear overly defensive. Ultimately, the brand was able to take the experience of being skewered on The Daily Show and turn it into a net positive, reaching new audiences with a fact-based message that resonated well.
A comment policy’s goal is simple: To inform everyone, openly and clearly, what the rules are for polite discourse. Here are our guidelines for the key areas to cover.
Every blog and social channel profile has a specific content focus, whether it’s a brand, a product, or some other topic. Some profiles are scaled to deal with customer service issues while others restrict themselves to promotional content. However, the audience doesn’t always know or care about this distinction. People will naturally find their way to your profile with a question that should be directed elsewhere, and it’s your job to clear up the confusion and redirect them. This begins with clarifying, upfront, what topics comment responses will address, and how off-topic comments will be handled.
This Facebook page is about news and updates relating to ACME Corporation. Please do not leave customer service questions in the comments as such comments will be removed and forwarded to the customer service department, which can be reached at 800-555-5555 or companysite.com.
We reserve the right to remove any comment that violates this policy because it uses vulgar, illegal or inappropriate language; is threatening or defamatory of ACME Corporation, its executives, or its customers or invades their privacy in any way; infringes on the intellectual property rights of ACME Corporation; or contains links or messages relating to political campaigning, commercial solicitation, chain letters, or other inappropriate material or topics.
There are three common reasons a comment would need to be deleted:
- 1. It’s rude or insulting: Everyone knows that comments can devolve into name-calling, personal attacks and more pretty quickly. (We’re looking at you, YouTube.) Specify upfront that this is out of bounds.
2. It’s spam: Comment sections sometimes fill up quickly with accounts promoting themselves, selling mail-order medication, or sharing get-rich-quickly schemes.
3. It’s threatening: Occasionally, a comment will cross the line from annoying to actually concerning — for instance, threatening a company executive.
- Moderate comments effectively and consistently. A healthy garden is a well-tended garden. Set a regular schedule for comment review and stick to it.
- Assign an owner. Someone should be running point on vetting inbound comments and directing them to whoever can respond most effectively.
- Create a response workflow, including a manager and response teams. Know who is responsible for vetting comments, who that manager is assigning comment responses to, and what the expectations for turnaround are.
- Encourage individual writers to monitor comments on their posts for the first 24 hours. This can help the writers learn more about the responses to their posts and about common questions or areas of interest.
For more information about our team and approach, or to learn how we can help your organization with digital strategy, development and measurement, please visit the PNConnect site.
Heather Brinckerhoff in Winter Haven, Florida, wrote this month’s Feature about Snapchat, and Chris Thilk in Chicago created our Guide to comment moderation policies. Beca Mueller in Winter Haven took the On Workflow hot seat. Stephanie Pham and Mark Avera in Atlanta and Mary Gaulke in Sarasota contributed stories and insights for the Social Networking Stats, Noteworthy News, and Advertising Trends sections, while Daniel Gahagan in Winter Haven provided the latest stats. Tom Harris in Raleigh wrote this month’s Digital Dictionary entry, and Christopher Barger in Detroit shared the Case Study on the Almond Board of California.
Harsha K R uploaded the Case Study background to Flickr, Tony Parkin uploaded the meerkat photo, David Sim uploaded the background crowd photo, and Mindy uploaded the Cover and Welcome page dinosaur photos, some rights reserved. Some backgrounds courtesy of subtlepatterns.com.
Thanks to Jennifer Laker, Jeff Stieler, and Pete Schiebel from the Platforms team for providing design and development support, and to Mary Gaulke, Tom Harris and Chris Thilk for editorial oversight and proofing.