…are an important part of how you shape your brand image online. This month, our Feature tackles a leading source of first impressions — Wikipedia — and explains why brands should always be upfront when engaging with their entries. Our Digital Guide shares best practices for Instagram, whether you’re just getting started or looking for inspiration to shake up your profile. Our Case Study takes a look at how HP uses YouTube to reach a niche B2B audience, and in On Workflow we speak to Jeremy Harrington, PNConnect’s Senior Vice President of Content & Products. Plus we have the latest social media news, curated from PNConnect Weekly Reading.
PNCONNECT — Solid advice here for crafting sponsored content: 1) Focus on a topic you know well, 2) Target the right audience, 3) Choose a host that matches your brand voice, and 4) Create content that will “fit in” with non-sponsored content. Read the full article for case studies and more detail.
PNCONNECT — Video is driving a lot of success on mobile, but the region driving more mobile views than anywhere else isn’t Asia or North America — it’s Latin America. If your brand does business in the southern part of the western hemisphere, you’d be wise to include video in your mobile strategy.
Source: eConsultancy Blog
PNCONNECT — If Facebook ever develops a more effective cataloguing and search function, it could be serious trouble for Google. But Facebook’s gains in referral traffic are just a short-term benefit; once your content falls off your front page on Facebook, it’s almost impossible to find again. Google remains much more effective at driving long-term traffic to your content. That said, if you’re looking for good short-term traffic for a time-sensitive piece of content, make sure to share that content on Facebook.
Source: Marketing Land
PNCONNECT — Pew’s latest, rigorous surveys on social media use among different demographics are a good opportunity for a social media gut check: Make sure you’re publishing in the same places where your audiences are spending time. Some of the major themes of this report: Messaging apps are rapidly gaining popularity among the 18-to-29 set, and, despite hype to the contrary, Facebook continues to dominate the social media landscape, with 70% of users logging on daily.
Source: Pew Research Center
PNCONNECT — Twitter really, really wants to be attractive to advertisers. The appeal of this tool is that advertisers can use many of the targeting signals on Twitter – including interests, usernames, and keywords – in their ad campaigns across different mobile apps (not just Twitter). Not much else to add, but it’s good to keep in mind.
PNCONNECT — This move will open up China’s biggest and most promising social network to marketing in a way that hasn’t been possible before. If more specific targeting capabilities are introduced, advertisers are sure to spend money to access WeChat’s significant audience. As always, the trick will be coming up with relevant and useful content that feels like a part of the experience rather than an interruption.
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However, many brands take a more underhanded approach to updating their Wikipedia articles, editing anonymously or paying others to make biased updates while posing as neutral editors. Recently, an article in The Atlantic highlighted this trend of “black hat” Wikipedia editors who can be paid to whitewash brands’ profiles. As The Atlantic notes, several PR firms (including Porter Novelli) have signed a pledge to counteract this trend by engaging with Wikipedia ethically, disclosing conflicts of interest, and working toward community consensus. Not only is this alternative more ethical, it’s also better for business. Here’s why:
- If you have a paid conflict of interest about the subject of a Wikipedia article — for instance it’s about your employer, client, or business competitor — interacting with that article without disclosing your conflict of interest is a blatant violation of Wikipedia’s terms of service. If you are caught, your edits will be undone and your account can be banned from future editing.
- Editors who try to hide paid conflicts of interest — either as employees of a brand or as representatives being paid by a brand — are regularly and fairly easily identified and punished by the Wikipedia community. On any given day Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest Noticeboard is full of investigations into editors who appear to be attempting to bias articles in favor of a client or employer. Companies that use shady tactics may suffer PR black eyes not just on Wikipedia but in the media as well. When a researcher recently uncovered several cases of NYC PR firm Sunshine Sachs editing celebrity clients’ entries, a wave of damaging bad press followed, including a major piece in The New York Times.
- Demonstrating your willingness to cooperate and be informative in a public space like Wikipedia sends an important signal about your company’s ethics. By contrast, If your brand is exposed as having interfered with Wikipedia’s neutrality, it reflects poorly on your corporate reputation in a very public forum. Getting busted for trying to whitewash your article can also draw extra attention to anything negative you may have been hoping to downplay or remove. (This is known as the “Streisand effect,” named after an incident in which Barbra Streisand’s attempts to suppress photographs of her home led them to be more widely publicized than ever.)
Ideally, most Wikipedia articles will “take care of themselves” pretty well without requiring assistance from a brand representative. Realistically, that’s not always the case. But if engagement with your article is fairly frequent and the article contains no serious inaccuracies or gaps in fundamental information, it’s probably best to stay uninvolved.
It’s easy to check how often your brand’s article is edited and how actively it’s being maintained. While viewing the article, click “View history” near the top right-hand-side of the page (to the left of the “Search” bar) to view the most recent edits to the article, with timestamps. You can also click “Talk” near the top left-hand-side of the page (next to “Article”) to view the article’s discussion page, where editors can discuss the contents of the article and proposed changes. The most recent edits to the Talk page will appear at the bottom of the page.
As long as the page is a useful and accurate resource for people who want to learn the basics about your brand, let the Wikipedia community continue to take care of the page on its own.
The Wikipedia community will extend a certain amount of good faith to new editors who presumably don’t know better about its conflict of interest policies. However, as you learn more about how Wikipedia works, it’s best to disclose your conflict of interest as quickly as possible and declare your intention to engage with your brand’s article in an open and honest way moving forward. If you ignore Wikipedians’ warnings and continue to attempt to alter your brand’s article single-handedly, you’ll face more aggressive punishment, and ultimately attract negative attention that outweighs the short-term benefits.
- Whitewashing or promotional edits that aren’t achieved through community consensus tend to get rolled back quickly, leaving no lasting change to the article. Even if no one realizes that a paid editor is involved, an edit that reads like advertising, doesn’t have a high-quality source, or doesn’t add value to the article won’t stand for long. When a conflict of interest editor works with other Wikipedians to facilitate edits through community consensus, those edits are more respected and therefore not as easily undone.
- All this vigilance around paid conflicts of interest is part of Wikipedia’s ongoing efforts to be factual and neutral. Wikipedia’s integrity and credibility are an important part of its value not just to readers, but to brands as well: If Wikipedia isn’t trustworthy, having an informative Wikipedia article for your brand simply doesn’t matter anymore.
I’ve been working remotely for 12 years, connected to teams all over the globe. I make a point of having an office with a door (even if it’s the porch). It’s important to have a barrier between your work space and your home space, even if they’re in the same building. I hold myself as accountable as I would in any office, but I find a balance between home and work. The biggest challenge is over-communicating and staying visible, especially if the rest of your team is concentrated in one location. I travel as often as I need to to get enough face time with my colleagues.
Tactically, I’m a big fan of these Ipevo cameras, which are super helpful for design and visual folks. They’re inexpensive, they have continual autofocus, and they’re great for showing apps, whiteboards, and drawings to people in other locations.
My home office is full of cool stuff I’ve collected over the years — drums, Disney memorabilia, toys. I split time between my home and an office downtown that I share with PNConnect’s other Iowans — Rob Glazebrook and my brother Scott. The office has all my books and a TV running CNBC or Bloomberg. It’s located in a coworking space, which is great for meeting other local tech professionals.
I’ve become pretty dependent on LinkedIn. I’ve curated a set of people I like to follow there — young innovators, the kind of people I’d love to recruit, and C-level execs who can offer more established wisdom. LinkedIn has the sort of voices you don’t hear elsewhere. For design inspiration, I spend a lot of time on Dribbble to stay on top of current trends and aesthetics. Some of my favorites: Louie Mantia, Jerrod Maruyama, Joey Ellis and MetaLab.
Often, I create externally enforced deadlines to force myself to keep moving — an aggressively scheduled meeting or a series of due dates shared with others.
I try to think in advance about how I can delegate any obligations that might come up. I walk through my project lists and make sure each has a designated lieutenant who can take over while I’m gone. I over-communicate about availability ahead of time, which is especially important when you’re working remotely. I also set myself up to have good momentum when I return — I make sure I have time to ramp back up on my projects, and I have my next few tasks lined up so I know where to jump back in.
HP’s Graphic Solutions Business (GSB) sells commercial and industrial printing solutions to small business owners and other print industry decision makers. This is a mixed audience, some of which is very active on social media and some of which uses it sparingly. To reach this mixed audience, PNConnect and HP have created a thriving YouTube program that consistently drives business results from HP GSB’s core audiences.
The HP Graphic Arts YouTube channel acts as the hub for HP GSB’s social media presence, publishing videos created by many different video production agencies (including Porter Novelli) and product groups worldwide. YouTube’s ubiquity and ability to deliver different quality levels depending on a user’s internet connection enable viewership across geographic locations and internet-connected devices. The platform’s embedding functionality and optimization for Google search (in addition to its own high-volume internal search) bring the flexibility to reach a variety of audiences, including those that aren’t active on social media. A YouTube video can “come to” the viewer, regardless of where and how they locate it. HP GSB customers find the YouTube channel in all the places they’re already spending time online: search results, emailed links, industry forums, news sites and yes, social media.
The channel has attracted a large, enthusiastic audience: annually, it receives more than 1 million views, which is especially rare in a niche B2B industry. Media coverage and channel partners regularly embed videos from HP GSB’s YouTube channel, and the videos rank highly in important search results. In fact, 50% of views come through search and YouTube’s “recommended videos” function.
PNConnect’s analytics team strives to optimize the impact of the channel, identifying and analyzing the top-performing videos across key viewership, traffic and engagement metrics to formulate recommendations and next steps. Tailoring video production and publishing to audience preferences and viewing habits has improved performance even further. In 2015, the channel saw a 65% year-over-year increase in video views, a 142% increase in total minutes watched, a 133% increase in engagements, and a 199% increase in traffic back to HP.com.
- If not all of your audience is active on social media, SEO is more important than ever. Plus, YouTube’s close ties to Google foster long-term value; old videos still rack up substantial views through search referrals. Thoughtful use of titles, descriptions and engaging thumbnail images helps drive discovery through recommended videos.
- The best QA often comes from within. HP’s foundational, detailed video brand guidelines standardize the look and feel of all productions. These help keep diverse teams and production agencies aligned to a standard look and feel, and make regulating video quality easier for the social media team.
- Think about how your content can meet your viewers where they are. What sites do your audiences visit? How do they research purchases in your industry? How can you gain visibility in those spaces? For many B2B technology buyers, product research begins with Google searches, while industry forums and publications are as (or more) important than other social media. With search optimization and embed capabilities, YouTube was the perfect vehicle to reach users in these spaces, while also providing a content engine to drive social media publishing.
- Remember to connect to the sales funnel. HP GSB’s videos use backlinks, annotations and cards to lead traffic to HP.com. They ensure that viewers are always directed to a landing or product page to learn more about products or services from the video, keeping audiences engaged with HP.
- On Instagram, users can share photos and videos up to 15 seconds long. Photos in particular receive high engagement.
- Hashtags play an unusually important role on Instagram. The only ways to search on Instagram are through hashtags, username search, or geolocation tags. Instagram hashtags help users discover content they’re interested in and help the site identify trending topics.
- Instagram users can like or comment on photos and videos, but the app contains no native functionality for re-sharing others’ content. Third-party apps like Repost offer a workaround, but we don’t recommend them for brand accounts, as the results look unpolished.
- Links in captions and comments aren’t clickable, which makes the link you list in your user profile particularly important. Captions can be edited after they’re published if necessary.
- Instagram offers two side apps: Hyperlapse, a tool for shooting and sharing time-lapse videos, and Layout, a tool for combining multiple images into a single collage.
- Instagram’s primary metrics are engagement and follower growth. You can track these stats manually over time or collect and analyze them through tools like Statigram, Simply Measured, or TweetReach (for hashtag tracking).
- 400 million monthly active users, with 2.5 billion daily likes
- Large international audience: 70% of users hail from outside the U.S.
- 28% of U.S. adult internet users are on Instagram — 24% of the entire adult population. This proportion has doubled since 2012.
- Popular among young adults: 55% of U.S. internet users ages 18 to 29 use Instagram
- Particularly popular with non-whites: 47% of African Americans and 38% of Hispanics use Instagram
- Slightly more women than men (34% of female internet users; 27% of male)
- High engagement: 59% of Instagram users visit daily, a 10% year-over-year increase from September 2014
- High brand engagement: In Q1 2015, engagement with U.S. brand posts increased 108% year-over-year
- When setting up your profile, use a brand logo or some other simple image as your avatar in order to avoid confusion and make it clear that your account is the official brand account.
- Since your profile link is the only clickable link available on your Instagram, make sure it directs to the most logical destination for your Instagram following, whether that’s your homepage, your online store, or a landing page for an Instagram-specific promotion.
- Don’t spam your audience: Limit your posts from a few photos a week to, at most, one daily.
- When creating a new hashtag centered around an event or campaign, keep in mind that the most effective hashtags are short, clear, and unique.
- Use filters sparingly. Your photos should be beautiful enough to stand on their own, and natural lighting is a plus.
- All your photos should share a cohesive visual “feel” and a high level of aesthetic appeal. Experiment with negative space, unusual angles and other ways of styling your photos to make them dynamic and interesting.
- Promote your Instagram profile and content on your other social networks, but steer clear of automatic re-sharing. Often, images from Instagram won’t embed properly and captions will be truncated.
- Moderate comments to ensure that abusive comments are removed, preserving a positive environment for engagement.
Reach out to your PNConnect representative, or send us an email.
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.
Mary Gaulke in Sarasota wrote this month’s Feature about ethical Wikipedia engagement and this month’s Digital Dictionary entry. Ashley Johnston and Heather Brinckerhoff in Winter Haven, Florida, created our Guide to Instagram, and Jeremy Harrington in Des Moines took the hot seat for On Workflow. Christopher Barger in Detroit and Chris Thilk in Chicago compiled the PNConnect Weekly Reading stories and insights that appeared in Noteworthy News. Mark Avera in Atlanta provided our case study on HP’s Graphic Solutions Business.
The cover and welcome photos are courtesy of NASA. The case study background was adapted from an image uploaded to Flickr by Graham Richardson, 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.