Companies are allocating more budget to social media, whether to sponsor their publications or to create their own written content, video, audio, infographic or other. All indications point to this increasing in 2018.
But will organizations see a profit following their investment? Some will, others won’t. Why? Unfortunately, there are too few companies today that apply the basics of an effective social media strategy. We’ve outlined a few reminders below to ensure your social media strategy is compelling and successful.
1. See bigger. Social media serves as a function in the overall communications strategy. Each platform (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, etc.) has a specific purpose. All the activities that take place there must serve that purpose.
Why are you investing so much on this platform? What is the goal of a particular page or account? What would you like to achieve from this? These are the questions to ask yourself before going further.
These goals are too often hijacked in favour of tactical targets such as the number of “likes” or engagement rates. A strategic approach involves business objectives, such as a conversion rate, an increase in reputation or a change of opinion. The evaluation of the effectiveness of a campaign on social media is therefore often done outside these platforms.
2. Hit the right target. Which audiences do you want to reach on each platform? Are they influencers? Or strictly consumers? A wider base of followers? The approach and the evaluation measures will be different.
You have to define targets with very specific criteria. These should come from research or interviews with your target audience. At the beginning of the year, make sure you have a clear idea of the portraits of the people (personas) targeted by each of your platforms.
3. Be human. How will you communicate on social media? Are you going to leave that privilege to the “company” or the people who do it – employees, managers, customers, members? If you are a consumer of social media information, what is your preference? To ask the question, is to answer it. In 2018, companies that want to have a real impact on social media will have to put forward their best resources and bet on authenticity.
As the year begins, and the mad rush of content creation and production resumes, stop and ask yourself the right questions to make your social media activities even more strategic and relevant.
A group of resisters made its appearance marked this year: the so-called traditional media.
At the beginning of 2017, The Public Policy Forum released its report “The shattered mirror” in partnership with the Canadian Journalism Foundation. They conducted an extensive research across Canada to provide a consumer perspective on news, trust and democracy in the digital age.
Their findings showed that although Canadians valued journalism’s role in democracy, they were also largely unaware that the news media is in a very difficult financial position.
Interestingly enough, they found out that 7 out of 10 users of online media were getting their news from the websites of traditional media organizations.
In short, Canadians value news and see it as an essential element of democracy. They acknowledge that content has value but because of the “free” culture of the internet, they just don’t see the necessity of paying for their news.
Their findings suggested that the news industry needed to educate their audiences but at the same time needed to develop new business models to adapt to the new digital conundrum.
In particular, in a context where Google and Facebook dominate Canadian digital advertising market, with Canadian newspaper and tv revenue at about one seventh of the total of the two U.S platform giants, publishers and media organizations want to find ways to counterattack.
Last summer, The News Media Alliance, representing 2 000 publishers across U.S and Canada announced their plan to ask Congress for permission to join economic forces against Google and Facebook. The organization wants a new law that will let it bargain collectively when its members are up against Google and Facebook.
In short, inaction is not an option. There is a survival issue and it touches the very essence of democracy to have quality and independent journalism. It is our responsibility to ensure the credibility of the media and contribute to their sustainability.
In 2018, we predict a greater awareness of advertising purchases, even ethical advertising purchases.
The term AI deserves the “most popular” award of 2017. Not a day went by without the term being used by the media. Record investments and key players, such as Google, Facebook and Microsoft, are securing Montreal and Toronto’s reputation in this area, both in their own way.
Recent developments in AI have contributed to a hyper-personalization of communication between brands and their audiences. This takes place through different technologies, such as machine learning, which allow to assemble and present appropriate messages and multitudes of data analyzed in real time. By combining these technologies that accelerate analytical processes with fine strategies from the communication specialists who operate them, we achieve a winning formula. Brands have the opportunity to respond quicker and with greater sensitivity to the specific and varied needs of their customers and their communities.
In 2018, we predict that marketing communications specialists will increasingly use AI to create personalized and sustainable relationships for their clients.
While we are barely recovering from analysis in real time, here comes artificial intelligence’s (AI) new capabilities to predict future behaviours. More accurate than the tools used for weather forecasting, algorithms can build predictive calendars and determine the best times of the year, week or day to send messages. Others can predict the influence that a personality will have on his/her followers, or evaluate the impact and duration of corporate news.
Imagine the possibilities not only in marketing communication but, in crisis management!
In 2018, we predict the emergence of predictive analysis tools and programs that will be upgraded and become much more accessible to companies and public relations firms.
At the same time, in 2018, we predict that the fine experience and judgment of communication consultants will remain necessary to properly assess in advance the impact of communication actions.
Chatbots have become the most visible and even intelligible part of the presence of artificial intelligence (AI) in 2017.
These programs are increasingly integrated with messaging applications, such as Messenger. They can simulate a conversation with one or more humans by voice or text exchange. The word “simulate” is appropriate because despite the promise, there is still much to do for all this to reach the degree of sophistication expected. The replacement of business customer service by these “robots” will not happen tomorrow.
That said, chatbots can already set repetitive tasks for companies (Example: search schedules, answers to frequently asked questions, etc.).
In 2018, we predict that in a context where the number of active users of messaging applications is now outpacing those of social networks, the Chatbots invasion will be upon us.
With the decline of the organic reach, companies can no longer broadcast content on platforms like Facebook hoping the universe captures it. They must promote it through paid publications to reach their target audiences.
By definition, social media connects people. The best corporate ambassadors are often the people who belong to them. Brands must seize this opportunity and encourage employees to become their faces on the web and proudly share their content.
To create content that attracts a good engagement rate, you need to be ready to listen, watch, and then adjust. Flooding people with blog posts, videos or photos is not enough to create an active community. By ensuring an effective analysis of the performance of its publications, we can then adapt to what works best with our audience and therefore, what interests our customers most.
For us, this is a wonderful playground. It’s very stimulating to identify and describe the customer/consumer personas, as well as to map out their decision-making paths.
In 2018, we predict that companies and brands will further develop their own content, but will increase the number of distribution channels and appeal more to their employees or ambassadors to do so. They will have to agree to operate in an exploratory mode and listen to their customers and consumers to offer value-added content and thus build lasting relationships.
In 2007 Facebook launched its Pages for Business and the success was amazing. Brands could finally have a “free” presence on the platform and join thousands of fans. The key was to create rich, engaging content to ensure exponential growth of your community.
Then in 2010, we saw the emergence of the feature “sponsor” in the publications of Pages. It was a question of giving a boost to our publications. As of 2012, Facebook ecosystem observers have seen a sharp decline in the organic reach of Pages’ publications year after year. Organic reach dropped nearly 50% on Facebook throughout 2016, according to industry experts and this is due to an increase in the number of posts being published.
Facebook is currently testing in six countries a new feature that would put all of Pages’ publications in a separate new tab of your news feed. Only posts from your network of friends, as well as “sponsored” page publications would now appear in your main thread.
In 2018, we predict the beginning of the end of the organic reach of publications on Facebook.
The outburst of “2018 predictions” reminds us that the New Year is right around the corner and a time to reflect on the past, but also a time to anticipate new trends for the year to come. So we put on our Nostradamus hat and mixed our public relations and digital expertise together to foresee what relationships and trends may develop in the New Year.
Over the next few days, we will share our predictions from various team members on a variety of topics that we think will make an impact in 2018.
Public relations will not avoid the transformations generated by artificial intelligence (AI). CASACOM is actively thinking about the many changes that lie ahead. Will robots replace professionals? Will algorithms create press releases from scratch? Will technology detect the best target audiences to interact with? For Josh Ginsberg, president and co-founder of Zignal Labs, a digital intelligence and analytics firm leveraging these types of technologies, AI will become the buoy of PR in the sea of data that overwhelms us.
At the annual PRSA Conference in Boston, which I attended in early October, the San Francisco entrepreneur pointed out that 90% of all data generated in the past 120 years has been issued in the last two years. The proliferation of comments, sharing and interactions on social media creates a constant tsunami of information. Traditional monitoring tools are no longer sufficient to analyze tone and perception. It is especially in this field that AI will serve public relations.
The term artificial intelligence appeared in the 1950s. It referred to the first computers and their potential ability to think like humans. It was not until the mid-1970s that powerful algorithms originated to help analyze a lot of data and draw conclusions. This was called machine learning.
Today, researchers are busy developing deep learning. The aim is to model the conclusions drawn from multiple data analysis by creating artificial neural systems. Think about SIRI or Google Now.
Keeping up with the rhythm
Let’s go back to public relations. How will applications from AI help PR? For Josh Ginsberg, the functionalities pertaining to monitoring systems will shatter with AI. Professionals who monitor all insights available on the web using advanced tools will react more quickly and with more acuteness. On the other hand, those who continue to analyze reactions to a news story by looking at all mentions manually will be quickly outdated.
Not only will we be able to respond more appropriately to news developments through AI, but our ability to detect crisis will also increase.
Take the example of a brand that typically generates a thousand daily mentions on social media. Imagine that number fluctuating unusually. While most monitoring tools will detect an atypical change, the more powerful platforms supported by AI will do much more. They will make it possible to predict the evolution of anticipated mentions according to the analysis of variations recorded in the last months. Such features will improve our ability to judge the level of urgency of a situation.
Josh Ginsberg answered some key questions about AI and algorithms and how it will affect PR. See below:
- Will robots interfere with press relations?
- Will algorithms create content from scratch?
- Will new tools detect the best target audiences to interact with?
“I don’t think machines will ever call journalists. On the other hand, AI and related tools will become PR specialists’ best friends. With these features, they will be able to work faster, prepare better recommendations and be more relevant to their clients. ”
“We are not there yet. However, we will see tools emerge that will evaluate the best moments to publish a news story or recommend whether it is appropriate to comment publicly on a particular subject. ”
“Public relations professionals know the main audiences to reach out to in order to change perceptions. Data analysis will provide them with new opportunities to identify influencers who often go under the radar. I think of some of the behind-the-scenes decision makers who are rarely mentioned in newspapers and who feed a lot of conversations on social media. ”
At CASACOM, the advancement of artificial intelligence and the many uses that this technology allows, fascinates us. Our digital analysis consultants are here to recommend applications and new ways of doing things to better equip our clients for facing the changes that are transforming our industry. If you’d like more information on AI and how it will impact public relations, please do not hesitate to contact us.
By Suzanne Rappaport
At CASACOM, our mantra is simple: Elevate the value of public relations. Elevate our clients. Elevate ourselves.
We don’t just talk about elevation, we live it – both through the integrated and strategic communications programs we design and implement, and through our own professional development program, The Casacademy. We challenge ourselves as employees to learn more, stay abreast of the latest trends and industry news, and learn from experts in a variety of fields and practices.
Last week, the team gathered in Montreal at one of our annual Casacademy retreats to attempt to answer an important and relevant question:
In a time where we are constantly inundated with messages, technology and noise, how do we create meaningful consumer engagements that break through and deliver?
Luckily, we were not alone in our search for answers. We were fortunate to have one of the leading authorities on meaningful brand engagements, Daniel Dutesco, founder of The ORCHRD Group, as our keynote speaker. Daniel is an advertising industry veteran, working with leading global brands such as Coca Cola, L’Oréal Paris and Ikea to deliver conscious, strategic programs designed to engage with today’s consumer on a new level. He shared with us what he refers to as “the new rules of engagement.”
According to Daniel, the most successful companies understand that the best way to change or influence a consumer’s perception of a brand, is to change the way they experience it. He notes the following eight strategies for successful consumer engagement:
1. Sell culture, not products
Reebok, Nike & Red Bull are all examples of companies that have built empires by creating lifestyles, not just brands. Ask yourself: Do you have a clear understanding of your brand’s story and culture? Is that culture reflected in all the activities you undertake?
2. Leverage consumer psychology
In order to appeal to your target audience, you need to have a deep understanding of what drives that specific group. Beyond building business value, we need to ensure that we are creating personal value for the consumer.
3. Dig deep
Data is the true key to understanding your audience and their purchasing behaviour. Gather data at various touch points to leverage and design a better journey for the consumer.
4. Focus on the fans
Think about how you can optimize the customer journey for your fans. Do you understand what matters/is valuable to them? Create an experience based on what your consumer wants or needs, versus what you’re trying to sell.
5. Bridge physical and digital
Today’s consumer operates on multiple channels. Ensure your business and/or experience is designed to be as integrated as they are.
6. Create shared social experiences
Ask yourself: are the experiences you’re creating engaging and driving interaction with your community of fans?
7. Connect the emotional with the material
The best way to increase cultural relevance is to connect with people on an emotional level.
8. Focus on experience and storytelling first
With any engagement, we want to ask ourselves: are we creating an environment for our customers to tell our story on our behalf? Have we enabled sharing and storytelling as part of the experience?
In terms of how this affects the work we do in PR, I think it’s threefold:
1. It reminds us to focus on the “relations” portion of what we do. To constantly think about moving beyond traditional thinking to a new perspective that allows our clients to engage directly with their target audience in a meaningful way. There is no longer B2B or B2C – just H2H- Human-to-Human.
2. It supports our philosophy that public relations is a long-term strategy and a vital tool in building brand identity and culture.
3. In order to elevate, we must challenge. Challenge the status quo. Challenge ourselves. Challenge our clients and challenge our consumers. We know that if we do not, someone else will.
For more information on Daniel Dutesco, visit danieldutesco.com