Casie Stewart’s true colours: our interview with an influential personality

Casie Stewart is certainly one of the most authentic people you’ll ever meet! An award-winning content creator, lifestyle blogger, and digital media expert, she helps brands tell their storytelling in an inspiring way. She works as an influencer, spokesperson, speaker, director, and consultant for some of theworld’s top brands.

I had the chance to sit down with Casie and speak with her about the ever-evolving digital landscape. How is it to work with brands? How can we stay authentic in today’s photo-shopped world? How can companies integrate social media into their communications and business strategies?

She gives us her thoughts and tips with the naturalness which characterizes her.

1. How did your adventure begin?

I started my blog in 2005 as a diary, documenting my life, adventures, experiences, thoughts and ideas. When I was in Australia for university I had a MSN Spaces diary that helped me share stories about what I was doing with friends and family back home. I moved to MySpace, then Blogger, to WordPress and now I have a fully hosted WordPress site of my own. I started a YouTube channel in 2006, joined Twitter in 2008, and Facebook right when it became available. And I’ve had Instagram for years!

 2. How have you maintained your authenticity over the years as the digital landscape changes?

You have to stay true to who you really are. Sometimes bloggers and influencers make themselves look a certain way and portray a life they don’t actually live. It’s hard to live up to those kind of standards you set for yourself and you’ll burn out if you’re not yourself. I’ve heard of younger people wanting to starting a blog or ‘be an influencer,’ but influencer isn’t something you can just decide to be; influence comes from DOING something that gets recognized or influences the ideas and thoughts of people. You can’t buy your way into being influential, establishing yourself as a brand or thought leader takes time.

For me, authenticity is more important than perfectly curated Instagram. I think the best way to be authentic is to be yourself and tell stories, to be a real human. One of my favourite ways to tell stories is going on adventures and exploring new things. I also only work on things that I like, have tested, or experienced first-hand. How can you share your honest opinion on something if you haven’t tried it?!

3. How can brands integrate social media in their marketing strategy?

Creating good and consistent content will go a long way. Social media can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan. This doesn’t mean you should plan everything out for the next six months because things change, but it helps to be proactive vs reactive. Brands need to have an open mind and trust people who know what content works for their audience.

 4. What advice do you have for those that invest in one specific social platform?

I’ve seen a lot of apps come and go and I tell people not to put their eggs in one basket. For example, Snapchat was very popular until Instagram added Instagram stories, heaps of people stopped using Snapchat. I recommend having a website as place for your content to live that you own so you don’t rely on a platform that’s not yours. There’s always going to be something new, innovate or die!

 5. What are some common mistakes businesses make in influential marketing?

You can’t expect bloggers or influencers to write about your product or company just by sending a press. Life is about building relationships, reach out to an influencer or blogger and ask about how you can work together. Get to know them, read their blogs, look on social media, to see what they’re doing. Make sure you do your research to ensure the person is a good fit.

6. Who are some people in the social media space you admire or look up to?

Tiffany Pratt is a Canadian designer, stylist, author, and TV personality. She built her life around something she loves doing and I admire that. Casey Neistat is the world’s top YouTuber, filmmaker, and co-founder of multimedia company Beme, recently acquired by CNN. I love his videos and whole vibe. He’s living his life to the fullest and shares it with the world. Andrew Gunadie – aka ‘gunnarolla’ – is a YouTuber + music and video producer based in Toronto. His content is so fun and creative. He does a lot of brand partnerships, but everything is uniquely him. What I like about each of these people is they’ve taken something they love doing and made it into a career.

7. Favourite social media platform?

I love Twitter, always have. I’ve been using it since 2008 and it’s changed a ton but I find I still share there the most and have a lot of engagement. I also like Instagram stories because it’s instant. I love sharing things as they happen and I feel both Twitter and IG stories are great for that.

8. Which social network do you spend the most time on?

Hard to say, but according to my phone stats it’s a tie between IG and Facebook. Although, I check all my social platforms pretty frequently.

9. Which social media platform could you not live without?

LOL. I could live without all of them!

10. Favourite emoji?

Heart emoji!

Starting 2018 on the Right Foot with Social Media!

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.

Prediction # 6- Resistance gets organized

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.

 

Prediction # 5 – AI meets PR

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.

Prediction #4 – The practical predictive analysis

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.

Prediction #3 – The Invasion of Chatbots

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.

Prediction #2: From “You” to “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.

Prediction #1 – R.I.P. Organic Reach

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.

Predictions for 2018

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.

How Artificial Intelligence is Impacting Public Relations

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.

© Zignal Lab

© Zignal Lab

AI 101
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.

Detecting crisis
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.

© Zignal Lab

© Zignal Lab

Josh Ginsberg answered some key questions about AI and algorithms and how it will affect PR. See below:

  1. Will robots interfere with press relations?
  2. “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. ”

    1. Will algorithms create content from scratch?
    2. “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. ”

      1. Will new tools detect the best target audiences to interact with?
      2. “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.