• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • The biggest and most interesting news stories as played out on social media this week.

    August has been anything but slow. Typically expecting a slow news cycle, this last month has proven the world wrong. Beyond the neverending, and very complicated, Middle East crisis, stories including the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, deaths of actors Lauren Bacall and Robin Williams, along with rioting in Missouri have contributed to some interesting regional news. Much of which has spread internationally.

    All thanks to the power and breadth of social media.

    Here’s a look at some of the most intriguing and biggest news stories this week, and how they played out online.

    Sky wars

    Spurring over 4,000 online mentions in the last four days, there seems to be no defense for the offender using the knee defender. Causing a fight to breakout mid-flight, a dispute between two passengers grounded a United Airlines flight this week. We expected more rage and mentions online, but what we did find was incredibly interesting.

    Inventor of the knee defender, Ira Goldman, is a trending topic within the online conversation happening around the argument turned flight debacle with over 200 mentions. Many of these mentions discuss how sales have climbed because of the attention the knee defender is getting. He also says it protects “computers and babies,” as a justification for the device.   

    The blame is being tossed back and forth between the two passengers, the public deeming both as having selfish motivators and reactions. The airline itself had avoided blame, until the inventor and then a few media outlets called out United Airlines and other airlines. They blamed the airlines themselves for shrinking legrooms causing this fight and the heated debate about reclining airline seats.

    Blame game

    With the online community split between blaming the man for being a “jerk” and the woman for overreacting (by throwing her water on him) but being “less of a jerk,” the knee defender inventor and others are happy to blame the airlines.  

    There are just over 10 mentions for each blame-worthy party: the airline itself, the front seat female passenger, and the backseat male passenger. With the numbers so few and so close, it’s a draw. Perhaps everyone involved is to blame.

    The gender split in the online conversation is dominated by the male population, with Twitter mentions divided up 36% female and 64% male. Women seem to be mainly discussing plane tickets and the news of the spectacle itself while men are diving deeper into the conversation discussing the great seat reclining debate, to the purpose of the knee defender, aeroplane etiquette, and everything in between.

    Knee defender topic gender split.png

    I’ll have a Whopper, but hold the corporate taxes

    The Tim Horton’s and Burger King merger is about a lot more than fast food. Headlines included “tax-dodging Whopper” and other puns that called out the potential benefit to BK. As the news covered the formation of the third-largest fast-food chain, reporters and Twitter users focused in on the fact this is a strategic Burger King’s corporate tax move. They are set to save a lot of bread on corporate taxes with this merger.

    With over 18,000 mentions on Twitter alone since August 25, the merger has spread beyond the business world. US citizens and Canadians alike have expressed twice as much negativity about this new endeavour for BK and Tim’s than positive sentiment.

    Looking at just negative vs positive Twitter mentions, it’s clear that the corporate tax break BK will receive by taking some operations overseas has left a bad taste in the public’s mouth.

    Tim Hortons BK sentiment_BW.png

    The hashtags most associated with the BK-Tim’s merger discussion on Twitter are peppered with a few surprising, and very odd, hashtags. Including the #emmys and #tdsbreakingnews (The Daily Show’s breaking news hashtag). The Daily Show has the hashtag with the most impressions in the merger conversation, while #timhortons and #burgerking take third and ninth ranking when looking at the hashtags volume of impressions.

    With nearly one million impressions, #nousecorptax is a top 10 trending hashtag in the merger discussion, showing that the public may care more about the business implications than whether a fast-food chain they hate or love merges with another they may have strong feelings for (one way or another).


    Top Hashtags BK_BW.png

    Ferguson’s social media battleground

    The situation in Ferguson can most mildly be described as... tense. The tensions between citizens and the police force, the media and the police force, and basically everyone and the police force, are palpable. Especially on our social media feeds.

    But what about Facebook? The social media platform’s algorithm seems to be keeping this story out of many people’s news feeds. And that’s serious cause for alarm.

    This Bloomberg article highlights the algorithmic variations that have aligned one social media platform with one campaign over the other. Facebook is for the Ice Bucket Challenge and Twitter is for Ferguson. Is this censorship? Or just the nature of our use of Facebook for personal updates, and Twitter for news sharing and visceral or serious conversations.

    Let’s look at the social data.

    In the third week of August, there had been well over 17.3 million mentions online about the situation in Ferguson.

    Surprisingly, while many trending hashtags garner a great deal of spam mentions (“follow me” requests, spam bot proliferation, unrelated mentions, duplicate word meanings, etc) with the #ferguson hashtag and the overall conversation in general we are seeing no spam mentions.

    In our topic cloud below, you can see all of the most mentioned topics are related to the situation in Missouri.


    Ferguson topic cloud_BW.png

    Occupy what?

    In today’s online-focused society, social media makes or breaks a protest. There is no middle ground. If it’s not trending on Twitter or flooding Facebook, then it most likely isn’t gaining traction on the ground.

    This is the case with the Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) movement.

    But what’s really holding back this particular movement? Is it the lack of social media conversation, or are there other forces at play?

    In other nations where speaking out against the government can be quite risky, civilians often still take to social media to discuss. When the Turkish prime minister banned Twitter, Tweets about the ban and from Turkey increased significantly. When Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 schoolchildren, the #bringbackourgirls hashtag and social activism campaign brought global awareness to the situation.

    The Middle East crisis is another example of this. Whether that’s the civil war in Syria, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or ISIS’ rise to power, these situations are being amplified by civilians in those regions through Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. All despite serious threats to their safety from governments or rebel groups if they do so.

    Additionally, many of these movements gain support from people in other countries partaking in spreading the word via social. But not with OCLP. It seems that even though the top country for authors discussing the movement online is the US (as it is with most topics), the countries directly involved are prominent in the discussion - Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China.

    Screen Shot 2014-08-26 at 4.28.44 PM_BW.png

    One of the most interesting aspects about OCLP is its lack of social virality. According to Brandwatch Analytics data, in the last month (July 26-August 26) there have been less than 3,000 mentions online about OCLP.

    With rumors circulating about the true motivations of marchers, and potential pay-offs to people to participate, there is an elusive cloud around the OCLP movement, those against it, and the general atmosphere in Hong Kong around this issue.

    Basically, it’s unsuccessful on both sides of the issue - the pro-Beijing contingent and the Occupy Central protesters themselves. And it most definitely is unsuccessful as a viral social media campaign. The question remains why.

    What we do know (according to the data):

    Mentions spiked on August 17 with over 670 mentions around the pro-Beijing protest march in Hong Kong against OCLP, in response to planned sit-ins. Beyond that, there hasn’t been much online chatter about the Occupy Central movement.

    Mentions summary OCLP_BW.png

    The most popular Twitter authors on the Occupy Central with Love and Peace (OCLP) movement in Hong Kong are news media outlets, after the official @oclphk handle. To give you an idea of the movement’s lack of social reach, its official Twitter handle has just over 3,600 followers, a miniscule following compared to @occupywallst with over 201,000 followers.

    Top Twitter authors include the South China Morning Post, Al-Jazeera, and Bloomberg.

    OCLP twitter authors_BW.png

    News media vs the masses

    While most activism campaigns in the last two years have thrived on viral posts, endorsement via social media influencers, and large volumes of Tweets and RTs, the online discussion about Occupy Central is almost evenly split between news outlets and social media platforms.

    It appears Twitter (in light blue) is dominating the conversation, but compared to other campaigns the discussion on and from news outlets (burgundy) is a much higher percentage.

    Twitter Facebook and News sites_BW.png

    Negative vs positive sentiment

    The majority of mentions online are neutral, reporting on the movement and anti-Occupy protests without leaning toward one side or the other. Taking away those neutral mentions and comparing and contrasting the negative vs the positive mentions, it’s evident that there is a negative perception about the movement.

    OCLP sentiment_BW.png

    Who’s occupying the online conversation?

    The profession of the most popular authors around a conversation can say a lot about the story or campaign. It says everything that the top profession of others discussing OCLP are journalists, owning 35% of the conversation. Another interesting look at the demographics show that men are dominating the conversation, making up 67% of authors talking about it.

    Author Top Professions_BW.png

    OCLP gender split_BW.png

    Topics occupying the online conversation

    The anti-Occupy Central conversation has all but commandeered the minimal mentions of the movement. Mentions that are “anti” or “against” the OCLP movement number over 1,700, over half the mentions. Most mentioned topics include “anti-Occupy Central,” “Rally Against Occupy Central,” “anti-Occupy march,” “thousands join anti-Occupy rally” and others in a similar vein.

    The crux of their movement, occupying with “Love and Peace,” has just over 150 mentions.

    Occupy Central Topic Cloud_BW.png

    With September right around the corner, the tech and social media world is getting ready for one of our busiest seasons. If the summer is any indication, the news cycle this fall will be exploding. We’ll be keeping a close eye on how the news plays out on social media.

    Twitter provides real time information, reactions, and public opinion during breaking stories. More than 52% of Twitter users report that they receive their news on the popular social media network, up from 33% in 2012. Couple that with the nearly 8,000 tweets being sent every second across the globe and there is no denying Twitter’s enormous influence.

    “Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.” -Buddha

    The way people consume their news has changed. Over 52% of Twitter users report that they receive their news on the popular social media network, up from 33% in 2012.  Couple that with the nearly 8,000 tweets being sent every second across the globe and there is no denying Twitter’s enormous influence.

    As Lyse Doucet, Chief International Correspondent at BBC, puts it, “There is no question, if you are not on Facebook and Twitter, you are not getting the full story.”

    But the change in news consumption is reciprocal. Twitter has revolutionized the newsroom as well, speeding up an already complicated new gathering process. What used to slowly crawl in over the wire, now comes over in real time, tweet after tweet. The modern day journalist mustn’t rest his eyes for a moment for fear of missing vital information.

    However, the 24 hours news cycle may provide a unique value to journalists. Crowd-sourcing has become a technique many are using to compile details on a story. Twitter provides real time information, reactions, and public opinion during breaking stories.  Some studies suggest that today, journalists use Twitter for up to 80% of their news-gathering techniques.

    But, reporters must remain cautious and filter through what is fact and what is fiction. Twitter has created an atmosphere where anyone can break a story. Misinformation can spread across the globe quicker than the time it takes to write your first tweet of the day.  The average citizen now owns part of the news reporting process, and a subsequent demand for fact-checkers has been established. The public relies on journalists to fill that fact-checking void.  News outlets once had the freedom to report on eventsand explain its details at the same time. Now, the demand from reporters has shifted to the explanation process, sometimes skipping the reporting all together, and leaving little room for error.


    Errors in journalism can compound exponentially.  As journalist and blogger, Amy Cassell says, “Corrections are no longer an afterthought process – they happen in real time for the world to see…So you had better make sure your reporting is ironclad.” Twitter users have become notorious for taking advantage of the almost-direct communication channel with its more influential users.  What was once a thoughtful letter to the editor is now an abbreviated 140 character direct message. Or, thousands of direct messages.

    With Twitter’s accessibility, it has become extremely easy for a community or a group to rally around an idea or a cause. The collaborative reporting concept that is fostered on Twitter can lead directly to social activism. The recent example being the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.

    Public outrage over the abduction of hundreds of Nigerian schoolgirls by Islamist militants fostered a global social media support campaign with millions of messages tagged with a simple demand.

    Although some may refer to this movement as a form of Slacktivism, there is no denying that this Twitter activity fueled a central focus for the international news media. The millions joined across the world certainly had more influence than a single report churned out by a concerned journalist.

    Hashtag activism furthermore stresses the concept of filtering through what information we choose to consume on a daily basis. A recent study from Pew Research revealed that some opinions expressed on Twitter can be largely different than the broad public opinion. According to the study:

    In 2012, 64% of the Twitter conversation surrounding the tragedy in Newton, Conn. was focused on stricter gun controls, while only 49% of public opinion favored the same sentiment.

    Will these numbers grow closer together with time? Will Twitter ever be widely accepted as an accurate representation of public opinion? Will journalists begin to rely more on Twitter for news gathering? Will the rest of the world? The answers may be closer than we imagine. As New York Times journalist David Carr writes:

    “The media is not the message, the messages are the media.”

    It doesn’t do you any good to have 200,000 likes or followers or friends if no one is reading your content. How do you engage with people? Instead of just monologuing?
    The Wall Street Journal published an online critique of social media last month (The Myth of Social Media) which added to the already roiling clouds in the advertising world. They supplied data from Gallup giving yet more evidence of the vastness of social media. Consider the following daily activity online:
    • Facebook users post 4.75 billion items of content
    • Twitter users send 400 million tweets
    • Instagram users “like” 1.2 billion photos
    • YouTube users watch 4 billion videos
    And according to Gallup, “72% of U.S. adults use these channels, with the majority saying they use them several times a day.” Why then does social media have such seemingly small impact?
    The answer is simple: too many advertisers are talking – and not enough are listening. In other words, social media advertisers frequently ignore the most important aspect of the platform: social. Whether advertising with static ads or video, engagement is the key to success. For the advertising agencies which “grew up” producing television, print and radio spots, this has proven a hard concept to grasp.
    Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit, says this of branding in the digital age: “A brand is no longer what we tell consumers it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” Exactly.
    Social media content – whether from a Fortune 100 corporation, a family owned business, a non-profit organization, a trade or membership association, or even a political campaign should – no, must – engage with social media users. In other words, it should be “social” and encourage consumer/member/donor/voter participation rather than just preach.
    One quick example: Which company has more social media “clout”? Company ABC has 200,000 Facebook likes and 150 people active on their page, while Company XYZ has 20,000 likes and 10,000 people active on their page.
    If you answered Company XYZ, you’re correct! It doesn’t do you any good to have 200,000 likes or followers or friends if no one is reading your content. And, Company XYZ, with the right digital strategy, can most likely grow its base very quickly online.
    Sadly, there are many Company ABC’s out there today. And they spend a great amount of money with ad firms who either don’t understand they’re not reaching anyone – or they just don’t care enough about digital yet.
    With Americans now spending more hours online each day than watching television, however, the opportunities are too great to ignore. And with the right engagement strategy, you won’t be ignored by the audience you want to reach.
    Today I’m sharing 3 Facebook ad tips that I’ve learned firsthand. The best part? They’re super quick and easy to implement.

    Facebook ads aren’t an exact science, and running successful campaigns is a continuous learning process. Today I’m sharing 3 Facebook ad tips that I’ve learned firsthand. The best part? They’re super quick and easy to implement!

    Keep ad images crisp.

    Did you know that Facebook doesn’t maintain the integrity of many ad images that are uploaded? Typically, ad images are compressed, so there can be a noticeable difference between the image you upload and the image your audience sees depending on the file type and size.

    Quick tip: Have your designer save your ad image files as PNGs and keep them under 100kb in size to avoid compression.

    Optimize the structure of your copy for engagement.

    Facebook is really noisy. You only get a few seconds to entice someone to stop and read your message. You get even less time to convince them to keep reading, so every character counts. You have to give your ad copy some tough love and write and rewrite it until it’s as concise and well-prioritized as possible. However, in your efforts to be succinct, make sure your brand’s personality doesn’t get lost!

    Quick tip:  Structure your copy like this:

    Start with a short sentence that speaks directly to your target & helps them self-identify with your product/service. Next, write two to three short sentences that explain the offer/promotion/product/service as concisely as possible. If you have a link to include, make sure to include it in this section. Have more to say? Add a space between this paragraph and the next.

    This is where you can round out any non-mission-critical details in a couple of short sentences. Nobody wants to read a huge block of text, so shift the extra info down here.

    Tweak your copy based on ad placement.

    You can choose from various ad placements: desktop news feeds, mobile news feeds, and right column. Facebook’s algorithm decides how often they’re shown on each, so it’s good to let your ads cycle for a few days, then check in on them.  You’ll want to see which placements have the highest engagement and optimize your copy for that particular space.

    Quick tip: In Ads Manager click “View Report” within an ad campaign to look where your ad has been cycled the most. The ad editing tool can show you previews of your ad on each placement so you can tweak copy based on the character limit for each. For example, a desktop newsfeed ad will display an entire paragraph, whereas a right column ad will only preview the first 90 characters.

    Facebook Ad Placement

    Have you discovered any great Facebook ad tips? Let us know in the comments!

    In the past few years, the scenario of paid advertisement has undergone dramatic changes. The traditional ads which was intrusive in nature, are replaced by ads that blends naturally with the other posts on the sites.

    Facebook news feeds and Twitter timelines are usually filled with typical things. You will either see the pictures of babies or the pets. Sometimes, for a change, you will come across vacation albums, work related grievances or political posts. But, the photos and links are joined by something else on social media: ads.

    In the past few years the scenario of paid advertisement has undergone dramatic changes. The traditional ads which was intrusive in nature, are replaced by ads that blends naturally with the other posts on the sites. Twitter was the first to come up with promoted tweets for their timelines. That ads fit easily into the social profile. Facebook followed what Twitter has done. The ads on the newsfeed section blurred the line of paid and organic social content.

    The success of any ad campaign depends on your ability to select the content of promotion. Instead of a regular ad, your website or business can distribute interesting information through advertisement to a set of users, which will enhance brand engagement and recognition.

    The major focus behind any advertisement is to derive profit.  However, social ads cannot be created with that goal in mind. Well recognized brands across the world have changed their promotional outlook and are trying to sell their brand experience. They are successful in their approach and are able to make the customers a part of their family. A social marketer has to make this successful strategy work for their social ads.

    Facebook Ads

    Suppose you are thinking of buying a television and for that you have started researching on web or mobile apps. What if you visit your Facebook page and see deals on a TV that features the best prices. You may also receive other brand recommendations. As because you are interested in electronics, Facebook may show you other ads on electronics. The items which you may purchase in the future. Many companies are already using this type of interest-based advertising.

    If you do not want Facebook to show your preferred ads, you will see the standard digital advertising. Facebook has also introduced ad preferences. It is a new tool that lets you add and remove interests that Facebook will use to show you ads.

    Facebook wants to show you ads that will be most relevant for you. To categorize the ads for you, Facebook considers

    • Information you share on your Facebook page
    • Other data about you from the Facebook account
    • Your activities on websites and apps outside Facebook

    Adjusting the ad preferences, Facebook has helped the social marketers to reach the right audience for the best possible engagement.

    Twitter Ads

    This social networking platform has avoided advertising for a long time. Each day there are 500 million tweets and over 240 million users turn to Twitter, to stay connected with their interests. Their interest can be anything-starting from a recent global news to preferred shopping destination. Twitter helps the businesses to track the interests of particular community and reach their target customers.

    Twitter’s new promoted tweets are similar to organic tweets that business can distribute for maximum engagement. They can be replied, retweeted, and favored. However, the business can deliver Tweets to specific users and during particular time period. The best part of the promoted tweets is that the marketers do not have to pay for anything unless the people actually respond to the tweet.

    Promoted tweets are someway better than Facebook ads. Because through this promotion option of the Twitter, it is possible to target viewers based on specific keywords. The marketers are also able to able to show their tweets to people who speak specific languages. This enables to increase the brand awareness in different cultures.

    Google+ Ads

    Google on 16th April, 2014 fully roll out their +Post ads. The advertisers will now be able to place their Google+ posts onto the Google’s display advertising network. These links, photos, and videos are essentially promoted. Viewers can see a “click to expand” button which if clicked transform the content into a full screen view. The contents are fully interactive as the users will be able to comment, share, and give a +1. People can also join Hangout right from the ad.

    These kind of actions from friends move more people to engage with your ad. The Google display network tools will enable you to reach the right audiences for your ad-content. With Google + ads also, the marketers have the benefit to pay only when the people engage with their brand’s content.

    Instagram and Pinterest Ads

    Facebook owned Instagram, started rolling out ads around the same time as the parent company. The sponsored posts are so well integrated, that most of the users see them as normal posts, rather than an ad. The only difference is that the ads carry the word sponsored. Instagram follow what people are doing on their Facebook and Instagram profiles to select and show ads to them. Instagram always try to present high-quality and engaging advertisements. If you do not find them interesting you can provide feedback and hide that ad.

    Promoted Pins help business to reach more people on Pinterest. Promoted Pins are transparent, tasteful, and relevant. They are improved based on the Pinner feedback. These Promoted Pins give businesses of all sizes a chance to connect with more pinners.

    The revolution in the field of social media advertising sends a single message. Social ads can help you to build a community by sending your message to people who will most likely enjoy what you have to offer. Nobody wants to see an ad that sends them to your storefront and links them to products available for purchase. Through, the social ads you can make people a part of the social media family. When they will see that you are ready to build up a relationship, they are likely to become your loyal customers.