• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 17, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • On the heels of the North Korean hacking debacle related to the film "The Interview," Sony wasted a golden public relations opportunity.

    Whether you are a casual news observer or a rabid consumer, you’ve heard some degree of buzz about Sony Pictures Entertainment’s heavily promoted new film, “The Interview,” which depicts a satirical attempt to assassinate the huggable North Korean dictator, King Jong Un.  And following a cyber attack against Sony thought to be related to the film, on Thursday the comedy was pulled from theatrical release due to a subsequent terrorist threat against theaters set to premiere the film – an attack now being attributed to North Korean hackers.

    It goes without saying, of course, that the debacle has saved the film’s star, Seth Rogan, from being the center of yet another horrendous Rottentomatoes review. Beyond that, however, is the opportunity typically born from strife. And the events have offered Sony a unique public relations opportunity – one that the studio quickly wasted – in positioning itself as a symbol of American freedoms and resolve, instead of as the quivering victim Sony now appears to be.

    “In light of the decision by the majority of our exhibitors not to show the film “The Interview,” we have decided not to move forward with the planned December 25 theatrical release,” Sony said in a statement.

    Following its retreat, a Sony spokesman said there were “no further plans” to release the film, and the highly educated C-list Hollywood elite then joined intellectual aristocrats like Donald Trump and former beauty pageant contestants leading FOX News coverage to express their collective sighs and outrage about Sony’s cowardice.

    Even the 23-year-old intern running former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s Twitter account weighed in Tweeting, “.@SonyPictures don’t cave, fight: release @TheInterview free online globally. Ask viewers for voluntary $5 contribution to fight #Ebola.”

    Ebola! Yeah! That’s relevant! Good for you, intern!

    So where is the true lost opportunity here? On the heels of a rare event like this, how can a brand or organization score a public relations victory, set themselves apart as leaders, and engage with their audiences on an unmatched level?

    Instead of cancelling the film altogether without any real pronouncement nor plan to speak of, what if Sony had followed Romney’s intern’s advice to a degree and released the film online for free? Or, what if Sony partnered with one or all of the major television networks to broadcast the film uninterrupted by commercials, much like NBC did with “Schindler’s List.” It would have made a demonstrative statement about Sony’s willingness to forgo profit (which it’s losing, anyhow), and be perceived as an organization supporting the same American freedoms and virtues that our political leaders fail to support on a daily basis by spending 99.9 percent of their time bickering with one another.

    Instead, we had to read silly, shallow statements from the studio like, “Those who attacked us stole our intellectual property, private emails and sensitive and proprietary material, and sought to destroy our spirit and our morale – all apparently to thwart the release of a movie they did not like.”

    Blah, blah, blah … noise, noise …whatever.

    Without question, at a time when Sony could ill-afford to do so, it lost badly here on a film that reportedly cost some $44 million to make. We all grieve for Sony’s studio execs who earn tens of millions annually in compensation.

    More than anything, what Sony really lost was an opportunity to make a statement. Instead of standing strong and thinking strategically, the film studio chose to place its corporate tail in embarrassing depths between its legs. It’s a self-inflicted wound and lost PR opportunity that it will never recoup. 

    In our latest edition of SMT Shorts, Amber Armstrong, Program Director of Social Business Market Making and Evangelism at IBM, discusses how to work with influencers and how to build an employee advocacy strategy.

    Welcome to our latest edition of SMT Shorts, a series that addresses your social media and marketing questions with concise, expert answers. This week, Amber Armstrong, Program Director of Social Business Market Making and evangelism at IBM, discussed how to work with influencers and how to build an employee advocacy strategy. Thanks to Amber for lending her expertise! Subscribe to our YouTube page to keep yourself up to date with not only our SMT Shorts, but other great video content as well.


    First up: "How I work with influencers?" 


    Next up: "How do I build an employee advocacy strategy?" 

    Thanks for watching! Stay tuned for more SMT Shorts with our experts.

    In many ways, 2015 should be the year when video marketing makes giant strides in the travel and hospitality vertical. We can also expect social and mobile to become more mainstream. A new study conducted by PhoCusWright for Expedia Media Solutions shows the travel advertising landscape is shifting accordingly, with three noticeable trends in tow.

    In many ways, 2015 should be the year when video marketing makes giant strides in the travel and hospitality vertical. We can also expect social and mobile to become more mainstream, in particular within the realm of local search, thus getting the industry closer to that ever elusive so-lo-mo reality – that’s for social, local and mobile, in case you were wondering!

    A new study conducted by PhoCusWright for Expedia Media Solutions shows the travel advertising landscape is shifting accordingly, with three noticeable trends in tow:

    1. Growth will be robust

    Travel display ad spend is expected to grow by $29M dollars between 2013 and 2015 in the US, which is aligned with gross bookings. I am curious to find out how much of this increase will be invested in remarketing initiatives, and how much will go through classic Google AdWords campaigns, or if there will be a shift towards Facebook campaigns or even TripAdvisor TripConnect investments.

    Read: Is Google Losing Its Mojo?

    2. Emerging platforms are making inroads

    Not much of a surprise either to find out that the fastest growth will come from social and video commercial channels, confirming a trend we have been observing for the past four to five years. In fact, it is estimated that social and video ad budgets will have tripled, from 6% of all digital budgets in 2011, to 18% in 2015! I find this figure to be still extremely low, considering how effective advertising can be on social networks such as Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter, not to mention remarketing campaigns across various platforms and devices.

    Read: The Multiscreen Evolution of Travel Decisions

    3. Will social take off?

    Perhaps the most interesting part – some may say the most intriguing part – of this report comes from the trend forecast with regards to how travel brands are experimenting with social ad targeting. I am puzzled to read that advertisers plan to experiment or adopt campaigns with Twitter cards, Google+ and Pinterest. Like, really? What about Facebook or Linkedin? Or even Instagram?

    It should come as no surprise to see 46% of ad buyers stating that social networks are extremely or very effective at generating brand awareness. But I must admit I was surprised to see 33% of respondents saying they use social targeting or retargeting technologies, with another 12% intending to experiment these in 2012. In my experience, these percentages are a lot lower, so perhaps there is room for hope?

    Travel Advertising Trends 2015 Infographic

    If you are a travel brand advertising on digital marketing, I would love to get your feedback in the comment section below. Do you agree with these findings?

    top image / shutterstock

    Social posting requires more than just tweeting out a link to your new blog article. If you want to get the maximum effect for your effort, here are a handful of tips you may want to keep in mind.

    Most marketers realize that announcing and sharing their posts on social media sites like Twitter, Google+, or Facebook is an important part of attracting interest. Doing so allows you to alert your connections that you have new content to check out, and could even help jumpstart a conversation with the people you want to get to know.

    Social posting requires more than just tweeting out a link to your new blog article. If you want to get the maximum effect for your effort, here are a handful of tips you may want to keep in mind:

    1. Introduce your post in the right way.

    We all know that strong titles and headlines are important for drawing in readers to your blog. The same goes for your social posts. You may decide to use the same title that you put on your blog or go with something different. Either way, make sure you have something that’s both descriptive and compelling if you want others to pay attention.

    2. Don’t be such a tease.

    If you’re introducing “new strategies for X,” for example, don’t be afraid to share a couple of them in your social intro. A lot of marketers will be tempted to hold back, hoping that readers will click through to their blog to get the real goods, but that’s not a great way to win trust or clicks.

    3. Use formatting in an inviting way.

    How do you feel when you see long blocks of uninterrupted text on any page? Probably the same way you do when you see it anywhere else – bored, disinterested or even annoyed. Break your content into short blurbs for maximum readability.

    4. Be specific, not overwhelming, with your hashtags.

    Remember that social users sort content with hashtags. It’s important to be descriptive, so interested people can find your posts and updates, but not to overload or overwhelm your content with busy-ness). That just waters down your message and makes everything less readable at the same time.

    5. Shorten URLs for easier social sharing.

    Reducing the length of your links makes for a better user experience and can help you fit URLs that would otherwise be too long into tweets. You could shorten yours using the popular bit.ly, ow.ly (Hootsuite’s) or you can use the Google URL Shortener (my personal favourite).

    6. Engage readers with questions and challenges.

    The real goal of social sharing isn’t just to create another link for your blog post, it's to start a discussion with your audience. With that in mind, don't be shy about inviting comments and feedback. Challenge your readers, ask them questions, and learn if they are truly interested in what you are presenting.

    7. Show off your lighter side.

    You always want to be a human, not a machine, which means it’s a good idea to show your lighter side once in a while. Pop in the occasional meme (just try to make one of your own instead of posting the pictures we’ve all seen a zillion times), share a joke, post a random thought, or even give a picture from a recent camping trip or a video of your puppy being cute. Each of these reminds connections that you’re an actual person and makes them more likely to engage with you.

    8. Comment as if you were posting.

    When you’re commenting on a social post – either as a follow-up to your own content or someone else’s – remember that all of the same guidelines apply.

    BIG FAT BONUS TIP: Include an image!

    The major social networks will display your image full width when over 500px wide. Smaller images usually end up displayed as thumbnails. Since people are visual creatures, images significantly increase engagement. Select clean, solid colours and interesting content, or snap your own. Just don’t use the same clip-art level graphics you used to see in the 90s (it’s a sign you are way, way, out of date).

    In the end, remember that simply logging in to your social networks and posting a link to your blog post may be quick and easy, but that’s not an effective way to attract readers or generate discussion - especially with the right people. Always be willing to put in a little bit of effort, so you can build up connections and reputation that help you attract new readers every time you add new content.

    In just two weeks we’ll be into 2015 (scary, I know!) – so with that in mind, today seemed like the perfect time to start looking ahead to 2015 to see what the next 12 months might hold for the digital industry.

    In just two weeks we’ll be into 2015 (scary, I know!) – so with that in mind, today seemed like the perfect time to start looking ahead to 2015 to see what the next 12 months might hold for the digital industry.

    Seeing as how I work mainly in SEO and Content, I thought I’d throw my two cents in and take a stab at what the next 12 months might hold for these niches.

    1. Penguin That Ticks The Boxes: OK, so we might have got the Penguin 3.0 update we’d been waiting for for over a year back in October – but a quick glance at any SEO blog shows that this update was… well… a little underwhelming for many. And it’s not surprising really. Google bigged the update up, claiming it was going to “shake” the industry – and while it did certainly change a few SERPs, it wasn’t anywhere near as big as the industry expected or hoped.

    According to various blogs, the algorithm was still updating last week – something which is pretty uncommon for Google (normally their updates are complete world wide within a week or so) – which has led many to question just what Google is doing and if Matt Cutts’ absence is to blame. That said; whether Matt Cutts comes back to the search team or not in 2015, I think in the next 12 months, Google’s going to come out with a bigger Penguin update that makes waves – and following that update (which I guess would be Penguin 4.0), I think, just like Panda, we’ll see Penguin rolled into the ongoing monthly algorithm updates.

    2. More Of A Focus On Mobile When Ranking Sites: It’s no secret that mobile is big business and in 2015, I think we’re going to start to see it affecting SEO a lot more. Why? Because Google have already starting to tag websites which are mobile-friendly in the SERPs which means it’s already starting to identify which websites have mobile-friendly features (both in terms of the technical issues and user experience) – and I think these factors are going to start to directly affect where sites rank when someone uses Google on their mobile device more and more in 2015. Why? Because they’ve already told us this is something they’ve started to experiment with on their very own Webmaster Central Blog:

    SEO mobile friendly

    The message? If your site doesn’t work well on mobile – fix it, sooner rather than later!

    3. More Personalised Content: Thanks to Big Data, brands have more data about us than ever and as a result, in 2015 I think we can expect to see brands to placing a larger focus on delivering more personalised content that meets the needs and preferences of individual users and customers.

    4. More Data/Tools In Organic SERPs: Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen Google introduce more and more tools and information into the Knowledge Graph and organic search results – and we’d be foolish to think this is about to stop anytime soon. Whether it’s right or wrong, I think Google’s going to continue to add its own tools, such as mortgage calculators, and pull more content directly into the Knowledge Graph in a bid to better answer search queries directly.

    5. SEOs Will Start To Chase Brand Mentions As Much As Links: In these post-Penguin times, it goes without saying that link building is much trickier, with many SEOs and digital marketers now much more wary about what links they pick up and from what site. With that in mind, and the fact that SEO is now merging more and more with online PR, I think in 2015 we’ll see SEOs and digital marketers starting to chase brand mentions on high authority sites as much (if not more than) links. Why? Two reasons – a brand mention on a high authority site can be pretty powerful – and with no link, SEOs don’t have to worry about possible repercussions next time Penguin rolls around.

    6. SEO Will Merge With Other Roles: As I just mentioned, SEO has already begun to merge with some roles such as online PR, and I think that trend is only going to continue throughout 2015. In addition to becoming even more integrated with Social and Content, in terms of job trends, (as I mentioned in my 2015 job trends blog), I believe we’ll start to see more in-house hiring and a move away from agencies as brands look to take more control over their digital marketing, particularly around SEO.

    7. Content Campaigns Across Multiple Channels & Platforms: With more platforms available than ever before, in addition to creating more personalised content, in 2015 I think we can expect brands to start delivering more integrated content campaigns which span across multiple channels and platforms, both on and offline. This content will be different for every platform and will really meet the needs of the users on each platform. This means brands will have to put real time and effort into creating content which will not only provide real value to users – but also content which is unique and relevant to every platform it’s created for.

    So there we go; my top seven predictions for the SEO and Content industry in 2015. Agree with any of my predictions – or have some of your own you’d like to share? Leave me a comment below.