In the age of social media, it can be hard to keep up. As soon as you get the hang of one platform, it changes; or, newer, better platforms rise up to usurp its throne. In the game of social media, you win, or you fade into oblivion.

Part of being able to execute a successful social strategy is choosing the right platforms for your business. Between all the available options, this may seem daunting. However, if you ask yourself a few key questions, you should be able to quickly determine which platforms make sense for your business.

Objectives

The first and most important question revolves around your social media objectives. If you’re unable to state how and why a specific channel will help you reach your goals, you should probably forgo it.

If your goal is to boost brand awareness, choose well-established platforms with a large user-base and avoid newer platforms. Well-established platforms are typically easy to use and have the largest audience. As we move toward pay-to-play, it can be hard to reach your target audience organically. Look into available social media advertising options as well, whether your budget is large or small. If your goal is to increase lead generation for your product or service, platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are your best bet.

Target

You should also consider the platforms your target audience is already using. For example, if the bulk of your target is women, ages 45-65, Snapchat is likely not the right platform for you to be spending your time and efforts.

Be aware of your current demographics to make the best decision. Your audience should inform your decision on where to place your efforts and the content you create. The more targeted your approach, the higher your chances are of conversion. If you don’t already have social channels set up, conduct some demographic research to determine what makes the most sense.

Competitors

Where are your competitors present online? What is their following and level of engagement like? What kind of content are they sharing? Knowing the current landscape will give you an idea of what you should and should not be sharing. Sprout Social is a resourceful platform with tools for monitoring how you stack up against your competitors on social media.

Content

The kind of content you create depends on your business and goals. If you want to share industry-specific news, company updates or thought-leadership editorials, you want a platform that is B2B friendly, such as LinkedIn. Twitter is also a great platform for industry news and updates and Medium, Pinterest and Instagram are best suited for B2C businesses that have interesting visual elements. These platforms lend themselves to aspirational visuals and are an excellent place to build your brand’s visual story.

As video content has become more popular, social platforms have adapted to support video content more seamlessly into their feeds. Platforms like Facebook and Twitter tend to have a more universal appeal, while YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope appeal more to younger audiences.

When choosing the channels that are right for your business, it’s important to strike a balance. Utilizing only one platform will likely not be enough; however; spreading yourself too thin will make it difficult for you to make enough of an impact on any one platform.

Need help with your social strategy? Let’s talk!

Ah social media, there’s no doubt that it’s made a tremendous impact on our culture and has been a defining factor for our generation. Look around you and you will find people of all ages scrolling, tapping and buzzing away. Because social media displays our world through filters and hashtags it’s sometimes easy to forget what your online persona really says about you. Here are some of our social media tips for making sure that your online presence represents the kind of person that you want to be publicly known for.

Stay Professional
Think before you post and stick to “tea party etiquette.” That means try to stay away from politics, religion and anything construed as vulgar or possibly offensive. Now, those rules can be smudged a little, but we suggest sticking to them for the most part.

But not too professional…
Don’t put on a façade. Nothing screams “phony” more than someone who only posts industry articles. Show your personality and your fun side without crossing any lines. Be yourself and don’t try to make yourself look like someone you’re not.

Don’t hide
A red flag typically pops up when someone has their social media profiles on private. When we see that we typically wonder what they’re hiding and then imagine something worse than it probably is. This rule is especially important if you plan on working, or currently work, in a position where you deal with social media.

Flaunt it
The times are a’ changing so go ahead and put your Twitter and Instagram handles on your resume if you feel so inclined. Show off what you’re proud of! Just make sure your online persona fits with the first two tips in this post.

Network! Network! Network!
Follow professionals that you idolize, talk to people with similar interest and use social media as a networking tool. Follow your favorite bloggers on Twitter, ask to connect with the cool journalist you met that one time and follow places where you would like to work. Getting your name out there and making connections is a great thing and social media has made it too easy to not utilize.

Use these tips as a general outline for your online presence and you’ll be pretty set the next time someone “creeps” on you. Do you have any additional tips for using social media? Leave us a comment below!

As PR girls, it’s our job to know current events and be up-to-date on what’s happening in our industry. If we want to produce awesome work for our clients, we’ve got to make sure we aren’t missing a beat! Marketing, public relations and social media are industries that are evolving every single day so we are constantly updating each other on new strategies and ways to get things done. We never stop learning and we wouldn’t want it any other way. We do our fair share of blogging, but we still look to other awesome blogs to keep us on the ball. We’ve put together a list of must-read blogs to get you inspired and help you stay up-to-date on industry news no matter how busy you are.

nyc PR girls – This blog might be our favorite. We love Adrianna and Meg’s blog because they write on a variety of topics from pitching and getting press coverage, to advice on applying for jobs.

PRNewser – Before we hit the hay each night, this is the blog we are reading. It covers the inner working of the PR industry and keeps us up-to-date on the latest industry news that we can’t afford to miss. When we need to know what works, what doesn’t and why, this is the blog we go to!

SocialTimes – Looking for a one-stop-shop for learning all things social media? SocialTimes is the blog for you! From breaking Facebook news to the latest Instagram trends, SocialTimes has the inside scoop.

PR Blonde – Lauren describes her blog as “a little industry and a little fun” and we have to agree. She shows us what happens behind some of the most popular brands in our industry along with tips on how to be the best PR girl we can be. It’s also worth noting how incredibly sweet she is. Trust us, you’ll love her and her blog!

Copyblogger – We love Copyblogger because it offers valuable information to help stay up-to-date on what all is going on in the marketing world. Every week Copyblogger brings us original and relevant content that often teaches us how we can be reaching our client’s target audiences in the most efficient way.

Do you have any favorite blogs from the PR/marketing/social media world? Tell us in a comment below!

Photo courtesy of nycprgirls.com, prblonde.com, adweek.com/prnewser, adweek.com/socialtimes and copyblogger.com

Let’s be honest – Google+ isn’t exactly the first social media account that comes to mind. It’s not something most people vigorously check and obsess about like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  However, Wellington Group Marketing & PR uses Google+ very frequently and we felt compelled to share our captivation. 

  • Google+ is promoted by the biggest technology platform on the planet. You want to make Google your friend. Posts to Google+ will be prioritized by Google Search and who doesn’t want to have Google on their side? 
  • Using Google+ allows you to have a tailored search engine by finding specific information that relates to your interests on Google+. Getting the results that you actually want while using Google Search. 
  • Google+ authorship is a great feature for increasing SEO. This feature tags your content and lets Google know you created it. That way your image and Google+ information are shown next to your content in search and your information is ranked higher than content without the verification.
  • The layout is very user friendly – when you scroll through a page it’s formatted like a mood board – a bit like Pinterest. Updates are easy to read and the presentation is attractive.
  • By clicking “Explore” you see what’s trending, top posts, and have the option to look through specific categories including art & design, nature and sports.
  • With “People” selected from the left drop down menu, you are able to discover other Google+ users including businesses and YouTube channels you subscribe to. 
  • There are “Communities” on Google+ including Fashion Bloggers, Crockpot Obsessed and even Disney Fans! Connect with others around the world virtually who share your same (weird) interests. Events can be created through communities.
  • Have a virtual party with your friends or hold a business meeting from your computer using the Google+ hangout feature. 

In short, Google+ is a sleeping giant. While it’s not the most popular social media platform with American users, it deserves a prime spot in your social media arsenal. Your SEO will thank you. We encourage you to jump on the Google+ bandwagon. And while you’re at it, add Wellington Group Marketing & PR to your circle!

Twitter Success

There’s a good chance your company already has a Twitter account, but do you really understand the potential impact it can have on your brand? A common mistake that businesses tend to make is not fully understanding the difference between using Twitter and other social media outlets.

Unlike the ever-so-popular (and equally important) Facebook, Twitter serves as a key relationship-building tool between you and your current and prospective customer, business, press and community relationships. Yes, tweeting new content is important – Twitter is indeed, first and foremost, an informational news feed. Spending the time to proactively engage with others, however, is crucial to building your community and increasing followership.

So, if you haven’t had a significant increase in new followers for a while, or you’re simply looking for a more influential role in the Twittersphere, here’s how to step up your game:

Connect with local businesses. Twitter serves as an easy platform to connect with your local community. Maintaining a relationship with the businesses around you is an easy way to build up your followership and nurture those relationships for potential referrals. Think of your favorite restaurants, coffee shops, fitness studios, or even the businesses in your office building. Once they see that you are following them, they’ll want to return the favor. Don’t just leave it at that, though – keep the conversations going. Retweet, reply to and favorite what they are saying to keep tabs on what they’re up to (and they’ll do the same).

Get to know your customers. On the note of business relationships, don’t forget to reach out to your customers too! Did they rave about your service? Thank them. Do they have suggestions? Hear them out. Great pictures of your product? Retweet it. The most successful social media programs typically involve a direct conversation with their customer base, no matter how large.

Build press relationships. No matter what type of industry you’re in, having a handful of press contacts in your back pocket is important. Whether you’re pitching a new product or announcing new company updates, establishing connections with local and national press, editors and bloggers on Twitter is essential. Maximize this opportunity by actively reaching out and engaging with those individuals who could potentially help promote your brand.

Monitor the latest trends. Like other social media outlets are beginning to copycat, Twitter gives you the ability to keep tabs on what’s trending via hashtags. Use them to your advantage by staying up to date on what’s going on in your industry. With the ability to view live, real-time trending feeds, you can fully maximize your chance to join in on the most current conversations and draw the attention of others to your business.

Being proactive takes time, but schedule at least twenty minutes to login and interact daily, and we promise you’ll be an influential twitter maven in no time!

Making The Most Out Of LinkedIn

It’s no secret that social media has become a hotbed for marketing.  We’ve talked a lot about how to leverage your brand on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram/Vine, Pinterest and even on social review sites. But what about LinkedIn?

Although it may not be the obvious choice when looking for social media sites that will enhance engagement, it’s definitely one you should be part of. In fact, 50% of LinkedIn members have stated that they are more likely to purchase from companies that they engage with on the site. So if your company doesn’t have a LinkedIn page, you better open an account now! Here are a few tips to help your company make the most out of engaging:

Update Your Company Profile
Don’t be shy when filling out your company’s page. Describe your products and services, post informative videos, and let people know about your company’s culture. Posting content regularly will not only help your SEO position, but it will also provide a great way to drive traffic back to your brand’s site.

Keep It Relevant.
As with any social network, marketing success on LinkedIn comes down to relevancy. Given LinkedIn’s user base, it’s important to post professional content, such as sharing articles pertaining to your particular industry, announcing company updates, or posting relevant blog posts. And if you really want to stand out, try focusing on images and eye-grabbing headlines. You can even get creative in your outreach – check out this effort by Hanes!

Use Groups For Good.
Groups are a great way to market your brand’s message while connecting to consumers directly. Explore the different groups that are currently out there – you might find a few that pertain to your business. It’s also a good idea to create your own industry-related group to establish your company as a thought leader. Build your following by targeting your own employees first. If your member base needs an additional boost, utilize LinkedIn’s business ads to promote your group to outside users. Once they’re there, get to talking!

If used correctly, LinkedIn can be a great way for businesses to get social with professionals. As the network continues to grow, we can’t wait to see the creative ways that brands use it next. So, what do you have to lose? Jump in and watch your business thrive!

Twitter Engagement

As a business owner, you understand the impact that social media can have on your company. After all, it’s called social media for a reason – you have to be, well, social! However, simply updating your Facebook every couple of days, or retweeting articles every now and then on Twitter is not enough. Effectively engaging on social media, specifically on Twitter, is what makes your company shine above your competitors. It takes time, but it’s definitely manageable. Here are some tips that will help make your Twitter engagement a breeze:

Establish Your Audience
The first step to engaging is identifying who your business is appealing to. You want to publish tweets that will solidify your client base and attract potential clients. Your audience will also include other businesses who are in your industry and local businesses. Pinpointing your target audience will ensure that you’re making the best connections that will help your company grow. 

Have genuine human characteristics
Building a conversation sounds easy enough, right? The important aspect is that you build long lasting relationships with your customers. It’s exciting for a customer to get a retweet or mention from a company because they feel special for being noticed. When talking (or typing), you want to engage with your customer as you would if you were talking face-to-face. It’s essential for brands to embrace human characteristics and not be robotic when engaging. 

Here’s a great example from Austin-based Whole Foods Market. They are a social media powerhouse that’s known for going above and beyond when engaging with their customers.

Whole Foods Social Media

Respond to positive and negative feedback
As a business owner, you know that not all customers will always sing your praises. It’s important for your company to step up to the plate and respond to both positive and negative feedback. You never want to delete the negative comments – this will not only make the situation worse, but it will reflect poorly on your company, causing customers to think that you are dismissing their issues. 

An example of how to appropriately respond to negative feedback is one provided by JetBlue’s social media customer service team.

JetBlue Social Media

Increasing your Twitter engagement can take your business to the next level and differentiate you from your competitors.  Looking for more ways to increase your Twitter engagement? Check out our previous post on how Twitter is quickly surpassing traditional news outlets. 

Vine vs Instagram

 

Whether you want to document a sunny day at the beach or you’re part of the communications team at the White House, Vine and Instagram Video have become widely popular tools for social communication. Vine debuted back in January as a Twitter social media feature, while Instagram added its own video sharing feature in June. Even as relatively new members of the social family, Vine and Instagram Video have already caught the attention of major brands and organizations for its potential as strong marketing mediums.

Here are a few tips to stay top of mind when posting your own Vine or Instagram Video for your brand:

  • Time: Remember that these videos are relatively short – so use your time wisely.  Vine only allows you to record 6 second videos, while Instagram allows for 15 seconds. No matter which application you choose, try to condense a handful of topics into a short time span. Break them up and use them as a series.
  • Humanize: Your audience wants to put a face to the name. Because you’re working with a video application, you can capture your company culture like the way BuzzFeed did with their hilarious employee dancing Vine. Or give your customers a behind the scenes look at your company, like the way Burberry did with their Spring/Summer 2014 Fashion Show.
  • Sound: What makes these 2 video applications different from your regular GIF, which has also gained online popularity, is there ability to produce sound. Play a catchy tune in the background or your own brand’s theme song – have fun with it.
  • Stop-Motion: Vine and Instagram Video’s stop-and-start functionality allows you to get creative with stop-motion videos. Large companies like Lowe’s and Starbucks are using stop-motion to deliver great technical tips and creativity inspiration that represent their brand.
  • Humor: Have fun with it. Vine provides a great opportunity to garner some laughs from your fan-base. Tyra Banks was one of the first celebrity Vine experimenters, creating a huge buzz for herself while doing so. Smize!

How will you use Vine or Instagram Video to help enhance your brand?

[Image via Mashable]

Internet Privacy

We’ve all seen and heard the news coverage surrounding Facebook data leaks and government data mining, so we thought it would be a great time to discuss the kind of information you should and shouldn’t be sharing with others online and off. Social media has made its way into our daily lives, and we shouldn’t have to give it up to feel “safe.” However, it’s important to recognize that there’s a way to use it and a way not to use it in order to keep your conscious clear during times like these.

Let’s start with one of the more controversial social mediums out there: Snapchat. What you should be using this for: silly selfies between friends. What you should not be using this for: revealing and inappropriate pictures that your grandmother wouldn’t approve of. Yes, this app revolves around the concept that the pictures you send disappear after a number of seconds. However, recent news revealed that there are companies out there that can dig up any “unrecoverable” Snapchat they please. Lesson learned? Think before you snap.

Next up: Facebook. The largest social network in the world has been in the news for inadvertently exposing six million users’ phone numbers and email addresses. This is just another reminder to post wisely. You never know who is looking at your profile or downloading that one college picture of you doing a keg-stand. Who knows, you may run for congress someday, and you definitely don’t want that picture from ten years ago coming back to haunt you. A good way to keep yourself in check is to treat every single status update, picture and direct message as if your boss could see it all. More and more employers are asking for their employees’ Facebook information, sometimes going as far as requesting your password. Take the time now to go all the way back to the first day you signed up for Facebook and delete anything and everything that you wouldn’t be proud to show grandma.

Twitter/Instagram/Vine etc.: Bottom line: be classy and know that nothing you post on the Internet is completely safe or private. Social media has given rise to increased transparency, but know when to draw the line regarding what you share with the world. It’s great that we have these tools, and there are some truly beneficial ways to use them, but do not put your career and reputation in danger by abusing the mighty power that social networks give us. Be smart, and you will be safe!

Whether you’re showing off the latest products in your line, or sharing boards chock-full of the inspiration that drives your work, Pinterest can be a seriously great tool to connect consumers to your brand. In fact, according to Rich Relevance, Pinterest shoppers spend significantly more per checkout than any other social media outlet, and Pinterest accounts for 25% of retail referral traffic today.

The popular social media outlet has become well known for its strong appeal to foodies, DIY lovers and brides-to-be. However, what is little talked about is its potential for greatness (when used correctly) for a wider variety of industries, ranging from tech to finance.

Since we are avid pinners ourselves, we compiled seven ways your company can make the most out of Pinterest, Martha Stewart wannabe or not:

Research. As with any new project, it’s always important to research before you completely dive in. 

  • Take a look at what your competitors are pinning to get an idea of what types of boards you should be following and creating. If your competitors are not on Pinterest, don’t think this is a sign that you shouldn’t have one—jump in first and stay ahead of the game!
  • Pinterest allows you to be creative, so don’t always stick to pinning strictly about what your company does. Find out what types of content attracts the most repins. This will require some trial and error on your part.
  • Research the most popular keywords in your category and use them in your descriptions to encourage more traffic to your pins. With a 500-character limit, you’ll have plenty of space to fill in relevant key words, which will also increase your SEO.

The more research you do, the better the outcome your company’s Pinterest page will have.

Think before you follow. Your Pinterest feed is filled with a slew of pins from those you’ve chosen to follow, so choose wisely. Your feed is where the inspiration process begins, so who inspires you most? Think about your target audience, what inspires your work, and who pushed you to be where you are today. For example, if you’re an entrepreneur who has a strong female audience, try following Oprah Winfrey—after all, she is one of the most influential entrepreneurs out there!

Go big. It never hurts to follow companies outside of your element. Search for national news sources, such as Time Magazine or NBC News. These are great sources to stay up-to-date on current trends from around the world.

Use your expertise. What do you consider your company to be an expert in—Law? Artisan food? Mobile app development? Whatever your niche may be, create boards that are relevant to your company. Use the search feature to explore what’s already out there to repin—you might be surprised! From interesting infographics to recent articles about the latest industry trends, share it all!

Personalize it. Consumers like brands that they have personal connections with, so why not give your fans the chance to see inside your everyday work routine? Take photos of employees around the office or during conferences and events. Let consumers see that you are regular people, just like them! Adding unique videos to your Pinterest page is also a great way to connect with your audience. American Airlines does this via a dedicated “Behind the Scenes” board, giving you a little peek into what their employees do to make sure you have the best flight possible. Other video ideas include “how-to” or case studies, both of which will provide your customers with an inside look into your company.

Balance Your Boards. Sharing other users’ content is great, but it won’t lead traffic back to your site. Sharing your own content leads traffic to your site, but it can turn off fans if it’s all that you share. Work towards finding a balance between the two, and you’ll find Pinterest success soon enough!

Be Unique. To reiterate, Pinterest is not just for retailers and consumer-packaged good companies. A large variety of industries can find great success through this ever-so-popular social media outlet. However as an industry outside of the stereotypical Pinterest scope, you’ll need to be creative. How? Take our client, Far West Capital, for example. They provide factoring and financing to small businesses. With their target in mind – entrepreneurs who need constant inspiration to keep moving forward – they have curated their boards with inspiration quotes, statistics and stories. Find your out-of-the-box angle, and go with it!

When creating your Pinterest page, keep these tips in mind to ensure your company makes the most out of it. Familiarize yourself with group boards, and always be sure to promote your Pinterest on your company website and other social media sites.

To help you get inspired, Pinterest has created a list of success stories from other businesses that are using the site to help explore their brand. You can also use Wellington Group’s Pinterest page to get your juices flowing. Once you’re feeling inspired, get out there and start pinning!

Lately, we’ve been noticing that Twitter has been our go-to source for recent events, like the royal baby news and Wendy Davis’ filibuster. Obviously, the social media outlet is extremely useful for keeping up-to-date with the latest happenings with your friends, but when it comes to disseminating the news, it could soon take over traditional TV news outlets.

When it comes to reliability, we know that the majority of America still relies on traditional news sources due to Twitter being somewhat flawed. After constantly reading tweet after tweet that Kate Middleton went into labor before the real deal, we’ve learned to take tweets with a grain of salt. However, Twitter is constantly being used as a source for news, and even the Royal Family has turned to this outlet. To shake up tradition, the family tweeted the announcement of the royal baby boy at the same time the traditional easel was placed in front of Buckingham Palace. Maybe times are really changing. 

In the case of Wendy Davis, traditional media outlets weren’t covering the filibuster of the anti-abortion bill here in Texas. Rachel Sklar puts it perfectly on Medium, stating that many of the mainstream sources that people go to for real-time news, such as CNN, MSNBC, FOX etc., had nothing related to the legislature battle in Texas. For all updates regarding the now-passed bill, people had to take to Twitter with the hashtag #StandWithWendy, or follow the Texas legislature livestream on YouTube.  And boy, did they! With over 3,000 tweets related to Davis’ filibuster, the presence of Twitter gave rise to a communal feeling of involvement that quickly turned into a phenomenon.

Will Twitter Surpass Traditional News Outlets?

Both of these recent events prove that Twitter is here to stay, and could possibly take over as a leading news source. Social media sites definitely have timing on their side, as national networks like CNN simply can’t move as quickly as Twitter when something unusual happens. By acting as a crowd-sourced newswire in the first minutes of an event, Twitter can connect people in an incredibly powerful way. From baby announcements to national crises and uprisings, Twitter’s worth is unquestionably huge. But how huge will it get? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

The once-retired Hostess snack, the Twinkie, made their official nation-wide “comeback” today with a marketing campaign that we just can’t ignore. It has been eight months since the nutritionally challenged treats went on hiatus, devastating many fans across the nation. Alas, their suffering has now come to an end.

This celebratory re-emergence was made possible by the private equity firms, Apollo Global Management and Metropoulos & Co., who made a $410 million deal with Hostess after it filed for bankruptcy. In taking over the popular snack brand, the firms have announced not only the return of Twinkies, but also of CupCakes, Donettes, Zingers, HoHos and Ding Dongs. Sponge cake fanatics rejoice!

While we aren’t exactly scrambling to hit up the grocery stores for some classic treats of our own today, we sure do applaud the ingenious tagline: “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever.” Complete with its clever play on words and its grammar faux pas, the hash-taggable campaign has taken social media sites by storm.

Masterminded by advertising agency, Bernstein-Rein, this aggressive campaign has generated quite the buzz on social media — and rightfully so. In another ingenious move, the company launched an interactive Vine campaign asking users to “prepare their cakeface” and record themselves prepping for the return of their favorite treats. In addition to their impact on the interwebs, Bernstein-Rein played up the anticipation by incorporating outdoor billboards in large cities like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago, with only three inclusions: the Hostess logo, an image of the product and the “7.15.13” relaunch date.

To top it all off, the agency implemented some good ole’ guerrilla marketing efforts in the same locations as their billboards, taking to the streets with t-shirts and buttons that read, “I saved Twinkies.” As of today, the street teams will also launch a national food truck tour in the same cities, where they will give out free products and continue to spread the word about their sweet comeback.

Hostess noted that they have plans of marketing their products differently this round. They are targeting those between 18 – 34 years old, most of which the company admits most likely do not purchase their products today. With this healthier-eating and more calorie conscious age group in mind, they have plans to develop tasty treats that are lower in calories, higher in fiber and whole grains, and gluten-free, as well as those in smaller packaging sizes.

There are many routes a brand can go when positioning a comeback. We like Hostess’ simple approach, calling it what it was: a sweet comeback. All they had to do was start the clock on the relaunch and leave it to the fans to take care of the rest. Without the loyal Twinkies lovers out there, this campaign would have meant nothing. By allowing their fan base to interact with the brand, share their love for the cream-filled sponge cakes and help celebrate the return of the most popular snack cakes out there, “The Sweetest Comeback in the History of Ever” will be just that. Successful campaigns don’t need to be complicated, as long as you give people something to talk about… and something to look forward to.

The hashtag has arrived on Facebook, and the transition has been seamless. The familiar symbol pioneered by Twitter is now a clickable function on Facebook (and Facebook-owned Instagram) allowing unconnected users to discuss subjects and trends without needing to be “friends.”

For those who have been living under a rock: hashtags are a way to organize real-time conversations so that information on the same topic can be grouped together and searched. This function allows marketers to find out what consumers are talking about, follow conversations relating to topics in their industry and easily engage with consumers around the world. In the interest of staying relevant on social media, we are curious what this means for us as marketers, and how best we can utilize this ubiquitous symbol to engage with consumers across all social media sites.

Integrating hashtags into Facebook has given way to a number of opportunities for brands. With more than twice the number of active users as Twitter, access to real time conversations among one billion people is huge. In addition, Facebook reaches more of an older demographic than Twitter, giving marketers access to a larger group that spans a greater variety of ages, interests and locations. Most advertisers and marketers already incorporate hashtags in their campaigns, so this new addition simply amplifies those efforts.

We recognize the importance of brands participating in trending discussions and connecting with users as a way of staying top of mind, and Facebook has fostered just that with the implementation of hashtags. We now have the ability to search for specific hashtags in the search bar, click on others’ hashtags that originate on different sites like Instagram, and start conversations directly from the hashtag feed and search results.

More recently, Facebook has announced the integration of video for Instagram as an answer to the popularity of Twitter’s Vine videos. In this battle to be the best, we definitely approve of the innovation spurring from this competition in the social media world, and can’t wait to see what comes next. Both Facebook and Twitter are equally important for us as marketers in reaching audiences and developing meaningful relationships with consumers, but for everyone else out there, we have to ask: are you team Facebook or team Twitter?

 

At Wellington Group, we are always on the hunt for brands that introduce innovative new approaches to marketing. We recently ran across a blog-worthy (anti-) social media campaign that did just that.

In case you haven’t heard, Fiat’s Abarth 500 is just too fast to follow. If you try to follow the vehicle’s Twitter page, their following briefly goes up to 1, but then rapidly returns back to 0. This approach is truly one that no one has ever tried before and, frankly, isn’t typically something that most companies would want to flaunt.

We applaud the innovative thinking here, but what kind of reverse-psychology is this? Why is this German-based company going against what most brands spend millions of dollars trying to build? Well, it sure has made some noise in the marketing industry. View the discussion by following hashtag, #zerofollowers.

So what can we learn from this not-so-social media campaign?

Standing apart from the crowd is priceless. While every other brand out there is vying for more followers, likes and re-pins, Fiat did some serious out-of-the-box brainstorming and found a captivating new angle. As we mentioned in our recent blog post, Be Bold (Without Crossing the Line), with so many messages vying for consumers’ attention nowadays, it’s vital to find new and creative ways to market your brand — don’t be afraid to shake things up!

We hope this clever campaign will inspire you in your marketing efforts, and cause you to think more out-of-the-box with your brand – it has certainly made an impression on us! What are your thoughts?

You may have heard about the recent Amy’s Baking Company fiasco that’s gone viral over the last week, proving how detrimental social media can be when misused. Owners, Amy and Samy Bouzaglo, have become social media celebrities, with their angry comments retaliating against customers on Yelp, Facebook and Reddit. Even worse, this occurred after being featured on the season finale of Kitchen Nightmares and being dubbed “too far gone” by chef, Gordon Ramsey. Ramsey appears as the levelheaded party when juxtaposed with the Bouzaglo duo (which says a lot!), and for the first time on the show, he decided to quit working with the local Arizona business.

Recently, the couple made claims that they were not behind the all-caps, profanity-ridden posts, and that their account was actually hacked. While this is an unlikely story, they’re sticking to their guns on this one, making clear that they need a serious lesson on crisis management. This public relations nightmare makes us wonder, what steps should be taken at this point? How can the situation be rectified? And is the business, in the words of Ramsey, “too far gone?”

It’s apparent that the Bouzaglo’s could have learned a thing or two from our crisis management DOs and DON’Ts, highlighted in our previous blog post.

To recap:

DON’T shift blame

DO fully apologize – “It’s our fault”

DON’T offer excuses

DON’T behave as the victim

We would also like to add a couple more items to the list:

DON’T insult your customers

DON’T POST ANGRY, ALL CAPS, PROFANITY-RIDDEN COMMENTS THAT ARE PUBLIC ON YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA SITES, THEN ANNOUNCE THAT YOU WEREN’T BEHIND THEM IN THE SAME EXACT ALL CAPS, PROFANITY-RIDDEN LANGUAGE

And how would we rectify the situation, now that most of the damage is done?

1. Apologize, apologize, apologize. Unfortunately, social media users can smell a lie as soon as it’s posted, and public forums, such as Facebook, make for an unforgiving audience. The hacker story was immediately interpreted as such, and they are seeing the consequences. Owning up to the mistake and apologizing won’t be a quick fix. In fact, it will require much patience while shielding off continued angry feedback. However, it’s the honest route and will prepare them for a clean foundation to rebuild off of.

2. Get Quiet. Silence will allow for time to rebuild. It’s never too late to rebrand your company after a disaster like this. It will take some time and restraint, but it is possible. Going under the radar for a little bit, rather than making noise in an effort to prove themselves to the public, will do them well.

3. Training. While “going quiet,” Amy and Samy clearly need to undergo several levels of training – media relations, social media and customer service. If they are open and willing enough to take this on, the couple will be armed and ready to face their infuriated audience head-on when it’s time.

4. Step Back and Hire Out. No matter what intensive training Amy and Samy endure, we have doubts that they’ll be a perfect fit for manning their social media accounts, marketing presence and customer service initiatives. As business owners, they will need to step back, let go, and bring in a manager to take on customer relations on their behalf. Additionally, with their small business budget, it would be wise to bring on an in-house marketing staff member who understands the needs of the company, but also fully grasps the etiquette desired and conversations necessary to have with the Amy’s Bakery audience.

5. Re-launch. Once comprehensive training has occurred and thoughtful hires have been placed, it’s time to re-launch with a new look and feel. We would suggest making a formal announcement — press release and all – about Amy’s honest, brand new start and the large efforts they have made to get there. After all, this negative publicity has certainly made the couple popular, and now with over 94,000 Facebook likes, there will be large audience ready and waiting to see where they all end up.

Recent update: Amy and Samy actually hired PR firm, Rose+Moser+Allyn, in hopes that they could manage the storm of negative publicity and the “grand re-opening” for Amy’s Baking Company on May 21, 2013. Unfortunately, the relationship didn’t work out and the PR firm quit just days before the re-opening, citing that there were some differences of opinion. We can only hope that the event was a humble and apologetic affair. Perhaps the best thing the owners could do at this point is stay silent until the dust settles in Scottsdale, Arizona.