Category Archives: Social Media
“Billboard ads. We’ve got to do the billboard ads again this year.”
Sound like a familiar demand from your communications or marketing director?
Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place for billboard ads as part of a larger integrated marketing campaign. Surround sound brand awareness is always an important driver for pushing people down the marketing funnel. That being said, we’re operating in a new era. 54% of the U.S. population (some 133 million Americans) are now active users on Facebook and spend an average of seven hours per month on the site (According to the Pew Research Center Research State of Social Media 2012 Report). Simply put, chances are good that your target audience is spending considerable time on Facebook.
Let’s look at the facts. If you invest heavily in traditional advertising channels such as radio and billboard ads, you’re investing in impressions. Outside of a controlled tracking URL, you are banking on word of mouth and repeated impressions making an impact without any tangible engagement metrics. Enter Facebook.
Likes. Comments. Shares. AND Impressions. Yowza. Now we’re getting somewhere.
Billboards, radio and TV are all static outlets. If your goal is to drive some type of action online and your primary focus remains on driving engagement only through these traditional channels, chances are good you’ll be left disappointed in the end with a mighty bill that now requires justification.
With Facebook, you’re taking your message to where your audience already is spending their time. Half the work is done. You now have a real-time feedback channel where you can test and analyze reaction to various campaigns through content and message testing.
In a recent post, Frank Strong, noted on Copyblogger:
“Content is currency — something we trade for our audience’s attention. That currency becomes more valuable every time it’s shared by someone other than ourselves.”
Guess who else recognizes that content is currency? You got it. Zuck and company thrive on brands maximizing use of the platform to effectively engage audiences and they want you to pay for it. Take a glance at the stock market. You can’t blame ‘em.
Facebook’s recent algorithm shift means that brands are going to have to focus even moreso on driving engagement (clicks, likes, comments, shares) in order to reach their fans. To help with that effort, Facebook is encouraging brands to use paid advertising with promoted posts to help gain more share of fans’ newsfeeds.
The fact of the matter is that most brands will never achieve reaching an average of 16% organic reach to their fan base with each post. Thus, brands will need to start thinking about how they allocate advertising dollars as part of a “flexible fund” for community managers to ignite posts that are driving strong engagement in real-time.
The big takeaway? Start pushing your creative limits to drive consistent engagement and start planning those ad dollars appropriately.
Image courtesy of mediaboytodd.
It’s a search battleground out there.
Each and every day, more and more people use the Web to seek out medical, health and healthcare related information. Your competing hospital down the road or top health insurance competitor across town knows this just as well as you do. In fact, your boss may be questioning why your organization is always ranked below the competition in various search results. Time to take action.
To date, you may have assumed that search engine optimization (SEO) is something that your IT folks handle and that it’s not a priority or focus area for your communications or marketing team. The problem is that your IT team is not tied in with your day-to-day communications and marketing activities. Thus, chances are good that there is a disconnect between what keywords your IT team is focused on versus the keywords you are working to own through your search engine marketing campaign, content marketing and social media efforts.
SEO has always been a critical marketing driver but why is it now more important than ever for healthcare marketers? Here are three key reasons to consider:
1. Competition Is Already Stiff
SEO is anything but new. Still, I’m often blown away by how few companies and organizations regularly track, analyze and adjust their SEO efforts on a quarterly basis to match changing market landscapes. To gather general insight, I encourage you to go visit Google’s Keyword Tool. Type in various keywords or phrases that you think a potential patient would search to find your organization, product or service. Take a look at the volume of local searches (note: Google only narrows local searches on a national scale), search competition and the relevant search phrases that populate below your inquiry.
You may find that competition for top keywords is very high. View this as a challenge and an opportunity to narrow in and determine how you can adjust your SEO strategy to focus on optimizing your site and content for medium and long-tail keywords. These insights will help fuel which keywords you integrate into your website and content and benchmark against to measure success moving forward.
2. Solid SEO Knowledge = Smart Content Optimization
On a daily basis, you and your team team are likely creating a number of content assets – blog posts, tweets, videos, etc. Would you prefer to have more or less eyeballs and engagement with this content that you’re investing time, effort and financial resources to create each day? I’ll assume the former.
By keeping your database of target keywords handy, you’ll arm your team with a filter to help ensure that those keywords are consistently being integrated into blog post titles and content, video titles, tags and descriptions, Twitter handle bios, and in any other marketing assets you create. Search engines of course love quality content and you’ll succeed at driving strong search engine results when you begin to own a consistent brand keyword framework.
3. Health Reform
One can bet on a major search volume spike in the year ahead as more and more states prepare to launch their own individual health exchanges. Whether you work at a hospital, health insurance company or other health-related organization, get ready…the questions and inquiries will start flooding. Your competition will be fighting to own localized search inquiries tied to the health exchange and there is an opportunity NOW to position as a thought leader in the space.
Have I convinced you that’s it’s finally time to start ignoring those three fearful letters – SEO? Great! Time to smarten up and start synching your IT team with your marketing efforts to start making an impact. It’s not rocket science to understand the basics and there are plenty of very smart folks out there who have been kind enough to guide you right along from the start. Give the two resources below a solid read and you’ll be well on your way.
Image courtesy of Paloma Gomez.
Well, well here we are again. Labor Day came and went before we knew it. The air is turning a bit more crisp, the leaves are deciding to alter their appearance, the RNC and DNC have had their spotlight and yet another presidential election lies dead ahead.
Four years ago I provided a breakdown on Barack Obama’s social media strategy as a country full of wide-eyed young voters aggressively took to the polls to support a new leader’s vision for change. At the time, we watched closely as the pool of candidates across party lines raced to embrace the proven power of social media to help grow their respective support bases. Without a doubt, Barack Obama stole the social show as his team of InterWeb savvy staffers took to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and other channels to weave together networks of fanatical support.
Fast forward to 2012 and things feel…well, a bit subdued. In fact, it’s quite odd.
Four years ago, I was amidst the masses in Chicago swept up in Obama hype. A campaign poster hung in my office. I frequently lent my social support and did my part with donated campaign dollars. I even thrived on the quick high I would get on my evening commute staring up at various campaign support offices flooded with Obama gear. Four years later and there is no denying that the hype has decreased significantly. The Obama groundswell platform based on “hope” and “change” has shifted to a platform message of “forward” – a plea for the country to come together and stand together.
Personally, I have been surprised by the lack of buzz and surround sound communications I recall from 2008. Outside of an Obama-lead Facebook post or tweet, political commentary across my social networks has been all but minimal. Friends that were once equally as ecstatic and excited as I four years ago now actively shy away from deep political conversations at the dinner table. In short, the build up has been slow and steady for both candidates, but it’s safe to assume we’ll all see a flurry of online activity as we near towards November.
In 2008, the use of social media in the presidential campaign race transitioned from being a novelty to a refined science. Obama’s team of young social marketing strategists had a set game plan and it worked like a well-oiled machine. But the playing field has changed in 2012. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are no longer novel but rather mainstay and expected communications channels around the election. According to a post last week by @mattwhiting on Urban Times, this election season will find two-thirds of social media users ages 18 to 34 taking to social media sites to learn about the candidates.
So, with less than two months left until the big day, what are social strategists on either candidate’s campaign team to do?
I thought it would be wise to turn to someone who has seen it all unfold from the inside. Fellow Weber Shandwick colleague Bradley Portnoy spent time in 2008 as a member of Obama’s new media team. I asked Bradley how he thought the social media race would differ this time around and he was kind enough to provide the following insight:
“In 2008, the campaigns were highly focused on user acquisition, at the expense of a more nuanced strategy. Now, with the American public having firmly integrated social media into their daily lives, the campaigns must determine what will drive their bases to action, both on- and offline.
Both campaigns have made excellent use of sharable content and are staying on-trend with social media best practices. What remains to be seen is which conglomeration of online strategies is best integrated into each campaigns’ overall structure; the Romney campaign has outsourced most development, while the Obama campaign has rebuilt most tools in-house. Whichever strategy works out best will provide a future blueprint for how campaigns operate in the digital space.”
Building upon Bradley’s insight, let’s take a quick look at both candidates’ broad digital footprint:
Video Views: 222M+
Video Views: 20M+
Granted these are just numbers and not measures on engagement and interaction. Furthermore, Team Obama has in fact had many additional years of hard social marketing under their belt. But, it sets the stage for each candidate’s existing foundation.
As crunch time nears, here’s how I see it playing out in social media world for the winning candidate.
1. It’s All About Scale
The fundamentals are in place for both campaigns and in 2012, we’re dealing with a matter of scale. Consider this advantage- every time the Obama camp or the man himself (or the First Lady) tweets from @BarackObama, there are 19X as many people potentially viewing the communication than a single tweet from @MittRomney. Similar multipliers apply across other main social channels which naturally means Obama has a much larger embedded online base to mobilize at any moment. This came to life last week as Michelle Obama, Bill Clinton and finally Barack all spurred Twitter activity throughout the Democratic National Convention overpowering Twitter volume generated during the Republican National Convention.
2. Keep the Creative Edge
While daily community management is essential for both campaign teams to keep their support base engaged and active, the creative edge across various activations will be essential to helping spike engagements. Recently, Obama nailed it with a surprise Q&A on Reddit.com. The chat was incredibly well received by the community of social influencers and demonstrated Obama’s close tie to technology and the power of social networking. The Romney camp has yet to push the boundaries to date on anything outside of traditional block and tackle social engagement.
3. Focus on the Right Content, at the Right Time, in the Right Channel
Team Romney’s digital director, Zac Moffatt, noted last week on FoxNews.com that his camp is focused on quality versus quantity when it comes to content volume in the social sphere. According to Moffatt, “Barack Obama tweets 30 times a day – that’s not how we want to use Twitter.”
The point Moffatt seems to miss is that Team Obama has a better grasp on the volume of content that is necessary to make a dent and be successful in today’s content-driven world. As opposed to using Twitter as a firehose, Team Obama is being smart in recognizing that different people engage with Twitter at different times throughout the day. Spreading out content and amping volume increases the likelihood that you’ll catch eyeballs and drive engagement with different audiences.
The baseline volume of existing likes and followers is also critical for quick, timely responses. For example, during the Republican National Convention, Team Obama responded to Clint Eastwood’s imaginary chair address with a short and incredibly impactful response:
The response has driven more than 503,000 likes and 83,000 shares to date on Facebook quickly overpowering deterring attention away from any social traction and online engagement by Team Romney.
Last week, Team Obama was also quick to capitalize on the momentum of Bill Clinton’s speech at the Democratic National Convention with a return to the timely micro-donation approach that worked so well in 2008.
As the battle ahead continues for Obama and Romney, my clear vote on social strategy rests with Team Obama. Comments and thoughts are of course welcome as it pertains to your own insights and assessment of each team’s social strategy.
Regardless of which side of the fence you sit, the importance of getting out to vote is paramount. The election will be a tight one and as always, it’s our civic duty and incredible privilege to study the issues and have a voice in determining our nation’s leader. Go vote!
Image courtesy of DonkeyHotey.