CIPRThe UK’s Chartered Institute of Public Relations ((CIPR) @CIPR_UK) this week released it’s best practice guidelines for social media monitoring and listening. The document, which is free to download and was prepared by the institute’s own Social Media Advisory Board (#CIPRSM), gives details on what is social media monitoring, the paid-for and free tools that are available and the how to create monitoring workflows.

Of course you would expect public, private or not-for-profit (NGO) organisations to be good at listening, but in fact it is a skill that is having to be re-learnt.

Until the rise of online and social networking, most public relations professionals relied on traditional broadcast media – print, radio or TV, to engage and accordingly shape perception amongst the client’s target audiences. That meant engaging primarily with journalists.

For many PRs the only weapon that they had in the armoury – primarily because PR was exclusively seen as media relations, was the press release. Weather it was in-house or agency-side the press release was the only tool that others in our organisations saw us use. And success was defined by the coverage secured, always measured by that awful Advertising Value Equivalent (AVE) standard that the CIPR has recently disowned.

The rise of the internet changed all that. Very much like mobile is changing everything again.

Today people flock to forums and social networks to share positive or negative thoughts and experiences, to connect with one another, to create communities about anything and everything. As a result the web has changed the news and publishing industries as much as it has changed public relations profession. A issue can become a crisis in the amount of time that it takes an influencer to share a story with his or her followers.

All the data that is being shared has created an opportunity for organisations to improve how they listen and how they use that information to meet the expectations from their respective audience groups. But listening is not just an art-form, but a science that can give competitive advantage to companies that know what to listen for and how to use that data.

As a result the CIPR decided to produce a document that would give best practice advice to members and non-members alike. It is not designed just for PRs or social media consultants. It is a document that aims to highlight to management and c-suite staff the value of knowledge and how to gain that from conversations taking place online. As Sir Francis Bacon said, “Knowledge is Power.”

If you do have any questions then do reach out to me (@twofourseven) or members of the #CIPRSM panel. We are here to help.

A copy of the document can be viewed and downloaded below.

Instagram’s Video Launch, Vine Sharing Tanks On Twitter
Instagram’s Video Launch, Vine Sharing Tanks On Twitter

#InstagramVideo has been eating into the number of people sharing videos on Twitter’s Vine, according to data from data analytics tool Topsy.com.

On 20 June Facebook unveiled #InstagramVideo and it appears that it’s launch led nearly immediately to a drop of over 40 per cent in the number of videos shared on Vine. If this is anything to go by then it looks that the public has taken to Instagram’s 15 second video format with filters over Vine’s 6 seconds offering.

Over 5 million videos were uploaded to Instagram in the first 24 hours, confirming what we all knew, that video is what people want to see and share, especially on mobile devices.

This has created the opportunity for private sector companies, NGOs and public sector groups to engage with their audiences using short and to the point video. But what are the differences between these two channels?

Insight gathered tells us that:

  • Instagram has over 130 monthly million users, while Vine has 13 million.
  • Vine videos can be a maximum of 6-seconds long, while Instagram gives you 15-seconds. We should also note that in The Gulf and Middle Eastern Countries the video application of choice is Keek, which allows 36-second video updates.
  • Instagram allows filters to be used, Vine doesn’t, or at least it doesn’t yet, but I suspect that they will offer this facility soon as Twitter already offers filters on pictures upload to the network.
  • Instagram videos are locked into Facebook. VentureBeat’s John Koetsier‎ (@johnkoetsier‎) points out that, ‘you can view the video within the Instagram app [on your mobile], or — if you have the URL — on the Instagram website. You can also view the video in Facebook, but nowhere else.’ Yes, if you share an #InstagramVideo on Twitter, it won’t auto-play as Twitter removed Instagram use of Twitter Cards, so Instagram video will not render in Tweets.
  • Vine will auto play video in Tweets, and you can also embed Vine videos on websites.
  • Facebook could move to embed video advertising before or after your clips. But then, so could Twitter. As a brand, you should consider the implication of this.

Social media has given PR and communications professionals with an arsenal of tools with which to better engage with their respective audience. The rise of video, confirms PRs are brand journalists, enabling organisations to:

  • Share behind the scene information.
  • Encourage brand ambassadors to share content.
  • Share short stamens from decision-makers.
  • Encourage your community to reply to announcements.

From my perspective I see Vine as a tool for real time news for companies and brands. A video platform with which you can reach influencers on Twitter. Instagram meanwhile has positioned itself as a channel for the long-term conversation with consumers on Facebook. Bot has it’s strengths, but it is up to PRs to know which is the right tool for the occasion.

Video is taking over from the written word. Gaining knowledge on video and how it influencers is a skill that PRs are going to have to gain, and fast. Just look at how @GeneralElectric have taken to Vine.

Just this week I was at Aljazeera in Doha presenting to a number of their PRs the value and ways in which video can add value to conversations. Their answer to me? Er, we already use Keek.

Introducing Video on Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

Introducing Facebook Graph Search
Introducing Facebook Graph Search

Facebook recently launched Graph Search, a facility that will allow users to find places based on their friends activity on the social network.

Graph Search aims to deliver a very different type of search from what Google offers. The objective for Facebook is to give users recommendations based on what your friends like and talk about.

For example, if you search on Facebook for a Curry House in London, the results you would get will be based on your friends Likes and Check-ins to Indian Restaurants in London. And if by any chance your friends haven’t been to a curry house in London, then Facebook will give you web results from Bing, with whom it has partnered.

The partnership means that we are going to have to spend more SEO time on Bing.

Writing for SearchEngineWatch.com Ben Straley (@bstraley) says that the, ‘simple rule of thumb is that the more content that gets shared, liked, or commented on through Facebook, the greater the chances of discovery of that content through Graph Search.’

How is Facebook going to offer me the best results to my search queries?

Facebook is currently the biggest social network in the world with over 1 billion active accounts. More than half use Facebook on a mobile device.

Every users journey through the network is recorded, giving it a wealth of data that it uses for advertising revenue.

According to Europe v. Facebook founder and law student Max Schrems data that the social network collects includes:

  • Your friends and family
  • The IP address used from every location you’ve used to log into Facebook
  • Dates and name changes
  • Your messages and comments
  • Every event you’ve been invited to
  • Check-in to places
  • The Pages and comments that you ‘Liked’
  • Camera metadata including date/time and GPS

How will Graph Search affect the reputation of my business?

Graph Search for Journalists
Graph Search for Journalists

Facebook Pages can be set up by anyone. If you are not on Facebook then there is chance that a supporter or detractor has already set up a Page. And if they haven’t, Facebook’s deal with Wikipedia enables it to deliver Wikipedia entries on companies or brands that do not yet have a presence on the network.

Remember, an unofficial Page can attract as many people, even more than an official Page.

Certain media outlets will look at content on Pages, official or otherwise, to see if they can find case studies during a crisis.

Journalists are really going to like Graph Search. In a note on the Facebook + Journalists page Journalist Program Manager Vadim Lavrusik says, ‘because graph search is in early stages of development, the first version focuses on four main areas: people, photos, places, and interests.’

Before adding, ‘the new search enables journalists to do richer searches when trying to find experts for stories. For example, say you’re doing a story on a specific company, and you’re looking to interview someone who works at the company’s New York office, you could do this by searching for, “People who work at ACME Inc. in New York,” to find potential employees to reach out to.

You could even make the search more specific to find people who work at the company with specific titles, for example. This could make it easier to find potential sources and experts to reach out to for stories you’re working on.’

What can I do to manage my reputation on Facebook?

First, and above all, offer a good service. Nothing works like recognising your customers. If they like you, then encourage them to share their praise, because if they don’t they’ll be equally happy to share their dislike.

In PR, the saying goes that good news is repeated 3 times, while bad news 11.

Social media though does amplify bad news. People like to share and shame. Not being on Facebook just means that you are outside the room while people talk about you.

If you already have a Page, then Facebook has shared a few tips about SEO to help you when Graph Search goes live. These include:

  • The name, category, vanity URL, and information you share in the “About” section all help people find your business and should be shared on Facebook.
  • If you have a location or a local place Page, update your address to make sure you can appear as a result when someone is searching for a specific location.
  • Focus on attracting the right fans to your Page and on giving your fans a reason to interact with your content on an ongoing basis.

Remember, your presence, activity and authority on social media are signals that help your SEO. Make sure that you own it and can influence the perception.

Does Graph Search mean that Facebook Likes finally have a value?

Hypothetically yes. A Like is one of the key signals that Facebook will use when they filter data to answer your question. But, there is a difference between Liking a Page but never commenting, and commenting and never Liking a Page.

In any case, the Likes from people in your network are the ones that are going to count. Likes from fake Facebook users should be considered a waste of money.

FT Weekend Magazine November 16, 2012

The Financial Times is ‘one of the world’s leading business news and information organisations,’ recognised for its authority, integrity and accuracy. The prestigious Global Capital Markets Survey considers The FT as one of the most important business reads, with a reach of 33% of the most senior corporate and financial decision-makers surveyed in the world’s largest companies.

Total circulation for The FT stands at 600,000. This includes 313,000 paid digital subscribers who get access to premium content that sits behind a paywall.

Every Saturday though the newspaper publishes it’s FT Weekend Magazine. This glossy supplement has a very different style than the weekday FT.

The CIPR Greater London Group had the privilege recently of hosting a breakfast with the Magazine Editor Sue Matthias (@suematthias), her deputy Alice Fishburn (@AliceFishburn), as well as Associate Editors Natalie Whittle (@NatalieWhittle) and Sue Norris.

We wanted to know the workings of The FT Weekend Magazine and the Do’s and Don’ts when pitching to a supplement that reaches influential high-net-worth audience.

Speaking at the meeting, Sue Matthias reminded us that her magazine has a very different audience to the newspaper. It is not a business magazine. And to confirm this fact, Sue highlighted that 70 per cent of FT Weekend Magazine readers do not buy the FT on Monday to Friday.

Audience demographics for the magazine tell us that readers are aged in the late 30s to early 40s and are split evenly between men and women.

Reading The FT

Unlike the newspaper online, the magazine DOES NOT sit behind a paywall. Content is available openly to everyone that logs on. This generates a ‘second life’ for content that has already appeared in print.

The magazine presents content in a reportage style, focusing on features and investigations. Pictures and other visuals are very important.

Feature lengths vary between 1,200 and 4,000 words and have lead times of between 1/2 months to a few days.

The working week for the magazine starts on Wednesday afternoon, just after they have put the coming weekend issue to bed.

Sue advised PRs that the best time to contact The FT Magazine team is on a Thursday or Friday. Between Monday and Wednesday you are more than likely to be ignored.

Matthias prefers approaches via email and NOT via phone. Equally, and with The FT being an international title with regional online editions, remember to establish a relationship with your closest FT bureau, let it be in Singapore, Beijing, New York or San Francisco. If you are based outside of the UK then pitch to them as the magazine team keeps in touch with the FT’s foreign bureaus.

Sue’s top three tips when pitching to The FT Weekend Magazine:

  1. Know The FT Weekend Magazine and the section to which you are pitching. There needs to be a connection. And keep the feature idea broad, relevant and flexible. If they like it they, then be prepared for your concept to be restructured.
  2. Be aware of times and deadlines. Pitch with as much notice as possible.
  3. When selling-in, only do so via email. And remember to have an eye-catching subject. Then wait. DO NOT follow up with a phone call. Let them come back to you.

Remember that with content online the FT Magazine will very rarely (read NOT) include linkbacks to clients. So don’t ask for this.

For many PRs The Financial Times Weekend Magazine is an aspirational title. But getting in the magazine is not about the PR, it is about the magazine. If it’s good enough for them then it is great for you. Simple advice.

Twitter Cards
Twitter Cards – Julio Romo: Google AuthorRank, What PRs Need To Know

Earlier this year Twitter rolled out Twitter Cards, a unique feature that would allow partner websites to present their content on Twitter in a more engaging way.

The service was initially designed to help media organisations preview in their Expanded Tweets content, images and video that they had just published on their websites.

Initially developed for journalists and publishers, this opt-in feature allows sites that offer ‘great content and those that drive active discussion and activity on Twitter‘ to potentially secure increased click-throughs from to their websites their tweets.

For Twitter, the aim was simple, to further position the network as a primary source for real-time news, content and comment.

I have been testing Twitter Cards Expanded Tweets for a few months now, to see if the feature could be used by companies and brands. And if so, if Expanded Tweets could help content creators secure increased engagement from the communities they have around them.

For brands to make the most out of the Expanded Tweets feature they are going to have to seriously look at the content that they create and publish on their websites. Get the tone and voice wrong and you will see no change in the level of interaction – reinforce negative perceptions. Adapt your brand style and how you communicate online and Expanded Tweets could help how your content is seen and shared by influencers on Twitter. To put it in simple terms, brands are going to have to learn how to become publishers.

Here are a few tips to guide you how to use twitter cards for blogging and content marketing.

What is Twitter Cards?

Simply put, Twitter Cards is a facility that enables you to present the content you publish on your website in a more engaging way on Twitter.  The feature will:

  1. Give you control of how your content is displayed on Twitter
  2. Help drive more traffic to your site
  3. Increase the number of people following your company on Twitter through content attribution.

And it is content and the attribution of it that is central to what Expanded Tweets is. Facebook Open Graph already enables how content is displayed and shared by individuals, while Google’s own Author Rank, which I wrote in this earlier blog post, confirms how people and what they share has become central to how reputations are built and authority is gained online.

Today, PRs have to remember that to help establish your brand and the thought-leaders within it you have to think about people, the content and the knowledge that is there to be shared online.

How do I activate Twitter Cards for my website?

There are three quite simple things you will have to do:

  1. Read Twitter Cards documentation and add the appropriate markup to your website – typically just 3 lines of HTML
  2. Test the markup using Twitter Cards Preview tool, and
  3. Once you have added the markup to your website, fill out this Twitter Cards application form and include a link to a representative page containing markup. Note that your submission will be rejected automatically if you have incomplete or broken markup.
Twitter Cards HTML Code for Twitter Summary Card

Once you have submitted your email application you will have to wait for an email from Twitter confirming that your request to be included in Twitter Cards has hopefully been approved.  Following the activation and depending on the type of content you publish on your site, tweets will be shown in three different forms:

  • Summary: The default card, which includes the title of your story, description of the post, thumbnail image used on the article, and Twitter account attribution
  • Photo: A Tweet sized photo card showing image posted on your site
  • Player: A Tweet sized video/audio/media player card displaying content that can be clicked and played

Twitter Cards will attribute both the author of a post by mentioning their Twitter handle and the Twitter account of the site that carries the content.

Why has Twitter launched this service?

A lot of people are turning to Twitter for real-time news. Today though news comes not just from traditional media outlets, but from bloggers and influencers online. As I have mentioned before, many news outlets are no longer battling to be the first for breaking news. Instead they are focusing at verifying and curating the content that people are capturing and sharing around the globe.

Today, everybody has a community around them and Twitter is aiming to be the hardwire that connects us.

I am a PR within an organisation that traditionally just publishes press releases on our website, can I use Twitter Cards?

Yes, you can. But don’t expect to improve the level of engagement between your audience and your brand if the content that you share has no personality.

The challenge that you are going to have to overcome is that of developing a tone and personality that your brand is going to have to use online and in real-time. Think of your team as a newsroom. You might have to:

  • Adapt the structure of your website
  • Increase the amount of content that you share on your site,
  • Increase the frequency of the content
  • Attribute individuals to content – CEO, CIO and other internal thought-leaders, which will require you to develop their own online personalities. Google search results is pushing people with authority to the top of rankings. Twitter is looking to do the same.

Get it right and over time you could see increase engagement between your audience and your brand.

As a consultant I have spent time reviewing the communications departments of clients, restructuring and training teams to ensure that they are more flexible and their content is more in tune with what their audience wants.  Through PR and social media consultancy I help companies and brands capture the ground and enter the conversation – teaching how to listen and engage. The aim is to help get their audiences talking and carrying their messages off-line.

Twitter Cards is just one tool that can help brands increase engagement. One tool that can maximise conversations and discussions.