Social Media 101: Branding the 2019 Way

You might notice that, in your regular grocery-shopping routine, there are always those go-to items that undeniably end up in your cart at checkout. I’m not just talking about the core food groups. Think about bananas. Sure, they might all taste the same, or even ring in at similar prices, but you’re still always reaching for Chiquita or Dole brand.

Let’s leave the supermarket behind and head to your favorite gadget store. Why do loyal Apple consumers go back to iPhone time and again, even when the newest model retails for over $1000? There are certainly other options that offer competitive hardware. The reason is because, from bananas to mobile devices, the most successful businesses strategically brand. Chiquita and Apple established their distinctive brands at a time when most media was only disseminated through a few channels; print, radio, and television.

Business owners at present-day are overwhelmed with options. Yet, many up-and-comers make the mistake of focusing efforts on penetrating the already over-saturated legacy media. Not only are these channels over-crowded, they are incredibly expensive due to the high demand. Last year’s Superbowl host network charged $5.25 million for one 30-second commercial. But even the well-established companies with bigger budgets are turning to the new wave of branding in 2019: social media. Here are three reasons why your business needs social media branding:

The audience. So much of the world is on social media. It is even predicted that the U.S. population will spend more time on social media/mobile devices than on TV by the end of this year. Social media host a wealth of loyal niche communities. With clear messaging and focused branding, these communities can quickly become your repeat-consumers.

The price point. Like any promotional content on a popular medium, ads on social media can be pricey. Luckily, there is more to this strategy than paid advertisements. Channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are a one-stop shop. You can create your own original content in-house, free of charge. The average user is bombarded daily with big-budget marketing. In fact, 86% of people on social crave authentic content rather than expertly-crafted material from ad agencies. Stand out in the crowded market and create something to which your audience can authentically relate, without breaking the bank!

The immediacy. We’ve talked about the ways social media branding is useful, but how will you know it’s working? There is a way, and unlike mail surveys or television polls, you won’t have to wait weeks and months to see results. Simply start a poll on your desired outlet. The media mentioned above offer  functions where you can pose a question with two or more answer options, and users can select their response. These polls can run any where from one day to one week. Once the poll closes, you instantly have your results – you can even see votes as they are happening.

Traditional media are already at capacity. Rather than beating your head against the wall trying to break into an incredibly competitive market, take matters into your own hands. Use freely available social media and make your mark today.

Social Media 101: Snapchat and Author Branding

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn have dominated the world of branding since Facebook’s JP Morgan and Chase ads in the early 2000’s (IAS Insider). We’ve discussed in previous blogs how valuable these markets are, but there’s a new platform in town. Better yet, it’s rather untouched by the saturation of advertisements the other media have today: Snapchat.

Snapchat is unique in that it is a hybrid social media platform and messenger. This medium is almost entirely visual, and only available for mobile device. These unique qualities require a creativity in branding that the other platforms do not. Because of this, while Facebook controls roughly 20.6% of the US ad market, Snapchat comes in at just 0.6% (Influencer Marketing Hub).

The application is intended as a messaging medium where users exchange photos, videos, or short messages. Photos and videos can have captions, but there is character limit. There is also a character limit for private messages. Reminiscent of the point-and-shoot model, to take photos, you focus the front (or back) camera of your device and hit the large circular button at the bottom of your screen. For videos, you hold the button down in 30-second increments. You can alter the amount of time users can view your content, set an expiration date for your private messages, and other nifty features that Accessar dives in-depth with here.

Sound familiar? That is probably because Instagram operates similarly, but in a much more public way. Snapchat is a majority user-to-user application.

Don’t let the unfamiliarity of Snapchat stop you. As of 2019, Snapchat has an astonishing 191 million daily active users, and climbing (Snapchat). There is an array of stickers, GIFs, geofilters (filters that are only available in certain locations), and many other interactive features that allow you to get creative with your Snapchat branding. Their demographic is in the 18-24-year-old range, so if you’ve been looking for a way to reach an overloaded Millennial/Generation Z audience, here’s your chance!

With the medium’s use-to-user atmosphere, you can form a personalized and meaningful relationship with your audience. You can find our shortlist of Snapchat musts to make this happen for your brand below.

Snapchat stories are a vital function of most popular platforms nowadays, and we’ve gone over them in great detail recently. Update your audience on the publication of your new book, introduce merchandise, and start conversations! Users can reply to your stories via private message. You can also link to the products mentioned above with our next Snapchat must.

Snapchat links or “swipe-ups” are an organic way to expose your audience to new and exciting content surrounding your brand. Simply take a photo or video, select the paperclip thumbnail to the right of your screen, and add the appropriate URL. This allows users to view your material with a simple screen swipe.

Influencer collaboration not only gets exposure for your author brand but builds a trustworthy sense of community which your audience values. Reaching out to fellow influencers about mentioning your work in a story goes a long way in broadening your own fanbase.

Armed with your new guide to Snapchat in the world of author branding, make the most of this untapped resource. If you’d like to learn more about traditional means of author branding on social media before the trickier methods, check out our recent blog posts.

Social Media 101: 4 Reasons Why Buying Followers is a Bad Idea

buying followers
This office dog is confused and upset about why he is seeing so many disturbing spam followers on a Twitter account that is supposed to be family friendly!

A recent article (February 1st) on BuzzFeed said that the Newsweek Media Group has been buying followers and manipulating traffic on some of their websites, and that they are being accused of ad fraud.  The ad fraud part of this story is not my area, but I do have something to say about the other part—buying followers—as it relates to marketing and branding using social media platforms.

There was a time when having 200,000 Twitter followers looked impressive to the naked eye, but those days are long gone.  Now it isn’t very difficult to look through someone’s following on various platforms to find out that many of those 200,000 are spam bots and other kinds of cheap “friends”.  In fact, the people who have more modest numbers of active followers, who engage with them, and build more solid relationships over time, could have the upper hand in social media marketing.

Here are some reasons why buying followers is a bad idea:

  1. The internet is not an alien universe.  The people using the internet and social media are just that—people.  And the rules of engagement apply just as they would at a cocktail party or a business conference.  If you want to grow as an influencer on social media, your audience needs to feel like you are a real person —not a virtual identity with no substance, which brings me to the next point.
  2. Trust is more important than ever. The internet, the very tool you want to use to market your products and ideas, has eroded trust in its own population.  This is partly due to the “bad apples” in the bunch who have figured out how to buy and sell cotton candy entities and canned content.  If someone takes more than a cursory look at who is following you and they find porn (true story) in the form of bots, it will not make a good impression (unless that is what you are selling).
  3. Relationships rule! When there is trust, the chance for a relationship to grow increases.  In a relationship with good communication, the other person believes what you have to say, appreciates your advice and counsel, and may even talk about you with others in a positive way.
  4. Protect the brand. Would you wear dirty clothes to a job interview?  Why sully your brand with ineffective and questionable marketing practices, like buying a fake community?

Perhaps we think that, because we are typing on a keyboard or a phone in our own private spaces, that our anonymity allows us to behave in any manner we want.  Well, it doesn’t.  Companies who engage in buying followers or traffic in order to beef up their potential advertising power may not be doing something illegal, but it is certainly unethical.  If an individual wants to be an influencer, it needs to be clear that community and engagement are a priority.  If bots are all we see, we assume that you aren’t real either.

Check out our other social media blog posts here.

Publicity 101: What is your book about?

What is your book about CMPRIf someone asked you what is your book is about, how would you answer?  Can you respond in two or three sentences?  Is it an interesting description that would make you stand up and pay attention?  Clearly book topics and subjects will appeal to different types of people, and that is just fine.

When you are determining what your book is and how you will describe it, you must envision the audience you are trying to engage with.   If your book is a mystery, then say “It’s mystery/thriller/suspense”.  The way you shape your response to the question “What is your book about?” is the opportunity for you to hook a potential reader or media entity.  Then you can dig deeper.

To get to the heart of your “story’s story” and find the hidden chances for better publicity coverage, try answering the following questions:

  • What is your book about?
  • Where does it take place?
  • Where do you live?
  • Do you have any autobiographical contributions to the story, such as medical expertise?
  • Who would find this interesting?
  • Does your story address any “hot button” issues like civil rights, drug abuse, weight loss, relationships?

Knowing what you are delivering is a critical key in preparing a publicity campaign. With any kind of book written by an unknown, the publicity plan and promotional trajectory is about trying to get the most people to open the book and read it!  Bloggers, book reviewers, trade reviews, author events, conferences, parties, local tv, radio, and print are all pitched all of the time.  The idea is to create a media list of fans who will support the books and the author by reviewing the books favorably and encouraging their readerships to get the books for themselves.

“What is your book about?” is just one aspect to be explored in the name of publicity and promotion of your book. Check out our blog for future blog posts on other aspects you need to consider for a book pr campaign!

Questions? Tweet us @McKinneyPR!

12 Signs You May Need to be Your Own Boss

be your own bossIf you are like a lot of people, you work in a full time job, but the hours you signed up for are far fewer than the ones you actually put in, and your raises have been paltry to non-existent for the past eight or so years.  You feel like you could do better, but you aren’t sure you have what it takes to go out on your own, start your own business, and be your own boss.

Today I was listening the Business Bootcamp Podcast and I started thinking about how people might figure out whether or not they should be working for “The Man/Woman” or not.  Since my agency represents a lot of entrepreneurs, whether they be experts, authors, or thought leaders, I thought I would try to encapsulate some of the signs I’ve noticed we have in common that may be trying to steer you on a more independent path.

  1. You are working really hard, paying your bills with not much leftover, and nearly every day you think you should be doing something else.
  2. You see the need for products and services that are not yet on the market and you can’t understand why no one is doing something about it.
  3. You were hired for your creativity and yet every time you share a new idea your colleagues and peers look at you like you have two heads or like you are vying for their jobs.
  4. You share ideas with your boss who says they are outstanding and yet time after time he goes with the status quo.
  5. You try to implement a new idea at work and you are thrown under the bus when there is a problem, even though it may not have anything to do with your idea or your execution of it.
  6. You dread going to work every day.
  7. You are rarely excited during the week.
  8. You look back at your life and realize that in your younger days you were very industrious to the point of having a lemonade stand, a paper route, top dollars in girl/boy scout fundraisers, and more.
  9. Older people used to tell you about all of the potential that you had and how you might change the world.
  10. You get bored easily, are a bit ADHD/ADD, and feel like you are going to jump out of your skin if you have to sit in your chair for one more minute.
  11. You felt like you had to get out of high school to get started with your life and then in college you started to feel the same.
  12. Others are drawn to your enthusiasm and unique take on life and the universe.

Some or all of these may apply to you.  I would never say it’s easy to be your own boss or that you have to do it even if the signs are there, but if you are struggling with the idea and want some help evaluating, this may be for you.