Personal Touch key to Brand Success in Social Media

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One of the brands I feel comes across more human and personable than most in my social media estimation is Chipotle.  I believe a good majority of Chipotle’s popularity is actually based on it’s aura of caring for the customer by offering healthy organic food produce and meats. I especially appreciate their heavy emphasis on procuring from local farmers whenever possible.

I’m definitely not alone in my loyalty. Even though their recent bad press, they managed to reign victorious by not only being unfettered in their in-store customer service, but they seal the deal by being very engaging and interactive in all their social media.

Even though I do believe a brand can come across as human and caring in traditional media, I don’t think the same can be accomplished automatically in the social media arena.  The biggest challenge with any brand seeming “real” and “caring” in traditional media is the one-way communication.  Unless you really are having a conversation with your consumer, how do you really know how they feel or relate to the product, or ideas they have to improve or change a few quirks.

Don’t get me wrong. There are many companies in traditional channels very adept at making it seem like they are human and have your best interests at heart.  There were a couple of brands I recall growing up that came across as more friendly and caring via television.  At least with TV commercials you have two-dimensional motion, audio, and video unlike radio or newspapers.  Coca-cola and McDonald’s always had a very light-hearted, touchy-feel about them.  Coke has always evoked peace, harmony and diversity while McDonald’s seemed to be the first to champion and cater to kids via Ronald McDonald Houses, happy meal toys, mascots, play places, etc.

However, many consumers are wise enough to know that there is a lot of smoke and mirrors in businesses.  Just because a company is great about answering your social media posts quickly in a nice tone, doesn’t mean that the company is without faults or seriously lacking in other areas.  But in this landscape, the face of the company is extremely important for building and keeping good impressions and social media is the most cost effective, and convenient way to interface with customers.

News Industry ‘Ho-hum’ to Facebook’s Vision

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Mark Zuckerberg’s rare Facebook Q&A session June 30 garnered 241,000+ likes and 7,000+ shares.  The general consensus among news organizations and citizen chatter on social media during the event and several days afterwards  was fairly lukewarm addressing his responses directed towards a couple of questions on the future of news.  Among the very few individuals that actually had a more opinionated response to his perspective, most questioned his professional motives and continued meddling in the news industry. Surprisingly, responses from news organizations were extremely benign, mostly tagging the story and quickly sending it out the door.

During the event which resembled Reddit’s Ask Me Anything, Huffington Post mastermind Arianna Huffington wrote with the following response:

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The other news-related question Zuckerberg answered was from media pundit, professor and BuzzMachine journalist Jeff Jarvis:

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Reactionary excerpts from the low number of Facebook and Twitter respondents (mainly news/communications professionals):

Here are snippets from just a few PR/news industry insiders that responded…

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(Matt Kiser, product manager at Business Insider)

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(Dan Gillmor, Director of the Knight Center for Digital Media Entrepreneurship at Arizona State University‘s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication)

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(David Boardman, Dean of Temple University School of Media and Communications)

News Organization Reactions

As previously mentioned, few news organizations followed through by responding to Zuckerberg’s thoughts on the future of news.  Most posted the NeimanLab short recap of what was said, but didn’t lend any robust dialogue to his news industry vision.

Fortune was a little more responsive, “Facebook has always had a somewhat fraught relationship with the news: Many users seem to think of the social network as just a place where they can see a friend’s baby or dog photos, but research shows a growing number of people also get their news there. And CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made it clear that he wants news to play a much larger role in Facebook, with features like Instant Articles—the mobile-news partnership where outlets like the New York Times publish entire articles directly to the platform.”

The most detailed response came from SubcriptionInsider:

“Jarvis and Huffington both compliment Zuckerberg for Facebook’s innovation and contribution to publishing platforms for news, and we’ve got to agree that Facebook has changed how we consume and share news. With 1.44 billion active monthly users, Facebook has more eyeballs than virtually every other platform or site. Zuckerberg uses Facebook’s popularity to leverage his company’s impact on news consumption, much like Google has done with its new array of journalism tools.

This cold hard fact will also make it hard for media companies to pass up the opportunity to publish select stories using Instant Articles. So far, media outlets who have been invited by Facebook to participate have been slow to adopt the platform. Once publishers embrace the necessity of strong partnerships with companies like Facebook, we expect more stories to be posted using Instant Articles.

As we noted in a previous post, for publishers to use the Facebook tool successfully, they need to be clear what types of content their Facebook audience wants. Do folks who read Facebook on a mobile app really want in-depth, long-form journalism, or would they prefer shorter stories that are interactive and easy to share?

Hopefully, publishers are taking the time to test the Instant Articles platform and compare it to the other platforms they use (e.g., own website, news app, etc.) to see what content works where before they give the Facebook partnership a hearty thumbs up.”

This “ho-hum” response from news professionals on the surface may seem negative for the Facebook camp, but it’s actually the opposite.  What billionaire business mogul do you know that doesn’t get raked over the social media coals for pretty much anything they do or say that even slightly might rub us the wrong way?  Some might consider Zuckerberg as crazy as “The Donald” to open himself up to an hour-long town hall and the potential-unmerciful scrutiny of us green-eyed town folk wielding our pitchforks and torches.  Sure, what he posted wasn’t earthshattering or nothing to write home, Where the guy who issues himself a $1 a year paycheck “shoots and scores” by walking away unscathed, is having his ducks lined up with good, plausible answers that seemed downright genuine and well-thought out.

‘Nerd Tears’ Entertainment Reporter Maximizes Social Media

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News reporters have really had to kick-it-into high gear the past several years to make that heavy social media transition or risk being left adrift. Especially expecting better engagement are the nimble-fingered smartphone millennials casting news people to sink or swim into the burgeoning “lead, follow or get the heck out of the way” daunting-digital tidal wave.

The great news is more and more journalists are surpassing the challenge by instituting innovative practices and taking full-advantage of Web information dissemination. It’s worth taking a moment to pay homage and learn some lessons from one of these trailblazers who’s pioneer spirit centers him in the bull’s-eye of the social media success circle.

Kevin McCarthy has been a local Washington, DC, entertainment reporter/film critic for Fox5 News since 2007 who gets tremendous extra social media mileage from his broadcast reports. His heightened digital popularity has even expanded his reports to FOX 29 (Philly) as well as nationally for Fox & Friends (below).

His first proactive social media venture was while attending George Mason University majoring in communications while taking film classes on the side. “I was doing movie reviews on my AOL Instant Messenger while working an internship at 106.7 WJFK-FM, in the promotions department.” After graduation he then began reviewing movies at the station on “The Junkies” morning show in 2005 where he continues every Friday.

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Primary Website

Once he because a professional, he quickly established a website bdkreviews.com. However, ever since he coined the popular phrase “nerd tears” several years ago that continues to circulate and gain ground within the movie industry and Fox viewership (Watch Kevin introduce Nerd Tears to top actors), he has aptly rebranded the site http://nerdtears.com/. The website features his conversational writing style and unique rating system and sectioned cleanly into Fox5 Reviews, Favorite Movies, Interviews, Kevin’s Blog and Kevin&Josh Movie Show. On his blog he has a fun way of breaking down some of his favorite movies in more interesting genre’s such as Top Patriotic Films, Best Valentine’s Day Movies, Favorite Movie Dads, annual best and worst films as well as detailed Golden Globe and Oscar predictions.

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Fox News Website

http://www.myfoxdc.com/category/237562/movie-reviews

The Fox News website explains a little more about who he is and also features his latest movie reviews and extensive collection of celebrity interviews. He makes sure that all of his websites are updated several times a day including snapshots of his Facebook and Twitter activity.

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YouTube

Kevin takes full use of Youtube where he has posted an astonishing 7,120 celebrity interviews (Check out this one with Robert Downey Jr with more than 800,000 views) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zq7Er_jNNvM

He also had the forward-thinking to establish his own youtube channel back in 2007 https://www.youtube.com/user/bdkreviewsdotcom/about which now has 3,000 subscribers and 6.5 million views.

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Twitter @KevinMcCarthyTV

Where Kevin really shines and engages his 25,100 followers is through his use of Twitter where he has managed to post 42,200 Tweets and counting. https://twitter.com/KevinMcCarthyTV/with_replies.  One of his latest offerings in creating a more interactive exchange with his followers is to have them Tweet questions in advance of celebrity interviews which he generously gives responders credit during the taped interviews.

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Facebook

Making full use of his Facebook account https://www.facebook.com/NerdTearsTV Kevin posts many personal and touching moments surrounding his celebrity interviews such as when he met the Terminator’s bad guy Robert Patrick. He made sure he shared with Robert and the social media community that the Terminator movie was the catalyst and inspiration for him seeking a career within the movie industry. He keeps his banter very conversational and is very adept at quickly responding to visitors.

Other social media

Kevin also has a social media presence on:

https://instagram.com/kevinmccarthytv/

On Instagram Kevin sports 813 Posts, 4,548 followers as well as following 395 account members.

http://www.criticschoice.com/members/kmccarthy/

http://video.foxnews.com/playlist/kevin-mccarthy/

http://geeknation.com/podcasts/the-nerd-tears-podcast-ep-69-lions-of-new-york/

(Great use of Nerd Tears Podcasts)

Thanks Kevin for taking your contagious enthusiasm not only to the airwaves, but also to current and countless future fans who will share in your “geeking out” and nerd tears cinematic adventures on social media.

Best Secret Sauce for News on Facebook and Twitter

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Facebook formula dominators

The Biggest Facebook Publishers of January 2015 is a great glimpse into which news organizations are making the most out of story distribution in the top media platform in the world. According to News Whip (Corcoran, January 2015), huge names like the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed were grappling with newcomer of the year for 2014 PlayBuzz. Rounding out the top 10 include Fox News, NBC News, The Guardian, The New York Times, Mail Online, BBC and Yahoo. The results are based on Spike tracking stories, videos, and other content that people are sharing and engaging with in real time.

So what exactly is once again list dominator PlayBuzz doing to clean up in terms of overall shares and top stories? Providing nine of the 10 most-engaging stories on Facebook like What Was Your Past Life According To Your Memories? which received more than 1.9 million interactions to bring their monthly total shares to 10 million.  The News Whip report also attributes the leader of the pack’s belief in ‘playful content.’ “It might seem difficult to believe that quizzes could have such enduring appeal to readers, but many can’t resist the fun personality-revealing results. The thousands of Facebook comments endorses the phenomenon. Month after month, these quizzes are mopping up engagement on News Feeds.” Some of the most popular quizzes include ‘What Crime Did You Commit In Your Past Life?’ (2.67 million interactions); ‘What Is Your True Personality?’ (1.84 million); and ‘What Holiday Matches Your Personality?’ (1.67 million).

Overall Facebook Leaders

In terms of current overall interactions, the Huffington Post dominated with more than 52 million with BuzzFeed also in the top three of the leader boards. The Mirror Online is the biggest steady climber which Mirror Head of Social Media Heather Bowen attributes to targeted Facebook posts. Mail Online with over 13.8 million interactions recently acquired former top 10 member Elite Daily (20th overall). Let’s keep our eye on what unfolds with their joint ownership content strategy that could prove to be interesting.

Similarities in Popular Stories

In terms of what Facebook readers are actually reading, the most-engaged pieces are a departure from the usual ‘If it bleeds, it leads.’ A sample of The Huffington Post’s heavily-shared story headlines are ‘10 Things Your Mom Never Told You’  and ‘10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World.’ One of BuzzFeed’s biggest stories is ‘26 Pictures Will Make You Reevaluate Your Entire Existence.’ Stories about the UK election on BuzzFeed and The Huffington Post got as many social shares, and often more, than content published by traditional UK newspapers. (Rayson, May 2015) 7 lessons from the Most Shared Content on the UK Elections

Out of the top 150 articles, many fit into the “wacky and intriguing” category with the other popular pieces focusing on self-help, overcoming family challenges, better mental and physical health and listicles. The Huffington Post is not resting on their laurels and has already enacted the next step to their dedication of providing the human-side of news for Facebookers. They are on the verge of launching section covering stories “of people and communities doing amazing things, overcoming great odds and coming up with solutions to the very real challenges they face.”

Leaders in Shares, Comments and Likes

Which news medium is receiving the most likes share and comments based on percent of total interactions (Oct. 2014):

Most Likes: Bleacher Report (85%); The Huffington Post (65%); Fox News (61%)

Most Shares: PlayBuzz (35%); BBC (29%) and Mail Online ((23%)

Most Comments:   PlayBuzz (35%); Mail Online (25%) and BuzzFeed (21%)

With Facebook looking as though it may be directing more attention to breaking and ‘hard’ news in the near future with the reported expansion of its trending feature, news publishers will be battling even more for attention and space. In times of major breaking news, traditional outlets are likely to find themselves jostling for space on news feeds alongside digital newcomers, with high traffic and engagement potentially at stake.

Twitter Audiences Share Some Similarities and Differences

In April, Twitter sharers were most interested in NYTimes articles: “South Carolina Officer Is Charged With Murder of Walter Scott,” with 39,400 shares; Earthquake Devastates Nepal, Killing More Than 1,900,” was second and “A Rapid Rise by Shawn Mendes, in Tune With Social Media.” (Moeller, May 2015) Sex, Money and Chipotle: Most shared Stories from US News Sites April 2015.  In the BuzzSumo report, these same articles had proportionately high shares on Facebook as well. One story that had a successful share rate on Facebook but extremely low on Twitter was “Obama Calls for End to Conversion Therapies for Gay and Transgender Youth.”  In further comparison, LinkedIn generally favors Business News, Google+ leans towards entertainment news and Pinterest readers covet recipes from newspapers.

There is also a lot of credit for loyal reader’s part in driving shares. “Research indicates nearly three-fifths of Twitter’s 15 million UK users follow at least one national newspaper brand or journalist²,” said Marcus Tober, CTO and founder of Searchmetrics. “Twitter is an ideal tool for driving additional traffic to news content and our research indicates that many leading newspaper sites are succeeding in this area.

Learning Lessons from the ‘Bigs’

Across the board, both Facebook and Twitter users share many of the same type of articles with Twitter sharing more breaking news. Some valuable measures we can all take away and put into practice from these social media engagement gurus is simple. Give readers what they want peppered with continuously trying something new until you find your own desirable recipe.  The posts that are the most shared have a uniqueness–whether it be any combo of a super headline, exclusive news, humorous video, great topic, engaging photo, or intriguing subject. You’ll always be able to determine what they like by keeping a continuous pulse on social media analytics and statistics. Even with these numbers you can never replace really listening to your readers. Facilitate dialogues, be genuinely interested in what they have to say by building a long-lasting loyal readership.

References

(Corcoran, November 2014) Meet the Newcomers: The Biggest Facebook Publishers of November 2014

(Corcoran, January 2015) The Biggest Facebook Publishers of January 2015

(N.A., January 2015) Top Newspaper Sites on Twitter: Guardian Stories Most Shared

(Moeller, May 2015) Sex, Money and Chipotle: Most shared Stories from US News Sites April 2015

(Rayson, May 2015) 7 lessons from the Most Shared Content on the UK Elections