Influencer Insights: The Evolution of Word of Mouth

influence insights

 

Yesterday I attended Mom Central Consulting‘s Influencer Insights breakfast and was not disappointed. Let me set the stage. The panel was hosted in beautiful downtown Boston at Blu Restaurant. A delicious breakfast was served to a room full of smart women from great companies who were there to tackle some tricky questions: What is the state of influencer programs today? What trends should we focus on for our businesses, where are influencers moving, and how should we engage with them?

 

If I came away with one major takeaway, it’s that word of mouth is still incredibly powerful – it’s just evolved. Now that we have smartphones and social media, we have 24/7 access to information and can ask questions with a few taps of the finger.

 

According to Karyn Martin, panelist and EVP of PR at 451 Marketing, the paradigm shift has already happened – agencies have gotten past having to convince companies that influencer (namely blogger) relations are important. And this shift is one of necessity: 91% of Moms trust bloggers’ content when seeking product info online and 76% of moms have sought out blogs to learn more about a product appearing in traditional media (via Mom Central).

 

As a result, Mom bloggers have a lot of sway with consumer brands. “We’ve changed our marketing messaging for 2014 based on blogger feedback,” said Sarah Barow of HP Hood (client). “It’s that powerful.”

 

So, how does a brand get in good with these mighty influencers? “As a blogger, the make or break for working with a brand is that they have a relationship with their consumers,” said Melissa Pezza of the Mommyhood Chronicles. Bloggers want authenticity and reliability from brands.

 

So the message is clear – consumers trust bloggers. Got it. But, what should marketers focus on moving forward?

 

“This,” said Karyn holding up her iPhone. “You have to optimize your content for the mobile device, that’s where our audience lives 24/7.” And influencers have responded, putting their messages on popular visual platforms. “Pinterest and Instagram make sense for brands,” Karyn continued. “We’re visual learners, we’re visual shoppers. Brands have to portray a lifestyle, and they have to do it succinctly.”

 

And this means publicists have to evolve right along with the brands they represent. “We have to change the way we pitch,” Karyn continued. “We have to package content for media and make sure it’s shareable.”

 

Share your influencer insights with us – what changes have you seen? Tweet us @451heat.

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phishing

Facebook Phishing: How to Recognize Facebook Scams

Facebook phishing

 

I didn’t want to admit this, but I guess I have to tell my shameful story to kick off this post. On Friday morning, I almost fell victim to a stupid online scam. The kind of scam I warn older relatives to look out for – you know, because they aren’t as tech savvy as me. Yeah, not my finest hour. But in my defense, scammers have gotten a lot more sophisticated. This looked pretty legit.

 

Here’s how it happened. I get a message from “Facebook” via the app on my phone:

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24 hours and my account is cancelled? Ummm, no thank you! How will I live in a Facebook-free world?!? I’ve spent the last nine years wasting time on this platform. In a panic, not really paying attention to all the details of the message, I click the link – and am brought to a landing page that looks all too official:

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And I think, wow, is this really happening? Until I look closer. Wait, why does Facebook need my email password? And this URL doesn’t look right…

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Yep. That’s not even a Facebook URL. And when I click on the user who sent me this Facebook message…

hacked profile

 

…I see that it’s not Facebook at all but rather the profile of a friend of mine from home, complete with photos of her kids, that has been hacked by some creepy Facebook phishers. I’ve been duped.

 

So, now that I’ve got that embarrassing story off my chest, let’s get down to what I learned and how others can recognize and avoid Facebook scams. I’ve pulled together a few items to beware of when it comes to Facebook security.

  1. Always check the URL. If it’s a true Facebook page, it will live on Facebook.com. End of story.
  2. Facebook will never ask you for personal information. This includes your account password or other passwords, credit card information, or social security number.
  3. Facebook will never send you a message claiming that your account will be deleted or locked unless you take immediate action. Instead, they might alert you if they notice suspicious activity on your account but this would almost always happen on login.
  4. Avoid anything that looks suspicious. Misspellings, typos, and weird fonts or characters are a pretty good indication that something fishy is going on.

 

Once you’ve identified suspicious activity, it’s smart to report it. First – change your password right away. Better safe than sorry.

 

Then, report the suspicious activity to Facebook:

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Also, let your Facebook friend know that their account has been compromised – contacting them outside of Facebook in case they’ve lost access to their account.

 

Have you seen any suspicious activity on Facebook? Let us know – tweet us at @451Heat!

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From Content to Customers

Marketing guru Seth Godin once said, “Content marketing is the only marketing left,” and at 451 Marketing, we agree with him. Content marketing – creating and delivering valuable content to your target audience – generates three times more leads than traditional marketing. It’s also incredibly valuable in building trust and creating value among skeptics – people who want to know what you know, but not necessarily what you sell just yet. It decreases costs all while increasing customers, all while remaining a scalable, repeatable process.

Content marketing allows you to position yourself as an expert on particular subject area and develop your brand voice and personality. In doing so, you’ll attract new customers and maintain a dialogue with existing and past clients that will keep your brand at the forefront of their minds. It also allows you to increase social signals.

Content marketing can be pursued through a number of different formats: whitepapers, e-books, case studies, blog and social posts, images and infographics, audio or video content, events and event content, and email newsletters, to name a few. It doesn’t directly convert non-customers, or sell a product, but it establishes a relationship that will act as a pipeline to doing so.

It’s essential to have a content marketing strategy to plan, create, publish, and measure your content:

  1. To begin with, pinpoint your target audience – your ideal customers. Think about the groups you most want to attract: moms, millennials and CIOs are groups whose buying power and influence cannot be understated.
    • Tackle your content marketing strategy by addressing your customers’ pain points: a need, problem, desire, or challenge they face. You can do so by analyzing common search inquiries around your product or industry using Google Search Trends and the Google Keyword Tool, as well as by asking your sales people what customers are predominately asking them.
  2. Research is key. Different platforms require different types of content creation. For examples, people in urban areas are more likely to be on Twitter than rural residents. Women are five times more likely than men to use Pinterest. Baby boomers are the fastest growing segment of Facebook.
  3. Use trends like these to shape future and categorize existing content. Organize content by type, date, topic, and persona, and repurpose content that is outdated but still has value. Fill holes in any missing content.
  4. It’s crucial to incorporate social and search goals. Start by defining major topics: think about what you know, fill in content gaps from your audit, and begin to stress achieving search and social goals.
  5. Designate an overall content coordinator, and have one from each functional areas. Members of the senior management team can oversee and contribute to add to the validity and value of your overall output.
  6. Creating a content calendar is key to staying on-task – Google Calendar is an excellent tool to share internally.
    • Color code by content type
    • Define ownership
    • Create checklists for social media promotion
    • Share in advance
  7. While creating content, the most important question to ask is whether it inspires sharing. Is it unique? Fun? Credible? Inspirational? Beneficial? The best content checks all the above off the list.
    • Certain types of content are more universally shareable : “How-to” stories,  real-time marketing, “Top 10,” “Best of,” and countdowns, for instance.
  8. Make sharing simple by linking to social properties on your website, and include share buttons with the content that show the reader how many times this particular page has been shared.
  9. In order to keep on top of what content is trending, set up Google alerts and streams in Hootsuite. Keep on top of these measurements, and adjust when necessary.

By being generous, valuing consistency, and becoming an authority on select subjects, you’ll build invaluable trust with your readers.

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451 Case Study: Hood Food Truck Campaign

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In an increasingly digitally-focused world, having meaningful, face-to-face contact with your audience has taken on new importance. Customers like to experience products and to see that there are people behind a brand. When Hood Cream approached 451 Marketing to design a regional marketing and public relations campaign around their product, the team eagerly used the opportunity to leverage a trend in the food industry to create a unique experiential campaign for the client.

Food trucks have taken  the country by storm. Since 2009, the number of food trucks in the US has grown by 710% to more than 2,300. In 2014, it is anticipated that this figure will grow by an additional 260%. And though usually associated with warmer seasons, 451 Marketing worked with client Hood Cream to create awareness around its premium and versatile product during their peak sales season – November and December – with a sampling event using a food truck known as the Hood “Soup Boutique.”

To read more about this fun (and highly successful!) campaign, click on the image below to download the case study.

food truck

Click image to download 

 

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Making Sure Your Company’s LinkedIn Page Rocks

LinkedIn is one of the most popular social networking sites in the world with more than 200 million users and two new users joining every second. With such a huge surge in popularity among young professionals and companies, LinkedIn has responded by updating the platform with a more elegant and user-friendly user interface. In addition, they’ve create more ways for companies to attract potential employees and customers. And while many of these updates require a premium ($$) LinkedIn package, a recent “Products/Services” page roll-out enables companies to show off their offerings without spending a dime.

 

What are the advantages of leveraging this new page for your company on LinkedIn? For one, it’s an opportunity to highlight your strengths and differentiate yourself visually in an incredibly saturated arena. Another reason – think of the relationship with Google+ and Google search results – we have to assume that any additional fields that you populate in LinkedIn will bolster your presence and enhance search results on the platform.

 


How can your company optimize its LinkedIn presence by adding a products/services page? We’ve put together a quick how-to to guide you through this process.

 

<<Click here to download our 451 Lab Report

 

 

 

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