Shopping Gets Social: Pinterest and Instagram Updates

 

Mobile-shopping-525x600As the digital landscape has transformed the way we send, receive and seek information, online shopping has increased significantly in the last few years. Research by Wipro Digital found that in 2013, 36 percent of U.S. shoppers reported doing the majority of their shopping online, and since then, ecommerce has increased by 25 percent. Today, 61 percent of U.S. shoppers are making the majority of their purchases online. This trend will continue to grow this year. According to Wipro, 50 percent of U.S. shoppers plan to do more shopping online, while only 4 percent plan to make more in-store purchases.

On June 2, Pinterest and Instagram unveiled “Buy buttons” that allow users to purchase items they see while scrolling through Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds on their mobile devices. On Pinterest, you will now see “buyable pins,” enabling users to search for pins within a specific price range, product color and more, while buying directly through Pinterest’s mobile app. Rich pins (pins with information for ingredients and DIY projects) will also have “buy it” buttons, so users will be able to buy the list of products without leaving Pinterest.

While scrolling through Instagram, you will see ads with “Shop Now,” “Install Now,”  “Sign Up” and “Learn More” buttons. These features are an addition to Instagram’s carousel ads that launched in March and will help companies with their selling and marketing efforts on social media. For companies, these new ad features will have better targeting options based on age, location, gender, interests, places and other demographics.

Some marketers believe these new features on Pinterest and Instagram will increase brands’ conversion rates and boost engagement and sales, but others believe these features don’t help them get to know their consumers enough.

While the new buyable pins on Pinterest could significantly increase company sales and enhance the consumer experience, some people do not believe the same can be said for Instagram. Adam Padilla, creative director of BrandFire, describes the new Instagram features as “risky” and “a mistake.” As an Instagram user with over 17,000 followers, he doesn’t want to feel like he’s shopping while he scrolls through his feed. Padilla described Instagram as more of a personal experience than Pinterest and said Pinterest was similar to a marketplace like Etsy.

With these features, companies will have to be cautious and think about their digital strategies because consumers don’t want to feel like their Pinterest searches and Instagram feeds are being taken over by ads.

While some believe these updates won’t help drive sales, others believe these features will make shopping even easier with instant access to products. One thing is for sure, digital technology is changing the way we live our lives, and these new features on Pinterest and Instagram have the potential to change the way we view products and make purchases.

Megan Healy is a senior at Temple University majoring in Strategic Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Spanish. She is an active member of Temple University’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America and is an account executive for PRowl Public Relations, Temple’s student-run PR firm. She will be studying abroad in London this summer and will be graduating this December. Follow Megan on Twitter at @Meg_Healy_ and connect with her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/meganhealy22.

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The Do’s of Corporate Blogging

CB imageIf your company has decided to cut corporate blogging out of its content marketing strategy, you might want to reconsider. Allowing companies to reveal a bit more about the brains and personalities behind the brand, blogging offers businesses the advantage to initiate unique conversations with customers, unlike traditional marketing channels.

“A company blog is a venue for clients and lovers of the brand to feel personally connected to the company. It’s an opportunity for consumers to be heard by a company or brand and to be kept in the loop on their own terms – ultimately forming a two-way, insider relationship that benefits both parties,” said Digital Strategy and Marketing Director, Clara Swanson of GillespieHall.

The “2014 Hubspot State of Inbound” report mentions, “companies that blog are 13x more likely to generate a positive marketing ROI.” So what are you waiting for? Follow these corporate blogging do’s and start reaping all of the benefits that blogging has to offer to your business.

The Do’s

Establish your brand’s voice and personality
Before a company moves forward with posting on any social media outlet, they must first establish their brand voice. Choosing your brand’s voice is a very critical step because it goes hand-in-hand with your brand’s personality, and how you will execute the content you plan to share. First, think about the type of business and industry you are in and the most commonly used lingo within this market. Ask yourself, how does your audience interact with one another and how do they like to be approached and spoken to?

Perform keyword research
Just as bees seek quality pollen, your readers seek superior content. Tagging your blog posts with the most effective keywords helps to guide readers to useful and relevant information. “Corporate blogging is an opportunity to connect with your target market on a personal level and establish a place in the market. Blogs are also critical for search – keeping your company fresh in search results, and appearing in a wider range of search results relevant to your product or service,” said Swanson. A definite way to ensure that your content is reaching your desired target audience is to create effective search engine optimized content. Try using Keyword Tool, it helps you generate over 750 keywords from Google autocomplete. Also, embed links into your blog posts that steers readers to previously published content. If you’re looking to maximize your PR efforts through search engine optimized content, check out this previously published post on PPRA’s blog, “How Search Engine Optimization Benefits the Field of Public Relations.”

Update regularly.
It has happened to us all. We surf the web and come across blogs that are completely outdated or are not regularly updated. What kind of impression does this blog leave you with? Think of your content as a store’s inventory. Don’t just offer your readers last season’s trends, fill them in on what’s hip now and keep them in-the-know with consistent blog content. “Not investing in regular blogging is a major lost opportunity in any industry. Blogging, approached strategically, can bring amazing benefits to any company willing to invest in the process. The key, though, is the quality of the blog content and the commitment to producing valuable content on a regular basis,” said Swanson. The first step to corporate blogging strategically is to create an editorial calendar that includes your blogging and posting schedule, as well as brainstormed topics and special events you can incorporate your content around.

Feature guest posts from all staff members
Allowing staff of all levels to regularly contribute to the company’s blog acquaints your customers with the thought leaders that are the force that drives the brand they love. It provides diversity to the reader because they can now receive insights from employees of different departments. Each employee has something valuable to offer to the blog. Make sure to answer consumer questions or leave them with thought-provoking conclusions.

This post was written by PPRA member Renee’ Velez. Renee’ currently serves on PPRA’s Communications Committee as the Blog Chair. She loves all things social media and is currently seeking opportunities in the PR industry. Follow Renee’ on Twitter @rvelez88. Special thanks to the GillespieHall team for the insightful feedback on corporate blogging.

Preparing for the Pope: 1 million visitors, 7,000 members of the media

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This fall, hundreds of thousands of people from all over the globe will flock to our city for the World Meeting of Families. It’s estimated that over 1 million visitors will make the journey to Philadelphia for the week-long celebration. The festivities will have a powerful effect on the area; hotels are already booked, businesses will be booming and the economic impact will be huge. At the latest PPRA luncheon, PR for a Mega Event: Preparing for the Pope, some of the public relations professionals who are helping to ensure the World Meeting of Families runs smoothly spoke on what they have been doing and the excitement and challenges they’ve faced.

Representatives from the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, Visit Philadelphia, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Brian Communications and the Mayor’s Office came together to address a crowd eager to learn about the process of planning for a series of events as large as the World Meeting of Families.

Big PR Challenges for the Papal Visit 

Social media
It is anticipated that social media for the World Meeting of Families will be up and running in 10 to 20 languages. This is a huge undertaking, but the communications partners working to set it all up are well prepared. A big social media center will be working at all hours of the day working to monitor, engage and keep things going smoothly.

24/7 deadlines
This exciting series of events is drawing an international crowd, which means international press. These members of the media will be working with deadlines far outside our time zone and it is important that they are able to meet those deadlines. In order to help facilitate this, there will be a 24/7 media center running from the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Credentialing
There will be between five and seven thousand members of the media in Philadelphia for this week in September. It is realistically not possible to give every journalist, reporter and the like a credential for every event taking place. The professionals behind the media organization are hard at work to find a balance that makes everyone feel involved and keeps everyone informed. Part of this effort includes live streaming of events that can be viewed in the 24/7 media center.

Security
Pope Francis giving a public mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway is just one example of an event during the week that will need some serious security measures. The Mayor’s Office is in close contact with police from all over the world, coordinating and organizing the best possible ways to keep the Pope and all the attendees safe and secure. It’s a good thing that Philadelphia is exceptional at hosting large events and will have plenty of test events to try out new security tactics.

Controlling the message
The last time the Pope visited the United States social media was not nearly as prevalent as it is in today’s society. The communications professionals teaming up for the World Meeting of Families are working hard to craft great messaging to put out to all audiences. Social media makes it difficult for the messages to be controlled. Those pushing out information on social media can, in reality, say whatever they want and create their own (potentially false, potentially negative) messaging.  The social media center, set up in the Convention Center alongside the media center, will be crucial in monitoring posts and ensuring the proper messages are being shared on all channels.

Measurement
The great debate in the realm of public relations is how to effectively measure the success of a story placement, event, campaign, etc. The World Meeting of Families team is ready to take on the task of measuring the success of individual events throughout the week and the celebration as a whole. It’s incredibly important to capture this data because it’s a once in a lifetime happening and the chance won’t come around again.

It’s clear that the folks handling the Papal visit to Philadelphia are leaving no stone unturned. Keep an eye out for more developments as the World Meeting of Families approaches and get ready for the execution of an amazing series of events.

London Faust is an Account Representative at Bellevue Communications Group, a public relations firm specializing in media relations, crisis communications and issue management. She is forever #TempleMade, class of 2014. Follow her personal ramblings on Twitter at @londonfaust or her professional doings at @BellevuePRPhl.

Communicating the Value of PR: Stop Dodging, Start Measuring

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Recently I was out to dinner with a digital strategist friend and she raised a question that, admittedly, caught me off guard. “What is it that you do?” she asked. From one communications professional to another, the question seemed unapologetically sarcastic. Then, as if to add insult to injury, my friend ever-so nicely followed up with, “Ok, how do you measure what you do?”

Oh no, the “M” word.

In all my years in PR, I’ve essentially been able to dodge the “M” word. How? Easy. By hiding behind media clippings, fancy media reports, shares, “likes,” tweets and elaborate, but successful, events. If this is you, it’s time to come out, come out wherever you are. Not only is it time to stop dodging; it’s time to start measuring.

Translating news releases and news hits into dollars and cents
Given the sheer amount of data that’s available to us nowadays, PR pros have ample opportunity to quantify their efforts and show executives what’s working and what’s not. As hard as it is for me to succumb to, it’s also high time that we get comfortable showing how our efforts affect the bottom line.

Data, where have you been my whole life?
By creating key performance indicators (KPIs) and specific metrics tied to “awareness,” I now have even more ammunition to communicate the value of public relations to organizational leaders. For the first time, our PR team has a dashboard which provides a monthly analysis of not just media hits and news releases, but things like tone and message quality. What’s more, we use tagging links and Google Analytics to track conversions tied to our press releases, proving that PR does indeed help drive company revenue.

Getting started
To say that quantifying PR efforts beyond the typical vanity metrics makes me uneasy would be a huge understatement, but embracing it has enlarged my perspective on the power of analytics and given me a newfound love for data. There are a plethora of dashboard tools and tips out there to get you started. For instance, check out Dashboard Junkie or the PR Measurement solution offered by Meltwater. Warning, once you’ve been bitten by the PR data bug, you’ll likely want to track any and everything. However, it’s best to start small, be strategic and continually iterate.

Already measuring your PR efforts and showing value to your execs? Share your tips and tools with me in the comments below!

Andrea Carter is a Public Relations Specialist at AWeber, a certified news junkie and an aspiring world traveler. Check out Andrea’s back story here then follow her on Twitter @SheLuvsPR and connect on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/carterandrea/.

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Seasoned Strategies

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As the summer winds down and the fall season begins to approach this is a great time for PR practitioners to ponder upon their past strategies and consider what they could do differently in the upcoming months. A recent PR Daily article, “How to craft your PR strategies for fall,” shares some insightful tips on how PR pros can creatively take advantage of the seasons in order to capture the public’s attention.

1. Take advantage of social media. The author strongly suggests seeking inspiration from themed boards on Pinterest. Why not take it a step further and see what’s trending on Instagram? Use the inspiring craft ideas to design campaigns, giveaways and photo contests. Keep the most popular holidays in mind but also consider the most popular events within your community to create strong tailor-made strategies.

2. Consider local PR strategies. When building up your group of brand ambassadors PR practitioners must keep in mind that it’s not all about the monetary gain. Creating brand disciples is a long-lasting effort that could take years to achieve. Tying an impressive story angle to a very specific event within your community is a great way to start forming consumer relationships. Send a clear message to your audience and emphasize that their community interests links up with your brand.

3. Get rid of the old, bring in the new. Spice up your strategies around the holidays. The author suggests keeping the “uncool” factor in mind and leaving cliché storylines at the door. Craft campaigns based around holidays that don’t receive too much attention such as Grandparent’s Day and Sweetest Day.

4. Embrace mobile trends. Web content is in high demand and users love accessing this content through their smartphones. Be sure to design your campaigns in an easily accessible manner that allows users to easily share your content via social media. An app could be just the thing to set you apart from your competitors.

Do you switch up your strategies based on the season? What kind of strategies have worked well and not so well in your experience? Share your ideas and comment below!