Waggener Edstrom Communications » Matt Whiting http://waggeneredstrom.com We turn innovation into impact Fri, 18 Apr 2014 19:47:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 The Hard Truth: “No one cares about ‘content.’ Seriously, no one.” http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/03/06/the-hard-truth-no-one-cares-about-content-seriously-no-one/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/03/06/the-hard-truth-no-one-cares-about-content-seriously-no-one/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 17:37:57 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=21949 This blog post had me at hello… OK, that’s not technically true, but you know what I mean.

The intro, as well as the rest of it, is spot on. Well worth the two minutes it takes to read and absorb.

For the super skimmers out there, here are your bulleted gems:

  1. Pay to play will become the norm and even paid efforts will need to meet a very high bar for relevance to make any sort of splash
  2. Epic content will still break through but what is epic now will be merely good in a year or two – More explicitly, you can’t expect anyone to care if you’re doing what was cool months/years ago
  3. Your blog posts, tweets, Facebook posts, Vines, etc. should provide highly readable(/consumable) and reliable information to consumers for them to have a chance of sticking
  4. Strengthen media relationships as coverage/paid spots with respected media will be your Trojan horses
  5. Win over “hearts and minds” by providing truly personalized answers specific to consumers’ various situations
  6. Embrace the sharing economy as a way to get more people talking about you in compelling ways – Take smart risks to actually engage consumers, one-way social is a relic

Want to get people to care? We’re here to help. As always, feel free to send me tweet or email. If it’s more “content” you’re craving, visit our Content 360 page.

This super short post is a continuation of thinking outlined here, but do click through to Eric’s post first.

Featured image: ultraBobban / flickr

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The Free Ride is Over: Facebook’s New “Hard Truth” http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/02/19/the-free-ride-is-over-facebooks-new-hard-truth/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/02/19/the-free-ride-is-over-facebooks-new-hard-truth/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 17:49:30 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=21719 Along with the rest of the marketing/comms world, we’ve been talking a lot about Facebook’s squeeze on organic posts and what this means for brands everywhere.

Here’s the latest on that theme delivered in just three bullets that sum up a recent article by Nicholas Carlson.

  • A shockingly small amount of brand page “fans” actually see their posts (see below)
  • Just one week after FB’s December algorithm change, fan reach by brand pages declined by 44 percent on average – by 88 percent on the high end
  • With more competition than ever for News Feed real estate, publishers spending $ will edge out organic posts nearly every time

“So what?” bottom line: If a brand doesn’t have a defined paid approach to social as part of their overarching strategy, virtually no one will see what they’re posting.

Here’s a quick table I pulled together to illustrate average organic reach of various sized brand pages. Numbers pulled from Agorapulse.

Total Fans of Brand Page Average % of fans reached by organic FB posts
Fewer than 1,000 32.1
1,000-10,000 16.5
10,000-50,000 12.2
50,000-100,000 10
More than 100,000 8

Need help working on your paid, earned, shared + owned strategy? Our team’s always happy to pull together the right digitally savvy minds to ensure your posts are showing up where they’re most likely be drive action. Let us know and we’d be happy to help. As always, feel free to send a tweet or email me.

Want to learn more about the algorithm changes, check out “Facebook algorithm changes: What does it mean for your brand?” by WE UK’s Gareth Davies.

Featured image:  esthervargasc / flickr

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Facebook to Brands: No One Likes Your Text Updates, Now Fewer Will See Them http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/01/22/facebook-to-brands-no-one-likes-your-text-updates-now-fewer-will-see-them/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/01/22/facebook-to-brands-no-one-likes-your-text-updates-now-fewer-will-see-them/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 00:56:18 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=21078 In case you had any doubt whether we’re in fact living in the era of the visual web, Facebook made an announcement yesterday letting page admins know it’s time to get visual… or else.

In the company blog post about the changes, Facebook didn’t sugarcoat the news but they did quickly offer the upside: “Page admins can expect a decrease in the distribution of their text status updates, but they may see some increases in engagement and distribution for other story types.”

Facebook is doing this, at least in part, to keep brands from annoying fans with stale text-only updates that are unlikely to lead to any engagement other than an unlike.

This builds on the reports, like the one from blogger Derek Muller earlier this week, about how Facebook is making it more and more challenging for page owners to see their content show up organically in the News Feeds of their fans.

Ultimately, this could arguably make for a better user experience if the dullest posts are in fact seeing restricted reach, but that’s a huge if and either way, it will make the jobs of marketers, comms pros and other content creators just a bit more challenging.

Long story short, it’s time to rethink (or for the first time, plan out) your visual strategy.

Need help figuring out how to best add video and photos to the mix? Let us know and we’d be happy to help. As always, feel free to send a tweet or email me.

Featured image:  misterspoon / flickr

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Can Warby Parker Help You See Beyond the Boring? http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/01/16/can-warby-parker-help-you-see-beyond-the-boring/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/01/16/can-warby-parker-help-you-see-beyond-the-boring/#comments Thu, 16 Jan 2014 18:31:25 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=20962 Facing unprecedentedly high competition for unprecedentedly low attention spans, brands are either going with the “rinse and repeat” approach to see diminishing returns OR are stepping away from previously held conventions and experimenting with new marketing tactics (and in some cases, company philosophies).

Online eyewear retailer Warby Parker proves once again, even seemingly banal things like buying glasses or in the latest case, presenting a company annual report, can be exciting, highly engaging and a boon to sales.

Living up to its reputation as the poster child for disruptive innovation in retail, Warby Parker is receiving considerable praise for releasing its most interactive, most transparent annual report yet. The report, the third of its kind from the company, takes an interactive, day-by-day look at the hits as well as misses from the past year.

In an interview with AdAge, Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal talked about the motivations behind and benefits from the company’s melding of transparency and creativity.

“We find the more information we share, the more vulnerable we are, and that sharing the positive and the warts — the deeper relationship we build with our customers. The first time we thought it would just be fun for our most engaged, most loyal customers, but it ended up leading to our three biggest sales days at the time.”

In comparison to the status quo, Blumenthal summed WP’s approach succinctly.

“Often, I think the mentality of corporate America is, ‘What is the absolute minimum amount of information I can share with the general public?’ But we found the more information we share, the better the company does.”

Once you’ve spent some time with the annual report and you find yourself inspired to break from the pack, ask yourself:

  • How can we ensure we’re supplementing our stories with a strong visual component where possible?
  • How can we offer information that goes beyond the expected to stand out from competition? Is there an opportunity to share highlights as well as missteps like WP?
  • How can we show our company’s human side? Does humor fit into how we have defined our brand voice?
  • How can we make the story broader than just about what we are doing? How can we incorporate world events?
  • How can we slice up the story so people can access it in different ways? Are there opportunities to include interactive elements?

Once you start asking these and other questions, you’ll be able to get to your own unique answers that will lead you to focus to your own version of “what’s next?”

To learn more about how WE can help you with as you  move along this path, please reach out to the us. As always, feel free to send a tweet or email me as well.

Featured image: Screenshot from Warby Parker’s 2013 Annual Report

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New Year, Fresh Chance to Get Smart about Content Marketing http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/01/07/new-year-fresh-chance-to-get-smart-about-content-marketing/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2014/01/07/new-year-fresh-chance-to-get-smart-about-content-marketing/#comments Tue, 07 Jan 2014 15:15:44 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=20859 Just a week into the new year, and I’ve found myself in quite a few “Groundhog’s Day”-esque conversations. That’s not at all surprising and not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a reminder that the big themes of 2013 will once again be big deals in the weeks, months and years to come.

On the tech side of things, people are talking about the coming ubiquity of wearable tech, enhanced (4K) screens, smarter cars and whatever else is (re)emerging at CES. On the marketing side, the focus is back on mobile, engagement, custom experiences, real-time marketing and, of course, content marketing.

I won’t bore you by rehashing the recaps of yesteryear and predictions of this one, but if you’ll indulge me, I’ll offer my quick definition of content marketing and how it is separate from, but overlaps with, content strategy.

Content strategy is about frameworks and processes while content marketing is about using content to deepen relationships with your customers and other key audiences.

To borrow a quote from Rebecca Lieb’s excellent write-up on the topic, “Content strategy is what makes content marketing effective.”

Successful content marketing is people-centric, allowing people to learn more about what interests them, what makes their jobs easier or what fills some other need in their lives.

Excellent content marketing makes use of created and, you guessed it (cue another buzzword), curated content. GM’s Drive the District is a great example.

GM includes a variety of stories, photos and videos from its own bloggers and producers, aggregates stories from the Web that will interest readers, and partners with other bloggers, producers and “tastemakers” (if you’re a fan of the increasingly omnipresent marketing buzz phrase) for compelling series, such as the Good Taste Tour.

Here’s GM’s Seattle video from that series in case you’re hungry for a specific, local example.

Although it’s too early to offer a stellar content marketing example of 2014, it doesn’t take a (semantically accurate) crystal ball to know great content marketing initiatives of 2014 will build on the foundations of solid content strategy.

To learn more about how WE can help you with your content needs, visit our Content 360 page, take the assessment and reach out to the team directly. As always, feel free to send a tweet or email me as well.

Featured image:  mdurwin / flickr

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5 Key Takeaways from Seattle Interactive Conference 2013 http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/11/07/5-key-takeaways-from-seattle-interactive-conference-2013/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/11/07/5-key-takeaways-from-seattle-interactive-conference-2013/#comments Thu, 07 Nov 2013 22:41:13 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=20044

If your workplace is anything like ours, escaping the office and the daily grind for more than an hour or two means you must have a pretty good reason for doing so. Luckily for me and thousands of like-minded peers who descended on the Washington State Convention Center last week,  Seattle Interactive Conference was one of the best reasons to do just that in quite some time.

Whether you were able to join or not, here are five key “learnings” from the three day event that will get you thinking about the modern brand experience in new way.

No longer just a nice to have, word of mouth is essential for brands to break through to customers

The problem for brands is trust. People have it, not brands.

Brands are no longer curators of content, they’re curators of conversation.

If you get people to engage with your brand, you need to give them something useful for their efforts.

Mind share equals market share. The new new is utility. Ask yourself, can you be useful to someone’s day-to-day?

— David Shing (@Shingy) of AOL Advertising

You build more authenticity when you provide value – and talking about yourself rarely does that

If you make your customers the hero of your story, your messaging is going to travel much farther.

Bank of America vs Mint.com. On social, BofA is all about patting itself on back. Mint is all about you.

Twitter should be about giving, not chest beating.

— Jason Carmel (@defenestrate99) and Ray Page (@raypage) of POSSIBLE

We’re living in the age of the subtle sell

Make your content compelling, don’t hit people over the head with brand messaging.

As David Shing said “contrived in-your-face advertising doesn’t work any more— presence matters.”

Today’s industry leader Red Bull does an exceptional job showing and not telling what the Red Bull brand is all about. When you view Red Bull produced content, you will almost never see a Red Bull can front and center, you’ll see athletes doing amazing things, inspiring you to be a part of that community.

— Andrew Grinaker (@206andrew) of POSSIBLE

In this hyper connected, hyper-distracted world, a killer pitch is more important than ever

Breakthrough with a pitch that sets you apart. An effective pitch today:

  1. Shows passion — gives you a platform for showing your passion (you have to be the one carrying the flag for crazy idea).
  2. Confronts objections — a million reasons why your idea will fail — a killer pitch gives a way to craft story to diffuse bomb before it’s too late.
  3. Is highly actionable and memorable.

— Adam Tratt (@adamtr) of Haiku Deck

Success isn’t random, it’s also a lot about luck — you can increase your odds by failing (and rebounding) the right way

In your life, you’re going fail over and over again. Do it a lot. If you can do it simultaneously, even better.

If you must: Talk to those who had successes. Even better, talk to those who have failed.

99 percent of the time, you put out something and hear crickets.

All of bets requite resources (money, time, etc) make bets as small as possible to make as many as possible.

Make an infinite number of small bets. Make things that you’re proud of and it might just pay off in the end.

— Hillel Cooperman (@Hillel) of Jackson Fish Market

BONUS: As a reward for making it this far, here’s the best (brand partnership) video shared all conference. Enjoy.

Thanks to @Shingy for sharing this among other great examples.


A version of this post was originally published on Medium.com.

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Social Sensitivities around Serious Events http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/09/11/social-sensitivities-around-serious-events/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/09/11/social-sensitivities-around-serious-events/#comments Wed, 11 Sep 2013 22:21:03 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=18291 Throughout history many brands have been accused of attempting to “cash in” on crises and have faced much public condemnation as a result. It’s only in the social media age, however, that these questionable communications have been able reach a much wider and often, exceedingly vocal audience. Breaking down all geographical borders and providing critics with a much louder megaphone, social media has also given everyone the power to call foul on anyone (including, and often most vehemently, brands) they believe have crossed the line.

The landscape of corporate social blunders tied to crises is already littered with countless examples but one does not need to look back too far back to see the matter reach a new low. Last October, American Apparel and Gap received widespread condemnation after creating ill-advised Hurricane Sandy related marketing pushes; nearly six months later, Epicurious got itself into trouble with an insensitive Boston Marathon bombing tweet; and just recently, a spotlight-grabbing tweet from the often incendiary Kenneth Cole again caused vocal online masses to question the ethical nature of tying marketing to exceedingly serious events.

Today, on the twelfth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, many companies made the decision to observe the somber day publicly and the online masses are once again questioning what is and isn’t OK when it comes to comments from corporate citizens.

While the overwhelming majority, and possibly all, of the intentions behind these 9/11 mentions were genuine, brands need to walk an extremely careful line when it comes to commentary on tragic events.

The general consensus seems to be that those with a direct tie to the event may cautiously and respectively wade into the conversation. Many point to the respectful commemorative tweet from American Red Cross as a rare example of an appropriate online gesture by a public entity.

It’s when companies use the opportunity for product placement (as AT&T did) or inexplicably twist the meaning of a remembrance hashtag (as the Lakers did), that the admonitions will come pouring in.

Now more than ever, brand managers will need to continue the process of carefully weighing the broader context around sensitive issues when it comes to public comment. While heartfelt commentary by humans who work at any company is always welcomed, overwhelmingly, brands should refrain from inserting themselves into highly sensitive public discussions from corporate accounts.

Featured image: Patrick He / flickr

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3 Quick Tips to Increase Email Open Rates http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/07/23/3-quick-tips-to-increase-email-open-rates/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/07/23/3-quick-tips-to-increase-email-open-rates/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 23:52:04 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=17213 According to firsthand experience and secondhand sources (see this informative post by MailChimp), PR pros and marketers are now finding email communications to be less effective than ever as a result of Gmail’s new tabbed inbox. Anyone, including journalists, can and will easily tune out undesirable communications extremely easily thanks to this new feature.

While newsletters, press releases and even so-called “buddy mails” used to make it to the intended audience’s main inbox, many of these communications are now be relegated to a “Promotions” tab on Gmail. From a media relations perspective, this is particularly relevant for tech journalists as many use Gmail on the back-end, if not the front-end, to manage mail.

A quick post from always-influential uber geek and Rackspace evangelist Robert Scoble earlier today encourages other journalists to take advantage of this feature.

One thing for other journalists: I’m putting all press releases into the promotions folder. That is working EXTRAORDINARILY WELL. To the point where PR people should be really worried as well. By the way, this is crowd-sourced so if you do the same thing my folders will get better too (and yours will get better because of my “training”).

With that in mind, here are three quick tips to increase your odds of actually breaking through:

1) Writing effective emails has never been more important. Use personalization, avoid jargon, use specifics and relevant key words to draw your target audience in as they’ll just be skimming subject lines to determine what should be “salvaged” from the Promotions tab.

2) Stepping back on a well-worn soapbox – the time is now for communications professions and marketers to step up their adoption of strategic “non-traditional” approaches that also include a mix of social, digital, experiential and beyond.

3) And last but certainly not least, relationships remain essential. Strong personal connections with reporters will help to decrease the likelihood your mails will end up in a second class tab. Be human and better yet, be a human people like hearing from.

If you have any questions about maximizing the effectiveness of your online communications or broadening the tools in your “influence toolkit,” please get in touch with me on Twitter (@mattwhiting) or go the more formal route to connect with us as we’d love to help.

Image by Timothy Valentine

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3 Quick Crisis Response Tips Inspired by @BurgerKing’s Royally Embarrassing Morning http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/02/18/3-quick-crisis-response-tips-inspired-by-burgerkings-royally-embarrassing-morning/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/02/18/3-quick-crisis-response-tips-inspired-by-burgerkings-royally-embarrassing-morning/#comments Mon, 18 Feb 2013 23:53:22 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=14699 Earlier today, Burger King’s Twitter account was hacked and made to look like McDonald’s. While this move clearly caused a good deal of stress for Burger King execs, the heartburn-inducing wake-up call has led to many “what if” scenarios from brands and communications pros alike. While the actual hacking was disturbing for the brand and quite likely some Whopper fans, the key learnings come from Burger King’s slow, exceedingly maladroit response, which seems to have worsened the fallout.

To ensure you aren’t caught flat-footed if something like this were to occur to you, here are few quick tips to put in place right now to ensure you’re prepared to react more effectively and efficiently than the fallen King.

Update your log-in credentials often: Secure passwords that are updated frequently are the first step to prevent this type of situation. Hacks still happen but a little additional effort upfront will help stave off some attacks.

Actively monitor your name, product names and profiles: Good old fashioned real-time social listening would have helped Burger King jump on this crisis much more quickly. The account was actively tweeting under a hacker control for over an hour. Immediate detection and quick action is crucial, which brings us to…

Have a social media crisis plan in place: A well-thought out response will help to ensure that you can help your client minimize embarrassment and diminish subsequent ripples across social channels, on blogs and beyond. Crisis plan steps include:

  • Identify and anticipate future risks as much as possible.
  • Plan for responses with a social media SWAT team that knows the appropriate response for each potential issue and the chain of response.
  • Listen and assess the crisis at hand before quickly jumping to action.
  • Analyze the situation by referencing against what’s in your previously identified crisis issues to align with approved process.
  • Launch the formal plan following set procedures, roles and responsibilities in a timely manner.
  • Monitor and evaluate how the media and public are reacting to the company’s official response and modify as necessary.

 Have any other questions about social media crisis planning? Connect with us to get the conversation started.

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Five Content Tips from Last Night’s Enhanced Presidential Address http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/02/13/five-content-tips-from-last-nights-enhanced-presidential-address/ http://waggeneredstrom.com/blog/2013/02/13/five-content-tips-from-last-nights-enhanced-presidential-address/#comments Wed, 13 Feb 2013 11:00:59 +0000 http://waggeneredstrom.com/?p=14596 SOTU_secondscreen

The SOTU as seen from the other Washington

Last night, the White House’s enhanced State of the Union address bridged the gap between a traditional live feed viewing experience and a future built on richer, multimedia-heavy staging. While the enhanced format fell somewhere between feeling like a glorified PowerPoint presentation and a more behaved version of Colbert’s “The Word” segment in the beginning, the added visuals greatly amplified the points the President was making after the initial distraction value leveled off.

As PowerPoint and Keynote presentations are the norm for most product launches these days, the White House’s seamless digital execution will mean that multimedia-rich online presentations will become table stakes in no time.

As we prepare for the second screen experience of the future, here are five tips brands can take from last night’s selection of sidebar content.

1) Show the human side of the story with compelling photos of human connection


2) Bring stats to life with simple diagrams


3) Highlight what you want people to remember by highlighting specific key words


4) Explain relationships with visual analogies


5) Use charts and graphs to back up data-heavy claims


Have thoughts on visual-heavy presentations of your own? Paint a picture with your words in the comments. Want to learn more about visual storytelling? Connect with us to get the conversation started.

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