Tag Archive for: social media pr agencies

There’s no business like the cannabis business, we’re all in it together and despite (or maybe because of) the challenges, we love it. One of the areas with “challenges” is cannabis social media. 

Every cannabis brand knows that social media is an integral part of branding – and done right, it can play a pivotal role in press opportunities as well.  Yet, it can be a little disheartening to be on social media when just about every platform has become “pay to play.” But, never fear, there are solutions to the cannabis social media challenge. 

There are so many social media opportunities, I hope you’ll take a look at this and think about these issues within cannabis social media and how you can lead the industry with your social media. 

Good Cannabis Social Media: Product First, Second AND Third?

One of the issues I currently have with cannabis social media is that it’s so product forward, there’s so much opportunity to tell stories on social, and yet stream after stream is a picture of a plant or a bottle or a vape. OF course, it’s important to put your product out there, but who (besides a bot) stops to comment on a picture like that? The opportunity in cannabis social media is to create a passionate audience–very few people get really excited about product images. Think about the last visual ad you saw, I bet you remember the story in the ad better than the product hero shot. 

So what should we do about product/story balance? 

Consider including product within a mix of posts. Either find a way to tie together a series of posts that together, tell a story.  Your stories can be vignettes, values, people, anything that underscores your brand values and attributes. Within the context of these brand values, your goal is to make people pause long enough to look again, maybe even long enough to look at the rest of your feed. Now, I’m not suggesting you shouldn’t post product at all, I want you to post the product, especially in ways that highlight your customer’s experience. I WANT you to have products shots, but

 

 

Use the rule of thumb: product images for every 3rd or 4th image. 

 

Disruption: The Good, The Bad and The Amazing

First, I’d like to encourage all brands to consider the nascent stages we’re in and consider that it’s on all of us, as a community to improve our image. If you’re going to take risks on social (and not every brand is a “risk taking” brand), then be very clear about how other people perceive the message you’re putting out there. For example, if you’re marketing to women, be aware, women aren’t generally all that jazzed about hypersexualized images. But hey! If you’ve done the research and your cannabis brand is about disruption, and you’re using images like this strategically, I’m a huge fan of bold moves. But go into that kind of brand risk-taking with open eyes. You might just end up on the pages of a publication with an outraged journalist writing a missive about their disgust. And even if THAT doesn’t happen, you may forever alienate the people you thought would be interested in your product. Strong brands sometimes do alienate people, but that’s usually because they know their audience SO well, they know their audience will stand by them. Knowing your audience that well means you’ve done your research.

Maximize your payoff

On the other hand, recently I’ve seen some cannabis brands take a strong stand on controversial social justice issues. It’s a gutsy move, but when it’s consistent with the brand, it’s previous community building and presented well, it has the potential for huge pay-off. I’m personally really excited when I see brands taking a strong stand on issues, even when they aren’t MY issues, I’m excited to see brands stand for something. If you’re going to take a risk like this, lean into it, own it. Make sure the language and the imagery support the position in a strong, powerful way, and when you do this, leave out the product placement. Let your leadership shine, let the connectivity happen. Strong positions are much more memorable when they don’t feel like an advertisement. 



Disruption can be very good for a cannabis brand. The key for every brand to is to know their brand SO well, their audience SO intimately, the return outweighs the risk. 

Rethinking Social Media Influencers

When I Googled “cannabis influencers” today I got 4,530,000 hits, so clearly, it’s a thing. Most social media influencers know their value, and social media influencers are advertisements. Treat them as such. I’m not suggesting the relationship isn’t collaborative, because it is. What I’m telling you is keep your brand strong, You’d never let someone create a print ad for you without reviewing it. Insist on that same communication with your influencer.

But since you’re collaborating with your influencer anyway, why not invite their creative input for what the post(s) will look like. I’ve found that content creators are incredibly creative and they’re so excited when someone wants to hear THIER ideas, the collaborative outcome is much better than originally imagined.

The “thing” I wish cannabis brands realize is that you can pay big bucks per post for social reach and usually get really beautiful, custom content in return. Or you can do it for a less expensive per-post price and get a higher percentage of reach with a little grittier content. In either case, you’ll be managing the influencer, and the bigger the influencer, the bigger the personality, but also, the more professional. Really be thinking about what you expect from your cannabis influencer campaign and how you’ll evaluate success. 

 

 

Dig deep and make sure your influencer really matches your brand. Reach should not be your only consideration when you’re selecting your influencers – think holistically and you’ll get holistic results in return. 

 

One last word of advice about social media influencers: no cannabis brand has been publicly fined for lack of disclosure, YET. Don’t be the first. Brush up on the FTC’s disclosure rules about social media influencers and don’t assume you’re flying beneath the radar, because cannabis is never REALLY under the radar.

 

 

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Social Media Is Your Partner in Travel Branding

It’s no secret that today more than ever, digital branding in travel and tourism matters.

According to Google, only 9% of travelers know the brand they want to book with when they start their digital travel search.  This is both an opportunity and a challenge for hotels, airlines and even destinations.

Does this mean consumers have no loyalty? Well, yes and no. It’s well documented that increasingly, people want experiences over things and travelers today lead that trend. Today’s travelers need one of at least two things: a unique experience (for which they will usually pay more) and on-demand information about pricing. It’s more important than ever that your brand is front and center during all phases of research. It also means that your brand needs to reinforce the experience using digital.

Social Media Throughout The Customer Travel Experience

Social media is useful in all phases, but especially the exploratory phase. The exploratory phase is where initial budgets expand as experiences cement themselves. For example, a traveler may be thinking of going to Hawaii, and every airline flies there. But what airlines make the journey even more special? What location has the most unusual once-in-a-lifetime experiences? And how are real people experiencing those experiences? Integrating the day-to-day experience of the visitor on social media helps the travel shopper see themselves in the experience.  Moreover, today’s traveler wants to see a blend of “glossy” travel pictures combined with unfiltered real life.

But it’s more than that. Once the experience is over, what is your brand doing to reinforce their experience? Do you have a program in place which allows them to easily share their experience via social media? Do YOU share their experience back to them? That’s the cementing of brand loyalty and word of mouth almost all travel brands miss. How are you engaging your customers using digital while they are on-site? What can you do to turn complaints into delightful experiences? How can you show you’re engaged with their entire experience?

The other reason this is important is that the mobile experience is front and center. eMarketer predicted that in 2017, mobile bookings would surpass 40% of digital travel sales. Mobile is social and social is mobile. According to Expedia, 27% of Millennials have posted a potential trip on social media to canvas opinions before booking! Obviously, your website needs to be mobile-friendly, but how on-par is your social branding and advertising?

Does it provide a direct experience for booking?

Are you using chatbots on social to improve customer service?

How can you radically improve the investigation and booking phases using digital?

Convenience is exceptionally important to today’s traveler, who have embraced single-site travel booking experiences. BUT, today’s traveler is ALSO looking for boutique experiences, something particularly unique and for that, it’s almost better if it isn’t on a single-site because it gives the air of uniqueness. So balancing the booking trends with experience demand is important, and social media leads in this regard, because you have the change to meet the consumer where they are.

Millennials Don’t “Own” Social Media Travel

These technologies, like chatbots and mobile-friendly booking, are no longer for just the largest brands. They accessible and important for today’s traveler of all ages. It’s easy to think only “millennial” travelers are using these tools, but it’s simply not true. Consider that GenX’ers are in their mid-to-late forties already and their perfectly comfortable on Instagram and Facebook as well. According to Nielsen, Adults 35 to 49 were found to spend an average of 6 hours 58 minutes a week on social media networks, compared with 6 hours 19 minutes for the younger group.

If you’re looking to engage your potential and current audience in social media and digital branding for travelers, please contact us. We have ideas and most importantly the resources, to step up your digital travel branding in every phase of the experience.

What exactly IS brand trust and how do we measure it?

Brand trust is measured in many ways, sometimes we use a metric like a net promoter score. Sometimes the value of a brand is incorporated into EBITA, and we infer higher brand-value equals trust.

But really, what IS brand trust?  In a global environment where, according to the 2018 Edelman Trust Barometer, trust in institutions and media is at an all-time low, it’s more important than ever for brands of all sizes to keep ahead of the trust curve.

Neuroscientists have been researching the effects of our brains on trust with interesting results.  Neuroscientists have been researching the effects of our brains on trust with interesting results. In the book Brand Seduction-How Neuroscience Can Help Marketers Build Memorable Brands, Daryl Weber reveals how the unconscious mind is constantly picking up cues from our environment, including cues from brands, most of us don’t even realize our brain is doing this monitoring on our behalf. What this means though, is that every single subtle brand cue sends a message.

So how should we interpret trust in everyday execution and metrics analysis?

THE BRAIN ON FEAR

Think about the last time something you saw on social media enraged you. Chance are, just reliving that moment has your blood pressure spiking.  “Flight or fight” response, makes our brain neurons fire like mad. This, in turn, creates an emotional response. In contrast, our brain on trust is relaxed, open, I compare this state to homeostasis in the body. It’s the place our brain WANTS to be, but it’s also the place where triggers are not as emotional.

What this means is that emotional responses may NOT be positive for a brand trust. Take, for example, Facebook reactions. Content that triggers the most “viral” response is often content that creates anger, fear or other negative sentiments. But social media platforms (and their algorithms) aren’t yet evolved enough to understand that highly emotional reactions may not mean a piece of content is valuable for trust.The most viral content may do nothing to enhance trust. This does not mean that good never goes viral, but it DOES mean that computers don’t yet really grasp the difference,  even if humans (subconsciously) do.  But, humans are imperfect, and we’re often not even aware of our own reactions to messages.

This is to say, that in trust building, messages or ads that are viewed, but without huge emotional responses may actually be better for building trust. If you track reactions or sentiment on social, it might be disappointing at times to see that trust messages or messages built with trust intentions don’t get a lot of “lift.” But I would argue, that is exactly what you want from trust messaging.

LOW RESPONSE BUT MORE OF IT?

Imagine you’re making a special chocolate cake.
You create the first layer and ad the frosting.
It’s a good cake. It will taste good.
But it isn’t very impactful. So you add another layer. And another.
And before you know it, you have this impactful cake with layers of goodness inside. And when you finally EAT the cake, you enjoy it, even more, knowing there are multiple layers of goodness.  Trust is like that. The first layer of trust is good. It’s acceptable. But multiple layers of trust are better. Multiple layers of trust take time. The emotional response to trust is not “at the moment,” trust building is a front-loaded proposition. The payoff comes at the end. The payoff comes when the brand’s experience matches the anticipated trust. The brain remembers THAT satisfaction. Perhaps more subtly than an outraged response. But the brain DOES remember it at buying time. When you ate your beautiful chocolate cake, you enjoyed it. The next time you make a cake you’re more likely to make a chocolate cake over say, vanilla. This is how brand trust works.

The thing is, you need to reinforce that positive experience and positive response over and over. The subtle cues build up over time. But they can be replaced by constantly good experiences of vanilla cake too – because, you know, vanilla is equally yummy. Consistency is the key.

Have you ever known a brand one way than seen an ad that completely shifts the message? It’s jarring. Just today I was watching a conversation about a brand whose messaging, packing, product and ads were all luxury-level classy. Then they ran an ad showing a woman in panties with a pretty vulgar statement written on the panties. WOW! It got the attention of everyone, but overwhelmingly, their current customers were outraged, they thought they “knew” the brand, in some cases, people actually expressed betrayal.  These customers related to what they thought the brand was, a luxury-level classy product.  The brand’s trust has been shattered in the eyes of some. This particular ad may get high virality, but will the sentiment be overwhelmingly positive? And even it works, with what I call “a sugar spike” of sales, will those new customers be as loyal as the old ones? Will the old ones stick around?

Consistency is key. In branding trust, slow and steady wins the race. Look for consistently growing results, not “sugar spikes.” Sugar spikes mean you’re appealing to a specific audience over a short period of time, but not building any loyalty. That’s an even more expensive proposition than branding.

 

HOW DOES THE BRAIN BUILD TRUST?

We’re conditioned to trust our tribes.  Our brains attribute trust to brands who our tribe use. That’s why influencer marketing and customer reviews are so powerful. The person doesn’t even have to comment about using the product, they simply have to be seen using it.

One of the more brilliant examples of this is Jennifer Aniston’s water. This campaign works for two reasons: I KNOW Jennifer Aniston’s face already AND it’s consistent.  If you read any of the “celebrity” publications at all, you have seen Jennifer Aniston leaving the gym, getting out of her car or shopping with a bottle of water in her hand. SmartWater (and it’s parent company Coca-Cola) tapped into the inherent trust that Jennifer Aniston brings and then they gave her enough water to last a lifetime. Yes, Jennifer Aniston also appears in ads for this water, but the most memorable (to me, at least) are the pictures of her going throughout her daily life using the water. Every single time I open a magazine and there is a picture of Jennifer Aniston going about her daily life, she has SmartWater. This has been going on since 2015. Every single time I’m at the airport, I grab SmartWater, and I’m not even a particularly huge fan of hers, but somewhere in my brain I say “if it’s good enough for Jennifer Aniston, it’s good enough for me.” It’s not a conscious thought – it’s the brain operating and choosing based on those many layers. My hand just reaches for SmartWater, I don’t even really think about it. That’s what I mean by trust being a front-loaded proposition.

Zappos is another great example of brand trust. When Tony Hsieh started Zappos, he didn’t double down on ads, he doubled down on customer service. When the company was acquired by Amazon for $1.2 billion, 75% of its customers were returning customers.

 

BRAND ACTIONS OUTWEIGH ALL OTHER MESSAGES

If your water brand hires Jennifer Aniston and does all the same things as SmartWater did, but if it’s revealed that the water isn’t what it says it is, none of this will matter. Experience trumps all in trust. Worse, trust takes a long time to build, but it’s easily shattered. If you’re going to invest in trust, you must invest in an authentic way.

Above when I mentioned the jarring change of tone from classy to trashy, this also indicates that the brand isn’t clear on who it is and creates questions about the brand. “What other brand values are negotiable?” asks the brain. If this brand has built up trust with its existing customers, those customers now (even if subconsciously) question that trust.

An example of brand trust that does work is Red Bull. They’ve built their entire brand around adrenaline-fueled messaging. They went so far as to sponsor Felix Baumgartner when he jumped from space in 2012.  While this kind of stunt is absolutely designed to attract your attention, it’s also building brand trust – Red Bull’s customers know exactly what Red Bull stands for and they love it. Brand trust doesn’t have to be boring. 

IS BRAND TRUST WORTH THE INVESTMENT?

I suppose that depends on whether you’re in it for the long haul or not. Brand trust makes it easier for your customer to buy, creates triggers at the exact buying moment and that’s huge. But what else? Brand trust actually adds value to your company, makes it easier to attract talent and decreases costs because the product is easier for salespeople to sell. In the long run, brand trust saves money by also retaining customers.

In the end, brand trust is accessible to businesses of all sizes, but it takes commitment and consistency and yes, authenticity. You don’t need to be the biggest player on the block, just the most trusted.

In a world where trust in organizations is diminishing, building trust can be your most valuable asset – and because suspicion is so high for known brands, smaller niche brands who really do what they say and are consistent about it, have lots of room to develop that trust.

So what can you expect when you invest in brand trust? You might not see “sugar spikes,” and huge social media shares, instead you should see brand value reflected by consistent sales, repeat customers and even a stronger valuation that you’d have without it.

If you’re ready to invest in your brand, we are here to help you develop and execute your vision with aggressive elegance, contact us today.

Social advertising is here to stay, but with all the options available many brands don’t feel comfortable with the many options, formats, and platforms available. For travel, tourism and lifestyle brands, social advertising is the pre-eminent form of advertising because it so brilliantly works with your customer funnel, your PR and your branding.

If this sounds like you, please keep reading. If you’re feeling 100% in control of such questions such as how much you should spend, how exactly to target your audience and what format makes the most sense for you then I’ll save you some time, you don’t need this blog post.

How much should I spend on social advertising?

Without a doubt, this is the most common question we encounter.

Every business starts with answering this question with a clear understanding of the Lifetime Value (LTV) of customers. A good rule of thumb is your ad buy should be a 3:1  LTV: Cost to Aquire over a 12 month period. For luxury brands or boutique brands that ratio may vary, slightly, but that’s a good rule of thumb.

The next question is “what will I get for this spend?” Again, an absolutely fair question and we have a process for determining this and ways to maximize your spend.

In social advertising, especially Facebook advertising, it’s exceptionally important that you’re clear on your objectives.  Is your objective awareness of recent PR?  Perhaps you’re announcing a new luxury service and want to increase reservations. We can help you identify the most effective objectives for your budget and optimize your ad spend. It’s also very important that your social ads match the customer journey, that’s one of the advantages of social advertising.

How to target your social advertising audience?

All digital advertising includes remarketing tactics, but social advertising also includes very sophisticated other ways to target and this data gets incredibly insightful when using Google Analytics to identify existing web traffic. That’s one small tactic that saves time.

Using all the existing digital data at our disposal is important. Social advertising audiences can even target competitors’ potential customers. There’s an endless number of ways to target audiences, and this is the rub, because frankly, from junk audiences come junk results. Your audiences should also match the ad’s destination for customer phase. For example, there’s no use sending a cold audience direct to a sell page, people unfamiliar with your brand will rarely purchase immediately. Spending time allowing your audiences to get to know you and your place in their lives will save you thousands in acquisition costs, but selecting the right audience for this message is paramount and then how to follow up those ads as the customer moves through the funnel is equally important.

Where should you place your ads?

Even once you narrow it down to a platform or two, in the case of Facebook, there is an overwhelming number of ad placement choices. Understanding the pros and cons of each is important, but even more important is understanding how each of those placements matches your objectives. There are no inherently bad ad placements, only bad ad strategies.

What do I do with all this brand content?

It wasn’t too long ago that obtaining organic reach on social media wasn’t that difficult. Today, the algorithms of (at least two) social media platforms throttle organic reach. Much has been written about that, but the real issue is what to do with your social posts? Are Page Like ads useful? When do I boost a post? Can Instagram drive traffic to my website? All these questions are absolutely relevant and your answer will be based on your strategies and KPIs. There are times where we make recommendations about KPIs that are more current to today’s ad choices and social media atmosphere, then there are times where we can help you match your existing KPIs to perfectly great ad strategies. Don’t forget that there are ways to supercharge your organic content by including user-generated content and well-earned PR. Today it’s more important than ever to integrate all your efforts into your social advertising spend.

Besides social media advertising, what are my options?

Look, with very few exceptions, social media advertising is part of a modern, healthy advertising strategy. Are there other organic options? Absolutely, and they’re probably important to evaluate as part of your marketing strategy. Creating branded content, on your platforms and on existing social media platforms, isn’t “out,” it’s simply changed.

If you’re interested in an evaluation of your expected social media advertising results, email us for a free social media audit. 

Because of continuing conversations with colleagues, brands, and influencers, I wanted to put some guidelines together for based on the FTC’s native advertising guidelines or influencer disclosure.

The FTC has shot some arrows over the bow in the last several years regarding native advertising disclosure, including calling out Warner Bros. and Lord and Taylor.

In both cases, the brand was held liable, not the influencers or content creators, strongly signaling that it’s the brand’s responsibility to ensure disclosure. But, the FTC native advertising guidelines make it clear: ” …the FTC has taken action against other parties who helped create deceptive advertising content – for example, ad agencies and operators of affiliate advertising networks.  Everyone who participates directly or indirectly in creating or presenting native ads should make sure that ads don’t mislead consumers about their commercial nature.”

Basically, no one is off the hook.

As if by magic, the FTC slapped 45 celebrity influencers with warning letters but didn’t forget to include their agents and the brands – in total 90 letters were issued about the FTC native advertising guidelines. It’s safe to say this isn’t going away. It’s always been best practice, but if you didn’t take it seriously before, it’s time to do so now.

My view is this: disclosure and transparency are good for all.

A brand should have no shame about showcasing its products and experiences in a real life scenario. Influencers shouldn’t have shame either, because working with a brand is a badge of honor. It’s a real compliment to a community that a brand values their eyeballs. If you’re ashamed of working with a particular brand or influencer, perhaps you’re working with the wrong partner.

Often times when I have conversations about disclosure with brands and influencers, I get questions like “what if…we do….”

Whether you are a brand or an influencer, if you’re asking questions about how to get around these guidelines, you’re on the wrong track. The guidelines make it very clear: make it obvious to an uneducated viewer that there is a material relationship (basically, anything which might effect the outcome of the endorsement). Influencers are often concerned about “selling out” their community. As an influencer, if you’re making a living from your community with native advertising and you’re not disclosing those relationships, you’re REALLY selling them out.

The Edelman Trust Barometer makes it clear: trust is in crisis. 

Establishing trust and adhering to guidelines is necessary for native advertising and influencer relations to continue. If trust is eroded the FTC guidelines won’t be at fault for the collapse of social native advertising.

So here are the guidelines based on reading hundreds of pages including all of the FTC links provided below.


When do social media influencers need to disclose a relationship with a brand?

Always.

Does this apply to me?

Yes.

Why does it matter?

The FTC says it does.
Consumer trust is important to all of us. 

How do I disclose?

Make it “clear and conspicuous” and leave no doubt.


If you want to read through the FTC’s own words on this:

FTC Native Advertising Guideline Resources

.com Disclosures (2013)

Native Advertising: A Guide For Business

FTC Endorsement Guidelines: What People Are Asking (2015)

The Lord & Taylor Disclosure Case-FTC Blog (2015)

The Warner Bros Disclosure Case-FTC Blog (2015)

Enforcement Policy Statement On Deceptively Formatted Ads (2015)

 

Tag Archive for: social media pr agencies

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