Facebook Changes and How They Affect Your Brand

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By Julia Prior, Account Coordinator

Facebook released a set of changes to several of its features this week. One of these includes a change in the news feed algorithm that could help posts that were missed by a user get a second chance at engagement. Additionally, Facebook has begun to experiment with the idea of “trending topics” much like the similarly named Twitter feature.

The third and final change is the official roll out of the much talked about Graph Search feature, which allows users to search for more specific things inside Facebook, such as “Friends who Attended X College” or “People who work for X Company” or even “Friends who like X brand and live in X city”

The below graphic, shown at a special event hosted by Facebook this week, shows the network’s new focus on three of its services.

facebook-3-pillars


News Feed Updates

Facebook will add the news feed update to its current EdgeRank algorithm, but the most distinctive difference is that previously, each time a user refreshed their feed, new stories would automatically populate the top of the feed – even if they had a lower EdgeRank score than the stories previously displayed. The change in the ranking process now allows older stories that may have been posted earlier in the day but the user has not seen – to join the “new” stories at the top of their feed.

For example, if your brand posted something early in the morning that got a good amount of engagement, it has a chance to reappear on your fans’ news feeds later in the day, and get another boost from that second appearance.

This just reiterates that the focus of any good social media strategy needs to be based in good content that tells a story. The better the content, the more engagement the post will receive the first time around, and the more engagement it receives, the higher the chance of it reappearing at the top of a user’s feed.

Trending Topics

Facebook’s decision to utilize its new hashtag feature and experiment with Trending Topics opens a gateway for brands to join conversations and customize their content to suit what people on Facebook are talking about.

One of the biggest complaints people have about branded content on Facebook is that it is not relevant or it is not content the user is interested in. The new trending topic feature is a way to see what kind of content the majority of Facebook users want to see, because they are already talking about it.

Before, brands would simply use educated guesses about popular holidays, tv shows and news items to customize their content and hope that those topics were of interest to their fans. Now they will be able to tell what users on Facebook are talking about at that very moment, and will be able to use that information to ensure that they put out relevant content.

Facebook-Graph-Search

Click the image to enlarge.

Graph Search

While Graph Search has been available to some users on Facebook for some time now, Facebook has begun what they refer to as the official roll out of the feature to U.S. accounts. This new search function effectively allows a user to search for any single thing on the site – at least the things they would normally have access to anyway. Users can search for anything within the Facebook network and receive personalized results based on their friends.

While this does not directly impact your brand, it is a feature to keep an eye on, as it opens the door for new sponsored opportunities within Facebook. Not only that, but Graph Search makes pages more discoverable. A user can search for a “consulting firm in X city” and find new pages and companies that way.

Additionally, for brands, Graph Search puts even more emphasis on images. Graph Search can reveal photos and images in albums from pages and user photos where the brand is tagged – putting focus on photo albums (not wall photos) and user-generated content.

So What Can You Do?

It is important to know about these changes while writing your social media strategy. Knowing about these changes before and during their initial roll out will allow your brand to be ahead of the curve in adapting to the new way Facebook is operating. It allows you to have precious time to discuss a strategy and create content optimized to take advantage of these new marketing tools.

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5 Ways to get the Most out of Your PR Firm

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We’re here to help. Really.

By:  Julia Prior

Having a PR firm under contract can be a huge asset to your brand, and if you know how to use them they can help your brand grow and succeed in the media and the minds of your customers. We’ve put our heads together on the top ways you can get the most out of your PR firm.

  1. Communicate with them. Your PR agency is an extension of your marketing team. Keep them in the loop with any changes to your marketing strategy. Allowing them the same insight as members of your in-house marketing team will allow your agency to create a more seamless, comprehensive strategy for your brand.
  2. Take them with you to events. Big events, small events, your PR team can help you extend the value of your trade show investment.  We can promote your news at the event and schedule 1:1 interviews with media and analysts. We can ensure that your news appears in the conference Show Daily or newspaper. As communicators, PR people have skills and knowledge stretching across many subjects and are the perfect asset to help you make the most out of your event.
  3. Don’t underestimate them. PR professionals are skilled multi-taskers and jacks of all trades. It’s easy to assume that they just do press release writing and media pitching if that’s all you’ve asked them to help with.  However, their list of services may range much wider.  If it isn’t in their scope of work, not only will they tell you, but they might also advise you on where you can get the service you need.
  4. Don’t think you’re overloading them-unless they say you are. Your PR firm is there to help you. Their primary role is to help you do your job and  o help your brand grow. Don’t be afraid to call them, think you’re interrupting them or think they’re too busy for your project.
  5. Trust their instincts. The value of hiring a public relations agency is the perspective they offer as an outside member of your team.

At its very core, your contract with your PR firm is a business relationship. Communication and collaboration are the basic steps that will allow both you and your firm to grow and succeed with each other.

Building Brand Evangelism from the Inside

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By Robyn Brown, Account Executive

Do you realize some of your biggest cheerleaders can come from inside your company?

According to a 2012 survey by the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), 81% of U.S. employees reported overall satisfaction with their current job, with 38% of employees indicating they were “very satisfied.”

Most people will agree: It’s great to be with a company you’re proud to work for. You know the feeling – You enjoy telling friends and family about your work. You’re excited to get to the office each day. You’ll tweet the company’s new product release even when you’re not in PR.

The one-third of “very satisfied” employees in your organization are ideally suited to serve as brand ambassadors, helping to promote the company’s message beyond marketing and PR efforts.

Marketing and PR teams should support brand ambassadors within their organization or client’s organization by creating a culture of collaboration (i.e. we’re all on board with the brand) and giving them the training and tools to spread the message.

Here are some go-to strategies that have worked for several of our clients:

  • Share the corporate message… and ask for feedback.

Post your corporate messages on your intranet or SharePoint site along with typical Q&A. We all need to be repeating the same version of the truth rather than 100 different points of view.

Also, take into consideration feedback from your most externally vocal employees. From their perspective, what makes the company unique? When they talk about the company with external audiences, what do they most often say and hear in response? These answers also shape your brand and message. When employees participate in the development of brand, they’re more likely to take ownership of it.

  • Give them a platform to communicate the brand.

Encourage them to write guest articles for the corporate blog and tap into their unique knowledge base. Reality check: You’re most likely not going to receive lots of volunteers right away. Rather than sending out a mass request to the entire company, single out individual people with specific requests.

For example, Chris is known throughout your company as the resident expert on advanced analytics – an area that you’d like to drive greater market share. Send Chris a personal request and even an article template and a suggested outline to make the process less intimidating.

  • Promote regional outreach.

Although your corporate headquarters is based in Spokane, Washington, you may have regional offices in seven countries, operations in another four and manufacturing centers in three. Your employees can be the octopus legs that reach into the communities where you’re located. They’re often the face of your company in those regions.

Make sure they’re empowered to represent the company well and be relevant to those unique audiences who might need the corporate message tailored more specifically to them.

  • Have a culture of great customer service.

One of the best forms of earned media is something your employees engage in on a daily basis – customer service. Two companies always come to mind for me as examples because I’m a frequent customer: Southwest Airlines and Whole Foods. Employees are friendly, they go out of their way to make sure I have what I need, and I can tell that they genuinely enjoy their jobs. That goes a long to ensuring that I’m a repeat customer.

Even if you’re a business-to-business, business-to-consumer or even a not-for-profit organization, great customer service is critical.

  • Encourage employees to talk about you on social media.

Scary – I know! But here’s the hard truth: whether you like it or not, most employees are already talking about your company on their social media profiles. Why not back them up? Offer social media lunch n’ learns to share tips, provide a Code of Conduct that defines expectations without hindering online communication and encourage them to re-tweet your company news.

Even further, require that your brand ambassadors follow your company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. and include these social links in their email signatures. Provide them with a sample email they can customize and send to their professional and personal networks about your company’s presence online.

Allow them to be real on social media, while using their best judgment. It’s important to strike a balance between free-wheeling and over-bearing in advising employees what they can and cannot say. Accept the fact that you can’t exert 100% control of what employees will say – as much as you want to.

  • Provide incentives and rewards.

It’s important to shine the spotlight on employees who are helping to bring your brand to life. This encourages brand ambassadors to keep up the good work and also shares concrete examples to inspire others to get involved.

What are other ways you can encourage brand evangelism from within your company?

What Are Professional Manners?

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By: Neli Tokleh (Account Coordinator)

The term “Professional Manners” is thrown around a lot in office culture, but many people overlook every day taboos that are anything but professional. Employers strive to set a good example of professionalism for their staff, but how can one position these traits? Sarah Doyle Lynch, corporate coach and consultant, visited our office recently to share some concrete guidelines for establishing a professional atmosphere. Here are some tips she shared with us that could work for any office environment:

  • Be social. Have lunch with a co-worker to get to know the other person better and perhaps learn some new insight. Instead of sitting at your desk scratching your head, speak up and ask for help on assignments. It’s also important to provide continual updates to your boss and other team members.
  • Stay positive. Monday mornings may be a drag, but check your negative attitude at the office door. Keep up a positive attitude. Who knows: If you find ways to stay happy at work, others might just follow your lead! Also, keep office gossip and ranting out of your conversations with clients and bosses.
  • Personal versus professional relationships. Sometimes we have a tendency to get too buddy-buddy with our co-workers. How can you not overstep the professional boundary? Set the rules. You want to be there for your team at all times when it comes to business, but don’t feel obligated if you pass up a happy hour invite with them.
  • Think before you speak. If you have something serious to tell someone, ask them to come into your office to talk privately. Keep those comments out of the social scene where others may accidentally eavesdrop.
  • Consider your hygiene and personal appearance. Like it or not, your appearance at work will be judged by others in the office. There’s no such thing as being too professionally dressed. Consider small factors such as neatly pressed clothes, clean shoes and clothing that fits your body type. Your personal health should not be overlooked either. If you are truly sick and contagious, stay home. No one wants to catch your cold.
  • Be respectful. Whether you are talking to an intern or the CEO, they all deserve the same level respect. 

What does professionalism mean to you?

Connect with Sarah on Linked In.