Brands On Social Crisis: "The Sky Is Falling!"

Much ink has been spilled over United Airlines' latest public incident and social media's role in rapidly spreading video of a passenger being dragged off an airplane. Today's consumers are more polarized than ever and increasingly expressing their opinions and showing their own values in the way they spend their money. Brands worry about making missteps on social media and falling out of favor, prompting them to ask: "How can my brand respond to a social crisis?" In reality, the question they should be asking is: "How can my brand plan for any social crisis so that when it hits, our response is clear and automatic?"
 
Navigating today's social environment requires returning to crisis management basics. Brands with established and rehearsed crisis management plans — no matter the channel — will rise above the fray. In our latest Forrester report, "Social Crisis Management: Get Back To Basics," we discuss social crisis management 101:  
 
  • Let your brand pillars be your guide. Your brand's values should be the foundation for how your brand behaves in all situations, including on social media. Sure, brand values can be malleable but they should be strong enough to prepare you for worst-case scenarios. 
  • Document your tolerance for brand risk. Companies must also have a stated and widely-known policy for brand risk, such as a willingness to take chances with brand reputation or a threshold for negative publicity. 
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Game Over: Don’t Let Twitter’s NFL Ads Dazzle You

Last April, we blogged about Twitter’s marquee agreement with the National Football League (NFL). The industry was abuzz: The two joining forces meant a marrying of live programming with social commentary. In its inaugural season, Twitter-NFL’s powerful partnership presented an enticing live streaming package for marketers because:

  • Marketers view social media as an attractive marketing channel. In our Forrester Data: US Social Media Forecast, 2016 To 2021 (US), social ad spend is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 17% in the next five years. 
  • Live streaming captures younger eyeballs in particular. Millennials are the first to embrace streaming in all of its forms, appealing to marketers trying to capture fragmented audiences. Forrester’s Consumer Technographics(R) data reveals that 63% percent of Millennials (age 18-36) watch 5 or more hours of TV shows, films or video online. This is a significant percentage of their TV time so marketers must learn how to reach this audience outside of linear TV types of viewing. 
  • The NFL’s proven content sweetens the package. NFL games garner high viewership and in a typical week dominate the top 10 most-watched shows, especially among the coveted 18-49 age demographic. And primetime programming, especially sports content, is one of the most popular conversation topics on Twitter. 
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There Are No "Right" Social KPIs

44% of marketers say they haven't been able to show the impact of social at all and another 36% say they have a good sense of the qualitative, but not quantitative, impact of social initiatives. Marketers feel stuck with engagement metrics that don't tell them anything about the business impact of their social programs. And, some fall victim to thinking there is an industry standard set of KPIs that will reveal their social impact in relation to other brands.  
 
The Forrester Social Marketing Playbook's Performance Management chapter guides marketers on how to measure social programs. To get a decent picture of your social programs' performance, measure three types:
 
  1. Business impact: Show social programs' deepest value. The hardest type of social measurement is also the most important. This is the quantitative view of your social efforts that matter most to executives. Start by measuring attribution to assign a proportion of revenue to social programs or measuring social's impact on brand health.   
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Marketers, You’re Also Culpable In Facebook's Metrics Mess

Yesterday Facebook blogged "An Update on Metrics and Reporting" to inform marketers that several of their organic metrics were misreported including organic reach, time spent on Instant Articles, and follower count. This follows Facebook's revelatory September announcement that their video metrics contained a discrepancy and were over-reported.

The industry was outraged. But who’s really at fault here? Tina Moffett and I break it down like Judge Judy.

For The Defense: Facebook

How long did it take TV to standardize measurement? The social media industry is young and a fast-changing work in progress. Lest we forget, Facebook is only 12 years old and started as a platform for people; metrics was the furthest thing from their minds. But, it’s now the biggest social network serving people, brands, and publishers and is constantly having to prove value to all three. We would be surprised if Facebook was not screwing up along the way. To build their platform, Facebook will continue to mess up and correct, mess up and correct. Instead, let's focus on how Facebook's metrics woes will impact their relationship with marketers (and agencies):

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Marketers, Let's Talk: Pinterest Is Not A Social Network

We’ll let you in on a little secret: Pinterest isn’t what you think it is. When Pinterest emerged, it was immediately labeled as a social network alongside Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, and even the ill-fated Google+. Why? Because we as humans like to categorize things and also because Pinterest shares a few key features with social networks, such as user authentication and the ability to create, post, like, and share content. This led marketers to believe that they needed yet another always-on brand presence on Pinterest and dedicated social budget to engage with customers on an ongoing basis. 

The reality is that Pinterest is not a place for customers to engage with brands like they do on other social networks. Rather, Pinterest is better suited for discovery and for helping consumers find information, ideas, products, and services. Marketers know to go to Google to increase their brands' visibility and awareness but don't think about Pinterest in the same way —  and that's a mistake. Don't get us wrong; we're not saying that Pinterest is the next Google. But Pinterest is taking steps that make it more Google-like with its intent-based search and auctioned-based ad pricing, all while maintaining vestiges of a social network.

To learn how marketers can take advantage of Pinterest as a discovery tool, read Collin Collburn's and my full report here.

Don’t Let That Social Post Pass You By

Social marketing often feels like running a race against an unlikely competitor: your own customers. In the social media world, consumer behaviors and technical functionality evolve so quickly that the minute you feel good about your social presence and perhaps have even pulled neck-and-neck with your customers’ social media behaviors, they surge ahead and leave you in the dust. What’s your technique to keep up with this superior runner in this course-shifting race? Do you have a methodical training approach before the big race or do you improvise after you push off from the starting block? Most runners will tell you that it’s preferable to be in the former camp and not the latter.

The pace of social technology change and the volume of short shelf-life content make social networks a real-time media channel. Yet, marketers have trouble managing social content at the speed that it demands. Unlike traditional media channels (TV, print, and even digital banner ads), “social media” and “we’ve got months to do this” are rarely uttered in the same breath. As part of our new Social Marketing Playbook launch, the Processes chapter gives marketers a structure for managing social content in real-time and striking a balance between inbound inquiries and outbound messaging. Marketers ultimately need:

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Who Am I Really Talking To On Social Media (And Do They Even Care)?

Don’t worry; you’re not the only one wondering.

Forrester’s POST methodology for social marketing success dictates four steps: 
1. People
2. Objective
3. Strategy
4. Technology

Often, marketers lead with T, but they need to start with P. The $64,000 question about People is not whether customers use social media, but rather if they want to engage with brands on social media at all, and if so, how. That’s right, the first and most important question is not whether your competitors are on social media or if the latest social network has the coolest ad format; it’s what your customers want from your brand. Marketers need to know this to guide how (or if) they add social to their overall marketing strategy.

As part of our new Social Marketing Playbook launch, the Landscape chapter explains how Forrester’s latest Social Technographics® model helps marketers answer:

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Snaps for Snapchat

Bloomberg recently reported that Snapchat surpassed Twitter in daily active users. Kudos to Snapchat, which is only half as old as Twitter, but why do we keep comparing Snapchat to Twitter? Or to Instagram? The industry is desperate to neatly categorize Snapchat under social media, but I would argue that Snapchat is equal parts messaging app and social network, putting it in a class of its own.

Let's break it down:

  • Messaging apps are built on the premise of private conversation: 1 to 1 (yes, group chat exists, but it's contained). You send specific messages tailored to the individual recipient. See: WhatsApp, WeChat, Skype, Viber, LINE, Telegram, Kik. With the exception of Asia's sophisticated app hybrids, today's messaging apps are not intended for blanket broadcast messaging.
  • Traditional social networks are built on the premise of broadcasting: 1 to many. You build up a network of friends (and, in some cases, the general public) and you blanket spam them with your post. See: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest. While they accommodate private conversation (Facebook Messenger is its own rightful messaging app, Instagram's and Twitter's Direct Message, LinkedIn InMail), it is not their primary foundation.
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The NFL: "Are You Ready For Some Twitter?"

Now that March Madness basketball is over (#sorrynotsorry UNC), we're turning our attention to baseball. No, wait. American football just picked off baseball's opening week with today's announcement that The National Football League and Twitter are embarking on a global streaming parternship.

For the NFL: Of all social networks, Twitter has the most active real-time conversations around football games, and NFL athletes use Twitter as their primary social sounding board. It makes sense to sync live viewing with live social conversation and merge those activities into one platform. In addition, this partnership offers the NFL reach into global markets. While the NFL has worked to establish a UK footprint by flying teams to London to compete, this deal signals real expansion.

For Twitter: Twitter is struggling with user and revenue growth, and this is a huge win for two reasons: the partnership provides 1) the ability to deliver quality content and attract dormant users and, more critically, non-users; and 2) the ability to be a unique provider of a live event plus live conversation viewing experience, creating more engaged users.

For users: Broadcasting live events on social networks isn't new (see: YouTube live concert streaming; Periscope live streaming the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao boxing match). But, the NFL is the varsity league: more teams, more games, more fans, and more dollars at stake. And, let's not forget the mobile factor – now users can (theoretically) watch Thursday NFL games on the go.

Is this Twitter's Hail Mary pass to prove it can still compete? Maybe. But, a Hail Mary still represents a chance (just ask Aaron Rodgers).

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Instagram Loses Its 'Insta.'

Instagram announced this week that it is joining Facebook and Twitter and ditching its clean chronological feed in favor of an algorithm-based personalized feed. No one is surprised given Instagram has inched closer and closer to Facebook since its 2012 acquisition. 
 
What does this mean for users? Instagram's initial appeal was its simplicity: mobile only, pictures only, square size only, chronological order, and one-way friendship. In the last year, Instagram has abandoned those simple principles by introducing an inordinate number of ads, varying visual sizes, and auto-play video, seemingly resulting in a 40% drop in interaction rate in 2015. The big social networks seem committed to complicating their feeds as their companies mature and financial expectations grow. For purists, replacing an elegant user experience with a bogged down interaction is a turnoff. My own Facebook and Twitter usage nosedived once their feeds became messy; Instagram, currently my #1 social app for time spent, is facing a similar fate. 
 
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