It’s not too late to INTEGRATE

SXSWi 2013
 just wrapped up this week. Many emerging media professionals openly aspire to participate in this high-profile interactive conference, and those who actually make the trip to Austin, TX, certainly like to blog about it prolifically. Check out any of the 308 articles already posted on Mashable.

Attendance at the event was 30,000 strong this year, beating all previous records. In fact, increasing numbers of marketers are taking time away from their busy working lives to attend emerging media conferences all around the country, and even across the globe. What motivates them to invest significant resources in time and money?  Undoubtedly there is passion to grow skills within a dynamic industry that is moving at breakneck speed, plus a desire to keep up with cutting edge technologies and digital creativity, all perhaps mixed with a healthy dose of fear about being left behind professionally.

For those who may have missed the whole SXSWi experience, there are countless alternative events to attend and learn from, offering great opportunities to network with the best and brightest experts in the industry. Use this 2013 Events Board as a resource to search by location, date and speciality.

One notable date for your diary is May 31, 2013, which kicks off the two-day WVU Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) INTEGRATE conference in Morgantown, WV.

Whether you are a seasoned professional, or someone who is considering enrolling in the IMC graduate program at West Virginia University, INTEGRATE 2013 is your opportunity to build your professional network and talk about the hottest topics in IMC…transform your career through innovative workshops and breakout sessions, and participate in thought provoking discussions about industry trends.

Leading the roster of impressive presenters,the keynote speaker at INTEGRATE this year is Jane Schachtel – Head of Technology, Global Vertical Marketing Manager for Facebook.

Whether you travel to Morgantown, WV, or find an conference closer to home, why not grasp the opportunity to advance your career, learn new strategies, absorb creative energy, exchange top tips, and benefit from peer-to-peer networking?  At the very least, whichever event you attend, you can take comfort in meeting many other marketing professionals who are working just as hard to keep up as you are.

Original content drives engagement

This gallery contains 24 photos.

This emerging media blog is one of many thousands on the internet all dedicated to keeping up with the latest digital trends.  Many tech writers have already established a significant online following and write quite masterfully on the subject. With … Continue reading

Focusing on social media video content

watch purple
Visual content is a magnetic force in social media marketing, driving high levels of consumer engagement.  In a previous post the positive social media impact of using inspiring still photography and sensational images was discussed.

But what about the power of moving pictures?  On Facebook, videos are shared 12 times more than text and link posts combined. Throughout the internet, more than 4 billion hours of video are now being viewed each month.  In fact, YouTube has become the second most used search engine, right behind Google. It’s no wonder you probably felt compelled to click the big purple play button in the header of this post.

Paul Shepherd, CEO, of Coup Media advises:

“Video will only work for you if it’s useful, funny, extraordinary or otherwise emotionally engaging. If you know your objectives, know your audience and deliver video content that resonates then video can be super effective especially as mobile screens become the normal way to consume content.”

An acknowledged leader in video engagement through social media is luxury brand, Christian Dior.  As of the date of posting, the 198 videos uploaded to the Dior YouTube channel have garnered almost 79 million views.  In addition to aspirational footage of fashion shows, product previews, behind-the-scenes documentary footage, celebrity interviews and stunning commercials with gorgeous cinematic production values, the company posts useful content for the dedicated fashionista.  This instructional video provides Dior fans with a practical step-by-step guide to the secrets of creating a smoky eye using Dior cosmetics:

It’s always helpful to gain creative inspiration from companies that are social media superstars, but most marketing teams aren’t staffed to produce the depth of video content with the sleek production values that Dior consistently delivers.

The good news is that videos can be much more straightforward and still be effective in engaging the consumer on social media.  Home Depot is currently registering almost 30 million YouTube views with much more down-to-earth content. “How to fix a leaky toilet” may be mundane, but it is remarkably useful content and provides value to the DIY-inspired consumer:

Consumers are not necessarily looking for the highest quality visual content.  What they want are stories, told in a visual way, that educate, encourage, engage or entertain. Fortunately, this type of video content is now within reach of most real-life marketing budgets.

Big budget or modest budget, it can be the best video in the world, and yet it will be a total dud if no-one watches it.  Promoting your new video is the key to getting it out to as wide an audience as possible.  Tag it with the right keywords, make a text version of the script available, blog about it and promote it across multiple social media channels. Make sure it’s embeddable and thus more easily shared.  Add a Facebook “Like” button, giving viewers the option to share it with their friends, and a Tweet button for Twitter sharing too, you can even pin a video to a Pinterest board.

Of course, if you’re looking for more information on video content creation you can always go to YouTube and look up how to make engaging videos for social media – you’ll undoubtedly find plenty of advice and inspiration.

For emergency use only

Emergency use

It’s not just boy scouts and doomsday preppers that need to be prepared; every business should maintain a comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Manual. Planning for a crisis makes good business sense, whether it manifests as a minor local inconvenience like a boil water order or a major disaster such as a hurricane.

In times of emergency it is important for businesses to transmit critical information as quickly as possible to consumers, stakeholders, employees and the public. The beauty of emerging media is the capacity to exchange information with large groups of people, in real time, before, during, and after a crisis.

Anticipating every eventuality your team may face in the midst of an emergency is no easy task, but the following steps provide a helpful review in planning for crisis communications:

1) Plan for a crisis before a crisis occurs

  • Don’t wait until the imminent threat or onset of a crisis to determine appropriate emergency protocols. Anticipate problems and troubleshoot solutions in advance.
  • Educate your team on what kinds of emergencies might affect your company both internally and externally.
  • Establish which traditional and emerging media channels you plan on using during a crisis and make sure they align with your target audience.
  • Ensure multiple contact paths to decrease reliance on any one communication channel or device.
  • Alert your followers to the specific social media channels they need to check for the most up-to-date and accurate information about your business.
  • Prepare a comprehensive emergency manual that includes templates and pre-drafted text for website content, broadcast emails, Facebook posts, tweets, posters, flyers, signage, etc.
  • Source useful city, county, state and federal contacts and links you may need to pass along to your constituents, for official breaking news, alerts and tips.

2) Designate a social media team

  • Identify individuals with the authority to speak for the company in a time of crisis and determine the reporting structure.
  • Ensure that multiple crisis team members know how to fulfill the planned response e.g. uploading content to your website, broadcasting emails, posting on Facebook or tweeting.
  • Establish and distribute guidelines for social media use by general employees on their own profiles e.g. sharing official updates.

3) Provide clear and actionable information promptly

  • In a crisis, affected individuals require actionable information quickly e.g. is evacuation mandated? If so, where to? Provide links to official sources.
  • Be careful to align communications with official statements and include the ramifications for your business operations.
  • Make it clear that you are accurately aware of the crisis and taking all possible precautions or steps to resolve or manage the situation.
  • Ensure that a consistent message is being communicated across all traditional and emerging media channels, and cross-link where possible.
  • Employ calm, clear, concise language.

4) Continue to post information frequently and consistently

  • Even if full details are not available, or there are no new details to report, communicate accurately and frequently what you do know and provide assurance that the crisis is being monitored closely. This is a critical component to building and maintaining trust.
  • Answer questions to the best of your ability. Social media requires a two-way conversation and should not be considered as a one-way broadcast tool.
  • Photographs are a convenient way to provide serial updates, establishing a real-life visual connection to events.

5) Address rumors quickly

  • Rumors spread quickly in times of crisis
  • Monitor the spread of rumors both online and offline and address them promptly and directly. Track online mentions of your organization’s brand.

6) Ensure that important updates remain highlighted

  • When you need to relay important information, ensure that it retains online prominence  This could mean pinning it to the top of your Facebook feed or adding a banner to the homepage of your website.

7) Identify physical resources required in the event of a crisis

  • Determine the resources necessary for ramping up digital and traditional communication in the event of a crisis e.g. a dedicated generator to power a computer, phone and printer reserved for crisis communications, spare batteries for mobile devices, or, for larger organizations, increased bandwidth to prepare for sudden increases in website usage.
  • Build in redundancy and take a leaf out of the peepers handbook “Two is better than one and one is none”. Always have Plan B ready to roll.
  • Establish remote access to your systems to keep them going and make sure social media passwords are shared appropriately with the communications team.

8) Debrief post-emergency 

  • Continue to communicate post-emergency updates to your constituents.
  • Solicit external feedback on the usefulness of your communications plan.
  • Review internally what worked, what didn’t, and any surprises or challenges.
  • Update  your emergency preparedness manual, redrafting or adding templates and text.
  • Be confident that you’ll be even better prepared next time.

A survey by the American Red Cross confirmed that Americans are becoming increasingly reliant on mobile devices during emergencies, and your audience will expect you to reach them there with appropriately optimized content.

In fact, the Red Cross has developed a disaster online philosophy, using social media to empower clients and supporters to get or give help during a disaster.

A useful report detailing the results of an expert round table on social media and risk communication during times of crisis, presents case studies from bona fide “emergency experts” like the Red Cross, CDC and FEMA.

No matter how demanding your daily professional life may be, making time to draft a comprehensive emergency preparedness manual and social media strategy is essential. Your efforts may not earn you a boy scout merit badge, but it will win the respect and trust of your audience “in case of emergency”.