Let’s Talk about Techlash: Learnings on Bridging the Digital Disconnect from Advertising Week NYC

Advertising Week NYC has come and gone, and while the smell of popcorn has finally faded, some of the annual event’s biggest themes will be lingering for quite some time. Trust in tech was unsurprisingly a focal point, as the advertising industry continues to reel from negative headlines around consumer data and privacy, and braces itself for CCPA and other impending regulations. 

With that in mind, we listened in on a panel that spotlights new research from American Marketing Association (AMA) New York into the challenges presented by a growing resistance to technology and how marketers can work to address them. Called “Techlash is Here,” the conversation shined a light onto the disconnect between consumers’ privacy concerns and brands’ desire to reach their audiences with as much personalization as possible. Here are a few key takeaways from the study and dialogue — and what that means for tech.

Tackling techlash with transparency

Technology is all around us, playing a part in nearly everything we as consumers do. But in the U.S., many consumers are pushing back on tech’s ubiquity. AMA New York’s research found that in the next three years, many Americans will reduce their usage of social media and games. Facebook and Instagram use will level off by 2022, and Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn use is expected to decline. In spite of this, advertisers plan to invest even more into these channels. 

There’s a clear misunderstanding between marketers and consumers about the benefits and role of social platforms. Where marketers see opportunity, many consumers today see anxiety and risk. For marketers and advertisers to see a return on their social media investments, they will need to regain the trust of their audiences. They need to make a commitment to transparency in how, where and when they collect and use data, and put more control in consumers’ hands to monitor what they share. GDPR marked a shift in the regulatory tides, and a sea change is coming starting with CCPA in January. Marketers need to prepare themselves and have consumer sentiment on their side if they’re going to survive the storm. 

Tech skeptics on the rise

As anxiety about social media grows, so do wariness and skepticism around emerging technologies. More than 80 percent of Americans fear that fake accounts, falsehoods, hackers and bots will mislead consumers. No longer willing to blindly accept new technology for its promised benefits, consumers are boldly questioning what tech really offers and whether it might have damaging effects. Panelists called out smart speakers in particular as an innovation that U.S. consumers are growing resistant to, despite the utility of an always-on assistant. 

For technology companies to successfully deliver their future developments, they too will need to question their impact on the individuals they’re designed for. “There’s a need for people to come from humanities to question what is being built by companies like the one I work for, and ask how, if this gets into the wrong hands, will it be used,” said panelist Geoffrey Colon, Head of Brand Studio at Microsoft Advertising. “Someone needs to figure this out and say ‘We’re not about revenue. We’re about trust, privacy and consumer choice.’” 

Innovate with purpose

Consumer fears about the dangers and consequences of technology have been legitimized by major data leaks, hacks and scandals, but many marketers still fail to take them seriously — to their own detriment. Brands have an uphill battle to climb to convince users of their technology’s value, but it’s not an impossible task. 

Brands and tech companies need to put the customer front and center of their innovation efforts — and not just talk the talk — as they design and develop new tools. Innovation cannot just happen for innovation’s sake. It should serve a bigger purpose and be steered with a positive end goal in mind. As Viant CMO Jon Schulz aptly put it, “There’s a lot of innovation, but where is the consumer benefit?” 

This new era of techlash requires brands to think more critically about the purpose and benefits of technology. Will they step up to the challenge and regain consumers’ trust? Tell us what you think in the comments below. 

How to Beat the Trade Show Noise with Digital

When it comes to trade shows, social media presents one of the biggest opportunities but also one of the greatest challenges for businesses. Sending out a few tweets the month before an event like CES, RSAC, or even Black Hat USA is not enough — businesses need a digital strategy that encompasses all parts of an integrated PR program if they want to cut through the trade show noise.

It’s no surprise that we are seeing more companies take advantage of modern marketing tactics at events. Social media is no exception; statistics show that 96 percent of marketers use social media to increase awareness around events. More than half find the biggest challenge is how to use social media effectively.

Social media is not a new phenomenon. The questions we as marketers, social media managers, and PR professionals need to ask ourselves is, how can we cut through the clutter and elevate our clients’ messages? How can we make the most of an integrated PR program, while tracking towards target KPIs?

I wish I could say it is as easy as sending out a tweet, but thankfully there are a few tricks to the trade if you are just getting started implementing a trade show social media strategy:

Goals, Goals, Goals

Just like any other marketing or PR initiative, the key to success is setting goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Do you want to drive revenue? Define your goals early on and determine how social media tactics can help you get there.

Highwire recently worked with a security company during Black Hat USA 2018 and RSAC 2019. While our focus during BHUSA was to spark conversation among practitioners and increase engagement around the many talks and presentations of the company’s thought leaders, our goals for RSAC were centered around brand awareness and increasing foot traffic during the many partner and company demos in-booth. No matter the trade show, get aligned on business goals and don’t treat this part of your strategy as an afterthought.

Get Creative

When I was at RSAC 2019, I stopped at a booth where a man had his arms strapped to his chest while riding a unicycle. I’ll give them major bonus points for creativity and drawing in a huge crowd, but it seemed a little out of place and I wondered how many bystanders stuck around to learn more about their products or services.

It’s easy for your message to get lost. Dance mobs and men on unicycles can certainly draw attendees, but how does this help you meet your goals? Is your creative activation all flash and no substance? What do you want attendees to walk away with when they leave your booth?

When we work with our clients during ideation, we always shoot for the moon, but we spend time narrowing down ideas to those that we can execute and those that land results.

We love big ideas, but we’re also keen on simple tactics that drive engagement and brand awareness: live streaming demos, Twitter giveaways, authentic on-the-ground videos, and capturing content that we can leverage during and post-trade show. Recently, we did this at RSAC with one of our technology clients. A quick and simple in-the-moment video of the company’s CEO landed more than double the engagements compared to other organic posts, generating plenty of positive sentiment on Twitter. Plus, we shared it again post-RSAC as an #ICYMI post to garner additional engagements (bonus: we didn’t even need to ride a unicycle).

Rinse and Recap

Besides a little R&R, the debrief with your team and client is arguably the most important part of the post-trade show work. Get together with your digital and PR team and talk at a high-level of what worked and what didn’t. If you ran a contest, how did participants respond? How did your content perform? Did you hit target KPIs? What could you do next year that you couldn’t do this year? What did your competitors do and did they nail it?

Collecting this data is incredibly valuable, and this knowledge might be useful for your current social media strategy. Did you learn something new about your core audience? Did you attract any new audiences to your booth? Did attendees respond well to live video or images? Turn those insights into action.

If you’re looking for a partner to bring your messaging front and center to the next trade show, contact Highwire’s Digital Studio at digital@highwirepr.com to learn more about our services.

With Great Stories Come Great Responsibilities: #SMWNYC19

Authenticity. Data-driven. Storytelling. These were just a few key themes spread out amongst the presentations and roundtables at Social Media Week 2019.

At the heart of this conference was one central theme: stories. Not just how marketers, social media managers and strategists can tell better stories, but how they can and should take responsibility for the stories they’re creating. Yes, social media has shifted the way we approach our audiences, but no matter your title, we need to get back to a place where we’re telling the stories that matter. Not just for our clients, but for the people we’re so eagerly trying to connect with. We owe them this since they’re already inundated with irrelevant content every day (in fact, 51% feel brands give them too much irrelevant content, according to Socialbakers). The least we can do is give them the stories, products and services they care about.

So what did we walk away with? We heard from big brands, agencies and partners, and they all stressed how companies and agencies alike can launch better campaigns with more impactful messages. Start by asking yourself a few questions: Are you having a conversation in a space you shouldn’t be in? Have you inserted your messaging in a cultural movement that is a natural fit for your brand? Or, are you partnering with someone that aligns with your core values and more importantly, the stories you’re telling?

Here are four of our favorite takeaways and sessions from #SMWNYC19:

    1. Design Thinking: You’ve probably heard of Silicon Valley’s method for ideation, prototyping, testing, and sure-fire way to capture an audience’s mindset before bringing an MVP to market. But for those on the agency side, this method of thinking can be used to shift your focus to the people you’re creating for. It’s also a way to get quick feedback and develop concepts fast. One of our favorite parts was when someone in the audience asked the burning question on our minds: “how do I even get started with design thinking?” Matt Higgins, SVP and Head of Strategy + Innovation at SKYLABS, handed over a pen and pad of post-its. Once you’re armed with some basic tools, you’re one step closer to high-fidelity feedback and experiencing that AHA-moment.
    2. LinkedIn’s Roadmap: I’ve been personally interested in the development of LinkedIn’s platform. Over the course of this year, they’ve invested in features that will help brands reach their target audiences, create personalized engagements, and drive more results through automation. We listened to their roadmap beyond 2019, and there are a few exciting things on the horizon that we will no doubt be testing as LinkedIn programs and campaigns (for executives and brands) is an important part of the digital work we’re doing for clients today. I’m looking forward to testing LinkedIn Live (a new live broadcast service for video) when it reaches GA (right now only a select number of brands and influencers are testing this out), and I’m also looking forward to new features for video ads, including brand awareness, lead generation, and better insight into video performance (they’ve integrated with Moat, a SaaS analytics measurement provider, for better attention measurements). Plus, they’re starting to roll out LinkedIn Reactions to mobile and web users globally, so there’s even more ways to express how you feel about a post (for instance, we’d give this post right here a “celebrate” reaction!).
    3. Creativity and Cultural Relevance: Highwire attended a brand & agency leaders lunch featuring Viacom Velocity’s CMO Dario Spina, The Daily Show’s Desi Lydic, and UM Worldwide’s Strategy Manager Max Kabakov, to listen in on an engaging panel about using creativity and cultural messaging to authentically cut through the clutter of digital marketing. It started with a recap of The Daily Show and Twizzler’s commercial (which if you haven’t seen it, here it is). While it’s funny, relatable, and addresses a real cultural movement, the takeaway is pairing cultural issues with creative can be a risky road to travel. But, it can also be highly successful and impactful for brands to join today’s conversations. For both brands and partners involved, it needs to feel right. People (namely, millennials) are not afraid to call a brand out, so companies need to be wary of the cultural conversations and ask themselves, “Do we have the right?” For instance, if your company wants to take part in the anti-straw conversation but your business might not have the best reputation when it comes to reducing its carbon footprint, then you might want to sit this conversation out. And yet, stepping into cultural conversations can be good for business (think: Nike) and overall, humanizes the stories you’re telling.
    4. #OwnYourData: Remember the main whistleblower in the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Brittany Kaiser? She’s still advocating for data security (not just “data privacy”) and she had some important messages for us during her presentation. Her opinion is that the only model that works is one where data is your property. Think about it this way: if you had an Airbnb, would you just hand over your keys to any person? Or would you ask them basic questions like, what do you plan on doing with my Airbnb? What will you pay me for this Airbnb? What are your intentions, and do I support them? As individuals, we opt-in to giving our data away several times a day without thinking. Would you walk into a room and flip to the last page in a contract and sign your name without reading anything else in the document? Well, that’s exactly what we do when we’re downloading an app or signing up for a service – we opt-in immediately. The way Kaiser sees it, if people understand what they’re opting into, and if our data is used properly, they’ll be more inclined to share their data. In fact, we can change the world by sharing our data, for things like medical research, humanitarian issues, and much more!

At Highwire, we’re already applying these learnings in the work that we do, for our clients and our agency. For example, we had a taste of design thinking and fast development during our Shark Tank at kickoff this year (we only had a few minutes to bring an idea to life and pitch it in real time!). And as a brand, we’re taking steps to join relevant cultural conversations — like reducing our carbon footprint as an agency and across all four of our offices (and remote workers).

Consider these takeaways and you’ll be on your way to responsible, better storytelling!

 

 

 

Social Strategy 101: What We Learned at Social Media Marketing World

Social media marketing

When you think about social media strategies, what’s your biggest challenge? Are you tired of the vanity metrics? Not sure how to deal with “Facebook Apocalypse?” Are you spending hours trying to pinpoint your target audience, only to find you have no idea how to navigate Google Analytics?

As an agency that’s constantly training an army of social media mavens and refining its own internal social media strategy, we’re working really hard to stay in front of everything. Not only do we juggle the challenges of social media marketing for our agency social channels, we also assist many clients day in and day out. Whether it’s building out a larger campaign with unique visuals or doing a deep dive into competitor metrics, we’re always looking for the latest and greatest in tips and tools.

That’s why we attended Social Media Marketing World 2018 in sunny San Diego last month. It was invigorating and refreshing to network with social media beginners and experts. Plus, it was jam-packed with tricks of the trade from some big names in marketing, public relations, journalism and social media. We walked away with new additions to our toolbelt, new ways to connect with our audiences and new ways to help our clients make the most of their social strategy — no matter what stage they’re in.

Here are our #SMMW18 highlights:

#1. How to make visual content your secret weapon

Did you know our brains process images in as little as 13 milliseconds? This couldn’t be more true in today’s digital age, where we have so much content at our fingertips — we can’t possibly read it all, so we skim.

In order to stop the skimming, marketing performance strategist Rebekah Radice suggests using visual content as a secret weapon. During her panel, she highlighted a 5-step process, where you design with your audience in mind, nail the visual style elements, create the content your audience wants, build engagement fast, and lastly, use the tools to help build your visual brand.

At Highwire, we often look to one of our favorite visual and graphic design tools — Canva. With Canva, we’ve created visual content to use across social media. In fact, some of our top-performing posts on Twitter included a Canva visual, like this one from #WorldKindnessDay (see below). There are several other must-have visual tools in addition to Canva, and Radice recommends Storeo, Drool and Wavve.co.

Social media metrics

In order to amplify #WorldKindnessDay, we used Canva to create fun graphics to share on social media – visual content like this earned us 2,137 impressions.

#2. How to get traditional media exposure through social media

We’re always looking for new ways to create a massive buzz for our clients in the media, which is why we sat in on PR expert Josh Elledge’s panel on how to get traditional media exposure only using social media.

The big takeaway? Leverage your connections to create a bigger outcome for your clients.

“Find your targets – get to know them and follow the stuff they’re talking about,” said Elledge. “[It’s] all about the influencer: find, follow, connect, engage, have a relationship…[and then] collaborate!”

#3. How to build a digital marketing plan

We also stopped by a panel featuring Rich Brooks, founder of The Agents of Change and the man behind flyte new media, an award-winning digital agency.

His tactical workshop for building a successful digital marketing plan for your business (or clients) used “the BARE Essentials of Digital Marketing,” which is:

BUILD

ATTRACT

RETAIN

EVALUATE

With this approach, you need to think about developing a platform that converts visitors into leads, driving qualified traffic to your site, staying in touch after they’ve left your site, and reading and digesting traffic reports.

“Who cares about viral?” said Brooks. “You want value.

Our favorite tips from the track? Take whitepapers and marketing collateral that are buried on your site and turn them into blog posts – which you can then use for social media posts. And when it comes to your customer’s inbox, remember: it’s the most valuable property on the internet. Unlike your ex, email is stable, said Brooks. We’ve seen the changes in social platforms and we’ve felt the tremors — but your email list? You can control that relationship.

If you’re looking to grow your email list, consider tools like your website, email service provider and conversion optimizer. If you include a pop-up on your site to encourage readers/customers to sign up for a newsletter, you have to offer them something (access to a newsletter is not enough!). Consider a store discount, a free webinar, free gift, puppy, etc.

****
Need help building a social program? Highwire can help – contact tanner@highwirepr.com to learn about our content services. Want to join our team of storytellers, visionaries and difference-makers? We’re hiring!

5 Ways to Get More Mileage from Your Tweets

Social Content That’s Irresistible to Tweet

Is Twitter really dying? If you’re in marketing and communications, you’ve probably heard the rumor going around for some time. Even the recent elections and Trump’s penchant for 3 a.m. tweets seemingly failed to reignite user growth for Twitter. In fact, it only grew by 2 million users worldwide in its fourth quarter (with no growth in the U.S.) — compare that to the new 72 million users Facebook garnered over the same period.

But it’s no time to fret. Last year, Twitter repositioned itself as a news platform according to its blog. It’s less for sharing baby pictures and more to share current world and industry events. Less to track someone’s birthday, more to track when your favorite artist finally released their latest single.

Seeing Twitter this way changes the game entirely and makes it clear that there is still a place for Twitter in brand awareness and marketing. I recently heard the bright minds behind Andrew and Pete (@andrewandpete) at Social Media Marketing World (SMMW ’17) in San Diego, who understood this nuance and wanted to help everyone create content that was irresistible to the Twitter-verse.

Their high level message was that Twitter is often misused, giving the impression that it’s failing. But it’s not Twitter’s fault. We should stop falling for the usual suspects we think may lead to success. Don’t blog about everything, don’t promote tweets expecting instant ROI, don’t pin just any tweet, don’t hashtag everything, don’t use automation for all your processes — the list goes on.  

The problem with Twitter is that it’s become spammy and automated. It’s a nuisance. In 2017, we’ll have to break through this barrier to effectively use and create re-tweetable content.

Here are 5 ways to get more mileage from your tweets:

  • Focus on Brand Advocacy: It’s important to remember that some people share your content simply because they like you. When fostering brand advocates, do personal things for key followers. This could be done by replying with a personal DM or video message from a brand account. For instance, Indian Motorcycles effectively engaged a customer by reposting a customer’s image and then going as far as paying a month’s bike payment. The customer became a brand ambassador for life. In the end, it’s about questions that lead to conversations, which then foster relationships and sales.
  • Be Emotional: We need to stop using social platforms mechanically and think about the emotions you can evoke purposely. Twitter may be full of bots, but it doesn’t mean you and your followers should be the same. The goal is to avoid being “vanilla” by providing emotionally arousing content — think gifs, images, video, etc. You want your followers to react to your content.
  • Quantify Coolness: Social Currency! Social media heavily revolves around how the retweeter would look like when they repost content. Think about brands like Dos XX, Red Bull or Chubbies, whose entire marketing scheme is more about the message and activity than the product itself. No one posts something they think will paint them in a negative light. So reverse engineer this process and make people feel cool.
  • Align with a Cause: Aligning your brand with a broader cause or message consumers are passionate about could be a boon for sales. Think Dove commercials or Always’ Run Like a Girl campaign for video. On Twitter, Uber took on drunk driving with its #LeaveTheKeys hashtag, which essentially translates to #BookAnUber. But remember, it has to be REAL and RELEVANT to your target demographic.
  • A Compilation of Greatest Hits: Ultimately, all the strategy in the world will be for naught if the caliber of the content is subpar. The more useful, the more shares you are going to get. In essence, every single piece of content should be GREAT! Generating a constant stream of high-value content can sound daunting, but it can be simpler than you think. It doesn’t even have to be about your product or service. Instead, it can focus on helping solve the problems your target consumer demographic is facing or just simply entertain them. Think of all those great memes and one-liners Taco Bell has been behind.

Making a Social Media Splash at a Conference (When You’re Not the One Attending)

CalebAs we kickoff 2016, many of our clients here at Highwire are already thinking about the major industry events of the year. Our consumer teams have just finished up an exciting Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the digital health practice is preparing for Healthcare and Information Management Society conference (HIMSS) and the security practice is already starting preparations for about the biggest security conference of the year—RSA.

With social media now such an integral part of the corporate identity, it has become an increasingly important tool for making an impact at a trade conference. However, often times those running these social channels aren’t actually ATTENDING the show.

So, how can you make a social splash at a conference when you aren’t physically present?

Before the conference

Do your research

Before anyone steps foot on the conference floor, there is a good amount of groundwork to be done ahead of time to ensure on-site time is well spent. For instance, as the social media manager, your first responsibility is to identify any hashtags that are tied to the show. If you are attending RSA, you’ll want to know which hashtag will be the most popular—will it be #RSA2016 #RSAConf or #2016RSA? Are different target audiences using a particular  one? Make sure you keep an eye out for any shifts  in hashtag usage throughout the show. To do this, there are great social media tools like Hashtagify that can help you monitor for what is trending.

In order to make the show a success, you’ll also need ambassadors on the ground feeding you information and images. Find out which of your team members will be on the conference floor and who will be attending which sessions and connect with them ahead of time. Ask that they send you content throughout the conference—photos, videos, interesting conversation topics—that will help you stay in the conversation although you aren’t physically there. Be sure you have their direct contact information, and give them yours! Remember that these team members are likely busy running around the expo floor, so don’t be afraid to remind them to send you content throughout the event.

If your team is looking to connect with media who are attending the conference, you’ll want to investigate who will be there before the conference starts. Additionally, be sure to follow them on Twitter and other relevant social channels. This will make it easier for you to monitor Twitter and other feeds to see if a reporter is focusing on an area of mutual interest, attending one of your talks, or is looking for commentary from vendors.

Tease out your participation

Make sure you let your followers know that you plan to be at the show, and let them know where they can find you. Share your booth number and the dates and times of any talks your executives may be giving. Are you planning to give away any swag? Hosting a contest? Share this with your followers in a timely manner so that they know what to expect. If you have a regularly scheduled email newsletter that goes out to customers and prospects, make sure to include a mention of your participation in the editions preceding the event.

Social media can also help you make an impact beyond traditional PR and gain you new followers. Find out from your team what your key target verticals are and do some research to see if any potential customers may be at the show. If your sales team is looking to make a connection you can help by engaging with potential customers over social media. Be sure to check the list of conference sponsors before the show begins and connect with your team to see if there is anyone on their target list that you can start to monitor.

BlackHatClientsDuring the conference

Monitor for any changing trends. Keep a close eye on the conference hashtags and make sure you adjust your social posts according to what is trending. For example, perhaps #BlackHat2015 started out with the most traction, but by the end of the conference conversations may have switched to #BHUSA. Your social content should also make that switch.

Keep your eyes peeled for any breaking news or especially popular conference hashtags. If Twitter is suddenly talking about the researcher who hacked into a satellite, a keynote talk by Alec Baldwin or the Stagefright exploit that rocked Android phones, you don’t want to miss out on chiming in. .

It’s important to engage in social media conversations, not just push out promotional messages. Work with your team on the ground to share interesting topics or their opinions about interesting talks, and connect with reporters who are looking for commentary on any new stories. If your company is giving away free gear, promote to attendees using social media to encourage them to come talk to your team.

Since you are not at the show, staying in close communication with those who are on the ground is extremely important. Be sure to ask the team early and often for photos, quotes and videos that can be shared across your social channels. Visuals can add variety and extra personality to your feed. Remember, don’t be afraid to share photos of your team having fun! Photos of employees sharing a drink, talking with other influencers, or speaking on a stage at industry events frequently outperform your typical corporate content.

Social sharing shouldn’t stop at the official corporate channels either. Encourage members of the team to share, retweet and repost your content! With each share, the life of your content—and its reach—is extended.

After the conference

The booth may go down and the conference hashtags may be dormant, but your work as social media manager is not done. Be sure to share any potential leads you may have uncovered with your team. Most importantly, think about ways that you can extend the life of the great experiences, photos and quotes that you received during the event. Consider whether you may be able to craft a blog post surrounding key findings from the event or develop a series of visual quote cards with interesting takeaways to publish over time.

While it may seem daunting to be tasked with managing social media for an event you’re not attending, it is possible to do so successfully. All it takes is some pre-planning, and lots of team collaboration and communication.

Simple Tips for Tweet Chat Triumph

SONY DSCSocial media has become a powerful component of PR and communication campaigns for brands big and small.

Twitter, in particular, offers a huge opportunity to gain visibility—companies can share their news, voice their professional opinions and even participate in or host specialized discussions, known as tweet chats or Twitter chats. By simply participating in these chats, brands can gain both social exposure and followers.

As a PR professional, I encourage you to take it one step further by hosting a tweet chat of your own. In doing so, brands can further strengthen their voice within their niche communities and directly engage with other thought leaders in their fields. These chats can be recurring (monthly, quarterly, etc.) or spontaneously tied to client news or events.

Ready to get started? I’ve outlined a few key steps to ensure a successful tweet chat.

Pre-chat prep to ensure a lively conversation

Most of the work that goes into hosting a tweet chat happens before the event actually occurs.

First and foremost, you should pick a chat topic for which your internal thought leader can serve as an expert. Anything too broad could result in too long of a chat session, so a specific angle or subtopic works well. For example, an email marketing company might want to host a chat on the basics of A/B split testing.  

Next, decide if your brand wants to partner with an outside expert or influencer in the field. This tactic will bring higher visibility to the chat and also add an extra layer of legitimacy to the session. Not sure who the right person is for your topic? You can use Twitter itself to find viable influencers and approach them about co-hosting a chat.

Once you have an expert co-host on board (or if you choose to proceed without one), you can get started on the basics. When scheduling the chat, aim for 30-60 minutes. Make sure your date is at least a month out so you have ample time to promote it. Additionally, create a unique hashtag for promotion and participation purposes. The hashtag is how your participants engage with you throughout the chat, so take the time to ensure you come up with something short and memorable.

When these tasks are out of the way, focus on the structure and content of the chat. In addition to the outside expert, determine who on the brand’s side will participate and what role they will have during the chat. One suggestion is to have two people on the brand’s side involved—one operating the brand’s handle, running the chat and posing the questions, and another (the one you are leveraging as the thought leader) on their personal handle, responding to the questions.

For content, draft the questions the moderator will be asking and responses the thought leader will be offering ahead of time (keeping in mind the 140-character rule, including the hashtag). Tweet chats can move quickly, and this trick will help participants stay up to speed. For a one-hour chat, draft around 8-10 questions. If time allows, it’s a best practice to create images that include each question. This makes the chat’s questions prominent in participants’ twitter feed, ensuring questions don’t get lost in the conversation.

Lastly, promote promote promote. Take to Twitter to communicate save-the-date messages. Create a simple image with the basic chat details and hashtag to catch followers’ eyes. Write a promotional blog and post it on your website. Send e-invites to friendly media folks so they can either participate or monitor the chat in real time. Identify individuals who are active in similarly themed chats and directly tweet at them inviting them to your chat.

Managing mid-chat

Once you’ve laid the groundwork, the chat can practically run itself. That said, one piece of advice is to have all participants dial into a conference number a few minutes before the chat is set to begin. This will allow for quick intros of the influencer to the brand participants, and the ability to address any last minute questions. Have everyone stay dialed in with their phones on mute for the duration of the chat; if the need for direct communication between you, the client or the partner expert comes up, you’ll have a means of instant access.

At the top of the chat, the moderator should thank attendees for coming; directly tweet them if you have time, but don’t wait too long to get the ball rolling. Have the moderator pose the first question and allow for the “experts” to weigh in with their pre-scripted responses. Give ample time for chat attendees to ask or respond to questions, and be sure that the moderator favorites and retweets some of the responses in real time. Allow for about 5-7 minutes between each question before asking the next.

Encourage your chat hosts to not just stick to the script but to also offer off-the-cuff responses to some of the questions—they should feed off of the conversation as it flows in order to not sound too groomed.

Post-chat repurposing

Lastly, the value of a tweet chat is not limited to only the 30 or 60 minutes in which it occurs. You can extend its shelf life by using the material to create further content, such as blog posts, infographics or SlideShares highlighting the top takeaways from the chat.

For instance, Highwire client Corvisa recently teamed up with customer service expert Shep Hyken to host a twitter chat, “Today’s Customers: What Do They Really Want?” Afterward, Corvisa repurposed the content of the chat for a recap blog.

If you are ready to engage with your brand’s audience and fellow thought leaders like Corvisa did, get the creative process started by checking out some upcoming chats to see what’s trending in your industry’s social spaces. Whether it’s a first and only or the first of many, tweet chats are a must-try for any brand.

FTC Disclosure Guidelines: What You (and Kim Kardashian) Need to Know

Kim Kardashian Instagram Morning Sickness Post

Image credit: Forbes

A contentious disclosure by Kim Kardashian recently put endorsement transparency and FTC-compliance back on the agenda.

The controversy revolved around an Instagram post in which she claimed to be “so excited and happy” after using Diclegis, an anti-nausea drug, that she was “partnering” with the company “to raise awareness about treating morning sickness.”

Of course, the makers of Diclegis had paid Kim to make the statement. But was the subtle “partnering” disclosure enough?

According to the FTC, the same consumer protection laws against “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” that apply to commercial activities in other media apply online, including activities on social media and in mobile channels.

FTC guidelines state that disclosure needs to occur whenever a company provides a third-party content producer (celebrities included) some form of compensation. This could take the form of money, gifts, and complimentary services.

In addition, the burden is on the brand to ensure the content producer uses the appropriate disclosure. This means the FTC expects a representative from the brand to contact the influencer/blogger with guidance on how to disclose effectively if the blogger has not been clear on the dealings with the brand.

Disclosure can take many forms. At a basic level it is a public acknowledgement that a relationship exists between the content producer and the brand. For example, adding #client to the end of a Tweet, or mentioning a brand’s generous offer of free product at the beginning of a blog featuring the product are both legitimate forms of disclosure.

To make a disclosure clear and conspicuous, advertisers/marketers/communicators should consider:

Placement & Proximity: The placement of the disclosure in the advertisement and its proximity to the claim. For example, it can’t just be added to the bottom of the blog post.

Prominence: It is the communicator’s responsibility to draw attention to the required disclosures. This can be done through ensuring the disclosure is the appropriate format – text size, color – and that it’s not overwhelmed by other content and buried in text.

Distractions: Organizations cannot actively direct attention away from the disclosure, distracting the consumer of the content.

Repetition: Is one disclosure enough? Or does the disclosure need to be repeated to be effective? Consider how audience is consuming the message, and is it possible for them to have missed the disclosure. For example, including “we tweet about our clients” on a PR agency’s profile page isn’t adequate, as most people don’t view tweets on the profile page. Instead, a disclosure needs to be made with each individual tweet.

Language: Is the language of the disclosure understandable to the intended audience? If you are targeting a consumer audience, it should not be framed in technical language or legal speak.

Check out the FTC website for the comprehensive disclosure guide.

Taking these guidelines into consideration, it’s probably safe to say the use of the word “partnering” was too vague and ambiguous. Kim and Diclegis messed up.

When in doubt it’s best for brands (and the influencers they work with) to lean on the side of clarity and transparency.

What does your company’s social media policy say about disclosure and transparency? And when was the last time you circulated it around the organization to remind employees of their disclosure obligations?

Happy Birthday Twitter: The First Tweets from Tech Journos

Today, Twitter turns eight years old. Unlike my eighth birthday, no dinosaurs were involved. Instead, Twitter is celebrating by showing us our very first tweets (see your own here.)

We’ve come a long way since March 21, 2006 when Biz Stone, Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass and Evan Williams all tweeted “just setting up my twttr.” (Fun fact: Dorsey tweeted it first amongst the four founders.)

Twitter has changed our lives for the better. It’s a platform for social change, a medium to accelerate the speed of information and my morning news feed that helps me catch up on what I’ve missed for the past seven hours. It helps us make informed decisions and enables anybody to connect with their local politician, their favorite athlete or a local business. It’s also changed journalism- reporters use it to get sources, share their articles, and break stories before their competitors.

To celebrate Twitter’s anniversary, we thought it could be fun to look at ten of our favorite tech outlets. Who tweeted first? What did they tweet? What reporter embraced Twitter before it became the norm? Here’s what we came up with:

First Reporter

When looking at 100+ of our favorite journalists, Om Malik led the charge. On July 14, 2006, just five months after Twttr’s launch, Om tweeted:

First Outlets:

The New York Times and TechCrunch couldn’t be closer. Of the 10 outlets we looked at, the NYT edged out TechCrunch by one day, tweeting on March 5, 2007.

The race quickly picked up speed, with WIRED, GigaOM and the Wall Street Journal all sharing their first tweets in the following 26 days:

And we’d be remiss to not share the funnier tweets from some of our favorite journalists. Joanna Stern of the Wall Street Journal, Arik Hesseldahl from Re/Code and Russell Brandom at The Verge’s stood out:

As for some of us at Highwire?