Posts Tagged ‘social media’

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The Hottest Social Media App for 2014: Instagram

January 28, 2014

Here is the article I wrote for the January Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. You can find it here.Instagram

The rise of the “Phonetographer” generation is upon us. Even though Facebook was the No. 1 social media app overall in 2013, its photo sharing subsidiary Instagram was the fastest growing app among the top 10.

Instagram is an online photo and video sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. It first launched in 2010. In 2012 Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion and made a subsidiary. Instagram saw a growth in audience by 66 percent to 32 million users in 2013 (according to Nielsen Data) and shows no trace of slowing down.

While Instagram is made up of the same demographics as Facebook, it is also still growing in popularity among teens, which are shifting to single purpose or messaging apps, including Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Whisper and others.

Instagram has many uses in event marketing from several perspectives. On the marketing side, Instagram is being used for everything from shots of the venues to displays, speakers, products, crowds and interaction. On the consumer side, guests, visitors and attendees are participating in contests, recording presentations, products and displays for co-workers that are off-site, and for reviews.

Here are three ways you can successfully integrate Instagram into your events this year:

Promote your event or participation in events:

If you are traveling to a national trade show or hosting your own event, document your location with Instagram to promote traffic to your booth or event. Shoot photos of the outside of the venue to help with directions. Share photos of your booth or event to allow people to see what they will see at the event. Post photos of your booth reps or event managers so that people can more easily recognize your team.

Promote your products, services or offerings:

Highlight any new products, etc. that you will offer at the event. Especially feature a product if it is an exclusive being offered during the run of the event. Photos of this sort are great to share across Twitter, Facebook and your other marketing channels such as newsletters. This can expand your reach even to people that aren’t in attendance at the event.

Engage your audience with a photo contest:

Have attendees take photos on Instagram and post them with a message that includes a keyword you are tracking (a hashtag for example) and offer a prize to participants. This extends your reach even further as they share the photos on their channels and to their networks.

The ideas are only limited by your imagination. 2014 is upon us and the trade shows and events are in motion. Smile and get ready for your close-up!

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Gazing into the Crystal Ball: What 2014 Will Bring Event Marketers

January 28, 2014

Here is the article I wrote that appeared in the December Issue of RSVP MN Magazine, you can find it here.Crystal Ball

It’s that time of the year again, when we reflect on the year that was and set our sights on what the New Year may bring. One thing we know for sure is that live events still reign as the No. 1 business driver for business-to-business companies (according to a recent survey by webDAM). In fact 67 percent of all companies in the business-to-business segment will be investing in and relying on live events. New technology will make those events much better. Here are some of the new trends you’ll be seeing at your next live events:

Digital Displays & Signage Graphics hung on collapsible backdrops are very outdated. New materials allow for high-resolution video displays on a variety of backdrops, from traditional flat screens to curved and flexible screens that can be wrapped around booths and positioned to create dynamic spaces. These screens have the ability to be completely integrated with computers to orchestrate programming and presentations.

Interactivity This is an exploding area of new technology. It incorporates everything from embedded cameras running facial recognition software, to smart sensors that can pinpoint when visitors are close to displays, or recognize motions and cause displays to respond accordingly. For example, when your potential decision maker from ACME company steps near your booth, they can be identified and the displays will immediately change to target and represent ACME’s branding and logos, personalizing the display for that individual. Facial recognition can be as sophisticated as picking out specific individuals or parameters can be set for age, gender, and many other demographics. Motion detecting devices utilizing the same technology found in video game systems like the XBOX Kinect will enable your visitors to interact with displays and programming.

Hyper Local Broadcasting Products like Apple’s newly announced iBeacon and its predecessors can broadcast on Bluetooth to mobile devices that are enabled to receive Bluetooth signals. Kiosks and displays can be equipped with Near Field capabilities where a person can touch a sensor with their mobile device to download a sales presentation or information about your company and products.

Wearable Technology Even your people working the booths can be supported by new wearable tech devices from smart watches and Google Glass to allow for hands free computing, to clothing that can recharge mobile devices from someone walking around the booth.

The future of tradeshows is definitely being shaped by new technology, and with the innovations for 2014 alone the future’s looking so bright you might want to wear shades (if Google Glass has some cool ones)!

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The Art of Apologizing Online

November 4, 2013

This originally was published as my article in RSVP MN Magazine for September 2013. Click here to read it thereRSVP MN MAG SEPTMBER ARTICLE

We’ve all had to say, “I am sorry” to someone at some time (at least I hope so). We’re human. We screw things up and we need to make things right. The same thing happens in business. Probably more than we ever want it to. The problem of today, in business, sometimes when we screw up, it’s online. Instead of only a few people seeing it, the potential is that millions of people have now seen it. It’s hard enough sometimes to apologize person to person, and now you have to potentially apologize to hundreds, thousands or millions online. It’s a pretty daunting task.

Apologizing online falls into a completely different aspect of apologies. It tends to be very public. It is hard to convey feelings or emotions via text and 140 characters. It can easily be assumed to be false or not heartfelt or true, and in the worst cases it can be seen as patronizing and condescending. There are some basic best practices that need to be followed to allow your online apology to be accepted and that you are able to recover from the mistake that led to the issue in the first place. Here are five best practices to help you say you’re sorry online:

1. Respond immediately when there is an issue. In today’s age of business there is no excuse for not monitoring your name and brand online. There are plenty of free tools like Google Alerts, and push notifications from Twitter and Facebook to let you know when someone mentions you or your company online. We live in a time of instant communications, and businesses can no longer “wait to formulate a response.” In the time you take to formulate that response, the issues can go viral. Remember the Domino’s Pizza video of employees doing crude things to food? The company found out about it on a Sunday night, but waited until Wednesday to take the first step. By then there were well over a hundred thousand views of the video.

2. Always apologize on the same social or online channel where the offense or issue is mentioned. If it is on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Yelp, etc., you need to respond to the report of the issue where it has been made. Even if you need time to investigate an issue, by responding quickly on the same channel helps convey the perception and thought that you care. Then keep the lines of communication open on those same channels until the issue has been resolved. Bystanders may see your efforts and at least understand you are responding to the situation. Going silent only hurts matters by letting the message and sentiment be formed in your absence. If there is no means to respond, such as the comment being made on a blog, website, or online publication which doesn’t allow for responses, use your own channels (blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) to respond. Link to the original online remark (URL) to inform the audience to the details of the incident, when the issue is searched for in the future, your response will be tied to the issue that happened.

3. Explain what went wrong. It might have been as simple as someone sent out the wrong message or hit send without thinking. You need to let people know how you are reacting to the problem and taking steps to correct it. Without conveying any self-examination and action towards resolution, it will appear as if you don’t care and are doing nothing. Remember, online isn’t always as visual so convey these thoughts in words.

4. Explain what you are doing to correct the situation and what steps you are putting in place to ensure it won’t happen again. This goes hand in hand with the previous step. If there is no plan or evidence of changed behavior, it will appear you are insincere and not really doing anything about the problem, and hence you are thought not to care about it. Add links and evidence to show what steps are being taken if that would help. Copies of new company policies or guidelines would be great to post as would photos of corrections, and so on. Evidence goes a long way toward rebuilding trust in your actions.

5. Finally, use the apology as an opportunity to make amends. If you show that you truly realize the scope and magnitude of your actions has hurt your standing in the community, use this opportunity to become a better corporate citizen. Overachieve on your next endeavor, especially if there is a community benefit to doing it. Your brand is only as valuable as the audience that follows, supports and enjoys what you do and your role in their lives. It is all too easy to move on to the next brand. Don’t allow your brand to lose reputation credibility and following all because of a few missteps. The best companies in the digital age will plan for a strategy and policy that heads this off at the beginning rather than a plan that chases the tail end of the problem.

By mastering the art of apologizing online, you may be able to save your company, your brand, or hopefully at the very least, your job.

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Best Practices – Live Tweeting An Event

July 9, 2013

twitter-button-colorMary Lower, Founder and CEO of Sterling Cross Communications was recently asked to write an article for RSVP MN Magazine for the Meeting and Event Planner Industry on the best practices to use when live-tweeting an event. Here’s her article from the Summer 2013 Issue.

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Crowdsourced reviews can put local restaurateurs on the defensive

July 9, 2013

1yelp0302I was recently interviewed by Bill Ward of the Minneapolis Start Tribune for an insight into online reputation issues facing restaurants. We talk about Yelp and how clients I had set up with monitoring tools and training are utilizing those tools in every day restaurant operations!

Click here to read the article in the Star Tribune.

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The Paula Deen Effect and your Business – The Perils of Influencer Marketing

July 2, 2013

rsvpmn-logoToday I contributed a guest blog/article to RSVP MN Magazine. Here is the post also a link to the post on their site:

The Paula Deen Effect and your Business – The Perils of Influencer Marketing

By Christopher Lower, Co-Owner and VP of PR, Marketing, & Social Media for Sterling Cross Communications

For many years we have come to learn of the power that celebrity influencers have on businesses. It’s one of the hottest terms in marketing today: Influencer Marketing. Businesses are looking for that lift that can be achieved when a person with a huge audience on multiple communications channels speaks fondly of your service or product and endorses it to their audience. In the most wildly successful cases, it became a phenomenon called the “Oprah Effect” due to the frenzy of business activity a company would receive when mentioned on the popular Oprah Winfrey show by the host herself.

On the negative side of the spectrum would be what has been happening in current events and could be ascribed as being victim to the “Paula Deen Effect”. In this case, the person of influence has become associated with a negative event and has triggered a wave of impact across several businesses that were connected to her, either as a direct working relationship, or in an endorsement relationship. Because of her negative online reputation, and current public perception of her, any brands that are tied to her are suffering. There has been a massive wave of companies scrambling to distance themselves from her brand, many of whom have been intrinsically tied to her popularity in the past.

To be completely fair, Ms. Deen isn’t the only influencer to have a negative impact on brands when a scandal has been tied to their reputation. How easily we forget those like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and so on.

This current case is only greater proof of how important the public perception of your brand and reputation is online. It affects the bottom line, and can impact the stock prices in public companies. It could be your greatest weakness and many companies don’t even know how they can protect and defend their online reputation.

Because of the nature of social media users to have an extremely short attention span, people are more willing to perceive what they find on search engines to be the true nature of your business. You are what Google says you are. Sadly, you are also only as good as the latest and highest search engine ranked review.

As “The Deen Effect” demonstrates, you are also affected by the online reputations and perceptions of those people associated with you. These range from your vendors, suppliers, resellers, channel partners, employees, board members, and anyone else that impacts your brand. Their negative reputations can harm you online as well. You may not have “celebrity” endorsements, but you do have influencers inside and attached to your company. You no longer can afford to not monitor your own company and brand, and it would also be beneficial to monitor the reputations of those associated with your brand where you rely upon them to conduct your business.

Many businesses are scrambling to put together teams that can respond to these new crises situations. These issues may occur across multiple communication platforms in an instant, and can go globally viral in seconds. Traditional PR professionals who don’t have both the crises communications skills and a mastery of social and mobile technologies are obsolete. Using interns to solve the problem is fine for their knowledge of social media tools, but inadequate to deal with the crises communications. You need a team experienced in both that can respond immediately 24 hours a day, every day.

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Sterling Cross Communications Celebrates 10 Years of Cross Community Projects (Pro-Bono) for Non-Profits, Charitable Causes, & Faith Based Organizations

January 11, 2013

Sterling Cross Communciations logoThis has been both a great sense of accomplishment and pride for our firm and we hope to continue projects like these for many years to come:

Sterling Cross Communications Celebrates 10 Years of Cross Community Projects (Pro-Bono) for Non-Profits, Charitable Causes, & Faith Based Organizations

Minneapolis, MN – When Mary Lower first proposed the idea to her husband Christopher, that they should put out their own shingle and launch their own Public Relations and Marketing Firm, Sterling Cross Communications, in 2003, they knew they really wanted to put their own stamp on what it meant to be a firm or agency in the Twin Cities. They really wanted to be a firm that stood out from a very crowded creative field in the market. One of those unique differences was the creation of their Cross Community Project program.

There are many great stories that needed to be told to the public, but a lot of charitable, non-profit, volunteer based, and faith-based organizations did not have the budgets, know-how, or manpower to get the word out there to the media. The Lowers decided that no matter how their business would perform, it would always have the Cross Community Program offered.

Four times a year (once each quarter) Sterling Cross takes on a project from one of these groups that fills out a request on their website for help (http://sterlingcrossgroup.com/contact), and selects and provides a pro-bono PR or Marketing project. It started with just the Lower’s choosing projects, but as their firm grew and they added employees, contractors, vendor partners, and clients, the project grew to include recommendations and selections from the entire group.

Mary Lower reflected on the 10 year milestone and said; “We may always be a smaller (size) agency, but we want to have a huge impact on our community.” She continued; “Some of these events reaped tremendous benefits from our effort, helping to make these events or news stories the best they could be and share great stories provided great joy and we felt that was payment enough.” Christopher Lower agreed; “Great stories need to be shared, and as that is a passion of ours, it has truly meant we were honored to be a small part of and to share the stories of people doing great things to impact their communities. Both Lowers hope to still be performing these projects and continuing the Cross Community Projects for many years to come.

For a partial list to some of the parties and organizations they have helped over the years, please click here: http://sterlingcrossgroup.com/industries (listed under the Cross Community Clients). To find out more or to submit your projects for consideration please visit their website here: http://sterlingcrossgroup.com/industries/cross-community-charity-and-non-profit-clients.

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