We Are Communication Architects

Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

November 30th, 2015

Kobe Bryant Provides a Watershed Moment in Media Disruption

The second biggest sports news story of the long Thanksgiving weekend was certainly Kobe Bryant’s announcement he would retire at the end of the current NBA season.

(The first biggest story, obviously, was the Bears beating the Packers on the same night Green Bay celebrated the retirement of Brett Favre’s number. Go Bears)

What’s notable about Bryant’s announcement – outside of the fact that it came seemingly out of the blue with little preamble or media speculation – is that he did so on The Players’ Tribune. That site was launched about a year ago by baseball star Derek Jeter as a way for athletes to essentially bypass the media and take their stories directly to fans and speak with their own voices instead of one that’s filtered by the press.


Over the last 15 years we’ve seen an evolution in how the press has been disrupted through self-publishing. We went from everyone, including brands and companies, having their own blogs to a system where more and more entities are using what might be termed “collectives.” So you have sports figures using The Players’ Tribune while others use Medium, including a back-and-forth last month between Amazon and The New York Times, instead of what we would traditionally refer to as an “on-domain” blog.

If heavy-hitters like Bryant, Amazon and others are bypassing the press, what’s next for the press? It means they need to rethink their content strategy just like consumer and other brands started doing a dozen years ago.

I had a conversation with a colleague six years ago about this very topic. How do you maintain an active and interesting corporate blog that provides value to readers while not completely turning the press, which still plays an active role in reaching segments of the audience, against you? It’s a fine line to walk that involves careful evaluation of the stories that are being told. That takes coordination between all teams, including PR, marketing, social media and everyone else who may have skin in the game.

The traditional media will have to continue evolving to meet the new challenges being put in front of them. Perhaps “explainer journalism” will rise to even greater prominence than it has now. Perhaps owned channels are where we will turn for news while traditional media provide context and background, though that’s going to be difficult in the wake of such drastic cutbacks in recent years.

For PR practitioners and content marketing specialists this all means we’ll have to keep redefining what we mean when we say “media.” And it’s going to keep impacting how we do our media monitoring. We’ll have to not only counsel our clients on where and when is the best time and place for them to respond to an issue, make a statement or otherwise take their message to the public. Each outlet has its own purpose and audience. And, as the NYT/Amazon dust-up showed us, we’ll have to be just as mindful in monitoring for the responses to our statements and responses since many of these new sources still aren’t tracked either by search engines or monitoring services.

The media world continues to evolve at a breakneck pace. Let us know if you’d like our help in keeping up.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing, Media

November 24th, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 11/24: NBA on Social Media, Snapchat’s Newest Feature & More

OL-AE651_SP_GAY_12S_20151119113306 Image via WSJ

Social Media

The NBA Climbs the Social Ladder

“I wanted to talk to Silver because the NBA has made a very conscious decision to let basketball social media—including amateur videos of in-game highlights—fly free. Like, really free. Don’t misinterpret: if you try to sit courtside at the Staples Center and try to Periscope the entire contest, the commissioner wants to shut you down. But mostly they’re letting the party continue.”

Voce Insight – You may have your own voice, but you will never be your greatest advocate, so empowering others to do your talking for you is important. In this case, the talking is done on the court and then on the interwebs, with amateur videos launching endless loops of awesomeness – and publicity for the NBA.

Inside Snapchat’s newest feature: Story Explorer

“As Spiegel put it, users don’t have to settle for one view of a big NFL touchdown, for instance. They can view it ‘thousands’ of times — each one unique — because so many people in the stadium filmed the play on Snapchat.”

Voce Insight – As the article points out, this will only encourage users to watch even more video on the app. It also better harnesses the army of videographers at major events and quite literally adds more viewpoints.

Meet Some of Our Top Commenters

“In recent years, a core group of commenters have helped to transform The New York Times for the digital era. Their voices have enhanced our journalism, offering new information, insight and analysis on many of the day’s most pressing issues. These frequent commenters have also become a community, one that has its own luminaries.”

Voce Insight – Not all commenters are the same. Some will spew vitriol and nonsense, but others will elevate the conversation and change how a story is perceived after reading. This further supports the notion that annotation is important.

Public Relations

Dollar Shave Club Launches Men’s Interest Editorial Destination Called ‘MEL’

“Dollar Shave Club, the online grooming retailer, has rolled out a new editorial project called MEL, becoming the next brand to try its hand at creating a media enterprise. MEL will begin as a twice-a-week newsletter including ‘one story we love,’ according to a note by written by Editor-in-Chief Josh Schollmeyer appended to the first letter. A standalone site will launch ‘soon-ish,’ Mr. Schollmeyer writes.”

Voce Insight – As Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin said in an earlier article, this will not cover topics like how to shave better. This is a way to try to establish some editorial credibility for the company, even if their products are not explicitly pushed through MEL.

Do Visual Stories Make People Care?

“Since we published Borderland in April of 2014, the NPR Visuals Team has been iterating on a style of storytelling we call ‘sequential visual stories.’ They integrate photography, text, and sometimes audio, video or illustration into a slideshow-like format.”

Voce Insight – Interestingly, the number of slides does not significantly correlate with readers completing a story or not. More important always is how compelling a story is. This should be the first consideration when creating something for a client.


‘Talk to Shirley’ and 9 other tips for reporting and research

“We’ve all met Shirley, which happens to have been my mother’s name. A Shirley can verify notions you’ve heard elsewhere and provide evidence available nowhere else. A Shirley can help you decide if your reporting is done. But don’t be surprised if you hear a Shirley say, ‘You can’t do this story until you’ve talked to Tony.’”

Voce Insight – These tips apply when writing contributed content, press releases, blog posts and more. You need to meet Shirley.

Filed in Weekly Reading

November 18th, 2015

2016 Social Network Predictions: Social Commerce, Facebook Advertising and Ad Blocking

It’s always a bit of a high wire act to write a post listing your predictions for the next year. This is because prediction posts are one of the safest ways to ensure that by the end of the following year, you’ll look like a fool — and that there will be people reminding you in December of what you said at the previous year’s end and telling you how wrong you were.

It’s even harder when you’re writing about digital and social media. The landscape changes rapidly and frequently by its very nature, so trying to stay ahead of the curve well enough to accurately predict what’s going to happen in this industry is like trying to hold a wet bar of soap in the shower.

That said, if you’re paying close enough attention, there are some things that stand out as more likely than others in 2016. Here are my predictions about what you should look for.

  1. The Rise To Dominance of Social Commerce.

This one is easy to see coming. Twitter has now added a “buy now” button for retailers. Over the course of the past few months, so has Pinterest. Instagram has added click-to-shop ads. YouTube has done the same, adding “shop now” advertising. Facebook, too, has more fully integrated a “buy now” button as well — but it’s not stopping there. Facebook is actually adding a whole shopping tab to the user experience.


It’s not hard to recognize where this is going. If anyone really questions whether consumers are going to be comfortable buying in large numbers through social networks, remember that 20 years ago, some were questioning whether people would ever be comfortable engaging in commerce over the Web. Remember when Clifford Stoll famously dismissed the potential of e-commerce in Newsweek in 1995?

“Then there’s cyberbusiness. We’re promised instant catalog shopping—just point and click for great deals. We’ll order airline tickets over the network, make restaurant reservations and negotiate sales contracts. Stores will become obsolete. So how come my local mall does more business in an afternoon than the entire Internet handles in a month? Even if there were a trustworthy way to send money over the Internet—which there isn’t—the network is missing a most essential ingredient of capitalism: salespeople. What’s missing from this electronic wonderland? Human contact.”

I don’t mean to single out Mr. Stoll; he spoke for a lot of learned people in 1995. But as we all know, history proved the skepticism about e-commerce very, very wrong. Any skepticism about social commerce, and whether people will be comfortable enough to choose to buy via social networks, should meet the same historical fate. Now that the major social networks have gone so far out of their way to enable the process, there’s really no holding back the flood.

2015 was for working out the kinks; 2016 is going to be all about people adopting the model and shopping via social networks. Social commerce is going to be one of the dominant stories of the coming year; expect lots of early adopter case studies from brands seeing significant return from their social shopping efforts, and expect the resulting flurry of “if you’re not doing it yet, you’re behind” posts and stories as we enter the second half of the year.

  1. A Market Correction In The Cost Of Facebook Advertising.

Facebook, of course, would like you to pay no attention to the trends behind the curtain. Facebook wants to sell as much advertising as possible to brands eager for access to its 1.5 billion strong user base. That eagerness has allowed Facebook to make lots of bank on advertising and kept marketers clambering back for more no matter how Facebook treated them.

facebook advertising

But there are two trends that I see driving something of a market correction in the cost of Facebook advertising in 2016:

  • After encouraging brands to spend money in order to accumulate as large an audience as possible on the platform, Facebook’s algorithm changes still have resulted in organic/non-paid reach still being way down. This is hardly new news, of course. But brands have been chafing for a while at the bait and switch, and at watching ad prices rise while reach even for those ads declines. Given Facebook’s dominant presence, brands have had little choice but to grit their teeth and accept it. But with new usage trends emerging, that may be about to change.
  • While the “Facebook is dying” meme has been around for a couple of years now and isn’t any closer to true than it was when it first surfaced, Facebook users are demonstrating new attitudes and behaviors — or lack thereof — that don’t bode well for Facebook’s ad rates. Increasing numbers of users are reporting that they spend less time on Facebook, are “bored with Facebook,” and that their friends aren’t using the platform as much as they used to. Fewer users are posting statuses or photos, according to the Global Web Index survey.

If you combine the declining reach of Facebook ads with these new revelations about decreasing user engagement, you may see advertisers balking at paying increasing costs to reach fewer, less engaged users. My prediction: a significant decrease in advertising rates on Facebook as marketers call Facebook out and hold them to a better or more demonstrable ROI.

  1. Ad-blocking adoption will flatten.

There’s certainly been lots of hand-wringing within the advertising and publishing communities about the rise of ad-blocking software. There was lots of concern expressed across the publishing side of the Internet when Adobe and PageFair issued their annual ad-blocking report in August and reported that use of the software had increased by 41% in the past 12 months, that now more than 200 million people worldwide use the software, and that the practice stands to cost publishers almost $22 billion in 2015. The Reuters Institute’s Digital News Report suggested that the numbers might be even higher, with up to half of all US users now using ad blockers. Advertisers sounded the alarm, calling the companies that produce ad blocking software “highway robbers” and “economic terrorists.” Apple’s move to allow the installation of ad blockers on the new iPhone 6 induced panic among many advertisers and led TIME to proclaim that Apple’s decision might “change the Web forever.”


(At least one of the industry’s leading trade organizations acknowledged that as a whole, the industry has “lost track of the user experience” — as one woman said in the Reuters report, “Online ads are obtrusive, obnoxious, annoying” — and recognizes that creating less intrusive, more relevant content might help the industry get users to stop wanting to block ads. There’s at least a little self-reflection from the industry amongst all the hysteria.)

The panicked reaction of the industry, however, may contribute to its salvation. The topic of ad blocking is now front and center at many industry conferences; even some of the companies behind ad-blocking software are holding “peace summits” and inviting advertisers, publishers, and consumer advocates to join them in discussions about how to improve the internet advertising experience for everybody. All this attention is going to result in a handful of things that I think will limit the growth of ad blocking software in 2016:

  • Now that ad-blocking has the industry’s full attention, advertisers and publishers will put their full weight behind efforts to limit the use or availability of the software. Call this one a result of the big elephant stepping on a flower, but when advertisers and publishers and others who are adept in shaping public opinion unify around defeating a threat, it’s hard to see them failing. Whether by scaring the public into thinking that the free Web is endangered by ad-blocking, by the threat of using their collective free market force to pressure for change, or by enlisting legislative or regulatory intervention on behalf of the industry, I expect that the advertising and publishing industries are going to change the dialogue and impact the environment around ad-blocking. They’re scared, and they’ll fight hard to protect their domain.
  • On the positive side, the industry will likely also react by making changes to advertising methods and models. When millions of people are willing to install software to avoid exposure to your product, it opens some eyes and makes the industry realize that it needs to change things. There are voices within the industry challenging their peers to get better, be more creative, and seize ad-blocking as an opportunity instead of seeing it as a threat. I think the industry will respond. There are few things that bother advertisers more than being seen as irrelevant, and I think there are enough inspired people in the industry who will take up the challenge and find more creative, less intrusive, more relevant ways to reach consumers. (I could write a whole ‘nother post on what it means that people don’t want “regular” advertising but also don’t like native ads and feel “duped” by it, and maybe I will at some point, but for the purposes of this post I’m running with the idea that the industry is going to get better and less intrusive in response to this threat.)
  • Ad-blocking software companies are going to try and reach some sort of detente with advertisers and publishers. These software companies are not run by ignorant people; they know the industry sees them as a dire threat and is mobilizing against them. To survive, they have two options: dig in and fight to the death, or try to find some sort of accommodation with the industry. Signs are already pointing to the latter solution. As a matter of self-preservation, ad-blocking companies will try to find some sort of peaceful coexistence with the ad industry.

To be clear, I’m not saying ad-blocking is going away. It’s here to stay. I just think the meteoric rise in the adoption of the software has probably plateaued. Whether this is a good or a bad thing, I leave to you to decide.

Other predictions for 2016 include that America will elect a new president, that a full half of the country will be really ticked off at the election’s result, that Taylor Swift will continue to show celebrities how to execute social media really well, that Adele will have at least one more #1 hit in the US, and that the Kardashians will continue to be attention hounds.

About the Author
Christopher Barger is Senior Vice President of Global Digital at Voce/Porter Novelli. You can follow him on Twitter @cbarger.

Filed in Marketing, Social Networks

November 10th, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 11/10: Snapchat Rising, Copy-Editing Vigilantes & More

pubcopeditor Image via Columbia Journalism Review

Social Media

Warning: Public Copy Editor is always watching

“Its emergence in your ‘mentions’ brings a pang of guilt. It is nameless, faceless, genderless, and ageless, working swiftly and succinctly without pay or much praise. In better times, professionals were trusted to police this turf. In the Wild West of the Web, disorder gives rise to vigilantes.”

Voce Insight – Your coworkers will tell you they can’t remember if it’s toward or towards. Your bosses will tell you to read an AP style guide. We will tell you that every time you make a typo, the errorists win.

Snapchat now gets over 6 billion views a day, up three times from this spring

“Snapchat has continuously added new features over the past year, and it looks like it is paying off. Snaps and videos in the app are now being viewed over 6 billion times a day. That’s a massive three times increase from just this past May, when the company told Bloomberg that it was serving 2 billion views daily.”

Voce Insight – Even more than Snapchat’s impressive growth, pay attention to the definition of a “view”. For Snapchat, that constitutes a few milliseconds. As the next article excerpt points out, “www” might as well stand for “wild wild west”, so social media stats should be always be taken with a grain of salt.

Public Relations

How people who don’t work in news consume their news

“Where it becomes more interesting is at the metro level. New York, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles housed almost one out of every five reporting jobs in 2014. Over the past decade — outside of those three cities — journalism jobs have shrunk by about 25 percent, The Washington Post reported in April.”

Voce Insight – This article is insightful on a number of levels. Beyond the map that shows how heavy the concentration of journalists is on the coasts, the linked Washington Post article shows that PR is taking many of the jobs journalism is using. This is important to keep in mind when working with media. Finally, we can see (anecdotally) that general consumers get their news from disparate sources in fun-sized batches.

Influencers vs. Ambassadors vs. Advocates: Stop the Confusion!

“Influencer, blogger, brand ambassador, advocate: These terms are used interchangeably, but there are vast differences in the influence they wield, what they will do for a brand and what they get paid. I find that when I explain these differences, baseball references can help.”

Voce Insight – By differentiating these groups of people and understanding the roles they have, you will be able to better leverage their influence to benefit your client and strengthen PR campaigns.


The Case for Humble Executives

“Taking the blame for the consumer-products company’s weak performance, the departing CEO told investors ‘the buck stops with me’ and assured them his successor would do better. Mr. Lafley was responding to investor criticism of P&G’s strategy and recent stock-price performance. He will stay on as executive chairman after David Taylor becomes CEO Nov. 1.”

Voce Insight – Agency life offers a great opportunities to climb quickly, but also deals out a fair share of setbacks. Job requirements include a sense of humor and a healthy dose of humility.

The Muse Wants to Connect Millennials with Pro Career Coaches

“The Muse, which will take a cut of the fee paid for each session, has created a tiered pricing model where coaching is priced from $75 per hour up to $500 per hour, depending on the experience of the coach and the service provided.”

Voce Insight – This is a great resource for those whose colleges didn’t provide as much guidance as each individual might have needed, graduates who didn’t take advantage of career mentors in college or entry-level folks who would could use a helping hand in planning their long-term goals.

Filed in Weekly Reading

November 9th, 2015

2016 Social Network Predictions: A Giant Will Fall

My big prediction for next year? A giant will fall.

I don’t know which one, but it’s increasingly feeling like while we may not be in a bubble in the same way we were circa 2000 we are in an era where some of the established social networks are growing a bit long in the tooth. Some giant redwoods are looking a little weak, like they may topple or will be the first to go up when a cleansing fire sweeps through the forest. Or something else that can add a third metaphor to this example.

Let’s do some totally without-foundation speculating:

pinterest logoPinterest: There is almost no chance of Pinterest failing in 2016. It’s growing too fast with the right demographics. If anything, it’s going to get bought by Google, who will want it for its treasure trove of searchable meta-data. ODDS OF FAILURE: Slim to None

facebook-icon-appFacebook: While it continues to dominate usage and demographics, the number of “Is Facebook Falling Out of Favor” stories – many of which are increasingly backed up by actual research, not just anecdotal evidence based on the writer’s daughter’s seven friends – is growing with each passing year. It may not be the one that actually falls, but its dominance could show definitive signs of slipping in 2016. ODDS OF FAILURE: 1/17,000


twitter app iconTwitter: Again, I don’t actually think Twitter will completely cease to exist in 2016, but what it looks like at the end of the year could be drastically different than its current state. With Jack Dorsey back at the wheel my guess is he will get back in the weeds of product development and really innovate on its look and feel. Considering how fickle Twitter users are – power users love certain core elements while new users find many core elements to be blocks to more frequent usage – these changes could bring about an exodus to something new that attracts people’s attention and which – and this is the important part – has media engagement and advertiser-friendly features built in as opposed to tacked-on. ODDS OF FAILURE: 1/12,000

instagram-logoInstagram: As with Twitter, I don’t think Instagram will fail in 2016, but I do think Facebook will have to figure out how to make the platform slightly more usable as it grows in popularity, changes that could mean Instagram is more closely integrated in the core Facebook product. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it cease to exist as a stand-alone app and be folded into the Facebook app itself even while it retains most of the features that people love. Either that or Facebook will realize they need to accommodate power Instagram users with better management tools, including opening up the API to allow for publishing through enterprise CMS products and so on. ODDS OF FAILURE: 1/11,00

image-Tumblr-iOS-app-iconTumblr: The only way Tumblr dies in 2016 is as the result of an ascending Facebook, which will sneak in at night and put a pillow over its face if its revamped Notes feature actually takes off. There’s a slight chance that continued changes to the platform turn off users at a mass level, but that seems unlikely. Still, there are lots of other publishing platforms out there and if people sense a majority of their friends have migrated elsewhere Tumblr could see a rush to the exit door as active users decline sharply. ODDS OF FAILURE: 1/9,000

snapchat logoSnapchat: What’s holding people to Snapchat? The network of friends they’ve built up. So, as with Tumblr above, if people sense a shift in their friends’ behavior they will head to something new that not only doesn’t feature all the advertising that Snapchat is suddenly inundated with or handles that in a more organic, built-in way. It’s not as if people would be abandoning hard archives of years worth of posts since they don’t exist here. Just as the content on Snapchat is ephemeral, so too are the ties that keep people using it. If a competitor pops up that’s perceived as hipper, the users are gone. ODDS OF FAILURE: 1 / 5,000

vine-app-icon-square-logoVine: If there’s anything that’s going to fall in 2016 it’s Vine. Let’s be honest, this should never have been a stand-alone app to begin with. And Twitter is already treating Vines much like native video as it is, incorporating them into Moments and other features. There’s no reason for six-second video not to be its own part of the core Twitter experience and this could fall victim to Dorsey’s product tinkering. The trick will be to translate the remaining active user base to Twitter without turning them off in a meaningful way. ODDS OF FAILURE: 1 / 1,000

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Social Networks

November 2nd, 2015

2016 Social Network Predictions: Back to 1999?

aol-logoAh, 1999. TLC and Brittany Spears were topping the charts. Michael Jordan was retiring – though not for long – and you could find anything on the Internet – a topic, a website, a new friend, a chatroom – through AOL, the world’s portal to the Internet.

In the sixteen years since, the Internet has become a much more fragmented – one might say democratized – place for finding and connecting with people, groups, organizations and information. Today, however, the pendulum is shifting rapidly back to a walled garden of central, controlled, simple access. The Internet (and everything that fits underneath that broad term) has simply become too big for many to sort through on their own.

Social networks are much more than just social networks

Today, the leading social networks are increasingly filling that void that AOL left. Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter in particular have the user base, capital, business acumen and financial incentives to continue building and acquiring apps and functionality to help you find and do everything and anything you want online easier. And they get the added benefit of unprecedented levels of data to crunch in order to make your experience (and that of advertisers) even more personalized.

From messaging with friends (privately or publicly) to sharing stuff you create (from selfies to professional blog posts) to keeping up with news (Facebook Instant Articles and Twitter Moments), to finding information based on reviews and recommendations from connections, it will become increasingly easy to stay within a single walled garden and never have to leave.

Heck, Facebook’s Internet.org initiative is bringing that simplified, organized approach to extending Internet access to the far corners of the world (which has raised concerns about censorship and net neutrality).

It doesn’t look like a walled garden

But people don’t necessarily want to have a gatekeeper to their information – and they don’t necessarily want their friends (especially obscure acquaintances from middle school) to have the same access to their every update as a close friend. That’s why the Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, and Twitter ecosystems have and will continue to incorporate more diverse elements – launching new apps with unique functionality and privacy levels to capture more user time in new ways.

Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp – all are completely separate apps but part of the same Facebook ecosystem. LinkedIn (ed note: a Voce client) is continually rolling out new apps to segment out various functionalities – Groups, Elevate, and so on. Twitter of course has Periscope, Vine, etc. And Google’s ambitions are even greater, marked by this year’s Alphabet announcement, which opens the doors on any number of possibilities.

In 2016, I expect to see an increasing amount of back-end integration of these (and more) disparate apps. The back-end will look more and more like Google’s ecosystem, while user experiences will remain completely unique. This provides all of us users with choice, with options.

The walled garden will look more and more like a large arboretum – with the desert, jungle and forest looking and feeling completely different and full of unique flora. But all of those habitats share the same plumbing, the same electricity and the same security.

Will security or privacy concerns spark a backlash?

We’ve seen lots of handwringing about privacy in recent years, but peoples’ expectations of privacy have passed the tipping point. I liken it to driving on a road full of potholes. It’s annoying, and I’m going to complain about it, but as long as that pothole-ridden freeway is the fastest way from Point A to Point B, I’m not going to change my route.

That said, security could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back – or, in the metaphor above, the bridge that collapse and forces me to find a new route. As far as we know, no social networks have been the victim of any Target-scale data breaches, thanks to what I’m sure is an unprecedented investment in keeping their vast troves of data secure (at least secure from hackers).

I wouldn’t be surprised if in 2016 we see a breach of some sort – at least more than the password leaks that have happened in the past – that impacts one of our major Internet gatekeepers. After all, they have exceptionally valuable data on not just our “paper” lives (SSN, DOB, etc), but also our personal lives, our connections, our health, who we may fall in love with and so on. Any such breach would be on the level of the Ashley Madison breach – it’s more than just credit numbers and bank account info, it’s real, personal info and it would fundamentally alter our expectations of privacy and likely our online behavior.

Which brings us back to 1999. In 1999, the big concern looming on the horizon was Y2K. Today it’s cybersecurity. In 1999, we accessed the Internet overwhelmingly through AOL. Today, it’s through newer – but still centralized – gatekeepers. And in 1999 Enrique Iglesias was on the radio. Today, he is once again. Crap.

Filed in Rants

October 27th, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 10/27: Instagram’s New Feature & More

Image via Fortune

Social Media

Instagram has an answer to the iPhone’s coolest feature

“Boomerang essentially takes a burst of photos and stitches them together into a mini video that can play forward and backward, then users can take that moving image and post it onto Instagram.”

Voce Insight – GIFs made easy! This will be a lot of fun for personal use and to help clients tease followers about new product announcements, news, etc.

City Room, a Blog With a Broad Mandate, Is Retiring

“The reasons are mostly boring journalism-business stuff. In 2007, blogs were the wave of the future. At its blogmaniacal peak, The Times had about 80 of them. But Times blogs run on a different publishing platform from the rest of the Times website, and eventually we realized they were creating a lot of extra work. Now The Times has only about 20 active blogs.”

Voce Insight – Platforms are always a major factor to take into consideration when setting up a blog. Having something separate from your main site can create extra work, and potentially divert traffic from more valuable areas.

Public Relations

Tips from the Financial Times on evergreen journalism

“As with many news organisations, we at the Financial Times question whether our journalism should be ‘evergreen’ and if so, how we could achieve this. Most recently, this was the case with our coverage of a possible first US interest rate rise in nearly a decade.”

Voce Insight – Journalists want what PR and social media professionals want – content that will continue to provide value to readers long after its creation. How something might be used in the future before investing significant time into it is an important step.

How United is handling the PR for its CEO health crisis

“Experts in crisis public relations and corporate governance say United’s plan for communicating with the public on the heels of Oscar Munoz’ hospitalization last week hasn’t gone far enough in assuaging concerns among shareholders and the general public.”

Voce Insight – Every PR practitioner should always follow the news, to stay up on current events and to learn what (or what not to do, in this case) in regards to media relations for your client during a crisis.


Facebook is unleashing universal search across its entire social network

“Almost a year ago, Facebook transformed the search bar normally used to find other Facebook users into a tool for finding what those users were saying. The company indexed everyone’s posts so you could see friends discussing Mad Max or the FIFA Women’s World Cup by typing the phrase into the search box instead of waiting for the post to pop up in your News Feed. Starting today, the company is going one step further and indexing the entirety of Facebook’s 2 trillion posts and making them searchable.”

Voce Insight – This is when you go back through your privacy settings and make sure that nothing you don’t want a potential employer to see will pop up in a search. Yes it is.

5 Steps to Build Your Personal Brand

“Your personal brand is how you appear to the world. Therefore, it serves to reason that a strong brand is preferable to one that is unpolished and uninteresting. Once people know who you are and begin to identify you with a specific area of understanding or expertise, you’ll be well on your way to becoming the go-to person in your niche or industry.”

Voce Insight – It’s smart to build out your personal brand when applying to jobs. It provides potential employers with another source to get to know you and what you’re about. The thing is, once we land these jobs, sometimes people are so focused on client brand management, they forget about their own. Take a step back this week to evaluate your own brand’s health.

Filed in Uncategorized

October 27th, 2015

Twitter Introduces Brand Hub For Actionable Insights

Twitter yesterday rolled out what it’s calling the “Brand Hub,” a single dashboard designed to give advertisers what it refers to as a “360-degree, real-time” look at the following:

  • Share of voice: They refer to this as “share of conversation” but the gist is the same in that it’s a measurement of how well your brand is performing in the conversation against the competitors you’ve identified.
  • Audience insights: This shows key influencers, demographic information on the audience and more.
  • Conversation insights: If knowing more about who is talking is important, then knowing what they’re talking about is even more so. This provides a breakdown of impressions, mentions and more so you can see what the conversation is about.

Unfortunately this is just available to advertisers (and medium-sized businesses) right now, though it’s to be hoped these insights will become more widely accessible over the near future. More data is always a good thing in content marketing so publishers can see what’s resonating, what’s not and who it is or isn’t resonating with. Audience insights and conversation tracking can both help tailor editorial to achieve more and better-targeted success.


Outside of that, it’s interesting to see Twitter, which for so long offered no native analytics, now expanding on what it currently offers. This is certainly part of the company’s efforts to make advertisers more comfortable spending money on the status network since if they can see more clearly how those ads are performing they’re likely to spend more dollars. There are plenty of outside tools that do this sort of analysis, but now Twitter wants to own more of that directly.

But it seems to me that content marketers – even if there is no paid component – have even more to gain from these numbers. Share of voice and such are going to be of interest to advertisers, sure, but for those engaging in the daily content grind that’s going to be invaluable as the program tries to make inroads against competitors.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Publishing Programs, Social Networks

October 23rd, 2015

Focus on Engaging With the People Who Matter, Not the Whole Audience

One of the sessions at Spredfast Summit 2015 was about social customer care. At the opening of the panel the moderator shared a number from a recent report that only 9% of people who mention or tag a brand or company get a response.


The perception, as we’ve noted before, is that every content program should be engaging with 100% of the replies, mentions and comments coming in from customers. And, as we’ve noted before, this expectation remains utter and complete malarkey.

That reality was reinforced by a representative from LinkedIn (a Voce client) when, in that session, he said that 100% isn’t the goal because 100% of the people don’t need, deserve or even want a reply from the brand. Some have mentioned the company name as part of an otherwise non-related conversation with a friend and a brand reply is intrusive and creepy. Or they could just be letting off steam and singling your brand out as part of a bigger problem with their life. (Ex: “I’m sick, the car needs engine work and the Target is out of the only pasta my kids eat!!”) Or they could just be straight-up trolling.

image via wikimedia

image via wikimedia

Instead what he and his team do is sort the wheat from the chaff. If he gets, to use a simple example, 100 replies each day he looks at the percentage of that which they feel deserves or necessitates a response, which may only be 18 of those. And then they may only respond or engage with nine of those people. So their response rate as a percentage of the whole is that shocking 9%, but their response rate as viewed solely within the group that more concretely matters – because they’re the ones who actually want a response for one reason or another – is a much more healthy 50%.

Your numbers will vary, of course, But don’t set expectations with those who are managing or overseeing the programs you run that are unreasonable. That way lies not only uncomfortable conversations when you don’t meet those expectations.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Community, Content Marketing, Publishing Programs

October 22nd, 2015

Instagram Introduces Boomerang

Instagram has a new app out called Boomerang that’s specifically for creating and sharing one-second looping videos. That may not sound super-versatile or interesting – it’s basically one-sixth of a Vine – but there is some potential there for content marketers.

instagram boomarang

It should be obvious, but this is going to be most easily-adopted by individual creators and brands who have already been diving into short-form video creation. One second isn’t a heckuva long time, of course, but look how brands like Home Depot and others as well as individuals have turned Vine’s six-second limitation into fertile ground for memorable and engaging video.

There’s plenty of room for experimentation here, but ideally that experimentation will come as the result of existing workflows. One of the first things we recommend when we’re starting a content marketing program is to get the production, approvals and distribution workflows ironed out and optimized. So if you’re already setup for the creation of short-form video, this will be easy to adopt. If not…well…call us.

The final interesting thing about Boomerang is that it’s yet another production-only app from Instagram, joining Hyperlapse and Layout as apps that let you create something unique that’s then shared on Instagram or elsewhere. That hints that Instagram wants to keep the core app pure and simple, just focused on sharing and viewing. So instead of adding all sorts of creation functionality to that core app it is offering a variety of stand-alone apps that aren’t for interaction – unlike corporate parent Facebook, which keeps spinning off different network features into their own apps – but just for production.

Randy Ksar downloaded the app and shot the extremely professional example below.

Testing out #boomerang at work with Joel "cross-eyed" Espanol

A video posted by Randy Ksar (@djksar) on

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

Filed in Content Marketing

Voce Photo Stream