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Building brand awareness through content creation and community engagement.

September 17th, 2015

Blogging Enabled People to Catch Up with Media. Now Media are Catching Up with Independent Podcasts

Modified Podcast Logo with My Headphones Photoshopped OnThe original promise of blog software was that it democratized access to publishing tools, giving everyone a voice in the emerging online conversation in a public way, that last point being the key value proposition over the chat rooms and forums that existed up to that point. A few years after that people began producing these weird audio programs that were kind of sort of like radio, but they were delivered via RSS to software that would “catch” them and let you listen to them on demand. You know them as podcasts.

The news that Vogue was now launching its own podcast, though, made me think that we’re now seeing this process in reverse.

For years – the better part of a decade – podcasting was a sleeping giant. There were tons of people producing their own shows, but they only sporadically got support from big media companies. It never went anywhere, but it’s only been in the last year that it’s gotten serious attention from media companies, who can’t launch them fast enough to keep up with demand. In the wake of last year’s breakout hit Serial, podcasts are hot.

But now it’s media brands who are vying for the attention that’s been focused to date on individual shows. Sure, This American Life and others have been big for a long while now. But the democratic nature of podcasting means that individuals with no access to significant production budgets are already movers and shakers in this world, where Vogue and other media companies are in the position of playing catchup to Marc Maron, Chris Hardwick and other, smaller players.

Things may be decided on the same playing field they so often are: Discoverability. The guy running a podcast in his garage with cobbled-together equipment likely won’t be able to make it onto iTunes’ recommended list of shows unless a minor miracle occurs. Slate’s entire lineup of shows, in contrast, gets regular exposure in that field along with NPR, Panoply and other networks.

So it’s incumbent on those smaller fish to work harder to beat the drums of their shows. Stay active and engaged on social networks. Make hail-Mary passes when trying to book guests. You don’t have the inherent advantages of the big brands competing for people’s listening time. So work harder.

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 Media

September 16th, 2015

Randy’s Social Take: Community Feedback

So often in social we think of bringing people back to the website and measuring conversion to a particular goal. That is good in some cases but what gets left out is asking, listening and incorporating customer feedback into your products. Companies like Dell (IdeaStorm) or Starbucks (My Starbucks) do a good job of this and the two things that make it work from my perspective are:

  1. Ideas are reviewed and assigned priority by product management
  2. 360 degree feedback goes all the way back to the original submitter – the customer

How many times have you submitted comments into the online ether? Or have had to call a phone number and surrender your first born child in order to leave feedback? Companies need to not only accept the feedback but have an open, user-friendly policy.

Earlier this week, Mark Zuckerberg had a Town Hall Q&A where he invited actual Facebook users. It got a lot of press that the “dislike” button is coming, largely in response to long-standing user requests for a tool that would allow them to acknowledge bad or even tragic news with something more than the “Like,” which is awkward. So this was Facebook acknowledging user opinion that a key feature was missing and saying they were making moves to address that.

zuck facebook 0915

But the underlying issue of gathering feedback for product updates on Facebook is still missing. Ideally, the Facebook product team should have a feedback/ideas mechanism on their website where anyone can submit ideas and the product managers have access to it. They shouldn’t be lost in Zuckerberg or anybody’s Facebook stream.

That’s my take on Zuckerberg’s latest announcement.  What’s your take? What companies do you follow that actually value and communicate effectively community feedback?  Comment below or tweet @djksar on Twitter.

About the Author
Randy Ksar works on the social media team at Voce. You can follow him at @djksar on Twitter.

Filed in Community

September 15th, 2015

Pay for (Re)play Coming to Snapchat

snapchat logoSnapchat announced today that it’s going to allow people to replay more than currently allowed one snap per day. But it’s going to cost you if you want the privilege.

According to a blog post, people will be able to purchase bundles of three replays for $.99, letting theme relive a moment they may have missed because their thumb slipped, they were distracted or some other perfectly legitimate reason. Right now users are limited to one replay of one video per day.

What’s most interesting about this (to me at least) isn’t so much functionality itself, it’s the payment model. For one thing it puts the payment onus on the recipient, essentially asking for micro-payments for a feature of the app itself.

That flips the model I would expect to be put in place. Other apps or networks might have similar structures – where you pay for additional functionality – but those are either one-time payments to upgrade to a premium tier or some sort of subscription model where for an additional $X per month you get those features the freeloading public doesn’t.

Alternatively, the payment for additional features is made by the publishing brand. So Brand X pays Snapchat to allow its followers to replay their snaps up to twice or something like that. Or it sponsors a batch of replays for an important campaign and lets everyone view a day’s worth of snaps multiple times.

This “the end user pays” model seems the least sustainable, but I may be wrong. Snapchat has defied a lot of expectations to get to this point and seems to be growing. But it remains to be seen whether the user base of the app – which is mostly younger people who may not have the disposable income to be buying loads or snap replays – will adopt this new feature and make it a sustainable source of revenue for the company.

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 Mobile

September 15th, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 9/15: Facebook Live Video, Twitter Accounts for Career Advice & More

Article or ad pic2 Image via Contently

Social Media

Facebook’s Live Videos Are Already Getting Huge Engagement

“Earlier this month, Facebook announced that celebrities and other public pages would be able to stream live video directly to their fans using a new live video feature.”

Voce Insight – The aphorism, “there’s no time like the present” has been around for a while, but Facebook’s live video feature hasn’t. Still, one is the reason for the other’s success. The allure of getting through in real-time means many more comments. If done right, live video will continue to be a valuable tactic for companies.

Public Relations

New York Times Editor Dean Baquet: An Evening With Code/Media (Full Video)

“Page One meetings, for example, aren’t about what’s on the front page anymore but how they should be programming news across their website and Twitter and Facebook throughout the day.”

Voce Insight – Most important in this interview, Baquet concedes that until recently the New York Times did not go out and get their audience. They realized that often, today’s readers are not going to seek them out. It’s an imperative to find out where your audience is, which may not on your website.

Study: Article or Ad? When It Comes to Native, No One Knows

“Publishers have attempted to address this concern by using different labeling, fonts, colors, and other tactics to make the ads look different. But our findings show that no matter what steps publishers have taken, there is still significant confusion on the part of readers as to what constitutes an article and what constitutes an ad.”

Voce Insight – If you put in the effort to form a thoughtful contributed piece, hopefully this distinction will matter less. Like the article points out, at some level a reader is going to take your content at face value.

Subway After Its PR Crisis: Nobody Cares, And That’s The Problem

“The simplest answer is that it was a lot less effective than anybody realized, especially those folks at Subway who relied on it year after year. Metrics for awareness and affinity can be deceiving, just as Fogle’s image proved to be.”

Voce Insight – This is a reminder to PR professionals (and marketers) to always create a solid plan to measure ROI on any campaign, otherwise the company and its investors might be misled on the effect a campaign is having. And, do a background check on your spokespeople before putting them in front of a camera.


7 Tips on How to Make a Good Impression in an Interview

“It goes without saying that you should always see any interview as a two-way conversation. An awesome way to express your thoughts, to understand, be understood, and connect with others.”

Voce Insight – With the summer coming to a close, it’s the time that most college graduates are starting to apply and interview for jobs to jumpstart their careers. Keeping one’s composure in a situation that seems like a “make it or break it” can be tough, but this article will help an interviewee “make it”, with the details on how to prep and what to expect for any interview.

The top 20 Twitter accounts to follow for career advice in 140 characters or fewer

“Job seekers and professionals looking to manage or advance their careers have a wealth of resources available at their fingertips — so many resources, in fact, that it’s a bit overwhelming.”

Voce Insight – Twitter is an easy way to get your daily dose of whatever it is you find interesting. And regardless of what stage you are in your career, you could always be doing more, better! These accounts bring together the convenience and information you want in one place and therefore you should follow them all immediately.

Filed in Career Development

September 14th, 2015

Making Your Marketing Experiential

We obviously talk a lot on this blog about social media. It’s what a fair amount of us at Voce do on a daily basis. Or, if not “social media” then definitely “content marketing.” But we don’t talk a lot about connecting with current or potential fans out in the real world in addition to connecting with them on social networks.

I started thinking about this after reading this post about a trailer that tours the country from mattress retailer Casper. The trailer contains a few mattress pods where people are encouraged to come and try a Casper mattress by taking a nap on one. That alone puts this in the Top 5 marketing executions of all time because anything that sanctions taking a nap is automatically genius-level thinking. We need more naps. It’s science.


Outside of that, though, this offers a good reminder to get out and provide people with a real experience, a real connection with the brand, whatever it is.

We at Voce have managed loads of fan events and meetups for our clients, and that’s outside of the live-event coverage where fan interaction is part of the itinerary. These kinds of meetups, which can be for a select group of influential individuals, the general public or some mixture of both, provide a unique experience for everyone involved. Having managed a few of these here are some considerations to keep in mind and questions to ask:

  • Who are the attendees and how are you selecting them? This may be a list of people who are active in your on-domain community. It may be some people who interact with the brand regularly on social media. It might be influencers you found on LittleBird. Whatever the case, you need to figure out the invitation list, which should map to the goals of your program. Speaking of which…
  • What are the goals? It might be to gain buzz for a new product, it might be to celebrate some milestone. As with any campaign or event, set out goals for the event and make sure the tactics are designed to get you there.
  • Where will this be hosted? The room or other space that you pick out for your event will go a long way to making sure it will be a success. So make sure it can hold enough people, that it’s setup for whatever entertainment and food you’ll be providing, is easy for everyone who’s coming to reach (can’t have enough nearby parking) and so on.
  • What will you be doing at the event? On the one hand there are advantages to making it an exclusive event and not publishing to Twitter, Instagram and so on because the people who are there should have a unique experience. On the other hand, what better way to build anticipation for the next event than to promote the heck out of the current one?
  • What are you asking attendees to do? Define the experience as much as possible in advance so, quite frankly, people know what they’re doing when they get there. So make sure everyone knows what the hashtag is, that the game demos or other activities are working and convenient and so on. You don’t want people to be bored, you don’t want them to be confused or anything else.

These are just a few pieces of the planning that needs to go into fan meetups and events. While your experiential marketing may not be as catchy to the general public as roving nap stations it’s still important to do this kind of thing occasionally to connect with the audience in a real, physical way. That’s going to leave a much bigger, longer-lasting impression on someone than any 12 Tweets put together. Get out and make a moment for someone.

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 Events

September 11th, 2015

Facebook Mentions – Including Live – Available for More Verified Accounts

Facebook has announced that all public figure profiles will now have access to both Mentions and Live. Mentions is a stand-alone app that allows profiles to more easily engage with fans since it highlights comments and other interactions. It also allows people to push updates to both Twitter and Instagram. Live is Facebook’s Periscope competitor, allowing for live-streaming, live Q&As and so on.


So how can brands best use this update?

Assuming your verified page doesn’t already have access (and that your page is verified), Mentions is a great tool for audience engagement. It’s a much better interface than trying to use Facebook itself or even the official app or the Pages Manager app, though obviously there’s tons of overlap in functionality. You can easily see the audience conversation and engage in that. This should be big for community and brand managers, particularly when they’re on the go.

Having access to Live (which is part of the Mentions app) is a much bigger tool. This means that there’s another option when it comes to live streaming, particularly from events like conferences and shows. And considering the audience that’s been built up on Facebook is often bigger than what’s on Twitter the potential reach of that video has the potential to be significantly larger. There’s already initial evidence showing engagement on Facebook Live video is massive, though it’s worth noting that there may be a novelty bump in those number, which may level off to some extent over time. So it becomes a viable competitor against Periscope or Meerkat.

What’s key about Live, though, is making sure the live streaming is promoted ahead of time. Facebook is notoriously bad for real-time since it can take anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days for posts to surface in people’s Newsfeeds. So it’s important to promote that X will be live at Y time well in advance, both on Facebook itself and elsewhere – on-domain, Twitter – to drive people to tune in at that specific time. Otherwise it may die on the vine.

This is a great new update that, assuming the page or pages you manage fit the criteria, should provide an important new element to your social media publishing toolbox.

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

September 11th, 2015

Google and Twitter Partner for Faster Mobile News Stories

According to Recode, Google and Twitter (a partnership which surely has spurred lots of speculation as the “who will buy Twitter?” narrative continues to swirl) are partnering to help news stories load more quickly on mobile devices.


The program, which reportedly involves a handful of publishers at first, will create articles that immediate pop up on mobile screens when they click on a link. Unlike Facebook’s very similar “Instant Article” program (which seems to come and go in fits and starts) neither Google or Twitter will host the article but will display a “snapshot” of the article, which sounds to me like some kind of cached version of the story.

The big distinction here is in the hosting and how it appears the Google/Twitter initiative doesn’t want to take over hosting, it just wants to create a better user experience. That may sound like a small point, but it’s really not since it has all sorts of ad revenue, brand awareness and other implications.


For brand publishers this puts them at somewhat of a disadvantage. Until these tools are opened up to them then their stories aren’t going to load as fast as something any of the news publications that, realistically, they’re competing against for traffic and audience attention.

But this also presents the opportunity for brands to take another (likely their fourth or fifth in the last couple years) look at their website to make sure it’s as optimized for the mobile experience as possible. Is caching an issue? Is some sort of script causing a half-second lag in load time? Is the site responsive and designed well to present an optimal welcome mat for mobile visitors?

These sort of developments always take a while to trickle down to brands and other high-profile accounts. In the meantime there’s plenty to do to make sure you’re operating in a way that makes sense for today’s information architecture.

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 Uncategorized

September 8th, 2015

Report: Social Engagement Falling as Volume Rises

“How much are you trying to reach an audience and how much are you trying to game an algorithm?”

Facebook_like_thumbThat’s the question that was asked on a recent episode of the “What’s the Point?” podcast from FiveThirtyEight. The conversation between the host and the managers of Twitter accounts for Buzzfeed and the NBA was covering how deeply those people and their teams dive into metrics on a regular – sometimes minute-by-minute – basis. The guests were talking about how much they look at shares, comments and so on and how they will focus on material they feel or know will do well in those areas. The feeling seemed to be that engagement, particularly shares by individuals, was the end-all-be-all, but the publishers have to push through the algorithm in order to accomplish that.

Now look at the findings from a recent Forrester study that shows engagement on social networks is dropping even while (perhaps because) overall post volume increases. Engagement on Facebook in particular is falling because reach is only achievable for most outlets if they pull out their wallets for paid promotional boosts. But stats overall seem to be impacted recently.

We’ve made this point to clients as well as others before, that in 2015 it needs to be assumed most social media programs are at some level of maturity. Many programs have been running for anywhere between five and ten years and not only are the programs themselves growing long in the tooth but the networks themselves have been around the block more than a few times.

That means that, assuming you already aren’t, the metrics you’re tracking need to evolve. “Engagement” may have been good three years or so ago, but considering social networks are becoming overloaded and engagement is falling, there needs to be a better way to track program success. Ideally that means moving to something a bit more substantive like on-domain traffic from social or, even better, conversions.

As always it’s important to be mindful of these macro trends when planning and executing your social media strategy. But it’s just as important to know how your individual program is performing so you know whether you’re being impacted by larger forces or are continuing to succeed in certain areas despite those overall trends.

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 Measurement, Publishing Programs, Social Networks

September 2nd, 2015

People on Twitter are There For News

Image via API

Image via API

What Is It? A new study from the American Press Institute has some interesting stats on how people on Twitter read, engage with and share news on that network. In short, if you’re on Twitter you’re probably there at least in part to keep up with news, especially breaking news. Three quarters of people not only follow brand accounts but also the accounts of individual writers, reporters and journalists. They’re doing so across multiple devices, including their phones, and are doing so via their own or their friends’ Timelines, with far fewer using either search or referring to trends to find their news.

What Does This Mean? Twitter often gets knocked for, it seems, simply not being Facebook. The latter is still driving more traffic to websites, it claims a bigger user base, it brings in more ad revenue and so on. But breaking news is something Twitter does extremely well.

That was clear particularly last year when the two very different moments were happening more or less simultaneously: The riots in Ferguson, MO and the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The former was all people were talking about on Twitter for days, with news updates happening at all hours and commentary filling in the gaps between breaking news. It dominated people’s Timelines. But it was curiously absent from Facebook, which instead was filled with people’s Ice Bucket Challenge videos, which dominated Newsfeeds because they were tailor-made to be shared, liked and more that all fed into the algorithm.

This means that Twitter is the place to go for what’s happening now, to take the current pulse of the conversation. That’s not just the conversation about your brand or company but about the world. If it’s happening now, people are talking about it – and sharing it – on Twitter.

All that makes a robust and diverse Follower list essential. If you work in the entertainment industry, as an example, you shouldn’t just follow entertainment-related profiles and people. Follow people from other industries. Follow personal friends and others you find interesting, even if you don’t know them. That will enable you to instantly – even before you do a search or take any other actions – get at least a decent idea of what is happening in the outside world. “What” may range from something tragic like another mass shooting to something innocuous like people discussing Kermit the Frog’s new girlfriend.

If you need to be convinced why monitoring the news is a good idea there’s a bigger conversation that we may need to have. If you already know, make sure your Twitter monitoring is setup to to give you the best immediate insights possible.

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 Media, Social Networks

September 1st, 2015

Voce Student Essential Reading 9/1: Twitter Photo Editing Tools, Procrastination & More


Image via TechCrunch

Social Media

Google Brings Tweets To Desktop Search Results

“Back in May, Google and Twitter partnered to bring tweets into mobile search results. It was, and is, a pretty big deal for both companies. The relationship is apparently going well, as Google announced in a short update on its original blog post that it’d be including tweets within search results on desktop as well”

Voce Insight – This is just another reason to strengthen your presence on Twitter. When people search for you on Google, your tweets (and tweets about you) showing up is another sign that you have something positive to share and plays into your overall online reputation.

What New York Times Content Is Popular on Facebook?

“Every day, the New York Times chooses to post a number of their articles to their Facebook page. These posts may be broadcast to the feeds of the nearly 10 million Facebook users who have ‘liked’ the New York Times. A major factor in whether a post appears in a user’s feed is the number of their friends who “liked” or “shared” that post. The traffic generated through this process translates into advertising dollars, allowing the New York Times to create more content and remain profitable.”

Voce Insight – This is not to say that you should always write about Taylor Swift. This is to say that no post is a throwaway. No matter what you’re sharing, the demographics and tastes of your audience should always be taken into consideration. You may not be able to easily replicate data on this scale, but you can form some smaller findings to help you proactively plan your content.

Twitter Is Testing Funky New Photo And Video Editing Tools

“It looks like Twitter is planning to give its users a lot more creativity in the photo and video department soon. That’s according to numerous images posted by Taylor Swift, Pharrell Williams and others popstars, who appeared to have access to unreleased editing features from Twitter at MTV’s VMA awards show this weekend.”

Voce Insight – And now more Taylor Swift. As TechCrunch points out, this move from Twitter offers some photo editing tools Instagram does not have. Something to keep an eye on for community managers.

Public Relations

The Atlantic is returning to blogging

“Last night, the magazine launched Notes, a new section on its site that’s harkens back to the site’s earliest days when blogs featuring writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Andrew Sullivan, and Jeffery Goldberg were among its main draws. With an emphasis on shorter takes, quick-hit news, and reader engagement, The Atlantic is promoting Notes as its return to blogging, but 2015 style.”

Voce Insight – Whatever you decide the definition of a “blog” is, it has to involve reader engagement. A blog will always be a more intimate experience. That might be because it has one writer, a smaller audience, interactive content or other characteristics that lessen the distance between the writer and reader. The term “blog” also implies an immediacy and nimbleness that other formats don’t, something The Atlantic’s Notes seems to be embracing from the outset.


Slack Is Overrun With Bots. Friendly, Wonderful Bots

“Since Slack launched two years ago, it’s been the darling app, the hot new thing for intraoffice chat and organization. It perfectly combined the long-cherished interoperability of IRC and Hipchat with the trendy polish of Trello. Microsoft uses Slack. The New York Times uses Slack. Slack uses Slack.”

Voce Insight – If you’re starting agency life (or even if you aren’t) you’re more than likely going to run across an app like Slack in your job. However you and your colleagues use it, make sure it’s saving time and enabling human insight, which is something bots can’t yet match.

To Stop Procrastinating, Start by Understanding the Emotions Involved

“Putting off a work or school assignment in order to play videogames or water the plants might seem like nothing more serious than poor time-management. But researchers say chronic procrastination is an emotional strategy for dealing with stress, and it can lead to significant issues in relationships, jobs, finances and health.”

Voce Insight – Doing your future self a favor by working right away is easy enough in theory. Finding out how to trick your present self into actually doing it is harder.

Filed in Career Development

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