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Redefining the Customer Experience with AI

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Artificial Intelligence. It’s all around us.

Think Amazon suggestions, Spotify picking your next song, Google search answers, Netflix recommendations and the list goes on. From speech-powered personal assistants like Siri to voice compression algorithms and autonomous cars equipped with predictive abilities, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has come a long way.

AI refers to the simulation of human intelligence processes executed by machines. Indeed, its prevalence in our daily routines has made a significant difference in the world we live in today. Communications has also been greatly disrupted by the breakthrough of AI, slowly but surely.

Is AI taking over the world? To a certain extent, this might be true. While not everyone’s been enthusiastic about its rise, advances in AI have led to fundamental changes in the workplace. Leaders are rethinking how their businesses can be run with the help of AI’s powerful tools that can be applied to everything, from compliance to data collection, and streamlining processes to increase the overall level of efficiency.

However, AI should not be perceived as a Machiavellian robot scheming to end mankind. In fact, it can be the positive force behind the innovative transformations in our lives. In the world of public relations (PR), for example, AI has enabled brands to better interact and build deeper relations with key audiences. It would be a prodigious blunder to think that PR is on the brink of disappearing!

With AI, brands are able to leverage data sets to predict the reactions of the public more accurately and follow up with more targeted actions.

So, let’s pause for a cause and focus on the powerful combination of AI and PR working in synergy to better engage with your customers and grow your brand(s).

Consumer insights lead to improved astuteness

Good news for businesses – more information on consumers than ever before! With the most relevant and specific information on hand, brands can stay current with customers and quickly create personalised content to suit their specific interests and/or needs.

Through data collection across various channels, AI can successfully gather engagement metrics and conversion statistics. With data gathering tools, marketers can segment consumer metrics based on various factors like demographics and purchasing power.

Prior to AI, chunks of information without any organisation, otherwise known as big data, were used in businesses. It was difficult and extremely time-consuming to sieve through the information. With the help of AI, the deluge of data can now be digested into bite-sized information, enabling PR professionals to gain a better understanding of their audience’s core attributes through patterns and trends drawn from the data. The resulting encompassing patterns help professionals to discern customer preferences across a more intricate marketing strategy.

Tailored content options

AI is also redefining the customer experience by locking in consumers’ needs and wants, and improving their overall shopping experience. Have you ever noticed the content you see on your Facebook feed and news recommendations are all aligned with your interests? E-commerce platforms like Alibaba and Zalora also offer shopping that is highly personalised. Algorithms process articles by heavily scrutinising the locations of readers, what they engage in on social media as well as any other publicly obtainable information. Since the objective of AI is to find out what consumers are looking for and how they want their information to be reflected, it’s no surprise that AI is the mastermind behind all your tailored content options.

Still, professionals ought to be aware of not overstepping boundaries in the course of leveraging data to offer customised options. Customer privacy should not be compromised at the expense of creating more personalised experiences as doing so may backfire and result in consumers feeling as if their privacy is being invaded!

Higher consumer engagement with data-driven communication

Before AI came into existence, humans carried out mundane tasks like distribution of press releases and the creation of automated media lists. AI is now assisting with these duties, making it easier for businesses to reach out to target consumers directly. This can also help brands engage with the relevant target groups more efficiently than their competitors.

Given the rapid speed at which AI processes data, the accuracy of messaging is also increasing proportionally. This, in turn, helps PR professionals to ensure the delivery of strong and direct brand messaging to clients.

Advancements in AI technologies also contribute to determining predictive decisions of consumers based on the patterns detected. To better cater to the needs of the consumers, AI provides suggestions within a brand for the consumers. Since every consumer reacts differently to brand content and advertising, AI can help to tweak platform performance based on interactions with consumers and their purchases to improve each consumer’s shopping experience, using the data provided by social media interactions.

Crisis management

With the daily addition of content to the Internet – from blog posts to social media updates and netizen comments – AI plays an important role in comprehending the potential consequences of any crisis and acting as a pundit by giving professional guidance.

Predicting a crisis is difficult. Given a quick examination of social posts, AI can overcome this challenge. With ample caution, social media posts that have been pre-scheduled can be prevented from being posted automatically, and PR professionals can quickly “go into crisis management mode” and craft more suitable posts.

In the PR sphere, crisis management is, without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges. That being said, accurate information and communication-intensive efforts aid in identifying paramount events and topics – all of which cannot be achieved without AI.

With AI dominating the world we live in, there is always the fear that machines would replace humans one day. But let’s focus on the positive aspects of AI. Improved efficiency. Greater creativity. Optimized target consumers.

Posted by Shermaine Sim, CorpMedia

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Real-Time Marketing: Make or Break?

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Imagine a world without marketing. Brands would cease to exist, and the economy would probably collapse in no time. The world would be completely different.

Businesses today all speak marketing.

It’s all about developing brand awareness and utilizing different marketing channels to disseminate information to the public. With the advent of the Internet, digital marketing has shaped the marketing world greatly.

But real-time marketing is the new game changer.

What truly sets it apart from the rest is that it is opportunistic – marketers seize the opportunity to generate content that ties the brand to the latest trending topic of relevance, ensuring that it is not only pertinent, but felicitous too.

The tastes and preferences of consumers constantly change as well. The marketing industry is obsessed with the now, and consumers these days seek instant gratification, placing pressure on brands to be more forthcoming and transparent than they have ever been.

As real-time marketing continues to grow, brands are also keeping up with the trends by engaging the public with shareable, bite-sized content.

Leveraging the love for cheese fries amongst consumers, McDonald’s stepped up their French fries game with the launch of its Cheesy Loaded Fries just last December. Featuring its all-time favourite golden and crisp fries, topped with chicken bacon bits and drenched with nacho cheese and sour cream sauce, this limited edition side had garnered much hype.

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But, alas, dissatisfaction overwhelmed fry lovers who flocked to various chain outlets with great anticipation for the Cheesy Loaded Fries, and when the dish did not resemble anything as advertised, they vented their cheese-deprived anger on the fast food chain’s Facebook page.

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While McDonald’s expressed sincerity and was swift in responding to the complaints regarding the disparity between the advertised Cheesy Loaded Fries and its actual presentation, their efforts were evidently not adequate to satisfy cheesed off customers!

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Oops. Shots fired.

Instead of Cheesy Loaded Fries, all they got was Fully Loaded Disappointment… perhaps, with a miserable drizzle of cheese?

Expectations vs Reality Cheese Fries Macs

In light of this big hoo-ha, KFC Singapore cleverly turned the tables around as they identified this situation as a marketing opportunity and jumped on it to produce a timely and relevant piece of content, gaining both acknowledgement and commendation from the public.

KFC simultaneously introduced its new, improved cheese fries as “the real deal” using the hashtag #KFCRealCheeseFries. Indeed, what a timely post to remind Singaporeans why they love KFC’s cheese fries!

Now that’s what you call real-time marketing.

KFC Real Cheese Fries

Social media real-time marketing can make or break a brand. For KFC, it evidently made the brand, but it was clearly the contrary for McDonald’s. Another case in point: Cheerios.

When music legend Prince passed away in April 2016, Cheerios responded by tweeting a purple “Rest in peace” sign, replacing the dot above the letter ‘i’ with a cheerio, and tagging the tweet with the hashtag #prince.

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What started out purely as an innocent condolence message over the loss of an iconic musical legend in Minnesota on the part of Cheerios turned out to be a seemingly exploitative marketing gimmick in the eyes of the public, especially Twitter users.

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Compared to McDonald’s and Cheerios’ fiasco, KFC proved how real-time marketing, when used brilliantly and appropriately, can make the brand.

Here’s why their strategy worked:

  1. Timeliness

Consumers today care less for slow and disconnected experiences. Quick response time is a crucial factor they look out for in a brand. Brands should be able to respond to customers appropriately, by creating the right content that appeals to the right people, at the right time, and appropriately.

  1. Relevance

Context is equally important as content. Lacking in either one will not make the strategy work. In real-time marketing, brands often fail when they force themselves into conversations or trends that they have unfortunately little or no relevance in. What’s vital is to ensure your brand can be tied to what’s happening, with sensitivity and transparency. Failing which brands risk the wrath of the social media army!

Posted by Shermaine Sim, CorpMedia. 


Ready or Not, Here Comes 2018!

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The end of the year marks a threshold and invites a pause for reflection. It’s a great time to take stock of the year behind and look ahead. For CorpMedia, it’s been quite a ride! New challenges, new opportunities, new clients, new friends – we feel very blessed to be able to help our clients with creative ways to communicate their brand(s) and grow their business – by simply doing what we love!

But enough about us! Now, it’s all about getting ready for a brand new year. For most of us in the business, it’s communications planning season! Before you hit the road, en route to the month-long festivities and merriment, here are some end-of-the-year tips to make sure your 2018 plan hits the mark – and we will keep this short!

Future-proof your strategies: The one thing to remember is that while your plan may not be broken, change is necessary to keep up with evolving trends. Revisit old competitors. Explore emerging channels. Consider new technologies. Evaluate your processes and performance. Even small shifts in your communications strategy can benefit your business in a big way.

Listen to social conversations: Social media offers easy access to people’s opinions and behaviour. By intently following what your ideal customers are talking about and who they are interacting with on social media, you can gather a plethora of knowledge, such as how they perceive your brand, what qualities they look for in products and services. Social listening allows you to go to the heart of the discussion to hear what people are saying and what they are thinking.

Target your audience: Knowing the audience that you intend to communicate with is important. You can communicate until you’re blue in the face, but if your message falls on deaf ears, you’re just wasting your time, energy and effort. Research your market regularly. Start with the question “Who is my company’s ideal customer?” Be realistic – your customer can’t be everyone.

The right messaging: Today’s customers are just not into “buying things.” They are buying into solutions, e.g. expert advice, knowledge, experience, guidance. Your messaging should reflect this mindset. Are you solving problems with what you’re selling? Are you satisfying your client’s needs? Focus on what differentiates your brand from the competition and you will increase engagement with prospects, strengthen relationships with existing customers, and improve market value.

Set realistic goals: Prioritise and hone in on the two to three goals that must be achieved in a year that will contribute to your business growth and success. Resist the pressure to list anything that is immaterial, cannot be realistically achieved or accomplished. Remember, reality trumps aspiration!

Once you’ve developed your “buyer personas” you can then build your communications plan with purpose and direction, knowing who your target audiences are and how to reach them. Not only will this make your plan an easy sell to your team, it will make the entirety of your year much simpler and successful. With your ideal buyer in mind, crafting content, monitoring social media, conducting media outreach and implementing other communications tactics is streamlined and results-oriented.

After all, that is the kind of value you need to deliver, right?

To sign off, the team at CorpMedia would like to thank you for your business and support. Go out and have fun and close the year with a big bang – you deserve to! And here’s wishing one and all a fantastic new year ahead!

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


The Mighty Millennial

Millennial life

Caricatures have often represented Generation Y as a cohort of contradictions – the millennial is plugged in, yet notoriously distracted; engaged, but mostly in the realm of social networks; self-involved, yet can be enthusiastic advocates of social causes.

These multiple stereotypes, while not adequate (or entirely wrong!), highlight the broad tendencies of a group that makes up over a quarter of the global population. Understanding Gen Y’s unique experiences not only allows companies to better market their brands to this powerful target group, but can also help build meaningful, long-lasting connections.

But first, who are the millennials, what fuels them and what habits do they share?

Born between 1980 and the mid-1990s, Gen Y was bred on a diet of technology and grew up in a culture dominated by change, which largely explains their adeptness at embracing everything new and exciting. Socially liberal, experimental, and incredibly tech-savvy, the millennial cohort values being engaged, staying in the loop and immersing themselves in exceptional experiences.

This group of consumers is already reshaping the economy with their purchasing power, preference and influence. So how can businesses and marketers capture the millennial imagination? Here are some tips:

The Digital Natives

With technology as the pulse, it comes as no surprise that Gen Y thrives on virtual transactions and digital communications. Comfortable with using social media to broadcast their concerns, foster connections and educate themselves on products and services, millennials see social channels as repositories of “wisdom”, connecting them to peer reviews and trusted endorsements while allowing them to share opinions before committing to any form of purchase.

To effectively reach out to millennials, brands have to meet them where they are – this means operating across a multitude of social platforms with dexterity. Businesses need to actively engage millennials by responding quickly to queries and posting feedback on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the like; regularly upload multimedia content that can be easily shared (short, captioned videos are best at hooking viewers!); and leverage user-generated content to build brand awareness and loyalty.

Given Gen Y’s affinity for technology and interactivity, a static digital presence is no longer sufficient. Marketing that optimises the word-of-mouth culture, exciting interfaces and visual languages, and mobile-friendly promotional media is key to capturing and sustaining the attention of  millennials.

Provide the Ultimate Experience

While the generation that preceded them was more focused on living in preparation for the future, millennials are generally associated with living for the now. Gen Y favours spending money on experiences rather than material possessions. In their search for great experiences, millennials often forego some of the basic luxuries to get the most value out of their dollar.

Millennials’ spending habits have since given rise to the sharing economy, resulting in the growth of businesses like Airbnb, Grab and Uber. These companies, through their shared products and services, remove the burden of ownership, and simultaneously help users save on expenditures.

With information, reviews and cost comparisons at their fingertips, millennials are inclined to trawling online resources before deciding on products or services that promise incomparable experiences at the best prices. Brands can deliver special deals and product trials on social channels and apps to appeal to this consumer base. Events or offerings that seek the involvement of millennials will also make it easier for brands to resonate with this group.

Sell Your Purpose

Millennials are known to take up or advocate a plethora of social issues, and expect brands to do the same. Companies should look beyond marketing products that enhance lifestyles, but seek to connect with Gen Y on an emotional level. Millennials care about content that speaks to them, and if brands similarly promote values that they uphold. Immune to most traditional sales pitches (they’ve seen it all!), millennials are likely to use their buying power to support businesses that stand for more than their bottom line receives.

Above all, marketing messages have to be authentic. Many businesses have seen how a forced relationship with a cause or the lack of genuineness can backfire. Take a leaf out of Patagonia, TOMS and Heineken’s books – all great examples of brands that have successfully delivered impactful cause marketing campaigns.

Businesses have to first invest in understanding millennials before they can take advantage of their immense social clout. By directly addressing the millennial generation and recognising what they truly care about, brands will be able to spark a connection and effectively sustain consumer-centric conversations.

Posted by Rahimah Amin, PR Executive, CorpMedia


Hit Me with Your Best Shot!

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Instagram recently surpassed the 700 million user mark and that deserves a huge “Wow!” If you’re wondering about who, what, when, where, why and how, then you only need to look to Mark Zuckerberg. No one gets it better than Mark. By investing heavily in Facebook products such as Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Instragram, he’s created an ecosystem where millions of people get to connect and share their stories online every day.

But enough about Mr Zuckerberg, let’s get back to the Wow. With more than 700 active million users per month, Instagram offers a large gathering of followers that can benefit your business. These followers could very well become your customers, so they’re worth pursuing. Especially since Insta users have shown that they’re ready to engage with businesses within and outside of the app. More than 80 percent of users follow at least one business, and over 120 million users visit a website, get directions, call, email or direct message a business every month from the app.

Instagram is all about being seen, and which business wouldn’t want to increase their visibility, right? More visibility means new users finding, following and engaging with you, and yes – eventually buying from you. The key to increased visibility is to expand your reach.

 There are three basic elements to bear in mind when looking to increase reach and promote growth: content, caption, time.  It’s all about creating a voice behind the brand, producing engaging content, and building a relationship with your followers.

Engagement on Instagram is not so easy as it’s a rather isolated space, compared to other platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, where interactions happen publicly. If someone were to comment on a Instagram post, chances are you won’t see it unless you’re following that brand or if they tag you.

If you’re planning to use Instagram to grow your brand or business, it’s important to develop a good marketing strategy that will help keep you on track along the way. You will soon realize that follower engagement plays a vital role in growing your Instagram account as well as your brand. While there’s no magic formula to getting more followers, here is a list of tactics that will be helpful along the way.

  1. If you want a massive Insta following, you need to be posting high quality content (photos and video) ALL of the time – not just post randomly or once every week or so.
  2. Write descriptive captions. Storytelling will help generate engagement and sharing.
  3. Interact with top influencers; aim to become one of their favourite people or brands.
  4. Promote your dedicated hashtag on your other social media profiles, on your website, and your email blast.
  5. Get creative with your hashtags. Be funny, be outrageous. Be different but not boring!
  6. Scan for relevant topics and trending hashtags. Join these conversations to get in front of more people.
  7. Emojis are becoming a universal mode of expression. Nearly 50 percent of all captions and comments on Instagram now have an emoji or two. Make sure you use the right emoji to convey your message.
  8. Cross-promote your Instagram account and content on other social channels.
  9. Use your weblink to drive traffic to your newest or most popular content.
  10. Use the call-to-action buttons such as Shop Now and Install Now, as people will be able to learn about a product or service and take action directly from an ad to sign up on a website, buy a product, or download an app.

Many businesses still struggle on Instagram or avoid it entirely, because they don’t find the site intuitive and they aren’t sure how to actually build a list of active, engaged followers. Not utilizing the network could be a huge mistake for a business as an established Instagram profile with a lot of followers can open up opportunities to establish your brand as a trusted authority within your industry, promote your business and increase sales. So give it a shot!

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


The Rise of the Influencers

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Just last year, Instagram hit an incredible milestone of 600 million users. Combined with the recent launch of Instagram Live and the wildly successful Promoted Posts in 2013, Instagram’s strategic focus on Influencer Marketing is making waves in the world of digital marketing.

Over the past three years, Google Trends observed a steady decline in print advertising. Within the same period, influencer marketing has steadily grown in popularity and is quickly narrowing the gap with video advertising. To date, AdWeek reports that 94% of marketers believe in the strategic effectiveness of influencer marketing, with most spending between USD25,000 and USD50,000 for an influencer campaign.

Why?

The Rise of AdBlock

In December of 2016, Apple released the iOS 9 for its chain of devices. With the new software came the added support for AdBlock – a program to block banner advertisements on websites and social media platforms alike. In the same year, Digital News reported that 47% of online consumers used ad-blocks. What was once a program solely used by experts in the field had now become mainstream, throwing marketers into a frenzy of re-evaluating their monetizing and advertising strategies.

Growing Immune to Traditional Advertisements

Traditional marketing strategies have also spiralled downward in terms of actual effectiveness. In the past, brands paid an average of USD5 million for a 30-second commercial between breaks of primetime telecasts. Today however, consumers are rarely glued to the screens of their TVs, with only 14% remembering the last ad they saw, reports Leverage Marketing.

Rethinking and Realigning Content

Navigating through these changing tides of marketing, brands recognize the need to adopt strategies that incorporate their products into popular content that is being consumed on social media. In this day and age, it’s all about “integrating a customer’s attention organically with a product or a service” and fortunately for most brands, influencer marketing offers the solution to all their problems.

Word-of-Mouth 2.0

In 2015, a study by Nielsen revealed that 84% of consumers perceived recommendations from friends and families as the most trustworthy factor in their purchasing decisions. Influencer marketing similarly uses the age-old Word-of-Mouth strategy, except that recommendations extend beyond people within our social circles to include influencers – key individuals on social media who are recognized as experts within their specific fields.

To put it simply: “People listen to the people they trust, and the people they trust are relatable people”.

Traditional celebrities are removed from their audiences. Whether on stage or on movie screens, celebrities present carefully constructed caricatures from behind glass walls. Therefore, many idolize and admire them from afar, but very rarely are celebrities relatable to the average Joe.

Comparatively, influencers appear to present themselves as they are, making them more approachable, relatable, and trustworthy. Before selling a product, brands in the modern market are selling trust.

Strategic Marketing

From garnering higher click rates to conversions, it may be tempting to jump on the bandwagon of influencer marketing. But before you do, here are some tips:

  1. Understand Your Audience
    If you are operating in a niche market, working with the most popular influencers may not be your best bet. Instead, look for experts in your field to garner a higher level of engagement as a result of hyper-targeting loyal audiences.
  2. Allow Room for Personal Creativity
    Influencers have amassed large followings because of their unique content and voice. Dictating and limiting them excessively results in just another “advertisement.” Listen to them because they know their audience better.
  3. Fostering Long-term Relationships
    From an audience’s perspective, it becomes harder to believe someone who switches teams regularly than someone who frequently posts about the same brand. When done well, audiences are less likely to see it as product placement, and more of the influencer’s personal brand.

Posted by Roselynda Afandi, CorpMedia


The Russians are Coming!

fake news

Between fake news, fake apps, and “alternative” facts, there seems to be no let-up in the barrage of misleading and outright false messaging. Fake news is not new, but its amplification through social media gives it a new dimension, causing it to become more pervasive. Unlike the PR spin, fake news is completely and intentionally made up. And because of the false narrative, a slight blend of truth to a story can make it difficult to discern the accuracy of its claims. Not surprisingly, this has created an opportunity to influence and exploit for political or personal gains.

Social media has rapidly become an integral part of all of our lives – it is the primary source for news and updates. The epidemic of fake news and alternative facts spread quickly like wildfire on social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter – reaching tens of millions of people in milliseconds!  If you use any social media platform (duh!), you’ve probably been hit by some of these. Information doesn’t need to be true or funny to go viral – it can be a half-truth or even an outright lie.

Sometimes it may be something that fits a certain narrative that we have in our mind about a person or organization and we want so much for it to be true that we fall for it. On the other hand, a story is so outrageous that it’s easy to spot. No more was this more evident than during the 2016 US elections. Let’s see – “Hillary Clinton has brain Damage!”; “Pope Francis endorses Donald Trump!”; “Democrats to impose Sharia Law in Florida!”

Algorithms are part of what spreads fake news – because false stories which become popular can be pushed out by the software that runs social networks. But some programmers think computer code could also be part of the solution.

Google and Facebook have announced measures to combat fake viral stories online. Google has added a new feature, i.e. Fact Check (https://techcrunch.com/2017/04/07/fact-check-the-world-is-flat/) to Search and News to identify news reports as having been fact-checked by other news publishers and fact-checking organizations. Facebook is testing a new tool, located at the top of the News Feed to users in 14 countries (http://www.ubergizmo.com/2017/04/facebook-creates-new-tool-to-combat-fake-news/).  It is an educational project intended to help people spot and stop fake news from going viral.

Advertisers can help to solve this issue by paying closer attention to where their ads run and the environment in which their brand messages appear. For publications and news outlets – once the financial incentives for running click-bait, fake headlines disappear – the number of false news stories will decline.

What Can We Do?

  1. Beware the click bait: One way that fake news gets amplified or sensationalized is because busy readers may not look past the headline before they decide to share an article. Go through the whole article – you may find that it actually has nothing to do with the headline!
  2. Check out the news outlet: To trust or not to trust? Again, go beyond the pop-ups and loud ads. Google a site’s name and check out similar articles on various sites to determine if it’s trustworthy. Pay close attention to URL names of pages that look suspect to make sure that it’s not a spam site pretending to be a trusted source.
  3. Who’s the author: Looking at the writer of an article can reveal a lot of information about the news source. Searching through the author’s previous articles can show whether they are a legitimate journalist or have a history of “misleading and false” articles.
  4. Know your source: A lack of links or sources for claims in an article is an obvious red flag that the post may be false. Fake sites also provide numerous links to sites that appear to back up their claims, but are themselves spreading misinformation.
  5. Photos or photo-shopped: It’s common to take a photo from one event and say it is from another. Images can also be altered for a certain story. Reverse image searches on Google, Facebook, and TinEye can help you find where an image originated.
  6. Fact-check and verify: People are often drawn to stories that reinforce the way they see the world and how they feel about certain issues. It’s important to check that news stories are based on fact, rather than sharing them because they support one side of an argument to bolster belief or support.

Can We Ever Escape Fake News?

Unfortunately, there’s no one simple solution but we can start by not sharing stories just because they make us mad or tug at our heartstrings. News rightly gets an emotional rise out of us when a story is true, but when it’s false, that emotion can give power to baseless accusations and sow seeds of doubt. We can probably never escape it all together. But it’s up to each of us to use our intellect and common sense.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Managing Your Reputation

In an increasingly digital age, online conversation plays a huge role in shaping brand opinion and anybody with an Internet connection can be a potential contributor. Your online reputation is accessible with a click and you can be sure that at any time, someone, somewhere, is going to turn on a device and check into a search engine to find out all they can about you.

When prospects encounter negative content related to a brand, they are likely to switch to a competitor, resulting in lost leads and sales for your company. The correlation between a brand’s reputation and its sales is different for each industry and unique to each field, but the link is painfully obvious to those brands that have fallen into disrepute or those personal brands that have fallen out of favour with the mainstream media often caused by negative reviews.

It’s not just your customers who will search online for information about you but the media, business partners, prospective employees, and even personal contacts. If you don’t protect yourself and your business, someone can easily post a comment, create a blog post, promote your competition or worse. The results of a negative online reputation can be as subtle as a potential customer clicking on a competitor’s search result instead of yours or it can be as damaging as an industry-wide boycott of your products or services. Case in point – the recent #GrabYourWallet boycott that saw US retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Sears, among others, drop the Ivanka Trump clothing line.

With increasing numbers of people turning to online resources for information, how does a business take ownership of their online reputation? Taking a proactive approach is the way to go. Managing your online reputation is not only a means of defence but it is also best practice.

Here, we share key initiatives that are integral to an effective brand reputation management strategy:

Public Relations: A strong PR program positions you as a thought leader and expert resource in your field in major newspapers, business and trade publications, and social media platforms. As a critical component to successful brand reputation management, PR can improve brand perception, manage negative sentiments, share positive customer opinion, and increase your web presence. A professional PR team can also secure high profile speaking engagements and opportunities (online or onsite) to promote your brand and gain top mind share.

Social Media: Social media is an integral part of brand reputation management. It’s a great way to make your business accessible, personable and focused on the customer. Being active on social media gives companies the opportunity to monitor their social reputation, as well as to act and react accordingly. Social media listening tools, like Hootsuite, SocialMention and Radian6 can research and collect user generated content such as blogs, comments, reviews, and alert a business of any negative conversation going on.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO strategies put you at the top of search engine results, where customers are searching for resources and solutions to real-time problems. If you are not present where consumers are searching, you will be left behind to competitors who are there. Leveraging strategic keywords and useful content can help to drive more web traffic and increase sales that are essential for your company’s strong brand reputation.

Content Marketing: Raising awareness about the brand through content marketing tools like white papers, blogs, targeted article contributions, and industry research reports can help in a company’s brand reputation management. Producing lead-generating content across an array of channels raises awareness about your brand and your products. By positioning your company as an informative industry source on topics your audience is interested in, you will gain more website visitors and potential customers.

Website Development: Designing a website that’s easy to navigate, with interesting and user-friendly features will definitely help a business in its reputation management. It’s important to make sure that the website works in tandem to the needs of customers – this helps them find relevant information easily and quickly. A strong website not only enhances a company’s online image but also helps to grow brand loyalty.

In the hustle and bustle of normal business operations, it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of brand reputation management and its impact on corporate growth. But lack of brand reputation management can significantly and negatively impact an organisation’s overall success.

It takes time to tackle these crises and turn the ship around, but such issues can be fixed with an appropriate online reputation management strategy. Clear, achievable goals will help restore your company’s good name and keep your business reputation clean.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia


Ignorance is Not Bliss!

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Social media has become interwoven in the fabric of our lives. It’s no longer simply a way we communicate; it’s becoming the way we communicate.

In just over a decade, social media has completely and forever altered the way we communicate, acquire news and information, make purchasing decisions, and interact with the world. It has changed the way in which brands market themselves and conduct business.

In fact, social media is completely inextricable from the online landscape, and practically every single person you have ever known in your life is reachable with a single click of a button. Think about it!

  • Social media users now account for two-thirds of all global Internet users.
  • There are 2.3 billion active users on social media platforms – that’s 31% of the entire world’s population.
  • The average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day, accounting for 28% of the total time spent on the Internet.

Millennials use social media extensively. The Gen-Zers use it for a mind-boggling 9 hours a day! Mobile devices and the mentality of being constantly connected serve to further enhance this trend.

Despite the evolution and these staggering stats however, smaller brands and businesses still don’t see the value in investing in their social media presence or spending money on social media advertising. Social media is not a novel accessory. It must be embraced as an essential component of an integrated digital marketing strategy to succeed in today’s marketplace. For those who are still pondering over the “why” of social media, here’s a quick reminder as to what can be achieved when using social media for business.

Attach No Strings

Social media is the perfect platform to share tips, facts, resources and your own expertise in a format that will provide value to others. And the best part is you get to share this information, and build new relationships, with no strings attached. If you genuinely want to help others and enhance your credibility at the same time, offer value-added information to your readers, followers and connections that don’t include a link to a product or service.

Break through Boundaries

Many businesses rely on local traffic, or the physical presence of customers to make sales and succeed. Whether you are a brick-and-mortar business or an online entrepreneur, social media helps erase the boundaries of community and borders. If your products or services are something that can be offered or provided online, then the world becomes your potential customer base, and social media helps connect you with them.

Educate and Upgrade

Long gone are the days of enrolling in a class and losing an entire day of work in order to gain knowledge and education that will help grow your business. Today’s online world offers up a plethora of online learning, classes, courses and eBooks that allow education and growth within a few keystrokes. The Internet affords business professionals all over the world the luxury of learning at your desk. More education and skills make you a better leader and teacher for those around you. With educational programs being promoted through social media and often conducted on online platforms, it’s easier than ever to keep up-to-date with our skills and business education.

Connect with Peers

It’s easier than ever to connect with like-minded business owners thanks to social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Competition is a healthy thing, and like it or not, many of us could learn a thing or two from our business peers and direct competitors. Social media allows growing businesses to observe other businesses and learn what works for them, and what doesn’t.

Embrace the Visual

Now that you’ve found them, you need to attract them. Brand your accounts clearly – you’re fighting to get noticed among millions, so to avoid getting lost in the abyss you need to stand out. Use appealing header images and profile photos, and write an informative and engaging bio that not only explains who you are and what you do, but also gives an idea of what they can expect from your channel. Three of the “newest” social networks, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat, are based entirely on images. So why aren’t you leveraging the visual when promoting your content? Create not only a branded “featured image” to share with your post, but also create separate images for each of the main points in your content so they can be shared when you repeatedly post them to social media.

The important giveaway about social media is that there are many tools out there today – blogging, Twitter, Wikis, smart media releases, Facebook, LinkedIn, to name just a few. You don’t have to utilize them all – start small, keep going and you won’t be left behind.

Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media


Socially Speaking, It’s all About the Dating Game

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Successful social marketing depends on planning. Planning ahead leads to higher quality content by allowing adequate time for research and execution, and ensures that you’re engaging your audience consistently and effectively.

Using a content calendar provides numerous benefits beyond basic scheduling. A calendar can be used for all aspects of your marketing strategy, including identifying your target audience, planning and goal setting, and tracking resources. Think of it as a shareable resource that marketing teams can use to plan all the content marketing activity. The benefit of using the calendar format, rather than a long list of content to be published, is that you can visualize how your content is distributed throughout the year. This allows you to plan content around key events in your industry or important dates; identify and fill gaps in your marketing plan; and make sure you have your content ready way before it’s published.

Well, January 2017 just passed us by in a wink of an eye. But don’t despair! It’s still not too late to start planning for the rest of the year. Here are some tips to get you started.

Develop a Solid Strategy

A content marketing calendar should organize the way you curate and create content, and help develop your editorial strategy. The calendar cuts extra time out of your marketing strategy and helps you allocate your resources wisely to help ensure your brand consistently publishes high-quality, well-written, high-performing content pieces.    

Before you build a content calendar though, bear in mind that it is more than just a schedule with deadlines. As with any marketing plan, you need to identify your target audience, which can include existing and potential customers. Knowing your audience will help determine what social media channels and types of content are most appropriate for your business. You can also get a sense of your audience by evaluating which of your social profiles are receiving the most traffic.

Key question: Who do you want to sell your product or service to? Your calendar should map out content that factors in the big picture, and how your efforts can drive real results.

Build your Content Team

The success of implementing your content strategy hinges on an important, but often overlooked group of people: your content team. These people will be responsible for the successful ideation and execution of your content needs.

You should identify at least 3 key players in the group:

  • Content strategistSomeone who is able to see the big picture and develop the script, including editorial strategy tasks like writing brand stories and/or style guidelines. A good content strategist (in-house or external) will always begin with an audit of your current content marketing efforts, then compare those to what you want to achieve and create a strategy to fill in the gaps.
  • Writers Ah, the creative force behind the content team! They’re the ones you rely on to conjure up creative ideas and capture the magic of storytelling through your brand voice.
  • CoordinatorsA good coordinator can be your key to scaling content. This is the person who keeps track of all the details from vetting and managing freelancers to making sure that someone really did add the alt text to all those images!

Peaks and Troughs

When developing a content marketing calendar, be sure to consider major events that fall within the publishing cycle, and reserve slots for disseminating relevant content coinciding with these dates. For example, you may have ideas for e-blasts or blog posts that the team can publish to help create publicity for a conference that your company is organizing. Incorporating these into your schedule makes sure that you flesh out your calendar with targeted and timely content that matters to your business.

Identifying peaks and lulls, meanwhile, helps you create and distribute content appropriately. Instead of overstretching your resources or being idle during gap periods, it commits you to producing a consistent cache of content that continues to build on your brand’s expertise.

Repurpose, Redistribute, Repromote

As you source for great content, don’t forget about the materials that are readily available and yet, underutilized. For instance, presentation slides from past workshops could be refreshed and repurposed into multimedia posts, and data from company white papers could be adapted into infographics. Pumping your calendar with unexploited assets would certainly ease the strain of having to frequently brainstorm for novel ideas. You can also redistribute relevant content to new and existing audiences to help attract attention. It could be quality information that may not have broken through initially; or perhaps it needed another context.

Check out time-saving curation tools like Scoop.it and Feedly that can aggregate all the topics and publications that resonate best with your brand, and help facilitate your content discovery process.

Without question, having everyone on the same page can improve productivity and help keep track of the different timelines for various assignments. With a dedicated content calendar, marketing teams can strategically align content with business goals, and anticipate the adjustments needed to meet benchmarks.

Posted by Irene Gomez, Corporate Media