THINK DIFFERENT[LY]: 13 Public Relations, Marketing and Social Media Predictions For 2013

It’s the time of year for making predictions on the trends in PR, marketing and social media, so I wanted to throw my two cents in to the discussion.  Here’s what I think will happen in the next twelve months, and why.

  • Skepticism about the commercial value of social media marketing will grow.  Social media marketing will go the way of public relations in 2013, with an increasing number of marketeers asking what the return on investment is for social media.  I predict the social media marketing ‘industry’ will spend much of the year attempting to adequately answer the question.
  • Unfollow me.  Businesses will understand the value of small focused groups on Twitter, rather than simply on follower acquisition for the sake of it – Ryan Bingham style!
  • Brands will actively start discouraging ‘likes’ on Facebook.  A like is just a like.  I like expensive Italian sports cars but, realistically, I’m not going to buy one – at least not next year.  Brands will start asking their social media experts to focus activity on smaller groups that are actually in the market for the product or services they sell.
  • Facebook will add a ‘buy’ button.  In an attempt to demonstrate its value to brands Facebook will add a ‘buy’ button allowing businesses to link posts to products.
  • People will stop liking Facebook.  Users, investors, advertisers, brands… Facebook users will start to dwindle in 2013 and they’ll spend less and less time on the network.
  • Video will be huge.  An increasing number of companies will start using video as their primary communications channel.  I’ve long said that Google Hangouts are the next ‘killer’ social application, but video in every form is going to be the go-to channel in 2013.
  • Social Media Marketing will be about marketing, not social media.  As more companies realize that social media without the marketing foundation is folly, so more companies will spend dollars on the strategy and less on the social implementation.
  • Many social media ‘experts’ will get found out.  I predict many a social media guru will fall in 2013 as its discovered that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
  • Public Relations will still fail to demonstrate value.  The majority of firms will still spend many billable hours trying to figure out how they justify their monthly fees.
  • A la carte PR and marketing will become increasingly popular.  More businesses will move to hourly billing models based on results rather than paying expensive monthly PR retainers.
  •  Content marketing will continue to grow.  And, continue to be done badly by the majority.  Millions of marketing dollars will be spent on content that does more damage to a business than it does to help close a deal.
  • Brand Journalism will continue to grow.  But 2013 won’t be its year.  Continued failures of social media promotion may make brand journalism the big ‘thing’ in 2014 though.
  • Self-serving social networks will be exposed.  Groups of people who use various platforms to falsely inflate each others influence will be shown for what they are.  Businesses will value relevance rather than simply influence, per se.

I’ll be writing more about these topics in the coming weeks.  I’d love to hear your predictions and what you think to mine.  What do you think the biggest public relations, marketing or social media trend will be?

The Views Expressed Are Mine AND Those Of My Employer

“Views expressed are mine and not those of my employer” is a phrase that appears in many twitter profiles – and it’s meaningless.  Whether the individual promotes the company they work for – as is often the case – or it’s just that your followers know who you work for, the views and opinions expressed on an individuals twitter account can be associated with an employer.

It may not be the view of the company but, they if employed somebody with the views being express and, rightly or wrongly, may be associated with them – whether the individual claims ownership or not.  Brand is, after all about perception – not reality and if a company is perceived to have employees with particular opinions the image of that company could be impacted by the views of the individuals they employ.

So, before you tweet, remember that EVERYTHING you say could be perceived to be the view of your employer – whether you intend it to, or not.

More Marketing Mythbusters posts

#1 | Most Marketing is Promotion

#2 | One-size-fits-all ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Marketing Strategies Don’t Work

#3 | Content Is NOT King

#4 | Three Myths About Brand

#5 | Own Your Niche [Don’t Create A New One]

#6 | Focus On The Marketing, Not The Social Media

#7 | Is A ReTweet An Endorsement?

Is A Retweet An Endorsement?

RT, Retweet, Endorsement
Is a RT an endorsement?

I see this on so many journalist and influencer twitter profiles and often wonder why they feel the need to make the point.  A RT was never intended to be an endorsement.

The only conclusion I’ve come to is that they believe that every piece of content or information they share on twitter has added weight by their sharing it… and they’re so influential that they only want to endorse the things that choose.  I’m just not sure how they differentiate between the things they think they don’t endorse and the things they do, since I rarely see overt recommendations from these people.  Perhaps there’s a secret tweet code [social media’s equivalent of a handshake] that only the cool kids understand.

Let’s be clear about what a RT really is: it’s a way to pass on information. Period.

It’s a social media way of  something we all do.  It’s a way of saying, ‘did you hear…’ or ‘I thought this was interesting’, on twitter.  I’m not suggesting that you should believe what they say, nor am I agreeing with or endorsing it.  I’m simply sharing what they said. You might find it interesting!

More Marketing Mythbusters posts

#1 | Most Marketing is Promotion

#2 | One-size-fits-all ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Marketing Strategies Don’t Work

#3 | Content Is NOT King

#4 | Three Myths About Brand

#5 | Own Your Niche [Don’t Create A New One]

#6 | Focus On The Marketing, Not The Social Media

#8 | Disclaimer: Everything You Say Is The View Of Your Employer

Focus on the marketing, not the social media

There are ‘experts’ in just about everything marketing-related these days.  I see profiles, books, articles and receive emails that talk about social media marketing; Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest strategies, authentic, viral, influencer… you name it, there’s somebody that will try to convince you that they can help you market your business using one social media tool or another.

In reality, any of the flavours of ‘marketing aren’t’ – they are promotion – and anybody that tells you to focus more on prefix than on the suffix [the social media rather than the marketing] needs to be treated with extreme caution.  Aside from the fact that the majority clearly don’t understand the relationship between marketing and promotion  [promotion is one of the original 4Ps or marketing] the focus on one [or all] social platform won’t help you if you haven’t got the other 3Ps worked out.  They will also not help if your proposition is wrong, your message doesn’t work with your target audience, your product needs work or the delivery platform is the wrong one.

Ask yourself, when was the last time you heard any of these social media marketing experts talking about  Price, Product or Place… let alone message, proposition, target audience [in terms that are specific to a business…].  I’m not going to say they never do, just that I don’t remember the last time I actually heard a social media marketing ‘expert’ mention one of them – let alone all of them.

So, next time somebody tells you that social media marketing is the silver bullet for your business ask them how they can help you with the marketing, not just the social media.  If they look confused [or alarmed] call me – I can help.

More Marketing Mythbusters posts

#1 | Most Marketing is Promotion

#2 | One-size-fits-all ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Marketing Strategies Don’t Work

#3 | Content Is NOT King

#4 | Three Myths About Brand

#5 | Own Your Niche [Don’t Create A New One]

#7 | Is A ReTweet An Endorsement?

#8 | Disclaimer: Everything You Say Is The View Of Your Employer

Own Your Niche [Don’t Create A New One]

Before it can rule the world a business must first own its niche.  This, however, far too often translated in to ‘create a new niche so we can own it’, and this is where far too many companies get in to difficulties.

The belief, wrongly, is that by creating a new niche where a company is the only player they can legitimately claim to be the leader [more about this in a future post] and differentiate themselves.  While creating a new niche allows a business a point of differentiation, it also creates additional and unnecessary work to educate your target audience what value the new niche offers them over the already accepted niche.

Once this has been achieved the task of persuading them that the product or service offered is better than any other on the market. The problem is that by creating a new sub-niche a business alerts competitors that it is trying to steal a march on them.  By the time the re-education process has been completed [which usually takes six to nine months] the competition has found ways to close the gap between their product and the new kid on the block.

The result? A business has spent time and money creating a new niche only for its competitors to find ways to compete with you in it. So, rather than creating a new niche [a sub-niche] why not just spend more time working out how demonstrate why your target audience should buy your product or service over the competition.

If you need to create a new niche in order to do it you might want to revisit your proposition.

More Marketing Mythbusters Posts

#1 | Most Marketing is Promotion

#2 | One-size-fits-all ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Marketing Strategies Don’t Work

#3 | Content Is NOT King

#4 | Three Myths About Brand

#6 | Focus On The Marketing, Not The Social Media

#7 | Is A ReTweet An Endorsement?

#8 | Disclaimer: Everything You Say Is The View Of Your Employer

The Day The Media Got It Wrong [and the lesson it must learn from it]

The first thing I learned in J School was that being first to break a story was what every journalist strived for.  The second thing was that being first and wrong was just being wrong.  This was a challenge back in the 1990s when the internet was in its infancy; in a world of 24-hour rolling news and real-time internet it must be an almost impossible job.  Nevertheless, these qualities must be upheld otherwise it’s not journalism – it’s just rumour spreading.

Back in the 90s my News Editors wouldn’t have let me anywhere near a studio, let alone a live microphone, unless I could prove the accuracy of the information from two independent, and reliable, sources.  One had to be a news agency and, in many cases, the other had to be the police or other authority.  She’d rather be second than be wrong.  Getting it wrong not only brings in to question the future credibility of the news outlet, but is also fraught with legal difficulties.

There have been examples of news networks getting things wrong before: the wrong winners have been declared in US Presidential elections based on incorrect exit poll data, death tolls are often printed wrong and minor details of evolving stories are mis-reported  but, if as appears to be the case today, the perpetrator of a crime in Newtown, CT. is wrongly identified then it’s time the industry took a long hard look at itself and remembers the second rule of journalism.  If you’re first but wrong, you’re just wrong.

Three Myths About Brand

I’ve been to a number of events recently where people have been talking about brand – how to create it, how to manage it and the importance of it.  Not once have I actually heard an accurate description of what brand is… of the last three presentations I’ve seen on the topic one didn’t mention this at all, one touched on it and the third just got it wrong.

Let’s deal with some of the myth’s of branding:

Myth #1: Your brand is what a company says and thinks about itself.  It’s not!

The second myth of brand: It can be created by marketing.  It can’t [at least not directly].

Brand myth #3: you can trade on your brand.  You can’t! [Well, you can, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a strategy!]

Your brand is what your various audiences [or publics] associate with your logo, your website, your adverts, your company name.  Your brand may differ between audiences [the truth is that you may want it to differ] depending on your relationship with that audience. For example, you may want your customers to think you are an edgy and progressive company, but want investors to see you as conservative and financially prudent… a safe pair of hands.

Brand is not something that can be defined by a company’s marketing department.  It can’t tell people what to think about your company [although some try].  A business uses promotion and public relations to try to convince them to see your company in the way that you want them to but, ultimately, you there is no way for it to dictate how audiences perceive its brand through marketing alone.

The truth is that everything a company does impacts on your brand.  The way it communicates, the quality of your product and service, the interactions between staff members and a company’s various publics, the way it looks [everything from your logo to the way in-store representatives are dressed].  The extent to which a company lives and breathes the values that are the foundation of the company will also determine its brand.

I’ll write more about understanding and managing a brand in future posts, but if you want to know what your company’s brand is my advice is to ask your publics.  If the response does not match with the way you’d like your company to be seen drop me a line to lyndon@thinkdifferently.ca. 

 More Marketing MythBusters posts

#1 | Most Marketing is Promotion

#2 | One-size-fits-all ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Marketing Strategies Don’t Work

#3 | Content Is NOT King

#5 | Own Your Niche [Don’t Create A New One]

#6 | Focus On The Marketing, Not The Social Media

#7 | Is A ReTweet An Endorsement?

#8 | Disclaimer: Everything You Say Is The View Of Your Employer

Why Content IS NOT King

If you believe the marketing ‘experts’ Content in King – and content marketing is going to be huge in 2013.  It makes sense when you think about it – the objective of most marketeers is to get coverage that promotes their product, service or company. Historically this was via the press [print and, more recently, online], but with the advent of blogs companies get to be their own publishers.  They can create as much content as they like at, relatively, low-cost – and often bypass those unpredictable, sometimes grumpy [the perception, not the truth] and ill-informed [because why would they not want to write about MY company?!] journalists!

But think about it.  If content were really King then the New York Times Bestseller list would be filled with 1000 page War and Peace-style tomes, email marketing wouldn’t be so universally loathed, click-through rates wouldn’t be so low, companies wouldn’t be face with increasing the volume of inbound leads in order to meet new customer numbers. The problem is that most marketing content is promotional content – and it stinks!

Content is NOT King and the sooner marketeers start to understand that the more effective their marketing will become.  Content is only King if  it delivers the right message, to the right audience, at the right time, in an appropriate format and is delivered via the right mechanism/channel. This applies whether it’s a press release, an email marketing piece, a billboard advertisement, a print ad, an online video, a webinar, a blog post, a white paper, TV spot… and it’s why the likes of TechCrunch, The Financial Times, The New York Times, Gawker, Mashable and The Sun have loyal readers that come back day after day, after day!  They deliver good quality content that their readers want to consume in the right way [most publications now offer print, online, mobile and iPad/tablet apps] – if all they did was talk about themselves it’s unlikely they’d keep their readers very long!

So, next time somebody tells you that content is King… don’t believe a word of it!

Read more Marketing Mythbusters…

#1 | Most Marketing is Promotion

#2 | One-size-fits-all ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Marketing Strategies Don’t Work

#3 | Content Is NOT King

#4 | Three Myths About Brand

#5 | Own Your Niche [Don’t Create A New One]

#6 | Focus On The Marketing, Not The Social Media

#7 | Is A ReTweet An Endorsement?

#8 | Disclaimer: Everything You Say Is The View Of Your Employer

One-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter PR and marketing strategies don’t work

… and I’d give a wide berth to anybody that says otherwise.

Contrary to the many emails I get from ‘experts’ every day, there are no one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter PR and marketing strategies that will guarantee you leads.  No guarantee that what worked for one ‘expert’ will work for you.  There’s no way to effectively market without going through a process of researching the market, developing appropriate messages, working out what your call to actions need to be, figuring out how best to deliver it and – most importantly – how you are going to measure success.

Marketing is different for every company and the best campaigns work because they have been designed to deliver a particular message to a targeted audience, via a particular channel, at a specific time with the objective of getting people to take action or behave in a particular way.  It is extremely rare [although not impossible] for one discipline or channel to work on it’s own, and there are no silver bullets.

Don’t believe anybody that tells you otherwise.  To find out how to start successfully market your business call me on +1 647.773.2677 or email lyndon@thinkdifferently.ca

Read more Marketing MythBusters

#1 | Most Marketing is Promotion

#3 | Content Is NOT King

#4 | Three Myths About Brand

#5 | Own Your Niche [Don’t Create A New One]

#6 | Focus On The Marketing, Not The Social Media

#7 | Is A ReTweet An Endorsement?

#8 | Disclaimer: Everything You Say Is The View Of Your Employer

Most PR and Marketing is Really Promotion!

One of the biggest problems facing an entrepreneur as they attempt to understand the value of PR and marketing to their business is understanding what the most used terms mean.  It’s confusing, even for seasoned professionals, so understanding what people working in the industry say – and what they mean – can be a challenge.  There’s a great deal of misunderstanding within the industry – people using the same words but meaning completely different things.  So, we’ve compiled a PR and marketing glossary for entrepreneurs.

Marketing: contains four Ps.  Product, Price, Place and Promotion.  This is known as The Marketing Mix.  Some new models for service-based models – which include 4Cs or 7Ps – have been developed, but regardless of whether you have a produced product or service the 4Ps will serve you well as the basis for any marketing programme.

Promotion: PR, advertising, social media, in-store materials, mailers, e-mailers, flyers, word-of-mouth, event, content/collateral… essentially everything that is not price, place or product.  Promotion is often confused with marketing and PR – the term marketing is added to all of the words above – but, in reality, 99% of the time it’s promotion not marketing.

Let’s take a look at some definition for each these individual types activities.

Public Relations [or PR]: the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or an organization and its publics.  A public is any defined audience.

Advertising: is a form of promotion – often paid – that communicates a company message to encourage or persuade an audience [a public] to continue or take some new action.  It can also be used to persuade an audience to maintain or hold an opinion about a company.

Social Media: promotion that uses conversation rather than traditional advertising, content, in-store or public relations techniques [although often uses these tools in order to start or maintain a conversation and persuade].  This has been made easier with the growth of the ubiquitous high speed internet.

Social Network: a network of like-minded individuals.  Can be like-minded by profession, ethos or interest.  The term has become synonymous with online community sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, FourSquare, MySpace and Pinterest.

e-mail ‘marketing’: promotion using email as the communications channel.

Content ‘marketing’: promotion that works by the provision of content to a defined audience via electronic or physical delivery channels in order to promote a product, service or organization.  This includes in-store,  flyers, point of sale, website and multimedia content…

Word Of Mouth: where third-parties [often customers] tell others about your business, product or service.  This can be using electronic, paper-based, or face-to-face methods.

Read More Marketing MythBusters:

#2 | One-size-fits-all ‘Cookie-Cutter’ Marketing Strategies Don’t Work

#3 | Content Is NOT King

#4 | Three Myths About Brand

#5 | Own Your Niche [Don’t Create A New One]

#6 | Focus On The Marketing, Not The Social Media

#7 | Is A ReTweet An Endorsement?

#8 | Disclaimer: Everything You Say Is The View Of Your Employer