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5 Ways to Address Social Issues on Social Media (Friday5)

This post was written by Amy Verhey, Anna Kowalcyzk, Kendra Staggs and Laura Armstrong.

As Edelman’s 2014 brandshare™ study revealed, consumers increasingly expect brands to go beyond rational and emotional needs to show their commitment to community, core purpose and mission. Often, this is activated through social marketing, a communications approach aimed at changing or maintaining people’s behavior for the benefit of individuals and society as a whole.

For the past two years, Edelman SF has been a partner of Taste of the Nation SF*, an event featuring “tastes” from the area’s top chefs to benefit Share Our Strength’s “No Kid Hungry” campaign, a national campaign to end childhood hunger. Drawing from these experiences, we’ve compiled five effective social marketing tactics corporations can use to drive social good:

1. Succinct Messaging

Narrow messaging to one key point with a strong call to action, making all content useful, interesting and shareable. Following the Nepal earthquakes, for example, Oxfam shared important statistics on rescue efforts and goals that powerfully demonstrated the need for aid and how people could help.

2. Target Your Audience

Localize your message to pack the greatest punch. For many large national organizations, this is most effectively done through localized twitter handles. The Red Cross, for example, has regional handles (i.e., @RedCrossBayArea) that localize national initiatives through community-specific statistics, stories of local volunteers, and direct CTAs. When possible, leverage paid targeting to hit community members that have proven, through social following and interests, a passion for community work.

3. Be a Community Partner

Support other socially driven organizations to help build your organization’s reputation as a strong community partner. For example, @NoKidHungrySF often shares and celebrates upcoming events and fundraisers for other local hunger organizations, such as Second Harvest and the SF-Marin Food Bank, and when Taste of the Nation kicked off event promotions, they reciprocated.

4. Influencer Engagement

Earn third-party promotion by leveraging social media influencers passionate about your cause. We asked social influencers in our community with a proven passion for charity to authentically and creatively share Taste of the Nation SF with their audiences, and through this, we were able to rally an audience much larger than our own.

5. Crowd-Source Change

Tap into larger communities to make change through partnerships. For example, Venmo + Possible helps users “Cash out for a Cause,” donating $4 to helping someone obtain lifesaving healthcare. Additionally, Thunderclap, a social crowd sourcing platform, sets a concrete goal for its audience with an individual call to action that feeds a larger movement.

*Edelman client

Image via Amy Verhey

Friday5: How to Run a Successful Lead Generation Campaign

Lead generation can play a critical role in building long-term relationships for businesses. While the goal of a lead generation campaign can vary from driving sales to driving signups for a rewards program, collecting leads generally consists of individuals expressing interest in a product or service by completing a form or submitting requested information.

The key to a successful lead generation campaign is to focus on lead quality, not simply quantity. Quality leads emerge when registrants show the demographic and behavioral attributes that correlate to a higher probability of leading to the desired outcome. Typically, the most efficient way to drive quality leads is through micro-targeted online advertising, allowing the right audience to be reached on the right platform with the right messaging.

Here are five key elements for launching and running a successful lead generation campaign.

1. Research Your Audience

Understanding your audience is especially important when driving leads because you have to focus not only on what will grab their attention, but also motivate them to take the prescribed action. Primary and secondary research should be used to gain an understanding of your audience’s demographic composition, values, beliefs, interests, and media consumption habits to inform the campaign and yield the best conversions.

2. Determine Media Mix

Identify platforms where your audience is most active and build out a plan that will reach users effectively and efficiently across a mix of platforms. This provides advertisers multiple opportunities to convert their targeted audience, even if they do not convert from the initial ad. For instance, someone may hear an ad from an online radio service and then conduct a search for the campaign, leading to a search ad. To make the campaign as efficient as possible, it is crucial to begin optimizing your targeting parameters so you are only reaching the intended audience.

3. Develop Engaging Creative and Messaging

Based on the audience profile(s) and media platform(s), the next step is to develop several creative and messaging concepts based on audience insights. Running and testing a variety of concepts will help determine which elements are successful in driving the most leads, leading to optimization against these findings. Visuals should include imagery that will capture the audience’s attention, while messaging needs to include a clear call-to-action (CTA) with an outlined benefit so people understand what we want them to do and why they should do it.

4. Review the Conversion Funnel

When asking people to do something, it’s important to ensure you’re making it as easy for them as possible. Generally, the fewer steps a person has to take, the more likely they will be to convert. By reviewing the conversion funnel up front, you can identify unnecessary steps that could prevent people from following through and streamline the process accordingly. For instance, an online form should be as short as possible, asking only for crucial information initially and subsequent fields on a second interaction, such as an email or webpage.

5. Test, Optimize, Test

Testing everything is one of the most important aspects of online lead generation. By regularly tracking all campaign components, you’ll be able to clearly see what is working and what isn’t. Using analytics, conversion pixels, attribution models, and tagged inbound URLs, you can see which platforms and creative elements are generating leads, allowing you to optimize toward the most successful audiences and/or creative elements. Running A/B and multivariate tests will also help refine and improve specific campaign elements for current or future campaigns.

Image credit: ericnvntr

Friday5: 5 Entry Points for Executives on Social

Inherent in today’s digital landscape is a new set of expectations for executives, not the least of which is building trust by engaging stakeholders online. With trust in CEOs now at a meager 43 percent according to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, there’s never been a better time to leverage digital tools to build an authentic online presence and directly engage with key stakeholders.

For CEOs who are less comfortable communicating online, getting started comes with its own set of challenges. After all, not every executive is as savvy on social as Richard Branson. Here are five ways that executives new to social media can build a strategic online presence that elevates their personal brand and provides a reputational lift for their company:

1. Content Curation

In crafting a digital narrative, executives can share the latest thinking from across their industry. One standout example is Doug Conant, former chief executive of Campbell Soup Company, whose updates are peppered with best practices from leadership thought leaders such as Bill George. LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner takes a similar approach, sharing the latest HR trends on Twitter, contextualized with a thoughtful point of view.

2. Brand Amplification

Equally important is the celebration of team wins on social media – a clear trend among active executives. Marissa Mayer, chief executive of Yahoo!, regularly showcases the standout work of her team. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff is another top executive to emulate, as he mixes appearance updates with the latest corporate news from Salesforce, such as a recent app release.

3. Insider Access

In addition to amplifying corporate wins, executives are ideally suited to share the ins and outs of their organizations. One notable example is Apple’s Tim Cook, who regularly spotlights the experts behind the brand’s latest product rollouts. Marissa Mayer’s behind-the-scenes posts follow a similar theme, highlighting Yahoo employees’ participation in pop culture moments, such as last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

4. Personal Tone

Social media gives executives the opportunity to humanize otherwise stuffy corporate messaging. CEOs, in particular, are embracing a down-to-earth persona on social. Jeff Weiner shares a trove of resources, including online shopping tricks. Mayer takes a similarly social approach, sharing photos from various appearances, opting for unfiltered, Facebook-style images over pristine stock imagery.

5. Inspirational Musings

Perhaps most important to executives is demonstrating thought leadership and business acumen. On social, this often translates to sharing sage advice on climbing the corporate ladder, multi-tasking, work-life balance and taking the road less traveled. Tangerine Bank CEO Peter Aceto uses inspirational content in the form of standalone tweets, many garnering a handful of retweets and favorites. Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes takes this to the next level, authoring a constant stream of LinkedIn Influencer posts, each on the fundamentals of career success.

Today, executive and brand reputation are one and the same and the onus is on CEOs – new and established alike – to build a compelling digital narrative. Among the many benefits of a solid social presence include improved recruitment efforts, with 76 percent of employees reporting that they would rather work for a social CEO, according to a recent LinkedIn and Altimeter study. Invariably, it’s the executives sharing industry insights, spotlighting team wins and inspiring the wider community that are reaping these benefits and serving as role models for CEO communications on social.

Image credit: reynermedia

Friday5: Modern Brand Storytelling

This past week, Seattle hosted its annual IN-NW Conference featuring speakers and panel sessions dedicated to discussing what’s next for digital engagement and modern business. During the conference, Edelman Seattle’s Megan Tweed, Digital Senior Vice President and Deputy GCRM (Assembly, Inc.), shared five ways brands can effectively tell their story and adapt to the modern media ecosystem.

1. Meet the needs and expectations of consumers

There is a value exchange that exists between brands and consumers – a relationship that produces a quantifiable value. From Edelman’s brandshare report, 87 percent of consumers want more meaningful relationships with brands, including responsiveness, transparency and access. Brands are now more dynamic than before, accessible to everyone, and starting points for shared discussions. As new brands emerge, consumer loyalty begins to thin. To remain relevant to their audiences, brands need to say something unique, relatable and create value for the consumer – a reason to engage.

2. Data is your hidden superpower

Brands and publishers are now competing head to head, and the new battle royale is content, with data serving as the hidden superpower for achieving visibility and relevancy. With today’s advanced technology, brands now have access to data points that explains user preferences, subscription information, purchase history, and more. Leveraging this information enables them to further refine their targeting and approach, ultimately delivering the best possible user experience: personalized and catering to the audience’s interests.

IN NW post graphic 043015 v2

3. Become a publisher

There’s a fundamental shift underway where platforms are targeting publishers with an algorithm shift that brings their organic reach closer to that of brands, further emphasizing the need for brands to use paid or negotiate a publishing deal to ensure content visibility. Why pay for an audience when you can become the media property? As brands progress towards a publisher-type content model, there is a stronger need for editors versus brand managers. To effectively reach its audiences, brands should be anticipated, personal, and relevant, rather than interruptive.

4. Understand the power of tech

Brands that understand data-driven storytelling can break the silos and get their stories front and center of their target audience. By implementing a mix of old school and new era communications marketing, brands will create relevancy across touch points throughout the brand and consumer relationship – while delivering retention, usage and upselling opportunities for more efficiency in upper-funnel marketing and content creation.

5. Take a bird’s eye view approach

Evaluate the changes in social platform visibility algorithms, from all sides, and be ready to redefine your brand’s business objectives. What are you actually creating and how does that serve your customers’ best interest? Does it really matter? Real content marketing is making something worth talking about. Above all, the brand needs to show that it cares. Be fearless, but be real.

As the media landscape continues to evolve, how will you cut through the clutter to tell your brand’s story?

Image credit: justgrimes

Friday5: 5 Ways Technology is Helping Reduce Health Disparities

By Alexis Cummings, Christen Smiley and Will Ayers

April is designated as Minority Health Month to raise awareness of the disparity in health conditions between minority and non-minority populations. This year, the FDA’s Office of Minority Health (OMH) is collaborating with the HHS Office of Minority Health to celebrate this year’s theme – “30 Years of Advancing Health Equity, The Heckler Report: A Force for Ending Health Disparities in America.” We took this opportunity to focus on five ways technology is being used to alleviate health disparities.

1. Mobile makes health accessible

Multicultural consumers have led the growth in smartphone penetration and according to a Pew Research Center study, Hispanics and African Americans were more likely than non-Hispanic Whites to access health information on their phones. Search topics concerning specific diseases, medical treatments and weight loss were the top search categories for African-American and Hispanic smartphone users.

Researchers at UCLA are currently conducting clinical trials in Los Angeles using a smartphone app that tracks the eating habits of 40 African-American women at risk for heart disease.

2. Building communities

A study completed by the University of Michigan found that a majority of African-American men surveyed said they do not go to the doctor because visits are stressful and physicians don’t provide adequate information on how to make prescribed behavior or lifestyle changes.

Many culturally targeted online communities have sprouted to provide relevant and actionable information such as Black Men Run, Black Girls Run!, Pretty Girls Sweat, and The Healthy Latina*.

3. Social media

According to a late 2014 Pew Research Center survey, Latinos, African Americans and Whites use social media networks equally, but there are differences in their preferences for specific social media sites. Facebook is the most widely used platform regardless of race or ethnicity but Instagram and Twitter are more popular with Latinos and African Americans.

Understanding these nuances is important when trying to connect with these diverse communities. Organizations like the American Heart Association has incorporated social media channels to raise awareness on its EmPowered To Serve initiative, which focuses on improving health in multicultural communities by building a sustainable healthy culture. The American Heart Association’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+ platforms have a combined audience of 1.3 million followers.

4. Engaging health professionals

In a 2011 Mintel study, about two thirds of both Hispanic and African-American respondents indicated that their health is excellent or generally good – which counters the large amounts of data that proves the opposite to be true. Among these groups, cultural dietary patterns and fear of social stigmatization have been found to deter significant changes in behaviors that lead to a healthy lifestyle, such as diet or exercise lifestyle modification.

Health Net uses its online platform to provide cultural literacy training to its workforce, which enables healthcare professionals to better connect and understand patients from diverse cultural backgrounds.

5. Access to health resources

Wellness websites such as HolaDoctor.com and BlackDoctor.org are online platforms using innovative ways to assist multicultural populations with health information and access. HolaDoctor.com is providing uninsured Hispanics with a tool that provides access to healthcare options through The Affordable Care Act’s special enrollment period. BlackDoctor.org has a similar tool that provides visitors with information on healthcare laws, Medicare, insurance plans and available doctors in their local area.

*Michelle is an Edelman employee

Image credit: rosmary

Friday5: 5 Paid Media Tips

This post originally ran on Edelman.com.

Digital marketing is blurring the lines between owned, earned and paid. While this has limited brands’ ability to leverage the organic reach of content, it has also given brands the impetus to break silos and create multiple, yet specialized touch points with their highly fragmented target audiences.

Marketers are therefore testing tools and technologies to activate the right audience at the right time with the right content. This is where marketers turn to paid media techniques – an excellent way to break through the clutter on the Internet.

As we digital marketers experiment with the complexities of designing successful paid media strategies for brands, we thought it would be helpful to get advice from Chris Paul, Edelman’s global director of paid media.

1. Why is paid crucial to the success of a social media program?

Paid tactics offer the ability to target specific audiences by behavior, geography or a brand’s own audience insights. When we’re looking for increased accountability and efficiency, the paid media space has been focused on those goals for 15+ years.

2. What are the key considerations for a marketer while developing a paid media strategy?

It boils down to goals, audience and analytics. You must be crystal clear on your definition of success, you have to bring some fresh perspective on what matters to your audience and you must be able to connect your media success to your business success.

3. Do you agree that the lines are blurring between paid, owned and earned media? How can brands take advantage of this?

I completely agree. The results from Getting In-Feed Sponsored Content Right: The Consumer View confirmed that a consumer’s primary expectation from the media is good content, whether it comes from brands, publishers or people. More recently, the Online Publishers Association reported that 71 percent of readers have no objections to native advertising. Think like a publisher, if not like a peer, when you’re crafting your brand content and you’ll have a better chance of having your communications welcomed and shared.

4. How do we make paid effective?

At Edelman, we approach media from a storytelling perspective, using our paid dollars to amplify owned and earned assets that people choose to share, not just advertisements that they might see. We produce entertaining, informative, useful content and experiences that resonate with consumers and spur action.

5. Organic Social Content Still Important

As brands open up to paid media strategies, let us not forget, organic social content is still important for engaging and growing community. Successful paid amplification is a function of correct audience segmentation supported by real-time unique, creative and engaging content creation. It has the potential to improve the performance of good organic content but it cannot make up for poor content.

Image credit: Maryland GovPics

Friday5: 5 Ways Social Has Become the New Front Page

With global smartphone penetration at an all-time high, social media continues to shift the ways in which users are consuming and sharing the happenings of the world around them. Whether it’s catching up on Facebook on the way to work or sharing pictures of major events on Twitter, this increased mobility has continued to create an environment in which “news” is no longer limited to a daily newspaper. Rather, the stories a user sees are specifically curated based on the brands, individuals and news outlets they choose to engage with digitally.

As an increasingly tech-savvy population, breaking news has users turning to social media more than the traditional front page. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center study claims 68% of smartphone owners use their phone to follow along with breaking news. The ever-evolving nature of social media has built a truly dynamic modern media landscape in which news stories can begin anywhere within the media cloverleaf and transcend traditional, hybrid, social and owned media. News agencies have been tweaking their content strategy to reflect this, creating bite-sized content for easy consumption on smaller screens.

Here are five ways social connectivity continues to change the way we consume news:

1. News Content within Facebook

In an effort to improve experience for its over 1.4 billion users, Facebook may begin hosting content natively from major news publishers such as The New York Times, Buzzfeed and National Geographic. While this may ultimately take away site traffic and advertising power from those media outlets, Facebook’s power over the types of media presented to users via algorithm would make outlets eager to participate keep users’ eyes on their content.

2. Real-Time Video Updates

The rising popularity of live-streaming apps such as Meerkat and Periscope will pave the way for a more nimble media cycle in which users will have the power to watch breaking news as it happens, rather than waiting for these reports to be released on news channels. With functionality allowing users to tune into streams through browsers, engagement with this type of content is not limited to smartphones, making this type of news accessible to most with Internet access.

3. Media Brands on Snapchat

The start of 2015 brought a new Snapchat functionality allowing for daily updates from media outlets such as CNN, ESPN, National Geographic and Yahoo News in the app’s “Discover” section. Viewable for 24 hours, each publisher is able to provide Snapchat’s over 100 million monthly users with short, visually-rich content snippets.

4. Breaking News on Twitter and Facebook

Twitter’s trending topics have always been representative of breaking news and popular conversation topics across the country and around the world, however, this week’s update to eliminate the platform’s “Discover” timeline and move trending topics into the search page now includes descriptions of trending topics in an effort to be more informative. Facebook has thrown their hat in the trending topics ring as well, launching the functionality on its desktop site early last year and launching mobile trending functionality in December. Additionally, Facebook’s prioritization of video content has cemented its role as a source for breaking news updates via video.

5. Social Becoming the News

Social media has brought the social activity of public figures front and center, with this activity sparking more news stories shared in traditional media. Social has armed these public figures with the ability to communicate directly with their fan bases and has increasingly evolved into the preferred medium for making announcements which then trickle into traditional reporting. The increasing popularity of these news stories sparked by social activity brings users to their social newsfeed rather than a traditional front page to get a more holistic, quick snapshot of their world.

Image credit: Jon S

Friday5: 5 Things Communicators Can Learn From Super Troopers 2

In 2001, a comedy group called Broken Lizard gave a gift to the world called Super Troopers. 14 years later, it is still a cultural phenomenon because of the shenanigans in the movie and fans have been clamoring for a sequel for years.

Last week, Broken Lizard announced that the script for the sequel is done, but they needed to independently secure funding for the production of the movie. They turned to Indiegogo for a crowdfunding campaign with the hope of raising $2 million in 30 days. 24 hours later, they hit their target fundraising goal and with 22 days still left to go, they have raised over $3 million.

The wild success of this campaign might seem like a Hollywood stunt, but in reality, this was a grassroots communications campaign with some great execution. What can we learn from this?

1. Know your audience

One of the most important aspects of any communications campaign is knowing and understanding your audience. Before you can talk to someone, you have to make sure you know where they hang out and that you’re speaking their language.

Super Troopers is a cult comedy classic and Broken Lizard knew they were speaking to a very specific audience. They had to be true to the movie and that’s why the campaign is full of absurdity and irreverence — just like the movie. They announced the crowdfunding campaign via reddit AMA and after hitting the front page, they raised more than $600,000 just from that effort alone. As you read through the Indiegogo campaign page, you’ll see movie quotes and references throughout as well as all the original cast members participating in videos and perks. It’s clear they know their audience and that audience has rewarded them handsomely.

2. Clear call to action

It’s said that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, but I think that’s nonsense. As communicators, it’s our responsibility to make our messages clear and lower the barrier to entry enough that anyone can participate. Broken Lizard nailed this.

They have creative perks ranging from $1 to $35,000 and a very clear call to action:

Friday5 Super Troopers - Clear CTA

There’s no doubt that raising $3 million in eight days is impressive. But what is perhaps more impressive is that Super Troopers 2 raised this money from only 33,000+ funders – roughly $95 per funder.

3. Be creative

The internet is an amazing thing, but it has also raised the bar for creativity — something I refer to as the “Jimmy Fallon Effect.” To compete for attention in the age of the Internet, it’s no longer sufficient to just have a celebrity come on your show and give an interview; you need something more. A quick look at Jimmy Fallon’s most popular videos on YouTube has Emma Stone in a Lip Sync Battle, Daniel Radcliffe rapping, and Will Ferrell having a drum-off.

The same applies to communications campaigns — you have to dare to be creative. The creative fundraising perks range from the cool (naming a movie character or being an extra) to the absurd (a battle at Beerfest Chicago or actually purchasing one of the squad cars used in the movie). These crazy perks make for a great story and the media has played a big role in the campaign’s vitality.

4. Be visual

In addition to a higher bar for creativity, the internet has also challenged our attention spans. With so much content being generated every day, being visual is more important than ever. In order to cut through the clutter and noise, Broken Lizard created visual content for all of their perks and main messaging points. This helps draw attention to the important information and also stays consistent with their tone of voice throughout.

Friday5 Super Troopers - Be Visual

5. Build a campaign

Campaign planning is an integral part of any communication strategy. It’s important to plan for the big splash, but also the long swim, especially in the case of a thirty-day crowdfunding campaign. With such a strong cult following, it’s not a huge surprise this campaign met its funding goal in one day. What is impressive, however, is the fact that Broken Lizard planned a campaign for sustained engagement and not just the initial splash.

In addition to the original perks, they’ve also added stretch goals and new perks every day to help drive more contributions. Again, their call to action is clear: the more money they raise, the better the movie. And now they’re giving people a reason to check back in with the campaign and possibly donate again.

In an interview with Wired, they said they approached this campaign like a live show. “We want to make it feel like an experience you’re having over the course of a month, something you want to go along on the ride for.”

This is definitely one ride I’m excited to go on and my only regret is that I’m not getting married anytime soon, otherwise I would do whatever I could to get the Troopers at my wedding.

Friday5 Super Troopers - Wedding

Image credits: Broken Lizard

Friday5: 5 Highlights From SXSW

With another South By Southwest (SXSW) in the books, Edelfolks from Texas share their biggest takeaways, observations and findings after immersing themselves in the nine-day festival. From Meerkat to artificial intelligence, robots and ISIS’ social presence, here are the team’s takeaways.

1. Spike Jones, Managing Director, Southwest – Where did Social Media go?

My biggest takeaway this year is that nobody was saying the words “social media” anymore. Maybe it’s because it’s now such a part of our everyday lives, but there were no panels on “how to use Twitter” or “best Facebook techniques.” Outside of Meerkat, the social media conversation finally gave way to what SXSW was founded on: smart people collaborating and birthing BIG IDEAS. There were conversations about robots, artificial intelligence, tech and how it’s helping/hindering us as humans. In other words, some really exciting stuff. No longer are we so focused on the what, but focused on the why – and more importantly – the how.

2. Dominic Ybarra, Technology Sector Lead, Southwest – Think global!

Countries from every region showed up in full force – bringing in tow a delegation of global startups to show off innovation, insert an authentic international viewpoint, talk cross-border policy and most of all, lure in top entrepreneurs and big brands with special visa programs and tax incentives. There’s always been a hint of international companies at SXSW, but this year it was evident that SXSW is a global stage like no other. The infusion of the unique cultures from around the globe just enhanced the collaboration, reminding us that the next big thing can (and will) come from anywhere.

3. Deven Nongbri, VP Digital, Houston – ISIS making inroads at… SXSW?

For the first time, the Islamic terrorist organization was a hot topic of conversation across a couple of different panels during the week-long festival. And it makes sense, since they make extensive use of social media to both promote their work and recruit others to their diabolical cause. What we saw in Austin was a close look at how the group was using public social platforms like Twitter and what private organizations, NGOs and governments were doing to track and battle the group online. What’s their secret? Themes included: people being drawn to drama and extraordinary visual storytelling, the emotional outrage that gets so much attention, and why Twitter should use a systematic, big data approach instead of a “whack-a-mole” method for shutting down participants who are using the platform to spread hate.

4. Jennifer Trou, Account Supervisor, Austin – Battling for earned media coverage

Obtaining earned media coverage at SXSW continues to become more challenging as more brands, more panels and more attendees create more white noise. The breakout of Interactive this year was Meerkat, with many media piloting its use to do live streams of the festival. The brands that earned the most coverage were the ones providing a benefit to festival-goers (beyond just a free beer), such as MasterCard’s Priceless Elevator Pitch, which awarded $15,000 to the winner of a pitching contest. To stand out at SXSW, the mandate remains clear – be proactive, be strategic and be ready to think on your feet.

5. Neven Simpson, Account Executive, Austin – Navigating ever-evolving platforms

Reoccurring themes for me all stemmed back to the plethora of platforms that exist for both news outlets and influencers. When Dan Rather states the nightly news won’t exist in 10 years, but Snapchat will, you know the game has changed in traditional media.

Similarly, Mashable’s CEO Pete Cashmore touched on the role of artificial intelligence in content writing in the future. Luckily robots won’t ever be able to provide the “human element” (we hope), but the key to good storytelling, now more than ever, is finding a new voice and leveraging new formats. We saw this first-hand throughout SXSW Interactive with the explosion of Meerkat, which really put a spotlight on in-the-moment audience interaction. While this style may not always be perfect, it makes audiences feel like they’re right there with you.

In a keynote, Astro Teller, Captain of Moonshots at Google[x], stated, “If you want to make a ton of progress, you have to make a ton of mistakes.” While we may not be inventing Google Glass or Self-Driving cars, the message still applies to us every day: if we’re not willing to take risks, explore new mediums, and push the boundaries of storytelling, we’ll never get ahead.

The biggest question for me coming out of SXSW was what types of platforms will we continue to see evolve and how will they be integrated into our communications strategies moving forward? We have more opportunity than ever to continue taking risks with our brands using new formats to share authentic, credible content.

This post and image were contributed by Neven Simpson

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