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Tesla, the Californian electric car maker, is using its position as a challenger brand to disrupt the marketplace. But is its aggressive approach to PR having an impact both on and offline?

Despite largely being a Californian phenomenon, Tesla is making waves globally as the first brand to launch and establish a successful electric car offering in the United States.

A mixture of PR, digital savvy and old school marketing has been central to its accomplishments. In this article we take a look at some of the key milestones in how it’s achieved success.

While renowned automotive brands, such as BMW and Mitsubishi, have launched their own offerings, it is probably a bitter pill to swallow to see a home grown American brand  looking most likely to succeed in the lucrative US market.

At time of writing, Tesla was the third best selling luxury car in California behind Mercedes and BMW.

They’ve achieved this success by tearing up the rule book, and probably making a few powerful enemies along the way too.

Tesla doesn’t have dealership networks and its showrooms are in retail malls. Naturally, the US dealer networks aren’t best pleased and are lobbying hard against Tesla. Just look at the Dupont- General Motors anti-trust case as evidence, which saw the car dealship network in New Jersey challenge the company’s ability to sell cars there based on the fact that there was no dealer network to support sales and maintenance.

It’s entirely plausible that the petroleum lobby aren’t too happy either.

And then there is the damaging criticism which Tesla seems immune to at present. Is Tesla really green when in reality it is powered by the national grid which is roughly “40 percent coal, 25 percent natural gas, 20 percent nuclear power, and about 10 percent renewable sources, led by hydroelectricity”? Do they really have a 300 mile range because certain journalists have broken down on long journeys? Oh, and apparently its finance programme sucks, according to some other motoring journalists.

Elon MuskCentral to this narrative is the company’s chief executive Elon Musk. He’s accused of being mouthy, aggressive and overly combative and is trying to destroy the automotive industry from within. He’s criticised the media and their false reviews, called reporters douchebags, dissed the Toyota Prius for not being a true hybrid and said he’d like to run Detroit.

In fact, he is a PR polymath.  For every negative story he’s made a proactive and confident rebuttal, winning further headlines.  He’s even gone on the attack and taken on much bigger automotive brands, again winning more editorial and plaudits along the way.  He’s trashed the automotive dealer industry and many younger and female customers have fallen into his arms

It’s no surprise that he also Silicon Valley’s golden boy.

So will Tesla fail?

Despite its chief executive stating that he thought that they would more than likely fail, the business has been going from strength to strength. Tesla has adopted the classic marketing position of challenger brand. The challenger brand is a David versus Goliath concept, except that is where the biblical reference ends.

It ends because the challenger brand is a gobby, aggressive turk, shouty and often first to cast a stone. They’ll stop at very little to ensure they are always in the headlines. They’ll spin and they’ll attack their competitors, knowing that an established market leader will probably not want to retaliate for fear of upsetting the status quo or being accused of a bullying.

In short, they use every ounce of equity from their underdog status to disrupt and usurp the market leaders.

They also have an amazing product, which helps enormously.

This success has led to widespread acclaim that people should copy their approach to marketing. Alas, this advice is misguided, because not every company can be challenger brand. This title can only be bestowed upon a small proportion of plucky innovators.

How successful is Tesla?

Firstly let’s look at the bottom line, or rather shareholder value. Its share price has risen 450% in the last year.

Fig 1. Tesla’s share price keeps on increasing

Tesla Share Price

Share price is very sensitive to a company’s reputation and this increase is impressive by anyone’s standards.

Although not the most accurate data, Google Trends shows the steady increase of interest in their brand (see fig 2)

The increase in share price mirrors the increase in online search around the business.  For me this is a sign that the brand awareness is increasing and that the PR campaign is having some sort of positive impact.

Fig 2. Interest over time for the Tesla brand

Tesla brand

While Tesla is sold in a multi channel world, its digital offering is very important given its lack of dealer network.

All the attention that their chief executive attracts because of his loud mouthed commentary and aggressive tactics secures press coverage. A cursory search using Majestic showed over 900 national and international news articles on the business see fig 2.1

Each article sent branded search traffic, referral visitors and of course those articles, with links in, improved the search engine visibility of the Tesla site for non-branded search traffic.

Fig 2.1 see link acquisition to the Tesla website and large spikes around key scandals and statements about Tesla

Tesla Majestic SEO

Although it is difficult to see from this diagram, after downloading the link profile of Tesla, the large spikes in links are around the time of a number of media storms and controversies all of which Tesla and their CEO tackled head on.  Classic challenger brand Telsa, the Californian electric car maker, is using its position as a challenger brand to disrupt the marketplace. But is its aggressive approach to PR having an impact both on and offline?.

Fig 2.2. links have seen increased search engine visibility for Tesla in Searchmetrics

Tesla Search Metrics

This Search Metrics chart shows that in search at least the PR effort is working and is increasing visibility of the Tesla website.  The Search Metrics graph mirrors the increase seen via Google trends and suggests that the PR campaign is workng to drive brand awareness (and probably revenue) both on and offline.

But how far has Tesla got to go until it is a market leader?

Fig 3: a graph to show interest in Tesla compared to Mercedes and BMW.

Tesla brand comparison

When will the big automotive companies really start to sit up and take note? Tesla has a long way to go yet. Although not completely conclusive, this graph (fig 3) shows interest in Mercedes, BMW and Tesla. While interest in Tesla has increased over time, it is still a minnow. Tesla will remain a challenger brand for some time yet.

The takeaway for any digital marketing or  PR professional here  is that being a genuine challenger brand gives you permission to  be aggressive ,quirky and comment on issues that many businesses would normally shy away from.

With the right CEO who is willing to be the vocal mouth piece and face of PR,  a challenger brand can build a reputation and generate significant revenues.

Post from James Crawford on State of Digital
How challenger brand Tesla is Disrupting the Market

Source: http://www.stateofdigital.com/challenger-brand-tesla-disrupting-market/


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Sweep Up More Fans With These Three Tactics

Using well-executed sweepstakes promotions, drawings, and contests to reach fans can increase the likelihood that members of your audience will share with their friends–AKA, your future audience. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

Source: http://www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2014/24376/sweep-up-more-fans-with-these-three-tactics

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It’s a fact:

Most people who click on your articles don’t read them.

Don’t blame it on short attention spans. Long before social media distractions or 24/7 cable news cycles, eye-tracking studies showed that print newspaper readers viewed photos, headlines, ads and captions — in that order — before they even looked at the text of stories. If they even looked at the text of stories.

A sexy headline or stunning image may attract the initial clicks, but if readers aren’t strongly interested, it’s a losing gamble to get your articles read.

The Claw

Compelling images help, but you don’t need photos to grab attention of readers.

You can improve your odds. 

  • You don’t need vibrant artwork.
  • You don’t need the best-ever website design.
  • You don’t need to be a stellar writer.

All you need are these quick, easy text-only tricks:

1. Estimate the reading time.

Estimating the reading time sets expectations. Have you noticed this trend on sites like Medium?

When they’re busy, people may be more willing to commit to a thorough 4-minute read; they’ll save the 14-minute read for later.

Just do the math (average reading speed is 200 words per minute) or use the simple Read-O-Meter tool. Then plop the estimated reading time at the top of an article. No developer required.

As soon as you see how quickly your your bounce rates improve, I bet you’ll get a developer involved.

2. Use numbers in lists.

You already know that online articles with headlines starting with numbers, especially odd numbers, get more clicks. People know what to expect.

Numbers also encourage people to read your entire article — or at least skim for the main point of each number. That’s because people feel good when they complete the task of reading a numbered list. As Maria Konnikova writes for the New Yorker, “Once we click, lists tap into our preferred way of receiving and organizing information at a subconscious level; from an information-processing standpoint, they often hit our attentional sweet spot. … In other words, lists simply feel better.

“The process is self-reinforcing: we recall with pleasure that we were able to complete the task (of reading the article) instead of leaving it undone and that satisfaction, in turn, makes us more likely to click on lists again.”

The psychological power of the numbered list is at work on you right now. This article’s headline promised 5 things. I stopped the numbers in the subheads at 4. Most people will skim the numbered subheads, see the missing one and think I made a mistake without reading the article.

The real text-only trick No. 5? Use bullet points whenever possible. They’re text, but they act like tiny visuals and automatically draw the eye.

3. Write burlesque subheads.

A well-written subhead doesn’t strip naked. It dances burlesque, revealing just enough to keep your readers’ eyes locked on your words.

Don’t use subheads as boring summaries of the next few paragraphs. Do use subheads as provocative introductions to the next few paragraphs.

Take a look at this PDF of a Pulitzer prize winning article to see how just two subheads propelled the story of a mass murder. You don’t need material that dramatic, either. See how Sonia Simone pulls off the burlesque subhead act when she explained Copyblogger’s decision to close comments.

With frequent subheads that tease later action, you’re more likely to get your articles read to the end.

4. Highlight unexpected quotes.

Every print graphic designer has used a quote to attract attention in a design. Our eyes are drawn to things that aren’t part of the overall flow. A quote highlighted in a big block of text has that kind of jarring-in-a-good-way effect.

You can do the same thing online with the blockquote tag. Kick it up by using a quote your reader wouldn’t expect.

If your website template doesn’t have a good design for quotes, but you still want to draw attention, use bold or italics or all caps. Branding expert Erika Napoletano does this frequently when she rants online. For example, she highlighted this statement in an article about leadership, or, more precisely, lack of leadership:

I know six-year-olds that know that licking a stack of taco shells is a task on the ABSOF**KNGLUTELY NO list.

Here’s her article, in case you’re curious about what prompted that gem. Note: she uses strong, probably NSFW language. Depends on your work.

What do you think? Have I made my case that you don’t need stunning artwork or immersive design or outstanding writing to get people to read your entire article? Did you read all the way to the end? If so, leave a quick comment.

And if you think I forgot trick No. 5… go back and read trick No. 2 :)

Photo of glasses by Jeff Golden used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Photo of little hand by Brooke Raymond used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License

Post from Arienne Holland on State of Digital
5 Easy, Text-Only Tricks To Get Your Articles Read

Source: http://www.stateofdigital.com/5-easy-text-tricks-get-articles-read/

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Smiling salesman advertising a product at the television

TV Advertising Spend & Viewing Statistics

At the beginning of 2014, the Advertising Association announced that the UK advertising spend forecast was showing the highest year on year growth for three years. The forecast for 2014; a spend of £18.8bn, a growth of 5.3% compared to 2013.

Advertising Spend

Source: http://www.adassoc.org.uk/write/Documents/AAWarc_Q3_2013_(FINAL).pdf

Looking at TV advertising spend alone, a growth of 6.0% is predicted in 2014 which confirms just how popular this marketing channel is.

These increases are not surprising when you consider just how long on average people in the UK spend watching television. The latest TV viewing statistics for January 2014 showed that on average we watch television for 28 hours and 36 minutes per week. That’s a lot of TV for one person but it is a great opportunity for brands to get their offering in front of a vast number of people when they are most engaged.

Now that I have got the introduction out of the way, let me explain a little about what this post is really about.

What’s This Post About?

Over the past couple of years, many commercials have appeared on my TV at home but there is one thing that has started getting my attention more and more recently, brands directing viewers to search for a specific keyword string or hashtag at the end of their advertisement. A few years ago, I don’t think I would have thought too much into this but in 2014, I think this is a very risky call to action.

In this post, I am going to show you some examples of brands that are using both of these types of call to action, explain why I think it is a bad idea and provide a safer alternative that could be deployed instead.

Advert Commercial Examples

Before I go any further, I need you to watch at least one of these examples so you can understand exactly what I am talking about when it comes to brands inviting viewers to search for a specific keyword string at the end of the advert. You can always skip to the last frame of the ad rather than watching it entirely.


In this advert, Mercedes are promoting their new Mercedes-Benz C Class with a special offer. At the end of the advert they tell viewers to ‘Search: C Class Offers’.

British Army

The British Army have used a similar advert to the one below to promote their jobs. At the end of each advert they always conclude by saying ‘Search: Army Jobs’.

Mini Original

Out of the three examples, this one has to be the most riskiest (I will explain more a little later in this post). Mini are promoting their latest car model and at the end of the advert they instruct viewers to ‘Search: New Original’.

Generic Hashtags

The vast majority of brands are making use of the Twitter hashtag and I expect to see this continue to rise over the next couple of years. In these examples, brands are directing viewers to engage with them on a keyword specific hashtag. As with the TV adverts, if you could watch at least one of the below videos you will understand what I mean. You can always skip to the last frame of the ad rather than watching it entirely.


In this example, Coca-Cola have used the hashtag #AmericaisBeautiful at the end of the advert.

Heinz Ketchup

For this advert, Heinz have directed viewers to engage with them on Twitter using the hashtag #ifyourehappy

The Dangers of Search Keywords in Adverts

If you work in or have any involvement in the online marketing industry you will most probably have heard of the Google Penguin algorithm update. It has taken this industry by storm and in the past 18 months or so; we have seen a lot of small, medium and large brands lose some, if not all, of their search engine rankings due to being penalised as a direct result of this update.

Most people will remember the high profile Interflora penalty where shortly after Valentine’s Day they were hit with a link penalty and lost the vast majority of their keyword rankings. Not only did they lose their rankings for terms like ‘Flowers’, ‘Florist’ and ‘Flower Delivery’, they also lost their ranking for their own brand name! If you want to read more into this specific penalty, check out this post by Martin MacDonald on Web Marketing School.


This isn’t the only penalty that Google have given out over the past 18 months, there have been a lot. Only the high profile examples really appear in the industry media but there are many others being issued every day. Penalties can affect entire sites or they can be isolated to individual pages within a site.

So what has this got to do with brands telling viewers at the end of adverts to search for a specific keyword string? Well a lot actually….

You saw in the example above just how quickly Interflora got hit and lost all their rankings. Imagine if your business had just spent a vast amount of money putting together a TV commercial and you had just signed off on the final version that was being broadcast on primetime TV from tonight. At the end of the advert, you direct viewers to search on Google for a specific keyword query so they can get to your website quickly and easily. Three days later, Google hit your website with a manual link penalty! When you search for the keyword at the end of your commercial, your website is no where to be seen!

This scenario really could happen and it takes time to get the penalty reversed again. Rankings do not just come back overnight. You can always use Google AdWords to bid on the keyword string so that you do appear at the top for that term but you will be charged each time someone clicks on the ad making your overall advertising costs (TV + AdWords) much higher than you may have originally budgeted for.

Additionally, it is very difficult to dominate page one of the search results for those generic terms. Taking the Mini Original commercial shown above, the search query they told viewers to search for online was ‘New Original’. When conducting this search on Google, the first page of results are no where near dominated by Mini. As you can see from the screenshot below, seven of the listings are nothing to do with the car. This is not making good use of page one domination!

Mini Original

The Dangers of Generic Hashtags

Moving onto hashtags….

In the examples above, you can see two brands enticing engagement using very generic hashtags. After doing a search on Twitter for one of them, I can see immediately that that keyword is not just being used by people talking about the brand.

The screenshot below shows that five out of the seven hashtag uses are nothing to do with the Coca-Cola campaign.


Coca-Cola would have invested a lot into the advert with one of the end goals being to generate engagement on Twitter. By not choosing their hashtag carefully, the engagement has been diluted and in my opinion, this would not have made the campaign as successful as it could have been.

Hashtag hijacking is another problem for brands. There have been lots of posts written about this subject (a good one here). Hijacking is always going to be a problem but this would happen regardless of the hashtag that was chosen by the brand. It can be very damaging to a brand so it is important to consider all the potential outcomes before you embark on a high profile Twitter engagement campaign.

Moving Forwards

So what is the best way to minimise the risk when it comes to marketing your brand on TV? Always make sure you are using your brand name within the search query or Twitter hashtag that you are directing viewers to. It is much safer to keep your potential customers searching for a branded term rather than a generic term as you are able to have more control over the end result.

In summary, branded keywords will:

  • Allow you to dominate page one of the search results more easily
  • Allow you to bid on the keyword for cheaper traffic whilst maintaining a high quality score in your AdWords campaign
  • Allow you to potentially be the only PPC advertiser on the term if you have your brand trademarked
  • Stop the unwanted Twitter noise within your engagement campaign as tweets using the hashtag will be about you rather than something totally unrelated
  • Make it easier to remain visible if your brand ever receives a Google penalty
  • Keep your brand name in your potential customers minds

Image Credit: Bigstock

Post from Samantha Noble on State of Digital
The Lunacy of Search Term CTAs in TV Ads

Source: http://www.stateofdigital.com/calls-to-action-in-tv-adverts/

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Study: 80% of Mobile Searches Result in a Purchase


mobile-phone-map-searchBrand marketers have started to catch up with consumers on mobile, but small businesses still remain far behind — and it may be starting to affect their bottom line. A new study from Neustar Localeze and 15miles finds that consumers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices to search for local businesses when they are ready to buy, but the information they want is often inaccurate, incomplete, or non-existent.

The findings: 79 percent of smartphone owners and 81 percent of tablet owners use their devices to search for information on local businesses. Approximately 80 percent of those mobile searches result in the purchase of a product or service, and 75 percent brought the customer into the physical store. But only 50 percent of those searchers were satisfied with what was available to them via mobile, as buried information and non-mobile-friendly websites proved to be hindrances.

Brian Wool, VP of content distribution at Neustar Localeze, told Street Fight that the contradiction between SMBs’ widespread lack of mobile savvy and the increasing use of smartphones and tablets to access search platforms results in poorer overall user experience. He says that the findings highlight the need for businesses to optimize their mobile web presence, and ensure that they provide the content which mobile searchers want.

“Consumers want to see more information around products and services,” Wool said. “What has really spiked, though, is hours of operation. We’re starting to see more of that specific information, and local search engines are starting to use that type of data as a relevancy indicator.”

The smaller screen of a mobile devices means that it’s critical for businesses to prioritize the content that searchers want most. Mobile versatility could come in the form of a mobile-specific website, or a responsive PC website — but regardless of the avenue, this basic information would need to be explicit for the search satisfaction rate to improve.

Not addressed in the study, but of importance in understanding the emerging prominence of mobile search, is the creation of localized mobile websites by national corporations for their brick-and-mortar stores. Wool used Home Depot as an example, saying he may prefer to go to his local home improvement store, but Home Depot’s mobile site — and its user friendliness — would influence his ultimate purchasing decision. With specialized corporate websites as competition, Wool said the motivation for SMBs to adopt a mobile approach should be strong.

Local search is becoming as diversified as the devices used to access it, and if SMBs don’t prepare accordingly, they could find themselves pushed out of contention. But Wool said going mobile is by no means a disruption of what businesses already do — or should be doing.

“Content is still king, and that will continue to be true,” says Wool. “With this information, you can take control of your business identity in the local search marketplace. The more you can share with the ecosystem, the better your listing is going to perform.”

Annie Melton is a reporter at Street Fight.

Source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/StreetFight/~3/dQDu3qkQzQw/

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SEO, the term has been subject to discussion many times in the past decade. A decade in which the trade of SEO grew big, but was also questioned in many ways. Black hat tactics at some point gave the term a bad name, but no matter how big the discussion was, SEO was still part of every digital marketing strategy.

That has not changed, to this day organic search remains (one of) the most importants channels for brands, simply because that is where the audience is at. Researching, understanding, just browsing or even in a purchase mode, the audience sooner or later touches on search. So a brand needs to be there.

But SEO has seen a lot of changes in the past few years, mostly pushed by Google, but also pushed by SEO’s themselves as well as brands, trying to make the most out of the channel. You could say SEO is being professionalized. A new age of SEO is here.

SEO Now, the E-book

In the past few weeks we have been working with Linkdex to create an e-book around the new developments on SEO, where is it heading, what is the current State of SEO? To find out we talked to many different experts.

The e-book features conversations on the topic of SEO Now with 27 thought-leaders, from pioneers of digital marketing, to global brands and search industry experts.

SEO Now Banner 600px 2

Contributors include well-known figureheads of the search industry, such as Danny Sullivan, Bruce Clay, Marty Weintraub, Cedric Chambaz, Marcus Tandler, Eric Enge, our very own Aleyda Solis and representatives from global brands, such as Microsoft, Airbnb, ABC News, Adobe and Expedia, and many more — all giving their unique views on the state of SEO.

You can get the e-book for free now by filling in the form here

Just to give you an idea of what you can expect in the e-book, here are a few quotes from the contributors:

“SEO has evolved into a lot more than just optimization, meta tags and link-building. Now it’s much more complicated, much more exciting. It’s about understanding people, what they need and what they are looking for.” Jose Truchado, Expedia, @TruchadoSEO

“Everybody with a website now is also a publisher. With Facebook and Twitter, brands have an opportunity to turn around customer experiences and make a bad situation into something much better. If you rock peoples’ world, they will share that with people, and that enables your SEO.” Dennis Goedegebuure, Airbnb, @TheNextCorner

“Brands have to be aware of the fact users might be looking to convert via a call as opposed to on desktop, where they’re not connected to a device that can make a physical call.” Danny Sullivan, @dannysullivan, SMX/SEL

“There needs to be an easy way for customers to find brands online – every time brands are not there and visible when a customer asks a question, they’ll find their user base being eroded.” Dixon Jones, @Dixon_Jones, MajesticSEO

“Brands need to collaborate with teams from other departments: such as social media, on-page tech SEO, analytics, PR, content, UI, UX and data/insights to interpret that data for actionable insights and to undertake cross marketing initiatives.” Warren Lee, @warrenleemedia

“Modern SEO means the convergence of content marketing, social media, analytics, tech, PR, and events with publishers, as well as the actual page rankings and results.” Andrew Girdwood, @AndrewGirdwood, DigitasLBi

SEO Now Banner 600px 3

“If you don’t understand customers or your audience, you won’t be able to be there for them.”…
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Interested? Get the free copy of the book NOW!

The eBook also includes the fictional, but highly insightful story of Third Space Travel, a global travel company that find themselves falling foul of the algorithm updates, but go on to build a framework for an organic strategy designed not only to survive in the organic space, but to win.

This e-book is a not too miss document for any CMO, SEO or any marketer for that matter. It will teach you the importance of SEO, will bring you the best strategic tips from the top notch people in the industry. And finally it will give you the tools to get the right strategy implemented for your company.

Get your free copy of the book NOW!

Your White Paper on State of Digital? Inquire here.

Interested in more e-books and white papers? Find them here

Post from Bas van den Beld on State of Digital
E-Book: SEO Now 2014 – Where are we now with SEO?

Source: http://www.stateofdigital.com/seo-now-ebook/

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Reputation Manager, Andy Beal, took to the stage on Wednesday morning at Clickz, to share his lessons for Reputation Management for brands.

Beal defines Reputation Management as follows:

“An effort to increase the number of positive internet discussions while limiting the damage of…
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Reputation Management is set to become a much larger industry in the next five years, as these statistics reveal:

  • 83% of businesses in next 5 years will have a reputation management issue.
  • 87% of consumers tie reputation of the CEO to the reputation of the company.
  • 97% of consumers do online research to determine if they buy a product or not.

With this in mind, Beal offered 15 simple lessons for brands so you can avoid becoming a statistic.

You only have one reputation.
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There is no longer a distinction between your personal and professional life, so everything you say is now seen as representative of you as an individual and a professional.

A recent example that made the news in America, involved Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty. Robertson’s homophobic comments in a personal interview reflected badly on the A&E channel that produces his television program. The show was almost cancelled based on this.

What happens offline makes it online

As our digital and ‘real’ lives become more entwined, it is increasingly likely that any bad behaviour offline will soon find it’s way online. This is especially true if you are a person of influence or fame. There are almost too many examples of this to mention, every other week there is a tabloid rush on the latest stripper with a connection to a politician. Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark’s recent DM tweets to Lynsie Lee are just one of many recent examples.

You can’t hide your true character

American chef Paula Deen recently made headlines for all the wrong reasons, when it came to light that she had used the N-word many years ago. She lost sponsorship deals and her reputation is almost not irreparably damaged. The moral of this story is that murky moments and mistakes may well come back to haunt you – try to avoid causing offense in the first place. Easier said than done.

Don’t brag

A UK driver (from Norfolk – where I’m from. The Shame) managed to get herself into a lot of trouble, but not for her original crime, that of knocking over a cyclist with her car, but because she then went on to twitter and bragged about doing it.


The 140 characters above got Emma led to a reply tweet from the police, which led to a court appearance, points on her license, a fine and a bad reputation. Even tweets or posts that you send privately have a way of leaking out, particularly in this instance when the tweet in question is so extremely callous.  Any privacy precautions you are taking are token at this point so it is much wiser to simply avoid saying anything offensive.

You are always being judged

Mitt Romney? A likeable, successful Presidential candidate running against an incumbent President weathering the worst financial recession since the 1930s – the 2012 election was arguably his to lose until a video was released of him famously dismissing 47% of the American people.

The rule here is part of the blur between private and professional issue mentioned already, however to recap, you are always, always being watched and, consequently, judged. It is now incredibly easy to record audio, make videos and generally get people into trouble.

Kate Moss’s cocaine scandal in 2007 is another example of someone operating in what they thought was a trusted environment and being left in a rather compromising position.

Train your staff

It is still incredible just how many companies encourage their staff to share their work at the company via their social networks, however there is little guidance or training about just what is and what is not appropriate. These days there is always the added complication that even offline gaffes can quickly find their way online and make you notorious for all the wrong reasons.


Minibar in Austin, TX, did remedy the first error with donations to domestic violence charities but it is still unfortunate that it was allowed to happen in the first place.

Examples such as this highlight how important it is to make sure you staff have a robust sense of their role in representing your brand in their lives at work, offline and online.

On this theme, the familiar “views are mine and not that of my employer” might be legally binding however other readers and potential customers might not see it that way. As previously stated, your views will automatically be tied back to your company. As Justine Sacco and Pax Dickinson found out the hard way.


Avoid having to make excuses

Family Feud made some waves recently when a recent tweet was claimed to be the result of hacking.


Beal called this into question and thinks it is perhaps more likely than an employee accidentally tweeted from the wrong account. It does lead to the intriguing notion that “I was hacked” is the new “ I was drunk”.

Use the right account.

Based on the tip above, it can be all too easy to switch between accounts and then accidentally post something to the wrong account. Tools such as HootSuite, whilst very valuable, make this sort of mistake more likely than ever. As an employer, accept that these mistakes happen however factor in the ‘rant-proclivity’ ™ factor into it when you are allocating social media responsibilities. For whilst you definitely don’t want inappropriate content appearing on your social channels, even your employee’s personal social channels can be tied back to your brand. With this in mind, any public ranters, whilst completely entitled to their own opinions, might not be the best fit for your social media efforts.

Know your audience

As with content marketing and production, in terms of Reputation Management it is vitally important to understand your customers and their interests. This print ad for Pearl Izumi upset a lot of their animal-loving customers. The uproar was such that it attracted criticism from animal rights groups, an entirely new community, who now have a negative impression of the company.


Be present

Brands often make the mistake of monitoring their accounts during the business hours of their country, but fail to take into account that social channels are never closed for business. This can lead to the proverbial storm developing overnight or, worse still, over a weekend, when the accounts are not managed. The trick to getting around this, not by having 24 hour support staff, that is not realistic, but there has to be a system in place to monitor alerts and mentions, on rotation so any issues that do come to light can be addressed quickly before it gets out of hand.

British Airways learnt this the hard way – they didn’t respond to tweet from @HVSVN who then, in a clever moment of revenge, decided to promote the tweet. His tweet went viral, the mainstream media picked it up and when BA finally responded as follows, it only fanned the flames.


Be Careful with Automated Posts

Along the same lines, automated tweets or scheduled posts are a reality for most companies planning their social content however it can backfire and when it does, the results tend to be spectacular. The golden rule in this instance is to cancel any automated tweets the moment you find out about any potential PR issues.

Tesco discovered this at their cost when this tweet was posted at the same time as the company was under fire for the horsemeat scandal.


Greed is ugly

It is important to show some restraint with anniversaries of historical events. The pressure to produce timely, topical content that also ties in with your brand is immense as the rewards can be great, as Oreo found out during the superbowl of 2012 with this clever, fun, simple little gem.


However, for success stories such as this, there are too many examples of brands trying to seemingly cash in on more somber events.


This image, whilst sincere, just comes across as a little crass. If you are in any confusion about how to commemorate a historical event, the best answer might be to say nothing at all, or, if you feel strongly, avoid images and keep it simple, along the lines of ‘our thoughts are with the families’. Sincerity rings out in these instances and you want to make sure anything you express is honest and appropriate.

Don’t trash talk

Learn from Samsung’s recent PR fail, when it came to light that they were hiring people to write fake positive reviews of their products and, more damningly-still, fake negative reviews of HTC products. There is no need for tactics like this and invariably the truth will come out at some point, as in the case for Samsung who ended up with a fine for their troubles.

You can’t cover up nasty

Flying counter-trend from the message of The Lean Startup, it is important to do your utmost to release a finished, working product that can cope with the demand. The recent debacle over the Healthcare.gov website is a good example of the damage caused by an imperfect product. Unfortunately you only have one chance to create a positive first impression and if that is not positive, your potential customers are likely to go elsewhere to find what they need.

Things that get covered up will eventually get found out

Look at Lance Armstrong.

Who is handling it well?

Amongst all of this negativity, there are a number of brands who understand the importance of their reputation and are willing to defend it. Take United Airlines, formerly notorious for crushing a musician’s guitar, recently did the right thing with a ticket price glitch. Users to the site realized that flights to Hawaii were selling for  ~$ 10 each. Rather than cancel those tickets, United tackled the issue on Twitter with the following tweet.


United had clearly learnt from their previous mistakes and also had a sense that the financial implications of this error was lower than the cost of angering customers over their own internal error and potentially turning those people into detractors.

The TL;DR of  Beal’s keynote is that whilst the mistakes listed above are largely obvious, it is worth going over them and making sure everyone in your company understands their importance.

Prevention is better than cure.

The task of reputation management is largely thankless and invisible, until it’s too late so take the time to review your social media policies now, to make sure there is a system in place to limit the damage.

If all else fails, avoid twitter, as that seems to be the source of the majority of these errors.

About the author

Sarah Kershaw is a search analyst based in New York who engages in freelance writing in her spare time, writing about trends in digital marketing, the future of news and fine art. As a search analyst, Sarah is interested in UX and IA and tends to get very animated when talking about fonts and colours.

Post from State of Digital on State of Digital
Reputation Roadkill: Learning from the Biggest Brands’ “OMG” Moments – @AndyBeal #CZLNY

Source: http://www.stateofdigital.com/biggest-brands-omg-moments/