Friday, September 27, 2013

Are you following brands on Instagram?

By: Scott Stein, VP of Client Services, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

If you’re one of the 150 million people on Instagram and you’re at all like me, you enjoy the photos posted by family and friends as well as the various accounts that post photos of cute puppies. Since I consider myself to be an OK amateur photographer, I also follow a lot of other photographers looking for ideas and just enjoying the photos from around the world.

While most of the accounts I follow on Instagram are personal, I do follow a number of brands. And as a PR professional, I found a recent report from CNET to be rather interesting. The report cites new research from the competitive intelligence firm, TrackMaven, which found that nearly 25 percent of Fortune 500 companies are active on Instagram, with 112 of the top companies maintaining active accounts.

A couple of the big guys who jumped on the Instagram bandwagon early, like Nike and Starbucks, which are the two most-followed Fortune 500 brands on Instagram, use it for creative marketing and have prompted others to follow suit.

While nearly a quarter of the Fortune 500 is using Instagram as part of their marketing efforts, the TrackMaven research finds that most of the focus is on photos, with few of them adopting the use of video, which debuted on Instagram just three months ago. 

The CNET / TrackMaven report also found that videos seem to receive fewer interactions than photos and that there’s a strong correlation between using hashtags and getting more likes and comments. (If you’re on Instagram and looking for more likes and comments, the report says five is the optimal number of hashtags to use.)

What do you think of Instagram? Do you follow certain brands on Instagram?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Social Media Policy: What Should it Include?

By: Kristen Paquet, Sr. Account Executive, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
So… you’ve finally decided that it’s time to develop a social media policy for your business. Don’t worry; you’re not late to the party. A recent study shows that 31 percent of businesses still do not have a social media policy in place. Crazy, right?

Drafting a policy doesn’t have to be overwhelming and there are lots of online resources that can help. Mashable recently posted a column by Sharlyn Laubry that includes the 10 things that should go into a social media policy. It’s a great article, and I would suggest reading it because it not only gives you concrete examples of what to say, but is also provides ideas on how to say it in a way that employees will be able to get behind and support. 

Here are a few of what I think are the “biggies” to include in a policy:

  • Keep the policy short and easy to understand so your employees will actually read it. What good is a policy that goes unread? 
  • If an employee is using a company or personal account and is posting about the company, they need to know from the beginning that they are responsible for the content they write and share. 
  • Your audience is larger than you think. Other people like potential clients or customers could be listening in on the conversation. 
  • Think before you post: Could what I say online impact me or the company in a negative way? 
  • Give credit where credit is due. Just because something is online doesn’t mean its okay to use it freely without giving credit. Copyright laws apply even online! 
  • Outline the course of action an employee should take if a conversation gets out of control. Most often, that involves bringing in someone on the leadership team of the company to help respond or to take the conversation off line. 
  • Employees need to know what they are allowed to share. Include references to any confidentiality policy the company may have.
A social media policy is an important document a company should have in its toolbox. But don’t just leave it at that. Social media changes every day so be sure to review the policy often as new platforms and tools become available.

Does your company have a social media policy? What does it include? What would you add? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Apple launches new series of iPhones

By: Cole Buergi, VP of Business Development, Leonard & Finco Public Relations
It’s hard to improve on near perfection

Apple launched its new series of iPhones, the 5s and 5c to much fan fare earlier this week. Unfortunately, the hype didn’t last long and Apple’s stock dropped significantly as consumers were hoping for more than just incremental upgrades to the current iPhone 5. The price of the new iPhones also caused concern as it is higher than its main competitors.

What I truly don’t understand is what were people expecting from Apple?

I ask this question because Apple revolutionized the cellular phone with the introduction of the original iPhone. Isn’t it an unreal expectation that they will revolutionize it again at least from the perspective of the phone? A much more realistic expectation is that continued improvements will be made. The new phone is faster, has a higher quality camera and video recording capabilities and offers biometrics security. All of which may be beneficial to some but, for most, it’s more gadgetry that will likely never be used.

If you‘re like me, you probably have a significant number of apps on your phone that you found interesting or fun. And, if you’re like me, you most likely only use about five of them. I don’t have any scientific data, but a poll of friends and associates reinforces my feeling that most of us don’t come close to even using quarter of the capabilities our phone actually has. So why then do people feel it important that Apple continue to make change just for the sake of change?

I’d rather have Apple focus on the next piece of technology that will be a game changer in other areas of our lives and leave my perfectly designed iPhone alone.

What are your thoughts? Where you disappointed with the new phones? 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Communication – a lost art

By: Susan Finco, President, Leonard & Finco Public Relations

For those of us who truly love good communication, let’s pause a moment and mourn the loss of a way of life. I know a lot of you will say, “What are you talking about?!?! We do nothing BUT communicate with one another these days. People are on their phones, they’re texting, posting and yes, we even occasionally email one another.” That’s my point exactly.

Sure we are in touch with one another more than ever before, but very little of it is actually communicating. Call it message trading. Or headline writing. This realization hit me when I was attempting to get in touch with a good friend to see how she was doing , chat a bit and to set up a time to get together. I called and left a voice mail (because she never answers her phone). Instead of calling me back, she texted: “O.K. New pics FB. Dinner Sunday?” This lead to a series of two word exchanges. In the end, we set up a dinner, but I really didn’t know how she was doing. And the photos on Facebook didn’t answer the question either.

Once we got together, we actually communicated with one another like the longtime friends that we are. In thinking about it, it occurred to me that this is pretty typical for just about everyone I know. We text, we post, we Tweet, we email, we leave voice messages, but rarely do we talk or truly communicate unless we are actually in front of one another. Of course, in some cases, even when we’re face to face, we’re still spending time texting or posting. We’re just throwing out bits and pieces of information and leaving others to connect the dots.

Don’t get me wrong, I love social media; but now and then, I long for a good old-fashion conversation.  How about you?