BEST PRACTICES FOR SOCIAL MEDIA GRAPHICS

When it comes to social media and branding, generating engagement and making an impact on our audience is essential. A key element to aid in the success of social content and the impact it has on your target audience is by keeping your visuals consistent and brand aware.

Studies have shown that our society is heavily persuaded by visual stimulation. Good visuals have become a necessity to maintaining a concrete brand message and keeping a constant line of communication open between brands and audiences.

We’ve learned how important it is for brands to establish a consistent brand image that audiences can routinely begin to recognize and appreciate as they scroll through their social feeds.

A great way to establish a visual narrative of your brand across all social platforms is to start with drafting your concept. Once you have that down, you should move along to determine if your visual follows basic design principles:

 

  • Legibility
    • Be sure that the text chosen for your graphic, is easy to read. Many overlook this step for fonts that they find appealing. Don’t do this. Choose a typeface that your audience can easily decipher.
  • Visual Hierarchy
    • This instructs the user on how to read the content by differentiating the elements needed for the graphic: like type size, color or other artistic elements.
  • Color
    • Be sure that you are cognizant of the color choices in your social graphic. Colors have been proven to influence how we digest certain visuals and what moods we associate them with.
  • Typography
    • Dependent upon the tone of your graphic and its messaging, the typography you choose to further that message is also significant. Type can convey different ideas or moods to audiences, so it’s important to choose the type you want wisely.

By striving to maintain a recognizable approach to your social graphics, you leverage your visuals to reinforce and elevate your story with audiences. Additional sustainable habits include using the company logo, colors, and type to brand your content as you craft your posts.

Remember, consistency registers the most with people and will create a new connection between your brand and its constituents.

So, next time you sit down to create a social media graphic, create a checklist of the necessary components for a successful and brand aware graphic. From there, you’ll be much closer to meeting the objectives you conceptualized.

Want to learn more? Join our conversation by tweeting us @DEVENEYMKTG.

 

CONSUMER ACTIVISM: HOW TO PREPARE AND HOW TO RESPOND

In 2018, brands are witnessing a wave of a new consumer activism. According to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll, since the beginning of 2016, one in five Americans has participated in some form of activist involvement. In all, 27% of American adults have taken part in two or more offline activities, while 18% (representing 24% of Internet users) have engaged in two or more activities online. And, many of them claim they plan on getting more active. Making sure your brand is properly prepared to engage with activists both proactively as well as reactively will be essential to navigating the activism landscape.

Activism Defined:

Activism can be understood as acting to affect social change and can occur in a myriad of ways and in a variety of forms. It is most often concerned with “changing the world” through social, political, economic or environmental efforts. Activism can be led by individuals but is often done collectively through social movements.

Types of Activism:

  • Digital/Internet/Social Media
    • The use of electronic communication technologies such as social media, email, podcasts, etc. to enable faster and potentially more effective (far-reaching) transmission of oppositional beliefs by concerned citizens who may or may not be involved in a larger movement
  • Protests/Grassroots Movements
    • The protest is perhaps the oldest and most traditional form of activism
    • Individuals (who may or may not be part of the same community and/or organization) who coordinate and assemble a large-scale event bearing witness on behalf of a cause
    • Protesters may organize a protest as a way of making their opinions heard to influence public opinion or government policy, or they may undertake direct action to enact desired changes themselves
    • Can be non-violent and/or violent depending on the situation and can escalate from non-violent to violent depending on the circumstances
    • May take place in one designated location or could consist of physical movement i.e. a walk or march
  • Activist Organizations
    • The activism industry consists of organizations and individuals engaged in various forms of activism fighting at least one perceived injustice; often done full-time as part of the organization’s core business model
    • Often non-profit and/or non-governmental
    • Does not generally manufacture goods
    • May engage in lobbying, or attempting to influence decisions made by the federal government
    • Examples of Activist Organizations: PETA, Greenpeace, ACLU, Black Lives Matter, etc.

Profile of an Activist:

  • Usually involved in larger organization/movement
  • Engage in demonstrations, sit-ins, etc.
  • Act on what they believe to be true and/or what they hold as core values (i.e.: civil liberties, women’s rights, animal rights, etc.)

 

Proactive: Get Ahead of the Curve

First Steps

  • Identify issues that might attract activists’ attention
  • Assemble crisis management plan and team with members in specialty areas who have activism or similar experience
  • Develop specific crisis management plans for different types of possible activism crises
  • Select and train a credible spokesperson for the media
  • Consider conducting dry runs/test crises to make sure your plans will work

Do Your Research

  • Develop media relations plan, community relations plan and risk communications strategy
  • Appoint responsibility to appropriate members of staff who have relevant experience in crisis management (especially when it comes to activism)
  • Develop a written and verbal complaints procedure
  • Consider holding community events or engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility programs – reach out to the community if you think they may turn against you; don’t isolate your brand
  • Identify and keep in touch with the views of all activist groups that may prove a threat
  • Keep track of public opinion of the organization and relevant general issues (environment, animal rights, equal pay, racism, sexual assault, etc.)
  • Do not lose touch with breaking news and trending headlines – always be on top of what’s going on in the larger community that could affect your brand in some way

Avoid:

  • Don’t assume it won’t happen – anyone is vulnerable to a crisis, activism-related or not
  • Don’t play defense instead of offense
    • You may not always have the opportunity to expect the unexpected, but waiting to act until an activism-related crisis occurs is not the way to go unless there’s no other option
  • Don’t expect people/public opinion to be on your side – including employees
  • Don’t release messaging related to a potential crisis without consulting your crisis management team and/or legal counsel– risk of bringing unwanted negative attention to your brand
    • This goes for reactive crisis management as well

 

Reactive: Crisis Management

Protocol:

  • Identify and act quickly
  • Keep calm
  • Do not engage in further verbal or written communication, especially online
  • Be on high alert

Be discreet and cordial

Preparing for a Protest:

  • Identify and act quickly
  • Expect a video camera; this means they may come in groups of two or more

During a Protest:

  • Administrators should handle addressing the protesters, not staff
  • Ideally there is no video footage, but we should at least aim to keep the encounter as short as possible
  • Avoid protesters entering private property
    • Verbal phrases to communicate:
      • “We apologize, but no video camera recordings are allowed on our premises at this time.”
      • “Ma’am/Sir, you’re going to have to vacate the building.”
      • “Please adjourn to public property for your speech.”
    • Continue to not engage in further verbal communication

Avoid:

  • Do not engage in verbal conversation
  • Calmly repeat company policy
  • Do not stray from this script
  • Do not physically touch any of the protesters
  • Do not attempt to take posters or cameras away
  • Do not allow guests to verbally or physically engage

 After the Protest:

  • Do not further engage in conversation with guests about the occurrence
  • Apologize for the disruption
  • Ensure customer safety
  • Contact/update executives

Hard-hitting activist campaigns against big corporations have become part of the business landscape in 2018, but encountering activists doesn’t need to be an intimidating experience. Having a partner like DEVENEY to support your organization and devise a plan ensures that your best foot is forward when navigating the activism landscape.

Want to learn more? Join our conversation by tweeting us @DEVENEYMKTG.

 

GETTING TO KNOW GENERATION Z

As marketers, it’s crucial to continuously research and know our ever-evolving audiences. Our newest target audience? Generation Z.

But who exactly is Gen Z?

There is some debate on birth years, but most agree that Gen Z’ers are those individuals born after 1995/1996. They are 60 million strong, and will make up 40% of consumers by 2020.

Most importantly though, Gen Z’ers are not just an exaggerated version of Millennials – in fact, they are extremely different given the historical context they grew up in:

  • Gen Z’ers have been shaped by the recession and are prepared to work hard to create a stable future for themselves. They don’t remember a time when the economy was booming, so they are much more pragmatic and realistic than Millennials.
  • Additionally, they grew up believing that acceptance is the semi-norm and are generally more inclusive and tolerant than older generations. After all, they witnessed the election of the first black president and the legalization of gay marriage.
  • Gen Z’ers are global citizens. They actually interact with their global peers as the world continues to go online and geographical barriers shrink.
  • Technology-wise, Gen Z’ers are different because they are digital natives. They grew up surrounded by advancements in technology and don’t really remember a time when they did not have those tools. They see technology more as a tool than as an obsession. Technological innovation is not as exciting because they have come to expect it.

So, what does this mean for marketing?

Because Gen Z is such a unique audience cohort and will make up such a large portion of the market, it’s important to understand key aspects of their demo- and psychographics so that we may begin to shift how we communicate brands and ideas. Key takeaways include:

5 screens, 8 seconds: Because they’ve grown up in a world with access to information 24/7, Gen Z’ers have extremely small attention spans – 8 seconds to be exact. Even more, they are consistently plugged in to about 5 screens at a time.To account for this, make your content engaging and concise, and be sure to wow them (they expect it) – show value as quickly as possible.

Make sure your website is updated and works on mobile devices. They judge with their eyes first, and if one platform is lacking, they will notice and criticize you for it.

Tailor your marketing posts to each specific platform while keeping the overall message the same – it’s up to you to find the best way to communicate, and remember: each platform has a different purpose. Overall, Gen Z’ers are typically top users of platforms that allow them to choose who sees their content, and trends show that they prefer visual content over written word.

  • Instagram: conveying style and identity
  • Twitter: learning the news, real-time talk around trending events
  • Snapchat: share real moments in real time
  • Facebook: glean information, but tends to be viewed as an “over-sharing” platform (and thus its popularity among Gen Z is dying)
  • Another tip: Utilize online influencers to connect with the audience on a personal level. Gen Z’ers aren’t naïve and know influencers are paid to endorse products, but they still trust the individuals they follow on social media to make a conscious decision about the brands they work with.

Strong “BS” filters: Gen Z’ers have a very different relationship with brands and companies than their elders – they are less trusting and tend to have the strongest “BS” filter because they grew up having so much access to information so constantly. Overall, they tend to trust individuals more than institutions, so make sure to promote transparency and authenticity in everything your brand does.

  • Another tip: Utilize online influencers to connect with the audience on a personal level. Gen Z’ers aren’t naïve and know influencers are paid to endorse products, but they still trust the individuals they follow on social media to make a conscious decision about the brands they work with.

Empower them to change the world: Gen Z’ers aren’t as impressed by awards and industry jargon – they are motivated by companies that demonstrate a desire to make a positive impact on the world. They are very socially and politically active and want to be involved in the next movement for change. Don’t just talk about how your company helps others… inspire people to join you.

How has your brand shifted to target Generation Z? Tell @DEVENEYMKTG how you did it!

CALLING FOUL ON ACTIVIST GROUPS

Graphic of Activist Groups

Preparing for the Future of Crisis

Over the past couple of years, there has been an increase in activism and protests to voice concern over various topics and issues such as abortion, gun reform/school shootings, sexual violence and animal cruelty, just to name a few. Supporters of these groups are very passionate about their respective causes and can create turmoil for a brand’s reputation if one happens to get caught in their cross hairs.

Activists will do anything to bring attention to their cause, whether it be staging protests outside of a business or vandalizing a brand’s identity through every possible outlet, including social media networks, advertising, direct mail and grassroots efforts. By engaging with and empowering their supporters, these groups can quickly build momentum, control the conversation and increase support in other locations.

On March 25, 2018, McDonald’s was targeted by an animal rights group that criticized the chain for its “chicken welfare policy” – pressuring the corporate giant to agree to source its chicken from more sustainable/humane farms. Over the past year, the group has also targeted other fast food empires, food suppliers and manufacturers demanding the same commitments, many of which have agreed to the group’s demands such as Subway, Starbucks and Burger King, Sodexo, General Mills and Carnival Cruise Lines.

The group launched an aggressive fight against McDonald’s and has appropriated its logo, slogan, products and mascot for a negative image campaign, which has been implemented online, on bench ads in front of restaurants, on mobile billboards and in full-page ads in the Chicago Times and the New York Times. The group has also taken to projecting negative messaging on buildings next to restaurant locations and erecting large-scale, branded product installations around Chicago. Through an online campaign, including email newsletters, supporters are being mobilized to protest outside of restaurants around the world and at McDonald’s U.S. headquarters in Chicago.

To date, the group has not received the commitment they are seeking from the brand, and each day the attack continues. McDonald’s has not publicly responded to the group.

Think your brand might be targeted next? Here are a few recommendations on how you can identify and monitor any activist groups possibly targeting your brand.

Activism Monitoring Toolkit

Research:

  • Identify current groups and groups on-the-rise that might be targeting your brand and/or your competitors
  • Keep an eye on the news and hot topics nationally and globally and identify topics that might be a pain point for your brand (animal welfare, gun reform, etc)
  • Listen to public opinion, as it changes quickly

Monitoring:

  • Set up Google Alerts for trending terms/issues
  • Utilize social monitoring tools such as HootSuite or Sprout Social to see posts and engagements as they happen

Befriend the enemy:

  • Sign up for newsletters
  • Follow social accounts to keep an eye out on what brands they are targeting and why

Prepare:

  • Develop a media relations plan, community relations plan, and risk communications strategy
  • Assign roles to team members who have relevant experience in crisis management
  • Conduct a media training for key executives and spokespeople
  • Prepare talking points and a holding statement
  • Prepare responses in the event you begin receiving calls, emails or negative comments on your social networks

Want to learn more? Join our conversation by tweeting us @DEVENEYMKTG.

AR, VR and AI: USING NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO CREATE COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE

Graphic demonstrating AR technology.

As technology becomes more and more prevalent in our everyday lives, it is important for us to learn the differences between new computer systems and the ways in which they can be used to capture value. All too often, businesses will adjust to and learn to implement only one kind of technology, just for another newer and preferred platform to come along and force them to start this process all over again. Marketers need to be consistently looking to the future and staying up to date on these innovations in order to determine the most practical applications for their companies.

There are three types of technology that we as marketers will be using more frequently (and much sooner than you may think):

  • Augmented Reality (AR) involves virtual enhancement of a real-world environment. AR systems identify existing objects and conditions, and then augment them with superimposed, computer-generated imagery.  AR includes technology like Snapchat filters, the Uber app and Pokémon Go.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) uses an interactive, artificial world to suspend doubt in the user. VR systems combine software and hardware to create some degree of immersion and sensory feedback. Most video games involve some level of VR immersion.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) adds adaptive learning and/or intelligence to computers so that performance is improved. Computers with AI capabilities can learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform some human-like tasks using data collection and storage. AI encompasses anything from smart speakers to self-driving cars.

But how do we use this information to create competitive advantage?

The increasing accessibility of information through social media—and internet usage in general—has opened the door for many companies looking to differentiate their offerings through personalization.

  • Augmenting Customer Realities: By tailoring your company’s products or services for use on AR equipped platforms, customers will be able to view your offering in their physical environment. Ikea’s “Ikea Place” app does this particularly well, allowing customers to preview furniture wherever they plan to place it in their homes.
  • Using the Past to Inform the Future: Data collected by retailers about customers’ historical information from past purchases can be used to create deeper engagement at home or in-store. Companies will be able to suggest and possibly even predict future purchase decisions with the use of AI.
  • Increasing Interest through Interaction: Consumers are becoming less and less interested by traditional advertising in mass markets. It is no longer enough for brands to include a prominent celebrity or an adorable animal in their ad. Advertisements through VR platforms will allow for seemingly real user-product interaction and will likely be more successful in influencing purchase decisions in the coming years.

How will your brand use these tools to capture value for your audience? Tell us how by tweeting us @DEVENEYMKTG

CONSUMER LISTENING; UNDERSTANDING HOW YOUR BRAND IS UNDERSTOOD

Listening (DEVENEY Image)

As marketing and public relations professionals, we are in the business of building brands and helping to shape consumer conversation. We use methods like advertisements, social media, influencer endorsements, public relations efforts and more, but in the end, unless we have access to marketing mix model (MMM), do we truly know how our brand might be perceived by the general public or what our return on investment might be?

Often expensive and labor intense in process, MMM is an analytic tool that determines the effectiveness of a variety of tactics, but unfortunately most small businesses cannot afford its use.

But what other indicators can we look towards, to get a gauge on the effectiveness of marketing and public relations efforts?

Social Media Listening– these days most brands actively engage in some form of social media listening. And if you are not, you should! A decent listening tool can provide a deep dive analysis into the conversation currently being had surrounding your business. As most individuals actively maintain one or more social media profiles, social media listening can be an effective tool to gauge how a particular consumer demographic views your brand, often in real time. Is your marketing message making its way into the vernacular of your target consumer group? That’s a good indicator that your messaging is effective.

Sales Numbers– Should you have access to your sales numbers, often times a lift can be attributed to an individual tactic. And through digital tools, coupon codes and a variety of other tracking methods, a direct correlation is easier than ever. Instagram is a good example of where a tactic can be directly linked to a sale. Featured influencer content can direct a consumer on where to purchase, making the connection VERY clear.

Consumer Reviews– According to the Pew Research Center 82% of U.S. adults say they at least read online customer ratings or reviews before purchasing items for the first time. There is no question that consumer reviews impact purchase behavior, but what can these reviews provide to marketers in terms of gauging sentiment? While not something that can directly link to marketing efforts, reviews can be utilized to spot trending indicators. Are consumers regularly commenting on price? Is there a commonality in regards to the negative reviews posted? A brand is wise to regularly monitor comments and adjust their product or service offering accordingly.

So, while not every brand can get into the analysis of their marketing spend, the above methods are excellent options for getting an overview of how your brand is being received. By paying close attention to what people are saying, incites often reveal themselves. It’s up to us to determine how we react to these incites to improve or adjust our marketing strategy.

Want to learn more? Join our conversation by tweeting us @DEVENEYMKTG.

Perfecting Your Beach Instagram Post

Summer (DEVENEY Image)

Ah, summer – welcome back! This is the time we all start thinking about beach getaways and our next long vacation.

Lucky for us, with an office in West Palm Beach, Fla., we get those beach days more frequently than many. Not long ago we posted about how to take better iPhone photos and today we’re going to map out how to get the perfect beach ‘gram.

First things first, let’s talk about what kind of photo you’re going to post. When sharing your picture-perfect moments on Instagram, it’s important to think about what you’re trying to showcase. We’ve come up with six different types of perfect instagrammable beach moments.

  1. Drink in The Air
  2. Casual Lounging
  3. Floatie Fun
  4. Hot Dog Legs
  5. Beach Experience
  6. Scenic Surroundings

Each one of these moments has essential elements to ensure you get the very best beach ‘gram possible. We’ve sifted through some of our favorite Florida ‘grammers (and a few others, too) and come up with key essentials to ensure you’re sharing the very best picture-perfect moment.

Drink in The Air

This is a personal favorite Instagram style. I am a huge fan of the Drink In The Air/Food In The Air movement. The whole purpose of these kinds of photos is to show off the freshness, fancy-ness or beauty of whatever you’re drinking so obviously the most critical of essential elements for this photo is the drink itself. Some of our top suggestions: drinks inside fresh fruit (pineapple or coconut), cute cup (something monogrammed or a fun shape), or a cocktail with floral accents (like an orchid garnish). Another essential for the Drink in The Air shot is a fresh manicure – sorry, but it’s true. Your hand is part of the image, so make sure it’s lookin’ good.

Some tips for taking the perfect Drink in The Air style photo:

  • Use your dominant hand for taking the photo. I’m right handed so I generally do the holding with my left hand. (Pro-tip: this is where popsockets really come in handy!)
  • The background is everything, in our case the background is always Florida’s sandy shores and crashing waves. Palm trees and beautiful skies work, too.
  • Hold your drink strategically – if there is writing on the cup, make sure you can read it!
  • Take multiple photos from different angles to really capture the drink the way you want it to be captured.

Casual Lounging

This is for those of us who visit Florida beaches (or any beaches) with an “Instagram Husband” (or wife, or friend – whatever!) who can lend a hand in snapping those perfect pics. The essentials for this ‘gram are: trendy sunglasses, cute towel or beach blanket, straw hat and the perfect bathing suit.

There are lots of different ways this kind of photo could go so we encourage you to play around with the angles and the subjects.

Floatie Fun

For what feels like the billionth year in a row, ridiculously shaped and sized floaties are *the* beach and pool-side essential and I’m not complaining! Obviously, for this shot, the essential element is the floatie itself. Pizza, unicorn, pineapple – whatever – just jump aboard and float around.

Floatie fun by Nick Mele on Instagram

Hot Dog Legs

Another oldie but goodie, the hot dog leg photo. This is probably the most popular and most common of the beach ‘grams but, if I am being honest, it’s my least favorite so I’m not going to spend a lot of time covering it. You’ll simply need a pretty background and your legs as props to make this one work.

Hotdog Legs instagram image from Stephanie Matlock

Beach Experience

The goal of this photo is to capture the essence of the Florida beach experience. This means your “beach experience” photo may look different than mine. This kind of image is going to change depending on what your experience looks like. For me, the experience is about relaxation and tranquility so my beach experience image may include a book laying on my towel with the waves in the background. For others, the perfect experience may be walking the shoreline and collecting shells.

Scenic Surroundings

For this shot, we recommend using Florida’s greatest asset – its beaches. Add a sunrise or a sunset and basically, you’re creating nothing but FOMO for all of your followers.

Scenic Florida shot by Jupiter Photo Girl on Instagram

With these tips you will be sure to create the best beach posts this summer. Share yours with us by tagging @DEVENEYMKTG on Instagram.

All You Need to Know About the GDPR

European Union General Data Protection Regulation graphic from Composity

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have likely heard about the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, more commonly known as GDPR. While this is a regulation specific to the European Union, there are potential implications that could impact businesses in the United States. As members of The WorldCom Group –  an international collection of PR and communications agencies – we are keenly aware that you don’t have to be in the European Union to be impacted by GDPR.

Some companies like Google have already rolled out changes to their privacy policy in advance of the GDPR going into effect May 25, 2018. Other companies like Verve have shuttered their operations in Europe because of it.

In any case, the implications could be minimal or major, depending on what your company is, how you collect and use data, and the audience you reach. If you’re anything like me, the EU’s GDPR was a bit of an unknown and while you may or may not be impacted by it, knowledge is power (right?).

Thanks to some cursory research, we have found this amazing infographic from Digiday outlining all the must-know details of the GDPR. And, instead of recreating the wheel we figured we’d just share it with you here. Enjoy!

GDPR Infographic from Digiday

Have something to add? Tweet at us @DEVENEYMKTG and let us know!

HOW TO SLOW DOWN IN A FAST-PACED AGENCY WORLD

Slow Down (DEVENEY Graphic)

When you’re given a new project, it’s easy to go into autopilot and want to start right away to finish as soon as possible. However, before starting, try to dedicate a few minutes to thinking of any potential problems or questions you may have noted before diving in, and how you might want to tackle the assignment. Be rational: do you even have all the information you need to complete the project, or do you need to do some further research first? Remember to give yourself some time to think and draw logical conclusions about the project at hand.

Communicate with the client (or the project lead) to make sure that all expectations are understood and clear from the beginning.

To make more efficient use of your time before starting, confirm that you have a correct understanding of what the project entails and any important deadlines to keep in mind. That way, you are headed in the right direction from the get-go and won’t be halfway through the project before realizing that what you’ve done isn’t actually what the client was looking for.

Create your own action plan.

How are you going to get your project done for your client by the deadline? In this step, I usually create mini-deadlines or internal goals for myself – for example, when writing a press release, I budget the time I’m allotted to account for research, writing the first draft, editing, and so on. By forming a mental checklist for myself, I not only keep myself on track, but am able to make sure each stage of the project is completed thoroughly.

If you finish before the deadline, take a break and come back to the project later, before turning it over to the client or account lead for review.

By allowing yourself to take a break and come back with fresh eyes, you are giving yourself the opportunity to think of an idea to include that may not have occurred to you the first time around, or even a completely new — and better — angle for the project that the client will love. You may end up having a breakthrough if you let the assignment sit for a while, and you’ll also be able to catch those grammatical or spelling errors you didn’t realize you made.

If all else fails, take a deep breath and remind yourself to relax – the work will get done!

Ultimately, slowing down will help you pay closer attention to detail, which will enhance your productivity in the long run. It may feel painful at first and as if you’re not being efficient, but after a while, it will become second nature. Being efficient is important, but so is serving the needs of a client to the best of your abilities, and that all starts with mindfulness and slowing down.

Keep in mind: people may not remember how fast you did it, but they will remember how well you did it!

How do you stay efficient at work while not sacrificing quality? Share your techniques with us @DEVENEYMKTG!