September 2, 2016 By FTI Consulting
The cornerstone of creativity is being connective – linking patterns and events in some kind of significant outcome or underlying cause. This one might be an (slightly sombre) exercise in that…
One of the ways that the terrorist group ISIS shot to the top of global consciousness was the deftness with which it distributed its well-produced gore and ideological messages. This stoked not only fear in global ‘audiences’ but (somehow) sympathetic responses to its views, creating a major problem for governments. How would they prevent messaging across social media infecting the minds of citizens and creating home-grown threats?
In the US, one strategy was broadcasting from government channels. A nice thought, but hardly pointed enough to penetrate the minds of wavering social outcasts on the brink of Jihadism. Finally, a new strategy seems to be falling into place – boosting the resources of those with links and influence in potential at-risk communities. The results are already positive in terms of engagement with this approach. The lesson here is that, when trying to get someone to convert to your point of view or solidify an existing one, the role of trust in the source is mission critical. What the US government is doing is effectively running an influencer mapping and brand advocacy campaign, allowing individuals with in-roads to key stakeholders to carry its vision and messaging on its behalf. While we hope that the stakes are never nearly so dire, we’d recommend companies take note of the strategy in its broadest sense.
Whatever you do, DO NOT search that hashtag in Twitter. We hope none of you clicked on it when it was trending either. McDonald’s had a rather unfortunate surprise this week when a video went viral of a man doing the unspeakable with a McChicken sandwich (leaving Burger King’s Whopper feeling very left out). Of course, everybody who had their retinas burned by the video felt they needed to comment using the hashtag #McChicken, propelling it further into the social media landscape.
Soon, celebrities picked it up and the hashtag exploded with popularity. It’s an especially jarring knock for McDonald’s who are working to improve the image of food quality (as hygiene just went out the window) but also a good reminder for all of us. What it reminds us of is the power of virality to embroil brands in a crisis nobody could have seen coming – or should have seen ever. This is powered somewhat by the use of algorithms in determining trending news and topics, too, which has been a scourge for Facebook this week. Algorithms pick up what’s popular, not necessarily what is desirable or true (see the social media panic about Los Angeles airport earlier this week, as well). This makes vigilant monitoring and robust response mechanisms hugely important for protecting your brand online.
Occasionally I get asked to quiet my inner news nerd (and I’m sorry for those who’ve been suffering through him for years now) but this one was a little too good to pass up. A report from Harvard’s Shorenstein Center was published this week that describes a “second-class digital citizenship”, at least as far as news consumption is concerned. The argument goes like this: the advent of the suffusion of smart phones and mobile internet access has created a divide not only in how people consumer content, but what kind of content they consume. Because of slower load times, smaller screens and variable data packages (and less focus on just the device itself, we’d wager), users of smartphones are less likely to follow links to substantive news stories or read in-depth reporting on their phones. While most sites receive more visitors through mobile devices than desktops, the time spent on the site plummets. This is important for informing how we thing about content and ways to reach users.
One inference is that it pays to stay on broader platforms like Facebook and Twitter and make sure your key messages are there. While we always advocate a strong content hub, you need to have your story in short and digestible bites on social platforms to fully engage stakeholders on mobile devices. Further, make use of in-platform analytics to keep track of your audience habits. Twitter allows you to see what percentage of your audience uses the app on devices and desktops, even breaking down by operating systems. This is important in tailoring your content to fit your audience and making sure you’re hitting every reading habit, ensuring your content sticks in viewers minds.
Periscope will now feature sponsored live video broadcasts [Mashable]
Apple might live-tweet the iPhone 7 launch from its @apple account [TechCrunch]
Barack Obama to guest edit Wired magazine [The Guardian]
Instagram Stories diverges from Snapchat by suggesting who to follow [TechCrunch]
Snapchat makes it easier to create its for-profit geofilters [USA Today]
While most users had the Pokemon Go bug for a few weeks, some poor new-borns are going to be stuck with it for life.
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