Is New Media Good or Bad for your Family

IS MASS MEDIA AND THE INTERNET HELPING OR HURTING YOU?

Since the internet, and particularly smartphones, became household commodities, mass media’s impact on people and societies has increased exponentially.

As you might expect, there is a swinging pendulum of public opinion which often shifts from decrying the ills of this trend to extolling the many virtues of on demand technology.

Whether you tend toward the former or latter opinion, it’s obvious that mass media and social media are having profound effects upon individuals and society as a whole. Many people are concerned about the implications of these effects, and find themselves asking questions like:

  • How is media affecting me?
  • How is mass media impacting the next generation?
  • How do video games change us?
  • How does on-demand media impact health?
  • Is mass media truly important?
  • How do we use mass media and social media well?
  • Is mass media a good thing?

Something Different Companies phone usage Answering these questions can help you to be smart about how you interact with the constant barrage of media being directed at you and your family.

So let’s think through the implications of mass media together so that we can come to informed conclusions.

HOW DOES MASS MEDIA AFFECT YOU?

Many are wondering mass media, and social media, in particular, is a good thing or bad thing. Of course, for every type of media, there are a host mixed opinions, some based on research, some not. Neil Postman was asking these same types of questions over the mass adoption of the television.

A positive use of technology and mass media enables people to become informed, collaborate in innovative ways, or stay in touch with friends and family. Yet, these same connections can be used for dangerous cybercrime.

Social media can help people to feel connected and happy, to connect with old friends and make new ones. However, that same social media can lead to depression or anxiety, when life doesn’t meet the expectations created by perfectly edited profiles.

The internet may be a source of motivational messages, videos, or blog posts that improve your life and increase productivity or healthy living. However, it’s just as possible that these very messages can prevent you from getting out there and living.

These are just a few examples of the vastly different ways media can impact our daily lives.

Because mass media affects each person differently, you need to look at your own life to make informed decisions.

Where do you fall on the pendulum? How does your use of social media affect your mood, productivity, and sense of well being? If you tend more toward the negative impacts – depression, anxiety, inactivity – it may be time to limit your media consumption.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF MASS MEDIA ON CHILDREN?

Television is the best researched area of mass media effect on children. It has the how is media affecting childrenpotential to help and to harm, as is true with most media types.

Many negative effects have been recorded, and kids often spend more time watching television than on any other activity. However, if the television time includes educational programming and parent supervision, the power can be harnessed to help with learning and have positive effects.

With this in mind, parents must think critically about how their children are consuming television. Are they largely involved in what and how often their children are watching, or is it more of a hands-off experience?

This is perhaps even more important to think through now that most “television” consumption consists of Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms.

Making the decision to be diligent about these decisions now will improve children’s interactions with television, and prepare them to interact well with other types of media as they mature.

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF MEDIA ON TEENS?

Media often is described as harmful to teens, and while this is certainly true in some circumstances, it can be best understood as having mixed effects.

The key is to be aware of how mass media and social networking affect the brain so that you can make intentional decisions about how to use it.

Some positive effects include:
  • Motor skills are improved by typing, clicking, playing games, and other tech-related finger skills.
  • Hand-eye coordination or even quick thinking can be helped. (Future drone pilots)
  • Access to mass news media can improve reading skills.
  • Social network activity is theorized to improve writing and socializing skills.

Additionally, the content of media stories or social media posts can be useful and meaningful to teens. With platforms like YouTube and Instagram, they have access to people’s stories they might never have heard otherwise. In this way, teens may learn that many others are experiencing similar struggles to their own, giving courage and confidence.

However, there are significant negative effects as well.

Negative effects include:
  • Depression or anxiety over body image
  • Normalizing violence
  • Unfettered access to pornography
  • Increased risk of obesity from inactivity
  • Decreased attention to schoolwork

Knowing about these potential risks of social and mass media consumption is important for both teens and their parents. In this respect, knowledge really is power, as it will enable both parties to be strategic about the role of media in their lives.

Read more about media communication master’s in communication options.

WHAT ABOUT VIDEO GAMES?

Video games are a frequent concern, particularly as technology continues to advance affects of video games on youthand gaming becomes more and more realistic. Research shows some mixed effects from video game use.

Though the problem solving and dexterity skills employed can lead to higher intelligence or better motor skills, the violent or other disturbing content in games is of high risk to well being. It’s established that seeing violence can desensitize one to its effects.

As with other types of media mentioned, it’s critical that parents exercise caution about what types of games their children play and how often they do so.

DOES MASS MEDIA DAMAGE HEALTH?

The proliferation of mass media and electronic devices has had profound effects on Health Appshealth. There are numerous physical problems which may arise from this consumption, particularly if left unchecked.

The effects of smartphones often first show up as eye strain and neck pain, the inevitable result of constant screen-time and often slumped positions while using these devices. Obesity is a risk if much time is spent in sedentary activity.

Some research shows links between mass media consumption and anxiety and depression. There can be a change in happiness, social skills, and peace of mind that is attributed to media and the internet.

It is most important to monitor your happiness and health and correlate them with your own practices so you can make informed decisions for your or your family’s well being.

HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY?

There are many recommendations for being wise with media consumption.

Parents must be familiar with current sites and channels, and the types of content that their children come into contact with. Ask questions and browse with your child. Set clear and appropriate ground rules for young ages, which then build a strong foundation for future responsible use.

Make sure to discuss the difference between fantasy and reality with your children. If exposed to gratuitous violence and sexuality, children and teens should know these are fantasy, and not the norm or real life. The dangers of violent and risky behavior should be a topic of conversation.

For almost any age from 1- 99, limiting media to a few hours per day is reasonable and enforceable. Discuss education, values, and the intrusion of media regularly with your family.

Conclusion

There is no definitive answer to whether mass media is “good” or “bad”. Research has shown that it can have both positive and negative effects, and often these effects are dependent on how the media is being used and consumed.

The solution isn’t to totally cut yourself off from all mass media or to wholeheartedly embrace every facet of it. Rather, it must be carefully analyzed and evaluated. If you’re a parent, you need to help your children understand both the positives and negatives of things like video games, social media, and streaming television.

Unless you plan on moving to an isolated island with no internet connection, this issue isn’t going away. The best approach is to tackle it head-on, rather than hoping things just work themselves out.

Many people are choosing to engage with mass communication head-on with master’s degrees in mass communications. It’s with this progress we are able to understand the effects of mass media and other emerging social channels have on society currently and in the foreseeable future.

 

Anna Kucirkova Guest Blogger: “Anna Kucirkova speaks 3 languages has a passion for kids and writing. While she has been to many places in Europe and SE Asia she still wants to explore the rest of the world.”

 


Over 75 Facts about Cyber Crime

INFOGRAPHIC: 77 FACTS ABOUT CYBER CRIMES IN 2018

cyber securityThanks to “Best VPNs.co.uk” for allowing me to share their infographic.


2018 Retail Trends You Will Likely See

Retail Trends Likely to Dominate the Scene in 2018

Trends and predictions are part and parcel with the start of a new calendar year. One area in which trends are analyzed at the beginning of the year involves the retail market segment. There are a number of retail trends that are likely to dominate the scene in 2018.

Grocery eCommerce will Blast Off

A major 2018 retail trend will center 2018 Retail trends on grocery eCommerce. A primary reason a focus in 2018 will be on grocery eCommerce is associated with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and Walmart’s decision to up its game when it comes to online grocery marketing.

Prior to the latter part of 2017, U.S. citizens lagged behind their international counterparts when it came to grocery eCommerce. All of that is expected to change in 2018 due to a significant uptick in the number of U.S. consumers who will embrace grocery eCommerce.

“Traditional” Retailers and the Realization that They Must Change

Forbes, the widely read business J.R. Atkins on retail trendsmagazine, traditionally makes predictions pertaining to retail trends at the start of a new year. In 2018, the magazine focused on one major trend to pay attention to in the retail market segment in 2018. Specifically, the “big trend” to watch for in 2018 is that a multitude of retailers, from different market segments, will finally concede that they must embrace change.

Embracing change does primarily involve so-called traditional retailers, including those stores that have been in business for more extended periods of time. These enterprises have long held firm to the principle that retailers determine what a customer should desire to purchase. These enterprises also believed that retailers held the keys as to how customers shop.

In reality, that has not been the case for quite some time. In fact, in the digital age, customers truly to define the shopping experience on all levels. 2018 is marked to be the year in which retailers reluctant to accept this reality will finally do so.

With a notable number of traditional retailers closing their doors forever, many others muttered the mantra that 2017 was a year to survive. Those that made it into 2018 are expected to be seen realizing that they must change and embracing that process.

Integration of Crypto Currencies

2017 say the cryptocurrency world 2018 Retail Trendsgarner attention from the media and large swaths of the public. By the last quarter of 2017, a growing number of retailers were also starting to take notice of cryptocurrency.

Thus far, cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, has been regarded as an asset class rather than a type of currency or form of payment. A trend among some retailers in 2018 will the integration of cryptocurrency into their sales systems. As part of this effort, some retailers will take the step of holding onto whatever cryptocurrency or currencies they elect to accept from consumers. This will eliminate the fees associated with conversion to U.S. dollars following a cryptocurrency purchase.

Tech-enhanced Store Staff and Elimination of Checkout Counters

Another significant trend to keep a 2018 tech retail trendslookout for in 2018 is the further tech enhancement of store associates. Accompanying this trend will be an increasing elimination of checkout counters in stores.

The one benefit that brick and mortar stores have over online retailers is face-to-face human interaction. Increasing the tech availabilities of retail staff, and eliminating the checkout counter, is thought to be a sure way to enhance the overall human interaction between patrons and staff at retailers in the brick and mortar world.

The Rise of the Robot

2018 will not be the year in which 2018 Retail trendsrobots start to populate retailers floor space in the brick and mortar world in large numbers. There actually will be an uptick in the visibility of robots and automation in brick and mortar stores, but the real trend in robotics will be behind the scenes in retail fulfillment centers.

Major online retailers, with Amazon leading the way, will incorporate robots into the work of more of their fulfillment centers in 2018. In 2017, Amazon had robots in action in about 20 percent of their fulfillment centers. That number will increase, and noticeably so, in 2018. Similarly, other retailers will utilize robots more broadly in their fulfillment operations during 2018.

Guest Blogger: Jessica Kane is a professional blogger who writes for Faxage a leading company that provides Internet fax service for individuals and businesses.

 


Marketing Beyond Palestine with Partners

According to Palestinian businessman and entrepreneur Sam Bahour, the people of Palestine have great business ideas, plenty of education, and capital to finance J.R. Atkins is working with Bethlehem Free Trade Artisansprojects. What they need to reduce investment risk is mentoring and partnering with business people from foreign markets. This is exactly what is occurring with Bethlehem Free Trade Artisans.

Bethlehem Free Trade Artisans or BFTA, is a combination non-profit, for-profit organization working to spread the fair-trade message in Palestine and link Palestinian producers to global fair-trade markets. Open since 2009, BFTA has helped local producers reach markets in Europe and the Middle East. Their founder and CEO, Suzan Sahori, has a history of successful projects in both the public and Bethlehem location of something different companiesprivate sectors. Under her guidance, BFTA has grown to represent hundreds of Palestinian artist and craft people.

Now with the help of American businessman and consultant, J.R. Atkins of Something Different Companies, BFTA is getting ready to expand into the US Market. “Since J.R. has lived and worked in the West Bank, he was able to understand our business and cultural context and thus quickly identify opportunities to grow our business,” says Sahori. “He made suggestions for our website, marketing, and distribution methods that will be instrumental as we grow our business in America.”

Suzan Sahori and J.R. AtkinsSuzan and her BFTA team have done a great job of building solid relationships with local producers who make unique items that will sell well in the US. The key to success is to identify a wholesale marketplace in the US that will allow us to reach thousands of retailers in a short amount of time. It looks like we have done that in the Dallas Total Home & Gift Market” said Atkins.  J.R. Atkins operates a consulting practice with offices in the US and Bethlehem. He helps companies in the areas of social media, websites, email marketing, and Marketing consulting.

If you have a success story of a West Bank organization you would like to share or would like assistance growing your business, please contact us.


5 Social Trends We’re Expecting to be Huge In 2018

Technology as a field implores innovation; it is perhaps the fastest moving industry in the world. Social media, technology’s wild child, is no exception to this.

Social media is inherently unpredictable. Companies can push new features or channels all they want, but they won’t always see the results to back their efforts up. Whether it’s content, audience, or channel mismatch, social media success can be elusive.

Part of making the most of social media is knowing what’s hot, and what’s not. Here are five essential social trends you need to make note of for 2018.

J.R. Atkins social media

Live Videos

J.R. Atkins uses Facebook live2017 was the year live streaming entered our collective consciousness. Which was almost entirely down to Facebook, Instagram & Snapchat: they presented live stream videos in the most accessible, hard-to-ignore packages possible. Live videos suddenly became a great way to add more context to personal and brand stories.

When browsing Instagram, a live stream pops up as a notification almost as if they were streaming just for you. An ingenious way to present the feature; long gone are the archaic days of Meerkat.

And it appears live video’s popularity will only continue to rise in 2018. Look at these stats for some evidence:  82% of online users have stated they prefer to consume video content rather than written, and 88% users are more likely to stay when a page proposes prominent video content.

Use live videos as part of your social strategy to spice things up at an event or awards show, or use them as small instructional features you use to pass on knowledge.

Algorithms Getting Harder To Beat

In some ways, it’s getting harder and harder to engage a genuine social media audience.

For starters, Facebook has made some plans. Huge plans. Massive plans. They have, for the first time in their history, made a decision that didn’t have the overarching premise of increased engagement. They want ‘meaningful’ usage, which apparently isn’t videos of people falling over with garishly blatant text narration. Who would have thought?

J.R. Atkins in AlgorithmsMark Zuckerberg has stated they’re going to ‘tune out’ publishers and brands, focusing more so on the updates of your friends and family. Part of that change has been the realization that passively scrolling through a page full of articles and videos, although addictive, is not good for our collective wellbeing. Read here for more ideas on how to deal with the changing Facebook.

As said, social trends are unpredictable. 2017 alluded towards branded video content becoming increasingly omnipresent, one announcement from Facebook later — that may have been flipped on its head.

It’s a good time to invest in paid advertising on Facebook as the organic game gets tougher and tougher, but make sure you put time and effort into crafting good ads that will gain genuine traction with your audience.

Gamification

Gamification has been on a steady rise for years. Historically, it has been a tad gimmicky. Moving forward, it will probably mature into something more compelling and useful for social media marketers.

Gamification affects salesGamification improves brand loyalty. We’ve seen this with Snapchat; their streak feature is thought to have been one of the key reasons for their somewhat short-lived dominance. Gartner has stated that gamification inspires users to “higher levels of engagement” as humans are “hardwired to enjoy games”. Considering this, we believe its usage will only grow as people seek new ways to engage their target audience(s).

For us, the highlight of gamification in 2017 was when Mind, an app enabling one to connect with a higher sense of mindfulness, gave users achievements for day streaks. It’s a great testament to how even the realms of Zen Buddhism can be harnessed for gamification features!

Think about how you can bring gamification to your social media strategy in 2018. Maybe start with something easy like a competition to get things going?

WeChat & Messenger Takeover

Did you know that the most sold beer in the world is Snow? We doubt most have even heard of that golden nectar. It’s only sold in China but dominates the market there. Similarly, WeChat is one of the biggest social phenomena in the world, and we doubt you’ve ever heard of it. But that’s probably going to change.

Something Different Companies uses Messenger WeChat is used by 95% of the 16+ population in China. The app is an amalgamation of Whatsapp, Uber, Slack, and Monzo. It’s popularity has demanded total control of the Chinese market.

Whilst it’s not definite that WeChat will resonate with our market, it comes as no Pay that Facebook are attempting to imitate the model. They’re slowly integrating Facebook pay more and more. Considering their Whatsapp purchase, it appears that Facebook are also trying to dominate the messaging world. Is Uber next?

Value, Not Selling

J.R. Atkins offers valueLast, but most certainly not least: value.

Invasively targeted ads appearing on all social mediums – Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter  — are having a dulling effect on the consumer. They’ve brought about a renewed questioning of the real value of social media.

Privacy is also at the forefront of social dialogue: all companies that have access to private information have to be totally transparent with their intentions. This will be a key feature of marketing across the board in 2018.

We believe many will look for apps and websites that put the user’s desires first, rather than their own financial incentive of selling information. It’s all about giving people real value and compensation for their time, so make sure that you’re not engaging in any clickbait or low value activities.

Considering the potential changes with Facebook, and the emphasis on privacy; we do believe the consumer will have more power in 2018. It’s an exciting time for brands who are willing to go the extra mile and engage with their audience in a way that’s real and genuine.

Guest Blogger:

Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.Victoria Greene is a freelance blogger and branding expert. On her blog, Victoriaecommerce she shares tips on building awesome brands that people feel compelled to follow


7 Practical Tips for Facebook’s New Algorithm

New Year is a time when many of us make resolutions and Mark Zuckerberg is no exception. However, this resolution may have a big impact on many lives, both personal and professional. In his quest to improve Facebook and help people feel more connected, Mark announced a new “Facebook Algorithm Change.” This change will elevate personal interactions in the newsfeed while de-prioritizing content from business pages and publishing companies.

Facebook Algorithm Change

WHAT DO THESE FACEBOOK ALGORITHM CHANGES MEAN TO INDIVIDUALS?

Latest Facebook algorithm changes are designed to improve our personal experience on Facebook:

  • We will see more content from our family and friends vs. random pages we followed. Creating a better connection with people we care about.
  • The meaningless viral videos will no longer be promoted on Facebook. The expected result is that we will waste less time browsing through these.
  • Interesting, thought-provoking conversations will find a way into our newsfeed more often.

In theory, these are all great changes designed to create a much better Facebook experience for all of us.

WHAT DOES FACEBOOK ALGORITHM CHANGE MEAN TO BUSINESSES?

If you are using Facebook to promote your business expect to see both reach and engagement for your business pages to decline. You will likely have to come up with new ways for your content to be seen.

We’ve summarized 7 practical tips to help you succeed with Facebook marketing after the latest algorithm change

J.R. Atkins Facebook marketing

1 – ADD LIVE VIDEO

New Facebook algorithm will favor Live Video, especially video with engaging content.

This may mean that we will see a lot more poor quality videos recorded in the car. It may also mean that some brands will step up and deliver unique, entertaining, thought-provoking and educational content.

To develop a simple live video strategy, try the following:

  • Schedule a weekly live series to talk about breaking news in your field
  • Break down one of your core offers into a series of “how to” live videos
  • Create featured interview series with top experts in your industry

Facebook algorithm changes will continue to come and go, but building your brand via memorable content will stay. It is your chance to shine. Determine a central theme to your brand and create a live video strategy around it.

2- CREATE CONVERSATIONS

Focus on a meaningful conversation. The goal is to increase active networking on Facebook vs. click-bait posts asking people to tag friends.

Many marketers may opt-in for “shock and awe” type of questions. While these may create some hype around a specific post, these are hardly a way to create a lasting brand.

Instead of going after short-lived entertaining types of questions design a longer-term content strategy:

  • Focus on interesting, relevant, engaging questions and ways to create a dialog.
  • Ask questions that may create a discussion and tap into differences of opinions.
  • Listen to your customers and post answers to their most burning questions.
  • Engage people via polls.

Monitor engagement on your posts and constantly refine the strategy to focus more on the posts that are performing best.

3 – FOCUS ON GROUPS

Groups have been a great way to create a community around your brand. Facebook algorithm change does not impact content posted in the groups.

While groups are harder to build and manage, group members are more connected to each other. As a group admin, you get to design and enforce the rules.

Some of the most successful groups are uniting members within a particular niche and/or a common goal. These common goals can be:

  • learning a new topic and sharing best practices, top challenges, questions.
  • going through similar experiences and making recommendations on resources, approaches; celebrating wins and overcoming failures.
  • Sharing strong passions and interests.

The possibilities are endless when you combine passionate people in the same group.

4- EXPLORE MESSENGER

Messenger created an unprecedented platform of connected people. Individuals can connect to one another in a matter of minutes. No wonder that popularity of marketing via messenger exploded in the past year.

Messenger bot campaigns boast 88% open rates (compare to an email open rate of 20-25%). Creating a messenger ad strategy for your brand will ensure that more of your messages are seen. Avoid being spammy on messenger. Rather focus on a specific goal:

  • Tap into messenger bots to create advertising strategy. ManyChat and ChatFuel are two of the top bot solutions.
  • Create a conversation with your followers via automated conversations or improve customer service.
  • Deliver valuable downloads to your followers via Messenger Ad campaign.

Messenger is an excellent way to keep in touch with your audience. Even if you are not ready to implement the strategy today, start planning for it.

5 – PRACTICE REMARKETING

Adding a paid social media strategy to your mix is a great idea (especially, with the ongoing algorithm changes). Some marketers speculate that the change will drive the cost of advertising up.

Targeting new audiences via ads may become quite costly. Facebook’s latest changes will lead to less time spent on social networks. This, in turn, will mean less ad inventory and higher cost.

If your page has built a significant following, you can tap into this audience via remarketing. Remarketing is easier than you think. Try some of these simple remarketing techniques:

  • Show a lead magnet people who engaged with your page or your page posts.
  • Invite people who watched 25% of your videos to visit your website
  • Retarget your website visitors with a low-cost offer

Even if you are not ready for retargeting today, Install Facebook Pixel to start learning about your audience.

6 – LOOKALIKE TARGETING

Lookalike (LLA) targeting allows you to exponentially expand reach to people who are similar to your best customers. Instead of guessing who your audience is based on geography, demographic and interest targets, you can try the following lookalike audiences:

  • Lookalike audience based on your email subscribers (you can upload a custom list to Facebook)
  • Lookalike audience based on your website visitors (you will need to use Facebook pixel data for that)

LLA targeting is a Facebook goldmine. You have a benefit of tapping into an extensive Facebook database of information on all of its users – and you do that at a fairly low cost.

7 – EXPERIMENT WITH OTHER PLATFORMS

Let’s face it – This is not the last algorithm change by Facebook. With Mark Zuckerberg’s commitment to “Fix Facebook in 2018” we may see more changes that will require all of us to rethink how we market.

It may be time to look at some other platforms:

  • Niche Platforms (e.g. House, Quota, Reddit) – research niche platforms in your industry and join the conversation. These platforms may not have the massive audiences Facebook offers. However, as the rule, their members are more engaged and loyal
  • Visual Platforms (e.g. Instagram and Pinterest) – both are excellent sources of traffic for any eCommerce business
  • Conversational Platforms (Twitter) – these platforms may not be as glamorous, but they are still an amazing source of growth

Constantly evaluate platforms that may enable you to get better results for a higher ROI.

CONCLUSION

The final word is still out on what Facebook algorithm changes mean, but if you start applying these simple tactics today, you will get ahead of the game.

Interested in further brainstorming your Facebook marketing strategy, apply for a FREE 15-minute consultation with our team.

 

Thank you to our partner TreDigital for proving the content for this post.


How Tech Is Reshaping PR

How Technology Is Reshaping the PR Industry

Over the past decade, technology completely transformed the marketing and advertising industry, but it’s rarely discussed how it changed the PR industry. Back in the day, at the dawn of the internet, issuing press releases used to be the most common method of keeping your key publics, as well as the general public, informed about some important activities of your company, increasing exposure, and expanding your reach. Nowadays, there are more personal and direct ways to contact your target audience and let them know that you’re about to launch a new product or service, enhance your brand recognition, or improve your company image.

PR is key for Brand Marketing

Social media

There’s no doubt that social media platforms have changed the face of communication. If we bear in mind that Facebook has 2,01 billion monthly active users, or that Twitter boasts 328 million people who share their thoughts and ideas within its 140-character limit, it’s clear that together with Instagram and LinkedIn, these social networks enable companies to break the fourth wall and enter their audiences’ lives on a more profound level. Successful companies combine their PR, development of a visual brand and social media efforts in order to create an effective two-way communication channel with their target audiences.

Apart from using social media networks to announce new products and all kinds of events, you can also take advantage of your audience’s comments, suggestions, and frequently asked questions to create relatable content, and even improve your products’ functionalities thus meeting your audience’s needs.

Of course, the development of digital media doesn’t mean that you should stop paying attention to traditional marketing channels. There are certain demographics that can be reached almost exclusively through traditional media. That’s why it’s essential to employ a comprehensive media and PR strategy that will extend your reach, as well as, access all your potential customers.

Automation

As of late, marketing and sales can’t be imagined without the use of AI. According to The Economist Intelligence Unit, 75% of surveyed executives said that they would actively implement AI in their companies within the following three years. All kinds of automation tools make things much easier and improve customer experience. Chatbots are among them, and now many websites feature these little gadgets that help their customers solve some common issues or even pick a product they need. Since PR and customer service are closely related in the sense that bad customer service results in negative PR, while great customer service can do wonders for PR, it goes without saying that if you want to make your customers happy thus creating an impeccable reputation, you need to provide them with the latest technology tools. Luckily, modern chatbots can perfectly impersonate human interaction, which means that you can engage your customers in a friendly, personal chat and start building trust.

Analytics

One of the most frequent questions regarding PR is how to calculate its ROI. This is one of the biggest shortcomings of the traditional PR since it’s extremely difficult to identify which PR tactics are effective and which should be improved. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you establish whether a tactic manages to drive engagement and to what extent. Also, it’s worth mentioning that many marketers use Google Analytics in a superficial manner, that is only to keep track of monthly visitor count, and they fail to use its other, more complex features to the fullest. Google Analytics segments can make a big difference in the way you analyze the data you’ve collected and provide you with more detailed insight into various metrics.

Influencers

This is one of the most popular buzzwords of the moment, as almost all companies, both small startups, and the industry giants, believe that employing influencers is critical for their image and reputation. Influencer marketing is similar to celebrity endorsements, and the main difference between these two strategies lies in the fact that celebrities lend their names and a portion of their fame to brands, but this doesn’t imply that they have to be experts when it comes to the products they’re endorsing.

On the other hand, influencers try out, test, and research the products they recommend, and their followers are convinced that their expertise in a particular niche guarantees that the product they are promoting is of the best quality. A stunning 94% of marketers that participated in a recent research study said that they believed in the effectiveness of influencer marketing. This strategy is, undoubtedly, capable of being extremely beneficial for PR, and despite some controversies, it has been gaining momentum ever since its appearance.

Content

Content obviously rules. It’s indispensable in both marketing and PR, and creating a brand story is crucial for attracting your prospects and capturing their attention, as well as for improving your brand image. When we’re talking about content, it’s important to stress that it refers to any element of your interaction with your customers, and it includes blogging, advertisements, social media posts, press releases, white papers, emails, websites, and landing pages. Even details, such as email signatures, play an important role in creating a positive image and reputation.

Producing quality content should be your first and foremost concern, not only because you want to educate and entertain your customers, but also as it’s a powerful weapon against negative brand advocates. You can count on the fact that you’ll have your fair share of PR and marketing rough patches, such as people sharing some negative experiences with your brand on social media, and that’s where awesome content will come to your rescue and save the day.

Sometimes negative customer experiences can’t be prevented, and if you think that ignoring bad comments and angry customers is an excellent PR strategy, you’re wrong. It’s important to handle such incidents in a professional manner and turn these potential PR disasters into triumphs, and that’s why a great narrative, paired with impressive communication skills, is a must.

Technology is of paramount importance to the PR industry, and it can be a game-changer in building and maintaining a positive public image.

 

Guest Blogger at something Different CompaniesGuest Blogger: Nate Vickrey is a marketing consultant and an online author. He is mostly engaged in providing his expertise to startups and SMBs. He is also the executive editor at Bizzmark Blog and an author on TheNextWeb.


New Trends In Web Design for 2018

New Trends In Web Design That Will Massively Improve Your Online Appearance

A website that aims towards success demands a well thought out blend between its design and content. In the ever-changing industry of website design trends rise and fall with each passing year. Keeping track of everything is difficult, especially if the design isn’t even related to your field of work.

Nick Brown guest blogger

Ignoring this and just making a website based on a hunch or some personal preference is a big NO. Don’t fall into this trap. Respecting your users’ experience and having functionality that is easily digestible is key. Confusing layouts, eye-hurting color schemes, and annoying texts are to be avoided at all costs. However, I will not be pointing out potential problems, but rather trends in this article that are quite welcome to add to your thought process. Here are a couple of those trends:

Underline key points

You probably didn’t see this one coming, neither did I. I’m not talking about underlines that you see in your conventional text processors or hyperlinks, for example. Implementing underlines within your sites’ design is the smartest way to highlight the content you wish to be in focus.

Always consider the background image, color, font and functionality of the web page where the content is displayed. Try fitting in the underline in a way that it complements as many factors mentioned as possible. Make it seem natural. Using white space is great with this, especially if you want to use basic contrast or thick fonts.

Arrange the information input

With touchscreens and other kinds of modern displays, the way a business can present information has drastically changed. Designers have to arrange the ideas in a way that they catch the interest of visitors.  The attention span of an average visit is very short indeed.  The way your information is presented has to reflect the amount of time you have to catch a glaring eye.

If your information is constructed in a way that it encourages your users to go from point A to point B.  Having their focus aimed at a certain point of interest that transitions into another point of interest in a smooth way is paramount when you want to promote browsing through various parts of a website for specific information.

Simple color schemes

J.R. Atkins 2018 website trends

Minimalist designs have positioned themselves as the style of choice both in terms of design and clarity. Using more than two or three colors creates a messy composition promoting nothing but confusion. Try combining simple colors by using gradients and hues in context of your page design.

Colors should emphasize the focus points as clearly as possible. A well-placed object with appropriate coloring is the winning ticket to sending the desired message. The intensity of chosen colors mirrors the intensity of the perception of your product, serenity or excitement – chose accordingly.

Prepare for going mobile

This has been chewed over by countless market analysts. The mobile market is a giant growing with each passing year – its impact has changed the way we do marketing. Most of online shopping and browsing is done via smartphone and tablet – your website must be prepared for incoming traffic from such platforms.

Having a responsive web page for all platforms and resolutions has to be taken into account when approaching your sites web design. A lot of businesses lose traffic and revenue because users lose interest if your site isn’t approachable on demand. Don’t force your users to sit in front of their PC for some interaction. Maintaining your brand by being attentive and approachable is the key to success.

Text positioning

Designers have started displacing text in regard to the page composition. Having assets in layers above your text obscure it in a stylish way, creating an arrangement that will shape an otherwise boring text into something that will spark the mind.

Be careful when using this approach, a lot of designers have made mistakes with it. Having your text unintelligible is far from desired. Chose simple words that can be understood when only one or a couple of letters are covered. Basic fonts should also be considered when doing this because of additional clarity. Whatever your choice is, the design shouldn’t be too complex – keep your message clear, always.

Guest Blogger, Nick Brown – Nick is a blogger and a marketing expert currently engaged on projects for Media Gurus, an Australian business, and marketing resource. He is an aspiring street artist and does Audio/Video editing as a hobby.


5 Instagram Tips You Can Glean From the Pros

With over 500 million active users per month, it’s clear that Instagram is no small player in the world of social media. There is plenty of potential for brands to leverage and broaden their outreach. But how do you cut through the noise and navigate a platform with such vast scope? You learn from the pros, of course. Here are seven Instagram tips that your competitors are already following right now. By taking these on board, you will be well on your way to mastering Instagram for your own brand.

5 Instagram Tips You Can Glean From the Pros

Are you on the lookout for content marketing advice to improve your overall strategy? Check out our previous post.

Show what your online business does in a creative way

Show what your online business does in a creative way

credit: fedex

Instagram is the perfect social channel for you to showcase the visual element of your brand. No matter what you do, there will be a creative way for you to document and showcase it. Consistent, visual storytelling cuts through the mediocre noise on Instagram. To grab people’s attention and build an audience that anticipates your next post, you need to get creative with how you share your ideas and tell your brand’s story.

Take FedEx, for example. This brand successfully uses images of their delivery service and combines it with posts of happy customers receiving parcels and flowers. This tactic not only makes an otherwise rather functional and unglamorous service look attractive, but it also serves to tell the brand’s story by giving it a human face.

Brainstorm the different processes your business is involved in, and how they affect your customers. With this information, you can create stories and come up with ways to creatively show how your brand’s day-to-day operations work.

The most successful brand storytelling involves bitesize micro-stories that tie into your brand’s values, mission and customer experience. You want to develop a strong brand presence on your Instagram feed that represents your overall brand image. Check out this post for more examples of visual storytelling.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with Instagram stories

Instagram Stories are a new function, recently rolled out across the social network, which allow you to use a slideshow of videos and images that remain accessible for 24 hours. This feature is in direct competition with Snapchat’s stories, but has the additional benefit of being linked to Instagram profiles. This means that with an Instagram profile for your brand, you have the opportunity to not only bedeck your feed with visual marketing, but to get creative with film and a story to really engage your audience.

Here are some things that you should know about Instagram stories:

  • Stories are displayed at the very top of your follower’s timelines
  • They can be used to display your behind-the-scenes content. This is often less staged and lower quality than the permanent posts on your profile
  • The story function really enables you to experiment with different types of content and see which gets the most engagement. Photos, short videos, Boomerangs, Rewind videos, and live videos are all available for you to get creative
  • The additional functionality of face filters, text and stickers allow you to really customize your posts and make your mark. It’s very easy to edit your posts on the go

Your posts will autoplay in the chronological sequence they were added, and you can post an unlimited number of times. This feature only works on the mobile app. Check out these unique brands to see how other people are making innovative use of Instagram Stories.

Take your audience behind the scenes of your business

As mentioned, brand storytelling is a really great way to interest your audience and add an extra dimension to your image. The more story you can provide, the more you open your brand up to engagement and conversation.

Some customers are naturally curious about where their products come from, and this is the perfect opportunity for you to answer their questions with your Instagram feed. For example, if you are a Fairtrade company, you could show your customers where you source your raw materials from.

Take your audience behind the scenes of your business

credit: fairtrade USA

The Fair Trade USA instagram does this to great effect. This non-profit organization shows exactly who crafts or handpicks the raw materials that go into fairtrade certified products. By doing this, their target audience can buy these products, safe in the knowledge that they are cruelty free. This kind of story is what evokes empathy from audiences and encourages them to buy products.

If you have an interesting brand story, don’t be afraid to show it off. Perhaps you started off as a hobby crafting jeweler to help keep food on the table? Let your audience know about your story and why you started your brand. Any kind of shareable information that connects you to your audience is very useful for social media. 

The power of micro-influencer collaboration

The power of micro-influencer collaboration

credit: mary orton

Another really great way to broaden your outreach on instagram is to harness the power of collaboration and employ an influencer. Micro-influencer collaboration aligns your brand with their values and mission. This often works more effectively than using hashtags, as the act of following hashtags is often more manual for the user. Banana Republic promoted its clothes to audiences that are defined by their sense of style and interest in fashion. The micro-influencers selected were fashion and lifestyle focused, and this helped Banana Republic to reach a large, but targeted, audience of consumers.

Micro-influencer marketing might be the biggest thing this side of 2017, but don’t worry – you don’t necessarily have to part with a large sum of money to hire their services. Consider offering them some free products to sample, and perhaps they will post to their Instagram feed or story without payment.

If you want to integrate micro-influencers into your marketing strategy, there are a few things you should know first:

  • You should consider whether your chosen micro-influencers fit in with your brand and values. Ultimately, you want to piggyback from their established presence and gain access to their following. You need to be sure that their demographic is the right one for you to gain maximum ROI
  • If you are a local or smaller business, consider finding micro-influencers from your local area, with a local audience. This would allow you to be hyper-targeted with your outreach
  • When searching for the right micro-influencers to work with, you should aim for followers with a similar amount of followers to you, otherwise, you may risk not being taken seriously

 For more tips on how to collaborate on Instagram, this article is for you. Once you’ve decided which influencers to target, it’s time to make contact. Consider emailing them directly, rather than direct messaging them on Instagram. Emails tend to get higher response rates, as direct messages are often overlooked.

Analyze the performance of your posts and build on them

As with any marketing strategy, it’s really important for you to analyze the performance of your Instagram posts to make sure that you’re barking up the right tree. You need to make sure that you are spending your money in the right way, broadcasting the right kind of content, and targeting the right audience.

There are many apps and subscription services that allow you to track hashtags, engagement levels and mentions of your brand on social media. Keyhole tracks all of these, and even integrates seamlessly with online store creators like Shopify. This means that Keyhole can access all of your ecommerce business’ data in real-time, and give you the most up-to-date reports. Trackmaven is another great product that puts you in the driver’s seat of your social feeds.

Whether you choose to go down the micro-influencer route, or have a go with Instagram’s new story function (or perhaps all of these ideas!) – don’t forget to consistently analyze your engagement levels. The truth will be in your metrics, and data is essential to constantly improve on your marketing strategy and make sure you’re investing your budget in the right areas.

Which of these tips will you take onboard? Let us know in the comments.

Guest Blogger: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing consultant and freelance writer, working with large brands to grow their reach. She loves sharing her expertise with other entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them reach success.


2017 Trends for Online Privacy

With the latest move to dismantle internet privacy protection guidelines, online privacy continues to remain exposed. Consumer advocates seem to have a tougher journey ahead as they need to create a stronger framework to debate it out. As much the telecommunication companies hold the consumer in their grip, internet companies equally enjoy the custody of consumer data which is highly sensitive.

Research by the SANS Institute found that 80 percent of data breaches originate from third parties. This doesn’t mean the entire chunk is neglectful towards internet privacy but signals the lack of confidence in the measures they take to maintain online privacy.

While it’s difficult to fight the telecom entities in terms of information required by them, we can certainly be more vigilant with our online behavior by deploying safer internet practices like incorporating data protection tools and private search engines.

The infographic below beautifully depicts the current trends and measures towards online privacy. Take a look –

J.R. Atkins Privacy Trends & Measures 2017


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