Posts Tagged ‘information’


BurrellesLuce Newsletter: Understanding Your Stakeholders and Traditional Media

Monday, July 30th, 2012

July 2012

Traditional media has changed in scope (with a marked decline in outlets occurring in 2009). However, it remains the same in respect to relevancy and in how consumers satiate their growing appetite for information.

To gain the clearest understanding of how your messages are influencing all of your audiences, you need to see all of your content from all media types. Otherwise, you won’t have an accurate representation and risk skewing your data and results.

Read more: 6 Ways Traditional Media Impacts Your Audience

Social Media: Reflecting Room or Eye Opening Forum

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Kelly Mulholland*

networkingAn overwhelming amount of news has been about Facebook’s new Timeline, a feature which all users will be required to implement in the near future. (If you are unfamiliar with the Timeline layout, please check out my colleague Andrea Corbo’s blog post for a detailed explanation of this new debatable feature.) Other headlines have focused on Facebook’s Rise From Start-Up to Establishment and its latest IPO.  

Personally, I’m much more interested in Facebook’s recent study on how the social giant has changed the way we gather and transfer information.

In a 2011 study conducted by Facebook’s Eytan Bakshy — which I found when I subscribed to Mark Zuckerberg’s statuses via Facebook this past month — the  author debates whether or not social media acts as a reinforcement of our own ideas we share with “strong ties” (such as friends, family, coworkers, classmates) or  a tool that broadens your view of the world by taking in new opinions from “weak ties” (strangers or acquaintances) and asks us to Rethink Information Diversity in Networks. Bakshy’s study was inspired by a 1973 American Journal of Sociology study conducted by economic sociologist Mark Granovetter called, The Strength of Weak Ties. In Granovetter’s study, documented well before the Internet, stronger ties flock together sharing similar information while weaker ties aren’t as prominent and withhold eye-opening news.

Fast-forward to the age of social media … Interaction is often compared to that of a party-like setting in which you must interact and share information with people in a similar manner. Bakshy conducted his current study to measure to and/or from whom at this “party” we are more likely to share information. With the help of Facebook’s newsfeeds feature, the study measured how often a Facebook member would re-share their weak ties links versus their strong ties links. While it was found that strong ties’ links would be reposted more often, it was the weaker ties that were the ones who provided the most information. How? While the strong ties may have more interests in common and a stronger influence,  Facebook friends are more likely to have a majority of acquaintances invited to their metaphorical social media bash than close friends.

The majority of a person’s newsfeed will contain new information from more dissimilar members via new updates posted throughout the day. Now more than ever, “weak ties” are able to share information spread throughout a social group. Whereas before this segment would not have the capability to reach a broader audience without the assistance of a larger media outlet, but now thanks to social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ and any other social network site that has a newsfeed element these “weak ties” are spreading their influence. I can say that Bakshy’s theory explains why I read his article in the first place from Mark Zuckerberg, a “weak tie.”

 Do you believe we are more likely to spread information due to the quality of the connection or the quality of content? Have you found that you are more aware of opinions that differ from your own, now that use of social media outlets has increased as opposed to face to face interactions? Most importantly, did you read or share my article because of this theory?

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Bio: Before joining the BurrellesLuce team in 2011, Kelly interned at CondeNast’s Glamour magazine as an editorial intern to the senior style writer and was an editor of her college newspaper. She received a B.A. in Behavioral Science and Business, Society and Culture from Drew University with honors. After graduation, she worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom and took a month off to travel abroad throughout Europe. In Kelly’s free time, she enjoys traveling, fashion, reading, bringing awareness to Breast Cancer, running 5Ks, baking and social media. Twitter:@miss_mulholland Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: Kelly Mulholland

Marketing through the Web: How Information is Power

Friday, November 11th, 2011

Kelly Mulholland*

Flickr Image: Jeffrey Beall

Flickr Image: Jeffrey Beall

There are three ways consumers use the web: they search, browse and buy. Most organizations increase their site’s traffic by adding searching tools and enhancing SEO. While this helps people answer their initial question of “what,” it doesn’t necessarily go the extra step and encourage them to browse or buy.

However, if positioned correctly, encouragement to go beyond just the initial search can be helpful to the consumer… at least when it comes to expanding their knowledge and possibly influencing their buying decisions. Today’s consumers, want a site to tell them something they didn’t think to search for or think they might want/need. In the process, they may be persuaded to take some action and possibly lead to a conversion or sale based on the resources you provide beyond the original search.   

Search Mode- Provide the consumer with what they know they want
When a prospective customer is searching a site they almost always have an overall notion of what they want, but perhaps not all the details or at least a vague idea of the need they want to fulfill. This is where websites that utilize the search toolbox plug-in (usually located at the top of a webpage) come into action. The client wants to be able to search their product and be given substantial results.

For instance, when I simply type in the search box “scarves” at ShopBop—a luxury clothing retail website and BurrellesLuce client—I get an overwhelming list of over 200 results. The search function on the site even makes my quest easier by providing suggestions of related searches much the way Google or Bing might.

Browse Mode- Provide detailed information
With a list generated, a prospective buyer shifts into browse mode. What’s important here is how much information is provided—the customer wants to know more about their prospective purchase in the most organized fashion possible, no pun intended. Generated reviews from other customers should be at complete view coupled with suggestions. This will help the consumer differentiate one product’s value from another. It is also most helpful to provide organizational tools for the client to be able to sift through all the search results.

Shopbop does a great job at this. First, I can see “More from Scarves /Wraps” and also descriptions about the designer and the item itself. I have the capability to see how other customers rated each scarf. I also have the option of organizing my products in “Wish Lists” and “My Likes/Hearts” giving me time to consider my purchases without fully committing myself to placing the product in “My Cart.” I can sort the scarves with drop-down options by designer, size, color, and price. These categorizations are an aid to a consumer who might be inundated with an overwhelming amount of data.

Buyer Mode- Be your customer’s personal researcher
Now that the customer has browsed all the data, they have finally chosen the best product for them. While they may be done researching, that doesn’t mean the work of the service provider should end there. In fact, it is now your job to take on a new role: personal researcher. As Tara Gessinger, states in this Online PR Media blog post on Online Public Relations: Building Personal Relationships with Customers in the Digital Age, you need to keep the online conversation with your clients going through email as you would in real life. For instance, provide future recommendations based on previous purchases to the client. After I browse ShopBop or make a purchase, I receive an e-mail weeks later suggesting clothing that I might like based on my past shopping experiences.

Sites using this type of search and browse capability are designed to work for people who research and take a period of time before making a committed decision. In today’s market, researched buyers are becoming the norm and the buying cycle is changing. The impulsive spendthrift is a dying species. Marketers need to be a step ahead of the curve. Web marketing should not be about gimmicks to get attention from a prospective buyer – today’s savvy consumers will see through this. Instead it is about understanding the keywords that buyers are using and then positioning campaigns to engage buyers to webpages full with the content they want (or never knew they wanted). 

How are you using search capabilities on your website to influence visitor action? What are some of your favorite search features provided by your favorite sites?

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Bio: Before joining the Burrellesluce team in 2011, Kelly interned at CondeNast’s Glamour magazine as an editorial intern to the senior style writer and was an editor of her college newspaper. She received a B.A. in Behavioral Science and Business, Society and Culture from Drew University with honors. After graduation, she worked as a sales associate at Nordstrom and took a month off to travel abroad throughout Europe. In Kelly’s free time, she enjoys traveling, fashion, reading, bringing awareness to Breast Cancer, running 5Ks, baking and social media. Twitter:@miss_mulholland Facebook: BurrellesLuce; LinkedIn: Kelly Mulholland

The Art of Storytelling

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Communicators need to shift from providing information to showing outcomes in their writing. This was one of the points at a recent Washington Women in Public Relations (WWPR) professional development lunch to help PR professionals tell their organization’s stories effectively.  

Flickr Image: Jill Clardy

Flickr Image: Jill Clardy

Panelists Cindy Atlee, partner, The Storybranding Group; Nancy Belmont, CEO, Belmont Inc.;  Danny Harris, founder, People’s District, and moderator Donna Savarese, director of communications, Innovative Solutions Group revealed ways to find and craft an effective story. Atlee lead the panel by asking attendees to choose a character from a list (i.e. every person, lover, jester, caregiver, hero, etc.) they felt most like that day and then tell us why. The panelists agreed that offering role names can often encourage people to open-up about their emotions toward a product, place or organization, and you can then find the emotion behind the story.

Harris says stories can have a magical construction, where you don’t realize there is a call to action. He reminded the group every good story has three parts:

  1. Challenge
  2. Struggle
  3. Resolution

Belmont encourages creating and finding deeper connections with your audience. She added we should look for the “like.” The more detail you can get into the story, the likelihood you will find something in common with your audience and the more likely they will like your story. She used the example of her client the U.S. Army. They look to tell the story of the everyday soldier, who we all like, not the war.

Not all organization’s stories seem interesting, so Savarese says she uses case studies to tell her organization’s stories. She always looks to give the resolution meaning to everyday people. She encouraged adding visuals, pictures and video, to help pull the reader into the story.

(In a recent Fresh Ideas post, my BurrellesLuce colleague Tressa Robbins addressed the issue of overloading your press release with too much information, and gave some great tips for crafting a story-based release.)

The panel also encouraged communicators to look outside the communications department, when looking for an organization’s story. Everyone should be involved and recommended several books on effective story telling:

How have you used storytelling to promote your organization or client? What were the challenges? Do you have any advice for BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas readers?

Part 2: Licensing – Monetizing Content in a 30-Second World

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

In my previous post published earlier this week, I suggested that content providers just come up with a way to charge for the use of the article when somebody reads the whole article instead of the hextract (header/extract)… do this regardless of whether that somebody is the first reader of the article or the recipient of it being passed along in an email. Make the charge a passive transaction and at a price the consumer considers fair. So the question on the table is why this hasn’t been done?

Pondering this question, two phrases immediately come to mind: “The Inventor’s Dilemma” (aPart 2: Licensing and Monetizing Content in a 30-second World great book by Clayton Christensen, 1997), and “like turning an aircraft carrier around.” The legacy environment is blinding. At the heart, though, I believe, is the much bantered-about idea of “engaging the consumer.” This is the “buzz” used by the folks attempting to do the engaging. The consumer is evidently not getting the message that they are being engaged; at least not by The Media companies’ definition, which is about adopting and paying according to its rules of engagement.

I was at a conference last fall with a significant number of aspiring media titans in attendance. The panels focused on devices, technology, and the creation of apps to support their existing revenue models. My takeaway was the tremendous amount of energy going into convincing the consumer of what their, the consumers’, needs are instead of discovering and meeting those needs that already exist.

This contrast became more apparent with the remarks of each and every one of the CEO keynotes: Jason Kilar, Hulu; William Lynch, Barnes and Noble; and Oprah Winfrey, OWN. They all shouted about the key to success being the result of a dialog with the customer, listening to them, and giving them what they wanted. The panelist’s focus was certainly not the result of these folks being from a culture that celebrates entrepreneurial thinking. The legacy rules discourage divisional collaboration and non-linear approaches. You don’t get your own castle without being able to protect the moat. Problem is that the market in which these rules worked moved and it didn’t happen in the dead of night.

The old marketplace based on scarcity of information has left the building and with it the providers’ absolute control of access.

So what to do . . . ?

After having given this way too much thought, I would suggest an industry strategic planning meeting be convened with a very select group of players. I would gather together Hearst’s Frank Bennack, Advance’s Donald or Stephen Newhouse, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Barnes and Noble’s William Lynch, and Clay Shirky, who consults, teaches, and writes on the social economic effects of Internet technologies. I would also include Ken Doctor, a leading news industry analyst, as the scribe. The group should be sequestered for a week and then every six months reconvene to make adjustments. With all the exclusive consortiums in play targeting “low hanging fruit,” this is one consortium that could actually move the needle, and create enough disruptive engagement to get all those “mortgages” paid for a long, long time.

My guess is that, in the end, a process of marking, tracking, and monetizing will emerge. The only absolute is that time is of the essence in the 30-second world or information.