Elon and Twitter – A Match Made In Heaven… Or Hell?

On Monday, the board of Twitter accepted billionaire Elon Musk’s $44bn (£34.5bn) takeover bid. Only two weeks ago Musk made the shock bid claiming Twitter had “tremendous potential” that only he could unlock.

 

An avid Twitter user himself, Mr Musk boasts an audience of over 83.3m followers. His love of Twitter leads him to tweet prolifically, sometimes with controversial opinions and occasionally with catastrophic consequences. He was previously banned from tweeting about Tesla affairs by the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) after one tweet wiped $14bn from its share price. In another instance he was sued for defamation following a tweet he wrote about a cave diver, in which he referred to him as “pedo guy” (the diver lost).

 

“Free speech is the bedrock of a functioning democracy, and Twitter is the digital town square where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” is how Musk describes his view on Twitter. Perhaps a little worryingly, Elon’s definition of freedom of speech proposes less moderation for his Twitter 2.0. Many Republicans, who have long felt that Twitter’s moderation policies favour the freedom of speech of left-leaning viewpoints, rejoiced.

 

What will he do with the site?

 

Perhaps most notably, at present, Twitter’s main business model is ad-based – but Musk wants to change this. He’s more interested in subscriptions, which could prove a hard sell in an environment where all the main social networks are free-to-use. Twitter users may decide they prefer for their data to not be used to monetise them and they’re willing to pay for that – but it’s a gamble.

 

He also likes crypto currencies. Could he use the platform to incentivise payments in volatile, unprotected currencies such as Bitcoin?

 

What does this mean for users?

 

Just these few changes could change Twitter’s demographic enormously. For casual personal pleasure users, this new environment could quickly become unaffordable, volatile and all too complicated – making the way for users of  servers such as discord and online forums to switch to Twitter now that the content restrictions are on their way out.

 

Musk’s Twitter would be a very different landscape for its current 300 million users. The move could see him reinstate Donald Trump, who currently has a permanent ban – and given that Mr Trump’s own attempt at a social network, Truth Social, appears to be floundering, he would probably be delighted to return.

 

Musk’s series of changes also include a relaxing of its content restrictions as well as the eradication of fake accounts. Some other less drastic changes he has proposed are the suggestions of allowing longer posts and introducing the ability to edit them after they have been published. Whilst this is beneficial now for tweets that could potentially cause offence, the new rules will see no use for this feature in such a sense.

 

Money talks

 

Mr Musk is the world’s richest person, according to Forbes magazine, with an estimated net worth of $273.6bn, mostly due to his shareholding in electric vehicle maker Tesla. He also leads the aerospace firm SpaceX and contributed to the success of PayPal. He is not interested in making money out of the site, but I suppose as a multi-billionaire you can have the occasional expensive hobby?

 

The takeover is expected to be finalised by the end of this year, but what are your thoughts? Will you still continue to use Twitter? Is this a step in the right direction or a total disaster move for the site? Get in touch with us and let us know – ironically! – via Twitter.

 

 

Featured image courtesy of Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nvidia/16660212029

Tips For Developing A Career In PR

A career in PR can be extremely rewarding and it sounds incredibly cliché, but every day is different, truly! Unfortunately, it can be said that PR has a PR problem. It’s not currently taught in the school curriculum, and whilst there are university courses out there, they aren’t as abundant as the likes of business management and classic marketing. In a bid to tell you more about what working in PR is like, and how you can enter this industry, we’ve put together our top tips for developing a career in PR below.

We are also hiring, so if you have experience in communications, social media, marketing or similar, then we’d love to hear from you. Please do drop our friendly team a message, or, read on!

What Does A Career In PR Involve?

‘Public relations’ is the maintaining and growing a brand’s reputation. This can be anything from handling crisis communications when things go wrong, to the more positive and exciting task of getting a business’s name ‘out there’. Day to day, working in PR can include writing and issuing press releases, running CSR (corporate social responsibility) campaigns, managing social media accounts, creating website content, and so much more! At Source PR, we always say we act as an extension to our client’s marketing and sales teams, supporting them at every step. This is great as it means for us, no day is the same, and for our clients, it means they get a passionate team of professionals working on their account.

4 Tips For Developing A Career In PR

Does PR sound as though it may be for you? Great! The good thing about this industry is that it can be home to all types of people with different skill sets. PR needs its mix of introverts and extroverts, as well as people with different capabilities whether writing, creative thinkers, planners or simply confident communicators. You may already have some experience in PR, or you may have none at all. Either way, here’s our advice for you.

  1. Go and seek experience

PR is a real ‘hands on’ job, so when developing a career in PR we’d always recommend getting some industry experience under your belt, whether that’s through a placement year or doing some internships (you don’t have to be a student do to them!). Entry-level PRs sometimes find they are pipped to the post by applicants who have a little more experience than them, you can help combat that by bolstering your CV with time spent at agencies and businesses. Most PR agencies will gratefully take on interns and individuals for work experience, so the best thing to do is ask!

  1. Be proactive with your learning

When working in an industry as versatile as PR, things can change quickly. So, we always encourage our own team to be proactive in the steps they take to keep their knowledge up to date. There’s a wealth of industry conferences, training days and resources out there for you to dip your toe in. If you’re looking to get ahead in your career, we couldn’t recommend this enough. Plus, you never know who you’ll meet at events, they’re great for networking!

  1. Get social media savvy

As social media experts ourselves, naturally we see having your own social media presence as important! Though it’s not vital in developing a career in PR, it certainly helps. You can use Twitter and LinkedIn as vessels to share the things you’re doing that are industry-related, and also use those platforms to network too. We love using our own social media channels to share updates on what life is like here at Source PR, as well as broadcasting some great bits of coverage for our clients. You can follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as Facebook and Instagram.

  1. Hone the right skills

The most crucial thing to us is passion, so make sure that PR is the industry you want to pursue your career in. Once you have that nailed down, then you can focus on the skills you need to be successful in the sector and develop them. As eloquently written by our PR intern Bridie, there are a number of different ways you can ‘enter’ PR, whether that’s through a traditional PR course at university, a journalism or English one, or no degree at all! We think the attributes most crucial when developing a career in PR are:

  • A creative nature
  • Great writing skills
  • Proactivity and enthusiasm
  • Team player
  • Friendly and personable
  • Willingness to learn
  • Being organised
  • Passion for PR

The PR industry is incredibly supportive and whether you’re just getting started or are looking to make your next move, there are a bounty of resources out there to help you along your way. As we mentioned earlier, we are currently growing our team here at Source PR. We’re a small, hardworking team that has a genuine desire to do the best work for our clients. We care about your development and help each other out every day. If you’d like to find out more, you can check out our job post on LinkedIn, or pop us a message to hello@sourcepr.co.uk.

Photo by cottonbro: https://www.pexels.com/photo/person-holding-black-iphone-5-5053835/

Are April Fool’s Day Campaigns Still Effective For Brands?

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

We all have iconic April Fool’s Day campaigns that come to mind, whether that’s from years gone by or more recently.

Perhaps it’s Ant & Dec’s fictional rebrand to Dec & Ant? Or the Teletubbies’ dive into cryptocurrency with TubbyCoin? What about Paddington’s shocking revelation last year that actually, he’s not that into marmalade anymore.

For 364 days a year, brands work hard to create content that builds and strengthens trust with their audience. This is the bread and butter of PR, and it isn’t easy!

But on a single day (or even just the morning, if you’re the superstitious type) in April, many brands suspend those trust-building efforts in the name of creating content deliberately meant to fool (or worse, make fools of) their audiences.

Does April Fool’s Day really give brands a reason to break the rules and craft fake content and ‘sell’ faux products?

Should You Pull An April Fool’s Day Campaign With Your Brand?

To sum it up in a sentence: if your brand has never used humour-based content before, don’t do it.

April Fool’s Day pranks can, and do, work for businesses that can make them relevant, but if your brand isn’t prepared to devote significant resources to develop a thoughtful, well-executed campaign, it’s not worth dabbling in. There are plenty of examples to justify that.

As is often the case with other awareness days and national holidays, sometimes brands may attempt to be involved in a particular celebration because it’s trending, but actually have nothing topical to contribute. Some call it woke washing and this can actually do your brand more damage than good. Don’t be a ‘jack of all trades, and a master of none’, get involved when you know you can do it well. Here at Source PR, we’re all about not just posting for posting’s sake, we love relevancy – and that’s what PR in 2022 should be all about.

Is It The Right Time For April Fool’s Day Campaigns?

As Russia continues to wage war on Ukraine, we are in a similar to predicament to that of 2020, where we asked whether it was appropriate to execute April Fool’s Day stunts at all, no matter the brand? It’s an interesting question and certainly one there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to. So, our Account Manager Jess asked the PR population of Twitter, here’s what they said…

How To Execute A Branded April Fool’s Stunt (At Your Own Risk!)

However, if you feel like an April Fool’s gag is the perfect stunt for your brand then, our advice would be…

  • The most believable April Fool’s jokes often come in the form of e-commerce landing pages for gag products. This approach is your best bet if your main goal is media mentions or backlinks since it gives journalists a perfect place to send their readers.
  • If your content is fresh, unique, and valuable, media and other sites are more likely to talk about it, so make your stunt trendy.
  • Use the 1st of April as a time to test audience response to products or services that seem outlandish. Maybe a bacon-scented candle may work after all?!
  • Use a separate landing page for your content – don’t mix fact and fiction on the same page. Your consumers won’t thank you for that.
  • Don’t develop a promotion that disrupts your audience’s use of your products or services.
  • Harness the appeal of an immediate reveal, don’t lead your customers on and make sure you’re putting your content out at the right time, especially if using social scheduling content.
  • Make the content relevant and satisfy the audience’s curiosity quickly.
  • Finally, invite your audience inside your humorous content efforts and enlist their help (in the form of hashtags or other interactive features) in spreading the fun on social media.

Hopefully, we’ve supplied you with some food for thought. But always bear in mind that April Fool’s pranks can go very wrong very fast. You can never be assured that your joke will go down well with your entire audience. Think about the risk vs. reward.

We’d love to continue the conversation on social media, so if you have any thoughts to add please do let us know on Twitter.

Does Your Business Need A Social Media Presence?

It’s perfectly understandable to question whether or not your business needs a social media presence – whether that’s on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or even Pinterest. In particular, companies in the B2B or business to business market may wonder if they want or need to have social media accounts.

 

After all, it’s something that takes time, money and effort to set up and maintain.

 

That’s why we’re here to give you the run down on just why your business – no matter how big or small – should invest in setting up a social media presence. As you’ll find, the reasons are endless…

 

 

4 Reasons Your Business Needs a Social Media Presence

 

 

1. Increase Awareness Of Your Brand, Without Breaking The Bank

 

Social media is easily one of the most cost-effective – and effective – ways of promoting your brand, putting it out into the world and gaining an audience that listens to the service you can provide for them. Even if you decide not to put any money behind the posts and profile you have set up, it shows your customers that you’re technologically savvy, easy to get in contact with and willing to share all your news, offers and thought leadership!

 

If you do decide to put some money behind your posts, for example, by sponsoring or promoting your page or content, the markup isn’t going to be as much as you’d think. The minimum spend for a Facebook boosted post, for example, is just $1 (75p). You can widen or shrink the radius of your target audience as much as you want, and even target based on job role, interests, gender or age.

 

Photo by Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

 

2…And Just As Effective As Traditional Advertisements

 

 

There are countless examples of brands and businesses that have become enormous successes without breaking the bank by keeping advertisement in the ‘traditional’ sense (i.e. TV, radio, billboards) limited. Through their social media accounts, they have built up a following of people willing to purchase their products or services.

 

An example of this is Gymshark, which has an impressive multi-platform audience on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube that has been built up since 2012. Through a combination of body inclusivity, memes and ‘relatable content,’ the brand has rocketed into the mainstream and is now a major competitor of more well-known fitness wear brands like Nike and Adidas.

Part of Gymshark’s continuing relevance and appeal is its use of influencers, too. Having a social media presence affords you the opportunity to work with individuals (or couples) that have a strong, engaged fan base of thousands – even, sometimes, millions! This is a perfect chance to reach people who might not have otherwise heard of your brand – and might well become future loyal customers!

 

@gymshark via Instagram

 

 

Don’t forget, in order to reach such heights, your social presence has to be bold, interesting and just the right fit for your brand.

 

You might have heard the phrase ‘content is king’ – if your content isn’t interesting or applicable, there’s going to be little chance people will engage with you!

 

 

 

3. Communicate Quickly and Effectively

 

 

The myriad of events during the last few years have taught us many things: one of which is just how quickly circumstances can change. It’s unlikely you’ve held or attended an event since 2020 that hasn’t in some way been impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. Also, this winter’s bout of storms are also a reminder that, no matter how meticulously we can plan, sometimes things simply go wrong in ways we can’t prepare for.

 

Social media is an easy way of communicating with your audience base when something like this happens. If an event has to be called off last minute, chances are people aren’t going to ring up your business to find out – they’ll head to the Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page for the latest updates, knowing that all that people need is a login to communicate with the world! Whether you’re an intern or the CEO, you can easily update your followers when bad luck strikes. It’s certainly quicker than a press release!

 

4. Humanise Your Brand

 

Think about it: which would you rather get in touch with for a business enquiry? A brand that has little to no communications ventures, or one you know for a fact has a presence on social media, that is regularly updated, and communicates with its audience. There’s an age old phrase that goes, “people buy from people.”

 

Putting your brand out there on social media gives your brand a voice – meaning it’s not only easier to reach, but easier to conceptualise, understand, and engage with. This is not only good for your potential (and existing) customers, but for journalists and advertisers, too!

 

 

There are so many reasons to make the big leap into putting your business out on social media. It might seem a daunting task at first, but don’t worry: we at Source are experts in what we do. If you need a hand setting up your social media presence, or simply want some advice, we’d be happy to help! Head to our contact page to find out how to get in touch, or call 01829 720789.

Influencer Vs. Creator – Who’ll Come Out On Top In 2022?

In a recent webinar with Head of Ryanair’s social, Michael Corcoran, one of his arguments that I found particularly compelling (and perhaps a little controversial) was that influencer marketing is on the decline, and is about to be replaced with working with creators instead. Will creator marketing catch on? I’ve been thinking a lot about it since, and here’s what I think.

So Wait… Who’s Who?

But first, let me explain, to my understanding, what influencers and creators are, and indeed what the difference between them is.

Influencers are who we’re more likely to be familiar with, as they’ve been around for a long time now… Think back to the pre-2010s when Zoella was just dipping her toe into YouTubing! Influencers are users of social media channels, most commonly Instagram now, who do what they say on the tin – they influence their followers to use a service or buy a product, mostly because they’ve been paid to say they like it.

Creators, on the other hand, are users who’ve built a following not through sponsored brand deals, but by making content that we love to engage with. The best place to go for a wealth of examples of this, is my favourite platform of the moment – TikTok. Think trainspotting Francis Bourgeois (2.2m followers) or comedian Cole Anderson (1.1m followers); they’ve garnered popularity by creating content that people enjoy.

The blinding difference is that most influencers are effectively paid to say they like and endorse something, whereas creators (at the moment anyway) don’t tend to get paid by businesses for what they create, they may generate revenue through other means such as TikTok’s creator fund, for example. The one word that comes to mind is authenticity.

Don’t Kill The Influencer!

In the interest of being completely transparent, I think ‘death of the influencer’ is very dramatic. Though I certainly see why marketing is shifting more to bespoke content creation (as I’ll come on to in a little while), I don’t think we can discredit the impact of influencers altogether. In fact, I’d continue to endorse using them for a number of businesses and think they are just as effective, if not more effective thanks to increased social media usage, than ever before. The shift, for me, is the need to focus on relevancy. Gone are the days where ex Love Islander’s promoting car air fresheners seems like a good idea (was it ever a good idea?!) and here are the days where we only work with influencers who have a genuine connection to our brands and an impressionable audience who trust the content that’s being posted by said influencer, sponsored or otherwise. This is what we’ve always done with our clients, and it’s what I believe is the next step for influencer marketing. Unfortunately, this inevitably means that influencers without a niche or a hard-earned following, such as reality TV stars, for example, will become less relevant. But what it does mean is we can start putting more weight behind smaller accounts that have just as good, if not a better, influence. Don’t just take my word for it, though, 89% of brands still deem influencer marketing as a vital string to their marketing bow in 2022.

Why Creators Are An Attractive Option

In the way that once, influencers would post a hybrid mix of organic and sponsored content which made them feel more impressionable and approachable, now, creators have stepped into those shoes and are becoming more popular for the same reasons. By not relying on brand deals, they are building and retaining audiences through the quality content they put out. They’ll often have a loyal following – which makes them particularly attractive to brands trying to reach new audiences. Plus, creators can promote products and services in new and exciting ways, and many a time you wouldn’t even know you’re seeing sponsored content until you read a disclaimer in the description. This is the ideal scenario for brands who want to be seen, but not in overly gimmicky way that feels bogus.

Will The Two End Up Merging?

Yes. I absolutely think that influencers will inevitably become creators and the lines will blur. For the most part anyway. In a way you could argue that influencers have already been creators, as they didn’t build a following through entirely promotional content – they’ve have had to create organic content at some point. To add to this, many of the influencers that we work with here at Source PR still retain that mix and balance, which gives them credibility, so in a way, I guess they are creators in their own right. As TikTok becomes harder to ignore, even overtaking Google as the most used website in 2021, I in no doubt expect to see more influencers moving over to that platform and diversifying their content to remain relevant. This is another reason I’d say that the influencer is not ‘dead’, so to speak because they always have the chance to change up their strategy and move with the times. I for one will definitely be keeping my eye on it over the next year, and look forward to seeing what opportunities arise.

So, Which Should You Use?

To end, let’s summarise. What’s best to use for your business, influencer, or creator? To put it very, very simply (and I promise influencer marketing is not this simple when you actually do it), if you have a product that is diverse enough to be marketed creatively and in different ways, then try your hand at creators. For example, I’ve seen a number of sponsored videos on TikTok now for food and hygiene brands as these can easily be inserted into any situation or scenario. Or, if you have something you’d rather be promoted in a specific way, then the influencer is your best bet as you can work with them to control the narrative. Remember though, always go for relevancy over vanity metrics, such as followers. In fact, research even suggested that mid-level reach is better than going big when working with creators too. I’d say travel businesses could test either, you can curate content with influencers to promote your accommodation/resort in a nice, manicured way, but could also work with influencers whose MO is to visit lovely places and create videos about them, to do the same for your business. The key with whichever form of third party marketing you utilise is to not expect magical results from it, be realistic and try different things until you find the perfect formula. You’ll be laughing when you do!

Developing PR Plans For 2022 – 5 Things To Consider

As we look ahead into 2022, the team at Source PR shares below how they feel the pandemic has changed the way brands interact with customers and what PR and communication trends we’re likely to see as we head into 2022.

The pandemic has accelerated the changes in PR that have been coming over the past decade.  The move from more traditional ‘siloed’ communications towards a more holistic and integrated approach is complete.  For example, pure media relations can’t exist without reflective web content or supportive social media management – each communications silo needs to integrate and relate.

This has naturally led to a blurring of lines between PR, marketing and advertising, digital and offline – essentially requiring PR and marketing teams to develop plans that reflect an integrated approach to communications.

  1. Complete the shift to digital-first

The pandemic has ushered in a more digital world meaning companies should be looking at new ways of getting in front of their audiences and ‘meeting’ them in new ways.

In 2022, traditional PR strategies won’t work as well and companies need to adopt a digital-first strategy.  Marketers should however remember that although the platform is online that they’re targeting real people. We thrive on being liked, making conversation, and having meaningful interactions that we can relate to.

As we’re all individuals, this means that when it comes to engaging with customers, brands need to understand that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. Customers care more now than ever about their experience with the companies they are buying from and don’t want to be bombarded with generic emails or social communications that just aren’t relevant to them.

Always remember that consumers are more likely to buy from a brand that they trust, have a relationship and can relate to.

  1. Engage with, or become an influencer

It’s hard not to be aware of the growing influence of the influencer.  But what is an ‘influencer’?  In short, it’s someone with a strong following who ‘creates unique content that reaches and engages people within a specific target audience’.  When chosen correctly, they can add credibility, authenticity, and personality to campaigns, providing they are harnessed in the right way.

PR agencies are well placed to work with companies and brands to shape and foster a community of advocates and influencers.  Influencers can also help humanise the brand in addition to boosting appeal and trust, promoting products and services to new cohorts, providing invaluable user-generated content (UGC), word-of-mouth recommendations and social media chatter.

When considering an influencer be sure to undertake the due diligence and to create genuine partnerships that have strategic alignment with brand values. As ever, key performance indicators (KPIs) will play a crucial role in demonstrating whether the return on investment (ROI) is beneficial.

If you’re a business leader with proven experience in a sector, what’s to stop you from developing your own profile as a thought leader in the sector?  2022 could be the year for this and we are looking forward to working with our clients to achieve this ambition for them.

Finally, although we live in the digital age, brands need to be backed up by real people, otherwise, they risk becoming faceless.  Analysis of the social media platforms we manage clearly show that consumers want to experience the human touch and to understand the people behind the brands.

  1. Develop a social conscience

There is also greater pressure coming from consumer organisations and the public to ensure the products we are consuming have been delivered in a sustainable way, haven’t unnecessarily damaged the environment or caused distress to people or the planet.

If companies are doing good work, it’s important to share the news or at least give a vision for the future that stakeholders can buy into or be part of.  In short, communicating with a conscience has never been more crucial.

We are however still at the stage where companies are positively viewed for their good works, however, in 2022 it’s likely that there will be a shift towards the greater expectation that a company is doing the right thing.  Not acting or doing the ‘wrong thing’ therefore poses a risk to an organisation’s reputation, which can quickly spiral out of control in a digital world.

Be careful not to virtue signal or publish ‘green guff’ as the public are getting increasingly savvy and there is a risk it could backfire.  If you keep your actions aligned to your vision, values and core principles you can’t go far wrong and always keep the communities you are looking to influence in the forefront of your mind when selecting a campaign to support.

2022 will be all about developing a PR narrative that allows clients to demonstrate their credentials in a meaningful way.  When done well, community-led storytelling is more acceptable and authentic than direct brand-led communication, but this community advocacy needs to be consciously harnessed and not left to chance.

  1. Create the right content

As we continue to embrace the digital era, social and web channels are only going to gain more momentum and be an increasingly critical communication tool. In the coming year, ensure that the content provided is authentic and relevant to your audience’s interests.

There has already been a monumental rise of short-form video this year, but more companies will use the format for sales and information, not just entertainment. Of course, the sales messages conveyed via video will have to be entertaining and engaging to capture and hold the viewer’s attention.

The power of speech as a search tool will continue in 2022. Already nearly a third (29%) of people in Britain now own a smart speaker and Forrester predicts the number of households with smart speakers in the EU will reach 57.5 million by 2024. When creating content consider speech search terms as well as those typically typed into Google as increasingly consumers will rely on voice to search for their favourite product or to request information.

  1. Manage your messages

As we develop a multi-channel PR and communications strategy, communications professionals should not be lazy but adapt their messages to suit the platform.  Whether LinkedIn, Twitter or TikTok adapt the message and content to suit.  As new platforms develop, they also become more mainstream so don’t write off Snapchat and TikTok as only being relevant to younger generations.  More and more Millennials and other older generations are becoming active there.

The final point to make is to ensure your messages are adapted for various audiences.  Although much of the above relates to acquiring new customers, don’t forget that “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and that retaining customers that are already engaged should be an equal focus for companies and brands in their PR and communications.

 

We’d love to know your thoughts on what you feel are the topics and trends for 2022?  Whether you agree or disagree with the above, I’m sure we can all agree that the only real risk is to those who choose to do nothing.  We’d happily meet to discuss or support your plans in 2022 and always love to hear or share ideas – you can contact us here.

Whatever you choose to do – we wish you the best of luck and hope you have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2022.

Photo by Djordje Vezilic from Pexels

A Look Inside Google’s Year in Search 2021

Written by our PR intern and university student Bridie Buckingham

This year, more than ever, the world is searching for “How to Heal.”

Google premiered its 2021 ‘Year in Search’ film in 50+ languages worldwide. The highly anticipated short is built from Google Trends data highlighting the world’s most asked questions and most searched topics this year.

Take a look at what was revealed.

Last year, Google’s ‘Year In Search’ asked “why?” more than any other time in history. This year, the process of reflecting on the global events that have changed the world forever began. The challenges and tragedy of recent years became an opportunity to summon collective strength. It became a time to embrace scars and come back stronger than before.

We asked “how to honour someone?”

We asked “how to take care of your mental health?”

And we asked “how to be strong?”

There was a clear theme to this year’s searching. With all of us fighting our own battles, big or small, the desire to overcome was evident. Reflected in our Google searches, the motivation to get better, and to do better, was an important factor in our actions throughout 2021.

It goes without saying that various questions surrounding the pandemic featured in the top searches. “Will there be another lockdown?” and “when can I get the vaccine?” featured heavily as well as the heart wrenching “when can I visit my family?”.

2021 saw the return of (semi)normal life. Shops reopened, businesses began to recover, and sports, music, and theatre made a comeback. Clearly the search for “how to be resilient” was fruitful.

Spending a lot of time with ourselves also made many of us introspective. Searches for “how to be yourself” and “what is my purpose?” appeared frequently and with the coming out of Elliot Page and others this year as well as the outpouring of love and acceptance, 2021 has seen a lot of people step into their own.

Despite this, it was not all of us who felt the love. Searches for “how to move forward” and “stop Asian hate” spoke of the vast amount of people suffering from the world’s unkindness. With racist abuse targeting the BLM protests and Asian communities, many felt the need to turn for help.

Searches for “how to use my voice” also increased with many of us wondering how we can make a difference and use our voices to implement change and raise awareness for causes near and dear to us.

“How to help our planet”, “ways to help your community” and “how to be hopeful” round out the top searches and bring back a bit of positivity. With the influence of COP26 and the evident climate change we experienced in lockdown, people are looking for ways to help our planet as well as give back to their local community who supported them through the last year and a half.

Currently, the world is searching for “how to be hopeful” and I think that is very poignant, especially now. We have made it through the trials and tribulations 2021 has thrown at us, and while some of us have taken to looking forwards, many of us are looking inwards.

Let’s hope for the best for 2022. For ourselves and for the world.

Stay safe.

 

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

Do We Have LinkedIn Fatigue?

At a friend’s gathering few months ago, I was talking with a group of people I’d never met before, and the conversation turned to what we all did for work. After the polite exchange of questions (a lot of “so what does that entail, exactly?”) someone happened to mention LinkedIn.

 

Immediately following the L word, a unified groan came from just about everyone in the circle. People were immediately eager to poke fun of the typical kind of viral content LinkedIn tends to promote, or produce; complaints of the kinds of somewhat-influential people you tend to come across on there; and the general assent that LinkedIn had become ‘like Facebook, but worse.’

 

What happened? If someone had mentioned Twitter, Instagram, or even Facebook itself, I highly doubt such an adverse reaction would have followed. Everyone, it seemed, was of the same mindset: that LinkedIn was a hive of content that quite often ranged from the pretentious to the irritating. But, either due to its useful aspects of connecting with co-workers, industry minds and old friends, or needing to be on the platform for work, people remained on there, regardless.

 

Only Connecting

 

 

You could fairly argue this anecdotal example doesn’t necessarily reflect a wider attitude. But, recently, more and more complaints about the way in which LinkedIn users utilise the platform seem to have been ever-louder. On Twitter, I put out a small poll to see if this was just a one-off example, and found that my friends weren’t alone in this feeling.

 

 

Of the respondents, nearly 80% responded with either ‘Yes’ or ‘Somewhat / partially.’

 

So why have people become disillusioned with the website, which, according to its database, has over 800 million users? I’ve come up with some potential reasons: perhaps they’ll ring true for you, too…

 

 

  1. Pointless Polls

 

As anyone who works in social knows, polls are a fail-safe way to engage with followers, widen your reach/presence, and, of course, find out the actual opinions of those who read your content.

 

But over the past year or so, polls have been cropping up on LinkedIn that have little or nothing to do with the more traditional topics – business, thought leadership, work culture, wages, diversity, and inclusion, to name just a few – and have instead been taken over by polls that are a transparent effort for the user in question to broaden their reach. These polls are reminiscent of Facebook, in that the question is usually either a) a controversial or semi-controversial topic, or, b) about food (of course!).

 

While it’s certainly harmless to ask what people like for their Christmas dinner, this is the kind of content we’re all used to seeing on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook – basically, every single platform other than LinkedIn. Why use a platform primarily created with business networking, job-seeking and careers in mind to run a poll about something completely irrelevant?

 

What might have started as a fun exercise in getting gaining audience interaction has now become something users regularly complain about.

 

 

There’s also the opposite end of the spectrum to consider: polls that aren’t about a harmless topic could alienate employees from their employers, and vice versa. Some LinkedIn polls have called for opinions on masks, COVID restrictions, and the relatively new ‘office vs working from home’ debate. Let’s say your boss is vehemently against employees working from home, but you’re doing your best to manoeuvre a more 50/50 arrangement – it wouldn’t be fun to see them react to sensitive topics that have caused tension in the office. Right?

 

 

2. Barely Concealed Bravado

 

 

Of course, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing achievements, promotions, or personal wins – it’s practically what social media was invented for. And being a platform designed to bring professionals together, our LinkedIn feeds are bound to be full of people sharing their good news stories – which is great, especially in these uncertain times.

 

However, some use the opportunity to share good news as a chance to write essay-long posts that string out the meticulous details of the good deed, the profit, or the yearly roundup as lengthily as possible. What’s worse is that the algorithm seems to preference these sorts of posts… So, of course those looking to expand their LinkedIn reach will utilise this preference by the site.

 

It’s always lovely (and interesting!) to read others’ big wins, moments of generosity and acts of kindness – but, similarly to the way in which constantly using Zoom will have us grimacing at the sight of our own faces after a long few days or weeks of back-to-back meetings, the fatigue caused by overly-long essays make me tune out – and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

 

 

 

3. Ostentatious Oversharing

 

Topics of a sensitive nature don’t have any one natural home on social media. Celebrities using the iPhone notes app and posting apologies, bad news, or heartfelt sincerity on Twitter have long been ridiculed for the practice – which may or may not always be a fair criticism.

 

Facebook and Instagram may be the more typical place for those wishing to share their grievances in life or the world: in the thick of Black Lives Matter protests last year, inarguably a topic sensitive for many, Instagram infographics were doing the rounds like wildfire. Whether it was statistics on police brutality or a snapshot of the incident that started it all – the murder of George Floyd – Instagram had become a hub of ‘PowerPoint activism,’ a term used by Vox. Where once the app was host to little more than selfies, holiday snaps and brunch, it’s now not unusual to see posts and stories of a sensitive nature across your timeline.

 

When it comes to LinkedIn, however, it’s a different kettle of fish. Do people using a B2B networking platform really want – or need – to see the topics of a sensitive nature that seem to be more and more frequently shared? Furthermore, intimate, or personal details are one thing, but it’s quite another when it comes to photos of other people’s children with terminal illness, neurodivergence or disabilities. Did everyone involved give their full permission to have their photo, and story, spread over the internet to potentially hundreds, if not thousands of people?

 

It must be said that there is a level of catharsis achieved when posting this sort of content. And if those reading the posts on their timelines garner some sympathy for those in a similar position, then it’s been a fruitful exercise – we could all do with a little more kindness, after all.

 

One positive of the overhaul of attitude towards mental health is that we’re all becoming a little more open, honest, and vulnerable about our struggles and day-to-day hang ups. It takes an immense amount of strength to write about your personal issues for all the world to see. There’s a time and a place, however – and I’m not sure LinkedIn is that place. I’m certain that it’s not the place when it comes to the struggles of those who are in more vulnerable positions than us, too.

 

 

To Sum Up

 

I promise I’m not so cynical as to not see the great things about LinkedIn. It can be a wonderful platform, and I’ve taken a lot of inspiration from seeing others’ tips and tricks, mental health championing and career achievements. Particularly through the pandemic, I found that LinkedIn was a place where those in similar industries and environments were able to vent, share their anxieties, and help brainstorm on what the future of ‘traditional work’ might look like.

 

However, with such a negative name for itself at the moment, the platform needs to decide what it wants to be: a Facebook-style free-for-all in which anyone can post their thoughts (work-related or not), or a platform for strictly business-related matters.

 

What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear them! Get in touch via our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels

 

 

7 Times ‘Squid Game’ Impacted Marketing Campaigns – For Better or Worse

The South Korean mega-hit ‘Squid Game,’ Netflix’s most popular show ever (officially!), hasn’t just been dominating streaming figures, conversation, and online memes – it’s also been leaving a cultural footprint on the marketing world, too.

 

The show isn’t for everyone: it’s action-packed but ultraviolent, and, despite moments of light-heartedness, can make for heavy watching. Despite this, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon – and it’s little wonder businesses are hopping on the trend wherever possible.

 

However, as ‘Squid Game’ is a very clear critique of what show creator Hwang Dong-hyuk describes as the ‘extreme competition’ of ‘modern capitalism’ – which has strong echoes of ‘Parasite,’ the South Korean Oscar-winning film by Bong Joon-ho – a misjudgement may have been made by some marketing teams on exactly what the appeal of Squid Game is: and, crucially, why their product might not be apt for a themed campaign.

 

Below, we’ve put together the good and the not-so-good ‘Squid Game’ campaigns…

 

The Good

 

 

Food websites and bloggers alike have jumped at the opportunity to provide recipes for South Korean food featured in Squid Game. This include Delish’s recipe for Dalgona Candy, used in Episode 3 of the show, a simple but effective way of catching the attention of those looking to try the sweet treat. There’s also Kcal, a Glasgow-based restaurant that has come up with its own Dalgona-inspired pancakes: if you can cut the shape out using only your knife without breaking it, they’re yours for free! We think this is a genius way of involving the fun in their food – and definitely less dire consequences than in the show…

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Kcal Kitchen Glasgow (@kcalkitchen)

 

Along with the ‘Good’ are the extremely cute Squid Game pet costumes on Etsy – which come in both contestant and guard form. As any pet owner knows, some of our furry friends are bloodthirsty enough, so it’s more than fitting to have them join in the fun…especially as Halloween is right around the corner.

 

Via Bustle.com

 

Heineken’s use of the star in its logo is also another inventive and interesting way of hopping on the bandwagon; similarly, competitor Budweiser imposed their logo into a Dalgona biscuit (not quite as ingenious, but some quick thinking nonetheless).

 

There’s also debt management company Relief, who used the craze to print and distribute 10,000 lookalike business cards that have the now-infamous shapes across the front of the card. On the back reads: ‘There’s a better way to get out of debt.’

 

Via The Drum

 

 

No matter how successful it may be, the nature of a TV craze like ‘Squid Game’ means that it’s a flash in the pan moment – here today, gone tomorrow – meaning brands have to think on their feet to come up with a campaign both fitting and eye-catching.

 

This sometimes can, unfortunately, mean that companies don’t take enough time to correctly judge the tone and meaning behind exactly what’s got the public in a frenzy about a certain piece of media. Which brings us on to…

 

The Not-So-Good

 

With ‘Squid Game’ being a show about characters crippled by debt – the very reason they sign up to the game in the first place – there couldn’t be a more inappropriate campaign than by Klarna, the payment company that allows users to pay in instalments.

 

Via Twitter

 

 

The company was fired at on social media after sending out a push notification offering customers to pay for ‘Squid Game’-themed costumes…in instalments. This controversial system of payment has also recently been under fire recently after a Facebook advertisement for Zilch went viral: a company that provides instalment payment plans for takeaways such as Domino’s and Papa Johns.

 

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that the idea of promoting this kind of app, in association with a show that depicts debt problems as so debilitating that desperate individuals would choose fighting to the death rather than overcoming it, is a bit of a misguided move.

 

Though Klarna does not charge fees or interest to users, it has been compared to payday loan companies for its encouragement of overspending. According to the Guardian, ‘The debt charity StepChange says it has an increasing number of clients who have money owing on “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) among their debts when they turn to it for help. Klarna is easily the largest BNPL player in the UK market.’

 

It’s a no-brainer: though it might take a bit more time, ultimately, weighing up whether or not your brand actually fits in with the latest viral craze or not is far more beneficial than a temporary hop on the bandwagon that might get you into hot water. It’s tempting to fire at all cylinders in accordance with the online chatter, but, as Klarna have found, that’s not always the wisest move.

 

My colleague Jess recently wrote a blog debunking the myth that you’re only as good as your last 30 days of PR. In it, she suggests that the pressure of hopping onto trends may lead to only half-hearted efforts – and, crucially, that the best campaigns always take a bit of time. And that’s ok.

 

At Source, we’d love to help you and your business with all things marketing, digital and PR. Head to our contact page or drop us a line on 01829 720 789 today to speak to one of our team.

 

 

 

Protecting Your Brand As Social Media Grows

Where do people go when they want to complain about a company these days? Do they go to their local retail outlet or pick up a phone to let the company know about a problem? Hardly at all now. Instead, complaints are delivered easily and readily through a mobile device and increasingly, social media.

 

Twitter has been known as the place to complain (and not just about products and services) for quite a number of years now. There are lots of keyboard warriors out there.

 

Monitoring your brand reputation is not a new thing, even online. I have been involved in monitoring what’s being said on the internet about a company since the early 2000s when BT was launching its ADSL internet. Yes, I am progressing in years.

 

But in those days, it was more ‘underground’ chat groups and forums where the knowledgeable few hung out. Today, posting and chatting online is a daily occurrence for a large part of society, in fact half of the world’s population uses social media. Being ‘social’ is as easy as carrying a mobile around and having a way of connecting to the internet.

 

Which is why social media platforms are so popular. The need for likes, affirmations and followers is truly something we have an addiction to. According to Statista, Facebook is still the most used platform, followed by YouTube; WhatsApp; Instagram; Facebook Messenger and then WeChat. But closely behind those is the newer kid on the block, TikTok.

 

Social media platforms also give instant gratification to reaching out, not only to friends and family, but also companies. But this time it’s not underground amongst a few people. It’s on a global platform with millions of users and usually thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of followers.

 

According to Genesys, the number of consumers interacting with customer service departments through messaging, mobile apps, chatbots, social media and video calling, more than doubled between 2017 and 2021.

 

We have seen several high-profile examples of users taking to Twitter to complain about a particular company. One example was a few years ago when a man paid for a promoted tweet to vent his frustration about the way BA handled his father’s missing luggage problem. The tweet was soon picked up by others and even the news site Mashable.

 

Or there’s the example of a Virgin Media customer who ‘live’ tweeted his experience of trying to speak to the right person on the phone to cancel his subscription. His step-by-step hilarious commentary went viral as people tuned in to see whether he was ever going to get his cancellation.

 

But what caught my eye last week, was the story reported on BBC News about a consumer taking on Lidl through not Twitter, but TikTok.

 

A Scottish woman complained to the supermarket about a batch of its oat milk being ‘off’ through a series of videos that attracted millions of views. Her videos eventually led to Lidl removing the batch of milk from on sale in its stores. And got the media coverage to boot, making its visibility even higher.

 

Whilst companies are busy over in the Twitter corner monitoring brand mentions and negative tweets, who’s over in the other corner watching what’s going on with TikTok?

 

Surely this high-profile example will lead to others taking to the platform to do the same/similar. Who wants to write a boring tweet that can get lost in the endless scrolling of Twitter, when you can create much more of an impact with a series of videos on TikTok?

 

Our advice would be to ensure that you are monitoring brand mentions across ALL the platforms, not just the ones that you or your MD use. The right content can generate a lot of publicity on any platform, good and bad.

 

For help in monitoring and promoting your brand online, please get in touch.