Social media

Don’t ‘boost’!

Kate Potter writes…

Advertising on social media has become more popular as brands and organisations try to elbow their way through the increasing amount of content that is fighting for the attention of the online community.

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) are encouraging businesses using their channels to put advertising dollars behind their posts to ensure they appear in the newsfeeds of their target audiences.

There’s a few different ways to do this – one of the easiest ways is to ‘boost’ a post – but I’m here to offer a counter argument: don’t boost!

When you publish a post that you’ve created for your social media community, there is inherently a level of knowledge that your community has about your brand, your product or your organisation. If they are already a “fan” of the page, they most likely have background information that provides context to your post.

However, if you are pushing your post out to people who aren’t already ‘fans’ of your page, they don’t have that knowledge and background information. And if you assume that they do, you will lose their attention – fast.

Back in 2011, ANZ launched an ad campaign that starred Simon Baker as his character from television show The Mentalist. To me, as someone who didn’t watch The Mentalist, the ad was seriously confusing – why is Simon Baker talking in an American accent? Why does he “know what I’m thinking”? It felt arrogant of ANZ to assume that I would have this background knowledge that would make their ad relevant to me. (And I wasn’t the only one – watch this YouTube parody and read the comments here and here.)

So many social media ads that appear on my Instagram feed and Facebook feed feel the same way. An ad promoting a photographer on Instagram is captioned only ‘💕’ while I’m thinking “Who are you? What do you do? Why should I hire you?” An ad promoting a blogger uses a selfie photo and is captioned “so bloody ready for a holiday!” while I sit there confused as to who this person is and why they are appearing on my feed. And it goes on and on – my feed is filled with ads every day that don’t provide context, don’t introduce me to the person or their product / service, and assume that my background knowledge will be there to make me want to find out more.

So, what do I suggest you do instead of ‘boosting’ your existing posts? Create social media ad campaigns – but create them from scratch. Use Facebook Ads Manager or Twitter Ads Manager and force yourself to consider a couple of key questions: what is the objective of my ad campaign? How am I going to introduce my product / service / event to people if they are hearing about it for the first time?

Using these tools also gives you greater control over your ad campaign delivery, compared with the tools available to you by ‘boosting’ or ‘promoting’ posts.

Make sure you run your social media ad campaigns with your eyes wide open (I often think of clicking the boost button on Facebook as a blind ‘spray and pray’ of your advertising message!) and don’t assume the social media audience will stop and try to figure out what you’re selling or promoting. We have short attention spans!

Hughes PR, Public relations, Social media

Why and how is the marketing mix changing?

This year, Hughes is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

In the past five years particularly, we’ve seen the marketing communications rule book torn into pieces and thrown up in the air.  It’s still landing – and probably won’t ever settle in one place again thanks to the fierce winds of change!

Advertising agencies have had to completely re-examine and re-calibrate their role in brand building; digital and design agencies have sprung up and then many have disappeared; marketers have had to increasingly rely on their wits in the absence of clear delineation between the once well-defined marketing disciplines – and public relations consultancies have either taken a leap of faith into the digital space – or they’ve kept doing the same thing to their own and their clients’ detriment.

I say that not as a criticism but as a fact.  A quarter of our income today comes from services we didn’t offer five years ago – all of which are digital media related. Video production, social media strategy and delivery, and graphic design – ie, content.

In South Australia, the PR profession has generally adapted well.  We’re a tight market, we watch each other, we don’t dive in just because ‘it’s the latest thing’ and when we do move it’s generally in a considered and sustainable way.

PR consultancies in South Australia are relatively small and independent.  That means they’re agile and accountable in a very transparent environment.  And our market is often rightly described as “hard but fair”.

The changes present a threat to those who don’t embrace them – but a huge opportunity for our industry to meet the reputational needs of clients and lead the communication needs of all organisations ahead of advertising agencies and digital agencies.

The lines have blurred between advertising agencies and PR consultancies.  There is still a strong need for us to work together – but who does what is increasingly up for grabs and in my view, PR professionals will increasingly lead strategy and content, with advertising agencies taking responsibility for creativity and production.

As Rise to the Top marketing blogger, David Siteman wrote recently:

It used to be that things were neatly divided into pretty categories:

An advertising agency created ads (and if they did media placement, they placed the ads).

A marketing agency could do a variety of things depending on their specialty ranging from brand identity (design, slogans, etc.), perhaps creating your website, some paid advertising (overlaps a bit with an advertising firm), maybe helped with events and other ways to get the word out (such as SEO or more traditional direct mail).

A public relations agency focused on media attention. This used to be limited to pitching traditional media for articles, placement, etc. Some firms helped you put on events.

And then the social and creative web started to become mainstream and the game has completely changed.

Things are smarter, faster, cheaper …   the happy divide between marketing, advertising and public relations has crumbled.

Now there are amazing do-it-yourself tools that entrepreneurs, big brands and all clients can use if they so choose.  Many companies (big and small) can handle all their marketing, public relations and advertising themselves (this wasn’t true even just ten years ago).

However, Mr Siteman says …”there will always be a market for those that need some help. They just might not need help from a bloated agency using old-school tactics.”

His words, not mine.

Facebook, Social media, Twitter

Marketing a glass of wine at 8am?! Why social media timing is so important

In the early days of social media, we just posted. Had something to post, and clicked “publish”. It was as easy as that.

Then some things shifted and we came to realise that context surrounding your social media content is just as important as the content itself.

One particular context that a lot of social media community managers still haven’t got quite right is time of day. Although, it’s great to see that changing – more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of choosing the right time of day for their social media posts.

When did I see the light? When a social media account I was particularly interested in tried to espouse the joys of a roast dinner – at 6am. It was so early in the morning that it was a major turn off… I was barely thinking of breakfast food yet, let alone tonight’s dinner.

(This was back in the days of chronological Instagram posts – so it was coming through in real time.)

When it comes to social media content – the “when” is just as important as the “what”. Advertisers learnt this many years ago, with fast food ads starting to hit TV screens at 4pm as we’re thinking about dinner, but for some reason social media has lagged a bit in this area.

You need to ask yourself: when is your target audience online? What sort of things are they doing on a typical day? When will they be most receptive to your message?

There are some great tools available to ensure that we post social media content at the optimal time.

On Facebook, check to see when your page audience is online by clicking “insights” in the top business page menu bar, and then “posts” in the left hand menu. You’ll see a graph showing when your “fans” are online, and scrolling over each day of the week will show the difference day by day.

You can schedule posts in advance on Facebook – instead of clicking “publish”, choose to “schedule” instead. This will allow you to choose a suitable time of day, or day of the week, to post.

To schedule tweets in advance, use a tool such as Hootsuite (free), and to schedule Instagram posts in advance, use a tool such as Schedugram (paid) or draft Instagram posts and then set an alarm in your phone to click “post” on the draft!

Whether it’s posting a gorgeous sunset picture at sunset, marketing alcohol later in the day, or making sure you don’t target mothers of school children during the mad school rush drop off and pick up hours, timing can be everything!

Hughes PR, Public relations, Social media

25 years of Hughes

Tim Hughes writes…

I’ve been doing this for 30 years – 25 years as the head of Hughes, which I established in the store cupboard of a friend’s business in 1992.

In the past five years I’ve seen more change than in the prior 25.

When I started in print journalism, typewriters were common – although they were fast giving way to clunky computers.

When I worked in television, there was always a rush to get things shot as early as possible in the day so that the film could be sent to the processors, then cut, then printed and then aired – a far cry from Snapchat or Instagram.

I saw teletext machines give way to fax machines; fax machines do away with couriers; and the internet and email replace fax machines.  But these were just tools for doing business with our clients more efficiently – not necessarily impacting on our work for clients up until the past decade.

In Australia – and particularly South Australia – we were probably sheltered from change for some time.

Trends have been changing at a much faster rate beyond our borders and shores.  I don’t believe we’ll be as sheltered from change in the five years to 2021.  The rise and rise of digital and social media has seen to that.

And the pace of change will be even greater in the next five years than it has been in the past five years.  For example, the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 400 per cent in the next four years (Michael Schaeffer, The Content Code).

From my perspective, the past five years have seen the greatest changes to the so-called PR business – and the greatest challenges and opportunities.

Just to give you a bit of background on our consultancy:

We are one of the largest consultancies in SA.

We work for a broad range of clients – largely in the corporate space – and in almost every case, we work at the highest level of that organisation and then deliver down.

If we have a point of difference in the marketplace it is our commitment to being strategic and aligning our work in a measurable way to the business goals of all our clients.

Our clients include Adelaide Airport, Adelaide Convention Centre, BankSA, Calvary Health Care, Flinders Fertility, ENGIE, major property developers and a number of organisations in the defence sector.

Our experience mirrors the experience of the wider PR profession – at least in Australia.

Over time, our consultancy has changed and in recent times, it’s changed even more quickly.

We started as opportunistic publicists, we developed a reputation for managing reputation through our work on issues and crises communication, we became more conscious of the importance of being strategic in delivering outcomes aligned to our clients’ business goals.

Our expertise was harnessed to assist internal communications.

Our interest in “brands” in the broader sense, helped us bring internal and external behaviours and communications together. Because of our experience and network, we became “influencers” and “advocates”.

We responded to changes in the communication environment by embracing social and digital media – and including it in our programs in a strategic manner.  We were one of the first in Adelaide to appoint a consultant dedicated to social media work.

Recognising the influence of video, we established a Digital Video Production capability to deliver web and blog content and electronic news releases to both new and traditional media under-resourced to meet the demands of their audience.

We then expanded our skill set with a graphic design team to support our work in social, digital and video media.  These services now account for 25% of turnover – and they’re growing.

So, you can see how our industry is changing – and the pace is only going to pick up.  It’s going to impact on the whole of the marketing communication sector.  But we believe PR has the most to gain.

Digital Media, Facebook, LinkedIn, Social media, Twitter

Including social media as part of your company’s DNA

Icons for the application

Kate Potter writes…

There are many workplaces – especially younger start-ups or tech companies – where social media is seen as a hugely important part of the organisation’s brand. These companies have an organisational culture that ensures social media is at the forefront of every employee’s mind – and desktop!

But what if your organisation sees social media as an afterthought – and you are the lone ranger within the company, flying the social media flag?

All employees don’t have to live and breathe social media the way a marketing or communications manager does, but embedding social media into a company culture is an important step to ensuring that everyone in your organisation at least knows how they can play an important role in your social media presence.

Here’s five suggestions for how you can make the culture change within your company, so before you know it you’ll have Alan from accounts sending you a great idea for a Snapchat campaign.

  1. Ask and you shall receive (specifically!)

Sometimes you can feel like a one-woman-or-man-content-creation-band. You source, hunt, photograph, video and post about company news. But everyone else has their own job to do, so it’s no wonder all of their updates don’t come across your desk.

The key is to proactively email or phone key company stakeholders direct and ask them if they have any ideas for content for your social media channels. But get specific about your questions. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:

  • Are there any company milestones coming up?
  • What’s the latest projects you have been working on?
  • Have you been to any interesting industry events lately?
  • Where do you see our industry going at the moment?
  • Can you let me know the three key learnings you took away from yesterday’s conference?
  • What was the highlight of the lunch seminar you attended?
  1. Remind people in emails, meetings and phone calls that you’re always open to receiving content

Do you have regular work in progress meetings? Put social media content on the agenda. Do you email your colleagues weekly or monthly reports? Make sure you include the fact that you would love to hear from anyone who has news or updates. You may feel like a broken record but you might find some gold (or at least get some minds turning over).

This might not be as effective as tip number one – there’s nothing like getting right in front of an individual – but it still is a worthwhile reminder for all your team.

  1. Encourage everyone to be paparazzi

As soon as someone leaves the office for a corporate event – it could be a conference, a breakfast, a lunch, a presentation, a seminar or the opening of an envelope – remind them before they leave to TAKE PHOTOS!

Not everyone is a photographer but encourage them to snap away with their phone camera anyway – you don’t have to use all of them (or any of them!) but at least you have them – and your colleague is reminded that what they see in their everyday can be great social media content.

  1. Report in metrics that matter to them.

Reach, impressions, click throughs, conversions and engagement rates are exciting to me, but they may not mean a lot to my boss. It’s time to report in a language they understand. This might mean comparing Facebook advertising costs and results to other media advertising, or it might mean setting up goal conversions on your Google Analytics so you can point to the tangible.

Ultimately, you need to be able to either report on the return on investment, or you need to be able to communicate that the return on investment isn’t always black and white. (← Language warning on that link.)

  1. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

Cultural change within organisations can be a long, slow process. Social media has been around for a decade but there are still people you may work with who don’t even give it a second thought when they consider company communications.

Be the champion within your workplace, and remember that it might take many reminders for change to happen.

And then one day, the social media shy CEO will send you an incredible photo that he “just happened to catch, out in the field” and you can tell him afterwards that it got the highest reach on your Facebook page, ever, in the history of your Facebook page*.

And you’ll know you’ve got through.

*This actually happened to one of my clients – a very satisfying moment.

Hughes PR, Marketing, Public relations, Social media

Loud and clear: fundraising campaigns that work

Natalie Ciccocioppo writes…

From Oprah to Mark Zuckerberg, Jamie Oliver to David Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow to Mark Wahlberg, then extending to your neighbours, workmates and friends, about a month ago, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was literally everywhere.

Mainstream media and social media was awash (see what I did there) with people taking on the challenge – to dump a bucket of icy cold water over their heads and nominate their friends to do the same – raising awareness for a debilitating illness that had previously not garnered a lot of publicity or widespread public thought.

As a direct result of the Ice Bucket Challenge, more than $100 million has been raised for ALS or as we know it here in Australia, Motor Neurone Disease.

There’s little doubt the Ice Bucket Challenge has been an incredibly successful campaign. This article in The Age outlines some of the reasons why the Ice Bucket Challenge cut through and went viral.

Health and cause-related fundraising isn’t new. For many years, various charities have been encouraging the community to take on a range of activities to support their fundraising efforts.

I remember taking part in the World Vision 40 Hour Famine – a popular fundraising initiative when I was in school. Going without food for 40 hours seemed like a real struggle at the time, but served as an important reminder to my 13-year-old self about children of the same age around the world living in poverty and dying as a result of malnutrition and hunger-related illnesses.

In those days, fundraising efforts involved pestering encouraging teachers, classmates, friends and family to sponsor you, and then running around and collecting money in an envelope, which you’d then exchange for a money voucher or cheque, and send off in the post to the designated charity.

Digital and social media has added a new dimension to the rise of cause-related marketing. A successful viral campaign like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge wouldn’t have been able to reach the sheer volume of users that it did prior to social media.

The advent of digital communications means that we can share updates with our Facebook friends, LinkedIn contacts, Twitter and Instagram followers, and invite them to pledge their support as we take on fundraising activities, and they can directly donate using their credit card online within seconds.

Movember, which raises funds and awareness of men’s health, is another example of cause-related fundraising done well. I lose count of the ‘mo’ updates I see on my Facebook News Feed every November! And it’s not always about asking for money – participants, or as Movember Australia calls them ‘Mo Bros’, are regularly posting photos of their moustache styling, opening themselves up for admiration (or sometimes ridicule) from their friends.

A simple fundraising idea, such as the Ice Bucket Challenge or Movember, that invites people to take action for a cause, can result in a globally successful campaign.

The calendar year is full of fundraising initiatives. In October alone, there’s Girls Night In, Walktober, Frocktober, Octsober, Adelaide Stair Climb, and Buy Nothing New Month, which all invite people to ‘do something’ for a cause.

To cut through the noise, cause marketing ideas need to:

  • Ask participants to challenge themselves or do something fun and visual, to provide a story that they can share with their friends;
  • Relate back to the cause;
  • Have a strong social media engagement element;
  • Share compelling stories of those they support to encourage others to support the cause.

Here at Hughes PR, we are committed to supporting the community. We have several not-for-profit clients that we provide our professional services to on a discounted or ‘no fee’ basis.

We also take part in fundraising events where we can. Over the past few years, our team has helped out at McDonald’s restaurants for McHappy Day, taken part in the JDRF Spin for a Cure, Hutt Street Centre Walk a Mile in My Boots, Jeans for Genes Day, Vinnies CEO Sleepout, OCRF White Shirt Day and worn red to work for Red Nose Day.

Today we are taking part in Loud Shirt Day – proudly wearing our loudest clothing to work to raise funds for First Voice to help give the gift of sound and speech to deaf children.

Who do you think is wearing the best loud shirt? What fundraising initiatives do you take part in?

loud shirt day 2

Hughes PR, Marketing, Public relations, Social media

Take outs from Marketing Week 2014

Marketing Week was held in Adelaide this week – a week-long conference dedicated to marketing, advertising, public relations and social media. It was fantastic to hear from local and national speakers on a wide range of topics. Hughes PR is a sponsor of Marketing Week and we always enjoy our association with the event.

Here’s a few thoughts and take outs that our team had from sessions they attended:

Tim Hughes

  • When discussing the ‘Challenges of Issues Management in a 24 Hour News Cycle’, it reinforced to me that when you’re in the middle of managing an issue or crisis, social media is both a blessing and a curse. It allows you to communicate quickly and easily with a very broad audience – but it also requires close scrutiny and management to make sure speculation doesn’t outpace the facts.

Maddie Angel

  • I really enjoyed the session featuring Andre Eikmeir from Vinomofo. He talked about his experience starting a business, and I loved his point: know what the business stands for before taking it to market then go for it.

Alli Evans

  • Dr Phil Harris hosted a session on ‘Neuro Marketing’. He discussed how marketers are able to subconsciously sell to consumers through the use of music, colour and design; explaining the music that we listen to in-store can directly affect our purchasing attitude – fascinating!
  • An interesting analogy from the ‘Brand Journalism’ session regarding current content being produced in news media caught my attention: “News is becoming like a child wanting chocolate for dinner, just because the child wants chocolate doesn’t mean we should necessarily give it to them. Of course they want it, but is it what they need”.
  • A great point in the ‘Big ideas’ session; organisations need to encourage creative thinking, and never put down someone’s idea even if it doesn’t work – at least they were thinking of ideas. And ideas, right or wrong, create opportunities.

Natalie Ciccocioppo

  • I enjoyed Jeff Bullas’ insights in to building his profile and blog to where it is today – achieving over 4 million page views per year from 190 countries worldwide. We hear a lot about ‘content being king’ but one of my key take-outs from Jeff’s session was the importance of not only having good content but marketing it in the right way – ‘build it and they will come’ doesn’t apply here.
  • I was inspired by the ‘Bringing Big, Brave, Game Changing Ideas to Life’ session and the questions that the panel members suggested considering when developing an idea: Why is this idea useful, what does it stand for, how will people engage with it, and what role will it bring to their lives? As a side, the energy of the panel and the way they bounced off each other was great.

Mark Williams

  • Darren Whitelaw from Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet pointed out the exponential growth in social media apps. In 2011 the US Patent Office recorded about 250 apps. In 2014 that figure has reached 4,383 social media apps.

Kate Potter

  • It was interesting to hear Jeff Bullas citing Coca-Cola’s content marketing approach, which was the 70/20/10 content plan: 70% of the content they create is “low-risk”, 20% of content “innovates off of what works” and the final 10% is “high risk” content.
  • Steve Brennen from eBay provided great insight into the future of e-commerce, in particular noting the rise in mobile. While here at Hughes PR we’ve all been taking note of mobile trends, it is fascinating to see how people’s use of mobile is impacting e-commerce marketing.
  • At the Marketing Week Community Manager Challenge, the panel of social media community managers were asked how they safeguard against risk. Julie Delaforce’s advice of considering all risks by categorising them as brand risks, user risks and legal risks was a great suggestion for community managers.

Kieran Hall

  • The ‘Brand Journalism and Native Advertising – the new PR?’ event provided some interesting insights from a panel of media experts about the future of paid content. While it’s opening up new revenue streams for media companies, brand journalism looms as a major challenge for editors who need to appropriately distinguish standard editorial from “commercial” content in terms of what stories are pursued, how they’re reported, and what prominence they’re given.


Hughes Public Relations, based in Adelaide, South Australia, is a communications and PR consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.