Friday Wrap #112: A PR digital working group, more social experiments, a curated streaming audio app

Friday Wrap #112
Flickr photo courtesy of Shanthanu Bhardwaj
The Friday Wrap (which is what you’re reading) is a curated rundown of news, reports and posts from the past week that, while they didn’t go viral or attract much attention, are still interesting and useful for communications professionals. I select Wrap items from my link blog, which you’re welcome to follow.

News

CPRF launches digital working group—The Council of Public Relations Firms (CPRF) has launched a working group of “incredibly smart people running digital in their agencies” to tackle the question of how the PR industry can obtain its rightful place as the leader of digital activities. The group is kicking off its efforts in four areas: What is the right way to define digital? What is the value of a PR-driven approach to digital (and why is PR best equipped to lead it)? Can we define “good” digital and how do we measure it? And can we address ethical gray areas inherent in engaging in the digital environment? Read more

OKCupid reveals its own online social experiments—When Facebook’s A/B test to determine if withholding positive or negative updates from some users’ News Feeds led to outrage, I noted that such tests are common. Reinforcing that point, dating site OKCupid revealed that it has also conducted experiments, like matching people whose really aren’t compatible. Said co-founder Christian Rudder, “Guess what, everybody: if you use the Internet, you’re the subject of hundreds of experiments at any given time, on every site. That’s how websites work.” Read more

Private customer data to the rescue—If the collection of personal information by the brands with which you do business creeps you out, consider that, for thousands of Costco customers, it might have saved their lives, or at least kept them from getting sick. Because Costco is a membership chain, customers’ purchases are recorded; Costco knows everything their members have bought. When it turned out some fruit sold by the chain was contaminated with Listeria, the chain was able to reach out directly to each of them by phone, warning them to dispose of the peaches, nectarines, plums, and pluots. Customers responded not by being distrubed by the invasion of privacy, but by posting thanks on Costco’s Facebook page. Read more

Wikipedia bans edits from U.S. Congress—The U.S. House of Representatives is in the midst of a 10-day ban from editing Wikipedia articles. The ban is the online encyclopedia’s response to rules-violating edits made from a House IP address. Read more

Mobile

Word of mouth about apps via text messaging—WoM (the common acronym for Word of Mouth) is an SMS-based texting tool for letting your friends know about that great new app you’re using. According to Tapstream, which acquired the technology, “The click-throughs on invites have been an order of magnitude higher than other methods of app sharing.” Read more

New NPR app curates real-time audio stream—I’ve been talking for a while now about the “quiet explosion,” the surge in the use of online audio that isn’t getting the attention it deserves. Add to the list of new audio ideas NPR One, an app for iOS and Android that delivers a curated stream of the public radio network’s content. The app gets to know your tastes and combines NPR public news broadcasts with stories that will appeal specifically to you. You can teach the app what you like and get what you ask for instantly. Read more

Here comes chatvertising—Part of advertising’s future may be the new feature rolled out quietly in Kik, the popular mobile messaging app: Users can chat directly with brands via bots. The early version of the feature is somewhat rudimentary, telling jokes and pushing content. But the ability for customers to chat with brands as part of their marketing efforts is something we can expect to see a lot more of. Read more

Trends

Declining organic reach prompts new approaches to measurement—Not that measuring brand page likes was ever the best measurement, the drop in the organic reach of Facebook brand page posts is leading companies to explore new ways of measuring the effectiveness of their efforts. Among these: measuring individual posts, including the engagement a post received and whether it correlates to visits to the brand’s website. Others are looking at the number of impressions served over a given time frame whether those impressions prompted visits to a website or affected brand perceptions. Read more

General Mills requires supplier pledges on climate change—Multiple studies make it clear that consumers are including corporate responsibility in weighing purchase decisions. General Mills will do well in that regard after promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in their agricultural supply chain. Most of the greenhouse gasses and 99% of its water use is upstream of its own factories, so the company is requiring its “key ingredient suppliers to demonstrate environmental, social and economic improvements in their supply chains,” according to the company. General Mills will also advocate for government climate policy, all of which has earned praise from Oxfam. Read more

Johnson Baby adopts social media transparency—Johnson Baby, the flagship Johnson & Johnson brand, is adopting “transparency communications” via social media to reach Millennial moms. More than 40 videos are planned in the program, beginning with “Our Promise,” focused on the removal of controversial ingredients from its products. Employees are being asked to share the videos through their own social networks. Read more

Virtual reality: The new advertising frontier—Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus Rift, along with development efforts on other fronts, has propelled virtual reality from early marketing-unfriendly efforts like Second Life to a new frontier. Coca-Cola, HBO, and Nissan are among the brands taking virtual reality out for a spin. “Imagine Budweiser taking you behind the plate at the World Series or Pepsi giving you a virtual front seat at a Beyoncé concert.” Read more

Research

Social media without engagement causes problems for brands—A report from Sprinklr, a provider of social media management systems, argues that using social media platforms doesn’t count for much without using it to engage directly with customers. Citing research from Bain & Company, the report notes that 80% of companies believe they deliver superior customer service, but only 8% of customers agree. The report also cites a Social Media Marketing University report that found only 17% of companies respond to customer questions or complaints delivered via social media within the hour customers expect, and 21% never respond at all. As a result, 7% of brands have lost revenue, 15% have lost customers, and 26% have damaged reputations as a result of customer complaints on social media. Read more

Internal influences have great reach than leaders—A research team compared the reach of a 1,200-person company’s five-person leadership team with the five most influential and hyper-connected employees. The results: The leadership team had a reach of 21 while the influencers had reach five times as great during the first phase of the study. The influencers vastly out-reached the senior team during each of the other two stages, as well. “Hierarchical power is limited when compared with the one of highly connected and influent people,” writes Leandro Herrero. Read more

Don’t limit yourself to Twitter for real-time marketing—MTV tapped Snapchat for the announcement of nominees for the 2014 Video Music Awards, despite having far more followers on Facebook an Twitter. The nominees were revealed by celebrities, which helped MTV obtain 70,000 new Snapchat followers. Other companies are turning to platforms like Tumblr and Pinterest for real-time marketing. Read more

Leadership

Balance of leading, following required for successful social business—If your business is going to benefit from the adoption of social media as a business tool, leaders must provide the vision. They must also be able to follow, though, adopting practices that emerge from experience. “Only by doing and experimenting will leaders fully recognize the transformational benefits of social business for their company,” writes Gerald C. Kane, associate professor of information systems at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College and the MIT Sloan Management Review. His post offers insights into this year’s social business report by the MIT Sloan Management Review. Read more

Ideas

Tweet a Coke to a friend for $5—Starbucks did it last year, and now Coke is letting you Tweet-A-Coke. You send the tweet for $5 (by authenticating your Twitter account and entering credit card information), then send the tweet, which is redeemable at participating Regal Cinema locations. Read more