Friday Wrap #68: Pay-ratio disclosure, protected likes, promoted pins, viral rage, and more2013-09-20
Companies released more study and survey results than usual this week, providing plenty of fodder for the Friday Wrap. There were also announcements, court verdicts, and other news to fuel the weekly rundown of interesting and important items from the past week. If you’re interested in seeing all the items from which I chose the Wrap’s contents, head on over to my link blog at LinksFromShel.tumblr.com.
Get ready for a new PR crisis: pay-ratio disclosure could outrage stakeholders
When discussing the disparity between the highest and lowest-paid people in a company, the pay ratio is the most commonly cited metric. A CEO who earns only seven times what the lowest-paid employee earns won’t take as much heat as one earning 30 times as much. Making that determination isn’t easy, since interested parties need to know how much a company pays its lowest-paid employees, a number that isn’t always shared. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) aims to change that with a new proposal that would require companies to make the ratio public. The proposal—required of the SEC by the Dodd-Frank Act, would “require all public companies to disclose their chief executives’ total compensation, the median compensation of all other employees, and the ratio between the two,” writes The Washington Post‘s Dina ElBoghdady. Once those numbers are revealed, some companies (you know who you are) could face a firestorm of surprise and outrage. If you haven’t planned a response to questions about the gap between a highly-compensated CEO and wage-earners, what are you waiting for?
Facebook likes are protected speech in the U.S.
Daniel Carter was fired for a Facebook like. The deputy sheriff liked the page of a candidate running for sheriff in Hampton, Virginia, opposing the incumbent, Carter’s boss, who fired Carter when the Facebook gesture was discovered. Carter wasn’t alone. “Six former employees of Hampton Sheriff B.J. Roberts claimed they were fired in violation of their First Amendment rights for showing support to the rival candidate online,” according to Charlie Osborne, writing for ZDNet. An appeals court ruled that clicking the like button “is no legally different than displaying political signs in a front lawn, and such marked preferences are protected by law.” The ruling reverses a lower court ruling that liking a page was “insufficient speech to merit constitutional protection.”
Social-business survey reveals say-do gap
According to a survey of more than 900 marketing and tech leaders from around the world, you’d be hard-pressed to find an executive who hasn’t made the transition to a social enterprise a priority. The study from Oracle—which partnered with Social Media Today and Leader Networks—found 97% of executives “believe it will be important for successful organization to transition to being socially enabled enterprises,” according to report in Bulldog Reporter’s Daily Dog. “In fact, 72% reported that leveraging social media will be very important for their organizations to be successful in the future.” Companies with 50,000-plus employees are leading the charge, with 46% of such businesses claiming they already are socially enabled. But 43% of executives think they’re a year away from weaving social through their businesses and 60% only now have plans to integrate social business metrics into customer care initiatives.
Pinterest experiments with making money
Pinterest announced yesterday that an experiment with “promoted pins” was launching. The inspiration-centric visual search service tee’d up the effort in July when users began seeing personalized recommendations. “Now it’s taking the approach one step further with plans to introduce promoted pins from business accounts in search and category results,” writes Engadget‘s Joseph Volpe. In an email to users, Pinterest founder Ben Silberman said the promoted pins would be clearly labeled and relevant to the interests of the user.
High Pinterest referrals may not produce desired results
While Pinterest gears up to generate revenue from promoted pins, a study from ad technology company Yieldbot finds that the traffic your site gets from Pinterest may not produce the kind of results you were hoping for. If your goal in driving traffic from Pinterest to your site was for visitors to click on your site’s ads, the study results aren’t encouraging. “While Pinterest refers far more traffic than any other site…those visitors click on ads 45% less than the average of all visitors,” writes Alex Kantrowitz in AdAge Digital. “Facebook, which refers less visitors, sends traffic that is 60% more likely to click on an ad than average.” The study reinforces the reason it’s so important to know your objectives, since a lot of marketers would be thrilled with the traffic even though it wasn’t delivering the clicks. Of course, if ad clickthroughs aren’t your goal, Pinterest referral traffic may still be a godsend.
So far, so good, so brokerage plans to expand social efforts
The knee-jerk reaction to using social media by the highly regulated brokerage industry is to avoid it all costs. The compliance risks are just too great. Wells Fargo’s brokerage business has been engaged in a Twitter pilot for the last eight months and, having experienced no big compliance goofs, “wants more of its financial advisers to send more messages more freely, possibly through more channels,” according to Matthias Rieker, writing for The Wall Street Journal. Fifty financial advisers (about .33% of the advisers working for the company) have been posting messages on LinkedIn and Twitter, but that number may rise to as many as 20% of its advisers by the end of 2014. “The days when all advisers tweet might be years away,” Rieker writes, though the bank wants most of its advisers to complete “robust” LinkedIn profiles by the end of next year. Most brokerages are taking it slow, given a fine and suspension levied last week by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) against a broker for some free-wheeling comments he made via Facebook last year about a company.
Want to go viral? Enrage people
The people in your network are more likely to share angry sentiments than content fueled by other emotions, including joy, sadness or disgust. A study from researchers at Beihang University in China connected the power of anger—our strongest emotion—with online virality. Using Weibo data, researchers collected 70 million messages from 200,000 users, then focused on those who interacted with members at least 30 times during the study period. They labeled messages with one of the four emotions and found most people don’t like to share sadness; those who did spread the misery had little impact on the mood of their social graphs. Disgust produced roughly the same result. People do want to spread joy, and these happy messages did influence the overall mood of the network. “Still, what’s joy compared to righteous indignation,” writes NBC News correspondent Helen A.S. Popkin. “Far more than even joy, anger spread quickly among those who were closely connected, and continued to spread beyond immediate social media friends significantly more than positive tweets.”
Survey reveals how tweets earn business results
Tweets of rage may go viral, but do they produce business results? Not likely, but a recent Twitter-sponsored survey conducted by Market Probe International found that 72% of people who follow a business on Twitter are likely at some point to buy something from that business. Thirty percent will recommend your products to their friends, and 86% are more likely to visit a site when a friend recommends it. Sixty-three percent of Twitter users follow a business to demonstrate their support for the company, and 85% hope that following the company will let them establish a deeper connection to it. (That is, they’re not hoping to get almost-funny tweets about whatever topic is trending on the Net.) “Another major reason many people (61%) follow you is to give feedback or share ideas about products or services,” writes Joe Lewis on Intuit’s Small Business Blog.
Grey Lady continues to innovate with live-stream ad unit
The drumbeat of the long, slow demise of newspapers may be loud, and The New York Times may be having its own financial struggles, but nobody can accuse them of not leading the pack when it comes to digital innovation. The latest: Bank of America ran a “takeover unit” on top of the Grey Lady’s homepage. Click it, and you would have been taken to a live webcast of the Times’ Schools for Tomorrow education conference. “It’s the first time an advertiser has hosted a live webcast of a Times conference within an ad unit,” writes Adweek‘s Lucia Moses. The ad signals “the demand by marketers today to align with, create and use content to get the attention of ad-weary consumers in fresh ways, a trend that’s given rise to new forms of content marketing and its cousin, native advertising,” Moses writes. “In this case, BofA isn’t creating the content itself or trying to dress up an ad message as real editorial content; rather, its unit is a modern update on the ‘brought-to-you-by’ sponsorship model where the conference is the content. For those of you thinking of native advertising as a worthwhile addition to your communications efforts, it’s an approach to ponder.
Target affirms commitment to earned media
As the PR and marketing industries debate about and experiment with native advertising, and the Federal Trade Commission announces public meetings to talk about rules for the practice, retailer Target has decided to steer clear of the trend. Jeff Jones, Target EVP Jeff Jones, who serves as Chief Marketing Officer, told a PRWeek conference that “We have been a brand defined by advertising, but the days of curating and telling a consumer what we think is best are declining.” Instead, he pointed to a back-to-college campaign in which Target streamed video from cameras in dorm rooms containing Target products. From these videos, the company “created shoppable videos and distributed the content through its social channels,” according to PRWeek‘s Lindsay Stein. “The campaign used no traditional paid media and only social ads to bring visibility to the content.” The result: 300,000 visitors to the site, 170 million PR impressions and 90 million social impressions, with average time spent on the portal a whopping 11.33 minutes.
FTC sets workshop date for native ad guidance
There have been plenty of voices warning that if communicators don’t establish and play by ethical rules with native advertising, the government will step in. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has taken the first step, scheduling a workshop for December 4 “to do a deep dive into the popular practice, bringing together publishing and advertising reps, consumer advocates, academics, and of course, regulators to explore the consumer protection implications,” Katy Bachman writes in Adweek. The workshop could lead to guidelines for native advertising. The workshop will “explore the ways paid messages are integrated and presented as content and how ads can be effectively differentiated from regular content via labels and other visual clues,” Bachman writes. Participants will also review research about consumer perceptions of native ads.