Social Media and the ASA Cap Code

February 25, 2011

March 1st 2011 will be a significant day in the history of digital and social media marketing and advertising. That’s because from this date the ASA’s (Advertising Standards Authority) remit will extend to cover all brand owned websites, their social media pages as well as video and mobile campaigns.

What does the Cap Code mean for your brand?

The ASA now has the power to regulate all online and mobile marketing communications and ensure compliance with the Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (The CAP Code). This covers all businesses, regardless of size, and extends to other non-paid-for space online under your business’ control (e.g. messages you post on social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook).

At agency:2 we feel this is a very important and significant step forward.  As one of the Founders of the DMA, we have constantly adhered to strict ethical guidelines. We are proud of always working ethically and legally for the good of our clients. Our aim as a Social Media Council member has always been to focus on legislation and social media best practice.

Being honest and open is not only ethical and legal but also adds value to brands and, most importantly, the audience. That is why all the social media marketing campaigns that we run are completely transparent. We believe the new remit will ensure that the same high standards which exist in other media published in the UK will now consistently be adhered to in digital marketing communications right across the board.

The rules in the current CAP code will now apply to digital communications and the ASA will be able to use these powers to ensure that misleading and falsified marketing and advertising communications online by any business within the UK are removed.

How will they implement this?

  • Current practice includes unfavourable publicity arising from an ASA adjudication as well as the withdrawal of trading privileges, including media space.

New sanctions:

  • The ASA will provide details of an advertiser and the non-compliant marketing communication on a specifically designed ASA microsite, which draws public attention to the offending piece of communication.
  • The ASA will also work in conjunction with search engines to remove any paid-for search advertisements that link directly to the page hosting the non-compliant marketing communication.
  • They will also place paid-for advertisements on search engines highlighting the continued non-compliance of an advertiser’s marketing communication, linking through to the ASA microsite.

We are extremely hopeful that this will have the desired effect and that all online communications become more transparent and ensure people reading online are receiving honest and truthful messages.

March 1st then – a date to put into your iCal.

The 3 types of social media user

February 1, 2011

Over 600 million Facebook users, around 200 million people on Twitter (with 25 billion Tweets sent in 2010), 5 billion photos hosted by Flickr and over 150 million blogs – it seems very clear that almost all internet users now interact with social media and that it has had a huge impact on how brands can communicate with people.

However, in order to utilise social media platforms in the most effective ways, it’s vital to segment and target your audience and gain a clear understanding of how these different groups interact with social media.

Classifying user behaviour – frequency of use, variety of use and content preferences – into meaningful categories ensures that brands can maximise their social media presence.

Here, then, is our guide to the different types of social media user:

The Social Spectator

The Spectator is a passive type of social media user who is content to simply view the information that they are interested in without a high amount of interaction on their part. This group has a ‘just’ kind of attitude. They ‘just’ visit social networking sites and maintain their profiles. They will selectively like fan pages, only when they feel that it will bring them useful information such as special offers.

They will also read the occasional blog, view YouTube videos, and in particular search for user reviews and ratings when making purchase decisions. Despite their lack of interaction they will expect brands to have a presence and will be disappointed if they don’t. They are spectators – but spectators who expect a lot.

The Social Connector

The Connector likes social media because it’s very convenient to connect with people. They allocate significant time every day on social media sites to look around and comment on their friend’s status, chat and interact with brands. In this way marketers can understand their personality and easily target them.

They will engage and share their views if they are passionate about the brand (or if prompted by engaging content), but they won’t take the lead. They will enter competitions, they’ll tag photos on Facebook, post comments, reviews and ratings of products and services, comment on some blogs and forums and will use LinkedIn as a tool to broaden their professional network. They may have a Twitter account where they will follow more than participate (this explains why 90% of Tweets are written by 10% of Twitterers) and will have probably created a blog but long since forgotten about it.

However, there are pitfalls. These people will turn off if they are not engaged by brands – unfollow, unlike, stop listening. They know that social media provides useful tools to keep in touch, share information and find out about interesting things that are happening – more importantly they also know that social media has given them a voice and that brands need to listen to them.

The Social Extrovert

On most social platforms, 10% of the top content producers account for 30% of all content produced. These are the Extroverts, the creators, the people who produce social media and want everyone to know about it. This type of user will create lots of content for multiple channels. They will publish blog posts or web pages, upload videos/images/podcasts and share this content online through ever channel they have at their disposal. As early adopters they will also sign up for each new social media platform which emerges.

It is these users who were the early adopters for Facebook and Twitter (interesting fact – Twitterers are 3 times more likely to be ‘creators’/’extroverts’). They will have developed large amounts of followers on these sites so it is crucial that brands try and create and nurture a relationship with these people through an outreach programme. The ability to amplify your brand’s voice through engagement with influential social media users who speak to large like-minded groups is one that can’t be missed.

How to use social media to promote your event

January 14, 2011

If you’ve ever planned an event you’ll know that it is a challenging and complex process. There’s the venue to book, speakers to sign up – and that’s before you’ve got to the promotion of the event and the task of getting people to attend.

This is where social media comes in. Social media has transformed the way so many things are done, and events are no exception.

Using social media to plan an event will make you realise the power these platforms can give you. It vastly enlarges the reach of what you’re doing, so that it’s not just about the people in the venue, but the thousands who could be accessing it online.

Whether it’s an online or an offline event, social media ensures that all the tools you need are at your disposal to promote it, spread the word, engage with leads and make sure your event is a success before, during and after.

Here’s our guide on how to use social media to make sure your event stands out:

Before the event

So your event is planned. It’s now time to use social media to make sure that people know about it. Promoting your site using a variety of social media channels offers new and highly effective ways to market your event and ensures people can easily find you online.

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as location based sites such as Facebook Places and Foursquare, are key to increasing the reach of your event and encouraging highly effective word-of-mouth promotion.

There are many options, with each site offering different advantages. If you already have active Facebook and Twitter accounts in place these can be used to promote the event, update people with information and drive conversations. If not, you can set up an event specific Twitter feed for event updates; create a Facebook page to promote the event or set up a LinkedIn group to provide information about the event. Just make sure that you choose the right platforms for your objectives, your resources and your audience.

Social networking sites (this includes your blog) are fantastic platforms for engagement and you should use them not only to promote your event but also to get your community to offer topic themes and discuss ideas prior to the event. Be proactive as well – join relevant groups and promote your event by contributing to existing conversations.

These sites should direct people to a central hub, such as a website or blog, which can be integrated with these social networking platforms. This makes it simple to inform attendees of the latest news and provide them with all the information they need for the event. The website could feature an attendee list, with links to participants’ web sites and Twitter feeds, as well as a link to the event’s Facebook page. A link could be also be provided to a YouTube search results page providing videos that are relevant to discussions taking place. This type of activity ensures that attendees are engaged long before the event itself takes place.

During the event

To make your event one that people remember there are many innovative things you can do with social media.

Let’s start with the basics: don’t forget to have a unique hash tag for the event. A Twitter search widget can be used to show a real-time feed of all the posts using the specific conference hash tag. Using this hash tag gets people engaged with the event and allows you to easily monitor conversations. Most importantly it allows you to be an active participant in what is being said and drive conversations.  This could be projected on to screens throughout the venue. You can also use your website to aggregate these posts in real-time before, during and after the event.

Using geo-location services such as Facebook Places, Foursquare or Gowalla is another attractive option for an event. You can create a special venue on Foursquare for the event which offers tips and advice to attendees. You can also create multiple locations within the one venue so that you know exactly where people are. Plus, if you have organised a large event you can partner with Foursquare to create a badge and offer incentives for checking in.

There are many other features which could be utilised to enhance your event. This could be through an audio feed, with podcasts of certain sessions being made available after the event; a live video feed of the event could be streamed on your website and seeded on relevant sites; or you could create a Flickr badge on your website which links to tagged photos.

When it come to online events such as webinars, live webcasts or digital fairs it’s crucial to keep people informed. Send reminders (particularly in the lead up before the event) and make it easy for people to find by using LinkedIn Twitter and Facebook to link to the event URL. Post tweets in the build-up to the event to keep it front of mind and encourage people to send questions for the speakers or panellists. You can also stream your webcast through your Facebook page.

After the event

It’s vital that after the event is over that you use social networks to engage with everyone who attended. Using social media is a great way to keep in touch with all your attendees as well as gain valuable feedback so that you can refine what you will do next time.

Use the information and platforms you have to continue communication with the attendees. Thank them for attending, provide them with updates and information. You can upload the presentation from the event and write a blog post that highlights comments and questions that arose during the event.  You can also upload your webinar to YouTube or embed it on your Facebook page.

Again use the LinkedIn group as a platform for discussion and encourage debate. Attendees can use the group to discuss the event and topics that were raised before the event. In this way you can turn a group of attendees into a community.

Finally, and most importantly, listen to your audience – ask for feedback or create polls. Follow conversations on Twitter using a unique event hashtag to find out their opinions: find out what was good and what could be improved. Address their needs and become involved in the conversations. You’ll be able to use this information to shape future events and improve the event experience for all your attendees.

So, there you have it. No matter what type of event you are running, the array of options social media offers means that it is the perfect solution to promote and complement your event.

Greater Manchester Police take to the Tweets

October 15, 2010

Yesterday Greater Manchester Police demonstrated the power and popularity of social media by Tweeting all reported incidents over a 24 hour period. The innovative campaign – an attempt by the police force to give the public an idea of its everyday workload – gained a lot of exposure, being widely reported not only in the digital world but also by traditional media. Indeed, the activity became so popular that @gmpolice’s Twitter following rose from around 3,000 to over 17,000 people.

What did Greater Manchester Police’s Tweeting tell us?

Well, between 5am on Thursday 14 October and 5am on Friday 15 October they dealt with 3,205 incidents (with 341 people arrested) – all reported on Twitter. Three @gmp24 Twitter accounts had to be created to deal with the amount of incidents and avoid Twitter’s anti-spam measures (despite this @gmp24_2 found itself in ‘Twitter jail’ due to over Tweeting).

What are the effects of the campaign?

By revealing the inner workings of what they do through the innovative use of social media, Greater Manchester Police has been able to raise awareness about the complex social issues they face and stimulate debate about the role the Police play in everyday life. In the public sector especially – partly due to increasingly tightening budgets – transparency, visibility and open communication are crucial issues. The Twitter campaign directly addressed these and revealed to the community the diversity of challenges the Police face and the valuable and important service they are providing.

Social media has proven itself as the ideal way to manage your online reputation and to answer the growing demand for openness. In this way #gmp24 has been a great reminder of the opportunities social media offers in breaking down misconceptions, capturing the imagination – and placing important issues in the public arena.

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