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Which Social Network Should My Business Be On?

Deciding what social media platforms your business should be on can be nerve-racking — especially with over 800 to choose from. Don’t worry. We’re just talking about the major players today. You don’t want to be on all of them. That takes up too much time, and other areas of your business need your attention. Before we begin, there are several questions you need to understand and answer, like:

  • Which platforms are consumer-oriented vs. B2B?
  • Where is our target audience most active?
  • What are our social media marketing goals?

Don’t fret — there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Let’s get started.

FACEBOOK

This probably comes as no surprise, but you should consider Facebook — the world’s most popular social network — for your business needs. Whether your content is consumer-focused or B2B, you can find success on Facebook thanks to in-depth advertising and targeting options. And with over 2.23 billion active monthly users, odds are you can find your target audience. Here’s another fun fact: Approximately 10% of ALL website traffic takes place on Facebook — it’s no exaggeration when people say it’s taking over the world.

So, is there any reason not to be on Facebook? Perhaps… but only because of over-saturation. There are A LOT of businesses on Facebook. That means when you spend advertising dollars, your business will be facing A LOT of competition. There’s a decent chance (depending on your niche and target audience) your best ROI might not come from Facebook — but there’s a better chance it will.

TWITTER

Twitter can be tougher to manage, mainly due to its volatility (and because you can’t edit tweets). Twitter users are notorious for trolling, especially when politics is involved. Everyone has an opinion about everything, and the Twitterverse is where those thoughts are shared without a whimsical care in the world. That being said, there are still plenty of benefits to having a presence there.

First, Twitter is made up of 335 million monthly active users. That’s a big audience, which gives you a great opportunity to expose your brand to influencers who could share your content and increase your organic reach. Second, it’s the perfect platform for managing customer service. Throw in a social media management tool like Sprout Social, a product we use in Candorland, and BOOM! You’ll be on your way to managing customer’s needs quickly and efficiently. And perhaps most useful, Twitter is great for social listening. Twitter makes it easy for you to monitor keywords relevant to your company/industry, so you can jump into any conversation, anytime. This takes a bit of work, but it’s well worth it.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is the most visually-demanding platform, and it has become incredibly popular with a younger demographic. That usually gives B2B companies pause. But while it is easier for lifestyle B2C companies to promote on the platform, always remember Instagram has 1 BILLION monthly active users. Your audience is there — you just have to get a little creative with your creative. And did we mention Instagram is owned by Facebook? This means you’ll be awarded the same ad targeting options and seamless integration into the Facebook advertising model.

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is a no-brainer for B2B businesses. This social network has become increasingly popular in recent years and has 227 million active users. While every social platform’s goal is to make connections, LinkedIn LITERALLY connects business professionals with each other (and recruiters). It’s the best platform to seek out high-quality talent to join your team. In terms of advertising, LinkedIn can’t quite match the powerhouse that is Facebook, but if your goal is to target other professionals across a number of disciplines, this could be your golden ticket.

PINTEREST

Pinterest is a platform many businesses don’t normally consider. But did you know the Pinterestverse is comprised of 250 million monthly active users? AND it’s the 2nd most likely platform to influence U.S. social media users’ purchasing decisions. Pinterest is perfect for businesses with aesthetically-driven content and can do wonders at driving traffic to your website, getting people to download your app or selling your product — especially with Rich Pins.

SNAPCHAT

While Snapchat is a popular platform with 188 million daily active users, there’s currently some debate between marketers on whether the platform is dying. It was down 3 million users in Q2 of 2018, and its latest update has made a lot of people upset (to say the least). It also ranked dead last in a new advertising poll. To put it simply: It takes a lot of time and dedication to move the needle with Snapchat. Some of the previously mentioned platforms can be way more fruitful for your business.

OTHER SOCIAL MEDIA NETWORKS

Yes, there are STILL some other social networks worth mentioning. Google+ has seen better days, but it’s still essential to be on to enhance local SEO, and it doesn’t take much to keep up with. YouTube makes a lot of sense for businesses producing video (which Candor can do in-house!). Behind Facebook, YouTube is actually the most popular social media network in the world with 1.9 billion monthly active users. You can take a gamble at Reddit, but you risk upsetting Redditors and hurting your brand’s reputation. Tumblr is comprised of over 200 million blogs publishing 80 million posts per day, making it another hot spot ripe for advertising. There’s also an upcoming platform called TikTok we’ve been keeping a close eye on. It has global audience of 500 million, and is especially popular in China. In the first half of 2018 alone, it was downloaded 104 million times on the Apple app store.

In reality, all of these social media platforms could help your business with the right care, strategy and knowledge. But — candidly — it’s a lot of work. Our digital experts have the tools and experience to help your social media channels grow, build brand awareness and bring in new business leads.

Send us an e-mail. We’re ready to chat.

You’ve Been Doing PR Since You Were 8 Years Old Without Knowing It

Chloe Cumbie, Candor blog

What did your typical day look like as an 8-year-old? You probably enjoyed snack time and recess. Play dates and sleepovers. Family road trips and awkward nightly dinners.

Eight year olds are less complex than their adult counterparts. But, without even knowing it, they are already beginning to form their sense of self and developing emotionally. They are learning more about their personalities and unique set of characteristics.

Eight year olds are grooming themselves to be PR professionals. Don’t laugh; it’s true.

Children build relationships, stand up for their friends, explain their opinions and answer problems. Sound familiar?

There’s a reason I joined the world of PR. Here are the characteristics that carried over from my childhood to my professional life.

Characteristics of a Public Relations Professional

The following characteristics have proven quite helpful in my professional career. They’ve stayed with me from an early age, and I’m still trying to develop them daily.

Curiosity

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One of my favorite childhood memories stems from a surprise my parents planned for my sister and me. We piled into the car and went off on an adventure, unknowing of our destination. We pulled up to a stranger’s house, went inside and met the most adorable puppy — our first family dog. I was immediately in love with her, and became incredibly curious about dogs; I wanted to know everything about them. I immediately devoured dog facts and read countless books. I even studied to become a veterinarian.

Even though my dreams of becoming a veterinarian didn’t exactly play out, my curiosity and thirst to learn has been crucial to my role today. When I get a new client, I can’t wait to learn as much as I can about their industry, competitors, what really makes them tick and more.

Curiosity leads to creativity.

Creativity

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Imagine one of your daily struggles… how would a child fix it? Kids are fueled by curiosity, creativity and freedom.

As a child, I was a self-defined expert at papier-mâché. I didn’t limit the items I would glue and newspaper together, to my parents’ dismay. While (most) parents set boundaries, kids aren’t confined to as many rules as adults. Their minds wander freely to create, discover and problem-solve.

Creativity is used daily in public relations. Whether providing reputation management, crafting a news release or brainstorming with co-workers, thinking creatively is a basic requirement to a successful public relations career.

Flexibility

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As all adults are aware, no matter how carefully things are planned, life is always going to throw a curveball. This is where children have the upper-hand. Instead of stressing over the thought of change, kids are more willing to adapt to new situations and circumstances.

I remember playing games with a friend who would consistently change the rules. It was almost like rule-changing was a game within our games. Instead of becoming frustrated, I had no problem adapting to the new way of doing things.

Being flexible is critical when working with brands and the media. You can’t always predict the weather, and you never know when a client might change their mind about something at the last minute. Your most detailed plan can quickly change on a dime. Flexibility is a must.

Clarity

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When I was young, I was… I had a friend who was notorious for talking in circles when asking for what she wanted. She consistently would leave our teacher in a state of confusion. I always felt it was my job to clarify what she meant.  I learned early on how important it is to speak clearly to get desired results or actions.

Too often, people get upset over something they simply misunderstand. Communicating clearly is necessary in any profession, but especially in public relations. Reporters don’t have time to make sense of incoherent rants. Pitches must be tight to sell your clients in a way that’s interesting and concise.

Empathy

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Growing up, when I would witness a classmate embarrassing another student, I would immediately redden and feel horrible. Admittedly, my empathy levels are to the extreme, which isn’t ideal in all cases. However, it has served me well as an account executive when dealing with clients and the media.

It’s important to take the time to understand where people are coming from, what their business means to them and what struggles they’re facing. Being empathetic has also taught me to be open to opposing viewpoints, which comes in handy when working for a nonpartisan firm. Empathy lends itself to patience, good listening skills and personable traits — all of which are necessary for PR professionals.

Finessing Inherent Skills for a PR Career

While these characteristics put you on the right track to becoming a PR star, it’s important to continue to develop as a professional.

Candor employees are active in a number of organizations, like Public Relations Society of America; continue to earn accreditations, like an APR; and serve on public relations committees where they continue to learn from their peers.

Do you have a public relations need? Candor would love to hear from you!

The Horror: 7 Scary Things Clients Say to Agencies

scary things clients say

Want to give a PR pro nightmares?

In honor of Halloween, here are seven of the scariest things we hear from clients and prospects.

“The intern runs our social media.”

Although young people are often familiar with social media platforms from personal use, they usually aren’t brand experts. One inappropriate post can haunt a company’s reputation forever. Make sure there is a training process and someone experienced approving content if interns have access to social media accounts.

(And remember: A true pro will know all the tricks to delivering a high return on investment.)

“We don’t have Google Analytics.”

Google offers a free tool to track website traffic. It’s an effective way to peek behind the mask and measure the impact of advertisements, messaging and other tactics to raise brand awareness or sell a product. Analytics tools, combined with experienced interpretation, help brands determine what’s working, what’s not and how to adjust.

“We told the reporter ‘no comment.'”

Candor’s philosophy is to be honest and transparent with the media. Having nothing to say implies an organization has a skeleton in the closet. “No comment” robs an organization of the opportunity to provide context, especially on potentially damaging stories. It is better to be forthcoming and tell reporters when more information or answers will be available.

“I don’t know… could you just jazz it up a little?”

It’s part of a PR firm’s job to use its expertise to make things “pop.” But professional communicators need to fully understand the client’s goals and audience to create exceptional materials. They need partners who provide input and offer descriptive feedback; they aren’t gypsy mind readers.

“We’ll just print that in-house.”

Everyone wants to save money. But do-it-yourself printing can mean wasting staff time or sacrificing quality. Office printers don’t deliver true color, proper margins or full-bleed printing that really make a piece look professional. If you must print in-house, make sure the graphic designer is aware so she can design it accordingly.

“We want this story on the front page of the Sunday paper.”

Scaring up exceptional placement is always the goal when pitching stories. However, not every story meets the criteria for banner treatment, and reporters rarely determine where their work runs. When clients help us dig up a story that appeals to a news outlet’s audience, it increases the chances of getting on the cover.

“What have you done for me lately?”

If you hand out king-size Snickers bars one year for trick or treat and raisins the next, you’re going to end up with something unpleasant on your doorstep. That’s why PR pros always look for ways to deliver more to clients. We focus on providing sweet metrics – such as website traffic, media hits, video views, sales conversions, etc. – to demonstrate the value of our work. We survey consumers to understand how they feel about brands. And, especially at Candor, we try to look around the corner and suggest new ways our clients can reach their business and marketing goals.

5 Ways to Spot Fake News

I had a good career in journalism. My experience should make me an expert at spotting fake news. But the proliferation of information on social media means it’s challenging for anyone to decipher fact from fiction.

I have seen too many Facebook posts go viral, garnering thousands of angry comments, only to discover the story was bogus or repurposed from years ago.

Once, I was shocked to read about feces floating off the Hawaii beaches where my family lives. When I shared the story with my relatives, my direct sources discounted the stories.

Unfortunately, nobody can count on having a personal connection to verify or refute everything she reads. But if general users spent more time digging a little deeper and less time recklessly reposting, online angst might not ignite into a digital wildfire so often.

Facebook has joined the fight. The world’s dominant social network now offers an “educational tool” to weed fake news from current events. The company changed its algorithm to reduce the spread of bogus articles designed to deceive people. However, there is only so much social media platforms can do to identify fabricated stories. Readers must take proactive steps.

Here are five ways to find the facts:

1. Read beyond the headline

A new study reports only four in 10 Americans read more than news headlines. But readers must do more than skim the top if they want to know what’s really going on. Reading several paragraphs — perhaps even a full story! —  will help them spot misleading or incomplete headlines. They will also learn more about where information came from, which can help determine if it’s true.

2. Verify the source

Factcheck.org is a valuable resource to filter out false information from reality. Informed readers must stay up to date on a changing media landscape. It can be easy for small groups to publish professional-looking sites with no credibility, so readers must have their guard up. When people see a site with an unfamiliar name, they must ask a few questions, starting with, “Have I ever heard of this source before?” People should also read the website’s About Us section, double check the URL and see if anyone else is reporting the news.

3. Use multiple resources

Google News added a “Fact Check” tag to identify articles reviewed by news publishers and fact-checking organizations. Chrome extensions are another resource for technology to flag fake news sites.

4. Reframe the picture

Does a photo in the story look fake or seem unlikely? Dig deeper. Upload, drag and drop an image into Google Image to find the image’s origin. Many fake news stories, especially after disasters, take images from movies or previous events and pass them off as current.

5. Don’t take information at face value

Sometimes the news posted online is not new. The information presented is often misrepresented and outdated. Snopes.com has been a reliable reference exposing misinformation and myths for decades. Research the rumors, check the publication date and carefully inspect the domain name to shun out the satires.

Keeping It Real on Social Media

Did you see the story recently about coffee shops shutting down Wi-Fi to force people to interact? What about the memes of people glued to their mobiles in front of great works of art? Have you heard high-school dances are going extinct because teens would rather just Snapchat each other?

Everyone bemoans what mobile technology has done to personal interactions. But who would really give up their devices? Our pocket computers provide many advantages – including deepening our connections with loved ones – and someone without a digital connection would miss out on too much of the modern world.

The desire for connection creates challenges and opportunities for brands. When brands try to reach an audience, they must compete with millions of other companies, celebrities, friends and loved ones, cute animals, mainstream news sources and verbose politicians.

To break through, successful organizations need to find ways to make emotional connections with the audience, rather than just providing information.

One great way to make sure content – especially on social media – feels authentic is to imagine speaking to a real person. When I worked in internal communications, a conference speaker reminded people not to write for a generic group such as “fellow employees.” She suggested picturing someone specific, like Carol in accounting, or John from IT. Writing as if I were sending an email to a coworker helped me keep things simple and clear.

Brands must also remember what the audience wants. People who have already taken the time to like a Twitter account or follow on Facebook have demonstrated an interest in a product or service. They want information about upcoming events and new offerings. But to build trust and loyalty, users must sense a real person on the other side of the screen with real emotions – and perhaps a sense of humor. Nobody wants to read dry, corporate copy; so don’t write it.

Listening truly sets people apart on social media. Traditional media relied on “we say, they listen” communication; the technology required it. Too many organizations act as if things still work that way. They Tweet or post on Facebook without a plan for the next step. Anything interesting online draws shares, likes, comments and reviews. We recommend group organizations designate a person, process and culture for responding quickly and consistently. It’s the key to being seen as more than self-promotional.

Candor doesn’t believe any of this is easy. Making every follower feel as if they’re the center of attention may be the greatest communication challenge we have. But when organizations set authentic connections as the goal, they take a huge leap toward generating a loyal, passionate audience.

Sometimes You Have to Crack an Egg

I can’t imagine a business owner giving up $500 a month over a 33-cent item.

At least, I couldn’t until I heard Todd Duncan’s story on The EntreLeadership Podcast about a restaurant refusing to put a fried egg on his hamburger.

The manager couldn’t make the change because the eggs were intended for another special. Because of the confusion, she offered to pay his $70 bill – and lose his repeat business – rather than crack an egg.

As Duncan noted, it was an example of an employee thinking the rules outweigh the outcome. He argues today’s customers want something better. They want an emotional connection, which leads to higher loyalty and stronger sales.

Duncan found a great example down the street at Whole Foods. Employees immediately said they could find a way AND asked exactly how he wanted the egg. Duncan credits Whole Foods’ founder John Mackey for putting his employees in what they call “the yes world.”

The story made me think about my industry. People used to have a pretty narrow view of public relations: We cranked out news releases and internal memos, called editors and reporters, and got the right people to parties.

Our world encompasses much more now. We seek to understand every aspect of our clients’ businesses so we can collaborate on good strategic decisions. And, of course, we still advise on the right ways and places to share those messages.

PR had to change. We had to learn to say yes to the things our clients needed, whether it meant becoming video producers, data analysts or social media wizards.

In everything we do, it’s about achieving our clients’ goals, and finding ways they can please their customers, donors and other stakeholders.

Today, PR is about helping our clients figure out when to follow the rules, and when to flip their thinking to the bigger picture.

It can be complicated and scary, but I know what Candor says when we get a new request: Let’s get cracking!

Taking it Old School to Learn New Lessons

Hip-hop music may seem like the new kid on the block. But rap has topped charts since at least 1990. (I promise to make that the only oblique reference to Vanilla Ice in this post.)

Beats and rhymes have been influencing culture for more than 30 years. Many of today’s executives and decision makers grew up on Run-DMC and other pioneering MCs and DJs. And the genre holds lessons for nearly any business or organization, regardless of the audience.

At Candor, we’ve found five outstanding lyrics to remind us of the principles of our profession.

  1. “Ain’t no future in yo frontin’” – MC Breed & DFC, from “Ain’t no future in yo frontin’”

Don’t lie. That’s it. It is the foundation for everything we do at Candor, and we hope it guides every client we represent.

Of course, everyone preaches honesty as the best policy, based on idealism and simply doing the right thing. But staying true to reality holds special importance when dealing with the media or the public. Whatever a falsehood hides, it will look much worse when it gets splashed across the internet.

A good public relations counselor will help emphasize the positive, but everyone on the team must commit to avoiding false statements.

  1. “La di da di, we like to party” – Slick Rick, from “La Di Da Di”

A common caricature assumes PR pros spend all of their time planning and hosting parties. It’s an exaggerated image, of course.

Putting on excellent events for our clients is part of the job, and we are happy to help (and share in the good vibrations). We always remember, though, a party is more than just a good time.

Besides theme, invitations, timing sheets and talking points, we remind clients to think beyond the details and remember the message. We help them consider what guests should learn at a party, press event or open house; how they should feel when they leave; and what ideas should stick in their mind when they leave the venue.

  1. “You can plan a pretty picture, but you can’t predict the weather.” – Outkast, from “Ms. Jackson”

Candor boasts of its ability to plan ahead. We look days, weeks and months into the future to help our clients find opportunities and avoid hazards.

As Oklahomans know, no forecast is certain. Conditions change rapidly, and we always prepare for contingencies. Even when we spend long hours developing a detailed, months-long campaign, we know it could get torn up and tossed out the window. It happens when a new bill is filed at the Capitol, when news breaks somewhere else in the country or when someone simply comes up with a better idea.

It doesn’t bother us. We expect to adapt.

  1. “I’m not a business man. I’m a business, man.” Jay Z, from “Diamonds From Sierra Leone”

Brooklyn-based rapper, producer, sports agent, media mogul and NBA team owner Shawn Carter had a hard-knock life. But he understands something fundamental about branding: it always matters, and everything a team does affects the image.

When a CEO speaks in front of hundreds of people, it changes how people see her company. When a volunteer greets a guest at a groundbreaking, it can make people more likely to donate to his nonprofit. When a spokesman is running errands on his off hours, his demeanor could affect coverage of a hot-button political issue.

Nobody needs to be image-obsessed, but everyone in every organization needs to feel part of the team, so they feel responsible for projecting professionalism and trustworthiness.

  1. “I gotta say, it was a good day.” Ice Cube, from “It Was a Good Day”

No matter the field, no matter the role, work is challenging. At Candor, we make time to celebrate our victories. We keep our clients updated about their media hits, newsletter opens and social media mentions. And when something special happens, we celebrate with snacks and sirens in the office. We stay positive through the day by bouncing ideas off each other, giving constructive feedback and talking about our common goals.

It’s just the way we roll with our homies.

Rough Landings Made Right: Don’t Leave Your Audience Up in the Air

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Coming home from a vacation in paradise always hurts a little. On a recent trip, poor corporate communication made it worse, until a quick-thinking flight attendant eased the pain.

After spending several days in the pool and on the beach south of the border, the flat concrete expanse at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport felt like the last place I wanted to be. I just wanted to get through customs and get home to my dog.

Then the pilot took to the intercom.

“Well, folks. It looks like there’s still a plane at our gate,” he said. “So we’re going to wait here a few minutes.”

I groaned. People around me shook their heads and muttered.

Then a flight attendant picked up the mic.

“Ladies and gentlemen, because our flight was faster than expected, we’ve arrived at the gate about 20 minutes early, so the gate isn’t available. We should still have you off the plane on time.”

People nodded. Shoulders relaxed. Visions of sprints to connecting flights evaporated. Thumbs flew over keyboards as everyone updated friends and family.

I give the pilot points for trying to get information to the cabin quickly. But if he had taken another moment to carefully consider his words, he could have left people with a positive impression, rather than giving passengers one more reason to grumble.

The pilot and the flight attendant, employees of the same airline, delivered essentially the same news: Passengers were going to be trapped with each other for a few more minutes. But they took different routes and got very different reactions.

The scenario carries three lessons for communicators and companies:

  1. Transparency matters. When companies explain WHY something is happening, not just WHAT is happening, people are more likely to view the position kindly. That’s especially true if customers face inconvenience.
  2. Messaging matters. The words communicators choose can play a decisive role in whether people cringe or cheer.
  3. Every employee is part of a brand. Organizations must make sure any potential representatives are on board with messaging and understand communications are critical.

At Candor, we’re always ready to help organizations craft messages to improve how people receive them, even when the news isn’t all good.

Aligning the Walk and Talk

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Sometimes threats to reputation arise from unexpected circumstances. Sometimes they don’t.

Wells Fargo’s recent troubles didn’t suddenly appear due to a few rogue employees. They were the result of poorly crafted compensation incentives. Volkswagen’s legal and reputation issues weren’t due to overbearing U.S regulations. They were the result of missing compliance controls in their software implementation process. In addition to horribly damaged reputations, the losses these companies face is in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

PR professionals are often placed in the position of trying to salvage reputations damaged by management or operational dysfunction. In such crises, most PR firms can do little more than deflect attention, slow the bleeding or ease the pain. At Candor, true to our brand, we advise our clients to communicate transparently, and we help fix underlying problems.

Candor started as a traditional PR firm. But we soon realized our experience in business consulting allowed us to help businesses get to the heart of what makes their organizations function, and help them fix problems before damage is done. So we opened a subsidiary called Candor Performance to provide business consulting services — to help our clients better walk their talk.

These kinds of problems can be traced to a misalignment between two or more of the following areas of the organizational body: strategy, structure, people, processes or culture. And much like a patient in need of a chiropractor when the body is misaligned, adjustments can alleviate the pain and return the patient to a state of organizational health and wellness.

In this manner, we have served companies large and small in almost 50 industries. And we believe we offer a unique value to the clients we serve.