Social Listening Insights for Marriott International Hotel Brands

Our client, Marriott International Hotels, wanted to know what features guests talk about on social media. For example, do guests favor the room, decor, pillows, lobby, food, etc.?

This social listening research was conducted using Crimson Hexagon and had a Boolean string of over 160 lines of code. We decided to measure a year’s worth of posts ranging from August 31, 2017–August 31, 2018. Through our initial pull, we found over 1.4 million posts contained the following Marriott brands. (We decided to exclude Marriott’s company social media accounts so we could focus strictly on consumer brand insights):

  • AC Hotels
  • Courtyard by Marriott
  • Delta Hotels
  • St. Regis Hotels
  • Fairfield Inn
  • Sheraton Hotel
  • W Hotel
  • Residence Inn
  • Luxury Collection
  • Marriott Hotels
  • Moxy
  • Renaissance Inn
  • Townplace Suites
  • Westin Hotels
  • Four Points
  • Aloft
  • JW Hotels
  • Le Meridien
  • Springhill Suites
  • Bulgari
  • Autograph Collection
  • Ritz-Carlton Hotels

After looking into Marriott International Hotel brands as a whole, we wanted to figure out what people were discussing about the Marriott brand. We filtered these results with the most relevant insights using these keywords:

  • Room
  • Elite/Platinum Memberships
  • Breakfast
  • Airport

With this second pull, we found that 526,106 posts contained the term Marriott and the filtered keywords. With these filters we were able to conclude observations of what hotel guests were posting and commenting on Twitter, Instagram, and other blog sites.

The insights that we learned from Marriott International Hotels are stated below.  We believe that our insights will help assist Marriott in capitalizing on their marketing efforts.

The following infographics are interactive, select the arrow buttons below to swipe through.

Demographic Data

[swf src=”http://spencernorawong.com/ydigital/demographic.swf” width=”100%” height=”800″ ]

Brand Insights

Filter: Throughout the research process, we included a filter in Crimson Hexagon to exclude Marriott Hotel brand’s social media handles and blog links. Based on our discussion with the client, we know that they prioritize food, experience, and customer service.

[swf src=”http://spencernorawong.com/ydigital/brand-insights.swf” width=”100%” height=”800″ ]

Keyword | “Bedroom”

  • Key Insight 1: “The Springhill Suites by @Marriott uptown in Charlotte NC has to be the worst laid out hotel room I’ve ever stayed in. This is rediculous! Can’t watch TV from bed… Bathroom door across from and between the beds…..”
  • Key Insight 2: “A new favorite @marriotthotels experience! I booked today using the app and then sent a special request. I asked for a framed photo of Sponge Bob and a cup of yellow M&Ms. This is what awaited us in our room. Hats off to Liz and the fantastic staff at the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Mount Vernon, Illinois.”
  • Key Insight 3: “A huge thank you to the Ritz-Carlton Mega Kuningan Jakarta @ritzcarlton for sponsoring my stay at your beautiful Mayfair suite. Have never had such a warm welcome where my pictures were placed on the bed and displayed on the TV screen! Super sweet gesture!

[swf src=”http://spencernorawong.com/ydigital/bedroom.swf” width=”100%” height=”800″ ]

Keyword | “Membership”

  • Key Insight 1: “Hotels w free breakfast> fancy hotels that think you’re rich enough to pay for breakfast. Fun fact: I’m not that rich and I’m eating a crusty donut from last night.”
  • Key Insight 2: “Marriott Courtyards, AC Hotels, and Moxy aren’t included in Free Elite Breakfast after all. We were promised these hotel brands would offer Platinum breakfast benefits. They don’t. They offer a food and beverage credit, which can be used any time…”
  • Key Insight 3: “Should Marriott re-think its skimpy elite benefits at brands like AC? I can think of an easy solution. Give Platinums (both Spg and Marriott) A real full breakfast at all locations Ritz to FI’s.

[swf src=”http://spencernorawong.com/ydigital/membership.swf” width=”100%” height=”800″ ]

Keyword | “Breakfast”

  • Key Insight 1: “I used 100,000 Marriott points for this stay ( I use an American Express Starwood card to earn points… a family member has gluten and dairy allergies, so we tend to make all their food while on vacation. The breakfast is one of the best I have seen at a Residence Inn. They have a huge selection of foods, a large eating area and it’s clean.”
  • Key Insight 2: The perfect egg was featured on many Instagram posts.
  • Key Insight 3: Instagram is where most of the pictures of breakfast are found.

[swf src=”http://spencernorawong.com/ydigital/breakfast.swf” width=”100%” height=”800″ ]

Keyword | “Airplane”

  • Key Insight 1: “My favorite meal of the day. Last meal before I take off @ACHotels.”
  • Key Insight 2: “Marriott Fairfield Inn & Suites Omaha Downtown has shuttered its airport shuttle service, replacing it with Uber Central, part of Uber for Business, to offer guests free transportation to and from Eppley Airfield.”
  • Key Insight 3: This man was at the airport and posted about his experience of breakfast at the Four Points Hotel. 

[swf src=”http://spencernorawong.com/ydigital/airplane.swf” width=”100%” height=”800″ ]

What can Twitter tell us about the incredibly close race for the 4th district?

Midterms have come and gone, but a few votes are still being counted. The race for Utah’s fourth congressional district is still undecided. It’s still possible for either candidate — Republican incumbent Mia Love or Democratic challenger Ben McAdams — to win. The New York Times reports that as of 12:45 PM ET, with 76% of precincts reporting, 51.3% of votes have been cast for McAdams and 48.7% for Love.

Can Twitter give us a sense of what’s going on in this incredibly close race?

Methodology

Using Crimson Hexagon, a social media listening platform, we zeroed in on what people were saying over the last two months about the race on Twitter. To do this, we followed three basic steps:

First, we coded one set of instructions for Crimson Hexagon to pull tweets that can give us insight into the scope of the race as a whole. Second, we coded two other sets of instructions — one for each candidate. These enable us to compare what is being said about them.

Third, we analyzed the posts Crimson Hexagon retrieved with our instructions. We used both quantitative data analysis tools built in to Crimson Hexagon and manual, qualitative analysis to build a holistic picture of what Twitter looked like in the two months prior to election day.

Insights

In the days before election day, Love and McAdams were neck and neck in the polls, and the competition on social media was also fierce. More people posted about this race in the last two months than the other three districts put together. Of those posts, strong expressions of support could be seen for either candidate.

“Mia’s Working Relationship with @POTUS Benefits Utahns,” one user tweeted.
“Ben McAdams is a big ol dork, but he’s really nice, and a genuinely good politician!” said another. 
The following statistics measure posts from September 5–November 9.

Post Volume: The amount of individual Twitter posts of the mentioned candidate.

  • 8,824 posts mentioned Mia Love
  • 8,758 posts mentioned Ben McAdams

Emotion Analysis: Emotion analysis categorizes posts based on the occurrence of terms generally falling into one of the following six categories: anger, fear, disgust, joy, surprise, and sadness. 
64% of posts which mention Mia Love had an emotional tone. Of that percentage, the top three emotions expressed were sadness (35%), joy (34%), and disgust (24%). 
Of the posts about Ben McAdams, 48% exhibited an emotional tone. Of that 48%, the top three emotions expressed were joy (41%), sadness (27%), and disgust (16%).

Common Topics Discussed: These topics were measured through coding individual posts finding potential themes as a whole. 
Users who posted about Mia Love touched on many topics, including general expressions of support or dissatisfaction. On September 10, we found a spike in discussion of an accusation that Love raised funds for a primary challenge that never occurred.

Posters who expressed support for Ben McAdams seemed to be enthusiastic about the idea of defeating his incumbent opponent. Discussion also centered on confusion over the still-undetermined election results.

Takeaways

Social media buzz is not a proxy for proper polling and shouldn’t be used to predict election outcomes alone. However, it is a useful and unique tool for gauging sentiment and candidate appeal with specific publics. It’s also a great tool for evaluating debate performance since voters tend to tweet about these and similar events.

Tweets about Ben McAdams seemed slightly more optimistic than tweets about Mia Love. This was reflected by emotions reflected in the posts. Users who tweeted about Mia Love adopt joyful tones and sad tones with nearly equal frequency. In contrast, tweets which mention Ben McAdams are joyful 14 percentage points more often than they are sad. This suggests that the tone of the race slightly favors McAdams. However, post volume tends to favor Love by a very slim margin: simply more people are talking about her.

So, what will happen? We were supposed to find out on Tuesday, but more ballots keep coming in. Regardless, it’s a close race, and our research backs that up.

One thing seems clear: if you’re thinking of running for office, you need to be on social media. Make a Twitter. Engage with your audience. Candidates who refrain from tweeting cede social media buzz to their opponents. And who knows? Maybe voters will listen. Y Digital certainly is.

Facebook Bots: Promote Your Business in a New Way

This year, the employees at Y Digital had the opportunity to attend the Utah’s Digital Marketing Collective (DMC) Conference for 2018. It was jam packed with topics from everything from paid to organic digital marketing.

One of the keynote speakers Larry Kim talked about a new tactic in digital marketing, Facebook Messenger Chatbots. Kim is the founder and CEO of a company titled MobileMonkey and has great expertise in using Facebook Messenger Chatbots. During his presentation, he listed several benefits of utilizing Facebook Chatbots in digital marketing efforts:

  1. You can achieve a higher ROI than “likes” from a Facebook ad
  2. You can gain higher customer loyalty through a two-way communication system
  3. You can generate quality leads through the subscription service

Here at Y Digital, we can help you generate more leads with Facebook Messenger Chatbots. Contact us now to see how we can implement these bots for you in your marketing efforts.

3 Tips for Using Social Media as a Public Relations Tool

Coveting that dream job?  Preparation is key.  Here are four tips to crush your next job interview. 

You may have been in the PR field long enough to remember pre-digital PR, when it was a more straightforward discipline. Now, social media has found its way into nearly all corporate communications, seemingly turning traditional media into a thing of the past. Although traditional media is still important, when the two are paired together, something even more powerful is created.

Getting started with social media

Having an understanding of social media, SEO and digital content creation is essential for maximizing the success of PR campaigns. However, the 2016 Digital PR and Communications report by the Public Relations and Communications Association found that 53 percent of agency staff said they required more training in digital/social media.

In contrast, their 2016 annual report found that digital and social media was one of the top five duties amongst PR professionals. Having basic digital skills is no longer simply an asset in PR, but is increasingly a requirement.

Social media is changing the future of PR whether we like it or not. This is why having the skills required to meet new challenges the medium provides has never been more important.  The following three tips will help you maximize your social media strategy and integrate the medium with your traditional PR practices

Fully integrate social media with traditional PR
In an increasingly social world, social media is inextricably intertwined with nearly everything, public relations included. Amy Howell, PR expert and author of Women in High Gear, warns against thinking that PR and social media are separate entities. “Social media does not replace traditional media,” she says, “traditional media is still very important when paired with social media, it’s even more powerful.”

Nearly 65 percent of all PR departments are responsible for the social media presence of their companies. This means that the integration of traditional and digital media is not just a philosophical debate, it is a reality for much of the PR world.

Sebastian Meyer, Social Media Manager for the BYU Universe, says that keeping up to date on social media technologies and frequently measuring the effectiveness of digital and traditional tactics to communicate your message can give you the best control of your PR message. Using this method, you can leverage social media into something profitable.

Hyper-localized PR messaging
When targeting an audience on Facebook, you can use multiple parameters to define your audience, like behavior, education, interests and connections. However, Facebook also allows you to target by zip code area, along with other traditional parameters, like gender and age. Twitter and Google offer similar targeting options as well.

Before the mass-adoption of social media, targeting with such precision was not possible. This level of precision allows for more sophisticated and efficient PR campaigns. You can now leverage segmentation tools on social media platforms as a tactic within a PR campaign. Facebook makes it especially easy to understand your audience through their audience profile analytics, which is available to anyone with a Facebook Ads account. The feature allows you to search a demographic, and Facebook will produce specific features of your public to help you better reach them.

Hyper-localized PR messaging can be especially helpful when planning an event for a client. Advertisements can be made through social media to target people directly in the area or other audiences who could have an interest in attending.

Utilize social media analytics.
By nature, social media platforms lend themselves well to data analytics. Not only do most platforms come with their own analytical tools, such as Twitter Analytics and Facebook Analytics, but there is also a wide range of third-party tools available, such as Sproutsocial and Hootsuite. These are ideal for monitoring progress.

The analytic-friendly nature of social media will translate across to PR, which will become even more data-driven, as PR firms use data analytics to inform future campaigns and improve current ones.

By using data analytics tool, PR professionals can create more successful campaigns. During Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, a heavy focus was placed on data analytics. This helped determine how campaign messages were resonating with different audiences.

The use of social media analytics is also heavily linked to hyper-localized messaging. In the Obama campaign, data was successfully gathered through Facebook, which allowed the delivery of messages to micro-targeted audiences.

Put it into practice
While social media is changing the way we practice PR, it doesn’t have to make it more difficult. In fact, social media, when paired with traditional media, opens up new opportunities to reach audiences and disseminate messages.

So, put these tips into practice and see how strategic social media use can become the best complement to traditional PR.

Written by Madison Austin

Facebook’s new algorithm: what’s next for PR

Another Facebook update is here. And the PR game is changing…yet again.

With frustrations high, let’s hash this out and see how to still come out on top with strong PR game.

What’s going on
Mark Zuckerberg announced in January a new algorithm where Facebook users will start seeing more posts from friends and family and fewer posts from companies and brands.

According to Facebook, the update is supposed to encourage more engagement on Facebook because we’ll be seeing more posts and content from the ones you love.

“Recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained in a post on Thursday. It’s true.

My Facebook feed is full of video after video. It’s to the point I don’t even want to get on Facebook anymore. However, Facebook is a primary outlet for businesses trying to reach their consumers and clients.

“I want to be clear; by making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuckerberg said. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

Businesses depend on Facebook as a social media outlet to share their brand, motives and goals. With the algorithm changing, PR professionals working in social media will need to find alternatives to the algorithm change.

What’s next
Adam Durfee is an SEO and public relations guru and said, “Facebook has made it very clear that what matters most for businesses is brands and pages starting conversations. Facebook will be giving edge-rank boost to those starting conversation among followers.”

“Your job as a PR professional running business pages now is to start conversations among followers. If you can’t, your reach will disappear. If you can, you’ll have better reach than ever before. Don’t just tell stories, get people to engage in them,” Durfee concluded.

There is a way to rise on top. We just have to know what we’re dealing with and then act. We have the chance to have a larger reach than ever before if we adapt to the new system.

Advice moving forward 
If you’re sitting at your desk thinking, “great, time to make an entire new strategy,” I’m happy because it means you get it.

But, think of it like this: Instead of writing stories and experiences to tell to your audience, you can start writing posts to talk with your audience. Start your new strategy now. Find creative ways to engage.

I think one of the most engaging tactics in social media right now is Instagram Story polls. How can we incorporate these on Facebook?

How can we start conversations that people actually want to respond to? As PR professionals, these are the kinds of questions we need to start asking. When you and your team begin crafting your new strategy and launch your first posts with conversations, your reach will be like Durfee said, greater than ever before.

We came into the PR industry knowing that it is ever changing. We have to be flexible. Creative. Adaptable. Innovative.

If we embody these traits, there is no social media update that will get us down.

Don’t try to fight Facebook, beat ‘em.

Written by Genny Hickman

Newsjacking: The what, why, and how

Need something new to write about? Take a look around

I think we can all agree that we get asked about the news more often than not. Current events are one of the most talked about topics in our day to day lives because people naturally want to know what’s going on in the world around them.

As communicators, our job is to help our company be noticed and heard. We want to write stories that make our company seem appealing and exciting. But how do we do that when there is not constant breaking news every day at work? The answer is newsjacking.

Newsjacking (v): The process of inserting your brand into current events to create media attention.

The news is even more instant with the constant movement of technology. The news can be accessed in many different ways and that is why newsjacking can be so beneficial. Whether that be opinions of industry leaders, a funny meme, or lending public support to a crisis happening around, there is always a way to place your brand’s name in a place where it can be seen.

How can it help my company?
Newsjacking can help any company at any time. It doesn’t matter how big or small a company is, there is always an opportunity for it because of the technological world we live in. Technology allows instant communication at the touch of a button. Newsjacking will allow content to be produced, websites and social media to drive more traffic, and can give people something to talk about. There doesn’t need to be a large budget, just a team of individuals who can be quick on their feet and more creative and strategic than competitors.

The most exciting part about this is that you can write about something that is unrelated to your company but because it is relevant to the news it will benefit you. It shows consumers that your company is up to date and has an idea of what’s happening in the world.

Remember the Super Bowl of 2013? Yes, the one where Beyoncé performed at halftime and the Ravens and the 49ers had to wait over half of an hour before the power turned back on. Well, turns out that the majority of people didn’t remember those things too much but they did remember Oreo. During the power outage, Oreo’s team thought fast. They produced some of the most influential newsjacking examples we have today.

Oreo’s tweet in the 2013 Super Bowl during the blackout. Photo courtesy of Oreo’s twitter.

For that Super Bowl most advertisers paid about $4 million dollars for a 30-second commercial spot.  During the blackout, Oreo tweeted one tweet (which obviously wasn’t planned) but they got more attention from that tweet than many other companies that spent $4 million dollars! 

“The only reason I remember the Super Bowl in 2013 was because of the power outage. It was unfortunate but I do remember seeing Oreo’s tweet and thinking how that was good,” says university student, Bailey Bunch.

Looking back, we can see that Oreo definitely made its mark.

How can I do it?
The idea sounds great right? But how do you go about Newsjacking? Below is a simple formula from Search Engine Watch that will change everything for you.

  1. Data: It is important to keep up to date with the news around you. It will allow you to be a step ahead of your competitors. Timeliness is the key to newsjacking. This diagram shows the phases that a news story goes through. It is essential to newsjack within the first 2-3 phases in order to capture the attention that is needed.

Newsjacking is more beneficial in the first 2-3 phases. Photo courtesy of newsjacking.com.

  1. Creative: Being creative and clever in this industry is always a must! But when a company can take everyday news and turn it into something special, now that’s what will be remembered. Just think, everyone will see this news story, but how will you make this one different?
  1. An Opinion: Putting in a short and simple quote that voices an opinion can always be enough to for someone to pay more attention to you. An opinion allows consumers to see where your company stands on certain issues as well.

By being aware of the news, creating content to stand out, and adding opinions, companies will be able to use newsjacking as a strong tool. Along with that, technology will continue to grow which will allow more opportunities for newsjacking in the day to day workplace.

Keep your eyes open!

Written by Oliva Oldroyd

How to Engage Millennials Through Cause Marketing

Connect your company with social issues and you can connect with even the most entitled audiences

Trying to engage with millennials can feel like trying to join a high school clique. The tight-knit group of slightly cynical young adults can be difficult to understand and even more difficult to convince. An AdWeek study reveals that millennials are more skeptical than their older peers about cause-related marketing, believing it is inauthentic. Don’t let this skepticism fool you: they care deeply about social topics and are loyal to the brands that drive social change.

What’s the answer? Cause marketing. Cause marketing is a mutually beneficial collaboration between a for-profit corporation and a non-profit organization. By teaming up and communicating a mutual mission, for-profit corporations can improve their reputation and image with all stakeholders including customers, investors, and community members.

According to the same AdWeek study, millennials are more likely than other generations to seek out brands that align with causes they care about. It also shows that millennials and members of Gen Z are willing to spend time researching brands, pay more for products or sacrifice quality of products if the brand aligns with a social cause they care about. Experts at Cone Communications, the leading cause marketing communications firm in the US, found that nearly 90 percent of Americans will purchase a product because the company advocated for an issue they cared about.

Cause marketing is more than a great tool for engaging with millennials, it is an opportunity to redefine your company. Carol Cone, the “Mother of Cause Marketing,” told PRSA members that companies who bring societal issues into the core of their mission and operations are seeing an average 10 percent growth in revenue. This growth happens to the degree that the company makes social values its “true north” in operations and marketing.

For example, Unilever has become famous for its cause marketing efforts including the Dove campaign for Real Beauty

The campaign focuses on helping all women feel beautiful and celebrating their differences in body type, skin color, etc. The national attention of this campaign has pushed Unilever toward the top of LinkedIn’s list of most attractive companies for which to work.

You can leverage the millennial interest in social issues and build social value in your company by following these steps to develop your own cause marketing campaign.

  1.  Be authentic by finding a cause you care about

The first step to building a cause marketing campaign for your company is to find a cause! Consider the industry you work in, the resources your company uses and the social issues related to those operations. For example, if you work in the technology industry, consider how your company’s expertise in programming, web development or technological engineering could be used to serve your community. Your employees could help teach after school coding programs at low-income schools or set up an educational program to help students in underprivileged areas learn skills to prepare them for work at your company.

Also consider what social issues you are personally interested in and what kinds of projects you’d be thrilled to work on. Chat with other employees to learn what issues are important to them personally. Passion is important when connecting your company with a cause. Your employees’ genuine interest in the cause will shine through when it comes time to share your story.

  1. Connect with an organization doing good

When you’ve found a cause to support, look for other organizations working on that cause. Likely, these established organizations will already be working on community projects or activism projects that you can donate to or support with man power. Look for an organization that is making a significant and sustainable difference in the issue area it is dealing with. Look beyond simple opportunities for donation. You can search local non-profit directories or search through Skoll Foundation and Ashoka websites to find vetted organizations that are having real impact on social issues. If you don’t find an organization or foundation that fits with your business, consider starting your own.

  1. Craft your story

­After you’ve found and connected with the right cause and are rolling out programs to support the cause, you’re ready to start a campaign. Write your story based on why your company decided to connect with this cause specifically and what you’re doing to help. Tell the story from the perspective of an employee, a person who has been helped by your efforts or the company at large. Traditional public relations tactics come into play in this step. Tell your company’s social impact story in creative ways through different channels. Not only will your company benefit through increased online engagement and revenue, but you will also feel good about building social value in your company.

For example, tell the story of a kid at the after-school program who found a real passion for programming and how your employee became her professional mentor. Or, find an employee whose productivity dramatically improved since spending time after work mentoring kids at a local high school. Stories will practically write themselves when your company and employees start engaging in social programs.

While you may be looking primarily to increase online engagement with millennials, your efforts to build a cause marketing campaign will transform your company from the inside out. Help your company build a cause marketing project and campaign. You’ll finally learn to take mom’s advice from high school: Just be the best “you” you can be and people will love you.

Written by Lauren Thomas

How to Use the Instagram Hashtag #Update to Your Advantage

Guy in a boat with a travel bag

Instagram now allows users to follow hashtags, and brands are delivering trendy hashtags directly to their follower’s feeds. Are you going to join the movement?

Before this month, there were two ways to use hashtags on Instagram. The first was to search for a specific tag on Instagram (#anthropologie, #BYU, etc) and see what people were saying about those topics. The second was to click a hashtag used on someone’s post and other posts with the same tag. Hashtags weren’t being properly utilized for the uniting force they could be, and so, Instagram made a change.

Thanks to the new update, users can now choose to see pictures with the hashtags they’re interested in directly on their feed. It’s like following a specific account dedicated to your favorite things.

For example, if you’re a big foodie, following the hashtag #onthetable could give you some great dinner inspiration. Or, if you’re all about basketball, following the hashtag for your favorite NBA team could brighten up your feed. People are also using hashtags to spread awareness (1.6 million pictures using #womensmarch), get a glimpse at some of their favorite places (13 million pictures using #manhattan), or just make a trendy hashtag for their group of friends.

But, as a PR professional, I’m sure you’re asking, “How can I use this for my brand?” Fortunately, the answer is “Any way you want!” But we’ll give you a few examples of how businesses are using it now.

SuperMoon Bakehouse in New York City isn’t known for its pastries, though we’ve heard those are tasty. The shop itself is a treat, attracting locals, tourists, bloggers, and families alike with its glass symmetry, colorful desserts, and tightly packed rows of iridescent boxes that create the perfect photo backdrop. Their fancy boxes with rainbow sheen read, “#ChewYorkCity” and“#BiteMeNYC” on the sides, giving their consumers a clear call to action: post a picture and use our hashtags. 

Herschel Supply Co., a brand dedicated to backpacks and travel totes, began using #welltraveled as part of a campaign they ran. They updated their Instagram weekly with photos of their duffels in action all over the world using their signature tag. The people of Instagram loved it, and everyone started using their hashtag, and there are now more than 1.5 million photos with #welltraveled as a descriptor. Talk about some amazing social media marketing!

The use of hashtags promoted a feeling of community around a brand and its products. But the brand had to do the work first. How will you help your consumers use and follow your hashtag? Will you print it on a box like SuperMoon Bakery, or use it regularly on your feed like Herschel, or make t-shirts with it, or post a picture of a giant cake with your hashtag written on it in neon frosting? No matter what you do, make a big, bold statement with it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your consumers to follow your hashtag.

According to Matthew Ogle, the creative brain behind this change on Instagram, “Hashtags are our atomic unit for interest on Instagram.” Ogle used to work for Spotify, where he curated the Discovery Weekly playlist. He introduced an algorithm on Spotify that put personalized music for each individual listener (which there are over 140 million of) in a playlist for them each week. Ogle has taken that innovative energy and brought it into this new Instagram update.

So, go brainstorm a creative way to use the atomic unit for interest on the ‘gram! There’s no time like the present to create your brand’s key hashtag and start promoting it. Your followers are waiting for the community you’re about to build for them, thanks to Instagram’s new follow feature for the hashtag.

Written by Regan Crandall

Engage Your Clients in Real-Time

Y Digital Lab
Y Digital Lab

Imagine all of your clients gathered in one place at an event. What if you could engage with everyone there? I don’t mean going around the room talking to hundreds of people, but instead, engaging them in real-time through social media.

HYP3R, according to its website, is a geoscocial platform that puts coordinates on an area and allows you to engage and interact with all the social media accounts within the area. Learn more details about the company here.

Let me break it down simply for you.

I worked on a project for a Fortune 500 company and for the event it was sponsoring. The company wanted to interact with its fans at the event. Since being at the event in person talking to everyone is virtually impossible, I was a part of a hired team responsible for interacting with attendees via social media.

We used HYP3R to set the geofencing around the event, which gathered all of the social accounts posting within the area. All of the posts on Instagram were pulled into the HYP3R site, where we could access them and engage in real time.

Throughout the entire event, we engaged fans on their pictures by commenting and liking. We also gave away prizes through social media.

The entire project improved the company’s engagement by 200 percent, according to statistics from Y Digital Agency, a student-run PR agency at Brigham Young University.

Fans at the event loved it.

They were noticed.

They were heard.

They were loved.

The experience brought one of their favorite brands to life. Because that brand was interacting with THEM.

Three Simple Steps to Start Using HYP3R

I’m going to break it down into three simple steps to get started with HYP3R and real-time engagement.

Select the event
Identifying which event you want to engage with people is important. The event you choose needs to be an event where a lot of people will be in attendance and who will be posting pictures frequently.

Examples can be professional sporting events, concerts, races or galas.

All of these events will have thousands of people keeping their Instagrams updated.

Select a team
Make sure you are well-staffed to engage in real time. A lot of diligent work is required because the posts will start flooding in at the event.

You’ll want to be responding frequently and attentively to ensure you’re interacting with as many accounts as possible.

Begin HYP3R use
You will need to open an account with HYP3R, but once you do, the opportunities are endless. Not only can you geofence an event to pull all of the posts in that area, but the posts will be pulled to one place on your HYP3R account. You can scroll through them and not have to scramble around to find the posts.

Analytics are also a genius part of HYP3R. You’ll be able to see the stats of engagement rates, top responses, etc. The numbers don’t lie. Your engagements rates will go through the roof.

First-hand experience with HYP3R

Stephanie Smith, a public relations student at Brigham Young University, has worked on many projects for clients using HYP3R and states:

“It is an innovative and effective way to engage with people,” Stephanie said. “It allows a brand to come to life. Instead of drinking a Coke at a basketball game, what if Coca Cola commented on your Instagram post at that game. And even better, what if Coca Cola commented telling you to go to the nearest concession stand and get a free Coke on them? That is how we use HYP3R. We bring brands to life, which ultimately brings loyalty from customers to the brands.”

Engaging in real time is the latest way to build a brand. Forget publishing a news release in the newspaper. If you want your client to get noticed, interact with its customers and fans on social media.

People can have so much more than simply drinking a Coke.

Written by Genny Hickman

Interviews: The difference between “crushing it” and being crushed

Coveting that dream job?  Preparation is key.  Here are four tips to crush your next job interview.

“You’re hired!”  These are the two words every college student wants most to hear. Landing the right job after graduation can make all the difference in your career; but even the most polished resume, carefully crafted cover letter, well-connected LinkedIn network and sharpest JCrew blazer aren’t enough to get you there—unless you can sell yourself in person.  Here are four tips to help you crush your next interview.

Prepare Your Pitch
Preparation is key to your interview.  Everyone knows that it’s important to be on time and dress professionally—but it’s just as important to prepare your content as it is to prepare your appearance.

Professor Leslie Kawai, who teaches business communications at BYU’s Marriott School of Business, counsels students to know their personal elevator pitch.  “When you get in the elevator with someone, you should be able to tell them your name and three distinctive traits of yours,” she says.  “For example, you should be able to say, ‘My name is so and so, and I possess x, y, and z traits.’”   The ability to pitch yourself quickly and distinctively helps employers get an idea of who you are and remember your characteristics.

Get Psyched Up, Not Psyched Out
Another technique Kawai teaches her students is the exercise of “power poses,” a psychological technique coined by social psychologist Amy Cuddy at the TEDGlobal 2012 conference.  In Cuddy’s TED Talk “Your Body Language Shapes who you are,” Cuddy teaches that standing in a posture of confidence, even when you don’t feel confident, can boost feelings of power and impact your chance for success.  Posing with your arms up and shoulders back, even for thirty seconds, can boost your feelings of confidence.  Combine this powerful technique with positive words of encouragement and affirmation to psych yourself up for the interview!  Mental enthusiasm radiates outward. 

Edit Your Social Media Presence
Polishing your online presence is another form of overlooked preparation.  Keith Lue, Internship & Career Services Coordinator in the School of Communications, says that managing your personal brand online is critical.  “Most employers would check your social media before they would ever invite you to interview,” he said.

Students often don’t realize how much power their social profiles have in the eyes of employers and recruiters.  Examine your social profiles—what kind of message does your Twitter feed send to your potential boss?   Consider trading in your party photos to reflect a more professional online presence.  A simple headshot in your profile picture will make a much better first impression than a photo of you at a party or even a stock photo.  Double check your privacy settings and look through your profiles with a critical eye to ensure that employers see you as someone who could potentially fit into their organization.

Do Your Homework
A well-prepared interviewee won’t only answer questions, but will also research information about the organization ahead of time to have questions to ask.

Shannon Baird, a senior in BYU’s public relations program, said, “Every time I interview I try to ask a lot of questions to show my genuine interest in the company. One of my favorite questions to ask is if the person interviewing me enjoys working for that company and would recommend it to others. It always catches the interviewer off guard and puts me at a more personal level with him or her.”  Careful research helps you formulate great questions.

Researching the company in advance will also help you go the second mile.  If you research the organization thoroughly, you can identify problems within the organization that you are equipped to solve. Your findings will show the employer that you care about the organization, you take the initiative and that you’re a problem-solver.  By investing time into the organization even before you interview, you’ll put yourself ahead of the other candidates for the position.

At the end of the day, preparation pays off.  A good interview validates everything on your resume, so let yourself shine!

After all, you’re so much more than a piece of paper.  Go get that job.

Written by Lindsey Trendler