Between You and Me, There's PR

Exploring, learning and using social media, public relations and marketing.

A Theory on Persuasion April 23, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — thisgirlsarah @ 7:21 PM

I remember sitting in my Com Theory class thinking, “This is stupid, I am never going to use this in real life. Who applies and quotes theories in a daily situation?” Turns out, I do, sometimes. I hate that. This one is about Cognitive Dissonance Theory. Stay with me…

In preparation for a presentation to my executive board, I needed to not only show the success social media has provided our company, but also the worth and importance. I was showing the team step-by-step the fact that our target audience has a growing presence on social media. Furthermore, the younger generation (those under 50) are even more involved with social media, especially Facebook. This proved my point that we should absolutely be involved in social media, but the team needed more facts.

jifConsider this: My parents both buy crunchy JIF peanut butter and refuse to buy anything else. I did too until this year when I was persuaded by my boyfriend to get creamy. I never turned back.

There are two parts to this story:

1. We form consumer habits based on our parents’ habits.

2. Habits can change.

These ideas sounded familiar to me so I dug deep in my brain trying to remember where I learned about this in my communication classes and in walked the Cognitive Dissonance Theory.

This is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time.

Dissonance increases with:

  • The importance of the subject to us.
  • How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
  • Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.

Cognitive dissonance is a very powerful motivator which will often lead us to change one or other of the conflicting belief or action. The discomfort often feels like a tension between the two opposing thoughts. To release the tension we can take one of three actions:

  • Change our behavior.
  • Justify our behavior by changing the conflicting cognition.
  • Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions.

So depending on your passion for the idea, you either change your behavior, or keep the behavior. We want to sell our brand and change the behavior of people who might not use our service and instead use a competitor. People who are very passionate about a certain brand are harder to persuade. This might be a person who’s parents used that brand and the entire family swears by it. Someone who uses it just because they picked it up off the shelf is more likely to be persuaded.

I predict that those under 50 are less involved in their brand choices and therefore more likely to be persuaded because they haven’t committed their whole life to doing something one way. If those people under 50 have a stronger presence on Facebook, it seems logical that we should also be on Facebook. We have to go where our demographic is.

We can’t necessarily change the mind of someone who has been going to a competitor for 50 years, but the person who entered the industry last year is likely looking for a place to stick his loyalty. We want it. We need to be present where they are present so that we can change their behavior and create loyal customers. Where are they? ONLINE.

Turns out, school is applicable.


Facebook Reach Error February 24, 2013

I feel very relieved to know that I am not crazy. Ever since December, I’d noticed a significant decrease in my page’s Reach statistic on Facebook Insights. I felt alone in this situation because for months I’d researched online to see if anyone else was seeing the same problem and found nothing recent.

Many people had written about the subject, however, they referenced the time period when Facebook introduced Promoted Posts in the late summer of 2012, alluding to the fact that Facebook decreased Reach on purpose to increase participation in Promoted Posts. This is not true and it was not reflected on my page.

Around Christmas, I noticed a significant decrease in my Page’s Reach. I manage a fairly small-ish page, but was consistently seeing a reach of 300-400 every post I shared and felt comfortable with that number. Late December, our average reach began dipping below 100. That was scary. Our Page Likes continued to increase and engagement was higher than ever, but still less than 100 people were seeing my post every day. I began test posting at different times of the day and days of the week. I found a few sweet spots that got me back to the 300 reach range, but it wasn’t consistent.

I’d nearly given up when I logged on to Facebook last Friday to see this an article from AllFacebook, “Facebook Bug Caused Pages’ Reported Reach to be Lower” and found a video explanation from Facebook Studio. The awkward lady in the video vaguely describes that their insights were misrepresented, but mostly encourages Facebook page managers to keep an eye on their own stats (because sometimes Facebook messes things up big time). Side note, how creepy is she?!

This article from Tech Crunch better explains the cause: “While trying to speed up its iOS and Android apps, Facebook accidentally stripped out too much data about news feed posts by Pages. This caused Page Insights to be misreported, leading admins to believe their posts reached fewer people than they actually did, in most cases.”

Over the weekend, I was ecstatic to see my average post reach back up to 300 with my highest post reaching over 1,100 people. I wasn’t crazy. There was a reason behind my reach decrease. I was really beginning to think I was messing everything up on my end. It’s nice to know I can blame someone else, but even nicer to see it return to normal.

Facebook has changed a lot in the last year and is still experiencing a lot of trial and error. As the video states, it is important to keep track of your statistics whether on Facebook, or another platform. It is, after all, the responsibility of the community manager to manage the community and understand its strengths and weaknesses. Luckily, through this “experience” I have discovered a new sweet spot for the time of day to post that will prove even more effective with these bug fixes. The biggest bonus is, as I have mentioned, I now know that I’m not crazy!

That being said, since this is due to Facebook changing things, here’s a good GIF for community managers: “EVERY TIME FACEBOOK CHANGES THEIR ALGORITHM”



Was your page’s insights’ affected?


My Social Media Toolbox February 10, 2013

social-toolboxI’ve always been stingy with my money. If I go shopping with friends, you can count on me to head straight to the back where the sales are. I’m the same with a budget at work. As a former nonprofit employee, I am very conscious of spending money and always look for ways to avoid it.

When I first started at a corporation, I remember  being nervous to tell my boss that a platform I wanted to use was going to cost a little bit of money. Their response to my request was laughing at how small it was and sarcastically replied, “I think we can spare that.”

With a little extra freedom to spend money when needed, I still find myself choosing applications and tools that don’t cost money. It’s my personality. I’ve found success using these free or low-cost tools and I think most brand can. Here are a few of my favorites:

  1. Polldaddy– Polldaddy can do anything. We originally purchased it for surveys because it allowed us to download an application for our iPads, but it’s proved to be a endless resource. Our website didn’t have the ability for people to upload photos. Using Polldaddy’s photo upload feature on a survey, I grabbed the code they provide and embed it on my website. I’ve yet to come up with a task that requires gathering customer information that PollDaddy cannot accomplish. There is a free version, but as much as I use it, the paid version is way worth the money.
  2. ShortStack– As you know, Facebook has strict rules for companies that want to run any contest on their Facebook page. Basically, you aren’t allowed to do anything unless you use a third party application/platform and disassociate Facebook with any connection to the contest. Shortstack is the best free application I’ve used. It has minimal branding, templates and lots of features to choose from. This also has a free and paid version, but by combing Polldaddy and ShortStack, I’ve managed to survive with the free version.
  3. HootSuite/TweetDeck– You know about these. I think HootSuite is the easiest to use on my phone and during the day at work, but TweetDeck I like that TweetDeck is a desktop feature so it has a small popup anytime someone mentions my brand. Tweet Deck also catches some interactions, such as who retweeted your post, that Hootsuite does not. I always have them both open!
  4. Facebook Pages– this is an application for smart phones and iPads. Until recently, it was only developed for iPhone users, but as soon as they released the Android app I downloaded it. I love it because it sends a push notification to your phone every time someone comments on your page. This makes monitoring on the weekends and after work so much easier. If there is an emergency, I will find out about it much faster than just randomly checking in every once and a while. I also like that it is separate from Facebook application so I don’t risk posting personal stuff on my company page. Additionally, it lets you look at insights which the Facebook application does not let you do.
  5. Facebook Post Analysis Spreadsheet– I just discovered this last week. Tim Wilson has created an awesome (free) downloadable spreadsheet that will analyze your Facebook post history. It uses a color coded system show you when posts received the most engagement and another table tells you when your post reached the most people. I have discovered that when the data is exported from Facebook it uses the time you schedule the post, not the scheduled time which skews my data a little, but I still think this is a very valuable tool. Too much other research out there does not speak specifically to my demographic so I appreciate being able to analyze my own data with this spreadsheet.

These are my top five social media tools. What’s in your toolbox?’


Consumer Complaints: Kill Them With Kindness February 5, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — thisgirlsarah @ 6:06 PM

Social-Customer-Service-Race-Header-2There is absolutely nothing worse than doing your routine Facebook page check and finding a customer complaint. But is it so bad?

Many companies will fight opening their company up to social media for fears that they will hear too many negative responses. It’s a scary concept to open your page up to the good, bad and ugly. Who wants to hear anything but the good? However, it pays to listen to consumers, no matter what they say.

Example: A few weeks ago I logged on to monitor my page and found an upset customer. With smart phones, people have the ability to post their complaints while they are still in your store or restaurant, which is what this person was doing. After a response to the customer on Facebook and a call to management at the store, the problem was resolved, the customer was happy and he even thanked us on Facebook for a quick response.

Situations happen. It’s important to use them as an opportunity to change someone’s mind rather than let them continue huffing and puffing about their experience. Instead of leaving the store and telling five people about how upset he was, he can now leave the store telling people how quick we were to respond and that we truly valued his business. In fact, he wrote about it on Facebook as though to retract his previous complaint and in turn, other customers liked his newest post and commented on the speedy response.

For companies that want to delete someone’s complaint because they think it will harm their business, consider what that means to a consumer. That person knows that you deleted their complaint. They are most likely putting it on Facebook because they A) want to evoke a response from you or B) want to alert other consumers that they’ve had a bad experience. To delete their post is only going to frustrate them more and diminish your company’s credibility/transparency.

Another response is to not acknowledge the complaint at all. When a company does not respond to a consumer at all it shows that they don’t care about building relationships and that that consumer’s business is not important to them. What’s worse is a company that posts about a sale, but doesn’t acknowledge the glaring complaint on their page.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox.

I may have tested this as a consumer (and written about it). So has the Viral Blog. They had four Twitter users reach out to 14 big brand companies on Twitter with various comments and questions designed to evoke a response. Only 14% of tweets were responded to and 4 companies never responded even when given multiple opportunities! *Cringe*

The point is, by acknowledging the complaint it instantly shows you value the person’s opinion and business and want to make their experience better. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to change their opinion. Ignoring or deleting the complaint will leave them just as frustrated as when they first posted.

Plus, ever person that visits your page after you respond to a complaint will see that your company cares about its customers. Relationship building, isn’t that what social media is all about?

Another example: My insurance company has messed up my account on so many occasions it is infuriating. I get all fired up and ready to put up a fight when I call, but the guy I deal with is so incredibly nice that I always back down. He tells me that he is clearing his agenda to take care of me and that I am the most important person in the world. He even tells me I have every right to be upset and can yell as much as I want. How can you yell when someone says those things?

So here’s what I vote: Show them the love and kindness they don’t think you will give them. Kill them with kindness. It’s a game changer in the world of customer service and despite how much we want to believe social media is a form of marketing, it’s primary purpose is customer service.


JC Penney overhauls brand strategy January 26, 2012

It doesn’t take an extreme couponer to get excited about a good deal. I believe I was born with a knack for bargain shopping.  You may not know my mother, but trust me, you won’t find either of us shopping at the front of the store where things are full price, puh-leez.

Let me brag on the Howard ladies for a moment while I share one of our proudest JC Penney shopping trips. We went in with needing nothing in particular except to utilize a $10 off $10 coupon. Were there 50% sales on top of this coupon? You betcha. I walked away spending $0.19 for a necklace, earrings and bracelet. #NBD This is why we don’t buy anything at JC Penney’s without their weekly coupons and sales.
But JC Penney’s recently appointed CEO,  Ron Johnson, has announced a new competitive strategy to replace the company’s overwhelming amount of sale days. According to an article written by the Associate Press,  Johnson announced “Customers will not pay literally a penny more than the true value of the product,” meaning prices will be permanently reduced by at least 40 percent.

The overall strategy includes a new logo that represents the “fair and square” theme the new pricing is meant to portray and new advertisements like the commercial below.

As for the actual pricing changes, prices will be rounded to a flat number, instead of ending in 99. This defies the marketing strategy that consumers perceive numbers ending in 99 lower than if they were just one penny higher.  The price tags will change also to make them easier to identify the price point. They will be color coded according to whether or not it is an every day price, a month-long sale price (holidays still get sales) or a best price (clearance).

We can only evaluate the implications of this complete re-branding strategy when it launches on February 1. This moment could make or break the retail company. JC Penney’s strategy is is a much stronger approach than Gap’s attempt to at re-branding  by changing their logo a year and a half ago, and we all remember consumers’ reactions online that forced them to return to their former logo. How will consumers react to this complete overhaul?

Last time I was in JC Penney, I believe my exact words were “Why don’t they just make the price $20 instead of marking it down from $40? There is no way I would ever pay $40 for this!” and I walked out without purchasing anything. I also can reflect on my attitude of JC Penney over the years. As a teen, it was a place to find cute, inexpensive clothes- especially homecoming dresses. As an adult, I felt almost trashy digging through the racks of sale items. Almost always, there is a shirt with a rip for sale.

Will the lower prices change my attitude from thinking it’s trashy to a steal-of-a-deal? I imagine it will feel more organized and less crammed together on designated sale racks, but will the quality suffer? Will my mind feel like I am not getting a deal if I buy something from the front of the store? Will I walk out when there are no red sale signs drawing me in? Will the employees take a pay cut and be less friendly?

What do you think about this strategy? Will it bomb or re-position JC Penney in a positive light?

But wait, there’s more! Here is the best part of the story: to celebrate the new everyday low price strategy… they are having a sale! Don’t forget to print your coupon from Facebook! Now that’s ironic.


Nothing right clicks like a PC October 2, 2011

It’s happened. My Dell has been replaced.

Perhaps it was my dedication to catching up on Pretty Little Liars episodes via sketchy websites that did it. Maybe it was sharing/spilling my breakfast every morning around my laptop that did it. Whatever it was, a new laptop was a must.

It all started with a virus. I tried resetting, then I tried running a virus scan, and then I tried shoving it under my bed for three months hoping the cold shoulder would get it to cooperate. Nope.

So I knew it was time to take a deep breathe and spend my hard earned money on a new computer.

I wanted a Mac. The hype had gotten in my head. A virus had taken my Dell, so I thought a Mac was the solution. It really seems as though I am the only person in the world without a Mac. Have you noticed that? Probably not, you probably have one.

My brother has a Mac, for design purposes, and is the only Mac owner that told me I could get the things I wanted from a Mac on a PC without spending as much money. Love that idea! Especially because the mouse on a Mac is absolutely the most frustrating aspect of the computer. I need a right and left clicker. I  need the shortcuts I have memorized on a PC to work on a Mac. They don’t.

So I went to Best Buy where they were not pushy intelligent, listened to my needs and answered my questions. But best of all, they let me leave without a computer.I needed the thinking time without a pushy salesman approach. I went home and considered the computers I had been shown. Toshiba and Samsung were my top contenders. One was less money but had a weird mouse. The other had a faster processor. (Did you k now, the Intel Core tells you how fast your computer will work? i3 is average, i5 has 4 processors… the more the better. Fun fact I learned.)

Saturday I saw a Best Buy ad for a Sony laptop on sale. It had an i5 processor, camera with gesture navigation (which I didn’t know existed!), a Blue Ray player, was energy efficient and a chic style. As my dad says, “It’s very stylish. I like the texture! Did you notice it’s stylish on the top too?” He, who I was relying on to tell me the specs and price looked good, not how cute it was, but the confirmation was appreciated. Check it out:

So here I am just typing away on my new Sony Vaio! I feel so legitimate having Windows 7 and Microsoft 2010 on my computer. Day one of Sony and Sarah together has been excellent. And because I so heavily relied on reviews when picking my computer, I’d like to let you know that so far, I recommend this laptop.

Yes, this post was rambling about my laptop search, but I don’t think enough people post positive reviews of companies and products. I’d like to “be the change [I] wish to see in the world.” 🙂



Brands I can’t help but “like” August 27, 2011

In the world of Facebook, the “Like” button is one of the highest compliments you can give a business page. First you like the page, then you can like their content. A combination of “liking”, commenting and sharing the content means the world to companies. It means they are keeping you engaged and that their brand is important to you.

So how do they keep us engaged?

During my summer internship I was asked to research our competitors’ Facebook pages, as well as companies that just seemed to get it right. It was so interesting to see the variety of messages companies utilize to encourage posts.

My favorite company page is Barbie’s page. After she caught my attention with the Valentine’s publicity stunt, I still find her posts just a cute and fun as ever! Barbie offers fashion and life advice, in a Barbie tone voice. Everything is “Fab, dolls”. She doesn’t even have to ask people to answer a question or like her post, they just love what she says. She’s absolutely iconic.

Oreo is blowing my mind lately. I understand, they have 22 million fans, but even the most seemingly random post receives an overwhelming amount of attention! For instance, yesterday they posted “Oreos and milk,” and that was it. It received 31,110 likes and 2,648 comments. WHOA. That’s insane. Way to cleverly take advantage of our love for chocolate cookies, Oreo!

Yet according to this article on Mashable, Buddy Media suggests that to increase engagement, we should ASK people to like our post and have them TELL us what they think. The above examples are so iconic that we’ll love anything they say so who is trying this ask and tell strategy?

Hershey’s asks a LOT of questions on their page. They have fill-in-the-blanks, encourage “Likes” and ask questions. Do people respond? They have almost 2.5 million fans and their posts receive anywhere from 40 to 600 comments. The post that received the most was a fill-in-the-blank.

MLB is also engaging fans by asking them questions and to fill-in-the-blank. Their questions ask “What would you do?” and place fans in the position of their favorite players.

Build-A-Bear Workshop has utilized this ask theory in their posts lately and has seen a significant amount of response. Most recently, they asked fans to click “like” if they knew someone with a cub on the way and 776 people clicked like.

It seems that getting fans to stay engaged begins with having an excellent reputation. Why should they care? That’s the next part. Tell them why they should! Tell them what to do and tell them fun facts! Just keep it fresh and we’ll be yours forever.

TELL me what your favorite brand page is! (Have to practice what I preach!)


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