A #Trending Topic for the Ages


By Adrienne Burns

Since the world wide web came into existence, there has been talk of the internet and how it was going to change society. Ever since we’ve had the ability to connect person A on one side of the world to person B on the other side, we’ve wondered what this would mean for our communities and our connections to one another. With the appearance of social media, those questions only grew larger and more urgent. The opportunity to view and share in the lives of others has led to crowd-funding everything from funerals to college funds and the instant ability to donate to humanitarian relief from our Facebook profiles the moment a crisis occurs. I can pretty confidently assert that we’ve opened our hearts to one another in the 20+ years that the web has existed. But, what I’ve seen trending even more recently is a shifting of minds.

In particular, I’ve notice a strong movement to change the way women are portrayed in media. The impact social media has in our everyday lives is undeniable. An article from Social Media Today early this year stated that teens spend up to 9 hours a day on social platforms, and your average person spends about 2 hours a day on social media. So, what sort of images and content are we providing these young minds with? Well, the hope is that we’re showing them socially conscious and meaningful content that will shape the way they view the world and the way that they contribute to it. Because, how can they not be shaped by it when it consumes so many hours of their day? So, there is a push now to make more deliberate decisions about the images we present on social media and what sort of ideas those images represent.

Dove, an expert at shaping positivity into their brand and its message, is of course, at the forefront of this. Teamed up with Mindshare in Denmark, Dove recently ran a campaign where they “hacked” an industry photography site, Shutterstock, and altered the algorithm of the site so that when ad agencies or marketing agencies were looking for something like “beautiful woman” their search results came back with something other than the old standard. The new images showed women in non-stereotypical settings, looking strong, capable and much more than just “beautiful.” These were women covered in mud and playing rugby, or in a garage working on a car. These are beautiful women, doing things that real women do, and showing that there is substance that goes along with these bodies. The idea for the campaign stemmed from the fact that 68 percent of women said they could not relate to the images of women in advertising. So, you remember those teens spending up to 9 hours a day a social media? They’re seeing those ads too. Their minds are being shaped about what society expects them to be. The images they see will shape how they feel about themselves and their value in society.

Changing the images from superficial to substantive is one of the small steps we’re taking now to shape a society that sees value in women for more than what they look like. In Hollywood, where a significant source of our self-image is created, there is a movement to do the same thing. Geena Davis, an actress who knows a little something about channeling strong women (Thelma & Louise, A League of Their Own, etc.) has long led the charge in the push to show more women in television and film as engineers, doctors, scientists, lawyers and CEOs–jobs they really hold in real life–and making them fully-fleshed, deep characters that can be role models for girls and women. But, she has now delved into the advertising world and is helping brands to make a conscious effort to also create media that shows women in a way that is not objectifying or damaging. In an interview with AdWeek, she said the reason for her work is that, “It’s just very important for every company to realize the potential for unconscious gender bias and take very, very concrete and active steps to counteract it.”

Social media has always had an enormous amount of potential. I think we’ve spend so long figuring out what we could do that we didn’t really spend too much time thinking about what we should do with this technology. I, for one, am looking forward to a world where my daughters look up at a screen and see women who remind them of their mother: strong, capable, intelligent and unafraid to take on the world.


The Quick Guide to Social Influencers

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When it comes to using influencers in your social media strategy, there’s nothing quite like the right influencer to get your brand looked at by the right people, the right way. Study after study has shown that people trust the opinions of their peers and social influencers more than anything else, so getting a bug in the ear of your audience through one of their most trusted sources is a no-brainer. At least, most of the time. As we all learned from the still-unfolding Fyre Festival debacle, even when you have the hottest influencers on your team, not even the best influencers can save a lousy product. So, how do you make sure your brand, your product and your influencers are working together in harmony? These three tips should get you on the right track.

  1. Avoid the Shiny Objects

Influencer marketing is more than just getting a Kardashian to pose seductively with your product tucked somewhere in the vicinity of her cleavage or pouty lips. REAL influencer marketing is about understanding the relationship between your product/brand/idea and the top authors/thought-leaders/voices in that realm. A recent article by AdAge said it best: “True influencer marketing isn’t greasing celebrities’ palms for tweets. Instead, it’s developing ongoing relationships with respected industry influentials — those with engaged, devoted audiences — so that they become closely connected with a brand and a company.” Avoid the shiny object and instead dig deeper and think of the long-term, value-based markets you want to grow and develop a loyalty with. THAT is where you’ll find your best influencers and get the most engagement.

And, remember, your best influencer might not come from the celebrity realm anyway. Sometimes it’s people who are already your customers who’ll give you your most powerful and genuine endorsements. Make sure you’re using social listening tools and looking for folks who are already passionate about your brand and what it’s doing. In his article on influencer marketing, David Hunegnaw at AdAge further drives this point home when he says, “Rather than engaging celebrities and the instafamous in order to engineer campaigns, brands should be engaging real fans and customers for authentic, brand stories — using those stories to help drive like-minded consumers down the path to purchase.” This in turn leads to better branded content and is the future of influencer marketing, according to Hunegnaw.

2. Know How to Measure Your Goals

Determining ROI on influencer marketing is one of the biggest challenges for agencies to tackle when it comes to measuring the success of their campaigns. The first step in getting a handle on ROI though is knowing what your goals are before you ever sign on an influencer. Use the SMART guide to create a social media goal that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Once you’ve nailed down those elements, finding an influencer who can get you there becomes an easier task. If your goals are geared toward engagement, pick an influencer with a highly engaged audience, not just a high number of followers. AdWeek has a great guide to identifying the best influencer for your brand that goes into a lot more depth on this topic and will help you figure out how to square your goals with the right influencer.

Lastly, pick the right metrics for your specific goals. Don’t try to measure everything or you’ll quickly get overwhelmed with the overabundance of data. Figure out which metrics tie directly to your goals and keep a close eye on those few, key metrics.

3. Pick the Right Platform

Know where your audience spends their time and whose opinions they value. Not every brand will get value from a Twitter or Instagram star for their product. Younger audiences are more influenced by YouTube stars and some corporations might even have better luck with a LinkedIn thought leader for their goals. Knowing which platform to go to for the most relevant influencers will help ensure that your marketing campaign reaches the right people. If your audience is looking for authentic content from peers and influencers, Twitter might be the perfect place to start looking for an influencer, as seen in the chart below.

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image courtesy of AdWeek

But, also keep in mind that you might want to use multiple platforms for your campaign as well. MarTech Series just put out an article showing that 88% of females follow their influencers on two of more channels. Using multiple channels for your influencer marketing strategy allows you to connect with influencers who are doing more than one thing. They could be creating videos, infographics, or blogs to go along with their standard photos and this could be a great opportunity for your brand.

At the end of the day, finding the right influencer is a multi-faceted operation that will take a bit of thinking about your brands values, audience and its goals before you can make the step into influencer marketing. But, it can be a truly valuable asset and it’s one that is largely underused in the industry. Get on board now and start developing a relationship with the social influencers who are going to take your brand into the future.