3 Tips for Conducting a Communications Audit

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It’s that time of the year where many companies are planning the next year’s campaigns, launches and activations. These events are not complete without the support of communications – whether through PR or social media. However, before developing the new year's communications plan, one should review the effectiveness of the prior year's strategy by conducting an audit. A communications audit will help you determine the tactics and efforts that were successful, and those that should be revised to support next year's overall marketing plan.

Here are three quick tips on conducting an effective communications audit. 

1.     Dive into the Data – Walk through media reports with your internal team or consultant. Whether number of placements, impressions, coverage sentiment or social engagement, you’ll want to see the numbers and other data to learn how you stacked up in meeting or even exceeding this year's goals. This will also assist in developing new communications objectives for the coming year.

2.     SWOT It Out – Once you analyze the data you can move on to a SWOT. A SWOT is a forever true technique for planning and evaluation. In understanding the hits (strengths) and misses (weaknesses) of 2017's communications from your data, you'll find through research of examples in trends (opportunities) and competitors' campaigns (threats) to consider in order to drive desirable results. 

3.     Check the Channels – Lastly, review all of your communications channels. Is your media kit up-to-date? Is your online content of quality and engaging? Is messaging accurate on social and reaching your target audience? If not, your channels may need a facelift or new ones may need to be considered so your communication is resonating. 

Once you’ve conducted your audit, it will be easier to develop next year's communications strategy. You’ll understand what new objectives should be established, the shifts that need to be made and how you can effectively engage with your audience in 2018.

Maximizing Your MICRO Influencer Campaign

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Influencers have taken over our social feeds. As we recognize their power, we fully understand the importance of having influencer engagement baked into any marketing strategy. Influencers have our target audience and those followers trust their opinions. But gone are the days of the typical product review for a small fee. They're tweeting, snapping and posting backstage at The Grammys, on an island in Bali or the backseat of a luxury vehicle. Today's influencers are a part of launches, industry events and shaping trends that are ultimately helping major brands incite conversations and grab headlines.  

Not just celebrities or large influencers. We're talking micro influencers with 10,000 followers or less. According to a survey from influencer marketing platform Makerly, Instagram influencers with fewer than 1,000 followers have a like rate of about 8 percent, while those with 1,000 to 10,000 followers have a like rate of 4 percent. 

If you don't have the big bucks to shell out for an influencer to help drive buzz around a new product or your holiday campaign, partnering with a micro influencer will allow you to see just as much if not more engagement given the trust established with their community. Once you identify your micro influencers and realize there's alignment and compatibility, how can you ensure they will be just as valuable as large influencers in reaching your campaign's objectives?  

Whether it's increasing awareness, driving website traffic or growing your brand's social community, here's three examples from big brands on how you can maximize your micro influencer campaign. 

1) Create Customized Experiences - You understand your influencer's passion points and interests. You also know how your product fits into their life. Partner with your influencer to build a story around your brand that feels authentic and makes them a true advocate and ambassador. Danielle Bernstein of WeWoreWhat has an ongoing partnership with Fiji water in which she shows how the brand is incorporated into her daily lifestyle. Water can be seen as a backdrop during a personal training session or carrying a bottle on the way to a #NYFW show. As a result, the content feels genuine and less like a paid partnership.

2) Look Beyond the Launch - A single post won't just do it. Instead create a strategy where the collaboration with your influencers live beyond one day or one week. At the top of the year, Maybelline signed on makeup artist influencer MakeupShayla as part of its Colossal Big Shot Mascara launch. In August, the brand leveraged the partnership by collaborating with Shayla to create three new shades of its Colossal Big Shot Mascara. Working with Shayla over a longer period of time guarantees repeat messaging that will essentially drive the results Maybelline wants to see from her followers such as going in store to purchase product or becoming a part of the Maybelline social community.

3) Amplify Content - Look to include your influencer's content in your brand's overall content calendar. Outside of reposting on Instagram, further amplify the content on other brand properties or tie it into other marketing campaigns. A perfect example is how DSW is maximizing its influencer content by putting paid spend behind it for social ads and media buys, while also using for email marketing. Doing this increases the reach of the content while also providing another measure of success for the campaign outside of social media engagement. 

But importantly, make the most of your collaborations. Treat your influencers as a valued partner by asking for their ideas. They know their audience best and will be sure to provide feedback on how to engage them so you see a greater return - ensuring you're getting the biggest bang for your buck.