Public Relations Tactics

Recap: Internet Week New York 2013

July 2, 2013

During the sixth annual Internet Week New York, on May 20-27 in New York City, technology, business and culture came together to showcase innovative startups, influential companies and speakers with big ideas. Here are some highlights from the weeklong event:

Everybody’s a reporter

During his keynote address, New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin said that he is worried about the long-term impact that the Internet will have on quality reporting.

“We look for little morsels around the Web and put them together to make news. The triangulation is changing the way reporters do business,” said Sorkin, a CNBC host and co-author of  “Too Big to Fail.”

“Reporters feel pressure to get the story out fast,” he said.

New media will likely increase polarization and allow us to reinforce our own beliefs, so it’s up to us to read everything we can and also to try to understand those who have different perspectives.

“We’ve all become reporters,” he said. “We’re all searching for our own truths, not necessarily the truth.”

Google’s social ads

Christian Oestlien, product management director for Google, discussed his vision of social advertising products and technologies that create better ways to engage customers.

He noted that 50 percent of sharing on Google+ occurs in “circles” and that there has been a rise in these communities of interest, especially with photography. With more than 190 million users on the platform, he believes Google+ is becoming a place for companies to express themselves and apply the tools that consumers are using to their own brands.

“Google+ is a powerful engagement tool because brands can come face-to-face with customers,” he said. “It’s measurable and real, and easy to gain momentum.”

Oestlien presented case studies on Topshop, Cadbury and Alicia Keys to show the creative ways that these companies are engaging fans on Google+ with exclusive launches, apps and special communities that they’ve generated around these brands.

“Relationships with customers go beyond search and Google+ in this multi-platform world,” he said, “and they allow us new ways to interact with people across the globe.”

New media and big ideas

Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, spoke with The Financial Times’ Emily Steel in a wide-ranging session covering everything from content creation to work-life balance.

“We will start seeing a lot more content creators cropping up,” said Zuckerberg, who is the former marketing director of Facebook and older sister of the CEO, Mark.

She said that when Facebook Live presented its town hall meeting with President Obama in April 2011, it changed the model for live events and access to people as well as made the community excited about content creation and engagement.

The ease of creating content has its pros and cons. “There’s a lot of great content but there’s so much noise,” she said. “TV still needs a curator.”

With Zuckerberg Media, she aspires to provide quality, curated content that people will want to watch. The company aims to help create content that’s at the intersection of technology and pop culture.

“We’re now closer to people than ever before, but further from people sitting right next to us,” she said. “The conversation needs to be focused more on tech-life balance instead of work-life balance.”

Marketing in the moment

With many consumers using social media outlets to follow along with big cultural moments and events, brands have more opportunities to talk with their audience in real-time and gauge public opinion.

David Teicher, associate editor of AdAge, moderated the panel, featuring: Bonin Bough, vice president of global media and consumer engagement, Mondelez International; Albert Chou, chief innovation officer of Expion and Sarah Hofstetter, president of 360i. The group discussed improvising and planning ahead so brands know how to become part of this conversation with audiences.

“Great ideas can come from anywhere,” said Hofstetter about Oreo’s Twitter ad during this year’s Super Bowl blackout. “You must have the right stakeholders during the process and you need to have a brave team.”

Regarding real-time tweets and being an authentic part of conversations, Bough said: “Don’t look at your calendar; look at your watch. Consistently getting better at engagement is what drives engagement. Social media has opportunities to plan for big moments and opportunities to be in the moment.”

How you create moments intrinsic to your brand is important, but the moments that you don’t hop onboard are most important, he said. You must be willing to prepare because it’s all a data game. “For the first time, we have a chance to see a real digital conversation happen and learn in the moment,” he said.

“Data is the evidence — the breadcrumbs,” to see if people like the stories that you and your competitors have told, Chou said. You can instantly learn from a medium with clear feedback. “Know what works well and then redistribute your content.”

Unless you’re creating the news, you can’t predict the future — but you can capitalize on the moments with a quick reaction time, Bough said. “It’s a data science — turn insight into action.”

Hashtags as the atomic element of social media

Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Tumblr use hashtags to help filter content. This panel discussed the growth of the hashtag, which Facebook will also start integrating this year, and how it helps break through the noise on social media outlets.

Internet Media Labs’ Amy Vernon moderated panelists Lou Dubois, social media and digital editor at NBC News; Chris Suellentrop, deputy editor of Yahoo News; and Sree Sreenivasan, chief digital officer at Columbia University.

What makes a hashtag successful varies — you need to decide if your goal is to drive the conversation around a topic, to drive brand awareness or to be a trending topic, Dubois said.

You can’t control what the crowd does with your hashtag. Someone else can use it for another purpose, added Suellentrop.

“You should be semi-obnoxious on social media — semi!” Sreenivasan added. “Almost everyone will miss almost everything you do on social media. People will talk about you anyway, so why not build a  digital fence around [your brand].”

He also said that in the future, people will see more hashtags, not less, and that each project should have its own hashtag. Sreenivasan reminded users to be careful being clever while creating them, though, or they will come back to haunt you. “Be wary of hijacking,” he said.

Attach goals and objectives to your hashtags, said Dubois. “Brands don’t just want to insert themselves in conversation, they want to own them.”

Your hashtags must make sense for your brand — don’t just jump on a popular conversation, said Dubois. “Hashtags need to get people talking and stay in their minds.”

Suellentrop noted that the use of the hashtag has proliferated into ordinary language, “but no one is supposed to click on them,” he said. “Social media is about building community, and hashtags help build it. It’s a low barrier of entry. Brands want to own the conversation now.”

For more coverage of Internet Week 2013, check out the
Tactics RebelMouse page.


Amy Jacques

Amy Jacques is the managing editor of publications for PRSA. A native of Greenville, S.C., she holds a master’s degree in arts journalism from Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in advertising from the University of Georgia’s Grady College and a certificate in magazine and website publishing from New York University.


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