GIFs Say It With Pictures

As communication moves online and via text message, people lose social cues such as facial expressions, body language and tone. To compensate, some individuals use emoticons like 🙂 and 🙁 to express emotions. This morphed into emojis through which anyone can express any sort of emotion, allowing icons to substitute for words in their text messages such as “wine” or “sun.”

Digital communication is also growing the phenomenon through online networks and new technology. Apple’s iOS system offers emoji, GIF and Bitmoji keyboards. The increase in usage of smart watches also means an increased popularity of visual communication, according to the New York Times.

GIFs are now large part of digital communication as they can express complex thoughts and feelings not shareable through text alone, photos or emojis. Users can communicate with short looping videos that are easy to consume and evoke a stronger emotional response, especially when a GIF contains a person’s face. This is because a person’s face allows us to gauge their emotion, which in turn, results in an emotional response from the viewer. A person can send their friend a GIF of Jimmy Fallon and Elmo dancing to convey excitement to their friend.

According to the New York Times, Tumblr reports 23 million GIFs posted to its site every day, and Facebook reported five million sent every day through its messaging app.For these reasons, incorporating GIFs into digital marketing is vitally important.

There are plenty of additional advantages to using them:

GIFs make communication more charismatic and engaging, especially when they are relatable to your audience, especially a younger one.  They are effective when it comes to building relationships with customers and clients as well as assist in strengthening brand loyalty, according to Digimind.

GIFs are mobile friendly. They have small file size and speak the language of mobile digital communication, according to ClickZ.

GIFs invoke the picture superiority effect, in which people will remember pictures better than words. This is important to a public relations practitioner or marketer to stay relevant in his or her’s target audience’s mind.

The above advantages are exactly why big brands are using them.  Below are examples of how they have been used:

  1. Anthropology used a GIF in their email newsletter. It is eye-catching and entertaining.
  1. Kate Spade’s website homepage is a GIF. This engages customers and may convert them from interest to loyalty.
  2. They can also be used to inform. NPR used a GIF to animate a map detailing the rise of the Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

GIFs are a creative, engaging and effective content marketing strategy. They speak the Internet language, and can help build loyal customers.

Share some of your favorite GIFs.

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Exercising Your EIQ Vital to PR

According to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, there are four competencies to assess one’s emotional intelligence quotient (EIQ). These four competencies, categorized under personal competence and social competence, are: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. In his Ted Talk, Bradberry shared that 90 percent of top performers at work are high in EI.

In the competitive industry of public relations, where professionalism, trustworthiness and social understanding are imperative, how important is proficiency in social and personal competence?

My own answer to this question was influenced by Susan Balcom Walton’s article “EQ is the new IQ: The vital role of emotional intelligence in public relations” written for PRSA. In the article, Walton explains emotional intelligence is a vital trait for PR professionals because it better equips us to be counselors. Not only do PR professionals inhabit the role of counselors, but also have continuous interaction with people. These people may be the CEOs of our companies, the members of our teams or the individuals in our communities.

As professionals who work with people all the time, understanding one’s behaviors by being aware of their emotions is an indispensable skill. Furthermore, if we are able to understand how an individual’s emotions drive their behaviors, we can learn to influence certain emotions to change behavior.

So yes. High emotional intelligence is imperative for PR professionals. We are communicators who must understand the dynamics of the community around us. As Bradberry notes, “Emotions are the primary driver of our behavior.”

Join in the discussion: do you believe your colleagues with a higher emotional intelligence make better team members?

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Kim Kashing In on Cultural Appropriation?

The Kardashian clan are no strangers to controversy. Many argue that it’s what has catapulted them to the grand success they enjoy today.  For this family, it seems their motto might run along the lines of — any PR is good PR (strong emphasis on the any part of the phrase).

Kim Kardashian-West has managed to infuriate the Internet yet again after posting several photos to Instagram and Snapchat causing followers to scream cultural appropriation.

Via Instagram

Kardashian-West is sporting cornrows known as Fulani Braids in a series of sexy snaps. For the unaware, these braids originated from tribes in East and West Africa. In true Kardashian fashion, she captions the look “Bo Derek braids”, after the look that Derek wore in the 1979 movie “10”.

Via Instagram

If you’re wondering what about this falls under cultural appropriation, note that Kardashian-West credits Bo Derek for the look instead of the Fulani women. Cornrows are a traditionally African-American hairstyle that is ancient but there’s no mention of that in her posts. Essentially, as a member of the dominant culture, she is profiting from the tradition of a minority group without proper attribution.

As the mother of three black children, many social media users see Kardashian-West’s actions as irresponsible and insensitive. It’s not the first time she’s done something like this either; when she first released the promotional pictures for her makeup line, many accused her of black-face.

Via Instagram

She addressed the black-face allegations almost immediately (she claimed she would never disrespect anyone), but has kept mum on these most recent photos.

Yes, we’re living through highly sensitive times and anything a celebrity does is subject to harsh criticism. As public figures, however, being informed about social issues is key to remaining trustworthy and relevant to social media followers.

While it might seem like the Kardashian-Jenner group has reached a level of popularity that is untouchable, this doesn’t mean their reputations are safe too.

How do you feel about the Kardashians and their social media etiquette? Are people too sensitive or are these reality TV stars outright offensive? Let us know your questions, comments and concerns below!

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Building Brand Awareness with UGC

You see it everywhere and probably don’t even notice it. Users create it, businesses use it. It’s the ultimate free content creator and brand promoter.

User generated content (UGC) generates traffic while boosting engagement with your audience. Let’s face it —  in many cases, your audience has the ability to market your content better than you can and to a broader audience beyond your reach.

According to a social media study, “64 percent of millennials and 53 percent of baby boomers want more options to share their opinions about brands, while other studies show consumers trust user generated content more than other forms of media,” reported HubSpot, a marketing software company.

Five ways to drive UGC among your audiences:

Hashtag Power

  • Hashtags allow an audience to connect with your brand through a unique tagline. Hashtags are easy for audiences to use and helps insert customers into the conversation. Hashtags give you the power to create a trend and develop a campaign. Many companies go viral with hashtags.

For example, Coca-Cola launched a #ShareaCoke campaign in 2016 that increased its soft-drink sales by two percent, according to a blog. The hashtag encouraged buyers to share the personalized can with their followers. The hashtag combined with the product created user generated content for Coca-Cola.

The Power of Storytelling   

  • Encourage customers to share their stories. Customers have the ability to share their personal connections to the brand through social media posts which can influence their followers. Research reveals that consumers trust UGC more than other forms of media.

If you look at the REI, Opt Outside campaign it’s all about storytelling. The Opt Outside campaign allows its customers to share what they have done with their day outdoors and the memories that they have created. The customers who participate are connecting to the brand while creating brand awareness on behalf of REI.

Create a Contest or Promotion

  • People love to win. By creating a contest for followers, it drives awareness to your brand. However, you must follow through on the contest promises.

Make sure you don’t follow the Sunny Co Clothing model! Try to estimate the reach of your promotion and the outcomes.