Force Multipliers, Facebook and PR – How to influence everything

2200 words, 8 minute read.

A hammer, a machine gun, social media – using force multipliers for good and bad

The below is a Facebook Ad I ran to a subset of Irish TDs. It cost me €1.65 for 39 of them to see it. €0.04 per TD. I would think most didn’t even know it was an ad.

Irish TDs Facebook Ad

(When Facebook advertising started it was for the U.S. only so I created a U.S. account and this is why my prices are in dollars)

Wikipedia definition of Force Multipliers

factor or a combination of factors that dramatically increases (hence “multiplies”) the effectiveness of an item or group, giving a given number of troops (or other personnel) or weapons (or other hardware) the ability to accomplish greater things than without it

Using digital tools for PR tactics, common enough

Years and years ago a client’s friend had a communications crisis with their firm and asked me how they could solve it. Sadly their board took the advice of a traditional PR company who said shut everything down, say nothing and it will blow over. When you Googled about this issue, the first two pages were mostly negative news articles about it and their website was at the bottom of Page 1. When you Googled their name you got their website and the next 8 results were negative results. You mostly can’t get articles with bad coverage removed from Google. Instead you have to make positive or neutral articles to rank higher than these. Working with bloggers and pumping out PR over the next few months was the solution that worked in this case.

Using Wikipedia to push an agenda

Nowadays if you google that issue, the first result for it is a Wikipedia article of the company with a section about that crisis. Page 2 has some of the original bad news articles but nobody reads Page 2 of Google. That Wikipedia article was created by someone not connected to the company but who did it to aid the company. The article had some basic company history and a section on the crisis. Wikipedia articles always rank well. The Wiki article has been slowly changed over time to add more company facts so the crisis section is one of many sections on the Wiki article. The facts on the Wiki are all true verified facts but the narrative is positive towards them. Years back I did a talk on Crisis Communications that covered some of these areas, I need to update this as I’ve learned so much since.

With media people being under huge pressure to produce quantity over quality and despite media articles shitting on Wikipedia so much, the media copies and pastes from Wikipedia the whole time. Now look at the start of this article … who came up with that definition of Force Multipliers? I didn’t check, how many check where their Wikipedia information came from?

Influencing the influencers with digital

For another gig I researched how teens decided what colleges to apply for. For Leaving Cert students, one factor that actually influenced them moving away from home to college was their mothers. Mammy Power. Mammy could veto a move to some college based on her perception. So to keep Mammy happy we sent Facebook ads to Mammy. The kids don’t use Facebook but their parents and Grannies do (and those that think they can market to Leaving Cert students on Facebook). We also boosted articles about how great the college was to those Mammies. “Don’t take our word for it, look at what the Irish Times have said.” Was there a PR pitch to that paper with that Mammy angle you ask? Hmmm.

A State body a while back asked me to research how an American startup built up their media profile so quickly. At that stage they had been in the Wall Street Journal, Techcrunch and all over “the blogs”. Lots of research later and we had a plan on how Irish companies could build up their media profile like they did. What was lovely about what they did was that they started building relationships with specific bloggers that wrote about that industry area. The startup was small but they gave advanced access to the smaller bloggers who never get exclusives and spend most of their time reporting what was already covered and rewriting Mashable type sites. Uncritical coverage in fairness. Then the company started doing PR with larger blogs, who when they Googled their name (as media always do) and they saw positive coverage and also “seemed” to copy and paste these opinions. And then the company went up higher again to the big media sites and eventually to “traditional” media types. All iterations. Influencing the influencers who influence the Influencers. Boy does this work well. See Mark Ecko on “swag bombs”.

(Aside: In the Digital Strategy Workshops I do, we always find the satellites of influence of your clients, same idea, not at all new to marketing people and PR people have done this since they did a great PR job of getting propaganda changed to PR post World War I)

Ryan Holiday talks about this in Trust Me I’m Lying where he had Wikipedia articles created that referenced facts he seeded on smaller blogs that then got copied into articles from bigger media orgs. Then he edited the Wikipedia pages to reference the new media coverage. Wiki article says “according to Xblog Company Z made 10 million dollars”. Later the New York Times copies this fact in an article. Then changed Wiki article to “according to New York Times Company Z made 10 million dollars” and removed the old blog reference.

So far this is slight use of digital for what are traditional PR tactics…

Along Comes Facebook

Facebook is a political tool or a political weapon, mostly a weapon

One of the biggest protests ever in State history was the water charges protest and the Irish Times didn’t even assign someone to cover it as it wasn’t in their bubble. FF, Sinn Fein, FG, Labour all misjudged this issue yet everyone on Facebook saw the updates before, during and after. Millions on Facebook saw the size of the crowd and the videos.

A hammer is a tool, is a weapon, is a negotiating tactic, is a precise instrument. She who holds it, decides what it is. Back to that Facebook Ad to TDs.

Irish TDs Facebook Ad

For €0.04 each I got a positive news story about Ireland into their timelines. And one clicked it.

I did the same with a bunch of Cork politicians with a ‘local kid does well” story into their timelines:

Cork Councillors Facebook Ad

What was great about that is while I paid next to nothing for them to see it (€1.55) just €0.036 each, some of them shared the story to their connections and so I got an extra 178 free views from this. (you only see the paid views above)

Cork Councillor Ad Stats

So the cost per view was actually €0.007 – 0.7 of 1 cent! This is what makes Facebook so utterly scary. The ads to reach people are cheap but when they interact with your ad you get a lot more people to see it and the politician or whoever it is spreads the story on your behalf.

Changing election results with your pocket money?

I have also run tests where some of the Advisors to TDs and Ministers saw an ad from a Facebook Page of mine that shared a news article. This was a much smaller list but we are getting “news” into the timeline of people that have strong influence over Ministers and TDs.

Facebook Ad Government Advisors

And yeah I ran some tests where I got news stories into the timelines of political correspondents. These tests as you can see are single digit euro budgets.

So basically you can get stories into the face of a large number of national politicians, local politicians, their advisors and those who write about these people and who these people read, for mere pennies. Fucking! pennies! get! you! this! influence! Now, consider multiple Facebook Pages with slightly different takes on things going into timelines of this bubble = “oh my God everyone is talking about this, what are we doing about this?”

What it really means is = Look at all the ads in my bubble who are targeting me. Again, none of this is new for people that work in PR and marketing. Just like you run ads in the Farmers Journal if you sell to farmers.

This is what some of the Brexit campaigners did. Business People for Brexit, Muslims for Brexit, Catholics for Brexit, Racists pretending to be Patriots for Brexit, Doctors for Brexit. Each one of these groups had a set of talking points specific to them and for their audience and off they jaunted with them. Decentralized but with the talking points decided by 1 person.

Read “All Out War” to understand the not-rocket-science stuff that the Leave Campaigns did. We’re seeing this in Ireland around Repeal the 8th. 10 people or less seem to represent 20 different groups but all seem to have the same mailing list. And they always get into the media.

Targeting a constituency
€67 – the cost to me if I want 16,000 people in a constituency to see a news story in the next 24 hours about their TD who barely got in at the last election.

Target a TD's Constituency

Force multiply that article about your local FF TD who voted against the Repeal Referendum, for example. If 500 less people gave them their number 1 and left them off the ballot paper or put them way down the line, would that be enough to lose their seat? €67 spent by someone else could cost you €90k a year, outside of expenses. 0.07% of your salary. That’s a force multiplier.

(Light entertainment break)
And this is a force multiplier:

Force Multipliers for Media Coverage

Just like you can use Facebook to send updates into timelines of politicians and political media you can do the same for many different media types. A client recently got themselves on television. A follow up press release was sent out to the media “as seen on T.V.) which got them a little more coverage, here the media came to them after the release with new angles for their publication. Great! Then a promoted update from them was also sent out on Facebook to media types and that got them more media coverage too. Being in the media can get you into more of the media and doing this with a proper strategy can get you into it on a regular basis.

Using all this media coverage, you then do a promoted update to the type of client they wanted with a “As seen on T.V. and in the Times and Indo”. The Sunday Times got crap recently for boosting Facebook posts. I like this idea. Up to now I’ve only seen media boosting posts that are editorial so they can hoodwink sponsors and say “10,000 people on Facebook saw our editorial about you”. Getting into the media is not the end of that PR cycle, it can just be the start.

Force Multipliers for stakeholders

Getting companies into the Irish Times or Sunday Business Post despite their potential clients not being readers still makes sense if you look at who their stakeholders are. Potential investors, existing investors, business partners and media types will be reading it. Investors seeing coverage of their investment will appeased them and give them golf course bragging rights. It’s amazing that you may be burning through cash but an investor seeing their name in a paper can keep them at bay for another while. A positive side-effect is that traditional media coverage gets you nice Google results too as media orgs have really good Google rankings. So when your name is Google, a front page of positive views.

If you’re a B2B organisation then marketing on Facebook at first doesn’t make sense. There are better places to do marketing but if you want to build your reputation then targeted ads to the decision makers in organisations can work. Be nice if a CEO came in on a Monday and said “I keep hearing about this CRM company, look in to whether we should be using them.”

Whoever your stakeholders are, you can get into their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter timelines directly or indirectly. You can use Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter to influence people even when they are not using these places because those who do influence them are in these spaces. You’re really only two hops away from both online and offline people on social media.

And all of this within “the rules”.

And you don’t need the liars in Cambridge Analytica to do this (like they had the brains to do it)

And all of this is adhering to data protection and is legal. You don’t need to hack Facebook and download data to do this and that is not how they won the election in America or how Brexit was won. However a be-bubbled media really want to unlose the Vietnam War of their generation – Trump and Brexit.

Social Media Strategy Training Workshop

This course is now over but If you want to be informed of when the next Social Media Courses/Digital Marketing Courses are, please fill in this form.

This half day workshop on developing a Social Media Strategy is run by Gina Bowes who has vast experience working on the Social Media/Digital Marketing strategies for the eircom group and Glanbia.

Being clever and creative for an upcoming campaign is great but does it tie into the main philosophy of your company? Are you reactive and using tactics but not aware of what your strategy and objectives are? Gina Bowes has been there and will help you get your house in order so you can have a sustained social media focus and an efficient one at that.

Date and location:
Morgan Hotel, Temple Bar Dublin. July 30th, 1.30pm until 4.45pm

Price and booking
Cost of the training is €137. Bring a laptop.
Max 11 places per course.

A cancelation fee occurs if you cancel at the last minute.

About your trainer:
Gina Bowes has 10 years experience in the telecommunications industry and extensive experience in promoting the customer agenda while championing business and brand engagement in social media. Gina has successfully devised, delivered & measured the social media strategy and ROI across eircom, eMobile & Meteor, winning several awards at industry level.

Gina is currently working for Glanbia devising a digital strategy and implementing a monitoring tool across their consumer brands Avonmore the no.1 milk brand in Ireland and Kilmeaden.

This course is now over but If you want to be informed of when the next Social Media Courses/Digital Marketing Courses are, please fill in this form.

Links this week – July 12th 2010

Facebook now pushing 3 billion likes a day. 3 billion!!!

6 digital trends to watch. Bit boring and mainstream and ones really that are aalready happening.

More from Spoiltchild on landing pages.

YouTube Mobile now serves 100Million videos per day now.

Twitter now doing 800M searches a day.

How to opt out of Apple iAd data logging.

Measure It! – July 7th 2010 in Dublin City Centre – Reg for interest

Postponed.
Update: Sorry folks, not enough interest for the 7th. We’ll try for August 4th. Post to come.

I’ve been asked about doing another Measure It! for Wednesday July 7th from 10am to 12pm. If there is interest we can do one. Ideally we need about 30 people to register interest to make it worthwhile. We’ll have at least two presentations and as usual, a task to do as well.

Please leave a comment over there –> if you want to attend.

Facebook for Business: Use ads, use and update Pages

So you may or may not have seen the study we did with the National College of Ireland on Facebook usage. Check it out. It’s good! The main science bits are:

  • 71% of users looked at adverts on their Profile pages, 31% of users looked at adverts on the News Feed page (homepage).
  • Users pay more attention (53% vs. 31%) to page updates in their News Feed Wall rather than adverts to the right-hand side of the Wall.

So we might have banner ad blindness going on around the web and maybe Google Ads on the right side of results don’t get much love but it seems for Facebook so far, ads work and people pay attention to them.

More importantly in my view is that people are naturally paying attention to information that shows up in their News Feed and a business is allowed to send their updates to this News Feed when someone Likes/Becomes a fan of the Business Page. So set up your Facebook Business Page and update on a regular basis. Tie it into a Marketing Calendar. The only cost is your time.

Links this week – May 24th 2010

Want to find mass influencers? Find: Rich, iPhone waving, young people

Games and Apps on Facebook will now be able to send email invites to play the game (and join Facebook)

Online campaigns influenced UK voters, it seems.

Ten guidelines for running an online competition.

Passing the 100+ (genuine) followers on Twitter threshold is good for business.

Is marketing on Twitter a waste of time? Seems not.

Old but fantastic all the same. Watch the real-time purchasing map from Zappos.

The next Measure it! is on June 2nd at 10am-12pm

Venue is Hogan Suite, Academy Plaza Hotel, off O’Connell street. Map.

If you want to attend this free event, please leave a comment.

Following on from the first Measure it! and with the feedback to hold another, the next one is on June 2nd. We’ll have two or maybe even three 10 minute presentations on social media and measuring success of a campaign followed by breaking into groups and coming up with solutions to a given task.

The aim of Measure it! is to get people thinking about metrics and measurements for social media and marketing. A side-effect of Measure it! is you get to meet people who are also looking an metrics and have some great ideas to share.

Measure it! is free to attend with the precondition you are willing to share some insights and thoughts. Do come along for the two hours.

Update May 29th:
There will be presentations from Realex Payments, O’Leary Analytics and Barry Hand.

Get your social media certificate

It’s not just certificates in answering the phone, putting the seat up in the toilet (for men), typing and proper use of the telex that employers are looking for these days. Oh no. One needs to know social media in order to do business and a business that wants to do business with a business that wants to do business in a business-like way, needs to do their business in a social and a media way now too. So they need social media.

Years ago it was suggested that bloggers get a badge and accreditation in order to be allowed to blog and as an extension of this we should consider a “driving licence” style regime for social media. Twitter, Facebook and Friendster can be dangerous things in the wrong hands. Would you let your dog drive your car without doing their driving test? NO.

Here at MulleyCorp we’d like to share the top ten secrets to win at social media and if you can say yes to the following list then we think you too can start on the socialpath to social media greatness. We encourage you to download this certificate in social media and fax it to all your clients to show them how you mean business in a social media way.

The Top Ten to earn your social media certificate:

  • 1. Do you have a Twitter, Facebook and a LinkedIn?
  • b. Do you know how to use hashtags? #hashtags
  • 4. Do you subscribe to Chris Brogan, Gary difficultnamewineguy and Seth Godin?
  • 5. Do you follow the formula on how to appear genuine like Chris suggests? (minute 3.40 onwards)
  • 6. Do you know how to contact a blogger to get them to remove negative stuff about your brand?
  • 7. Do you know how to quote from the most overquoted social media casestudies ever?
  • 8. Do you know how to write a blog for your C.E.O.?
  • 9. Are you listening? Do you use monitoring tools to find social media badvocates?
  • 10. Do you message Stephen Fry on a regular basis on Twitter and inform people of your chat?

Congratulations. You’ve graduated. You may now download your social media certificate.

Remember though, this is just the certificate. The degree course and PhD are on their way. We’d appreciate some links, Tweets and whatnot. We are very very sorry thought that it takes natural talent and neck to be a guru. Some things even we can teach.

(PDF template from here)