What Twitter’s Changes Mean For Your Business

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Don’t be afraid of Twitter’s latest changes — they actually help you say more in a tweet.

Twitter recently updated how it counts out the 140-character maximum within a tweet. Now, @names and media attachments will not count against the limit. This is a huge help for businesses, who can now respond to questions on Twitter more efficiently.

These changes are rolling out over the next few months, so if that cat GIF still takes away from your character limit today, try again later.

Twitter will also allow you to re-tweet yourself and the company has simplified the way in which a reply can be seen more publicly, but the changes to the 140-character limit are the most relevant to marketing.

Twitter has been working to provide more value within the 140-character frame. Earlier this year, rumors swirled about Twitter bumping the character limit all the way up 10,000 — possibly as a way to combat blogging platforms like Medium and WordPress. CEO Jack Dorsey even entertained the possibility of making 140-character tweets a thing of the past.

Why is this an issue? Try reaching out to your (least) favorite airline, especially if you have a longer username.

Odds are, if your query is more advanced, you’ll get a multi-tweet reply or a response filled with abbreviations, making it look like a text message from your Gen Z intern.


Shortening words like “please” and “flights” were necessary to get that tweet out, but it looks weird coming from an established brand like Delta.

While these changes don’t solve the problem completely (and to be fair, many companies use direct messages for longer interactions), it allows the 140 characters you choose to matter more.

If you’re still looking for a way to get the most out of those 140 characters, try using Twitter’s video feature to add a personal response to a customer question. While you can still respond via text, the 30-second video allotment is a way to surprise and delight customers while humanizing your brand.

Even better, once these changes go into effect, the video won’t eat up characters.

This is something that change evangelist Brian Fanzo does occasionally, as a way to enhance responses.

Soon, when you respond to someone like @NoahSyndergaard or @KimKardashian (or one of your well-named customers), the character count will start with your first letter, not their handle.

By Justin Lafferty

5 Ways PR is Easier Than Ever For Small Business

Small businesses like our favorite neighborhood bookstore, The Green Arcade, have more PR opportunities than ever before
Small businesses like our favorite neighborhood bookstore, The Green Arcade, have more PR opportunities than ever before. Photo: Change Communications

We PR pros like to kvetch about how media relations has become infinitely more difficult, thanks to the digital age (and it really has, given that the ratio of PR pros to journalists sometimes feels like 1,000 to 5 – no, really, it’s bad). But for small business brands and SMBs, digital media has ushered in a significantly easier PR landscape. Now, more than ever, PR has gotten easier, cheaper and more effective, for small businesses to leverage.

No More Gatekeepers                          

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You don’t need to spend big bucks to wine and dine media, or even try to figure out how to get a hold of them. Now, anyone who discovers you can spread the word about you. Brand ambassadors abound, and are more than eager to share how great your business is. Media used to be the gatekeepers to the precious social currency of knowing what the hot new businesses were. In today’s world, social media has broken down those exclusive gates and anyone can discover you and share the good news.

Free Crowdsourcing Makes You Better
Online critics make it imperative for your product to be great  – this is a good thing! While many businesses complain about companies like TripAdvisor or Yelp (and many of the criticisms are very valid), the silver lining is that online reviews can force businesses to just plain be better. Doing business better and creating better products (whether that’s a physical product or a service) can turn haters into fans. Bonus: you have free, built-in crowdsourcing and virtual survey results! You no longer need to pay a market research firm to do this for you – just read your

online reviews and see where the pain points are.

Can’t Get the Media’s Attention? Write it Yourself

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Content marketing has always existed in PR – it’s just been christened with an annoying new term. If you can’t get a reporter to tell your story for you, do it for yourself. Blog posts and social media postings can help you explain your business, tell a great story and are often an easier way to get a reporter’s attention. Creativity is your currency and clever viral posts or memes can have a life of their own that draw even more attention.

Who Needs Billboards When You Have Facebook?

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While it’s true that you have to have a certain ad budget for social media, which no longer offers brands a free ride, you don’t need to break the bank anymore like you used to when you had to take out television or bus stop ads or billboards. You can spend as little as $100 on a Facebook promotion and get it amplified. Our client, Tiger Pistol, has seen small businesses generate massive ROI on budgets under $500 for entire campaigns (this handy dandy report from BIA/Kelsey that uses small biz case studies from Tiger Pistol is worth a read). Plus, you get access to insightful data on your customers that you wouldn’t get from a magazine ad. Analytics still have a long way to go to compete with SEO analytics but it’s improving.

Social media has created options on the ad spend front. Google AdWords is incredibly costly, though certainly still very effective for many businesses. Social media advertising has emerged as an equally effective, and less expensive, option.

Proliferation of PR Means Lower Costs

PR costs have gotten less expensive as the industry saturates. While this isn’t necessarily a good thing for firms like ours, it definitely helps small businesses reach out to more people who can help them market their brand. From solo freelancers to boutique shops to specialists, there’s a plethora of affordable PR options for small businesses.

While social media is no longer the level playing field for brands that some thought it might be (given that it’s the new advertising), digital media has created many more affordable options for small businesses to better market themselves and generate great PR. There’s no excuse anymore. Go do it.

Don’t want to do it for yourself? We’re here to help, and we love small businesses. Contact us today.



3 Ways Cannabis Brands Can Use Social Media Marketing

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Unlike your favorite local coffee shop or restaurant, cannabis brands and medical marijuana dispensaries can’t freely advertise their awesome deals on Facebook or show off the newest hot products on Twitter.

But social media still plays a major role in how those in the cannabis industry grow their business.

Here are three ways cannabis companies can spark up their social media marketing — a platform that can be tricky to navigate.

  1. Have a plan A, B, C, D, E…

Since social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram operate on federal law, many medical marijuana-based pages are quickly shut down. Even if you’re based in a state where marijuana is legal, your social following can easily go up in smoke.

Dixie Elixirs, a Denver-based producer of legal cannabis products, saw its Facebook page shut down in February — with 11,000 fans vanishing. Joe Hodas, the company’s marketing director, told Fortune Magazine that Dixie followed Facebook’s terms of service and did not post publicly about products.

One solution: Multiple pages and accounts. Mona Zhang, editor of cannabis industry newsletter Word on the Tree, said that a common solution is for business owners to be prepared for a shutdown at any time by creating several social accounts.

  1. Lock it up

Zhang said that many businesses are looking at social networks where you can have a private presence. Instagram is a major one for medical marijuana shops, where they can engage with patients and customers but set their account to private.

While doing this still could put the business at risk of a shut down, it helps ensure that only those who want marijuana-related content will be able to see it.

Many cannabis brands on Instagram (such as Bloom Farms) still mix in product-based posts with more engaging content about the local community or the industry. However, Zhang warned that posting product photos can be risky.

Ephemeral social networks, such as Snapchat or Periscope, where content disappears after 24 hours, could be another way to spread awareness without leaving a permanent footprint.

For businesses who still want to have a public face on social media, Zhang said that posting news and educational material about medical marijuana while engaging with local enthusiasts is a way to legally grow awareness of your business on social.

  1. Seek marijuana-friendly networks

Silicon Valley has taken note of the legalization movement.

Earlier this year, prominent early Facebook investor Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund contributed to a $75 million round of funding in Privateer Holdings, a cannabis-centric private equity firm.

There are a growing number of cannabis-friendly social networks that industry leaders are flocking to. MassRoots, a social network for cannabis users and companies, was founded in 2013 and boasts more than 775,000 users. The company, listed on NASDAQ as MSRT, is continually growing and plans to launch targeted advertising this quarter.

There’s also Duby, which is more like a hybrid of Instagram and Klout for the marijuana community — available on iPhones and Androids. Other apps and networks, such as Social High and Leafly, are valuable resources for dispensaries and patients.

While they lack the wide reach Facebook or Twitter offers, these platforms allow businesses to connect with those who can legally buy their products.

By Justin Lafferty

Need PR to grow your cannabis brand? We’re happy to help. Contact us today.

The Must List: 5 Best Articles We Read This Week

This is not how we read these articles. This is how we wish we read these articles.
This is not how we read these articles. This is how we wish we read these articles.

We read. A lot! Sometimes we feel like 95% of PR is reading (the other 5% is weeping in a corner of a room). A lot of the articles we read are depressing (mostly because they’re about Donald Drumpf), some of them are funny and an even smaller handful are compelling and useful. So we’ve gathered those small handfuls for you, so that you don’t have to suffer like we do. Here are the five best articles that we read this week. Warning: it was a pretty slow news week.

Just [email protected]$%king Do It. #EqualPlayEqualPay

It's Time.
It’s Time.

OK, this isn’t actually an article, but a video clip from The Daily Show. But we loved it so much that we decided to subvert our own rules and include it in our roundup (and like we said, it was a slow news week!). As big fans of sports, women’s sports and equality, it’s pretty appalling to us that the #1 women’s soccer team in the world is still paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Three World Cups and four Olympic gold medals have still kept the U.S. Women’s National Team from being paid what they deserve, let alone what the U.S. Men’s National Team (World Cups: 0. Olympic gold medals: 0) makes. Like the video says, Just [email protected]#$king Do It.

When Ridesharing Becomes Political

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Uber is no stranger to politics, but in their battle in Austin, Texas, they may have crossed the line. Buzzfeed’s Caroline O’Donovan reports that Uber and Lyft have been texting their customers to vote for a proposition that would repeal a local ordinance requiring drivers to be fingerprinted as part of their background check.

The move is annoying Twitter users, but remains to be seen if their ire translates to votes against the Uber/Lyft-supported proposition. The lesson for Uber/Lyft (and other apps like it) is to not abuse your access to your customers’ data.

Is Tech Media To Blame for The Rise of Theranos?

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Tech reporter Nick Bilton raises an interesting question with his article on Theranos and its secret culprit: tech media. Much like Glenn Greenwald’s criticism of fellow media inadvertently propelling Drumpf into the Republican presidential candidacy, Bilton wonders if tech media, who have often been criticized for being too cozy of bedfellows with the companies that they report on, helped push Theranos to great heights without questioning the science behind the technology.

SFWeekly Sheds Light on SFPD’s Sexaul Assault Case Failure

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The beleaguered San Francisco Police Department, who had an officer accused of covering up another officer’s rape allegation, has a serious backlog of sexual assault kits waiting to be tested. The SF Weekly sheds light on the severity of the situation, and the trauma that it inflicts on rape survivors awaiting justice. Beyond the backlog, the entire process is in need of serious overhaul. The SF Weekly, and its friend across the Bay, the East Bay Express, have continually written excellent investigative articles exposing flawed processes and injustices like this, highlighting the importance of alt-weeklies.

An Oldie But A Goodie

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Alright, we’re cheating by including this article from 2015, but hey, Hamilton recently received record-breaking Tony nominations and a Pulitzer, so we think it’s still relevant. We only recently discovered this pseudo-oral history of the genesis of Hamilton from The New York Times, and we loved it. Now if we could just get someone to hook us up with Hamilton tickets…(c’mon, someone? Anyone? Dad?).