Fad, Fiction, or Fact?

The Internet is an ever-evolving place. Since the beginning of the week, Google has announced it’s rolling back use of Google+ and Instagram is boasting record ad sales projections. As a marketer, it can be difficult to know what to follow and what to write off as nothing more than empty promises and passing trends that’ll have no real impact on the media landscape.

Here are some tips on what to follow and what to take with a grain of salt.


Credit: iStock/Minerva Studio


Internet fads are fast moving targets that capture the wake of the Internet to the point of utter obsession, only to die out weeks if not days later. Unless you have the stars align and you can somehow seamlessly integrate yourself into the conversation, it’s best to leave these alone.

Usually, these are content based and spread around various channels. This can include obsessions over words (such as Taco Bell’s “Taco Bae”), hashtags, trending topics, or memes.

Sometimes, particularly new and niche social platforms fall under this category. Often, they vanish without a trace in a few years. However, if they end up being fact, becoming an early adopter of these networks can pay off long-term. Deciding to pursue these potential winners will depend on your strategy objectives and the resources you have available for social media.


Usually, when somebody makes a prediction, it’ll end up wrong. This is the nature of the Internet, where it’s simply too fickle to make any solid prediction of what will be the next big thing. A lot of buzz around new breakthroughs are nothing but hype, and should be treated accordingly.

Keeping an eye on predictions can help inform your social media strategy, however. Predictions are usually a result of some change in the media landscape. They’re not a signal to jump on the bandwagon, but predictions can help inform your strategy for potential new directions. While the predictions might not pan out, analyzing why those predictions were made and why they failed can give you a deeper insight in the market.


Where consumers are going and staying. As is often the case in marketing: you want to go where the people go. That goes double for social media, where its lifeblood is people using it.

When you start seeing proven statistics for longevity, for strong trends or stability in numbers, for consistent use… these are signs a phenomenon is here to stay. While it could vanish the next day— the Internet is fickle, after all— the likelihood of it staying (at least for a little while!) is high.

These are the channels and tactics you should incorporate into your social media strategy. When people are flocking to a network and consistently clicking on a certain type of content, it has somehow hit a sweet spot that people want and need.

While it can be useful to follow trends and hop on the bandwagons early, sticking with the facts means you get the most bang for your social media buck. Good luck separating fact from fiction or fad!

What to Consider When Writing for Web vs. the Page

Multitasking businesswoman at work with a laptop

Is all content created equal? Our team has done a lot of writing for clients over the past couple decades. When PROSAR first started, we wrote content primarily for printed material: brochures, magazines, posters, ads, reports, even a national literacy program for students. Now, most of our content is used online: website, e-newsletters, banner ads and CTAs, whitepapers, and infographics.

Multitasking businesswoman at work with a laptop
alphaspirit/ getty images

In the early 1990s, when we focused on keywords (a term which we didn’t use at the time), we were looking for words that were evocative and would illicit a desired thought or action. We choose wording that would support the purpose and the brand while providing clarity, comprehension and conciseness. This hasn’t changed (or at least, it shouldn’t have changed), but some additional considerations now play a major role:

  • Writing for Search: strategic use of keywords in headings and paragraphs is important to alert Google of the relevance (and value) of your content. This may involve some testing and analysis to determine which keywords resonate with your target audience and which ones offer a probability of success. (Writing seemed difficult enough in the 90s, now it is layered with even more levels of research wordsmithing.)
  • Writing for a Multimedia Environment: I’m not sure if more people these days suffer from ADHD, but I do appreciate that we have far more stimuli and choice at our fingertips. So who has the concentration required to read an entire article without clicking, swiping, hovering, or simply glancing aside at the ads, email and texts competing for your attention? We look for snippets and sound-bites (or bytes?) to get the gist and move on to the next bit/byte.

Whether in print or online, each project has its own objectives, audience and tone or style; that does not change. But how your audience will be reading the content does impact how it may be composed. We tend to read more slowly and thoroughly when dealing with print, rather than a faster skimming of the content online. The printed word has a physicality and permanence that seems to give the text some added gravitas. Digital content, on the other hand, seems almost inconsequential; how important can these words be if you can swipe them away with thumb? (Put your thumb away and keep reading; you’re almost finished.)

The reality, is that many of us read far more from a screen than a page these days. So the art of successful writing is now to be as compelling and condensed as possible, while cramming sufficient keywords to encourage good search results.

What are your thoughts on the art of writing online?

[Do Not] Insert Catchy Blog Title Here

Aka, why forcing content will never get you anywhere (at least long term).

Content creation has a lot of benefits. It drives SEO, gives prospects and clients a reason to revisit your site, and helps establish you as an authority in your field. However, this content has to have a certain amount of authenticity to it for people to really resonate. If you try too hard, your audience will notice— and stop coming.


Credit: iStock/Mark Airs

The Internet, as a general rule, hates marketing. Advertisements are met with sighs it’s a necessary evil, Adblock runs rampant, and branded content is met with a critical eye. This means that in order to have content shared, you can’t force it. You have to adapt to the internet instead of expecting the internet to adapt to you.

People Know What Forced Sounds Like

The internet is full of authentic content: offhand comments turned to tweets, blog posts about what people love, and Facebook statuses that are so strange they could only come from that person. People are constantly consuming stuff that sounds like a real person talking to them.

As a result, anything forced sticks out like a sore thumb. Even if you’re not actively selling anything, if you’re purposely going out of your way to sound funny, or clever, or heroic— people will be able to tell. They will click to the next piece of content because they have dozens upon dozens of pieces to choose from.

The Internet is Fickle

If you plan the latest Internet fad into your content, you will likely miss out on the trend as a whole. Even a few days can make or break whether or not you successfully ride whatever the internet is obsessed about this week, or become a source of ridicule among users who talk about how hopelessly out of touch your company is.

Even if you time it perfectly, you have to make sure you’re using the trend correctly. Forcing yourself somewhere you don’t belong is worse than not using the trend at all.

You Want to Build Genuine Relationships

If you’re forcing out content, people aren’t seeing your brand and your company. With the point of social media to build relationships and make your brand more human, trying too hard is the exact antithesis of that.

Social media use needs to reflect your audience’s general habits, not what’s hot this week. You want to become a part of your customer’s day-to-day life, not jump from one meme to the next (especially when your audience might not even be interested in that meme) and gain temporary followers who drop away once you’re no longer following their preferred trend.

Keep your social media authentic, and you’ll find the quality of your followers increases dramatically.

3 Important Considerations for Engagement

There are certain words related to social media that people tend to use without really knowing what they mean. Working within an international setting these days, I have come to realize that certain words can become unclear or lost in translation. ENGAGEMENT is such a term

We all want to engage our community, we want to increase our engagement online, or what about that engagement statistic on Facebook, what does that mean?

engage_cartoonAnd what does engagement represent?
  • Will it drive more sales?
  • Will it create a community of loyal customers?
  • Will they spread your brand and promotions like wildfire?

The short answer is probably not. But… why not?

Although I am a strong believer in social media, engagement and community, I have come to realize that other factors need to be considered in order to build the right strategy. Here is my list of critical components: Your Customer, Your Offer, Your Goal and Your Industry.


Your Customer

Let’s be fair, not every customer will be the ideal profile to engage online.

Although age is only a number, their Internet behavior will help you better position your engagement.

INTERNET-CANADAOverall in Canada, more than 35 million people have home access to the Internet. Out of that group, 86% of 18-34 year olds have a social profile and 62% of 35-54 years olds. Very significant numbers that should be considered in an overall strategy.
From a channel perspective, Facebook remains the strongest with 59% of users but an interesting study from Forum research shows that Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn can be better channels for your customer base depending on their education, location and finally, your own objectives.


Your Offer

I believe you can create engagement around any topic but the nature of your offer will help you determine how much effort it might take. For example, if your business is customer service driven it might be easier to start a dialogue with your customers online. But then you have to be prepared to foster engagement by offering a quick response and have content ready for a diversity of questions and feedback to nurture a dialogue.

feed---backAnother example could be that you have a new product and want to get feedback from your audience. In that case, you might offer a free sample, use a social network like Facebook to create a forum, or ask your audience to spread the word by sharing pics on Instagram.


Your Goal

if you are in the service business, you, no doubt, use your online network to share info about and promote your service. However you may not be seeing any return. And that is often becauase ther isn’t a clea objective to shape your strategy. Evaluate what you want from your network and how will you leverage the information you gain.Engaging for the sake of engaging will not serve your end goal. Here are a few options to start your thinking process:

You want an engaged community

  • You will need a dedicated Community Manager that is interacting with your community on a daily basis. This person will be building your community, increasing your followership, posting relevant content on a high frequency to determine what are your community’s preferences and pain points.
  • You will need to provide content to your community. Get your employees in the habit of sharing their daily activities, their best moments and customers highlights.
  • You will need to create a discussion. The concept of “build it and they will come” does not apply here. Work hand-in-hand with your Community Manager to find discussion topics, questions to ask and elements for which you would like feedback.
  • Remember, this will take time and effort to create but once it is built, it will become a powerful marketing tool!

You want to generate leads

  • You will need to provide incentives to your fans or followers: contests, prizes, free samples, rewards, etc. By enticing your community to register for something, you will be able to gather their email address and build a database of potential leads.
  • Your incentive can also be GREAT content. Think about sharing tips, how-tos on how to use your product, current news if you are in a news driven industry, education on using your service, etc.
  • As you grow your database, use your social media to continue to engage your customers. Once they are in the habit of coming to your page or account for contests, prizes and samples, continue to promote to them to generate referrals and eventual sales. For this purpose, you will need to adopt a CRM tool with automated marketing capabilities such as SharpSpring to maintain your newly built relationships.

Your Industry

Finally, take a look at the your industry. What are your competitors doing to create engagement with their users? Are there any best practices that you can leverage?

Important to note that this should not be the only element to consider. It is not because your competition is there that you should be as well. Take the time to really look into their content: are they doing any storytelling, or only sales driven promotions? And what is their level of engagement? Determine which channels will reach your target audience and fit your needs the most. If it seems overwhelming, an agency can help you answer this question and give you a full overview of your market.