• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • LPope
    Leah Pope on September 23, 2014

    Using Social Intelligence to Build the Sales Pipeline

    The social web has opened new channels for consumers to discuss products and brands, share opinions and ask for recommendations. Brands today must take a more responsive approach focused around interests relevant to the individual consumer. With the right tools in place, brands can uncover these opportunities, engage strategically and directly contribute to trackable lead generation.
  • In order to make people in today's world take notice of your marketing campaign, you need to be active on multiple mediums.

    In the multimedia world that we live in today, people are constantly bombarded with various marketing campaigns. It is such an everyday thing for most people that they simply tune out all of the advertising and go about their daily activities. For these people, ads have become like white noise. In order to make people in today's world take notice of your marketing campaign, you need to be active on multiple mediums. This will ensure that you reach the largest audience possible, not only people who are already aware of your products. This article will discuss each medium and how it should be approached.

    1. Social media

    Social media is mentioned first because it is the fastest growing medium by far. Like it or not, we are living in the age of social media. You can either get on board the train or get left behind at the station. Businesses that fail to embrace social media will eventually be surpassed by their competitors who are taking full advantage of it. With one billion users of Facebook and well over 300 million users of Twitter, social media has the power to instantly reach people in demographics and locations that would have been impossible 10 years ago. There are also social media sites like Reddit and Foursquare that have amassed huge followings. Having a presence on these sites could literally be the difference between your business succeeding or failing. These sites are a great way to interact directly with your customers and find out what they want, what they like about your business and what they don't.

    2. YouTube

    YouTube is every company's dream come true. It is one of the 10 biggest websites in the world, it is used by millions of people every day and it does not cost anything to post video commercials for your products. An enormous amount of videos on YouTube are simply ads made by people and companies that are selling everything you could imagine. This type of free advertising is worth its weight in gold, provided you know how to attract people to your ads. Making entertaining and informative YouTube videos should be a top priority of every marketing department.

    3. Email

    After you have gone through the process of creating a profile for your top marketing leads, this information can then be used to construct a targeted list of possible new leads. Targeted direct mailing lists can tend to be on the expensive side. However, if they are put together correctly, marketers have the power to produce the most loyal customers and cost effective leads through direct mail advertising. They will also generate the best response rate. The wording of any direct mail that you send out must be worded carefully, so it is not flagged as spam. You also want to keep the message short and sweet. If you send somebody a wall of text, they are unlikely to read all of it.

    4. Radio

    Terrestrial radio that we all grew up with seems to be dying a slow death. Ratings are slipping due to the advent of satellite radio, a subscription based service. Because you have to pay for satellite radio, it is not bound by FCC restrictions. Thus, they can broadcast programs that are much more edgy than you would ever hear on regular radio. In terms of marketing campaigns, the type of radio you choose depends on the audience you are trying to reach. Most businesses are trying to target people who are more affluent. In this case, satellite radio is the way to go. This is because most of the high end cars sold today come with satellite radio as a standard feature. Also, people who can afford to pay for satellite radio have disposable income.

    5. TV

    While still important, TV campaigns do not have the power they once did. This is due mainly to the advent of DVRs that enable people to effortlessly skip past commercials. The use of DVRs has exploded in recent years. Therefore, a company should think twice about investing a lot of money in a TV campaign that many people may skip past. However, if a show's audience matches the demo you are after, it may be worth the risk.

    Twitter chats are an essential part of your digital marketing diet. In fact, these online conversations offer valuable information and far-reaching benefits to both seasoned and aspiring professionals from any industry.

    It's no secret: Twitter chats are an essential part of your digital marketing diet. In fact, these online conversations offer valuable information and far-reaching benefits to both seasoned and aspiring professionals from any industry. And while many will continue to debate whether some of the information gleaned is insightful or insipid,  I can certainly attest to its remarkable power—being part of a team of moderators who manage a well participated, multi-themed chat exploring the limitless possibilities of social media (#smchat). So you may ask, "Are there a clear set of best practices that can help maximize time and thought investment in this activity?" From my experience to date, there are some good habits worth noting. And below are some considerations. These are frank, personal impressions which I hope will resonate instinctively and be of help over the long term.

    PARTICIPANTS

    • Spontaneity is key, but timeliness is of the essence Most chats are prefaced by a round of introductions. Although friendly and reassuring, I personally limit (if not completely leave out) these seemingly endless greetings (actually, I am known to just parachute myself in the midst of a chat). There's nothing wrong with pleasant hi-there-hello's but be focused and on point with the limited hour you have in drawing people's attention to and interest in the discussion.
    • Digression is encouraged, especially if advancing non-obvious aspects of a given topic I typically refer to moments of inspiration as "sparks" and will invariably refer to this term from time to time because of its understated, onomatopoeic beauty. If you start seeing chatters branch off into tangents, join them! You will be astounded at what fresh nuggets of insight you'll be able to sift through these exchanges.
    • Self-promotion can be awkward: attempt at your own risk Perhaps it's because I haven't actually brain-farted an e-book worth reading. I don't know. While there's nothing wrong with the odd, brave 'shameless self-promotion' you are, in essence, owning up to two things: a) that you are willing to risk demonstrating a faint moment of egoism, and b) that you have no qualms at all with that decision. Is that really the kind of impression you want to leave?
    • Hashtag spamming is really not a good thing. Really, don't even bother. In almost all scenarios, there will be a random tweet that will piggy-back off the rousing (sometimes frenetic) pace of your Twitter chat. Usually, these tweets are entirely unrelated to the topic at hand. So something like this: 1001 Ways to Improve Your Social Selling - URL - #LookAtMe #ImShameless #TwitterChat will inevitably pop up randomly in your timeline. Don't be that person. It's really not worth it. You're only giving people more reason to unfollow, mute or out right avoid you.

    MODERATORS

    • A framework is ideal but sometimes not necessary. Preparing a brief abstract that positions your theme and substantiates the various reasons why you think a given topic is worthy of discussion is, IMO, the best case scenario. Offering leading questions beforehand also helps incite reflection prior to the actual chat. This makes for more willing (and prepared) participation. However, there are some Twitter chats that simply fire off a topic and questions on the fly. Sometimes this can be equally exhilarating. However, I do notice that these types of chats tend to already have a handful of regular participants who are savvy enough to go with the flow.
    • Co-moderation is a good, sustainable format It's like tag-teaming. Not only do you ensure longevity of your involvement in Twitter chats but also afford having fresh ideas circulate within your team. Online conversations on Twitter are meant to be community-driven. So it follows that having at least two people assigned to a given chat topic makes for a more pragmatic, sustainable approach to your format.
    • Echo chambers are evil. They really are. Yes, I myself have been guilty of contributing  to the reverberating hollowness within these accursed chambers. I don't think moderators actually intend to come off as sounding like broken records. But I have seen a fair share of repetitive question-and-answer banter that trigger eye roll's and ugh's like an unconscious twitch. Is it laziness? Did you not have enough time to prepare? Are you justifying using your Captain Obvious megaphone because you want to help new entrants? Whatever the reason, the "define your objectives" meme is a dead horse. If you persist with flogging it to amplify canned loops of thought, you risk boring your participants. Worse, turning them off. Be daring. Ask tough questions and stir the pot once in a while so you can surface truly novel perspectives and creative input.
    • Be encouraging and inclusive So no, I won't take back what I said about keeping your intro's short :) Although there is something to be said for quickly responding back to first-timers and making them feel welcome. What often works for me is keeping the tweet short and sweet,"Hi! Welcome! Feel free to dive right in or ask us any questions #TwitterChat" Most who are unfamiliar with how Twitter chats work will listen and lurk at first. But once someone acknowledges their presence and interest, they open right up and become surprisingly attentive and collaborative during the dialogue. Also, make sure you share others' input with an RT, favourite or quote. This helps strengthen affinity and confidence among your participants, especially when they know their presence is valued and their '2 cents' is useful to others, too.

    Some view chatting on Twitter to be annoying; they see these random exchanges as polluting their timelines. And while the MUTE button exists for this reason, many either ignore the chatter and carry on unfazed or simply unfollow you. What has YOUR Twitter Chat experience been like? Do share

    It's important to understand how the media you are producing is being consumed. By taking a look at the platforms your customers are using to view your media, and the delivery method and voice of this media, you should be able to spot the areas for improving your brand and overall business performance.

    You’re more likely to recommend a restaurant where you ate good food, received good service, and had an overall good time, right? We’re all familiar with the terror and destruction that can come to a restaurant from negative Yelp reviews. That’s exactly what you want to avoid. Bad customer experience.

    I recently came across a tweet paraphrasing some advice from Rand Fishkin, founder of Moz:

     

    “Great UX is easy and pleasurable to consume on any device.”

    Consume. In layman’s terms it means “eat.” As we move through our days we are constantly eating: status updates, inter-office email chains, office gossip...you get the point. Messages are permeating our thoughts each day. How do we decide what’s worth consuming? How do we decide what’s worth repeating? Sharing?

    You view your customers as consumers in the sense that they purchase products is one thing, but also - in a more powerful context - you should view them as hungry. They are eating and digesting everything your brand is producing. Sometimes they enjoy it and they tell others. Other times they don’t and they’re burned - never coming back. Guess what? They’re doing all of this consuming primarily on mobile. Half of the users that own smartphones now use them as their primary or exclusive means for using the Internet.

    So, now that we know what people are using their phones for - consuming - we should try and make it an enjoyable experience, right?

    Oftentimes, business owners (especially brick-and-mortar businesses) don’t see prioritizing mobile UX as an investment for their business. But these skeptics may be interested to know how optimizing their users' mobile experience could make a huge impact in their overall brand reputation and sales.

    If you ensure that your customers are enjoying their consumption, they’re more likely to tell others, to share, to testify - become the social “fan” of your brand that you’ve been looking for.

    Want your content to be appetizing to your audience? Consider the platform from which their viewing and make sure their experience is an easy, enjoyable one. Just like having a good dining experience, your brand is responsible for a producing good, branded meal - one worth sharing.

     


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    Mean What You Say, Say What You Mean

    I’ve defined mobile as an area that should be catching more attention from business owners. If it’s caught yours, you’re either considering investing in the UX of your website or you might have already done so and you’re feeling frustrated. “Yes, I know my customers are on mobile! I’ve made the investment, but they’re still not buying!”

    Maybe your audience is consuming, but not acting. They don’t think you’re worth it.

    How can you provide a good experience and get your customer to act? My advice: show appreciation.

    One of the most important reads in the marketing canon of texts, “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, is an oldie but goodie. The foundation of Carnegie’s advice is to show people that you appreciate them in a genuine manner:

    “The difference between appreciation and flattery? That is simple. One is sincere and the other insincere. One comes from the heart out; the other from the teeth out. One is unselfish; the other selfish. One is universally admired; the other universally condemned.”

    Being sincere, unselfish, honest - these are things that scare many business owners. However, once you embrace that customer expectations are changing and they are hungrier, now more than ever, for honesty and something genuine, then you will be empowered to deliver this through whatever channel makes sense for your business.

    Maybe it’s investing in your brand’s mobile experience. Maybe it’s offering a free pair of Bears tickets for the first 20 new users of your web application. Maybe it’s placing a pop up shop in Brooklyn where you’re showing / selling new merch and giving away free cold brew coffee.

    You will have many options to make your customers feel appreciated, but one thing’s for sure: each option is a consumption channel. Produce something worth eating.

    Content marketing can be seriously annoying. You’ve read the blogs, you’ve researched the stats and you’ve put your awesome content out there, but you’re still not seeing the results.

    I’ll admit it, content marketing can be seriously annoying. You’ve read the blogs, you’ve researched the stats and you’ve put your awesome content out there, but you’re still not seeing the results.

    The experts tell you that you should have tripled your leads by now, heck, you should be bigger than Google! But you’re not. You’ve put a lot of time, money and effort into your content, and it just sits there, without any shares, leads or return.

    Frustrating isn’t it?

    Should you give up and start spending a shed load of money on traditional ads? No. What you need to do is go back to the planning stages and pin point where you are going wrong. Because when you get it right, the results can be be pretty damn awesome.

    So sit back, grab a brew and check out these 5 reasons why your content marketing isn’t working for your business…

    1. You’re too concerned with sales

    It’s understandable that the ultimate goal is to get more customers. But you can’t go into content marketing with that mind set. It’s like a domino effect. Your content is the first thing that you do to get your audience interested in you, and then the rest will follow. The key to good content marketing is to lure your customers in, not to bombard them with a stream of adverts.

    At this stage, it’s not about the hard facts and figures or the off putting sales messages. It’s about interesting content that your audience wants to read and share.

    The secret to creating great content is to tell a story. Maybe it goes back to our childhood but it’s human nature to love stories. We all like something we can relate to, something with a happy ending. The way that you can put this into your content is by outlining the problems that your customers face, and show them that you are their solution.

    Action Points:

    • Your content shouldn’t be an advert — make it valuable
    • Tell a story through your content — outline the problems and solutions
    • Lure your audience in — make your content, your trophy wife

    2. Your target audience is EVERYONE

    When planning content, your audience should be at the forefront of your mind. But if you don’t have a clue who your audience is, or you are trying to target every single person on the planet then your content is not going to work.

    Think about it. The language that you would use for a student full of teenage angst, will be completely different for language that would be used for middle aged high-flying executive. By trying to come up with a message that will resonate with everyone will only spoil your content.

    Do your research and get to know who your audience is. Come up with a customer persona so you can have a clear idea of who you are targeting. From your customers age and gender, to the places they shop and their salary, a customer persona needs to detail everything there is to know about your audience.

    Action points:

    • Implement surveys and discover who is interested in your product
    • Really get to know your audience, like you would a friend — so you can target them effectively
    • When creating content, always speak in their language

    3. You’re writing for search engines

    When it comes to certain content, like blog posts, you need to make sure that they are optimized well so your audience can find them. But this can be a problem when trying to create content that people will want to read and share. Do you stuff it with keywords and links in the hope that Google will pick it up?

    No.

    The point of content is that it’s useful and interesting to the reader, so that they share it. Over-using keywords will only create bad content that no-body will ever want to read. It’s not just about turning off your audience either. Did you know that by stuffing content full of links and keywords, it can actually harm your Google rankings?

    When you’re ready to get writing that blog of yours, don’t think about keywords. Just start writing. Your content will naturally optimize itself, because you are writing for your audience. You’ll find that the copy you write will have enough keywords, without having to place them in. And if you’re writing useful content, then you will naturally link to well established websites, which will in turn help you move up the ranks.

    Action points:

    • Write your content naturally — don’t overstuff with keywords and links
    • Share your content on social for more views and natural links back to your site
    • Link to established websites to give your content more authority

    4. Your proof circle is too big

    So once you’ve created your content, how many people in your company need to see it? It’s true what they say, sometimes too many cooks can spoil the broth. The same theory applies to your content. Does the person in admin really know what you’re trying to achieve with this piece of marketing? How about Jim from finance? Although it’s nice to include the people of your company in your processes, sometimes it can do more harm than good.

    What you need to do is trust the experts. From copywriters and designers, to animators and marketers, these people know what they are doing, so you need to have a little faith in the people you hired to the do the job. Sure, there will be slight tweaks and edits along the way, but if their job is to create content that will connect with your audience, then you need to let them get on with it.

    Sometimes if you’re too close to the project, it can cloud your judgement, so sit back and let the professionals do the hard work!

    Action points:

    • Hire experts and trust them to do the job
    • Don’t let too many people have an opinion
    • Limit your proofing circle

    5. You’re SOLELY focused on your product

    So you want to create content that relates to your product, but as previously mentioned, content isn’t about sales. It’s about engaging with your audience and increasing your reach. The secret to connecting with your audience and keep them engaged is to not produce the same content day in, day out.

    Sure you want to talk about your product, but it will help you gain more followers of your brand if you also talk about other stuff, that will grab the interest of your audience. It goes back to finding out who your audience is. Once you know that, you will be able to cover topics within your content, that they are interested in.

    Say for example you sell nail polish. Now that is a very limited subject. How many times can you create unique content about the specific nail polish you sell? Not many. What you could do is create an infographic about ‘the history of colour trends’, post blogs with make-up tips from experts, or even create an e-book on ‘how to dress for success’ — and your nail polish can be a small section within that content.

    Action points:

    • Think outside the box — don’t just post stuff about your product
    • Find out what your audience is interested in and tailor your content to match that
    • It’s ok to have fun

    Takeaway

    The biggest takeaway here is that you need to remember your content shouldn’t be an advert. It needs to be valuable, interesting and above all, good enough for your audience to click that share button. The truth is, it’s not that hard to do the above. You just need to separate your sales head, from your marketing head. Take everything that is fun and interesting about your brand and put it into your content. Good luck!

    Need some help?

    If you need help with this, don’t forget that we can create awesome content for you and that includes coming up with ideas and concepts, copywriting, designing and more! Check out our content marketing examples for more info!

    The posts that you share on Social Media are the key to increasing the engagement, traffic, and awareness of your brand online.

    The posts you share on Social Media are the key to increasing engagement, traffic and awareness of your brand online. Many businesses and marketers want to create posts which will bring virality to their content. But before you jump the gun, there is a lot you must achieve in order to reach that goal; and to do that you will need to create perfect social media posts! So, you’re wondering how?

    By the way, Facebook is changing the timeline algorithm again. Hope you already know it from InsideFacebook. The key point is “If a Page posts about a trending topic or if a post sees a high velocity of engagement early on that then drops off, that post may begin to see increased distribution early on and less distribution over time”  so it’s important to get more engagement right after you post something on Facebook to get wider reach.

    Social media is a crowded place; you need every competitive advantage possible to stand out. Often marketers get overwhelmed by the following questions – What to post? How to post? And on which platforms? In this article, I’ll go over some simple tricks and best practices to help you create the perfect social media posts. Here we go!

    1. Visually Appealing

    Visual content is the rising star on social media. Images, videos, Infographics, memes GIF’s etc are a great way to share your brands information. They are easier to grasp by your audiences and it always receives good engagement. This is the generation of easily distracted audiences, thus snackable pieces of information are fared much better in comparison to only text-based information. Hence, make use of various free resources, tools etc. to create visual content which will spark interest from your users and give you that edge over others.

    Example: Chobani on their Pinterest page have 25 boards even though it is a yogurt brand. They share amazing pictures which is a mix of their products, lifestyle boards and they have that many followers due to the high quality imagery they share.

    chobani

    2. Be Humorous

    Humor makes you stand out; it makes your brand seem more interesting than a pushy salesman and humanizes your brand online. There’s a fine line between funny and offensive, topics like race, religion, and sexual orientation are extremely touchy for some people so don’t cross the line from being funny to creepy. Humor makes your brand like a friend to your audiences and it makes a good light-hearted content which is easy to digest.

    Example: Chumbak on their Facebook page, share content which is a mix of honest, adorable and funny! They take on social media to truly engage with their fans through humor. With the fictitious holiday dates they created, give everyone a good laugh and instantly lead to engagement and shows it is a making of a good post.

    3. Be Original

    Don’t be a fake copy of someone else on social media, be yourself! Your audiences are exposed to so much information every day from numerous brands, for you to stand out ‘Be Original’. Otherwise how will you be able to catch their eye, if you follow the herd and share the same content? If you feel that you are running out of interesting ideas for posts, keep an eye on your competitors and see how what kind of content they are sharing with their users.

    be original

    Bookmark various blogs – Mashable, Social Media Examiner etc. they are constantly sharing invaluable information regarding social media something might just ignite the inspiration from those sites. Create a post, include meme and share them across.

    4. Know the Best Time to Post

    It is extremely important to post your content at the right time of the day/hour. What is the use of creating great content if no one is reading it? Your target audiences may be housewives, students and even some spread abroad so you need to constantly share relevant content at the right intervals for them to read it.

    Start using tools like Twitter Analytics, Facebook Insights, Post planner if you are not using them already.

    5. Crisis Plan

    Problem never comes knocking on your door, so you best be prepared! Many a times you may share a post which be shared at the wrong time/ or it may be misunderstood by someone. These things can get your brand in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, thus always have a crisis plan of action ready and immediately own up for your mistakes. Keep a series of crisis posts ready and saved up in one of your folders, so when trouble comes by you don’t get dumb-founded and lost rather you start rolling out the pre-saved posts with certain tweaks and save the day for your brand.

    Example: US Airways had a ton of explaining to do to their followers on Twitter, due to the inappropriate image which got shared from their profile. They immediately took to Twitter, deleted the picture and apologized to their fans. Thus always have a crisis plan set up; you may never know when it hits you!

    6. Know the Platform Well

    Before you set base on any platform, you must thoroughly research it and understand all the functions of that platform and it’s posting style. Keep up with all the changes of various channels and implement those in your strategy. Every platform has a different posting style compared to other, thus create a content calendar so you know what sort of information you are sharing on other channels. If content creation is important, then distribution is the vessel to the perfect post.

    Example: Krispy Kreme India, haven’t truly leveraged the power of Twitter. They only link-back all their posts! Thus it shows low engagement and fewer followers. They need to truly craft posts which elicit a response and increase engagement as well as followers.

    The structure of your social media posts plays a significant role on what sort of activity it converts – Engagement, traffic, leads etc. The details mentioned above may be a bit nitpicky but they play a big part in the overall content creation. With the examples mentioned as well will get you inspired and in the right course of creating valuable content for your audiences.

    What content marketing tactics do you partake in to create the perfect social media posts? Do share your insights with us in the comments section below.