Using Live Video and Stories

Two strong trends have emerged in the social media space recently.  Live video streaming, that allows users to react and comment while watching a live video and Stories, that allow users to create a collection of videos and images which disappear after 24 hours.

Live Video and Stories can be great tools for activation and real-time storytelling or news-jacking.

Both are unique in their functionality, audience and potential uses. Once we’ve explored the mechanics involved let’s see how you  can best use these mediums to reach connections and enhance your brand.

Understanding Live Streaming

With Facebook live being made available to every user in April, the world’s largest social network joined Twitter’s Periscope and gave users the ability to live stream from their phones.

Compared to the separate app and clunky functionality of Twitter, streaming your activities live on Facebook is a relatively seamless process. If you combine the ease of adoption with the much larger user base, and connections – Facebook live becomes a compelling tool to communicate with your friends and followers.

Facebook Prioritising Video And Live Streaming

On top of the larger user base, Facebook’s algorithm (prioritisation) for displaying content to other users, favours live video over and above all other content. They even have a separate priority push notification that you will receive if a friend or brand you follow goes live.

What And Why Would I Live Stream? 

Live stream by nature suits to reaching your audience immediately. Here are a few ways to leverage the medium.

Local event – Streaming the bustling activity of a local fare or fundraising activity could be a great way to get more folks down and participating.  Turn the camera to the scenery around you and let them soak in the action. Of course remembering to value their time, when the action’s over.

Thought leadership – As a business owner you could leverage the channel to highlight your expertise. When legislation changes or something significant happens in the market, live streaming could be a great way to bring your followers up to speed.

Being of service to your customers or followers should always be your first thought when sharing – even on live video. Think would I find this interesting or useful?

Another way to portray thought leadership and be of service to your client could simply be to bring a friend/colleague/expert into the conversation. For example if there was a current forest fire risk in your neighbourhood – bring on a fireman to advise clients on protecting their property.

Team Updates –  As a business owner, an unconventional way to keep your team up to date might be live streaming to a closed Facebook group, you could give insights on the go and your team could catch up later if they missed you live.

Ask me anything or behind the scenes – Two final uses for live streaming could be answering questions from followers or providing a peek into your craft. I would use these sparingly and only when something unique or extraordinary is happening in your career.Remember this is Facebook not ‘bring a colleague to work day’.

A great example is Carlos Burle Brazilian pro surfer, who takes us behind the scenes at Waimea.

For more tips check out Facebook’s own ideas.

Try out personal live streaming

From your home screen there is a simple live button that allows you to:

  1. set up an enticing title, select your audience (Public, friends or a custom group you’ve created.  If you launch the live stream from within a closed group it will also protect those privacy setting as well.)
  2. before clicking go live, select a spot where wind and background noise are at a minimum
  3. clicking the blue go live button commences a three second countdown that you can use to frame yourself or your subjects correctly and to start smiling.

Stream from your Facebook Business Page

By downloading the Facebook Pages Manager app it is also possible to stream you can access the functionality by selecting:

  1. the page you wish to manage
  2. post
  3. choose a title and select which geography and demographics to target
  4. and then clicking go live, which again initiates a three second countdown.

As with all videos once uploaded they feature in your timeline and can be found by others. Remember to remove any videos that are only of relevance for a short time.

 

Instagram Stories

Originating in Snapchat, the ephemeral or short lived stories collections run in contradiction to the rest of the web and dissapear after 24 hours. Historically as marketers and salespeople our web and social media content was created to be of service to our clients, the more content we create, the more they answers a client could find and build affinity with our brand. Now, with Snapchat and Instagram stories, brands can create content in the moment, in a more playful, throw away form.

With almost double the user base or Snapchat, at 400 million (source) Instagram recently added their version of the functionality to its platform.  Instagram has a more mature user base when compared to Snapchat. So if you’re looking long term to build a relationship with millennials then try Snapchat. For a more active group of higher net worth customers – try using Instagram Stories.

Creating your first Story item

From the home screen of your app the add to story icon is top left.

  1. Tapping  the circle icon for an instant snaps a picture onto which you can draw or write (should your picture not speak the right 1000 words). Your drawing or words can then be moved around the screen and positioned.
  2. Holding the circle icon with record video for as long as you hold the icon, release the icon and the upload arrow is ready to add the recorded video to your story.

 How to leverage Stories? 

Stories could allow you to give insights into what it would be like for a client to work with you. Take the story beyond you just doing your job but the extra mile you go to ensure excellence. Be of service to your clients with a handy tip.

You could also use it to alert your followers of other longer format content – a new blog post or longer video, maybe even a live streaming event on Facebook.

@garyvee Owner and instigator of Winelibrary.tv and the social media agency Vaynermedia uses his Stories to alert followers of his latest motivational videos – linking to his DailyVee updates in his bio.

Showcase your customers and celebrate their wins and if there’s something topical in the new relevant to your client’s give them a quick update.

I’m sure there’s a whole lot more useful techniques for brands on Instagram Stories but for a few more ideas check out this article from buffer, with a list of inspirational users to follow.
My top pick for instant work stories jealousy –  @chrisburkard who shows behind the scenes footage of his landscape photography.

Local Business Social Media and Online Marketing – To Generate Leads

local business marketing online and social media

Local businesses and salespeople need to really focus more on their online marketing. With the growth in mobile devices there is so much opportunity to have your business found through search engines or shared through social media from anywhere.

Even if you’re just a local Auckland business marketing to your suburb, you can also be discovered from anywhere. You need to have an online presence that shines for prospective customers.

With marketing online, the end game is getting a list of contacts that you can market to.

In the old days this was a physical address but now it’s the all important email address.

To get these emails we create an online ‘Sales’ funnel. The funnel will look like this:

 

 

 

  1. advertising driving awareness and traffic
  2. read magnets
  3. lead magnets
  4. marketing
  5. asking for the sale
  6. maintaining a relationship with your loyal customers

A read magnet is really good free content that people consume. It’s a gift to potential clients. The aim with this content is to make it so good that people feel that they need to reciprocate the gift by doing something in return.

They do this through sharing the content or downloading an eBook or booking a webinar. These items are your lead magnets. Valuable content that you may charge small fee for or you might just give away too.

Your lead magnet of course requires their email, and maybe some basic details.

(I have a lead magnet of sorts in my free audit tool).

From there you have the ability to market to them on a regular basis and take them down a funnel to ultimately buy from you or subscribe to your services.

Building an email list is the one thing that you need to make the main thing consistently.

With your funnel in place – we then drive traffic to the funnel using social media or paid advertising.

So how do I use Social Media?

To understand the best approach to this we need to understand traditional and modern media.

Traditional mass media

Television, radio and print media are platforms where you need to pay to get your content shared – they provide us with entertainment and education.

We watch/listen/read programs or publications that:

  • tell us what the latest news is
  • entertain us and make us feel better
  • educate us on how to be smarter, fitter, richer, etc.

In between TV shows (if we don’t Tivo or Sky record and jump over them) brands inject ads. We’ve come to accept its the price we pay for the entertainment they provide.  Local business marketing has had some take up for radio and TV but many find it too expensive and untargeted.  People that aren’t in an area they service see the message and often the leads are uniformed.

Social Media and more specifically Facebook has become mass media


We go there for entertainment and to keep up with our community.  People only share and interact with content that will:

  • tell us what the latest news is
  • make us feel better
  • make us look better (smarter, fitter, richer etc) in front of their peers.

But because these new online mass marketing channels like Facebook don’t have ad breaks we are very wary of brands, companies and local businesses putting ads in our news feed.

But Facebook is mass targeted media

We are still very reluctant to accept that it’s the price we have to pay for the entertainment social networks provide.

Local business marketing has take this up because they see it as inexpensive targeted. The smart ones pay to get their message in front of exactly the right type of customer. But what do they say?

The workaround for social media and online marketing

Some say the key to success in business is leading with generosity – being of service to your customers.

If we share educational content around the local services we offer we will be found online through SEO. People will share our content as the local expert if it is:

  • topical
  • makes them feel better
  • or is useful in making them feel smarter, fitter or richer in that area.

To help you create or share content that is topical and entertaining visit Google alerts to create an email that is sent to you as new content is indexed for:

  • topical news in your industry
  • local philanthropic news that could make them feel better

This is a fairly clinical description of how to be a relatable person online but sometimes we forget to be relatable and dive straight into selling.

In Browns Bay last week the if I was a local business in Browns Bay I would share photos of this and how you’re proud of the community getting involved.  While this won’t generate leads, you will be seen as a connector in your community and this topical entertaining content is relatable.

It’s not enough to just produce ‘content’ – Your Uniqueness your USP and niche has to shine 

People do business with people they know, like and trust.

Ultimately, regardless of our job or career, we are all salespeople. Some sell products or services, others buy-in on ideas or concepts and many are just convincing others to do their bidding.

We all have something that makes us unique as salespeople and that capacity needs to be your ‘angle’ online. Your unique selling point needs to come through as there are so many of us out there vying for eyeballs and dollars. Your angle allows you to create long tail keywords – which basically means when people look for something specific you have less competitors in search results.

There is one person online touting that they are “fluent in Agile Digital Marketing, Portuguese, Spanish and Residential Architecture”. Don’t bother Googling. I’m the only result.

We can add to this uniqueness our audience. This might be through simple demographic and geographic segmentation of your market. Even better would be creating a buyer persona. A description of your ideal customer that you can address when creating content. With this persona you can ask each time you blog, create a video, post on social media. Will this resonate with ‘Sam ‘ my ideal customer and does it help them on their journey with my business.

If we know our audience, our uniqueness and what problem we solve it is far easier to evaluate if a marketing any activity fits with our business.

We can then get your audience to “know” you online and create a loyal connections with people that share your posts and ultimately buy your product or service and encourage others to do the same.

Remember the more valuable the content the more people will perceive your products or services to be of even greater value.

There’s a tendency to hold back from divulging secrets online. Your secret is in the fact that you can combine your services in your unique way to create success for your small local business, yourself or your brand.

So what do you share in specific networks?

Not having a company profile for you local business on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google and Twitter is a missed opportunity to:

  • create links to your website
  • be found or shared by other members of the network
  • to interact with your customers
  • to drive traffic to your read magnets – the start of your ‘sales’ funnel.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a business social network, an online resume and content sharing platform for business people.

People use this network to find jobs or work and to learn from others how to be better professionals.

Sharing
Share content that is relevant to your local audience and that makes you be seen as the local expert. Respect that it is a business platform. Memes and potty humor has no place here – or anywhere you’re trying to be professional right?

Recommending
One other useful piece of functionality on LinkedIn are the recommendations

If you can, request a recommendation on LinkedIn and connect with each of your customers. LinkedIn even lets you suggest wording for a potential recommendation – this is an opportunity for you to incorporate local keyword terms and your speciality into the recommendation. Make it easy for them to recommend your services and products.

Connecting
LinkedIn is a great tool for collecting and maintaining business contacts. Use it to introduce contacts to others that may need their service. I call this Triadic connections. If you do this regularly and often, people will come to you and think of you as a connector – the local expert that ‘knows somebody that does X’.

Facebook

Facebook is the main social network for the majority of people in the English speaking world.  

People use this network to keep in touch with family and friends, sometimes to learn and regularly to entertain themselves.

Sharing
Remember people like to share content on Facebook that’s:

  • topical
  • makes them feel better
  • or is useful in making them feel smarter, fitter or richer in that area.

Get yourself set up with a Facebook business page and try to attain fans that really like your business.  As people discover your content and they’ll like your page to receive more.

Buying page likes can have a negative effect on reach – for each unengaged follower you acquire (people that don’t enjoy your content by giving it a like, comment or share) you decrease the reach of your posts.

Promoting posts and linking to your site is a great way to get traffic. Targeted posts – even at just 5 or 10 dollars a post allows you to target specific audiences on Facebook. In general for about 1.4 cents you can reach a person on Facebook.

We can also “retarget” those that visit your website with an ad to remind them to come back.  Once you have a database of emails (from followers on your website) you can use that list to market to them on Facebook and to what Facebook calls look-alike groups. Those with similar profiles – that would have a similar propensity to like, share your content and enter your sales funnel.

Twitter

Twitter is the second social network for the majority of people in the English speaking world.
People use this network to find out about breaking news and to share and discover content on specific themes.

Sharing
It is a great place to share content on your industry for all audiences. The users of Twitter are a small subset of your target audiences. That said,  journalists, gatekeepers and key industry experts are on Twitter.  Aim to use the fast-paced news focus of Twitter for newsjacking opportunities. You can follow trending events by clicking on a #hashtag and then using that hashtag within your message to reach others that are reading that stream.

Here are two examples of newsjacking:

  1. California trial lawyer comments on legal aspects of news to grow influence

  2. Hillary Clinton leveraged the #superbowl hashtag.

     

     

Instagram

The fourth big social network and owned by Facebook.
People use this network to share pictures of their world, motivational quotes and memes.

Sharing
A lot of brands, celebrities, authors and consultants use this channel to show behind the scenes, the personality of their brand in an authentic manner. The only clickable link from this mobile centric app is in you profile so it is challenging to drive traffic to your website without creating a sponsored post.

Google business

Although the google plus is not the most lively of social networks, creating a business page at https://business.google.com/manage/ allows you to register your details and confirm your location.

This is great when people search for your local business as it will show result near them. In this example you can see burger joints near me in Auckland. These results are pushing the organic or unpaid search results further down the page.

Burger Fuel and McDonald’s are paying to appear above the map results and the first organic result for arguably the better burger joint ‘Burger Burger’ only just features on the page.

Using Search Engines to drive traffic to your sales funnel

With your blog posts and read magnets in place, use AdWords campaigns and YouTube video preroll to reach your audience.

With search engine marketing your audience are seeking answers or products. You could choose to pay for exact matches on your product or service like the burger joints are doing above, and have some success with expensive short generic keywords.

Or you could look to use the long tail ‘more niche’ keyword phrases that are related to your read magnets.

If your read magnet is the perfect answer to their question then think of other ways you would phrase the question. Group those terms and and craft an ad that matches the question. This  can really gear up your lead generation and is really limited only by what you consider to be an acceptable cost per acquisition. To put it into perspective,  if you sell a set of tyres with a profit margin of $500 would you mind paying say $5 to have them visit your website and request a quote?

Running online advertising also has a secondary benefit of brand awareness. Google also offers the ability to retarget or re-market to people that have visited your website. The conversion rate for retargeting is significantly higher, but as you may have experienced you can get tired of seeing the same banners everywhere.

Creating end dates and rules around specific pages on your website will optimise the experience for your visitors and your costs. For example if a visitor has completed a purchase then retargeting them with the same product should end.

And with the world consuming more and more video you could explore pre-roll advertisements on YouTube. Again targeting topics and keywords related to your product, service or read magnet topics.

Using other websites and events portals to drive traffic

Groupon / GRAB One / Daily Deals sites

These websites allow you to create fires sales of certain products or services by offering a discount. They have their own existing social media networks, search engine optimisation and Adwords marketing that drive traffic to their websites. So why not leverage them to gear up your sales funnel.

Eventbrite / Meetup / event tools

Similar to the portals mentioned above. If you have an online or offline event coming up you could use these networks drive traffic to your sales funnel as well.


 

OK, so there’s a starter path for local businesses and consultancies to get started online.  I’d love to answer any queries you might have around how to go about specific areas like AdWords or SEO or Social Media. Just drop me a line or contact me. Contact Nick

Podcast 36: Panel Discussion – Using Social Media to Grow Your Business

Panelists discuss using social media to grow your business

Welcome to episode 36 of the Waiake – My podcast to help you take your brand to new heights online.

In this episode I wanted to share with you the wisdom of my three co panellists from the recent Harcourts Real Estate Conference. We talk about digital marketing and using social media to grow your business.

We were interviewed by Troy Rawhiti-Forbes who has for the last few years been the conduit between New Zealand’s largest telco and our nation on Twitter and Facebook. Having experienced the highs of branding brilliance and the lows of national outages and email hacks Tory is in good space to bring out the best in my fellow guests and to prompt me to say a few things of merit too.

Coming from quite different backgrounds it was really interesting to get some diverse perspectives – yet hear some common themes as to whats best when using social media to grow your audience and business.

I’ll let you hear Tory give the impressive introductions (I cringed through mine) and I hope you find it of worth as the topics covered work in many industries.

If you’re keen to follow along the other panelist are:

HR

Key takeaways:

  • Know your Unique Selling Points and incorporate this into your online presence and SEO.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new networks, find out what fits best with you.
  • Always be transparent in your actions.
  • Think – “What would I want to hear from a brand?” and “How does this help my customers?”

HR

eCommerce, advertising and messaging to the phase your buyer is in

When it comes to shopping and buying – be it online or offline – there’s are distinct modes or phases in which we operate.

  1. Researching – what do I want?
  2. Searching – where can I get it?
  3. Purchasing – how do I get it now?

Much like taking the wrong bus or missing the express, being driven to the wrong part of your website or shown the wrong message can really ruin a user’s experience. So creating distinct or at least relevant experiences for each of the three phases is key.

Traffic coming in from search engines to your website – and the keyword terms used – can give a very strong signal of the intent a customer has to purchase. It can in some cases tell us exactly which mode a buyer is in. So lets look at the various phases.

Educate your potential customers with Content Marketing

When people are arriving at your website from broad search terms they are in the first of our phases as a buyer – discovering what’s on offer and what potential solutions there are to my needs.

It is here that through content marketing you can educate clients of the benefits of your products, help solve their problems, and make them aware of your brand and your solutions.

You should be answering any questions clients have around benefits of our products. You could help out by comparing products through a comparison infographic or article. This should all be created with the intention of easily sharing on Facebook and Social Media.

On social media you can support the discovery of your brand by sharing answers to their question. But given that at this stage many may not be aware that your brand has answers to their problems (and that we don’t go to Facebook to shop – we go to be entertained and informed) your social media posts should also create brand awareness. Videos around successful customers, or posts about your brand can help to create an affinity with the WHY of your organisation.

LEGO, Johnnie Walker and Apple are notoriously good at tapping into deeper underlying needs that we surface as needs for their products or at least to connect with their brand. Check out their brand videos on YouTube for ideas.

When they’re searching – make sure they know the great range of products you have – right now!

If a customer is in the searching mode, providing a faceted search of your full range of products is key. eCommerce experts and successful eCommerce platforms are such because they have mastered the art of displaying products in a way that is easy to navigate, search and refine. Even so, as buyers we can often find the breadth of products on offer too much or too hard for us to decide, so as customers we have methods that we use to simplify difficult decision making (Heuristics).

There’s two Heuristics here that can play to your advantage – abundance or availability and scarcity.

Abundance

You need to ensure that a potential customer can see you have a broad range of products, and that in shopping with us they’re not missing out on options elsewhere. This could be through displaying the number of results on a page, the number sold today, the number of similar items and the social proof of likes or shares of an item on Facebook. These would indicate a wide range, and that others have purchased here before.

Scarcity

Conversely, scarcity can be used here to push a customer through to purchase. Maybe with a count beside each of the number left in stock (be it real or fabricated as I’m sure many websites do).

Some companies ensure exclusivity from suppliers of a certain colour, team logo or model that will appeal to audiences. Limited editions like Jordans, the Sebastian Vettel Lexus FX50, or Jamie Oliver cookware.

While in this mode shoppers know some things they might be after – but you also have to support those who as Henry Ford is misquoted as saying – might not know they need your product.

“If I’d asked people what they wanted, they would have asked for a better horse”
– Not said by Henry Ford.

If a customer is purchasing – stay out of their way!

A customer that uses the phase “iPhone 6 white 64GB” has a strong intent to purchase that item and already knows the model, colour and memory size she is after. She also knows that memory is a distinct feature of iPhones.

If you are supporting the organic or natural ranking of your web pages on Google with paid advertising, an advert for this phrase should point directly to your eCommerce shop and to the page of the White iPhone 6 with 64GB of memory. The landing page should have a clear call to action to add to cart and purchase. Even better you could pre-populate a guest cart with the phone already added.

A large image of the phone should confirm you’ve got what they’re after. As this is a filtered results page of your own product search, there should be the ability to X out some of the filtered items – like the colour or memory – BUT DON’T let this get in the way of the main call to action.

BUY NOW

So remember to address your buyers just like a good bricks and mortar shop would do.

  1. Have a display for those just window browsing who may not even know they need your product
  2. carefully lay out your store in sections for easy browsing and searching
  3. and get your express self checkout isle humming for those that just want to buy.


Image courtesy of St3f4n

Three core tactics in my Twitter Strategy

While I loath to call it a strategy, I have decided to take a strategic methodical approach to my use of Twitter.

I’ve decided to:

  1. Network, share and support a core group of influential people in my Dunbar 150 list – daily
  2. Participate in weekly #sshour social selling chats and one other #hashtag chat from a new, unrelated field.
  3. Post useful and insightful links to content from those in my 150 list and insightful sources

But why just three core things you say?

Stick to three focus points and measure their success

I have been reading the book Good To Great by Jim Collins. I which he thorough researches and presents the core elements of what’s behind great companies – those that outperform consistently over time. He summarises a good concise strategy very well.

If you have more than three priorities, you don’t have any ~ Jim Collins.

Hence the three pronged approach I am taking on Twitter. They are each in different areas, are SMART and can be measured independently.

My Dunbar 150 list – or small group – allows for focused core networking

The UK psychologist Robin Dunbar did some quite thorough research into human relationships and the number of meaningful or at least memorable relationships we can keep. He came to the conclusion that the average person can only really keep – to some reasonable level – relationships with 150 people. If I think of my personal relationships this sounds about right. 50 odd work contacts, 50 odd friends, 25 family members and 25 business connections – give or take.

So hence my Dunbar 150 list on Twitter – it’s still growing, but will include a core group of people – people who’s Tweets are worth reading, they share good content and I really value their input to my time on Twitter.

Participating in #sshour now #SBizHour and other chats to discover new contacts

Being part of a larger hashtag based chat lets me discover cool new people on Twitter, to get different perspectives and a chance to expand my knowledge. I’ve also found myself following along with design hashtags, UX, customer service and just recently social C suite chats. All help me connect with more people and develop a breadth of knowledge.

Share really useful content

Finally, sharing stuff that is really of value is paying off. People comment on it and share it more frequently. If I take the time to explain why it is of value and also add a supporting visual element – content I tweet far more useful! I hope. You will get the odd motivational quote or bit of humour in the mix but I hope that in general you’ll get valuable content from my stream in 2015. Less noise, more signal I hope!

If you’d like to listen to this post I’ve made a short summary here:


On a personal note. Many thanks to those subscribed to my blog. I wish you all very happy holiday season and a great 2015!

Driveway moments – how podcasts capture listeners in a content-laden world

With so much digital content competing for our attention in multiple social networks how do brands connect with their audience. What is the key?

In this era of disposable content, memes, vines, snaps, whispers, secrets and now ‘YO‘s, many brands are swinging to the polar extreme to keep users attention and to keep them interested. Thankfully there’s light at the end of the tunnel, in fact it’s an illuminated journey.

White shelters / \ #convergence

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

There is a resurgence of long format content and a lot of it is supported by rich media like interactive graphics, videos and podcasts.

With a relatively short bus commute as part of my morning journey I have been consuming a lot of podcasts. Although not as rich as video, the format means I can tune in with a single sense and still go about my morning/evening commute and not feel too guiltily about mobile data charges. It’s a format that thanks to Soundcloud is simple to do with your phone, laptop or iPad.

A number of the podcasts I subscribe to really bring a rich narrative to their existing blog posts and or a closer look at a topic. Often, hearing about something is also a lot easier to digest than reading about it.

The luxury of a podcast is that you can compile segments as and when you get time. You have time to form a holistic narrative and unlike with video you don’t have to worry too much about matching sections, cutting intros and outros etc. There’s no other conflicting posts. Scheduled news, announcements and down time messages don’t interrupt it – you can focus on a singular message, or two.
The art is in creating enough value and keeping users entertained, hopefully creating a driveway moment.

What’s a Driveway Moment?

Hopefully I’ve encouraged you, if only just a little, to think about podcasts and consider them in your digital mix. If not, then maybe this list and their inspiring long standing podcasts will help.

Here are 5 exemplary podcasts that I find really interesting. Their topics challenge and I think improve my digital marketing knowledge, and help me grow. I’m on a journey too.

99percentinvisible.org
I have a lot of time for @romanmars and the crew at 99percent. Their mixture of informative and eclectic topics has me hooked and I get excited when their latest release appears in my soundcloud feed. Covering everything from walled cities to shoe design and the Chrysler vs Empire State building feud.

thewebpsychologist.com
Nathalie Nahai is the Nigella Lawson of the web theory, UX and UI design space. Her sultry voice and the amazing guests she has talking all things digital come psychology are awesome.

cc-chapman.com
C C picks me up and motivates me. He’s all about doing the right work and valuing connections. He’s also the source of my favourite content marketing quote. The miniskirt philosophy for content: Long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting.

forimmediaterelease.biz
Although a long listen The Hobson & Holtz report is digital from a PR perspective. Two very smart minds from either side of the Atlantic cover the latest developments in the digital and online space. Seeing a UK and USA perspective in one is insightful.

newrainmaker.com
Brian Clark of @copyblogger fame also talks of the Hero’s Journey and explains well why we should not be social sharecropping – building your digital home base on land you don’t own.

I’d love to hear what podcasts you like or your Soundcloud / iTunes address so we can connect!

Three pillars to a great online presence

Western Architecture Principles

Yesterday I visited New Zealand’s first 6 Green Star Office – Geyser, in Auckland.

Visited Patterson Architects' Geyser user green building. Nice courtyard!

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

Geyser is created as 6 separate parts with courtyards to let natural light into each area. It has a thermal chimney façade that heats and cools the building. It does this by circulating fresh air through an outer layer that can open and close in response to the ambient temperature. It has a rainwater collection system and an automated “stacker” car park that make use of the limited space underneath the building. In all an impressive building and in my eyes – it looks wonderful.

The building and its architect think of a wider audience than just tenants, addressing how it fits and improves the lives of the community around it.

What does this have to do with digital and online marketing – or social networks for that matter?

Last night I watched the architect Andrew Patterson talk a little bit more about the project as part of his TEDx presentation. He talked of the origins of Western Architecture Principles and how his buildings embody them.

These principles form a tripod that supports great architecture and I would argue serve well as points for a good online presence.
Western Architecture Principles

Attitude – Utilitas – fit for purpose

Use the right tools for the right job.

  • Customers or clients should immediately see how your website brings them value and meets their needs. Make it all about them.
  • When creating a new website have clear goals around the user experience and what you ultimately want to accomplish. Strip out distractions and ambiguity in user journeys.
  • If you want to blog, install a blogging platform. Don’t hack your content management system (CMS) or retrofit a forum as a workaround. If you want to sell things online implement a fully fledged eCommerce platform or leverage one run by experts in that area.
  • Use a CMS that befits the scale of your website and ensure you support it with adequate hardware. WordPress is fine for blogging but not for running Amazon or eBay. End users are the main focus of a website, but a good architect and web build thinks of longevity and maintenance as well.
  • Know your audience on each social network you use. Covering live events is Twitter’s space and photography looks fantastic on Google plus for example.

Concept – Firmitas – permanency

  • Single page websites or empty websites don’t instil confidence. Show that your website is robust and in for the long haul.
  • Ensure you have depth of content, products and services on your website and a stream of future content ready for the first few months. Content that addresses as many buyer personas and stages of the purchase cycle as possible.
  • If you’re building a community consider renting a crowd or launching in beta. Yelp, before launching in a new country, hire people to rate and recommend local businesses. That way the first real users see value from day one in being part of the community.

Communication – Venustas – as beautiful as the natural world

  • The concept for a building is that it should delight more than the natural world it is taking away. This isn’t a push to Skeuomorph design, rather that your website should be a delight to use.
  • If you can purchase online it should be super simple, far less stressful than standing at a counter waiting.
  • Time spent in your networks should delight more than competing TV channels and offline experiences.
  • Your audience should be excited to see your next alert, push notification or email in their inbox because it’s providing value they don’t get elsewhere. That value may be insights or knowledge to make their lives better but could equally be entertainment.

The combination of these three pillars should always support the end goal of delighting your audiences. Be they clients, employees or the community.

Mark Schaefer and CONTENT SHOCK courtesy of Social@Ogilvy

Well this morning I had the pleasure of hearing Mark Schaefer talk about the future of digital and social media in his eyes.  Having dragged him away from his holiday of hot pools in Rotorua and Waiheke Island they managed to get him around the royal entourage in Wellington. Mark presented over a live feed from the capital.

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Mark’s blog businesses grow is a great source for all things social and he began the presentation with two mega trends online.

The selfie and cats. Culminating in! Wait for it. The cat selfie – Boom.

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NOT!

So after this opening gag, Mark walked us through 3 digital revolutions we have all been part of and a 4th we are approaching. The first three we know as:

Presence – which is the online brochureware we all saw at the beginning of the internet.

Search – Which was getting your content found and tricking google to be in the first SERPs.

Utility – Which is engaging fans through content on social (our current phase) and the volume of this content is overwhelming. Data will increase 600% by 2020. And it’s not all from IoT. It will also be user generated, like the #catselfie.

On average adults in the western world consume around 10 hours of content a day. Already the web is our major provider of this content. As brands we are finding it hard to cut through the competing content and I like Mark believe will hit the limit of content consumption soon.

Mark then quoted Richard Simms from Facebook ~ “Organic reach is dropping as there’s 1500 odd possible stories we can show a user each day”. Hence the need for the edge rank algorithm. But as seen here, Facebook will be charging more and more to reach your fan base, to enhance their revenues.

So how do we get around this as we move to a new era? Well here are three options.

1. Create a niche and OWN it! Be the best source of information on a specific topic so that search engines can’t ignore you. Relate to your audience so that you’re top of mind in your niche.

Mark talked of a Knoxville cosmetic surgery clinic that moved from sell, sell, sell – to educating people.

They used the doctor as a face and voice of the clinic to answer weekly questions on YouTube and Facebook then blogging for SEO.

They went a step further creating ebooks for those that didn’t want to post questions publicly. The ebooks were so successful that even competitor clinics wanted to buy them. They then wrote cookbooks for their fans. The book was so good that it was a talking point at Christmas time at Mark’s house (brand recognition and top of mind).

2. Borrow a bigger pipeline. Create sponsored content, do some brandscaping (combining with a brand in a niche you’re targeting) or get newsjacking.

One area that Mark believes will get very interesting (he’s written a book on it) is leveraging Influence marketing – through simple publishing tools and mobile technology, influence is democratised now. Think how powerful Robert Scobleizer.com is or Jamie’s World!

But to succeed in influence marketing you need to remember the content plan and the network plan. HOW WILL IT SPREAD? What’s your share of conversation in your niche?

Mark mentioned a recent conversation with Coke execs and how Coke look to create great content. Content so great, fans will wear it on their shirts, and they will have a majority share of youth culture. As we know, Redbull are of course beating them to it…

Power on the internet is who can move your content (so find a bigger pipeline for your content).

3. Think of content as currency. Is it cool enough that people will feel proud of sharing, is it relevant to their peers or will it make them look smarter.

You’ll share content if by association you look cool.

Mark asks, to really get a feel if you’re into the digital space, as a brand take a napkin and finish this sentence on your own. “Only we…” ITs surprising the insights this gives to what is your niche, what is the message you need to share and to who!

Mark also offered up a great filter for compelling content. R.I.T.E.

  • Relevant 
  • Interesting 
  • Timely
  • Entertaining (the most important)

The key to breaking through the noise is being entertaining. Mark cited Chipotle creating entertainment to sell burritos. See the case study here.

Now to the new 4th age.

Immersion

Which is all about wearables, augmented reality and filters. The future.

In filters, Mark mentioned Zite, which after two years of use is really starting to learn more about the content I like and filter my consumption back to preferred brands, or blogs in my case.

He also talked of Watson at IBM, a supercomputer that is learning and consumes content as fuel. They predict Watson may well be on your wrist in coming years.

Google may not be the source of all info in the future so do we need to optimise to invite people OUT of their filters and to come spend time with our brand.

Understanding and being first movers in content on Wearables and AR will give significant competitive advantage.

The question I’m asking myself is – when there’s a digital layer between us and everything, how do we dominate it? What will digital marketing look like when there no boundaries like cables, screens or WiFi needed?

He believes being entertained and wanting to play will be our focus. Sounds about right.

Finally Marks parting note was –

 Be more human.

A fantastic motto to live by. We buy from people we know and relate to irregardless of digital advancements. We should be switching to ongoing engagement, developing communities of interest and earning loyalty!

Well with many an idea floating around my head now I’m off to brainstorm – What do you think will be the future of digital and social media?

How can my business keep up with new social media channels?

Tried,tired and true a dangerous combination?

For many the growth of new social networks, online channels and apps can be hard to keep up with. Worse still is figuring out how to make the most of them in your communications and marketing.

There is a neat clip from an obscure film The 13th Warrior that sums up the best approach to communicating in new networks.

Listen, learn how to communicate and adapt to the community.

But that’s jumping ahead into getting a flavour for community norms. A first step would be to ask is it worth it? Some top level questions I ask about new networks are:

  1. How can this network or channel reach my target audience?
  2. Is there something uniquely different about it, compared to existing networks, that I can take advantage of?
  3. How quickly is it scaling?

There are various other questions I’ll ask about: frictional costs to support a new channel; content requirements and support; and  risks. But the above can give a traffic light view on the initiative.

A channel that have been exploring recently is Snapchat. If I ask the above three questions I get:

  • A large demographic of younger users on this network.
  • Messages that only exist for 10 seconds at the most.
  • User growth that is surpassing Facebook and Twitter at a similar age both globally and here in New Zealand.

At first glance it’s a tool that doesn’t fit with my main online plans. Content marketing is about creating long tail ever green content for clients to find on search engines. Creating content that disappears in seconds sounds totally wrong.   But what it does support is hyper focused moments with your audience. A chance to excite and delight. A chance to have fun.

Snapchat takes you from the real world and into your phone where you’re focused in case you miss what’s happening. With that in mind it was a great tool to connect with students online and drive interactions in real life. At Vodafone we’ve used it so far for orientation weeks at both the Otago and Canterbury University campuses.

While I wouldn’t say it is a large step change from our existing channels, it has allowed us to gather a new targeted audience / following in the local geographic area.

We’re listening and learning for now, adapting our messages as we go.  I’d love to hear of any unique new channels you’re using or hacking of existing ones.

Does your company need a CEO?

Well by that I mean – Chief Editorial Officer!

With so many messages to convey to so many audiences and with such varied media to communicate with, does a brand or company need a senior leader to keep the overall message resonating?

Having a big shepherd muster your content and corral it into the right areas is already a reality for most big online publishers and for many brands that are understanding the benefits of content “marketing”. This analogy doesn’t extend to profit sheering or trimming daggy content, but it could!

But back to the CEO. Whose role is that of curator and oversight of an ongoing content calendar, balancing the messaging and keeping a stock of content at the ready for consistency, news jacking or the unfortunate piece of bad press. The CEO knows not only the stakeholders and their messaging goals, but also mechanisms available.

Spots like:

  • Above the line radio spots for brand awareness.
  • Google Adwords for key recruitment needs.
  • Hyper targeted Facebook messaging for mid funnel sales.
  • Front loaded videos for YouTube pre-roll and back loaded stories for Facebook engagement.
  • Hand written letters to your biggest fans.
  • Snapchat behind the scenes glimpses for brand ambassadors.
  • Or some fun education pieces for your customers.

It’s their job together with their VPs of storytelling to get the right messages heard, seen and remembered.

Generation Y, Generation C or millennials – however you wish to call them – are looking for your Y (spelt WHY). Much more willing to give to a good cause than to give to the man, Gen Y want to hear your story and check its transparent before they fork over their cash.

And with volumes of content ever growing, all ages are looking for fresh content the can trust and admire. So here’s to the CEO and their battle. It’s a new title, but one I hope catches on quickly.