agilemarketing, content marketing, social media

Tuning in to brand channels on social media

New media marketers are adamant that their platforms and channels should be treated differently to traditional media. For decades we as marketers have been placing ads, commercials and the likes into existing channels. Channels that a certain target market are interested in and follow religiously.

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Radio

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We purchase or rent slots within these channels in the hope that our messages and marketing will reach its target audience. Ads that were expected to sell you things – on a channel where feedback is indirect and can take forever.

To the untrained marketer – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are seen as channels themselves. When in fact they are merely the media or medium for your channel. Using the old approach you throw in advertising or content that is similar to the work created to fall between engaging prime time shows. Ads with nothing between them, thus creating a channel of sell, sell, sell.

Social media provides instant measurable qualitative and quantitative feedback to your marketing.

Your presence on social ‘media’ are true channels. Excite and entertain your audience!

It is the role of the brand to develop their pages and their @ handles into channels. Channels that would be of interest to the target audience. Channels that entertain, educate, excite and create admiration. Channels that are so engaging that people don’t mind when the odd sales piece comes through or service announcement is slotted in.

And this is where the art of the community manager / channel manager / producers and marketers comes into play. Balancing the content calendar, scheduling upcoming content and insuring that the programming of the channel is as good as the leading TV channels.

They use data to be agile. They chop features with low ratings and iterate winning posts. They create content with twists and turns that keep them coming back. Storytelling, content marketing, an empathy and true understanding of their audience are key to their art.

That art of creating a seamless blend of content that forms a channel that no one can resist following.

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agilemarketing, content marketing, social media, Strategy

Scaling and measuring social media success

KAIZEN

Reporting on incremental improvements to your marketing and focusing on Kaizen, or continuous improvement, should be top of mind for marketers.

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Kaizen. Ganbatte!

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Recently I discussed measuring the right thing and establishing KPIs for your digital marketing. Having a clear idea of success and to what degree you have accomplished it will drive you forward. But it is also prudent to review your measurements and their relevance to your business goals regularly.

With a large organisation that has multiple locals, regions and even countries to cover establishing core metrics becomes paramount to quantify improvements. Setting up a central pool of best practice and a guide to your channels is the best way to ensure consistency in the way you measure success. Social media measurement is no exception and it can also ensure you’re prepared for the best and worst case scenarios.

Here are some points you may wish to include in your best practice lists to ensure you’re comparing apples with apples or manzana or Я́блоко. Cross platform, cross country comparisons are possible with the right processes in place. I’ve also included some items to promote brand consistency, legal, security and crisis management.

  • Google Analytics campaign codes and syntax for country or campaign specific tracking for each social network. Or equivalent for your website analytics tool.
  • Preferred posting tool – Hootsuite, Cotweet, Sprout social, Buddy media etc.
    • Define reporting templates.
    • Delegate access through a master account for security.
  • URL shortener if different from above.
  • Preferred monitoring/listening tool and defined reporting templates.
  • Promoted posts protocol.
  • Tone and style guides for imagery, videos and text.
  • Social visual brand guidelines.
  • Templates for infographics.
  • Video intro and outro snippets.
  • Developers notes for meta data (Twitter cards, preview thumbnails etc).
  • Preferred social sharing buttons and provider.
  • PR and social media crisis protocol, plan and contacts.
  • Copyright and licensing database for third part content.
  • Contracts, admin accounts and account managers list for all tools.
  • Additional employment contract amendments for social media.
  • Social Media Strategy summary.
  • Training documents, budgets and contacts.
  • CONTENT calendar and schedule.

Like your KPIs, these best practice documents should be revisited regularly. In a learning organisation they could even be collaborative documents with comments areas to record what works regionally. Any adjustments should be trialled, a/b tested and asserted as the new best practice.

Let me know what I’ve missed in the comments!


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agilemarketing, content marketing, social media

Are you listening brands? Really listening?

Customers are communicating. are we listening?

As marketing makes a slow progression from campaign based messaging to constant engagement in social media via mobile devices – we need to revisit our communication techniques.

Social is bringing us back to one-to-one communcation. People can now talk to people as faces of a brand. We can get resolution and great customer service from a mere tweet. Heck even two years ago Four Season Palo Alto set the bar for customer service on social media and (some) brands have kicked it up a level from there already.

And maybe they are being selective – responding to customers based on their status/connections/influence – but they’re listening and responding.

Monitor you brand mentions for free, at least!

Google alerts are a great first step for any brand to monitor brand mentions and what people are saying. socialmention.com lets you take it a little further and can also give you sentiment analysis. Get Agile! These alerts can give you a window on potentially sensitive news, disgruntled clients and maybe opportunities to take advantage of in your sector. News jacking when done right is highly effective.

Yet anyone who has featured on Interbrands top brands list or has thousands of engaged fans on Facebook MUST start thinking about Radian 6, Brandwatch, SM2 (more info on social media monitoring) or Sysomos. Tools that index and record every mention and can filter share of voice on topics and rank influencers. With these tools you can also build out a picture and backlog of issues, pain points, problems and hopefully delights your customers are mentioning. Understanding and prioritising these for action in terms of research and development is the goal of many big data buffs.

For us as marketers

  • we have feedback on our messages
  • we have topics for blogging
  • we can mitigate issues and educate the confused
  • we have data to support our strategy and formulate tactics

Listening to comments online ensures content marketing resonates.

Providing content, entertainment, news, information and services that have percieved value to our customers will keep them engaged and build their afinity with our brands. We’re becoming their favorite TV show or news source but instead of just broadcasting we can listen and make an informed response.

Bloomberg thinks ‘Jeff Bezos Can Make Newspapers Profitable’ – http://bloom.bg/197BN1Y
My take is that this is an aquire-hire. He’s gearing up for the future and brand journalism. Jeff knows we want more from our brands than their product or service.

Content marketing can also build a valuable resource of information on getting the most out of our products and services. Amassing a wealth of valuable information on a variety of topics means potential clients will find you first on Google. It promotes self service and lowers the dreaded reliance on automated phone customer services. “Press one, if you’re already more irate hearing this message”. Although they’re ‘recorded for training purposes’ I CAN’T GOOGLE THEM!

But getting back to listening, we need to find the correct balance between one-to-one responses and providing value to as many customers as possible.

We can prioritise a backlog and calendar of maketing communications. One that addresses them at each stage of the customer journey and their hottest topics. Continuous communication that ultimately adds value to our customers, stakeholders, partners and community.


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Uncategorized

Image is everything online. Be it words, images, audio or video.

Image is everything. Conveying the right message to visitors irregardless of the page or area of your website they land on is paramount.

Your site needs to sing your brand message.

That’s not just through SEO optimised prose, but also each and every media element on your site. Be that images, colour palette, videos, audio or pictures. It’s not just how they perform on your website though, it’s also the singular story they tell when shared on social media or adapted by your fans.

Audio and video convey the strongest messages. Think of the Intel Inside ditty (dom dum dom ding) or the McDonalds whistle or that ever evocative chime of the ice cream van in childhood. Fisher and Paykel spend significant time at a product level honing the beeps and pips your washing machine makes when finished, or overloaded. Much like Harley Davison and Lexus spend time tuning engine exhaust notes. Items that can connect you with the brand as you use the product.

In marketing, sounds can evoke strong emotional connections with brands.

Recently BMW spent millions updating their signature jingle, a series of notes to sign off their video ads. The jingle is perhaps hinting to the sound of a gear down change, but the overuse of a synthesiser leaves it hard to recognise. I’m left thinking Transformers rather than BMW.

I’ve also just watched an Audi ad and realised that, in response they have upgraded there signature too. Far more evocative they play the sound of a low solid heart beat as the four rings of their logo appear. “Duh dum, duh dum.” Relatively fast paced, the beat reminds you of spirited driving, yet (with your Audi all wheel drive) you’re not out of control. A great piece of media, exemplifying the brand.

It is of course fine for global brands to create emtional storytelling through vidoes yet rich media is often out of reach for you average SME. Small businesses, even with the budget can find the time needed to create a quality video too much of a commitment. Still, if done well, smart phone quick updates on industry changes or products or services can be enticing for users to watch.

Take the time to include up to date shots of real people and real products.

The use of photos and images is within reach of most business. Even if it has to be the dreaded stock footage. The old adage ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’ is as true online as when first penned. Product shots either static or in use or motion are a great way to connect users with your products. For services where, more often than not, success is defined by personal relationships between employees and clients – staff photos or the lack thereof conveys a strong message. Using stock footage when talking ‘about us’ says a lot about a service provider…

Images are so powerful and such a part of the modern mobile web that sites are now switching focus to portrait shots rather than landscape. The endless scroll and sites like Pinterest and Tumblr promoting the quick re-posting of images, the more vertical real estate your images can acquire the better. Infographics, visual interpretations of data or stories, are a great way to explain what you’re saying in a method that is more accessible for visual learners. When presented as vertical graphics they’re great for sharing on social media sites as well.

As with all marketing, images need a purpose and goal. Think real estate and target audience with each piece of multimedia. What pain point is it addressing, which user, which phase of the buying cycle and how does it speak of your brand’s promise.

Images and multimedia should augment an article or website, adding value to the user and creating affinity or demand for you brand.

Given also that many videos and infographics are shared using social media, they should also be able to stand alone conveying their message without contextual copy or written introductions. They should also drive, in some way, users further down the the sales funnel or closer to the brand for loyalty. Always asking for the sale, even with a subtle whisper, is key.


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agilemarketing, content marketing, SEO, social media

5 sources of innovation for your digital marketing

Now as a digital marketer or online marketing specialist, there’s a lot of innovations I need to keep up with.

There are technical updates in the various fields of the role: SEO, SEM, social media, content marketing, PR, email marketing and mobile marketing that I need to monitor so that I’m optimising and measuring efforts correctly.

But beyond that, how can you keep a competitive advantage in the online space?

Can we look at different perspectives, emulating competitors, extrapolating on someone else’s technique? Here’s some options you might wish to explore.

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Reflecting. Still Sunday in NZ

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  1. I’m starting to think more seriously about my photography and one method I use to create new shots is to emulate a technique that someone has used on a totally different subject. Maybe there’s methods that you use in web development that could help your content marketing?
  2. Attend a conference but look outside your industry when choosing break out sessions. If you market to consumers throw a B2B presentation into your mix. Very rarely will a competitor share the big secret to their online marketing, but someone in a different industry might.
  3. Learn a language or switch continent. I google a topic in Spanish and Portuguese to see if there’s experts there that are doing things differently. Sure, most of the SEO and PPC innovation comes from the US, but there’s quite a few Chilean and Brazilian startups doing innovative stuff in the Mobile and location (checking into locations) space.
  4. Think about external sources for your content like your supplier or resellers. Ozone Coffee Roasters tell their suppliers back story very well. Discussing suppliers can often lead to great long tail SEO.
  5. In your A/B testing, do something counterintuitive occasionally. OK, I’m not saying do something that will alienate your customers completely, but try sending out a new article at 8pm instead of 8am, just to see…

These are some of the ways I innovate. What do you do to keep ahead?


Some thoughts on different perspectives and using tactics from other specialities or industries to spice things up.

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liveblog, social media, Strategy

Rights, Critics, Publishers And Social Media In The Music Industry

Last night I attended my first Social Media focused event here in Auckland. Held by the Social Media Club Auckland called ‘Tweet to the Beat – When Music and Social Media Collide’

The evening had some great cider and pizza pre start and then after a short ‘shiny new thing’ segment covering the website 25mostplayed.com, a very open panel with some interesting music industry figures and experts.

Here’s a quick rundown of my takeaways from the event.

25 most played
A compelling concept that – via Facebook opengraph, an app on your main iTunes mac and a weekly update – lets you share and compare your 25 most played songs with others.

Not that interesting for those with distinct taste, but there was a business element building.

We reviewed lists by those that ‘liked’ a fashion retailer. This could be a great way to pull a play list for your retail outlet that resonates with your clientele right? Also, they’re working on developing check-in facilities. So – if you check into a venue your 25 most could then be added to their playlist.

With genre based filtering to fit the locale, this could mean everywhere plays music you like or close to it.

Aggregators and Curation
25 most played reminded me of the recent news Matt Cutts released about Penguin 2.0 – Google’s wave of updates.

There’s a specific focus there on understanding curation sites like paper.li and scoop.it. I think sites like this will play a larger role in both mechanical aggregation of friends activity, but also as a space for experts to share their opinion. Something Google is also focusing on, understanding people who are an expert in X.

Dean Campbell talked of this a little and the struggles as a reporter to get interviews with some artists. This being a very strong signal of who is influential in an industry. He was the only one to get an official interview with Lorde, New Zealand’s latest teen success story.

Social media is giving more space for everyone to share opinions. We see their relative importance as likes, follows and retweets. Still, there is a large space for industry experts, critics and connected consultants to make or break an artist.

Mystique and scarcity is also a tactic in social media

Scott McLauchlan of Universal and Saiko (who represent Lorde and Mt Eden) spoke of their efforts NOT to share too much about Lorde’s life – which is paying off. It also allows her to be authentic, saves on ghost writers and keeps her fans wanting more.

I can see this tactic working well for luxury brands as well but the mantra of ‘sharing valuable content not just sharing’ works for all digital marketing in my books.

Rights and economies of scale

Fiona Perry and Paul McLaney AKA Gramsci talked of holding onto the rights to your music as a must and that streaming music, and royalties from each play is the future, but it’s still yet to gain critical mass. Also of interest was that the Finns (Crowded House) are probably the only Kiwis to earn enough from iTunes to live off it. And, according to Fiona, the admin and data processing to check all the pips and cents from each streaming sites leaves little in profits.
There seems to be still a stronger focus on big data, technology and standards to allow these streams to be profitable whilst working with the percentages the big labels take ask Spotify.

They also reiterated that Universal, Sony and the other big players with their contacts, scale and marketing will still be needed if you aim to make the big time.
But more and more bands are making money from the gigs, merchandise and appearances along with the music. Sideline ventures bringing in money I guess means they’re keen to get their songs heard and clips watched online to build their brand…

I’ll leave you with a catchy number from Lorde. I’m sure she values the experience, contacts and influence Scott and his team provide.

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content marketing, social media

Social media – Deus ex machina to the digitally disrupted?

I was watching this great what to do with Twitter video this morning and it got me thinking could social media provide the Deus ex machina that many companies are looking for?

Andrew Grill covered a report by Deloitte on the notion of Digital Disruption. The report covers industries that are predicted to be hardest hit by the combination of mobile platforms, social media and online sales.

The report highlights industries that will have to truly switch up their business models, revenue models and products or services to survive. One of the first to be hit being retail as we see more and more shops being forced to compete on price as “showrooming” becomes a thing.

A case in point is this Australian store charging people to enter as they just go home and buy the same thing online elsewhere (thanks Mahei for the insights @iconic88).

Instead of fighting back with her own website, content channel, live tweets and promotions this store owner sadly still thinks in footfall. Much like the numbers game in eyeballs to ads model last week.

This week I think we need to look at the strengths of the mediums we use and work out how that best fits with your company.

I had some ideas a while back on marketing unfinished products to give insights into your brand. As the Twitter video highlights, if you know your platform well you can use it to great effect.

It is a new medium that requires a new mind set. Traditional values of open, transparent, good service will prevail but we need to hone our new media skills.

We need to ditch the hard sell, ad driven product centric work – for content that brings clients closer to the brand and heightens their affinity.

So beyond the brand strategy, and content calendars we need to also learn the skills of the medium:

  • Respond quickly to customer enquiries at a one to one level, that can be seen by many
  • Learn to Newsjack and make a trending issue relevant to your fans
  • Share your fans stories to create affinity
  • Have a voice and people behind it that connect and converse with your fans and their contacts as humans, not a brand
  • Make it about them, not about your product or service.

What would you add?

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B2B, crisis management, social media, Uncategorized

Does your brand have a clear crisis management plan?

Each day I hear more and more statistics around the majority of FTSE 100 or Fortune 500 companies getting into social media.

The reluctance to allow clients to communicate with brands is being overpowered as it becomes mainstream.

Brands that are not on Facebook or Twitter are:

  • At least, feeling the peer pressure.
  • At most, developing highly formulated infrastructures to support social media marketing and social business as their businesses are transformed by close relationships with their clients.

This pressure to “do social” doesn’t always mean brands are entering with clear plans objectives and tactics. They let the pressure build, dive in and open themselves up to customers. Unprepared for a face full of coke.

All Shook Up
© eviloars

We’ve seen some epic fails in recent time. Here are 14 for example.

Many PR and community managers are thinking – if I have to face a nightmare like @O2 – will I be able to respond with such finesse.

A lot of which could be avoided by establishing ground rules. On my list of priorities for any social media effort are:

  1. What is our crisis management plan?
    This should cover:

    • What constitutes an “issue”?
    • Who is authorise to respond?
    • Who do you call in what department?
    • Where will we respond – offline, in private or in public?
    • When – what real time quick response team is in place?
    • How will you respond? “Sweep and hid” or “my bad” ?
  2. What is our Objective?
    • Content syndication?
    • Brand building?
    • Advocacy?
    • Engagement?
  3. What does success look like?
    • How will I measure it?

Only from there will I move to looking at what success in a “campaign” or action might look like and how that fits with the overall strategy and path. Where the questions and answers vary, but having the following is key.

  1. A product owner – the task master that will ensure all content providers are in place, and that their content is on time and on brand
  2. A content calendar – however simple or elaborate.
  3. Regular content meetings – possibly even daily stand-ups where – “Each member talks about progress since the last stand-up, the anticipated work until the next stand-up and any impediments, taking the opportunity to ask for help”

But coming back to dealing with crisis – make sure you have the fallback plan in place. Know who is the second backup, who can respond with a video if nexessary, comments to the press, TV etc. Then at a smaller scale, preset authorised refunds or “gifts” as apologies.

Refreshment. Ice cold!Its important to have it all in place before the bottle explodes.

 

Especially over the hot summer months when someone’s server or service is bound to be brought down by the heat – just as half your team are on vacation sipping cool drinks.

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SoLoMoCo - Social Media, Local Marketing, Mobile Marketing and Content
content marketing, mobile, social media

SoLoMoCo the four essential pillars of online marketing

Digital Marketing has its old favourite acronyms and phrases that marketers, heck anyone online needs to need to understand at a tactical level: SEO, PPC ,CTR, CPA, Long tail, edge rank, to name a few.

But at a strategic level there are four characters we should all be focusing on over the next year.

SoLoMoCo
As I’m yet to have lunch I’ve taken a food theme to lay out the member of the SoLoMoCo team.

Boris Johnson in Tooting

Social Media
Mr Social is the friendly manager/landlord. He knows all the guests personally and makes sure to say hi to all and sundry. He know his valued connections and who can help him with his cause. People follow him and can’t wait for what he’ll say next. Although he looks like a bit of a show off, he knows the 80/20 rule and spends lot more time sharing his friends thoughts over his own.

Dallas Farmers Market 2

Local or geographically base search and interaction
Mr Local is the king of the farmers market. You search for him and his big banner pops up and is relevant to those within a stone’s throw. He does a different farmers market each week and he has a tailored offering for each location. Oh and its fresh stocked daily with new products and content.

bread sled

Mobile
Mobile is the driver of a turbocharged breadtruck. He needs to be ultra-fast and lightweight. Right now – you at least get a custom packaged takeaway meal from him. Very soon networks will be so fast he will need to offering you the full menu. Knowing that snacking on the run and delivery are the future of dining, restaurants will even think takeaway first. The same is happening with the web!

The Story Teller

Content
I’ve left the storyteller to last, the one that ties brand messages together. He’s not new to the mix but his face is more prominent. He’s the one that knows how to tell the true story the brand. He has many hats and could be the landlord for all we know. But he thinks innovatively about content.

He throws a cameraman in for a wild ride in the breaddruck. He shows you the variety at the farmers market, the care that the chefs take with meals and the personalities behind everything. He also talks about customers, their experiences and has a story for those considering buying, those buying and those that will buy again.

Now you know the team spots. Make sure you’ve got players!

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thoughts

Notes: Alterian Alchemy and CM7 Launch event

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the UK launch of Alterian Alchemy™ and Alterian Content Manager 7.

David Eldrige, CEO and founder opened the event with some great notes on the catch phrase shift to #engagement from open and close campaigns.

Although the terminology and systems we use will still focus on campaigns, marketers that “get it” will turn campaigns into micro projects, with an overall view to engaging clients and prospects – to ultimately turn them into brand evangelists.

There was a great snippet video shown:

Many discussing the true face of customised marketing. Moving from the mass broadcast to mass customisation.

Supporting materials are available at www.engagingtimes.com

And by engagement were not talking old school “dear client” “regards, consultant” but rather true customisation: more relevant and timely information to clients via email AND on your website.

That move from push to pull…

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