Category Archives: Marketing

Winning the Competition for Content Marketing

According to a study by KPCB, the amount of content that people are sharing globally is around two trillion gigabytes. So, whether you’re a content marketer or a social media recruiter, you’re up against a lot of competition.

What sort of content should you create? And where should you post it to have the best chance of being shared?

I recently went to an expert in the field, ShareThis. They’re the ones who created that little button you see on so many blogs and websites (including this one), letting you easily share a post on more than 120 social channels. Their most recent study has some eye-opening findings.

First, the five leading channels for sharing are Facebook, followed by Twitter, which together make up 75% of all internet sharing. Email comes in third, followed by Pinterest and LinkedIn.

But that’s only one part of the story. A second study by ShareThis found that Pinterest content is five times more popular for sharing content than Twitter is — though Twitter itself is a more popular channel. In other words, fewer people visit Pinterest, but those who do share a lot of content. So if you have photos, cartoons, or infographics, you should post them on Pinterest along with Twitter for a one-two punch.

I was also surprised by the latest information on video sharing. 66% of video shares happen through Facebook. 13% are shared on Twitter, with sites like Reddit and Tumblr making up most of the remaining 21%. Once again, it seems that Twitter isn’t always the best venue for sharing content. Video creators, take heed.

The findings of both ShareThis and venture capital firm KPCB convinced me that mobile is the future of sharing. Right now, mobile sharing is twice as social as the desktop, and I expect that number will increase. The typical user checks social media on their phone nine times a day, but checks the web on their computer only three times.

50 sharing options from buttons like ShareThis and AddThis.
50 sharing options from buttons like ShareThis and AddThis.

As always, it seems the only constant is change. 2012 became the year of Instagram, but now it gets fewer photos uploaded per day than Snapchat does. If you want to be seen as a cutting-edge brand, you may need to add Snapchat to your marketing strategy. 

What are other strategic ways of sharing content? Video gets all the attention, but don’t forget about audio; 11 hours of sound are uploaded to SoundCloud every minute. So consider creating songs, speeches, and podcasts along with YouTube videos.

It’s also time to re-evaluate Facebook likes. They’re not the same as shares. Scott Monty, social media director at Ford, recently called likes the “digital grunts” of Facebook: “The like, as far as I’m concerned, is the minimum commitment you can ask from a fan. Likes, comments, shares — it goes in that order of importance.” Keep that hierarchy in mind when analyzing your metrics.

There’s real value to a share. EventBrite came up with this breakdown for buying an event ticket: A share on LinkedIn is worth 92 cents; a retweet is worth $1.85; and a Facebook share is worth $4.15. This may mean the era of “clickbait” articles is over, since content that gets clicks and views simply isn’t as attractive as that which gets shared (I’m looking in your direction, UpWorthy.)

As for the type of content to produce, Likeable Local’s CEO Dave Kerpen recently delineated seven important qualities. The more of these your content has, the more shareable it becomes:

Consistent — Post regularly so readers know when to expect your content.

Useful — Find a way to help, educate, or entertain your readers.

Authentic  — Be honest and real instead of writing press releases for your company.

Emotional — The most shareable content often tugs our heartstrings.

Where the audience is — Find the right channels using the statistics given above.

Paid for — Use sponsored posts on Facebook and promoted tweets on Twitter.

Storytelling — Tell the true stories behind your company, its leadership, and its employees.

Need help determining what content to create and where to post it? Brandemix has a long history of using shareable content to support marketing, branding, and recruiting campaigns. Contact me if you’d like to know more.

And don’t forget to share this article!

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What the Viral Ads of 2013 Tell Us About Video Marketing

Several publications and websites have released what they calculate to be the most shared video ads of 2013. I’ve watched them all — some for the 20th time — and I’ve discovered some factors that may be useful when you’re creating your own video content.

Fool Me Once…
Two successful 2013 ads featured pranks. MGM, which released a new version of Carrie this year, set up an elaborate illusion in a coffeehouse that made it appear that a young woman had Carrie-like magical powers — which terrified the unknowing customers. Meanwhile, Pepsi Max disguised NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon and had him take an unsuspecting car salesman on a high-speed test drive that left the salesman breathless.

Playwrights call audiences knowing something the characters don’t “dramatic irony” and it’s worked since Shakespeare’s time. But be careful: Ads like this can come off as mean-spirited tricks. Lucikily, these two ads stay on the right side of the line.

Tug the Heartstrings
Some of the most viral ads of 2013 tried to make us cry. Dove’s “Real Beauty Sketches” ads illustrated that women often aren’t aware of their own beauty: A forensic sketch artist, hidden from his subjects, drew a sketch of a woman as she described herself. He then drew a sketch of the same woman, this time described by a stranger. Each time, the stranger’s sketch was more beautiful than the woman’s description of herself. The message was very powerful, making it the most viewed ad of all time.

Extra Gum’s “Origami” ad had another touching premise. It told the story of a father who makes origami cranes out of gum wrappers for his daughter over her entire childhood. As he packs her things for college, he finds a box full of the cranes; unknown to him, she had kept all of them through the years.

Many of us remember the most funny or shocking or raunchy ads, but pure, unironic emotion can also be very effective. Especially when combined with…

Animals
Two of the most viral ads of 2013 touched us by featuring adorable animals. GoPro’s “Be a Hero” ad showed a firefighter, wearing the company’s new camera on his helmet, as he found and revived an unconscious kitten after a house fire. Budweiser’s “Brotherhood” spot, which aired during the Super Bowl, showcased the bond between a horse trainer as he raises a foal to become one of the brewer’s famous Clydesdales — and who remembers the trainer after years apart.

People love stories about animals, and about the connection between humans and their pets, so it’s no surprised that these ads were shared so widely.

Make ‘Em Laugh
Of course, comedy still sells. AT&T showed that with its series of “It’s Not Complicated” ads featuring children saying the darnedest things. Kmart delivered some clever wordplay with “Ship My Pants.” Ron Burgundy presented his usual clueless arrogance for a dozen Dodge Durango ads. And Doritos even got a joke across without any dialogue in its Super Bowl ad “Goat 4 Sale.” Humor, in all its forms, is the most shared content across the entire internet, so don’t be afraid to show your silly side.

Ads That Defy Description
Not every popular ad of 2013 falls neatly into one of these categories, of course. Did Geico’s “Hump Day” ad go viral because it starred a camel, or simply because it was funny? Was Evian’s “Baby & Me” so popular because it featured babies, or dancing, or dancing babies? And no other company staged a stunt this year like Volvo Truck’s “Epic Split,” in which Jean-Claude Van Damme does the splits between two 18-wheelers while they’re moving.

Length doesn’t seem to be a factor in creating shareable content. For example, Dove released a six-minute version of its “Real Beauty Sketches” that was almost as popular as the three-minute version. While the longer version never aired on TV, availability doesn’t seem to be factor in viral ads; But Geico’s “Hump Day” was on TV all the time — yet it was the second most-viewed internet ad of the year.

Ready to create some video content with a good chance of going viral? Whether you want to be emotional, feature an animal, or pull a prank, Brandemix can help.
Contact us and we’ll talk.

Branding, Marketing, and Web Design Trends

With the holidays fast approaching (such as Thanksgivukkah in just two weeks!) we thought we’d share some of our professional predictions for 2014 branding, marketing, and web design.

Branding: Clean-Slate Brands
According to Trendwatching, new is good, less is more, and sometimes true is better than tried. Consumers are seeking greater control, choices de-simplified, and upstarts on a mission. 2014 could be the year of the entrepreneur with a great product and an inspirational mission.

Web Trends: Start with Small
Begin your design phase of every project with an eye on how it will look on a mobile device. Then branch out to tablets and PC’s. It will help you frame your content by what’s important and build an architecture based on best-practice. Less is more. Just as we saw above, the trend is moving to simplification: large images, parallax effects, and one-page websites organized into blocks of content inspired by Pinterest. The only thing that will get more complex is the choice of web-friendly fonts you can use.

Video is surging in popularity. A June 2013 survey conducted by AOL showed that almost three quarters of marketing professionals plan to increase their spending on branded video content or video ads in 2014. Same rules apply: keep it short and simple, and make it good. 

Social Media Marketing: Diversify Your Strategy 
As we saw from investors’ show of support for Twitter’s IPO, social is only getting bigger and more relevant. As choices expand and audiences fragment, it gives marketing professionals the opportunity to create meaningful content that creates affinity for your brand’s voice. Once you build out a brand framework and architecture, drill down your value proposition for each audience and demo you’re looking to reach.

  • Google+ will continue to grow in size and influence and should no longer be thought of as a second-tier site. Delete that joke on the famous “Donut List.”
  • Image is everything and make it fast. Think Vine, Instagram, Pinterest. The popularity of these sites shows us that appetite for bite-sized chunks of content is growing. Say it in 6 seconds – and go! 

As always, it’s best to have a strategy and never too late to download our free Social Media Marketing Strategy Guide

What are your marketing predictions for 2014?  We’d love to hear them. As an agency that specializes in branding, marketing and web design, we love staying ahead of the curve. 

How Retailers Can Connect the Online and In-Store Customer Experience

The great overlap has started.

In the last few months, the worlds have physical shopping and online shopping have collided. Walmart, the country’s biggest retailer, has increased its massive e-commerce effort, using its thousands of US locations as distribution points for same-day delivery. At the same time, Amazon, the country’s biggest online retailer, now ships items to “lockers,” physical kiosks which can be accessed at any time. With Amazon Lockers,Brand Channel has declaredAmazon’s strategy to distribute its products through traditional retail outlets is already underway.”


These retail giants are reacting to customer behavior. They know that customers want an online experience that’s connected to the in-store experience. So how can this strategy be implemented by specialty retailers? Here are some easy steps to get the best of both worlds.

Bringing Online Information to the Store
Price is not the only factor driving customers to online shopping. “Customers demand quick and easy access to relevant product information,” says Mark Brixton in Australia’sPower Retail blog. With turnover in the retail industry higher than ever, and employers unable to fully train their staff, many customers find that sales associates can’t help them make informed decisions about products.

The solution? Make your associates (and managers!) as knowledgeable as possible – even it means “cheating.” At Best Buy, I once inquired about a camera, and the associate simply pulled out an iPad and looked at the Best Buy website with me, showing all the good reviews. It certainly was better than being told “I don’t know,” which makes me leave the store to find more information.

Another online feature that’s very effective is the recommendation engine: “People who bought X also bought Y.” Store associates can make those suggestions, of course, but there’s another option: reconfiguring your store so that items that are often bought together are actually displayed together.
 
Chico’s online recommendations

What about online customer recommendations? Brazilian clothier C&A has “special hooks on the racks in its bricks-and-mortar store” that display Facebook likes for each item of clothing in real time, “giving in-store shoppers a clear indication of each item’s online popularity
.That technology may be a ways off for most of us, but that doesn’t stop you from putting a sign on an item that says, “Our most popular item on Facebook,” or “Our most pinned product on Pinterest.”

Bringing the Personal Store Experience Online
Jiadev Shergill, founder of Bundle.com, told a recent Internet Week New York Panel, “Walking into a store and feeling the clothes, trying them on – this is a data point that you can’t get online.”

He recommends “product videos, multiple angles, more product measurement details, and real-world comparisons,” to simulate the in-store experience, making customers more comfortable with an item they can’t hold, use, or try on.

Many have us know at least one sales associate that has been helping us for years, who know lots of our personal details, and uses that information to help us shop. So why not ask for that information during online shopping? Asking for a birthday is expected, but you could also ask for more (optional) information, such as hobbies, favorite colors, or preferred brands. That allows you to offer exactly what the customer wants the next time they visit your online store.

This may seem obvious, but you should also make online returns as easy as in-store returns.
Zappos led the way by making returns both free and hassle-free. Now many websites offer that service.

Zappos provides a video explaining how to return items.

 

Linking the Two Experiences Together
One good strategy is to keep a customer database that can be accessed by both your online store and your physical store. So when an online customer finally walks into your store, all they have to do is give their name or email address and a sales associate can look at their purchase history, preferences, and recommendations.

To the customer, your online store isn’t some separate entity, so if they’ve bought from your website five times, why should they be treated like a stranger when they finally pay your physical store a visit?
Most importantly, this entire philosophy is dependent on employees to deliver your brand experience. Whether you’ve been in the same location for 50 years or are a new internet startup, your brand has value. And it’s your employees who have the greatest power to make or break it. They’re the ones who shift your message from a concept to an experience – positive or negative. So whichever strategy you implement, make sure your employees can define your brand. If they can’t define it, they can’t deliver it.

I hope these ideas have helped you look at online shopping and physical shopping as two sides of the same coin, with each complementing the other. And if you’d like to create an online store – or refresh an old one – my agency, Brandemix, is happy to help.

Social Media Fun Facts 2013

I frequently give presentations on social media marketing, social recruiting, and Social Media Superstars. During my research, I come across all sorts of interesting facts and statistics. This week, as I prepare for a presentation with HR.com’s Quality of Hire event, I thought I’d share a few of the more surprising with you.

The most popular hashtag on Instagram is #love, followed by #instagood, #me, and #cute. (ReadWrite)

San Francisco’s AT&T Park, once the most photographed location on Instagram, is now fifth. The #1 slot is now filled by Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok. #2 is in the same city – it’s Siam Paragon Shopping Mall. (Mashable)

The most retweeted tweet of all time is a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama, tweeted by the President after winning re-election. It has more than 810,000 retweets. (Twitter)

Most retweeted tweet ever - Obama's re-election

The most-followed person on Google Plus is Lady Gaga, followed by Britney Spears and Google CEO Larry Page. 69% of Google Plus users are male. (Social Statistics)

Still the champion after more than a year, Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta is the most visited location on Foursquare, with more than one million check-ins. (Foursquare)

Justin Bieber’s video for his song “Baby” is no longer the most popular YouTube video of all time. Korean pop sensation Psy now has that honor; his “Gagnam Style” video has around 1.5 million views. (The Daily Beast)

25% of all employee profile views on LinkedIn are by co-workers. 14% of LinkedIn members have no college degree. (LinkedIn)

The most repinned image on Pinterest is a photo of “garlic cheesy bread,” repined more than 102,000 times. Twelve of the top 20 most repinned images are photos of food; none of the top 20 shows a human or animal face. (Repinly)

The most repinned image: Garlic cheesy bread

The Facebook careers page with the most “likes” is Verizon, with 165,489 followers. The Twitter careers profile with the most followers is Park Place, a group of luxury car dealerships in Dallas. @ParkPlaceCareer has 69,264 followers. (Social Recruitment Monitor)

Besides Facebook itself, the most popular brands on Facebook are YouTube, Coca-Cola, MTV, and Disney. (Fan Page List).

Want to learn more about these and other social media sites, and how Brandemix can use them to help your consumer branding or employer branding campaigns? Contact me.

 

Thanks to My Curators and Creators – From Yourr #1 LinkedIn Voyeur

Last summer, Pew Internet Research reported that 46% of adult internet users were Creators; that is, they have shared photos and videos that they’ve created. 41% are Curators; they’ve reposted, retweeted or repackaged information that they’ve found
online. 32% are Creators/Curators.

I presume it also implies that 54% are Internet Voyeurs — neither posters nor creators. And while I don’t fall into that category (I’m in the 32% batch), I have been getting a tremendous amount of inspiration from my LinkedIn network of generous professional friends, many of whom I’ve never actually met or spoken with.

Today I want to thank:

Kate Billing
We’ve never met but share a passion for branding and bagels. Your updates  about leadership, happiness, and inspiration are always uplifting and I’m sure you are too. Also loved this great video about putting purpose into marketing (imagine that?).  I promise to get together on my next trip to New Zealand.

Debbie Laskey
According to my inbox, we’re actually celebrating a 2-year anniversary of connecting.  Your updates are tailor-made for me. From the hottest trends in digital marketing to matching a consumer brand with a consumer experience, I’m always clicking, reading, and agreeing. Please keep it up.

And thanks to Michelle Sybert for this image!

And thanks to Michelle Sybert for this image!

Davar Azarbeygui
You made my morning with your share of TBWA Transforms Briefs into Art, from Branding Magazine. Inspiration is everywhere and today you brought me mine.

Pat Wadors
Finally, someone I actually know. Making the Most of Your “Aha!” Moment” was a fun read. I can only hope I have more of them because those gamma activities are the foundation of Brandemix’s creative currency.

A friend recently wrote that thinking doesn’t start when you arrive at the office and end when you go home. It starts when you wake up and continues when you read the news, when you look around, when you read books and blogs. It doesn’t even stop when you go to bed. You dream your job. That’s how you become great.
 
So thanks for all my #1LinkedIn connections for helping me be great every day.

Brandemix Bonus Reel: More Interest in Pinterest

Is your brand ready to join Pinterest? If so, here are some beginner’s tips from Jason Ginsburg, our Director of Interactive Branding.