Tag Archives: strategy

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!

The Most Popular Blog Posts of 2013

As 2012 comes to a close, let’s take a look back at the year’s most popular blog posts. The topics range from telling your brand story to embracing new technologies to engaging your employees. I hope these articles will help you become an employer of choice and attract top talent — and avoid some of the biggest social media mistakes. 

Here are the BrandeBlog’s six most-read posts of 2013.

Employer Branding: Recruiters Help You Tell the Right Story\
One of the biggest recruiting trends of 2014 is employer branding: the promise your company makes to its employees. And one of the biggest trends in marketing is brand storytelling: the use of content and experiences to bring your brand to life. Combining these trends can bring a powerful presence to your talent acquisition. Here’s how to do it.

How to Become an Employer of Choice
A recent Gallup study found that only 47% of American workers are completely satisfied with their jobs. A MarketTools study found that 21% of employees had applied to another job in the past six months. Clearly, many employees are ready to look elsewhere for the next step in their careers. To attract the best of these workers — and make your current employees stay with you, follow these steps to become an employer of choice. 

Create Goodwill for Your Small Business with Community Involvement
For any small business to succeed, it must build goodwill with the surrounding community. You can have Facebook fans or catalogue customers all over the world, placing orders by phone and email, but if locals aren’t walking in the door, you’re doomed. Branding your business as a “hometown hero” can make a huge impression on your customer base and serve as an important differentiator in the marketplace.

One question that gets asked in every employer branding workshop we hold is, “Where does our employer brand fit with our corporate brand?” Some companies create an employer brand slogan that lives only within recruiting or HR. That’s often against best practice, as it has no bearing on a true employer value proposition. A strong EVP is based on the unique elements of your culture and workplace, resonates with the people you would like more of, and integrates with the same value proposition to your consumer base. Integrating the two brands isn’t always easy, but it’s crucial to success.


Social Media PR Disasters: Applebee’s Wild Night

If it’s true that you can learn more from failure than from success, then there’s a lot to learn from Applebee’s mysterious midnight meltdown. After the restaurant chain’s controversial firing of a waitress, critics took to Applebee’s Facebook page to complain. In the early hours of Saturday, February 2, someone from Applebee’s tried to fight back. What happened next is a perfect example of what not to do in a PR crisis.

Recruiting with Google Glass
Google’s new wearable technology may change recruiting forever. Why? Because, as the economy improves and the competition for talent increases, Google Glass will allow organizations to show a job listing and a corporate culture instead of telling. From talent acquisition to employer branding, here’s how this amazing visual device can be used to engage job-seekers in several new and exciting ways.

What do these posts’ popularity tell us? That there a lot of people with an interest in  and a need for  social media trends, marketing, and branding. As it so happens, they are also specialties of ours! 

Want to be more popular to job-seekers, employees, and customer? Put Brandemix on your to-do list for 2014.


Thanks for reading and happy holidays.

How to Conduct a Social Media Competitive Analysis – For Free

It’s important for every business to conduct a competitive analysis to find their niche in the marketplace. But how do you analyze your competition on social media? How can you compare a big brand on Facebook to a small brand on Twitter? 

The good news is that you can conduct a fairly thorough competitive analysis using sites and tools that are completely free. Here’s how:

Basic Social Media Metrics 
First, see if your competitor promotes their social channels on their website and their blog — if they even have a blog.  There’s a big difference between tiny icons at the bottom of a website and big “Follow us” buttons at the top.  

Then, look at their social profiles to see how many likes they have on Facebook, how many followers they have on Twitter, etc. These raw numbers alone don’t tell the whole story, but they’ll be crucial to determining other statistics. 

A great place to start is Wildfire‘s Who’s Winning in Social feature, which lets you compare follower growth of three brands (including your own) on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ over a range of time, from the last seven days to the last two years. 

Wildfire’s “Who’s Winning in Social” interactive app




Simply Measured offers a number of free reports aimed at specific social channels, including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram, with Pinterest coming soon. For Twitter, the report tells you how influential your followers are, the top keywords in your followers’ profiles, and even a breakdown of followers by time zone.

A few social channels themselves offer free information on your competitors. Facebook lets you create “interest lists” that allow you to see your competitors’ latest content and what type of content is resonating with their followers — in real time. Be sure to set your lists to “private” so your competitors won’t know you’re watching them!

Content Metrics
Now you know your competitor’s numbers, so it’s time to determine what type of content they’re posting. You can start with a quick scan of their feeds. Many brands start with text and links. More advanced brands add photos and videos. Expert brands also post polls, contests, and games. 

For a deeper analysis, you can use Infinigraph to see what type of content your competitor is posting, along with the most common days (and time of day) to post different forms of content.  You’ll not only discover a competitor’s content strategy, but you may find that different content is posted on different sites; for example, food and design photos do very well on Pinterest.

Engagement Metrics
Lots of followers is good, strong content is great, but how is your competitor’s audience actually responding? Engagement is really the most important metric of all.

Rival IQ shows your competitor’s content within the last 90 days, sorting the content by the type of engagement per each post.

Rival IQ’s “Competitive Landscape” feature












Why is this important? Take Twitter. When someone favorites a brand’s tweet, only the brand sees it; but when someone retweets a tweet, that person is actually sharing the content with all their followers. Pinterest and Facebook make similar distinctions between approving a post and actually distributing it.

It’s also very useful to see the tone of engagement. Is your competitor posting a lot on Facebook…because they’re responding to numerous customer complaints on their timeline? Are followers associating the competitor with good things or bad things? SocialMention lets you see the ratio of positive comments to negative ones

Putting It All Together
Armed with this information, you can determine what types of content generate the best types of engagement for your competitors and learn what opportunities you have to stand out from the crowd.

Did you find a social media opportunity but aren’t sure how to exploit it? Brandemix has a great deal of experience in social media marketing, branding, and recruiting. Contact us and we’ll work together to put your findings to good use.

Video: The Importance of Employer Branding

Jason Ginsburg, our Director of Interactive Branding, explains how a strong employer brand is crucial to the success of any organization.

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.

Brandemix Bonus Reel: What is the Social Recruitment Monitor?

Special guest Ed Barzilaij, CEO of Maximum, explains how the new online tool his agency has created helps employers measure the engagement, interactivity, and reach of their social media recruiting efforts.

The Social Recruitment Monitor Revolutionizes Recruiting Metrics

I’ve mentioned it in the past, but now it’s out of beta and ready for the spotlight: It’s theSocial Recruitment Monitor™,the first online tool that measures the engagement, reach, and success of brands’ social media recruiting efforts. Along with rankings of comments, retweets, video views, and the like, the SRM also includes two proprietary scores.

Engagement Ratio (ER) is a formula based on amount of posts, amount of interaction, and amount of fans/followers. Community Interaction (CI) measures fan/follower interaction with the employer and with each other. These values, along with popularity and activity, combine for an SRM Index score.

It’s an ingenious way of looking at social recruiting. For example, right now, Amtrak’s careers Twitter has the highest Index score in the country, 54.24, well ahead of Northrop Grumman’s score of 45.81. Even though Amtrak has fewer followers and retweets than Northrop, its tweets, replies, and follower growth make combine for a higher total score.

The Social Recruitment Monitor™ lets you shuffle the rankings however you want, so if you’re only interested in amount of total retweets, for example, just click on the Retweets column and, voila, the Air Force Reserve now jumps to the top, with 558 – and Amtrak drops to 27th.


Here are a few more fun facts I learned while exploring the SRM:

·  One of the biggest percentage increases in follower count was USAA, which rose by 8.5% to 1,104 followers.

·  Kimberly-Clark posted the most status updates on Facebook last week: 37, an average of five every day. But Union Pacific had the most Facebook comments, 375.

·
 Even though MGM Resorts only posted six status updates on Facebook last week, those posts generated 78 likes and three comments, giving the hotel company the top SRM Index score of the week (43.45).

·
 17 of the 20 top-scoring companies on LinkedIn have a Careers tab on their company page, a premium upgrade. The three that don’t? Union Pacific, Amtrak, and Walt Disney ABC, which also posted the most updates on LinkedIn last week, 17.

·
 The employer with the most recruiting content on YouTube is FedEx, whose playlists add up to almost seven hours of footage. General Motors, in second place, has more than five and a half total hours.

·
 FedEx also has the most total videos, but who has the most views?The US Coast Guard, the only organization on the list with more than one million video views.


The Social Recruitment Monitor
was created by Maximum, a global employer branding and recruitment marketing agency. The CEO, Ed Barzilaij, told me, “Just having a social recruiting presence is not enough. An employer can only know if they are meeting their goals by monitoring, measuring, and comparing.”

The SRM is free. It contains scores for a number of other countries, including the UK, Brazil, and China. You can even add your own organization to the list and compare your social recruiting with some of the best in the world.
If you’ve been looking for ways to get internal support for your social recruiting efforts, this free online tool provides a look at your competition along with simple metrics to gauge your effectiveness. Try it and see what you discover.

And if you want to improve your rankings, drop me a line. My agency, Brandemix, has a long history of social recruiting success and we love sharing our expertise.

Six Steps to an Effective Brand Plan

You’ve heard about it at meetings – possibly from me. But what is a “brand plan”? It’s both an internal and external document. Internally, it describes your organization’s focus and goals, to align all employees with your mission. Externally, it provides a roadmap for marketing and promotion.

How do you create a brand plan? It can take weeks of research, discovery, analysis, and creative development. But here’s a slimmed-down version to help get you started:

Start With a Vision
Your vision statement is aspirational. It’s about the future, not the present; it’s who you want to be as a company and where you want to be in the marketplace. It’s a goal that you will try to attain for the next three, five, or 10 years. Don’t be timid! A vision statement can be grand, bold, and optimistic. It should be an ideal worth aspiring to. This step involves research and discovery from everyone in the organization, as they’ll all be asked to contribute toward the goal.

Plan the Mission
The vision is where you want to be; the mission is how you get there. How will you achieve your goals and how will you know when you’re successful? At best, a mission statement also includes a brief version of your company’s philosophy and purpose. As Entrepreneur.com says, “Your mission statement doesn’t have to be clever or catchy – just accurate.” Spend time fine-tuning every single word, since your mission statement will be your guiding principles for the life of your vision.

It’s OK to have your head in the clouds when you write your vision and mission.

SWOT It Out
A brand plan includes an analysis of your company’s place in the market, broken down into four parts: Strengths – including your expertise, uniqueness, resources, or anything else that gives your company an advantage. Weaknesses – issues that may be holding you back from your potential; what knowledge or capabilities are you missing? Opportunities – such as an emerging customer need that you can meet, a new technology that will change your market, or a reduction in regulations or costs. Threats – problems on the horizon such as a customer need, technology, or law that makes the market worse for your company.

Strategize Tactically
You now know where you want to go, how you’ll get there, and your current and future advantages and disadvantages. Now you can create a strategy that will help you get from here to there, using your strengths to take advantage of the opportunities and avoid the obstacles. This means creating a strategy, the large-scale plan for success. Within this are tactics, the individual programs, products, and initiatives that contribute to the strategy. In war, strategy involves which battles you’re going to fight; the tactics are how you fight them. Don’t get them mixed up or you can find yourself wasting resources on a tactic or overlooking the importance of a strategy.

Bring in the Numbers
Visions and missions can be “touchy-feely,” but a brand plan should include numbers. If you’re launching a new product, how many will be in your first shipment? What are your metrics for success – sales, hires, press mentions, social media responses? What’s the minimum ROI that will allow you to move on to the next step? And what’s the budget for each of your tactics? Don’t let your enthusiasm make you neglect the most important numbers – time and money!

Some brand plans are measured in months; others in hours.

3, 2, 1, Launch!
The plan is in place. Now it’s time to execute. Put that new budget to use and start designing, writing, creating, and shipping. After so much discussion and preparation, everyone will be eager for results. Help them out with a quick win, an easily achieved goal that boosts your employees’ confidence and builds momentum for the next round. Quick wins silence doubters and give you something to point to at the first few status meetings and say, “This worked.”

Your brand plan is finished. Guided by your mission statement, you’re implementing your strategy and tactics, making your vision a reality. You’ve made some quick wins, you’re analyzing the metrics, and you’re aware of both the perils and the promise of the future. You’ve put in place a solid foundation for success.

At Brandemix, we specialize in brand planning, brand architecture, brand positioning, and branding initiatives. If you’d like to learn more, contact me. I’d love to share our knowledge with you.

Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch, Part 3

2007: A year most notably known for the introduction of the iPhone, Jack Kevorkian’s release from prison, the Congressional Medal of Honor presented to the Dalai Lama and 2 Brandeblog entries entitled Culture Eats Strategy for Lunch, Part 1 and Part 2.

Edgar Schein, the MIT management professor who actually coined the phrase “culture eats strategy for lunch,” wrote that the the success of a company is determined not by its business plan but by its people.

Welcome to Part 3, as we watch with interest Goldman Sachs’ loss of more than $2 billion in market value after a searing indictment of their culture in the New York Times by one of their own people, Greg Smith in his very public letter of resignation. 

While we may think that Goldman Sachs became one of the world’s most successful investment banks because of aggressive business practices, Smith reveals that it was actually because of its employees.  “[C]ulture was always a vital part of Goldman Sachs’ success,” Smith writes. Culture “was the secret sauce that made this place great and allowed us to earn our clients’ trust for 143 years.”

Smith reflects on his former “pride” and “belief in the organization.” This is the real-deal—the emotional connection Brandemix strives to embody in each of our branding assignments.

It’s the living illustration of the service-profit chain, a philosophy that proves engaged, empowered employees may increase company profits by as much as 22%. For an investment bank, that could mean billions of dollars.

Today, Smith rues the lack of “humility” and “integrity,” two of Goldman’s core values which also include placing clients’ interests first, commitment to excellence and innovation, and teamwork. Smith calls out Goldman’s two leaders, President Gary Cohn and CEO Lloyd Blankfein, for “the decline in the firm’s moral fiber.”

No surprise. Culture starts from the top down and, as I tell clients, senior leaders must buy in, live the values, and set an example for everyone else.

I’m not alone; Frederick E. Allen, the Leadership Editor at Forbes, responded to Smith’s letter with an article titled To Save Goldman Sachs, Lloyd Blankfein Must Go. 

If you’re ever attended a Brandemix presentation on Employer Branding, you know how important I think an organization’s values are to employee acquisition and retention. Well, here’s that idea in reverse: a lack of values is actually causing an employee of 12 years to leave a lucrative position with bonus money on the table.

Smith isn’t just saying that the new culture isn’t for him. He’s not saying that it isn’t right. He’s saying that the culture threatens the firm’s very existence. Because the culture puts profits ahead of clients, Smith makes the equation clear: “Without clients you will no longer make money. In fact, you will not exist.” 

Today’s disgruntled employees are sharing their stories to more than their friends and colleagues. It’s a world of One Brand, and they are speaking to your clients, your vendors, and your applicant pool.

Is your organization’s culture is the best it can be?  Let’s find out.