Thursday, March 20, 2014

Grow Your Brand on Instagram

Over the past four years Instagram has grown from an emerging social media platform to a powerful marketing tool for top brands.  From major global companies, such as Nike and Starbucks, to small mom-and-pop businesses, brands of all kinds are using Instagram to strengthen their brand identity and reach new customers. Here we have gathered some of the best tips to market your brand on Instagram.

  1. Share noteworthy photos –Instagram allows brands to tell their story in a visual way. By posting personalized snapshots, brands can showcase their business through a more genuine approach. It is important to share not only product pictures, but also a wide range of content in order to appeal to your audience. According to Wishpond, customer-centric and employee related photos generate the most engagement.
  2. Use #hashtags – Hashtags are a great way to expand your content reach and develop your brand. Creating a unique brand hashtag is a great way to get the message out about your company or a specific campaign. A great example of this is the Giorgio Armani #framesoflife campaign. The brand encouraged followers to share photos of themselves wearing Armani sunglasses with the hashtag #framesoflife to be selected for the Giorgio Armani “Frames of Life” website. This campaign engaged thousands of followers and increased website traffic.
  3. Geotag your location – Geotagging is a way of attaching geographical information to media. Creating a geotag for your brand will not only allow you to attach your businesses location to your photos, but also allow customers to tag your location in their photos. For example, if you are a restaurant and a customer snaps a photo of their delicious lunch, they can tag themselves at your restaurant and allow their followers to see exactly where your restaurant is located.
  4. Share videos - Short videos are now a digital marketing staple. Instagram allows brands to share 15-second video, about the same length as the average television commercial. Instagram’s editing tools are user-friendly and allow users to create multi-clip videos. Videos are an excellent channel to showcase products in a creative way. Take a look at how lululemon incorporates their apparel into a appealing branded video.
  5. Share on other social media sites – Sharing your Instagram content on other sites expands your reach. Instagram allows you to share your photos and videos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, and foursquare. Not only will this increase the amount of impressions you get on your content, but also draw more awareness and followers to your brand’s Instagram account.
  6. Run contests: Contests are one of the biggest engagement drivers on social media. Incentives and rewards are a great way to gain followers and keep your followers checking in with your page. Whole Foods asks followers to upload environmentally themed photos during Earth Month with the hashtag #WFMEarth. Each week they select a winner to receive a $100 gift card. Contest such as this allows the consumers to create the content and promote the brand at the same time. It’s not only major corporations that are finding success on Instagram. Many small businesses are increasing the social influence with the use of Instagram engagement and contests. Tender Greens, a small restaurant group, hosts a photo contest where customers post photos at their establishments with a contest specific hashtag. The weekly winner is sent a Tender Greens t-shirt. The brand is up to 1,822 followers.
  7. Maintain a branded profile – Lastly, what might seem common sense, but is often overlooked, is to maintain a branded profile. A business’s Instagram profile should be consistent with all other marketing and social media. Your company logo should be used as a profile picture and the company slogan or mission statement should be used as the copy for the bio. It is also necessary to include a link to your website. Many businesses find it beneficial to include their company location in their profile.  

Monday, March 3, 2014

Strategies for Gaining Quality Facebook Fans

While many businesses are making the effort to develop a social media presence, they are struggling to grow a quality audience. The purpose of social media for businesses is to develop a solid brand identity, make connections with potential customers, and build relationships with existing customers. In fact, KissMetrics tells us that 60% of consumers who follow a brand on social media will eventually buy from that brand. However, these goals can only be achieved by gaining targeted, quality followers. There are methods to accumulating a strong audience on all forms of social media, but in this post we will focus on strategies for growing Facebook fans.

  1. Add a Facebook like box to your website: This is the quickest and easiest way to grow your audience. When someone visits your website, they are already showing interest in your brand. Providing those consumers with a like box is an easy way to connect them with your page, transforming them from a one-time viewer to someone who views you brand and content on a regular basis.
  2. Engage with other businesses: Become a key speaker in your niche industry’s conversation. By engaging with other businesses on Facebook, you will become visible their audience. Commenting on industry specific posts is a great way to establish your business as credible player in your field and draw attention to your page. 
  3. Targeted Facebook Ad Campaigns: Strategic ad campaigns are becoming increasingly important due to the recent Facebook algorithm changes of the past year. Organic posts are not achieving the same amount impressions; therefore ads are great way to increase your reach. You can use Facebook’s advertising tool to easily create an ad campaign. This tool allows you to identify the location, gender, age, and interests of the consumers you want to target with your ads. Based on your selections Facebook will provide you with an estimate of how many people your ad will reach. Ad campaigns can be as expensive or inexpensive as would like them to be because you are able to set your own daily budget for any amount of time. Page-post ads look just like a Facebook status and specifically target non-fans.
  4. Host sweepstakes and contests: Facebook sweepstakes and contests are a great way to draw traffic to your page. Offering appealing prizes to your target audience is an incentive to get consumers to interact with your page and encourage their friends to participate as well. Using a promotion that requires entrants to like your page will keep them tuned into your brand even when the contest is over. It is very important to make sure that all promotions comply with Facebook’s contest rules. A great way to avoid any regulation conflicts is to use a third part app.
  5. Promote your own content and page: Your should be promoting your Facebook page on as many platforms as possible. In addition to linking your Facebook to your website, you should also have your link displayed on your other social media sites and blog. Include your Facebook URL your email signature, as well as your marketing materials. The more opportunities you provide for people to connect to your page, the easier it will be to increase your fans.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Six Rules For Keeping Your Social Audience Connected

As we have said before, social media marketing is essential to building your brand and growing your customer base. The key to successful social media marketing is to keep your audience tuned-in and engaged with your brand. Here is a refresher on the six rules for keeping your social audience connected. 
  1.  Know Your Target Market: The foundation of any successful social media plan is understanding your target audience. Generally, your social media audience should reflect your target customer base. Knowing what interests and influences your audience will help you provide them with relevant content.
  2.  Balance Your Range of Content: While it may seem like the purpose of using social media is to talk about your products or services, your audience does not want to feel like they are constantly being pitched to. Research conducted by Convince & Convert shows that companies that post about themselves or link to their website only 25-50% of the time have the highest conversion rates. Developing a wide variety of content to share is a great way to keep your followers tuned-in. In addition to posting about your business, you can share industry related news, short videos or infographics. Starting a two-way conversation with your audience by asking open-ended questions or taking polls is a great way to engage.
  3.  Be Consistent: Actively using your social media platforms is an important factor in achieving your desired results. It is a common mistake for businesses to create accounts and either post sporadically or not at all. Inconsistent posting on social sites can reflect that a brand is out of touch with their audience or undependable. According to Socialbakers, posting less than twice a week will not engage your audience enough to maintain a social connection. Some platforms, such as Twitter or Instagram that have fast moving feeds require more frequent posting. Consistent interaction and responding to followers is also crucial to compelling your audience.
  4.  Stay On-brand: One of the most challenging aspects of social media marketing is making sure your that your digital messaging coincides with your brand identity. From the content you post to the tone used in comments, all of your social interactions need to agree with your brand’s voice and messaging. Your social media voice should reflect who you are talking to. If your brand targets a younger audience you may use an upbeat and informal tone, while a high-end, exclusive brand would require a more professional dialogue.
  5. Be Interactive: Social media is about maintaining an active conversation with your audience. Give your follower an opportunity to contribute and always respond promptly. Consumers feel a stronger connection to a brand that they have interacted with online. According to Bain & Company, consumers spend 20% more with companies they have engaged with on social media.
  6. Analyze and Modify Your Content: Through analyzing your social data, you will be able to determine what content interests and engages your audience. Some social sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest offer their own analytics pages for businesses to track and measure their impact. According to Gleanster, 96% of top performing companies analyze their social media results to better their social performance. Analyzing your results is a necessary step in creating content your audience enjoys.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Marketing in 2014: A Crash Course

The field of marketing is ever changing and 2014 will be no different.  With the constantly altering digital world, many businesses are wondering, “What factors are going to influence my marketing efforts this year?”  Here we give a snapshot of the most important trends for the coming year:

Consumers demand custom content – Content marketing is a relatively new concept that that has grown in importance over the past few years. It refers to the creation and sharing of valuable, relevant and free content. This allows businesses to gain new customers and engage current customers. The key is to tailor content to your specific audience. Consumers will only give their attention to content that is relevant to them… whether it be an instructive SlideShare, an entertaining vine or and informative blog post.
  • Example: Standard Culture, the official blog of Standard Hotel, is a virtual concierge and a day-to-day cultural guide for their three locations in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. The blog encourages guest to post photos of their Standard Hotel experiences to be featured on the site, therefore allowing their audience to not only contribute to, but also feel a partnership with, to their growing brand identity. Thereby creating loyal customers and brand ambassadors. 

Visual communication drives engagement – Stemming off content marketing, in 2014 consumers are engaging with more visual content. Tools such as micro videos, animated GIF’s and info graphics are necessary to peak consumers’ interests. Visual posts on social media have a 94% increase in engagement compared to textual post. Thus, businesses will need to incorporate visual content into all aspects of their communications strategies. 
  • Example: The British online retailer ASOS has received tremendous praise for their Vine videos. In additions to creating videos of products and fashion shows, the brand also features user-generated content. Customers submit videos of their excited reactions to receiving and opening their ASOS packages in the mail, which are chosen to be featured on the brand’s Vine and Twitter. 

Facebook forces businesses to adjust strategies – Due to Facebook’s recent system changes, organic posts from business pages will no longer have a sizable reach. A few months back, Facebook initiated an algorithm change that determines which stories end up in newsfeeds to provide users with “higher quality” or largely shared content. This will lead smaller businesses to refocus their social media strategies by paying to compete or focusing on other platforms.

Mobile branding becomes vital  – Not only is it necessary for businesses to have mobile friendly websites, but apps are now becoming a competitive standard in the luxury and lifestyle industries. A recent study by Latitude shows that 1.2 billion people worldwide access the web through their mobile device. The same study concluded that 61% of consumers have a better opinion of brands that offer a positive mobile experience. This shows us that mobile optimization is becoming a critical element of marketing.

Mobile marketing is especially important to luxury brands, where tablet and smartphone usage are directly correlated to household income. 
  • Example: A luxury brand that excels at mobile branding is Tiffany & Co. The company offers a flawless mobile experience with their mobility optimized website, along with two mobile applications, including the Tiffany & Co. Engagement Ring Finder app and the What Makes True Love app. An important factor in the success of Tiffany’s mobile marketing is that neither of these apps focused directly on e-commerce, but more on adding value to their brand. 

The marketing changes of 2014 will require businesses to think strategically and creatively to providing targeted audiences with visual, customized content to increase engagement and brand awareness. Businesses that utilize organic Facebook marketing in their social media strategy need to shift their efforts in order to achieve their goals and, finally, mobile marketing is becoming a crucial tool for reaching consumers and building a positive brand image.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

What is the true value of PR?

In our last post we mentioned how it is difficult to place a number value on public relations. Determining this dollar value is something that has challenged PR executives and clients for years. Understandably, businesses want to put a dollar amount on PR to be able to determine the return on investment. Mark Nolan of PR Newswire put it well when he said, “the task requires you to objectively analyze something that is largely subjective."  The tactics used to evaluate PR results have significantly changed over the passed few decades and understanding these changes are important to effectively determining PR results. 

Traditionally, the Adverising Value Equivalency (AVE) was used to calculate the monetary value of editorial placements. AVE is calculated by quantifying editorial placements with the corresponding ad rates. Some applications of this system add multipliers to the equations, as research show editorial is more effective and credible than advertising.  For example: a company receives an editorial placement in a magazine that is 7.5 inches by 4.5 inches. The ad rate for that dimension of $285 so, per AVE, you would multiply 7.5 by 4.5 and then by $285 equaling $9,619. Next an average multiplier of 3 is added to this equation resulting an advertising value equivalency of $28,856.

While the most practical for those not marketing savvy, the Advertising Value Equivalency is being phased out of the PR industry. Why? Because AVE does not show the outcome of a campaign, it limits the results to received media placements. AVE cannot distinguish between placements in relevant and less relevant publications. This system also fails to recognize the value of bloggers and social influencers. Overall, AVE is a very narrow way to assess the outcomes of a strategic public relations campaign.

Though a little less black-and-white in terms of dollar value, the most effective way to determine the value of public relations comes from the International Associations for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communications. The AMEC suggests measuring communications on three impact levels: outputs, outcomes, and business results. 

  • Measuring outputs shows how well your message impacted your audience and how much of your audience you reached. 
  • Measuring outcomes determines how your communications affect consumers’ awareness and attitudes toward your brand. 
  • Business results measure how your communications impact your revenue, market share and the over all value of you brand.

These results are determined by measuring the number of impressions achieved by a campaign and analyzing the quality of media placements achieved. This method also suggests using PR questionaires and tracking surveys to determine how the audience perceives your brands messaging. 

While many clients still ask for AVE numbers, we encourage any business considering a PR campaign to understand the importance of the AMEC method because it not only measures the quantity of placements, but also the quality of the placements, giving a well-rounded assessment of a PR campaign.