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Why YouTube Should Matter to Brands in 2013

YouTube Marketing Tips

Remember when Facebook hit 500 million active users and we all placed bets on whether or not a single website could ever reach 1 billion? And then last September when Facebook did it everyone in marketing called the game?

Facebook won. There are no more milestones to reach (except for maybe ALL the people, but that won’t happen – will it?).

Meanwhile, YouTube quietly (and I say quietly because for some reason marketers and Internet trend spotters alike failed to even classify it as a social networking site) reached the same unreachable milestone. And still marketers are allocating their social budgets mostly to Facebook and Twitter while ignoring YouTube.

So, why are marketers wrong about YouTube? There are 5 reasons that for many brands, YouTube is arguably the most strategic channel on the Web:

  1. It has 1 billion active users every month. 1 billion…with a “b.”
  2. The second largest search engine in the world to Google isn’t Bing or Yahoo; it’s YouTube.
  3. In the past year, video has become the content of choice for Internet users.
  4. The communities on YouTube are large and passionate. While on other social sites like Facebook, people’s networks are made up of other users that they know IRL, on YouTube communities of strangers are built that blossom into IRL relationships. And instead of organizing around common connections, they organize around passions like religion, gadgets, entertainers, political affiliation, etc.
  5. While the biggest brands are just starting to get on board, most of your competitors are probably not using YouTube effectively. This is a big one.

Alright, so now that you’re convinced that your brand should start thinking about how to play on YouTube, you want pointers on getting started. Bad news, you’re going to have to wait for my next blog post…or you could check YouTube.

This is part of an on-going series on YouTube advertising.

Check back next week for “Before You Start: YouTube for Brands”

You may also like:

The 4 SEO Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know

Content Overload

You’ve Got a Video Problem

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  • 05.09.13

7 Steps for Better Branded Journalism

I don’t pretend to be a savvy shopper, but when I dive wallet-first into the clearance section at The Gap, I tend to stock up on accessories in my favorite color — black. Why? It’s a universal truth that black goes with everything.

So does branded journalism. In the words of veteran digital content guru Ann Handley, “Content is the new black.”

Handley is right, branded journalism (also known as brand journalism or branded content) has caught on like a wildfire this year. From Tory Burch’s fantastic branded blog to Mint.com’s MintLife section, brands realize the value of consumer-facing content like articles, photos or videos, and are rushing to create some with the company name on it.

Why? For a lot of the reasons we discussed in the first post in this series and mainly because consumers are demanding it. As brands become more accessible to fans through social media, people want more from brands than their products and services. So much so, even Twitter is looking to hire a Head of News. That leads us to branded journalism.

But branded journalism breaks the natural order of business that advertisers, journalists and businesses have subscribed to for decades. This makes some people nervous, traditionalists angry and opportunists jumping on the branded content bandwagon faster than Baltimore fans during the last Super Bowl.

So that leaves the question, if you’re going to start creating content for a brand, be it a local business or a Fortune 500 company, what are the best practices? Better yet, how do you do it ethically?

Try these simple steps for better branded journalism:

1. Build a process

Journalistic content should be more than an article or blog post thrown together quickly. Create an editorial plan, support whatever content you create with strategy, edit it, review it with key company team members and a set time to distribute it via a medium that will reach your intended audience.

2. Share something valuable

Share something that your target market will respond to. For example, Home Depot’s YouTube page features an array of do-it-yourself garden tutorials. Completely different from Red Bull’s adrenalin-pumping YouTube page that offers an array of video features on the brand’s extreme athletes.  Both give their fans journalistic content in the same medium, but do it completely different ways to reach separate audiences.

3. Know your boundaries

Producing journalistic content doesn’t equate to producing a Pulitzer winning news article, so stick to your industry and the topics surrounding it. Create content targeted at a company’s audience, on subjects related to your company’s industry. Find creative ways to make content relevant to trends and new stories without reporting the news.

4. Stick to the facts and cite your sources

People want transparency from their favorite brands. Always support your content with facts from experts and credible sources. Back up your claims with research, data or testimonials from credible experts that you mention by name.

5. Strike a balance

Don’t use branded journalism as an opportunity to knock a competitor’s product or service, use it as an opportunity to share valuable content. If needed, acknowledge competitors professionally when it’s appropriate. Focus instead on sharing real insight about a subject consumers are interested in.

6. List a byline

If possible, list the author or producer of a branded journalism piece. This gives your work credibility and gives audience members a face representing the brand to connect with. Melissa Lafsky Wall left her job at USA Today to head up content production at dating site How About We, where every article or column in the site’s Date Report section is credited with a byline.

7. Track results

Producing branded journalism is useless if it doesn’t reach the correct audience to support business goals. Use analytics to track your results and SEO to shape the strategy behind your content. This ensures that you don’t just produce quality branded journalism; you produce branded content that gets results.

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  • 04.30.13

IQ Wins 3 Gold Horizon Interactive Awards

IQ Wins Horizon Award

3 entries, 3 gold awards.

The Horizon Interactive Awards is a prestigious international competition recognizing outstanding achievement among interactive media producers from all over the world.

CIT

We created a simple narrative in which tiny gifts come to life, in order to help CIT employees connect with their contacts. Production was as follows: First, the team created concept boards, depicting different ideas of how to approach the card. Next, the team got to work with simple storyboards, depicting the basic story and messaging. Then, they created a mock desk set in the studio, shooting 24 still images for each 1 second of video.

The result was an endearing, simple, and concise 30-second stop-motion video. The messaging was then translated into 9 different languages, so that the video could be shared across the world.

Click to see the project: CIT Holiday Card 2012 – Motion Graphics / Effects – Video

Neenah Paper’s Astrobrights

Starting with no fans, we built to over 26,500 Facebook fans and 55 million impressions using social, sweepstakes contests and paid media. A crucial part of this growth came through our bi-weekly crafting contests, which were supported by origami style display ads featuring Neenah Paper’s Astrobrights products. We followed our crafting contest series with a school-based sweepstakes, driven by display ads, UGC and original content created for Astrobrights. The ensuing sweepstakes lead to more brilliant user-generated content—we gained survey response data and over 2,500 email opt-ins for Astrobrights!

The overall cost per click of all media tactics went from an average of $5.90 in week 1 to $2.81 by the end of the campaign, lowering the CPC by 53%. Facebook was our most successful paid tactic in terms of Cost-Per-Click (CPC) and Cost Per “Like” (CPL). The average Facebook CPC was $1.50 and the average CPL was $2.06. Through ads, we generated 20,000 total fans and the CPC and CPL continually lowered as the campaign progressed.

neenah paper IQ

Click to see the project: Neenah Paper – Online Advertising, Integrated Campaign

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  • 04.03.13

The Rise and Ruckus of Branded Journalism

Branded Journalism

As a growing copywriter with a print journalism background, I love the idea of “branded journalism.” Editorial content written for brands, targeted at consumers, supported by analytics, published in digital spaces, that raises a big middle finger to the rule that advertising and journalism can never mix? Sounds good to me.

For brands, the need for journalistic content stems from growing branded communities in social spaces. As brands and consumers engage in more personal conversations via social, consumers simply demand more from them.

More than ever, consumers want brands to give them things of value outside of their products or services. A sense of community that includes transparency, responsiveness and quality branded content. That’s where brand journalists and copywriters come in.

Last week, I stumbled on the work of Kevin Maney, a veteran USA Today reporter who turned his attention to advertising after two decades of writing and reporting as a journalist.

After a successful reporting career, Maney made an interesting move. He started working with big brands like IBM to create journalistic content.

Maney co-authored a book in conjunction with IBM, but branded journalism can include works of art, articles, blog posts, books, photos or videos produced by a brand to reach an identifiable market.

Couple creating content with the market downturn, and many wannabe journalists and former reporters are turning to jobs in advertising, marketing and digital. Many seek jobs that offer more security but still challenge them to use skills from writing in the newsroom like critical thinking, deadline management and creativity.

According to Robert McChesney, co-author of Will the Last Reporter Please Turn Out the Lights: The Collapse of Journalism and What Can Be Done to Fix It, public relations professionals now outnumber reporters 4-to-1. With print journalism seeing a continual decline in revenue, it isn’t surprising that some journalists are now writing for brands. Market aside however, branded journalism still causes some debate.

Critics fear that branded journalism might fully eclipse traditional journalism. Will the news report about a damaging tornado suddenly be sponsored by a home insurance company? I highly doubt it. The audience would be too quick to call a news organization on it, like they did with The Atlantic’s big advertorial fail in January.

The Atlantic fiasco highlights that we’re working in a time where the line between advertising and journalism is blurrier than ever. Marketing, digital and journalism just came crashing together, giving us a choice. We can either sit here staring or use this opportunity to create new, innovative content that people will respond to.

By we, I mean brands or agencies working on behalf of brands. New organizations don’t have the freedom to pepper advertising content in their editorial work, but ad professionals now have the unique opportunity to produce journalistic content. If done right in digital spaces, that journalistic content will likely produce results.

The key lies in planning responsibly. Branded journalism needs to be intentional, driven by strategy as much as it is by good writing. It must be targeted and audience-specific and not overstep it’s bounds. Producing journalistic content doesn’t equate to producing a Pulitzer winning news article, so brands shouldn’t try to.

How each company executes branded journalism will vary, but hopefully by the end of the year we will see more fact-based, journalistic content reaching consumers and generating revenue.

To track branded journalism, its growth and the debate surrounding it, a good place to start is Maney’s blog. Ignore the clunky WordPress theme and focus on the journalistic content. After all, content is becoming very valuable.

Want to learn more? Email IQ

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  • 02.24.11

Sketchnotes, by Eva-Lotta Lamm

Eva-Lotta Lamm has published a book of sketches she crafted while at web conferences over the last two years. The book includes notes for 100+ speakers, including Edward Tufte, Jesse James Garrett, Dave Gray, and Eric Reiss.

Jan Srutek: Information Visualisation – UX Camp Europe 2010

I’m always impressed with people that can take talking points or ideas and make them visually interesting. Rather than creating an ordinary bullet list that is less likely to be referenced after the conference, this is a great way of channeling your creative self and bringing ideas to life that you can later share with others (and possibly make a profit on!).

Check out some sample pages on Flickr.

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  • 01.28.10

Remember Flashy Portfolio Sites?

I was just remembering when creating an amazing flashy portfolio site was a requirement. It had to show every bit of your skill in one “heavily preloaded” presentation. Now, nobody has the time or patience to sit through anything that doesn’t prove you can  create real work for real clients. The only portfolio sites I take seriously are ones that focus on the work and what they personally contributed to the project. Even pictures on a white background isn’t bad as long as I can see the work and you can talk about it.

PORTFOLIO 2006

PORTFOLIO PRESENT

Posted by Josh Webb

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  • 06.02.08

They Will Be Outstanding

I love how the layout for WE WILL BE OK mixes both info-graphics and narrative into the design. In this mix the layout successfully breaks the typical C-clamp found in so many themes used today.

We have many aspirations for the IQ Interactive Blog and this design has raised the bar.

by Mason Poe