Posts Tagged "social media"

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  • 07.16.14

“Don’t interrupt me when I’m interrupting you”

IQ - Facebooks "new" old model

 

This is one of my favorite quotes from Winston Churchill, and what Facebook might be thinking as it tries to ram a new ad model down the throats of brands and consumers alike. Having already vented in my last post about this, I thought the greater implications of their actions on social media worthy of further comment.

A Giant Step Back

When Facebook decided to make brands pay to post content to their own fans, they took a giant step back into the old ad world.  Faced with ROI pressure brands can’t afford the luxury of content oriented posting, instead they have to turn to fast pay-off tactics like promotions, coupons etc.  This puts us back in the old world of interruptive advertising, where you’d be watching TV or reading a magazine and an ad would interrupt you. Consumers put up with this model in the pre-digital years because it seemed like a reasonable exchange; get the content in exchange for watching the ads. That was before we retrained them.

We Are Not a Captive Audience

Fast forward to today and digital consumers.  We don’t like interruptions, we don’t like delays and we don’t like ads. We have been schooled to find and use the most efficient ways to answer questions, solve problems, research solutions and evaluate options. Digital consumers are not a captive audience, so if ads interrupt our flow and slow our productivity we won’t put up with it. That’s why it’s more likely you will survive a plane crash or win the lottery than click a banner ad.

The Post-Advertising Age

Facebook just wants to make money, which is fair enough. But just because advertising is about the only business model that might work for them, doesn’t mean it will. The problem is that we live in the post-advertising age. We still need to tell brand stories; we just can’t do it effectively with conventional ads anymore; at least in digital channels. Even armed with all the creativity in the world the only way to consistently get the attention of the digitally empowered consumer is with relevance and timing.

Changing Hearts & Minds

So if marketers can’t use ads to get their message across, what’s a brand to do? The way to the digital consumer’s heart and mind is by serving up the right content at exactly the right time. The right kind of content is that which is appropriate for the context. So if someone has clicked to watch a video about planting a lawn, don’t have a pre-roll ad for Home Depot, have lawn care tips courtesy of Home Depot. The big difference is that one supports the consumer’s journey, while the other interrupts it. Seems simple enough, but the complexity comes in planning where and when to connect with each consumer segment, and developing just the right content for each situation.

The Magic Algorithm

The temptation today is to think that marketing has become a predictable machine. All you have to do is crunch some media numbers, apply an algorithm and magically consumers will come flocking to your brand. Of course this is what the purveyors of all manner of media ad wizardry would have you believe.  This ignores, however, the need to connect the dots; all the touch points that have to become one consistent story, personalized as narrowly as possible. Everything a brand does, therefore needs to be built on a foundation of consumer insights. This includes the critical exercises of mapping the Consumer Decision Journey* and developing a Content Strategy. Together they tell a brand when and where to connect with each target segment, plus what to say and how to say it at that critical moment. At the same time this work lets brands see, understand and design the cumulative effect of all the interaction points together. Inevitably this leads brands to shift their thinking from a product oriented, advertising approach to a content oriented, consumer approach.

The Training Wheels Come off

Facebook is trying lots of things (a few pretty out there), looking for ways to cash-in on their huge audience.  Some may work, but this shift to making brands pay to reach their own communities isn’t probably one of them, because consumers, let alone brands, won’t stand for having the content they came for taken away.

The good news is that social media marketing is not over; it’s actually shifting to a more mature model where brands have much more control and influence. What we are seeing with social media is the same kind of shift that we saw when users graduated from AOL’s training wheels to managing their own online experience. That’s happening now as consumers are becoming more experienced, and Facebook’s move is only going to accelerate it.

So it’s time for brands to strike out on their own and connect directly with their consumers without going through the gatekeepers anymore. That means starting with the foundational work to discover the when, where, what and how, which will drive their new social media, marketing plan.

* Mckinsey & Co

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The Great Social Media Bait and Switch

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The Great Social Media Bait & Switch

The social media free ride is over.

Free Social Ride is Over.

Brands are either hip-deep in social media or in the process of getting there. At the center of it all, of course, has been the astonishing rise of the big social platforms. With millions of users at the ready, brands have jumped into this candy store with both feet.

But now their addiction to the free sugar threatens to backfire: It appears that it’s time to pay the piper.

What’s happening is that Facebook is ratcheting down the number of people who can see a post within a brand’s Facebook community. At the moment, only 2.1 percent to 6.2 percent of a brand’s community will see a brand’s post (see chart, below); according to research conducted in February, the amount may go to zero before too long.

That means those huge communities of “likes,” which brands have spent millions to build, will be worthless unless they buy Facebook ads to reach their fans.

FB Marketing Statistics

Of course, the big social networks need to make money. I suppose they could ask consumers to pay for the privilege of using their platforms, but that wouldn’t go very far.

As Jason Loehr, director of global media and digital marketing at Brown-Forman, which has millions of likes on its Facebook pages, described to Digiday: “This is business, after all. It was more of a wake-up call for the marketer that platforms are a ‘leased’ channel. And there are downsides to renting, not owning.”

Loehr went on to say,“It’s not just them, it’s going to be Instagram, it’s going to be Pinterest, it’s going to be Twitter, it’s going to be all of those guys. At the end of the day, they have shareholders to answer to.”

To add insult to injury, research from Forrester shows that social engagement is much more effective than ads. So what’s a brand to do?

 

The New Social Marketing

Just because brands might not be able to leverage all of those likes on Facebook for nothing anymore doesn’t mean the social marketing party is over. It also doesn’t mean that brands will be forced to pay for notoriously ineffective Facebook ads. Instead, it signals that brands need to refocus on their own digital ecosystems–all of the pieces of their digital marketing infrastructure that they can control without paying someone else.

The good news is that within a its own ecosystem, brands can still take advantage of the power of social posting to attract new prospects and cultivate rich relationships–all without paying a dime for access.

It also means that “owned” media properties are more important than ever for brands. That includes brand Web sites, mobile sites, apps, content, blogs, CRM, and email. If they haven’t done so yet, the time has come for brands to create their own communities built around the content and functionality they offer on their own properties.

With the social networks devolving into just advertising networks, brands have to first maximize the most effective and efficient media opportunities open to them–their own communities.

The brand Web site lies at the heart of the owned brand ecosystem. It has three missions: It should be where prospects get the most persuasive, comprehensive, personalized pitch; where customers can easily accomplish account tasks, and get social community and knowledge; and it should filter other constituencies, such as investors, employee candidates, and press, and get them to the right place.

The brand Web site is also where a brand should build its CRM database, enable brand ambassadors in social media, and attract natural search with content. It should be the hub of everything a brand does not only because it can be controlled, but because it’s where consumers go anyway. According to the 2013 Nielson “Trust in Advertising” study, brand Web sites have become the most trusted form of advertising.

The idea is to build a system. You start with your Web site, which you populate with content designed to attract search. Search and advertising deliver prospects, who you convert into your sales pipeline or your CRM program. Your CRM program uses email and content to cultivate them over time, and you enable social sharing of that content. The result is a self-sustaining marketing system that you own.

 

Content Deja Vu

The hardest part about building this system is creating the right content. That includes not just articles, pictures, and videos, but also tools, apps, and functionality. Most marketers have already figured out that content is critical–so much so that the amount of all kinds of content being created is enormous.

The challenge is, therefore, to stand out and create content so compelling, relevant, informative, and entertaining that people will want to share it. To begin, every brand needs to develop a first-class content strategy. This guides what to say to each persona at every touch point, and how to say it. Guessing is not an option.

So perhaps the free ride on social media is almost over. Now we all have to work a little harder for our supper. The good news is brands are all a lot smarter and have the tools and experience to build brand ecosystems that can do the job better than ever before.

Sweet.

 

 

 

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  • 02.25.14

YouTube: The Next Big Thing Is Already Here

Originally presented at the social media conference SoCon14, this deck from IQ’s Assoc. Director of Strategy Noah Echols and Assoc. Director of UX Rachel Peters will show you how to prioritize YouTube in an effective way to leverage active communities to get serious results — something your competition probably isn’t doing.









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What’s Social Currency Worth?

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It seems Marc Jacobs and his marketers are going to find out. His new pop-up store in New York for his Daisy fragrance doesn’t taking folding money, only social currency. In order to get something like perfume or a necklace you have to send a Tweet or an Instagram photo, or post something on Facebook. Visitors that “pay” with social activity win prizes and the best Instagram pic of the day even gets a purse.

Somehow I don’t think you’re going to be buying a car with a Tweet anytime soon, but this story does point up the value of social currency. Getting customers and prospects to “talk” your brand up in social media is worth a lot. The average person using Facebook and Twitter has hundreds of connections and their connections have connections and so on. It’s the cheapest marketing that money can’t buy.

That’s right, you can’t buy it, the only way to get it is to inspire it and that takes ideas. Marc Jacobs and his crew clearly have some ideas.

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How to Utilize the YouTube Partner Program

YouTube Partner Program

If you’ve been following my series on YouTube, you’ve already heard me harp on the importance of creating content specifically for the YouTube community rather than just re-purposing ads created for TV. With Google’s announcement at Cannes Lions that it’s expanding its partner program to include advertisers, it is reinforcing that imperative.

The YouTube Partner Program has been for quite some time a way for content creators to improve production value, reach more people, and monetize their content on a huge platform. So, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to allow advertisers in unless Google is trying to encourage the production of higher quality, YouTube-centric content.

Anthony Ha at TechCrunch writes:

“…Google seems to be encouraging businesses to create advertising that’s designed specifically for the video site, rather than just repackaging existing TV ads and video content. Those kinds of custom campaigns could potentially be more lucrative for YouTube and its content partners.”

So, what exactly does this YouTube-centric content look like? Let’s take a look at a few great examples:

Display Ads Can Be Entertaining

First (and probably one of my favorites despite its age), is the Desperados Experience: Breakthrough. Although it isn’t live anymore, you can see how deeply interactive the ad was, inviting the user to participate directly in the ad.

What is interesting about this ad is that it is really just a flash ad like any other banner ad you find around the Web. But it is more interesting because it was made for a specific channel and gave users an entertaining way to interact with the brand instead of simply pushing its message on users.

Invest in Useful Content

Another great use of YouTube is BBQGuys.com, a company that sells grills and other outdoor products. On its YouTube channel, the company provides quick tips for grilling success, content that apparently thousands of people find useful. Here’s just one example:

This is an example of a company that is investing in content as its primary marketing strategy. It provides useful information for its target audience and puts that content where it knows they will be searching.

Understand Consumer Culture

We all know that when ads resonate with consumers, they do well. Typically that means understanding what is going on with them culturally. Last summer, AARP created a response video to the season’s number 1 hit, “Call Me Maybe.”

Not only was this a smart play for AARP for gaining awareness because of the popularity of the song, it was also smart because music is a major driver of a large percentage of YouTube views. The video hit both popular culture and YouTube culture right where they meet.

Leverage Influencers

YouTube is full of regular people who have risen to stardom by creating entertaining videos. In fact, it has been reported that some of the top YouTube stars are making six-figure salaries just by posting videos each week.

As they amass huge followings, it makes sense that brands would partner with them to promote their products. Not only does this ensure that your product gets in front of their fans, it is received well by consumers because the brand is borrowing the influencer’s legitimacy to earn their trust.

Whew! You made it through that video. I’ll admit, it isn’t something I find entertaining (I stopped watching at 2 minutes), but it has been viewed over 7 million times. That’s great news for Kraft who recognized the enormous popularity of the SMOSH Brothers.

This is the third and final part of our series on YouTube advertising.

Check out the rest of the series here:

Why YouTube Should Matter to Brands in 2013

Before You Start: YouTube for Brands

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Content Overload

Content Marketing Overload

91% of B2B companies are diving into content marketing according to eMarketer. It seems that the fat part of the curve is upon us as the corporate world realizes that savvy consumers of all stripes just don’t buy the old advertising game. The new bargain is, if you give me valuable content of some sort, I’ll maybe think better of your company. Seems a bit tenuous, but I’ll vouch that it works, or used to.

We started our first thought-leadership led strategy with IBM back in 2002. We didn’t call it content marketing back then, but IBM had realized that they were not in the blue box business anymore, they were instead in the business consulting business; that’s why they sold their PC operation to the Chinese and bought PwC Consulting.

The problem is that with everyone and their brother buying into marketing automation systems, which need to be fed with content, I’m afraid the marketplace is rapidly going into content overload mode. Enterprise marketers cite producing engaging content as their number one challenge, according to the Content Marketing Institute. That’s code for: “Whoops! We’re making content, but nobody’s looking at it”.

So what’s a marketer to do? Advertising doesn’t work like it used to and the hoi polloi are ruining content marketing for the good guys (that’s us!).

Table stakes today are having a constant flow of content designed to appeal to each of your key personas at every step in the Consumer Decision Journey. This requires doing serious work mapping your consumer’s path to purchase, discovering their key touch points and understanding their psychology at every step. It sounds complex and it is. But if you don’t do this foundational work, you will not have the right content in front of the right consumer at the right time. That, however, just gets you in the game.

The challenge then is to create content that is sufficiently valuable and distinctive that your prospect not only engages with it, but also shares it, and most importantly is intrigued by the company that has produced it.  This is a very high bar and not for the weak of spirit.

Unfortunately, in content marketing today there is no substitute for a living content strategy effort informed by data and analytics and activated by best-in-class content created around valuable consumer insights. Makes you pine for the days of a clever print ad and a scotch and soda.

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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.

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

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  • 04.15.13

#TalkIQ – Social Marketing

TalkIQ

We get asked a lot of questions by clients, friends, students, colleagues, you name it, so we want to bring our knowledge to the masses.

This Wednesday (4/17) from 1:00 – 2:00PM EST, Hagan Ramsey, digital strategist at IQ, will answer any questions you have related to social listening, campaign development, social strategy and more!

Tweet @IQ_Agency with the hash tag #TalkIQ and you’ll receive a quick response from a true expert in the field!

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You’ve Got a Video Problem

How to Make Great Brand Videos

In the pre-digital days there really wasn’t a need for brands to produce more than the ads that went on traditional media. Now they need to produce an almost constant stream of fresh content to keep up with digital channels and social media. For most companies it’s a pretty tall order because making content is a completely different business from what they know. And it gets even harder when so much of the content that they now need is video.

Since cheap bandwidth has made high-quality video so easy to get, people want more and more of it. Projections have video representing over 85% of all Internet traffic in a couple of years. So brands need to make lots of videos. The problem, of course, is not just the quantity, but how does a brand make videos that are good enough to stand out? While cameras and equipment are cheap and easy to get, creativity and know-how are still in short supply. Of course, what makes a video good is in the eye of the beholder, but most of us know bad video when we see it, and the last thing any brand needs is to be spreading bad videos.

So the challenge is for companies to put in place the capability to produce lots of “good” videos, consistently over time. The problem is that because the budgets are much smaller, it’s not like producing TV commercials, which brands have a lot of experience with. According to the 4A’s, the average cost to make a TV spot is over $300,000 — but for video content, that may be your entire budget for the year.

The big question is — do you try and do it in-house or hire pros? While you may need a lot of videos, you may not need enough to justify the large expense of hiring a full-time team. So another approach is to hire an in-house video producer whose job it is to put together freelance teams for each production. This is not a creative person, but a video project manager, and you still need to be doing enough work to justify a full-time person.

For most brands the answer is to hire pros. The advantage, of course, is the wide range of talent and capabilities you can access. The problem is how to keep the costs down. Most agencies focus on developing the creative, and then hire a production company for the execution. As a result, the costs mount quickly. Some TV production companies do creative, but their focus is really on the production and they are rarely able to develop the creative or the strategy for the video, which is critical. So that leaves companies and agencies that specialize in video content for digital channels.

The ideal is to have digital content strategy, plus creative, plus production under one roof. A company that can do all of that — and that is set up to produce a lot of video content over time, cost-effectively — has found the perfect solution. Of course, the videos still have to be good in the eye of the beholder, which to start with would be you.

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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.

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