December 9, 2013

Book Review: Epic Content Marketing

Filed under: Book Review,Digital Strategy,Marketing — Emily Reeves @ 6:37 pm

Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less, by Joe Pulizzi is a comprehensive guide to content marketing. Pulizzi covers an overview of content marketing, why businesses should be doing it and how — very specifically — to use it. This was a great book that I am going to recommend to any online marketer. And it is one that I am sure I will reference several times in the near future.

For a business book, this is a dense read at 300 pages, however, Pulizzi has broken the book into process and parts, making it easy to digest and understand.  On the first page of the book, Pulizzi powerfully states:

“Advertising is not dead, but content marketing is the driver that leading companies now use to capture the hearts and minds of their customers.”

While content marketing has been around for a long time, the term “content marketing” just started to trend with in the last 12 months. What exactly is content marketing and what is the difference between it and “content?”

“What makes content marketing different from simple content is that content marking must do something for the business. It must inform, engage, or amuse with the objective of driving profitable customer action.”

Do your customers really want content from you?

“Eighty percent of buyers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus ad advertisement. Seventy percent say content marketing makes them feel closer to the sponsoring company, and 60 percent say that company content helps them make better product decisions.”

“Millennials, now between the ages of 19 to 34, actually expect brands to develop content for them, with 80 percent wanting to be directly entertained through content marketing.”

Throughout the book, Pulizzi provides example after example of brands that have had success with content marketing and exactly how they have done it. And the examples include big brands with big budgets and small companies with few employees.

The bottom line is that brands are now publishers. They have to be in order to pull in audiences and build relationships with them to influence their buying behaviors. This book provides that introduction and steps to becoming a content marketer. I highly recommend this book.

September 17, 2013

Video: KATV Interview on Digital Trends

Filed under: Current Events,Digital Strategy,Technology,Video — Emily Reeves @ 7:59 am

This morning I sat down with Chris Kane at KATV to talk about some of the latest digital trends: crowdfunding and short-form video. Watch the discussion here:
KATV – Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

May 27, 2013

Talk Business Interview: Digital Communications & A Little Carry The Load (@CarryTheLoad)

Filed under: Carry The Load,Digital Strategy,Talk Business,Video — Emily Reeves @ 3:14 pm

I sat down with Roby Brock of Talk Business to talk about the latest trends in digital communications and we concluded the conversation with a plug for Carry The Load since it is Memorial Day weekend. You can watch the entire interview here:

March 9, 2013

#SXSW 2013: Brainstorming Technology First

Filed under: Business,Digital Strategy,Marketing,SXSW — Emily Reeves @ 8:49 pm

One of my favorite SXSW sessions today was “Brainstorming Technology First.” It was presented by an agency and they provided real examples with actionable steps for implementing a technology-first approach to brainstorming projects. R/GA created this process to counter the consistent problem they were encountering where an idea was generated then the question “is this possible” was asked to the technologist. Their desired outcome was to know that something was possible and that it was possible to do well as the idea was generated.

Tech First Brainstorming Framework

  • Still start with creative brief. But choose a technology that is relevant to the audience and hardcode it into the brief. It should be a technology that is specific to your audience. The more granular you can be, the better. For example, not “mobile apps,” but “Passbook for iOS.”
  • Time box brainstorm session at one hour. Get everyone on the team at the same time in the room. Present the brief. Then give them 5-8 people to silently write their own answers to the questions in the brief. It is really important to let them work silently first.
  • Spend next 45 minutes sharing their ideas and encourage creative riffing.
  • Then the senior leadership team should take the ideas and distill them and craft them into something presentable.
  • This is an efficient process because 90% of ideas that come out are feasible because we have embraced the constraints on the front end and we don’t have to ask if this is possible.

Examples of Approaches

  • Fill in the blanks: give people a grammar and a framework to tell stories.
  • Magnetic poetry: provide a list of descriptors and a list of technology, then mix and match to get creative.
  • Branded magnetic poetry: same as above, but brand specific.
  • Social media API roulette: pick two very specific API points from two different networks and ask what can be created by combining the two.
An example of the "magnetic poetry" approach to tech-first brainstorming sessions.

An example of the “magnetic poetry” approach to tech-first brainstorming sessions.

As technology is integrated more and more each day in our activities and communications, thinking about how an idea can be executed as part of the technology rather than being retrofitted into the technology is increasingly important. This approach to brainstorming can help agencies and brands make the transition in their thinking about technological communications.


January 4, 2013

Video: 2013 Digital Trend Predictions

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media,Technology,Video — Emily Reeves @ 8:20 am

Yesterday morning I visited with KATV to talk about predictions for digital communications tools in 2013. Check out the video here:

KATV – Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

December 12, 2012

Video: Talking Digital Trends

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media,Video — Emily Reeves @ 2:30 pm

Yesterday, I talked with KARK about digital trends over the last year. You can watch the video here.

August 21, 2012

Shoes and Content and Video – Oh my!

Filed under: Digital Strategy — Emily Reeves @ 2:38 am

If Carrie Bradshaw taught us anything, it is that women are passionate about shoes. I am definitely passionate about shoes–looking at them, talking about them, buying them, wearing them–all these things make me happy. Nine West is tapping into this passion with their new online video channel dedicated to shoes: Channel 9.

This new channel has original content with topics centered on shoes, but covering fashion, make-up and life events (like Prom). Nine West says they will be producing 10 hours of content over the coming months. From NY Times:

“We are aiming to offer great stories, amazing personalities and practical information for every woman who loves shoes and fashion,” said Michael Rourke, the company’s chief.

This is a smart campaign because:

  • Cliched as it sounds at this point, content is king. The brand generating content that keeps consumers engaged, talking and coming back over and over again is going to win. And just because the content is about shoes doesn’t mean women will automatically build a community around it. At first blush, this content appears to be interesting, diverse and fresh. Time will tell if Nine West can maintain that.
  • Consumers want more video content. I reference that stat about 90% of online content consumed will be video by 2015 a lot, but it is just so overwhelming to think about until I realize how much video content I consume in a day and understand that prediction is probably pretty accurate. Brands like Nine West are recognizing that trend and jumping on the wagon to make sure they are left behind.
  • It is about shoes. And who doesn’t want to talk about shoes? (I am pretty sure I should be interviewed for the “Shoe Hoarders” series they are planning.)

Shoes and content and video – oh my, indeed.

August 17, 2012

Video: Digital News Weekly 8.17.12

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media,Video — Emily Reeves @ 7:30 pm

A quick update on the digital news this week.

Digital News Weekly 8-17-12 from Emily Reeves on Vimeo.

July 17, 2012

“Give me your thoughts on whether we should be on Google+.”

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 10:15 am

These kind of requests pop up throughout our days on a regular basis. And they are good questions to ask. It shows thinking about new channels and an understanding that jumping in without planning is not usually the best approach. This particular question came up yesterday, so it seems timely to share some considerations towards a decision to include Google+ in communications plans.

Google+ is a social media channel. Before deciding on a channel for communication and engagement, we must first have an understanding of what we are trying to achieve. This is a too common mistake when it comes to social media: brands want to be on a channel and don’t think through whether it is right for them. And we shouldn’t let a channel drive our strategy. We want to think first and foremost about  (1) who the target audience is and (2) what we want to achieve and (3) then figure out if a channel, Google+, is a channel that will help meet those objectives.

Who is on Google+?
A full two-thirds of Google+’s users are men. A sizable number of Google+ users (42%) are single, and the most popular occupation listed is “student.” While it has a long way to go before it catches up to Facebook in popularity and adoption, with over 100 million users, it would appear that Google is off to a decent start. However, everyone who has a gmail account is automatically signed up for Google+, whether they actually use the service or not. This inflates the number of users making the service seem more popular than it is so far.

Why should a brand consider a presence on Google+?
Google+ is influencing the integration of search and social. Searches for brands on Google are showing Google+ pages near the top. And content and pages that have received +1s also show near the top of Google search results. For SEO purposes alone, Google+ is worth the investment in time and effort. For example, someone who is logged into Google (any Google account is a Google+ member, remember), and may have played around with Google+ by adding a few people to circles or uploading some images to Picasa, but is not really active on the network, will still see their connections +1s in their search results, giving those results a great weight in importance. There is definite value in the tie to search results as Google turns on its social search function. This means that a brand’s content that fans share will be more widely seen by their peers in relevant search results.

It is not a bad idea to claim your space before someone else does. Even if you are not sure how you will use it, or if you will, claiming the brand name while you decide will save you trouble later.

Google Hangouts. Hangouts is a feature unique to Google+ that makes it worth using if video conversations would be relevant and effective for the brand.

Engagement with content will mostly be driven by photos and videos. If the brand has highly visual content or can come up with a way to share highly visual content, Google+ may be a viable outlet for sharing and engaging. Take care, however, not to post the same information on Facebook; give fans more than that. Consider posting original content, like archival photos or live video chats with team members. Ask fans what kind of content they want and figure out a way to deliver that.

What should a brand expect from a presence on Google+?
Keep in mind that Google+ doesn’t have the user base yet that Facebook has and the user base they do have is quite different. So, don’t use Facebook as a gage for expectations on Google+ engagement. And as with any other social network, a brand is only going to get results out of Google+ if they put effort into developing and maintaining good content.

As a benchmark, consider Ferarri. On Google+, Ferarri has a 1.2 million circle count, but has more than 8.8 million likes on Facebook. Or consider Adidas, which has a 3,000 circle count, has an equally impressive 8.5 million likes on Facebook.

1, 2, 3, 4

July 11, 2012

Foursquare Connected Apps

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Marketing,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 3:07 pm

“Foursquare is setting itself up as mobile users’ go-to app for socializing around a location.” - TechCrunch

Discovery, serendipity and exploration are all words that Foursquare has been using to describe the promised evolution of their location-based check-in app to a tool that gives you more. Foursquare has delivered on that promise with the introduction of Connected Apps.

Connected Apps are apps that function within Foursquare and are triggered by check-ins. The examples provided by Foursquare:

“For instance, Eat This, Not That can suggest healthy dishes the moment someone checks in at a restaurant. Or The Weather Channel can tell people the forecast when they check in to a new city.”

These kind of apps expand and enhance the user experience, providing them with information, suggestions and revelations they might not otherwise have encountered. The information delivered is customized for that user’s location and delivered exactly when it is relevant to them to make a decision about how to interact in and with that location.

This addition gives users a new reason to check-in and could drive increased use of the app. With these check-ins, Foursquare continues to grow its database of user preferences to further power its recommendations for new business, products and services nearby, making it a more valuable tool for businesses and brands to engage with consistently.

“Foursquare is setting itself up for an interesting niche in the future of the mobile/local/social web. Facebook is the network of people, but Foursquare’s Connected App platform could see itself turning into the network around places. For a service that’s struggling to remain relevant as the lure of gamification wears off and the local offers plan fizzles, becoming the go-to app for the location-based social web is not a bad position to take.” - TechCrunch

It will be interested to see how brands and marketers take advantage of this opportunity to communicate messages within the Foursquare app about new products, services and surrounding opportunities to the location where the user has checked in. I see brands partnering with the third party apps, not Foursquare to create their own apps. For example, restaurants might partner with a travel app to negotiate recommendations for their restaurants in cities where a user checks in. Or gyms might partner with the healthy eating app to push messages about nearby workout facilities. The possibilities are many.

Shazam Basically Like an Audio QR Code Scanner?

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media,Technology,That's Just Cool — Emily Reeves @ 9:58 am

Shazam is so much more than I originally thought that it was, and I like its potential.

I’ve seen the Shazam logo popping up on commercials and television shows the last several month and just couldn’t understand why I would Shazam these things. In commercials, I can never get my phone out and Shazam open quickly enough to capture the sound. In television shows, I just didn’t get it. My use of Shazam has always been for identifying a music selection that I liked and wanted to note and/or buy.  This seemed good enough to me and I liked it for just that purpose.

But then I saw this article about Shazam partnering with the Olympics and I got curious. Though they don’t describe it this way in the article, it seems that Shazam can be used for “scanning” to get more information about what you are hearing, like scanning a QR code gives you more information about what you are seeing. This is actually pretty cool:

“Viewers who tag the broadcast from their Shazam app will be able to see additional information on the athletes, engage in polls, view the competition schedule, check the latest results, keep tabs on the medal count and share on social media.”

The tricky part of this for brands and advertisers is going to be consumer education. If consumers are familiar with Shazam at all, they are going to know it only as a music identification app, like I did. But, like any other new tool and technology, once people figure it out and start using it, it has huge potential for communicated extra and bonus information to its users. I like that.

July 10, 2012

An Approach to Pinterest

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 6:38 am

Pinterest is still the latest tool that brands are eager to jump into and try out with their messages. I thought I would share some things from the tip sheet I put together for planning discussions when the topic of Pinterest is raised.

A Few Random and Interesting Pinterest Facts

(Relevant as you are thinking about the audience that engages with Pinterest)

  • Pinterest users are three times more likely than average Internet users to have visited Disney World in the past year.
  • Their favorite magazines are Good Housekeeping, followed by Better Homes & Gardens, Family Circle, Woman’s Day and the AARP magazine.
  • 80% of pins are re-pins (for comparison, only 1.4% of tweets are re-tweets).
  • See more stats here.

Sample Objectives That Using Pinterest Might Help Achieve

  • Drive sales through new products boards.
  • Create brand affinity (with boards related to topics in which the brand target audience are really interested).
  • Build community acquisitions (with pinning of images of things related to the brand offerings).

Some Pinterest Tips

  • Claim the username that you want to use and ignore all others. While Pinterest currently offers little, if any, resolution for squatters, if the community continues to grow in popularity it will eventually create a verification program similar to Facebook and Twitter and the squatters will be revealed and exiled. In the meantime, learn from them, take their ideas and make them better for the true brand.
  • Image should take center stage. Make sure all images are nicely photographed. If the story can’t be told visually, Pinterest is not the right place for the brand to spend time.
  • The information should be presented in a sleek and icon-free presentation.
  • Users can attach price tags to pins by typing in a “$” sign followed by one or more numbers in the description box. The price tag appears not only in the description, but also in the upper lefthand corner of the pin thumbnail and image. However, when brands affixed price tags to product pins, users behave differently and are far less likely to repin images with price tags.
  • Put the “Pin It” button on all digital presences (websites, microsites, online store, etc.).
  • Provide link to “official” Pinterest page on all web properties.
  • Create board names and topics that spark interest, going beyond things like expected titles like “products,” “photos,” etc.  Instead, get creative with the names/topics, considering titles that align with brand attributes and brand personality.
  • Leverage internal resources (employees) to create Pinterest boards beyond products and focus on interests related to the brand and the target audience.
  • Consider arranging products in groups that go together in themes such as gift boxes, outfits, complete decor (you get the idea, but it really depends on what products/services your brand offers). Don’t just post a product that is available for purchase; put it in some context. Pull in products from outside the brand that complement it. Always consider the visual appearance of the posts.
  • Avoid pure, blatant promotion. Pin a nice balance between brand-only boards and boards that highlight others.
  • You can pin videos. Do it, in the relevant board categories.
  • Tell a story of their history through photos.

Tips for Building Followers

  • Repinning others
  • Following others
  • Commenting on and liking others’ posts
  • Share pins on the brand Facebook page
  • Share pins on the brand Twitter page

Monitor how much traffic is driven to site from Pinterest.

  • Which posts are driving the most traffic? Consider why and work to repeat those efforts.
  • Which posts are being re-pinned? Consider why and work to repeat those types of posts.
  • Which posts are garnering the most likes and comments? Examine the users that are commenting and liking, follow them back and respond when relevant.

A note on requests for a “Pinterest strategy.” Pinterest is a social media channel and we shouldn’t let a channel drive our strategy. Think about who your target audience is and what you want to achieve and then figure out if Pinterest is a channel that will help meet those objectives. Don’t jump into Pinterest just to be there.

You can follow my boards on Pinterest here.

May 22, 2012

Presentation: AdAge Digital Conference 2012 Recap

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Presentation,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 4:06 pm

Last month, I attended the sixth annual AdAge Digital Conference. Today, I gave a presentation to our agency recapping some of the key presentations and learnings. Here is that presentation:

May 17, 2012

Creating an Online Brand When Job Searching

Filed under: Culture,Current Events,Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 8:20 pm

Today, I talked to Today’s THV about recent college grads looking for jobs in a tough market when everything you can do to stand out makes a difference.

It is time for college grads to start their job searches and the competition is stiff for the number of jobs compared to the number of candidates. Standing out among the competition is more important than ever. And an online brand can make all the difference in getting the call for an interview.

When it comes to an online brand for these candidates, there is a seeming indifference. They are restricting their professional lives and online representation to LinkedIn, then write and post about anything and everything but their career of choice. The bottom line: your are getting Googled before you get called for an interview. And searched on Facebook and Twitter. And the potential employer is definitely looking you up on LinkedIn. Do you know what they will find when they perform these searches? What do you want them to find? It is time to think about yourself through the lens of an potential employer. This isn’t just about removing embarrassing moments, but also about showing that you are curious and intelligent. Think about who you are and what job you want; this is your personal “brand.”

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Build online profiles in places and with content relevant to your personal brand. Determine where to do this and what to talk about based on the searches you do related to your industry, your specific career interests and your location. Look up the people that you admire in your industry and those that you would likely be interviewing with: what are they doing that you can emulate?
  • Google yourself. What do you find? What would you like an employer to find? Google your likely competition for the job. What are they doing that you can learn from?
  • Get your LinkedIn profile fully completed. Too many LinkedIn profiles have only a name and the school from which they graduated. Fill in all the fields. Tell your personal, professional and educational story. Think about it like telling a story.
  • Create a “professional” blog around your interests in the industry in which you want to work. While a personal blog is great and can help potential employers get to know you, if you are writing about the industry relevant to your degree and the job you are seeking, they can see that you are really interested in the work and know what you are talking about. Use Google Alerts, Twitter searches and blog subscriptions (RSS feeds, Google Reader) to stay on top of your industry, then write about it. Create original content; writing about your own discoveries shows that you’re processing the information you are reading.
  • Create a public Twitter profile for sharing industry and professional news. If you have a personal Twitter profile that you don’t want potential employers to see, go ahead and protect that and keep using it as you have before, but make sure you have all the privacy settings adjusted. Respond to thought leaders in your industry via Twitter. Show that you have an opinion and a backbone.
  • Adjust your privacy settings in Facebook so that only friends can see your content. Be wary of friending potential employers, employers and co-workers. Consider the content that you post to Facebook and what you want them to see. Facebook has sophisticated privacy options: if you are not comfortable not friending someone, consider categorizing them to only see certain content. If there are pictures that others have posted of you that are not flattering, consider un-tagging yourself (once you have untagged yourself from a picture, you can not be retagged).
  • Consider creating a website for your resume where you provide links to all of your online presences, making it very easy for an employer to see all that you are and all that you are doing. How can you be creative in the way you display your resume? Think about using video as a way to personalize the resume.

Keep in mind that the differences between a personal brand and professional brand online are blurring. You can have separate profiles, but it is hard to maintain and mistakes can be made. And Google can find almost anything. It is better to assume that everything you put online will be seen by a potential employer or employer and be mindful of what you put out there.

Good luck!

May 16, 2012

Social Media, Advertising and Awareness

Filed under: Current Events,Digital Strategy,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 6:47 am

This Fast Company article reveals that advertising people aren’t normal when it comes to brand and advertising awareness in social networks. I was reading this article while watching “Morning Joe” this morning where they were talking about Facebook being overvalued because no one clicks on the ads (meaning they don’t click on the ads, of course).

I don’t know the future of Facebook, or the future of social networks in general, but both these channels this morning aren’t talking about the other half of the story.

On advertising people being more aware of advertising: duh. It is not because they are the ones running the ads or because they are more susceptible to advertising. It is because they are paying attending and learning. Advertising people know that an audience of 800 million people is not to be ignored or avoided. They are studying how brands are using Facebook, both for content and for advertising to learn what works, what doesn’t and how to improve the communications for the brands they represent. This only means that the advertising and the content shared by these brands is going to get better, and better content and advertising gets clicked, shared and incites interaction.

On no one clicking on Facebook ads: if advertising is not getting clicked, it is because the message is wrong for the audience who is seeing it or the advertising is bad or confusing. If we put the right message, delivered in an engaging way, in front of the relevant audience, it works. Additionally, Facebook is continually changing how brands can deliver content and advertising; ads will be moving out of the sidebar and into the news stream as sponsored content. This is dangerous if advertisers continue to deliver bad and irrelevant content because users may be frustrated and leave. It is the brand’s responsibility to make its messages engaging to the audience it is targeting and to target the right audience.

While the future of Facebook is not guaranteed, it is not fair to say that the advertising is not working and ad people are the only ones aware of the advertising. Facebook is still relatively new, and with the rules constantly changing, we are all just trying to learn and keep up with what is working, what will work and how to not ignore a captive audience of 800 million people.