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.

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.

 

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.



May 8, 2012

Facebook Sneakily Sharing Brand Comments by Friends

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Marketing,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 1:01 pm

While doing some research today for a client planning session, I was searching the client’s competitors on Facebook. I noticed something I hadn’t previously noticed on brand pages under the new Timeline structure: friends’ posts that mention that brand are showing up on the brand page when I view it, without the friend having officially “tagged” the brand and without having posted the message directly to that brand’s page. These posts were mostly several months old and all were negative. As a marketer and manager for brand pages, I definitely don’t like this. As a user, I think it is pretty relevant, however.

As a marketer, I don’t like this because the brand managers don’t even know these comments exist. Since the comment wasn’t tagged with the brand or posted on the brand’s page, the brand manager has no way of knowing that the comment exists. So he or she can’t respond to it and he or she can’t control what a user sees on the brand Facebook page. Facebook acknowledges this as user privacy:

“Posts about a Page respect the privacy settings of the people who create them. Page admins won’t see posts about their Page that people haven’t shared publicly even though people visiting the Page might see them if they’re part of the audience the post was shared with. Pages themselves are public spaces, and posts added to a Page’s timeline will be visible publicly and are eligible to appear in the Recent Posts by Others box. “

If the comment is positive, this doesn’t matter to the marketer one way or another (other than it would be nice to have those to report back). But the problem is the negative comments, which were what I saw today on all the brands that I was visiting for my research. Facebook is basically amplifying negative word-of-mouth. As a user, I might not have noticed my friends’ posts several months ago, or paid little attention to it in my stream. But it suddenly becomes relevant as I am on the brand page and it sticks out like a flashing beacon.

As a user, when I land on a brand page and see a friend’s comment immediately, it gives me a new perspective on the brand. If it is one that I was considering engaging with in some way and I saw a negative comment from a friend, I believe this would impact my engagement with that brand or I would reach out to that friend to learn more. I love this as a user because it helps me make decisions, helps me learn more and is extremely relevant.

We’ve been hearing and talking a lot about socially annotated search and banner advertising the last few months. The stats say socially annotated search gets a 5-10% better click-through rate. Having just experienced a version of socially annotated brand commentary, I see why it works so well.

April 18, 2012

My Favorite Quotes and Facts from the AdAge Digital Conference 2012

Filed under: Advertising,Digital Strategy,Marketing,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 8:08 pm

Here is a round-up of things heard at the AdAge Digital Conference that resonated with me in some way, shape or form:

  • “Snow White” was the first full length feature animated film. It was also the most financially successful film when it came out. (“Gone With the Wind” beat it next year.)
  • Stop thinking about the technology and instead think about the purpose.
  • Go back to your startup mentality. What was it that excited you? Don’t think about digital as something you do to stay relevant; think instead about how to communicate your message.
  • Every marketer mines data. It is how you use the data that makes the difference.
  • People would rather give up their toothbrush than their mobile phone.
  • People look at their mobile phones an average of 40 times a day.
  • Over 50% of Facebook users are accessing the network via mobile device.
  • Social is not a what, it is a where things happen.
  • We have to scale platforms for two-way engagement with consumers.
  • Consumers now have the power of media and a consciousness of marketing. Consumers talk about how they know what a brand is doing with its marketing. Keep this in mind.
  • Don’t reduce the whole world of social networks to two or three social networks.
  • Consumers talk about brands as “they” rather than “it.” Brands have to figure out how to behave as people. Brands are positioned as people on social networks, so they should act like people.
  • 80% of consumers are using their phones to shop smarter, sometimes on the spot, at the shelf.
  • Learn what people are engaging with and build content to match.
  • People don’t change their TV very often, only every five to seven years. A tablet probably gets upgraded very 18 months.
  • Customers are lazy, stubborn and loyal. Don’t force them todo things they dont want to do.
  • 500 million people listen to music online illegally.
  • Viral ads are no longer a happy accident. Every campaign today needs to be interesting enough to be passed around and shared on digital networks.
  • The definition of content has changed. It used to take money and power to distribute content. Now the cost is practically none. Content distribution is happening in mass scale. It is about empowerment and democratization.
  • The challenge is now the curation of content. How do we find what is meaningful to us? We are increasingly using Facebook and other places like it: we turn to friends for what to read, listen to, watch, eat, buy, etc.
  • Social technologies change the way the stories are seen and shared.
  • Consumers are 50% more likely to remember an ad when they see a friend’s name associated with it (socially annotated ads).
  • Technology is enriching and enhancing our experiences.
  • Beer is the original social network.

Stay True To the Core Brand Idea

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Marketing,Online Advertising — Emily Reeves @ 6:52 pm

Today I had the opportunity, at the AdAge Digital Conference, to watch the premier of the Google Project Re:Brief documentary film. It was inspiring and I can’t wait for everyone I know in this business to watch it. But, the value of watching at the conference was the discussion with the people behind the movie after it showed.

{Again, the crux of the conversation was about finding an idea true to the brand and figuring out how best to execute that through channels that are best for the brand’s consumers.}

The stray away from this as a strategic approach to communications is apparently rampant given the frequency of the discussions among marketing professionals.

At a glance, here are some of the highlights from the post-film discussion:

“Technology is an enabler to the story. It is not the story itself.”

“It is the story. We all know this, we’ve just been ignoring it. We are all so distracted by the technology.”

“Digital is the layer that connects everything together. It is not a channel.” {my favorite}

The problem is that people are afraid to take risks on the web. They are being way too conservative. That is why Google did this experiment. To show it can be done.”

Note: The film was shown for the first time at our conference (they said they literally finished editing it late last night in LA and ran to the airport to make the flight to NYC for the showing at our conference; true or not, it makes for a good story and made us feel special). It is supposed to be available to the public in the next few months (they claim to have not this far in advance yet, so they are not sure how and where and when it will be available).

March 26, 2012

We Are Storytellers

Filed under: Marketing — Emily Reeves @ 3:38 pm

As marketers and communicators, at the heart of what we do is storytelling. We forget this sometimes, but regardless of channel–broadcast, print, digital, or across all of them–we have to engage our audiences in a brand message, or story, to build their interest in what we are selling.

In this recent TED video about storytelling, filmaker Andrew Stanton shares the elements of all good stories. Great food for thought.

March 22, 2012

Technology Is About Discovery

Filed under: Digital Strategy,Marketing,Social Media — Emily Reeves @ 11:23 am

I’ve been hearing that word a lot lately, “discovery,” as it relates to new technologies and how digital technology adds to our daily lives. We’ve been sharing online now for sometime, and we’ve talked a lot about engagement and creating opportunities for conversation. But “discovery” really is at the heart of all of this, we just haven’t talked about it that way. Until now. And companies are taking that idea of “discovery” to new levels by creating features and tools that explicitly embrace discovery.

Location

Location sharing is not going away, but it is evolving from the actual “check-in.” Rather than just announcing where we are, we want apps to help us discover new places, new things about places we already know and people we might want to know about us. One of the great quotes I heard at SXSW about location was:

“‘Place’ is a layer cake of qualities about that place.”

It is so true and that is just from a user standpoint. And the apps are starting to deliver that to us; as a recent article mentioned, Foursquare is evolving with its “Explore” and “Radar” features, and at SXSW we heard a lot about several new “ambient location” apps that run in the background of our phones to notify us when something or someone interesting is near.

From a marketer standpoint this is awesome because we can program the delivery of specific information about our businesses, track how locations are being used and learn more about those that are visiting so we can ultimately improve services and communications.

Shopping, Designing, Collecting

Pinterest is quickly becoming a top traffic driver to retail sites worldwide as people are discovering products they never knew existing and seeking out a way to find and buy them online. This quote from a recent article sums up the “discovery” aspect of Pinterest nicely :

“Essentially, Pinterest excels at something that’s very hard to do on the web — help people discover new things. If you can name what you want, after all, Amazon and Google are pretty good tools for helping you find it. But what if you don’t know what you want? Social-networking sites have helped businesses influence people, but they are imperfect. People use Facebook and Twitter to talk to each other, not necessarily to discuss things they might want to buy. In contrast, Pinterest users are more often in a shopping mindset when they are using the service. If you’re keeping a pinboard called ‘Spring handbags I’m considering,’ there’s a good chance you’ll click through and make a purchase.”

Again, from a marketing standpoint, this is awesome: “As more people spend more time pinning [they are] revealing to marketers the kinds of hobbies and objects they covet…”

How do we embrace and apply this trend in digital strategy and communications?

We must think beyond how and what to share and add a layer to our filter that asks: what can we help people discover through our communications?