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Influencer Marketing – Where to From Here?

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The popularity of social media sites over the last two decades gave rise to a new and contemporary style of marketing, aka influencer marketing – involving a group of people known as influencers. Influencer marketing is essentially a hybrid of old and new marketing tools, where brands take the age-old concept of celebrity endorsements and turn them into modern-day content-driven campaigns on various social media platforms. In place of traditional celebrities on mainstream media, these “internet celebrities” are referred to as such because of their sizeable number of followers, and who are engaged by brands to endorse and promote their products and services.

Nearly 60% of marketers have been reported to include influencer marketing in their budgets. The strategy, however, has moved on from “What do you think about doing something with influencers?” to “What’s the influencer strategy for this campaign?” That’s how big influencers have become!

Whether we like it or not, influencers are here to stay. Influencer marketing is projected to grow to US$10 billion in 2020, and brands are increasingly using influencers as ambassadors to promote their products with their audience. An influencer can be a popular fashion photographer on Instagram or a food blogger who tweets. There is enough to go around.

The important thing to remember here is that whatever the end goal may be, you need to make sure the influencer you choose will be able to deliver on your message. Here are some points to consider when identifying one:

1. Consumer Trust

Influencer marketing first became popular as a result of scepticism among audiences towards brand advertising. Consumers instinctively turned to influencers, more so than the traditional celebrity spokespeople for the brand, for more ‘authentic’ voices of opinions or reviews. Influencers’ work has typically been dependent on their commitment to put their audience’s interests first. While their role in marketing has increased rapidly, today’s savvy, informed consumers may still be cautious, and are likely to see them as mere conduits for corporate brands, similar to traditional celebrities.

2. Influencers not synonymous with big audiences

Initially, the word ‘influencer’ was an umbrella term for a group of people on social media with more than a million followers. Today, its subcategory that brands have successfully worked with includes micro-influencers – those with 10,000 to 90,000 followers. In time to come, more everyday brand advocates, with as few as 400-600 followers would become their spokespeople, as brands increasingly commit to reaping stronger results among smaller audiences, rather than blow their entire budget on a single influencer.

3. Differentiation

Social media sites today have millions of active users daily. Having to tap into that big of a potential market on your own can be tricky. That’s where influencers come in handy. With the large number of users, you are likely to be swimming in a sea of thousands. The high level of competition with low barriers to entry make it all the harder for brands to identify influencers. It’s worth considering the different levels of influencers and which ones are best suited to your brand/campaign.

4. Fake accounts / followers

Another risk that comes with the exceptionally large user bases on social media is the number of fake accounts or influencers with fake followers that marketers have to spend time weeding out, in order to identify the ones that organically generate quality engagement. A recent study conducted by Points North Group revealed that up to 20% of mid-level influencers’ followers are highly likely to be fraudulent – artificially inflated to increase their asking rates from brands.

5. Costs

As the demand for influencers continue to rise higher than it already is today, marketers have to set aside a huge portion of their budget for influencer marketing alone. To amass a following as large as they have, influencers would have had to put in hundreds of hours to build their personal brand and reputation; so naturally, they expect just as much in terms of remuneration.

With their ability to engage a highly relevant audience, and share content among their followers, influencers are vital to a brand’s marketing mix. Engaging an influencer comes with a unique set of challenges that can impact the results of your campaign. At the end of the day, it’s really about the messaging. What do you want them to share with their audience? How do you want them to present your brand?

 

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PR Crises: Defusing The Disaster

Finding a new home can be difficult. It doesn't have to be.

No publicity is bad publicity, right? If you’re in public relations (PR), you’ll beg to differ. PR crises are roadblocks that can appear from the most unexpected of places – a social media post, advertising campaign, customer complaint or even an innocent tweet. For brands, corporate apologies can sound insincere and a hasty way to vacuum the dust off a once-polished image. While companies may glide over a genuine mistake, actions that betray a brand’s values won’t go away unnoticed.

The good news is, scandals need not resort to resignations. While to err is human, how your company oversees the crisis draws the line between an uphill climb and downward spiral. Although the nature and severity of the situation are crucial facets that can decide a brand’s future, managing the firestorm as it happens is key to overcoming the obstacle ahead. Handled right, a crisis can also give your brand a profile boost.

With that in mind, we’ve identified some ways to help you navigate through a crisis (or crises)!

1. Communicate early, and to the right people

It’s a race against the clock, especially during an emergency. Responding prematurely signals the likelihood to backtrack on your words as new facts arise, while delayed answers lead to speculations that’ll spill over to tabloid news. It’s all about timing. Don’t address your stakeholders, employees, business partners and customers after the crisis has ridden out the storm, hoping the public treats it as yesterday’s news.

Be clear. Who needs to be notified when a problem strikes, and who is authorised to speak on behalf of the company? Relay proper protocol to all staff, stakeholders and partners to reinforce the line and responsibility of communication when faced with questions (from media and/or public) and avoid contradictory comments.

Prepare for backlash. By responding ‘no comment’ or providing no form of response only help others feed words into your mouth. Brushing aside curious questions may cause others to assume that a cover up is at play. Instead, be honest and provide reassurance that you’ll share the information as and when it becomes available.

2. Be proactive, not reactive

Name calling and finger pointing are emotions talking. Avoid fanning the flames with unwarranted external blame, or worse – arguing, posting or tweeting in public. Keeping your temperament in check during stressful circumstances can be tricky; knee-jerk responses only propagate the matter further. As a business leader, it’s crucial to assess the situation with a clear head, and focus on the public’s concerns to control the situation. Get the right message out through the best media channels, but more importantly, do consult with your PR team first before releasing any statement.

3. Take a stand

Is this the best position to take? Your decision will determine the company’s future responses and action plans. Rally your team together and ensure everyone’s on the same page.

In the case of Johnson & Johnson, the cyanide-laced Tylenol capsules became a case study for crisis management. With the number of fatalities and widespread panic over the extent of contamination, it looked impossible for the brand to regain its footing. Yet, quick thinking by the CEO, his transparency in dealing with the situation and the brand’s priority for consumer safety saved the pharmaceutical giant. The brand recalled pill orders across cities and implemented tamper-proof packaging for subsequent prescriptions.

Despite suffering significant monetary damage in the short run, the company took a firm stand, prioritising health and safety over profit loss. The consumer-first mindset and forthrightness in management ultimately renewed the trust in consumers.

4. Know how to apologise

Sorry seems to be the hardest word for some people. Even corporations at the top of the ladder don’t get it right the first time. Dove ran an advertorial depicting a woman of colour, miraculously transforming into a white lady after using its soap.

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Criticised for racism, here was how their apology went:

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Despite past efforts to promote inclusivity in its campaigns, the advertorial was seemingly a blatant jab at racism. And the apology caused a bigger uproar with its vague messaging and lack of sincerity – for instance, what did ‘missed the mark’ refer to? A genuine apology demonstrates ownership, an understanding of public sentiment and the will to improve current practices.

Compare this with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) representatives who handled the Academy Awards gaffe like pros after announcing the “accidental winner” for best picture during the live telecast.

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The straightforward apology contained all the important nuggets – from acknowledging who the affected parties were, explaining how the glitch occurred, to actions taken to rectify the problem. Now, that’s the way to dish out an apology!

While loyalty to your brand is admirable, being defensive and over-selling your brand’s core assets will only land you in boiling water. Think of the apology as a dance – do it with heart and others will be moved.

5. Take the empathy route

While the crisis is like a wound to your brand’s image, great public relation skills is the antiseptic you need to treat the cut. Avoid technical jargons and curt responses, and instead adopt a customer-first mindset.

Take a page from Singapore Airlines on their high-quality customer service. The airline went above and beyond by presenting gifts from luxury tea store, TWG to passengers when an in-flight entertainment system on a short-haul flight turned faulty. While the damage done may only be a dent to the airline’s reputable record, the company accedes that genuine remorse and substantive efforts go a long mile.

In the case of consumer brands, consider how the trouble caused had resulted to poor experiences for users. How can you make amends after the blunder? Remember, you’re dealing with actual people with real concerns and feelings. After you identify the affected parties, decide on the medium to reach them. Will a quick tweet or a well-thought out press release perform the job best?

6. Monitor the situation

Disaster struck. You executed a plan. What’s next? Monitor the coverage of your messages and be ready to improvise on your action plan, if necessary. The crisis may snowball or involve new individuals, so be ready to abort mission and begin from scratch.

Poor use of public relations acts as a sword that will wedge deeper cracks in your company. Instead, use the mightier pen to construct genuine apologies, reflect on wrongdoings and plan. Take our word for it, brilliant public relation tactics are the right arm to every successful business!

Posted by Nur Farzana, CorpMedia

4 Tips For Your Next #HashTag Campaign

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It’s been a month since the New Year, just enough time for most people to forget about their resolutions. You may laugh, but it’s true.

So, how can you ensure that your brand stays relevant and remain top of mind after thrill is gone?  Enter, the hashtag! Hashtags have become an immensely popular and effective way to communicate and find content on social media.

That’s right! What used to be a punctuation mark or a numeric symbol on the keyboard has now evolved into a metadata tag. The idea was proposed by Chris Messina in a tweet back in 2007 and since then, it has gained so much traction that the word hashtag was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2014. Millennials, politicians and celebrities use it. Do we need another reason to capitalize on it?

A great hashtag is one of the most powerful tools you can use to market your business through social channels. Events, Twitter profiles, trending topics, marketing campaigns and more can be covered by a single hashtag, across the web. With the right hashtag, you can connect with your audience easily, get discovered by new prospects, track and curate what people are posting about your brand.  Every time someone uses a hashtag tied to your brand, they spread your message to their own followers. Cool, right!

If you’re still at a loss as to where and how to use hashtags, here are 4 essential tips that will help to inexpensively increase your mindshare on socials.

Research, Research, Research!

Long and complicated hashtags are a turn-off and in a blink of an eye, you’ll lose your audience. On the other hand, even the shortest hashtag can give way to misinterpretations and the whole thing can go south, as in the case of Burger King (BK) and its obliviously launched #WTFF campaign. The fast food chain suffered a backlash in the form of mocking tweets and memes, with the launch of their lower-fat French fry, using the hashtag #WTFF (What The French Fry). Careful research prior to the launch would have warned BK that the hashtag is commonly used to express profanity, and likely to backfire, especially in terms of marketing and promotion spend.

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When it comes to hashtags, you need to plan ahead – research, research, research! Before you choose a hashtag for your campaign, you need to know what’s popular with your audience – what are they interested in and why? Find out what is relevant to your brand, what social influencers are saying, and also what the trending content is in terms of adding value to your business. The hashtag you create must resonate with your audience. It must be clear enough for them to identify with quickly, and easily draw a positive reference to – from something they hear or see in their daily lives.

The Right Channel

Be mindful of the platform that you’re running your campaign on, so that you can tailor your content accordingly. Linking it across platforms is great but what works for one may not work well with another.

The #MeToo campaign, for example, worked very well on social platforms, but had greater success via Twitter. Women who were abused and harassed felt empowered to stand up and speak up about the abuse, galvanized by the hashtag. Twitter allowed the victims to share their stories virally, while at the same time, respecting their privacy. The #MeToo hashtag caught on quickly and sparked a global movement and call for change and protection from abuse, not only for women but for men too.

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Meanwhile, you can say that the fashion industry has it easy when it comes to social media campaigns, and Instagram is most effective. With a series of hashtags, they can tap on social influencers and mobile-savvy customers – and reel them in with targeted hashtags, images and videos, pertaining to trends, new collections, stores nearby, as well as other interesting fashion titbits.

Call to Action

Don’t just focus on promos – focus on organic reach. Work towards engagement with your audience through a call to action, such as encouraging them to tweet or post their own pictures using the hashtag you created. A great example is Disney’s viral campaign, in collaboration with the Make-A-Wish foundation that got people to share their photos, complete with Mickey Mouse ears with the hashtag #ShareYourEars on Instagram.

Likewise, Calvin Klein encourages shoppers to post in Calvin Klein undergarments with the hashtag #MyCalvins.

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Strike a Chord

The most successful hashtag campaigns do not solely focus on marketing the brands; rather, they seek to strike a chord with their audience. As in the case of Disney’s #ShareYourEars campaign, the charitable nature of donating $5 for each user post to the Make-A-Wish foundation, contributed to the campaign’s virality and ultimately Disney’s reputation as a socially responsible brand.

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By incorporating a social message in your hashtag campaign, it not only helps to create a positive brand image, it also repurposes your message to a wider audience. Another example of a brand that does it right is Always, a feminine care product brand that made its entire social media marketing about empowering women, primarily through its #LikeAGirl campaign launched in 2014.

When it comes to social media marketing, your hashtags are the key to your SEO and visibility of your content, and can be an essential component to building brand awareness across platforms. If used wisely and correctly, your business is bound to see an uptake in customer engagement and sales.

Posted by Brintha Shree, CorpMedia

Trends you just can’t ignore in the New Year!

Trends you just can't ignore in the New Year!

Hello, 2019! The smell of fresh beginnings is in the air. How will the lessons learnt (or not) in 2018 prepare you for the new year ahead?

Whatever the case may be, don’t let the grass grow under your feet. Now is the best time to plant new seeds and trim the weeds – put your best foot forward and strut into 2019 with confidence, armed with communication skills that won’t go out of style! What does the future hold for those of us in the creative communications business, and clients looking to engage with their customers to increase their brand and product visibility?

Let’s look at what’s trending.

1. Videos Rule

Videos saturated by over-the-top special effects will only lapse in users’ memory over time. Authenticity calls the shots, and unique brand content will translate into unforgettable experience for users. Albeit a product demonstration, launch, promotion (and the list goes on), videos are the best medium to elicit an emotional response.

Keep your eyes on live videos. The short-lived and spontaneous nature appeal to Facebook and Instagram users, while portraying your brand as current, relatable and fun. This video format is so popular, you receive a notification every time followers go ‘live’. For brands that are youth-centric, live videos are the best way to reel in digital-savvy prospects.

2. Instagram TV

The network reached one billion monthly active users in 2018. Its highly interactive community, visual-rich nature and tremendous following continue to put Instagram at the top. Instagram is becoming very appealing to TV viewers. Content creators are producing hour-long videos on Instagram TV (IGTV), as with IGTV, there are now more opportunities to connect with your fan base on a deeper level. The vertical video format exclusive to IGTV ensures mobile phone optimization and eliminates the hassle of tilting your screens.

Renowned brands are already on board. Nike shared a clip of megastar, Cristiano Ronaldo for the World Cup campaign while Louis Vuitton showed off the Men’s Spring Summer 2019 runway look on a 12-minute long video. Users who tune in to West Elm’s IGTV received interior design tips through the “Pillows 101” and “Living in 100 Square Feet” visual aids. While entertaining, the videos are also educational and provide real value to design enthusiasts.

Though, not all brands use IGTV for serious product placements. Netflix wittily posted a video of popular Riverdale star, Cole Sprouse chowing down a cheeseburger for a straight hour. The eccentricity isn’t lost on viewers, and the video garnered more than a million views from curious web surfers. IGTV allows brands to experiment on content creation and think outside the box for ways to present itself.

3. Chatbot Conversation

Chatbots are the express lane to real-time responses. Though chatbots were previously integrated into Facebook Messenger, Slack and Skype, users can now expect quicker and personalized solutions, even on native mobile applications. The awkward human-robot interaction won’t fool eagle-eyed consumers, but these chatbots will get more intelligent after every user interaction. Its rising prevalence in customer support, hotel bookings, and routine tasks like weather reports, show how these web crawlers are steadily gaining momentum.

In the digital age where social media never sleeps, chatbots render immediate assistance so brands can spend time on other pressing demands. The round-the-clock, two-way conversation with a chatbot is also easy to install. If you’re looking to own your own chatbot at work, check out HubSpot, Chatfuel and Botsify.

4. Augmented Reality

Augmented reality (AR) is often associated with the foreboding of the robot domination. But, hear us out. AR offers the ultimate customer experience through the blending of interactive digital elements. From sensory projections, stellar visual overlays to immersive backyard action, the technology brings the digital world into ours. The mixed reality spectrum is seen in IKEA’s Virtual Reality Kitchen, designed for e-commerce shoppers to get a first-touch experience on customizable kitchens and the autonomy to alter furniture to their liking.

Cadbury, too, cooked up a storm by bringing festive celebrations to life with the Advent Heroes campaign. The company distributed exclusive Holiday Heroes calendars with an AR application. Chocolate-lovers viewed specific dates on the calendar through the application each day and took holiday-centric selfies with Cadbury chocolates and candies. The unique manner of interaction with consumers shows an alternative method to product promotion – without coming off as “oversell.”

5. Stay Audience-centric

User-generated content is the rage these days. It’s as simple as brands encouraging followers to snap a photo and tagging the brand’s chosen hashtag or releasing a campaign to highlight the common user’s experience with your product.

The action camera brand, GoPro has over 5000 videos posts daily from users sharing their cliff diving, skydiving and other wild experiences, using the #GoPro hashtag. GoPro is making a conscientious effort to inspire wanderlust as travellers tick items off their bucket list. The real-life adventures are more authentic and appealing, as compared to gimmicky attempts by brands that boast megapixels and water-resistance features.

Make the most of live videos streaming on your company’s webpage or social media sites for product demonstrations, exciting announcements or latest updates. Use the power of the web to cement the foundation between your brand and customers. At the same time, take a minute to engage with consumers and make them feel valued by responding to queries and showing appreciation for heart-warming compliments and insightful suggestions.

6. Get Personal

A search for gorgeous Moroccan lamps on Google magically transpired into sponsored posts from lighting companies on Instagram. That’s no magic – personalization integrates various social media platforms together, leaving users spoilt for choice, no matter the site they’re logged to.

Personalization allows users to connect closely with your brand, potentially translating into conversions and customer loyalty. Mailchimp’s personalization toolkit helps to disseminate content that matters, make your emails sound like an actual conversation with customers, predict users’ demographics and even send your emails based on buyers’ time zones. Your brand can also utilize Facebook Dynamic Product Ads for a bulls-eye hit on targeting users with relevant ads.

Lexus launched the Beyond Utility campaign that featured everyday items alongside their luxurious counterparts. Depending on the audience’ demographics and interests, users can watch differing variations of the video. For instance, music fans are shown an ordinary headset next to a more extravagant piece. The message is clear: Lexus desires both practicality and style for customers, and utility alone won’t cut it.

7. Social Messaging

The trendsetter in the messaging industry, WhatsApp has more than 1.5 billion users globally. Brands leverage on the WhatsApp Business platform to interact with customers on Android mobiles. The application assists with organization, segmentation of new prospects and returning customers, and facilitates the communication flow between your brand and users. The conversation-encrypted chats, two-way conversation style and instantaneous replies are great advantages of this service. While WhatsApp Business isn’t deep-rooted in every brand’s marketing campaign yet, the potential for mobile marketing bears some fruit.  Like Snapchat Stories, WhatsApp may potentially run advertisements through WhatsApp Status as early as this year.

As much as you wish to be available 24/7 to interact with customers, let users know when to get in touch and don’t leave them ‘on read’. It may smear your brand’s good name and while blue-ticks don’t usually come at a price, you run the risk of being charged for slow response after a 24-hour period on WhatsApp Business.

The rest of the year will fall into place if you get the beginning right. The power is in your hands to navigate your brand in the best way forward.

From all of us at CorpMedia, here’s wishing you a fantastic year ahead!

Posted by Nur Farzana, CorpMedia

 

Winning ‘hearts’ on Instagram

Winning ‘hearts_ on Instagram

You don’t have to be cool to rule the (virtual) world. Brands are no longer hiding in cocoons, relying on heavyweight publishers for sponsored content. They’ve evolved into social butterflies on the digital sphere.

Granted, not every brand knows how to maximise Instagram to its fullest potential. Some see no wrong in whiplash colours and unrelated captions – the perfect trigger to a swipe (away). But you and your growing brand will have to do it right. We’ll help you out.

1. Find your voice

Don’t be afraid to let your feed do the talking. A picture is worth a thousand words, no? Your Instagram account is your brand’s voice. A strong identity sets you apart from the rest, but your brand can only shine when it knows itself. Think of the values your company stands by, and translate that into a visual force.

Take Starbucks for instance. Their Witch’s Brew Frappuccino is another magical concoction to join their out-of-this-world selection.

Starbucks’ recipe for success is simple. Their Instagram page shows a seamless integration around their cup of joe-from pictures of house coffees, and festive-themed caffeine to the newest additions.

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2. Be consistent – it’s a strategy

This should be your brand’s middle name. Build a cohesive brand theme with colours, filters and aesthetic designs that are in sync. Ensure your photos are sized well (1080px by 1080px), so your feed won’t resemble a stock of mismatched crops. Learn from Pinkberry and their messy use of a filter, turning their berry yogurt into a chameleon instead.

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From one dairy name to another, Ben & Jerry’s is making their Instagram page all about their delicious pints. Like them, be consistent with your branding, and don’t post the same picture thrice in a row. Spruce things up with creative ideas and don’t let others wonder why you’re on their timeline.

If your company is promoting a new product, make things easy on the eye by capturing shots against diverse backgrounds or adding related pictures such as a consumer trying out your item. It helps to remember to whom you’re posting for too.

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3. Schedule posts in good time

There’s no hard and fast rule on the best timing, so test your posts at different intervals of the day. Our pro tip is to use Iconosquare to view posts’ statistics and keep track of the time your target market is most active. Even if you’re posting fantastic content, it’ll be water under the bridge if no one sees it.

Sporadic posting habits make your followers forget you. Over-posting will annoy them. Find a strategic balance, and a good suggestion is to have an editorial calendar to set specific schedules.

Think of your postings as a diet plan: Don’t be over-ambitious and commit more than you can chew, or take too many ‘chill pills’ and post only once a year. People will wonder if you’re still in business! The average brand posts, according to a Union Metrics study, is 1.5 times every day – a realistic goal for most.

4. Create Instagram Stories that work

Publicise giveaways, contests and timely deals on Instagram Stories, with a call-to-action for consumers to click on instantly. With their latest “swipe up” feature, it has never been this easy for brands to direct audience straight to their content.

Bringing your followers behind-the-scenes is like dangling the metaphoric carrot, holding their attention, in anticipation of the actual release. Take a page from H&M and their Conscious Collection, giving avid fans an inside scoop on the materials used in their environmental-friendly initiative, and keeping them on their toes about the upcoming release.

Travel application site Hopper, for example, uses Instagram Stories to offer massive flight discounts for your next holiday.

Whatever your motive -cheap thrills or sneak peeks- an Instagram Story is fluid and purposeful, all while aligning with your brand’s image. It’s not called a “story” for no reason!

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5. Your followers matter

Not to sound superficial, but who your brand follows speak volumes. Following a charitable cause have others believe your brand is ethical, whether or not it holds true. Of course, it’s a given to check out accounts that are relevant to your brand.

That doesn’t mean you should go on a follow spree and add random pages, especially when your followers are half the size of theirs. It seems egoistic, but let followers come to you instead. Focus on building real relationships and let others share your content for you.

The ‘like for like’ favour doesn’t work here. Think of the number as a nice compliment, but genuine engagement with your supporters eventually takes precedence. Don’t sacrifice quality for quantity.

6. Just have fun

This seems contradictory to everything on the list. But the moment you view Instagram as a profit-making tool, you’ll lose out. While these guidelines may pivot into a powerful branding strategy, remember – when you start thinking “This seems fun”, others will too. Get inspired and start posting. Your visual diary is your brand.

Posted by Nur Farzana, CorpMedia

 

Do You Want to Hear a Story?

 

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People in general have an insatiable appetite, craving a tender story to sink their teeth into. Commercials or Ads, laden with emotions can invoke a plethora of feelings within a person. Once upon a time, advertisers were fixated on hard-selling a product’s prime assets. Today, they prefer to tell a “story” to sell. The story, though, must resonate with you, the prospect, and appeal to your emotions. After all, when it comes to making buying decisions, it’s all about what stirs your emotion.

Thanks to premium memberships and exclusive privileges, skipping an Ad is literally a click away. While it’s impossible to rewind the effects of technological advancement, it’s plausible for consumers to press play the next time they chance upon YOUR commercial or Ad.

There’s no running away from storytelling in today’s marketing environment.  It’s an essential component of any marketing and advertising campaign strategy. Brand storytelling works when yours rises over the white noise to rein in your prospects and win their trust, only then will they become vested in your business. Here are some tips we’d like to share with you.

1.  Stand out from the rest

To be memorable, you must be unforgettable. A conventional plot won’t exactly scream your brand name. Advertisers need to pull out a fishing rod to hook users with a direct connection to a powerful story, to automatically assimilate the business-to-consumer bond.

To stand out, you don’t necessarily have to be tall. Volkswagen’s Think Small campaign swiftly shifts the focus of spacious American cars to small German automobiles. Instead of short-changing consumers with empty promises of roomier cars, they choose honesty as the route forward – telling it like it is!

Think about what makes your product a rose among the thorns, and figure out ways to weave a story from that. Where carbonated beverages are aplenty, Coca-Cola’s personalised bottles, are a rare, novel invention. The Share a Coke campaign allows users to purchase a can of Coke with their personal name printed against the famous red backdrop. For unconventional names and nicknames, Coca-Cola will even customise the bottle. Consumers feel a sense of ownership, or better yet – it spurs them on to share a Coke with someone by that name. It may be simple, but a name can share a thousand stories.

2.  The emotional touch

Luke Sullivan, author and copywriter of Fallon McElligott advertising agency, shares how people talk in stories. We must do the same. The brand itself tells a story, and narratives give human experience depth. Take for instance, a savvy gadget like FitBit – we know what it is and how it works. The Ad uses an emotional pull factor as it follows an impressionable young girl while she narrates her mother’s fitness journey, all from her eagle-eyed lenses. It tugs at your heartstrings and holds your attention on pause. What’s more, it makes consumers believe that FitBit is indeed a gadget for everyone. You wouldn’t be as interested if the Ad boasted a chunk of statistics, right?

3.  Be real, give details

You may think that to reach the masses, a carbon copy of a tried-and-tested idea would suffice. But does a “recycled” idea makes you jump out of your seat? If you want to be heard, then include details, details, details. This makes the storyline genuine and relatable, and is sure to go out with a bang.

Observe your surroundings and hear what isn’t being said. Starhub Singapore’s campaign is peppered with nostalgic heartland moments to alter people’s hushed perception of Singapore as THE unhappiest country. The story resonates close to home and includes visuals of precious, authentic moments that locals cordially share.

4. Relate and resonate

Step into the shoes of a reader and ask yourself, “Can I relate?” Think of the struggles your community faces, and how others feel about a certain topic. For instance, in the age of female empowerment, the Think Like A Girl campaign by Always, nips the social stigma of playing sports like a girl, in the bud. The takeaway is that girls are as fit and adept as boys – a message that runs deep for many independent women out there.

5.  Close your eyes

Many will skip advertisements at the first second. If you can make a person forget, even momentarily, that they’re watching an Ad, you’ll garner two thumbs up (and a ‘like’). As Jon Hamm wittingly said in Mad Men, “I wanted people to say “What’s happening in the story right now? Oh! It’s an advertisement!” That will clue you in if you have an Emmy-winning Ad or not.

Procter & Gamble (P&G) shares stories of supportive mothers to superstar athletes, and how unwavering courage leads to the success of their children. The commercial is almost a film, taking viewers on a journey before reaching that paramount moment, all under 3 minutes.

Hope these tips help you to think outside the box. The next time you’re in a brainstorming session, remember: Honest, relatable and authentic storylines – That’s where the gold is.

Posted by Nur Farzana, CorpMedia

A practical approach to better dialogue

Oct blog intro

“Facts don’t care about your feelings” is a popular meme attributed to Ben Shapiro, the American writer, political commentator, and self-described member of the Intellectual Dark Web: an emerging cadre of new media public intellectuals. For some, he is a fearless speaker of truth. For others, he’s a regressive provocateur. It depends on one’s sensibilities.

And that’s the starting point for this blog. When Ben lays out an argument he often says that he genuinely doesn’t care how others may feel about it. I think it’s fair to say that (in the public sphere at least) he elevates rational thought above all else: an idea that seems alien to many people.

In the workplace too, there are people like Ben. There are people who are the polar opposite of Ben. And there are people who sit somewhere in between. But an indisputable truth is that, in any enterprise, it’s people who drive outcomes. And people are motivated in different ways: some more by facts and some more by feelings. So it’s self-evident that adopting a more agile approach to people-motivating skills can deliver better outcomes.

Most people want to be heard and understood. As a leader at the sharp-end of delivering results in a complex organisation, it can be tough to find the time to dialogue effectively. Or often enough. Especially with people who are not like you. I get that. But however busy you are, it’s worth creating some extra time for some other people (and you know already which people I’m talking about in your sphere).

Here are a few dots that I’ve connected over the course of my life, and my career as an executive coach and adult educator; some of them may be helpful to you.

1. Seek first to understand, then to be understood1

This is a concept that has echoed throughout the ages of mankind. The central idea being that most people talk too much, and don’t listen enough.

2.  Take some time to let the tale unfold

If you give a person 30 minutes of uninterrupted time to speak, you will learn a lot about them. Listen actively, don’t judge, ask clarifying questions, but let them speak. Eventually you will hear something along the lines of: “…which doesn’t seem right to me”. That’s a breakthrough moment which will reveal something intimate, and very important.

3.  Tell me more about that

Stick with curiosity in that moment. Your own thoughts and feelings about the things that don’t seem right are irrelevant. Did anybody ask you to agree yet?! You’ll recognise this moment when you notice the words “Yes, but” about to come out of your mouth. Swallow those words! Simply say: “Tell me more about that.” And continue to listen actively.

4.  Simplify, Clarify

When it’s an appropriate time to speak, here’s a good way to begin: “If I understand you correctly, what is important to you is X, Y, Z. Am I right?”. And if you are not right, do like it says on the shampoo bottle: rinse and repeat.

5.  Read your vital signs

At this point you will have broadly heard one of three things: a) “that’s not fair”, b) “that’s not accurate”, c) “that’s not actionable”. This is a potential danger zone; a moment when your own interpretation of the ‘stuff’ could cause you to feel triggered. Pay attention to your ‘gut’. That Fight or Flight or Freeze feeling is invaluable data. High performance people know how to bring that data into dialogue.

6.  May I share?

People with strong dialogue skills will take this moment to ask permission to share. Describe the ways in which your own thoughts and feelings diverge from those that you have heard and understood from the other person. But this isn’t an opportunity to dismiss what you have heard, or to use your ‘senior power’ (if you have any). You are merely asking for the same listening courtesy to be extended to you.

7.  Where are we now?

By this time you should each have a better understanding of what makes the other one ‘tick’, and where your differences lie. Spend some time to clearly articulate the ‘gaps’ that exist between your respective thoughts/feelings, without judging or criticising them. Treat them as a phenomenon; your individual realities are not the same. It can be helpful to imagine this bundle of differences as a fish on the table between you. It’s not you, it’s not him/her. It’s a fish that you have co-created.

8.  What are WE going to do about this?

We don’t often get to choose our clients or colleagues, and differences are bound to arise. But if you have gotten this far it’s fair to assume that you care about your relationship with this person, and vice versa. But you need to clean and gut that fish2, or it will begin to stink and decompose!

Occasionally I have heard people say: “This isn’t personal, it’s purely business.” And that’s actually a very well-intentioned thought. But it ignores a reality that, for some people, business is entirely about the personal. A subtle, but powerful alternative could begin something like this: “I really value my relationship with you. How can we move forward in a way that preserves that, and still achieves  a good business outcome?”

If you put the above steps into practice, I guarantee that you will take much of the heat or awkwardness out of your difficult conversations. You may easily, naturally, create a better dialogue towards a better outcome. And if you need some practice with the techniques, or are interested in a workshop for your team, get in touch with Dramatic Difference. Our dynamic theatre-led learning style has helped many clients to build high performance teams through effective dialogue.

Reposted with permission from Dramatic Difference (www.dramdiff.com) Read the rest of this page »

Building a Community Behind an Event

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“Event marketing is an extension of your content marketing. That’s the backbone to a really successful event.” – Stefanie Grieser, strategic marketing professional and author.

Building a successful event requires a strong community that is connected and engaged, ready to lend its support and help your event grow. To nurture an event community, purposeful and timely communication is necessary. We share a few tips to help you prepare for your big event!

Expand Your Online Presence

When hosting an event, be sure to harness the power of social media. In this digital age, being visible online is a huge plus. Bring your event online by announcing and promoting it regularly via email blasts and on social media platforms. Having a strong online presence plays to your advantage. Use social media to share regular updates and the latest news regarding the event so as to build excitement around your event.

Real-Time Marketing

During the event, utilize the power of real-time marketing and post updates when you can. These updates could include pictures and videos on your social media channels like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. Once the event is over, craft a post-event note (a brief on the event or thank you message) and post this on the various channels linked to your company website. If your event is an educational one (i.e. a conference, workshop or seminar), you can also think about hosting a webinar as a follow-up to the meeting.

Word of Mouth

For any event to stand out, you need to offer something compelling enough to spark and sustain conversations. This will further promote brand awareness and build a larger following behind your event. It could be anything from highlighting a reputable keynote speaker, or the announcement of special awards to recognize outstanding achievements and contributions to the industry. These can be huge draw factors that your intended audience wouldn’t want to miss out on. Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool!

Make It Interactive

An event is an interactive ground that brings like-minded individuals together to share ideas and experiences. Include programs or activities to set your event apart and actively engage your audience. Customized gifts lend that personal touch but more importantly, they capture the mindshare of your audience. Rather than a generic event T-shirt or cap, how about portable battery banks imprinted with your company logo? These mementos are not only practical, but also spread awareness beyond the event.

When It Ends

Be sure to send out thank you emails and post-event surveys and feedback forms within a day of your event’s conclusion – when everyone’s memory is fresh and you’re likely to receive the most accurate feedback possible. Input from participants will help in future program planning.

Also take some time to gather all the points discussed during the conference and notable quotes from speakers and release a post-event report. You should not miss out on your major call to action, with the opportunity to get people to pre-register for upcoming events.

Stay in Touch

Do stay in touch with your community. Update them on future activities and other news of interest (but avoid spamming!). Remain visible on social media just so participants can check in and remain in the loop.

On Social Media: Post weekly industry-related news updates on Twitter to engage with your community online. One way to increase your following is to use high-volume hashtags that are relatable to your target groups. You should plan the best time slots to post your updates for maximum visibility and pick-up. Use fewer words and more visuals to capture your audience’s attention.

Monthly Blogs: This could be a more in-depth, monthly blog post summarizing the state of the industry or new developments impacting the industry. Post interviews with industry experts and publish views on your website to gain credibility and promote thought-leadership within the industry.

Last but not least, “Think Big, Think SEO”. Choose your keywords carefully and wisely and include these on all your posts, urls, etc. – any way you can, and your event will stay on top!

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia

Breaking: Bad News!

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Delivering bad news is tough in any business. Whether it’s having to tell your vendors that you can no longer retain their services or informing an employee that he is being made redundant, or shutting down a project, often the “messenger” tasked with delivering the final blow would go to great lengths to delay or avoid the situation due to fear of confrontation, turning a bad situation into an even worse one.

Let’s face it – nobody wants to hear bad news. Disappointment, frustration and even anger come to mind. It’s certainly no mean feat when it comes to reconciling and managing orders from upper management with the interests of employees, vendors and clients.

So how can we avoid shooting the messenger? We share some tips on how you can deliver bad news (someone’s got to do it!) with grace and tact.

Be Prepared

Make sure that you’re familiar with every piece of information before speaking to your target recipient (employee, colleague, client). More specifically, you need to understand the reasons why, who are the parties involved, and any other considerations in the lead up to the final decision. Don’t hesitate to ask for more information before delivering the bad news.

Time and Place

When you deliver bad news, be sure to do it in a private setting and at a time when he can hear the bad news. If it’s not urgent, don’t approach the person at a stressful time in the middle of a project. Be mindful of the setting, and switch off your phone and email alerts – avoid interruptions at all cost to put the person at ease.

Create a Buffer

Before communicating any bad news, always start with a buffer to reduce the shock or pain. An effective buffer helps the recipient to keep reading or listening, and essentially provides a smooth transition to the bad news proper.

  • State the best news first
  • Compliment the recipient
  • Thank the recipient for his past contributions
  • Listen to what the recipient has to say (shared viewpoint)
  • State key facts of the case
  • Express empathy (show concern)

Be Direct

People are more receptive to listening and accepting bad news when it’s delivered thoughtfully, sincerely and confidently. Body language is key. Make sure your body language conveys the right message in the right way and is in line with what you’re saying. Some examples of non-verbal cues include avoiding eye contact and fidgeting. These are sure to send the wrong signals. Also, do not sugarcoat and beat around the bush. Be direct and tactful, and most of all be kind.

No Time for Jokes

When bad news is being delivered, be considerate of the recipient’s feelings. Do not joke around as this may come across as being rude and insincere. While you may want to lighten the mood and reduce the impact of the news, always be respectful and sensitive.

Explain the Why’s

Research shows that people are more willing to accept bad news if they believe the decision-making process was reasonable. Therefore, provide them with ample reasons as to why the bad news is necessary and give them details about the decision-making process.

Show you Care

After delivering the news and explaining all the necessary information, give the individual some space to absorb the information and be ready to listen to his concerns. Ask him how he’s feeling. Do your best to be understanding and answer any questions as best as possible.

Moving Forward

When closing, do it in a way that promotes goodwill and helps the individual or team move forward. You should provide your support and let them know you’re there for them. Instead of focusing on the “can’ts”, focus on the “cans”. Go a step further and suggest a compromise or alternative option based on what the individual wanted in the first place.

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia

Ethical Advertising: Does It Pay to Do Good?

 

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Advertising is an important facet of business. Businesses are in the game to earn profits and advertising helps with just that – bringing the products to a wider reach by capturing the interest of target audiences. Advertisements have a heavy responsibility – they affect the daily lives of people who watch or read them. However, businesses need to be ethical in their advertising. An ethical company is likely to be viewed more positively. That’s because they have to keep an ethical promise to their customers.

Missing The Mark?

Even though businesses know what it means to be ethical, there have been cases of renowned companies making blunders in their advertising efforts.

Deceptive Advertising and Misleading Claims

If any advertisement makes unsubstantiated claims, then the intention is to mislead the public, and it becomes unethical. Such an advertisement usually creates or takes advantage of, or substantially interferes with the ability of people to make rational consumer choices.

Of course there is a fine line between exaggeration and deception. When an advertisement claims that “You’ll be walking on heaven”, it obviously does not expect readers to take that literally because the rational individual is able to discern the truth.

However, if an advertisement pitches your pill as one with “No Cholesterol!” but the ingredients listed on the back leaf show high sodium content, then that is considered deceptive advertising.

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An example of deceptive advertising would be that of Kellogg’s Rice Krispies. The brand came under fire in 2010 for misleading consumers about the product’s immunity-boosting properties. The Federal Trade Commission stepped in and ordered Kellogg’s to stop all advertisements carrying the immunity-boosting claims. As a result, Kellogg’s had to pay $2.5 million to affected consumers and donate another $2.5 million worth of Kellogg’s products to charities.

Kelloggs .pngKellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats

Kellogg’s got into trouble again in 2013 when it falsely claimed that its Mini-Wheats “improve(d) kids’ attentiveness by nearly…20%.” As a result, the company had to settle a $4 million claim for false advertising.

Irrational Persuasion

It is the manipulation of feelings or interests of a target audience.

Advertisements push our buttons with celebrities, sex and success. They disable our rational mind and appeal to our feelings and emotions. They exploit deep-seated emotions the target audience might have: the need for security, acceptance and self-esteem.

McDonalds Ad.pngMcDonald’s Advertisement UK

McDonald’s seemingly harmless Filet-O-Fish advertisement caused massive backlash and debate online when it was launched. In the advertisement, a mother tells her son about his late father and to his disappointment, they shared little in common. It was only after his mother took him to McDonald’s and he ate a Filet-O-Fish burger that he found out he shared the same taste as his father (it was his father’s favourite burger). McDonald’s was taken to task for creating an advertisement that exploited child bereavement. The Advertising Standards Authority in the UK received about a hundred complaints and only then was the advertisement withdrawn.

Fear As a Motivator

Advertising agencies frequently use fear tactics. It becomes unethical when it is without proper justification. If fear is used for the good of the consumer and society at large, then the use of fear is justifiable.

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In the case of anti-smoking campaigns, a label carrying the words “Smoking Kills” on the box uses fear as a tactic to motivate smokers to stop smoking, for their own benefit and health.

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Also in the case of anti-drinking and driving campaigns, the use of fear is meant to stop or condemn drink driving, while highlighting the possible risks.

Many companies, however, employ fear tactics for the wrong reasons.

Nationwide Insurance Ad.pngNationwide Insurance Advertisement

The Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company released an advertisement in 2015 which features a boy reciting all the things he would not be able to accomplish in life and goes on to say “I couldn’t grow up, because I died from an accident.” The advertisement shows horrific images of accidental child death scenes like poisonous chemicals and shattered TV screens. It goes on to say, “At Nationwide, we believe in protecting what matters most… your kids. Together, we can make safe happen. #makesafehappen”

This is an example of unjustifiable fear, wherein the advertisement induces people to buy the insurance by depicting how horrible the lives of their children would be if left uninsured.

Promoting Unethical Behaviour

Unethical advertisements are also those that promote unethical and immoral behavior. An advertisement by Reebok had a headline that read “Cheat on your girlfriend, not on your workout.” People were unhappy that the advertisement was unethical as it encouraged infidelity.

Reebok Ad.pngReebok Advertisement

So… What?

Ethical Advertising

Ethical advertising is critical. Consumers are more socially aware and increasingly demand for businesses and products to be more ethical in production and advertising. When any company is perceived to lack in ethics in any aspect of their business, they lose credibility from consumers, resulting in a tarnished brand reputation.

Be Honest

As obvious as it sounds, to be ethical in advertising, one needs to be honest and promote a given product or service without lies or deception. Ethical advertising tells the truth and never hides any of the product specifications or its defects. Ethical advertising is also free from any deceptive or misleading claims, irrational persuasion and using fear as a motivator.

Social Consciousness

To be ethical in advertising is to avoid appealing to deep-seated emotions and unavoidable needs of the target audience. It is objective and unbiased, and does its best to live up to its social responsibility mission.

Environmental Consciousness

Ethical advertising also comes in the form of protection of the environment and preventing harm to the environment. Unethical advertisements do not show consideration for the environment and also promote environmentally destructive behavior.

Posted by Chloe Tan, CorpMedia