It’s out with sex and in with activism; marketing and branding specialists alike have dubbed 2017 as the year that “activism comes of age”.
Following a series of polarizing elections and debates, it’s clear that the world is now more divided than ever. Demonstrations, protests, and marches fill our streets and dominate the conversations on our social media feeds – there simply is no avoiding the topic of activism. Fuelled by millennials – who see themselves as active agents of social change – this wave of social activism has set off new ripples in the marketing world.
It’s gone beyond supporting a cause – audiences are now demanding that everyone else does the same. And while this may present a risk of alienating segments of their consumers, brands are beginning to dip their toes into politics. The potential virality of brand activism in the era of social media marketing has helped brands gain more exposure, attract new customers and cement old loyalties. In most cases, the benefits far outweigh the harm.
No longer excused from sidestepping conversations about pertinent socio-political issues, it does little good for a brand to remain sitting on the fence. Take Uber for instance. Earlier this year, the company suffered a major setback after the hashtag #DeleteUber trended worldwide on Twitter. Close to 200,000 users deleted or deactivated their accounts within minutes, following allegations that the company was endorsing Trump’s controversial immigration policies by remaining neutral during protests. Meanwhile, in announcing its $1 million donation to the American Civil Liberties Union, Lyft (Uber’s competitor) received high praise for its denunciation of Trump’s outrageous executive order. By the thousands, angry consumers began switching their allegiance to Lyft and within hours, the company saw a drastic expansion of its user base – exceeding the numbers of Uber for the first time.
Riddled by heightened emotions and drastic political changes, consumers want to be more involved – associating themselves only with brands that share the same ideologies and values. Consumers are making their voices heard with their wallets: every purchase is a political statement. Thus, explaining the biggest rise in brand activism observed in the history of marketing and advertising. But riding this wave seems a lot easier said than done. While brands like Heineken and Dove have successfully crafted campaigns around the importance of unity and feminism respectively, others like Pepsi have completely missed the mark.
Heralded as “The Great Pepsi Shakeup” the three minute Ad was quickly pulled following the global #boycottPepsi on Twitter. Commentators on social media were understandably aggrieved – accusing Pepsi of appropriating imagery from the real protests and completely undermining the dangers and frustrations of these group of people. In attempting to resonate with the millennials, Pepsi completely neglected the most important aspect of brand activism: sincerity. Attempting to “join the conversation” (as preached) without discussing real issues, portrays the brand as opportunistic and more detrimentally, offensive.
Following this fiasco, Heineken, on the other hand, made a political statement of their own with a video titled “Worlds Apart: An Experiment.” Six strangers, each with diametrically opposed socio-political views were paired and encouraged to foster an understanding and open friendship despite their differences. Where Pepsi enraged, Heineken pulled at the heartstrings of its viewers. In this, there are two key differences:
(a) Heineken’s Ad discussed real controversial issues concerning transgender rights, climate change, and feminism while Pepsi adopted a more generic claim for unity and peace – whilst appropriating the imagery of real protests.
(b) Heineken proposed an actual, practical solution of encouraging discourse and fostering understanding despite our differences, instead of portraying themselves as the miraculous solution to all problems.
Gone are the days where sex was enough to sell. In the advent of progressive political changes, consumers and audiences alike have become more politically engaged, often interacting on social media where reputations are made or lost within a matter of minutes – aka the age of the millennials. Ultimately, as much as consumers love thought-provoking ads that tackle the real-world issues we face today, brands should always remind themselves that sincerity and authenticity should underlie all efforts geared towards harnessing the power of brand activism.
Posted by Roselynda Afandi, CorpMedia
In an increasingly digital age, online conversation plays a huge role in shaping brand opinion and anybody with an Internet connection can be a potential contributor. Your online reputation is accessible with a click and you can be sure that at any time, someone, somewhere, is going to turn on a device and check into a search engine to find out all they can about you.
When prospects encounter negative content related to a brand, they are likely to switch to a competitor, resulting in lost leads and sales for your company. The correlation between a brand’s reputation and its sales is different for each industry and unique to each field, but the link is painfully obvious to those brands that have fallen into disrepute or those personal brands that have fallen out of favour with the mainstream media often caused by negative reviews.
It’s not just your customers who will search online for information about you but the media, business partners, prospective employees, and even personal contacts. If you don’t protect yourself and your business, someone can easily post a comment, create a blog post, promote your competition or worse. The results of a negative online reputation can be as subtle as a potential customer clicking on a competitor’s search result instead of yours or it can be as damaging as an industry-wide boycott of your products or services. Case in point – the recent #GrabYourWallet boycott that saw US retailers like Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Sears, among others, drop the Ivanka Trump clothing line.
With increasing numbers of people turning to online resources for information, how does a business take ownership of their online reputation? Taking a proactive approach is the way to go. Managing your online reputation is not only a means of defence but it is also best practice.
Here, we share key initiatives that are integral to an effective brand reputation management strategy:
Public Relations: A strong PR program positions you as a thought leader and expert resource in your field in major newspapers, business and trade publications, and social media platforms. As a critical component to successful brand reputation management, PR can improve brand perception, manage negative sentiments, share positive customer opinion, and increase your web presence. A professional PR team can also secure high profile speaking engagements and opportunities (online or onsite) to promote your brand and gain top mind share.
Social Media: Social media is an integral part of brand reputation management. It’s a great way to make your business accessible, personable and focused on the customer. Being active on social media gives companies the opportunity to monitor their social reputation, as well as to act and react accordingly. Social media listening tools, like Hootsuite, SocialMention and Radian6 can research and collect user generated content such as blogs, comments, reviews, and alert a business of any negative conversation going on.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO strategies put you at the top of search engine results, where customers are searching for resources and solutions to real-time problems. If you are not present where consumers are searching, you will be left behind to competitors who are there. Leveraging strategic keywords and useful content can help to drive more web traffic and increase sales that are essential for your company’s strong brand reputation.
Content Marketing: Raising awareness about the brand through content marketing tools like white papers, blogs, targeted article contributions, and industry research reports can help in a company’s brand reputation management. Producing lead-generating content across an array of channels raises awareness about your brand and your products. By positioning your company as an informative industry source on topics your audience is interested in, you will gain more website visitors and potential customers.
Website Development: Designing a website that’s easy to navigate, with interesting and user-friendly features will definitely help a business in its reputation management. It’s important to make sure that the website works in tandem to the needs of customers – this helps them find relevant information easily and quickly. A strong website not only enhances a company’s online image but also helps to grow brand loyalty.
In the hustle and bustle of normal business operations, it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of brand reputation management and its impact on corporate growth. But lack of brand reputation management can significantly and negatively impact an organisation’s overall success.
It takes time to tackle these crises and turn the ship around, but such issues can be fixed with an appropriate online reputation management strategy. Clear, achievable goals will help restore your company’s good name and keep your business reputation clean.
Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, CorpMedia
Social media has become interwoven in the fabric of our lives. It’s no longer simply a way we communicate; it’s becoming the way we communicate.
In just over a decade, social media has completely and forever altered the way we communicate, acquire news and information, make purchasing decisions, and interact with the world. It has changed the way in which brands market themselves and conduct business.
In fact, social media is completely inextricable from the online landscape, and practically every single person you have ever known in your life is reachable with a single click of a button. Think about it!
- Social media users now account for two-thirds of all global Internet users.
- There are 2.3 billion active users on social media platforms – that’s 31% of the entire world’s population.
- The average person has five social media accounts and spends around 1 hour and 40 minutes browsing these networks every day, accounting for 28% of the total time spent on the Internet.
Millennials use social media extensively. The Gen-Zers use it for a mind-boggling 9 hours a day! Mobile devices and the mentality of being constantly connected serve to further enhance this trend.
Despite the evolution and these staggering stats however, smaller brands and businesses still don’t see the value in investing in their social media presence or spending money on social media advertising. Social media is not a novel accessory. It must be embraced as an essential component of an integrated digital marketing strategy to succeed in today’s marketplace. For those who are still pondering over the “why” of social media, here’s a quick reminder as to what can be achieved when using social media for business.
Attach No Strings
Social media is the perfect platform to share tips, facts, resources and your own expertise in a format that will provide value to others. And the best part is you get to share this information, and build new relationships, with no strings attached. If you genuinely want to help others and enhance your credibility at the same time, offer value-added information to your readers, followers and connections that don’t include a link to a product or service.
Break through Boundaries
Many businesses rely on local traffic, or the physical presence of customers to make sales and succeed. Whether you are a brick-and-mortar business or an online entrepreneur, social media helps erase the boundaries of community and borders. If your products or services are something that can be offered or provided online, then the world becomes your potential customer base, and social media helps connect you with them.
Educate and Upgrade
Long gone are the days of enrolling in a class and losing an entire day of work in order to gain knowledge and education that will help grow your business. Today’s online world offers up a plethora of online learning, classes, courses and eBooks that allow education and growth within a few keystrokes. The Internet affords business professionals all over the world the luxury of learning at your desk. More education and skills make you a better leader and teacher for those around you. With educational programs being promoted through social media and often conducted on online platforms, it’s easier than ever to keep up-to-date with our skills and business education.
Connect with Peers
It’s easier than ever to connect with like-minded business owners thanks to social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Competition is a healthy thing, and like it or not, many of us could learn a thing or two from our business peers and direct competitors. Social media allows growing businesses to observe other businesses and learn what works for them, and what doesn’t.
Embrace the Visual
Now that you’ve found them, you need to attract them. Brand your accounts clearly – you’re fighting to get noticed among millions, so to avoid getting lost in the abyss you need to stand out. Use appealing header images and profile photos, and write an informative and engaging bio that not only explains who you are and what you do, but also gives an idea of what they can expect from your channel. Three of the “newest” social networks, Pinterest, Instagram, and Snapchat, are based entirely on images. So why aren’t you leveraging the visual when promoting your content? Create not only a branded “featured image” to share with your post, but also create separate images for each of the main points in your content so they can be shared when you repeatedly post them to social media.
The important giveaway about social media is that there are many tools out there today – blogging, Twitter, Wikis, smart media releases, Facebook, LinkedIn, to name just a few. You don’t have to utilize them all – start small, keep going and you won’t be left behind.
Posted by Irene Gomez, CIO, Corporate Media
Successful social marketing depends on planning. Planning ahead leads to higher quality content by allowing adequate time for research and execution, and ensures that you’re engaging your audience consistently and effectively.
Using a content calendar provides numerous benefits beyond basic scheduling. A calendar can be used for all aspects of your marketing strategy, including identifying your target audience, planning and goal setting, and tracking resources. Think of it as a shareable resource that marketing teams can use to plan all the content marketing activity. The benefit of using the calendar format, rather than a long list of content to be published, is that you can visualize how your content is distributed throughout the year. This allows you to plan content around key events in your industry or important dates; identify and fill gaps in your marketing plan; and make sure you have your content ready way before it’s published.
Well, January 2017 just passed us by in a wink of an eye. But don’t despair! It’s still not too late to start planning for the rest of the year. Here are some tips to get you started.
Develop a Solid Strategy
A content marketing calendar should organize the way you curate and create content, and help develop your editorial strategy. The calendar cuts extra time out of your marketing strategy and helps you allocate your resources wisely to help ensure your brand consistently publishes high-quality, well-written, high-performing content pieces.
Before you build a content calendar though, bear in mind that it is more than just a schedule with deadlines. As with any marketing plan, you need to identify your target audience, which can include existing and potential customers. Knowing your audience will help determine what social media channels and types of content are most appropriate for your business. You can also get a sense of your audience by evaluating which of your social profiles are receiving the most traffic.
Key question: Who do you want to sell your product or service to? Your calendar should map out content that factors in the big picture, and how your efforts can drive real results.
Build your Content Team
The success of implementing your content strategy hinges on an important, but often overlooked group of people: your content team. These people will be responsible for the successful ideation and execution of your content needs.
You should identify at least 3 key players in the group:
- Content strategist – Someone who is able to see the big picture and develop the script, including editorial strategy tasks like writing brand stories and/or style guidelines. A good content strategist (in-house or external) will always begin with an audit of your current content marketing efforts, then compare those to what you want to achieve and create a strategy to fill in the gaps.
- Writers – Ah, the creative force behind the content team! They’re the ones you rely on to conjure up creative ideas and capture the magic of storytelling through your brand voice.
- Coordinators – A good coordinator can be your key to scaling content. This is the person who keeps track of all the details from vetting and managing freelancers to making sure that someone really did add the alt text to all those images!
Peaks and Troughs
When developing a content marketing calendar, be sure to consider major events that fall within the publishing cycle, and reserve slots for disseminating relevant content coinciding with these dates. For example, you may have ideas for e-blasts or blog posts that the team can publish to help create publicity for a conference that your company is organizing. Incorporating these into your schedule makes sure that you flesh out your calendar with targeted and timely content that matters to your business.
Identifying peaks and lulls, meanwhile, helps you create and distribute content appropriately. Instead of overstretching your resources or being idle during gap periods, it commits you to producing a consistent cache of content that continues to build on your brand’s expertise.
Repurpose, Redistribute, Repromote
As you source for great content, don’t forget about the materials that are readily available and yet, underutilized. For instance, presentation slides from past workshops could be refreshed and repurposed into multimedia posts, and data from company white papers could be adapted into infographics. Pumping your calendar with unexploited assets would certainly ease the strain of having to frequently brainstorm for novel ideas. You can also redistribute relevant content to new and existing audiences to help attract attention. It could be quality information that may not have broken through initially; or perhaps it needed another context.
Check out time-saving curation tools like Scoop.it and Feedly that can aggregate all the topics and publications that resonate best with your brand, and help facilitate your content discovery process.
Without question, having everyone on the same page can improve productivity and help keep track of the different timelines for various assignments. With a dedicated content calendar, marketing teams can strategically align content with business goals, and anticipate the adjustments needed to meet benchmarks.
Posted by Irene Gomez, Corporate Media
For many of us, the festive season brings much excitement – mega sales, year-end parties, exchanging presents – the list goes on.
And here forth is the early gift that content writers and marketers everywhere are presented with – the opportunity to rise above the fold, and deliver sincere and personalised messages to your consumers immersed in the festive fever. In other words, it’s the perfect time to build meaningful connections with your audience with content that is compelling, targeted and helpful.
So how do you effectively captivate with your content this holiday season? This month, we share some useful tips to get you started.
Give to Receive
While information is churned out every day, it takes the right kind of content to get the attention of your target audience. And that’s not all – you have to keep them engaged, and inspire positive action that will, in turn, enhance your brand. Compile a set of hot topics for the different segments of your audience and create pieces that provide suggestions or solutions to specific concerns that are on people’s minds during the holiday season. For example, a busy parent may find a list of time-saving decoration ideas extremely practical, while the restless millennial may appreciate tips on surviving the holidays with the extended family.
You can make content discovery effortless by creating SEO-friendly pieces. This means using keywords that people typically look for during this period in your headlines and articles. Popular ones include ‘simple’, ‘eat’ and ‘snack’. Essentially, it’s all about offering quick access and real value with your content.
When you share something helpful, people are bound to amplify it and recommend the same to others. They’ll also be more invested in the things you have to say with each new message you put out. Building great, people-centric content thus makes it easier to grow the following for your brand.
Get into the Spirit
Send greetings to your clients. This is also the best time to express appreciation and gratitude for their loyalty. Pamper them with personalised gifts that are related to your business, such as discounts and coupons for products and services. Introducing a holiday special for a limited period can also help create buzz around your brand and drive traffic to your site.
And who doesn’t appreciate the occasional heartwarming story or a spontaneous message? We all do, and even more so during this season. A large part of getting into the holiday spirit is getting in touch on a more personal level and fostering genuine connections with your clients. Throw the spotlight on your brand’s human side and share photos of staff in festive gear (complete with a fun caption!), or post short videos of your annual company party or of your team demonstrating a product, specially released for the holidays.
Indeed, ‘tis the season for good vibes! Take advantage of people’s propensity to connect with messages emotionally, and share content that’s able to hit a chord. Remember – emotions generate shares, and positive stories are likely to reach more people than negative ones.
Round Up Your Troops
Your work most certainly doesn’t end with the dismantling of the last festive lights, or amidst the dying notes of Auld Lang Syne. In fact, it’s only just beginning! The period after the holiday season is the ideal time to touch base with new followers you’ve gained in the last month. Follow up with these new additions, and continue to nurture relationships with them. Show them that their presence matters to you and make a special effort to convert them from casual customers to brand ambassadors.
Solidify your pool of followers by consistently creating compelling content – quite simply, by continually being interesting to your target audience and more importantly, by being interested in the very things they value.
The flurry of marketing activity and oversaturation of material that are typical of festive periods should in no way deter content writers from attempting to distinguish themselves with excellent stories and brand messages. Hopefully with these tips, you can be the voice of calm, seek real human connections, and reinforce your status as a trusted source of information this holiday season. Cheers!
Posted by Rahimah Amin, Corporate Media
“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook, co-founder of Intuit
Behind each successful event is the ultimate vision to deliver value to a target audience from start to finish. This usually begins before the marketing campaign kicks off, and continues well after the exhilaration surrounding the occasion has subsided and the dust has settled. Event marketing may make for an arduous journey, which nevertheless, can bear fruits when done right – be it in fostering brand awareness, generating leads, or establishing market positioning.
Embracing the efficacy of social media, marketers are increasingly bringing their events closer to their audience by taking the dialogue online. In centring takeaways around engagement and empowerment, they’re letting members access, as well as share content with minimal effort. Shareable assets from blog posts and clips, to media updates and infographics, enable online users to tell others about you – usually in the quickest way possible.
Make it Buzz-Worthy
Set up a website? Check. Send out the requisite promotional flyer or email? Check. Time to sit back? Not just yet. As American entrepreneur and marketer Seth Godin points out – long gone are the days when the mantra for marketers was “Build it and they will come.” Instead, sustained nurturing of community on social media is essential to create truly buzz-worthy events.
Sure, there’s nothing wrong with good old direct mail. But publicity is best done on platforms which your audience frequents and actively circulates content, especially the ones that you put out. Engaging prospective attendees with visually stimulating and interactive material is likely to keep the hype around your event lasting for much longer, seeing as how each retweet, like or download is an invitation to discover, discuss and disseminate news about your event.
Sneak peeks and teasers (articles, videos, audio, photos, etc.) posted on your social channels also build anticipation, helping to publicise event highlights, key speakers or unique offerings, while not being viewed as pesky or harassing reminders. Regularly update your promotional material and make sure your content is interesting, shareable and of value to individuals who have signed up, as well as to those who remain undecided (and might need a little convincing!).
In short, potential participants value being given a heads-up on what they can expect. Nothing beats letting them feel like they’re making an informed decision before committing themselves to the event. Add a little intrigue to the mix, and you’re on your way to building and growing a community that readily tunes in, and feels like it has a stake in your event.
“Great Execution is the Ultimate Differentiator”
Beyond drumming up hype, attention should go into providing quality experiences during the event as well. Among these, real-time social updates are important, not only in capturing the excitement of a live event, but also in sparking and keeping conversations going. By publishing thought-provoking questions online, the space for substantive exchanges is no longer limited to the event floor, program book or website – instead, your wider community of followers is now included in the discourse, bringing with them more perspectives and more of their own audiences.
Make joining the conversation easy by using hashtags that are created specifically for the event and used across all social platforms. These go a long way to help your audience search for information that you are sharing, and at the same time, allow you to monitor mentions from attendees or affiliates. Having your ear close to the ground keeps you in the loop of what’s being said, and allows you to be more responsive to the suggestions, comments or enquiries being made.
Meanwhile, featuring and tagging participants in your visual updates will boost emotional connection with those present, letting them know that you acknowledge and appreciate their attendance. A gallery of photos or a series of video clips can also serve as a recap of each day’s activities and highpoints, effectively encapsulating the core message and spirit of the event – all of which can be shared repeatedly with various groups of friends and followers online.
Even as the curtain closes on your event, your work isn’t done yet! Capitalise on the high of your attendees and have them continue the dialogue by drawing them to platforms where they can further share about their experiences. A good example would be a blog post that nicely summarises the event, provides worthwhile (and downloadable) content, and encourages participants to leave their inputs or feedback.
Captured statements about particular programs, presenters or your event in general – accompanied by compelling visuals – can also be shared on your social channels. These testimonials (duly attributed, of course!) help lend credibility to your event, and provide positive word-of-mouth for your brand.
Quite simply, by empowering and giving a voice to your community at each stage of event planning and management, immense opportunities for engagement and exposure are to be had. Event success lies in your hands, as much as it does in the conversations of your followers!
Posted by Rahimah Amin, Corporate Media
Humans have long corralled themselves into generational categories with the belief that one’s social, economic time-period and environment will effectively shape them into individuals with similar interests and behavior. Baby Boomers were conceived in the muddled post-World War II canvas and groomed into nonconforming liberals whilst Generation Xers alternated between their divorced parents’ homes apathetically. Online marketers in recent years have shortsightedly been clamouring for the attention of Millennials, aka Generation Y, who represent the highest proportion of online spending compared to any other cohort. As pioneers of the most disruptive invention of all, the Internet, they were the ones who molded it, and in return, it ultimately molded them.
With the spotlight trained on the founders, many have missed the opportunity that lies in the hands of the next generation, the same smartwatch clad hands dexterously juggling a tablet and a mobile phone while taking a selfie. When companies started recruiting 19 year olds as the foremost experts on this outspoken generation, we know that we are witnessing the dawn of a new age. Gen Y slowly incorporated the web into their lifestyles, but Generation Z (Gen Z) was born, fully submerged into the assimilation of notifications. Eighty-one percent of these aptly named “digital natives” are on social media at least three hours a day, making success more contingent on competent digital marketing than ever.
Gen Z are rapidly becoming a critical audience for marketers and brands to understand. Even if they aren’t your target group at the moment, they soon will be. In a couple of years, nearly 4 in 10 consumers will be from Gen Z, and their purchasing power will rise exponentially over the next 5 to 7 years as they grow to be the single largest group of consumers worldwide. They are forming their spending habits now which can influence their habits into adulthood. Appealing to this group can have a huge impact in a company’s long-term customer retention and brand loyalty.
So what does it take to really capture the attention of Generation Z? Let’s take a closer look.
Snap, Swipe, Share
Gen Z thrives on the edge of fast communications. Six second Vines, 140 character tweets, emojis and Snapchats – tapped once and gone into the ether. For brands, this means creating bite-sized, visual content that Gen Z can quickly digest and process. The more bite-sized pieces of information you can get to Gen Z, the further along their path to purchase you can push yourself.
The one thing Gen Z appreciates more than succinct communications is curating their own content. As a form of self-expression, these individuals enjoy taking charge and personalising their own content. Additionally, brands that utilise or acknowledge these consumer creations portray themselves as active listeners and genuinely caring about their customer’s wants.
Gen Z may not have a lot of its own money (yet), but this doesn’t necessarily mean they lack purchasing power. According to brand strategy firm, Sparks and Honey, the average upwardly mobile Gen Z receives an allowance of $16.90 per week, which collectively adds up to $44 billion a year. In addition to pocket money, they exert considerable influence on household purchases and family spending compared to previous generations.
What this means is that marketers need different approaches to gain the attention of the Gen Z. In the past, most ad dollars were spent on TV, radio stations, and newspapers. But to reach Gen Z, companies will need to spend more to create videos and other content that provides useful information, entertains, and otherwise impresses them enough that they share with families, friends, and followers.
Making CSR the Norm
“An Inconvenient Truth” opened the eyes of unsuspecting Millennials but Generation Z grew up in an already unstable world of conflict. Fuelled by current events, they seek to create value and social change for the world through the products they purchase. This group places a higher priority on the quality of a product and how environmentally friendly it is rather than being blindly loyal to a brand. As most Gen Z research products and services prior to purchase, they become privy to the company’s practices, history, and reputation.
After too many lapses in safety and accounting, businesses must now prove themselves by being transparent and relatable. One way is to allow real customers themselves to create content, feedback, and reviews as a means of advertising the company authentically. Following in the footsteps of TOMS Shoes, businesses must start incorporating a social aspect to their business whether it be employee community service or through the triple bottom line approach in order to penetrate these increasingly knowledgeable and ethical customers.
Gen Z is expected to be the most racially diverse generation. While Millennials in their own right are a pretty diverse group, Gen Z will view the increasing diversity in a more positive light. With more friends from different ethnic backgrounds than older generations, brands will have to amp up their multicultural marketing strategies to make their brands relevant to a wider range of ethnic groups.
Gen Z are growing up in a post-9/11 world and in a global economic recession, resulting in a demographic that is very socially conscious. They will expect nothing less from brands. Brands that can form a connection with this diverse group will have the most success. To do this, brands will have to incorporate various, yet consistent, messages that highlight diversity across a variety of platforms.
Point to Note: Gen Z’s everyday lives blend seamlessly with their lives on social channels, and many of their defining characteristics stem from this continuity. Marketers will have to try harder than ever to interact authentically with this generation of consumers, but if they do, they’ll be rewarded by an audience that loves engaging with brands and championing their products.
Posted by Arwika Ussahatanon, Corporate Media
“The best place to hide a dead body is page 2 of Google search results”
Terms like search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) are often thrown around, especially in today’s web cluttered world. Companies are constantly searching for ways to promote their online presence in order to cut through the noise of over a billion websites and reach the highest number of relevant individuals as possible. One is often aware about the need for SEO/SEM, but how it is acquired and utilized is often a grey territory.
Before one can even begin to comprehend their revitalizing functions and abilities, the terms must first be accurately understood. SEO and SEM are digital marketing buzzwords often erroneously used interchangeably. In truth, search engine marketing is the umbrella under which search engine optimization lies. Both are aimed at employing a multitude of tactics to boost the number of visitors towards a certain site by increasing its placement on the search engine results page (SERP). While the top three ranked results tend to garner 58.4% of all clicks from users, the subsequent ones will decline in popularity quickly. Businesses need to think outside the text box on search engines and get serious about SEO if they want to boost their online presence and steer ahead of the competition.
SEO specifically pertains to methods used to influence “organic search results” or those naturally called up due to the relevance of the site’s contents in relation to the user’s search terms. SEM includes the previous but also paid results. It is easy to distinguish the two categories of search returns as paid ones are often accompanied by the indicator word “ad” and only appear at the top and the bottom of an SERP. Most small to medium firms with a limited advertising budget opt only for enhancing their organic searches, as paid ads can quickly add up.
In the interest of helping businesses to refine their websites, the following are some tried and true methods of optimization webmasters have perfected over the years, with all the results and none of the costs:
- Quality, quality, quality!
Let the quality of the site speak for itself. The first step is to have a unified theme as search engines will penalize pages with content that is disjointed from the rest of the site. After a concrete foundation has been set, focus on subjects that are most relevant and interesting to your current user base. Paragraphs broken up into digestible chunks alongside video, infographics and images ensure maximum user comprehension and readership enjoyment. Google’s web crawlers analyze all the words on a page in relation to the content around it to determine the quality of the site, so focus on value rather than amount of content.
- It’s a mobile world after all
With over 50% of Google searches emerging from mobile users and the number of mobile internet consumers finally surpassing desktop users, a smartphone incompatible site will prove detrimental to a company’s ability to extend their reach. Due to Google’s recent algorithm upgrade, mobile enabled sites are ranked higher while those without, demoted when users search through a mobile device.
Be wary that possessing an ineffective mobile friendly site is equally harmful. Take into consideration the loading time of a site. Abandonment nears 50% if a page takes longer than 10 seconds to load, so checking load speeds and mobile compatibility is imperative to a webpage’s success.
For individuals who can afford the extra lift on their search results, each search engine contains their own paid advertising options and costs. These usually utilize the pay-per-click (PPC) or cost-per-click (CPC) scheme whereby advertisers pay a certain bid amount each time a searcher clicks on their ad. With expenditure saving as a priority, there are certain techniques that firms practise to get the most bang out of their buck.
- Ride the long-tailed dragon
In the search for keywords to bid on, one may be interested in short and simple yet oft searched terms, but with this comes the fear of bidding for the limited ad spaces alongside conglomerates with cash to splash. The alternative is to elect long-tailed or more specific keywords. CPC for longer search terms is invariably lower, backed by less competition vying for the same precise string of words. This ensures the chosen keywords bid for are focused on niche users searching with a more readily committed state of mind.
Microsoft’s underdog search platform, Bing, attracts 20% of all desktop searches and make up 3% of all platforms’ aggregated search, but do not be fooled by the inferior numbers. Bing Ads is a diamond in the rough precisely due to the lack of competition. Advertising costs average out to be 22.5% cheaper than those on Google while, simultaneously, campaigns achieve better positions and higher visibility. In addition, Bing allows for more granular controls alongside the ability to streamline ad exposure based on target demographics, bestowing advertisers with more command over their own content and how it is shown.
The targeted nature of SEM traffic deems it invaluable to any business aspiring to appeal to a wider audience. Furthermore, as 70% of all incoming website traffic emerges from search engine results, it is no wonder search engine marketing and optimization are spotlighted when it comes to constructing the most attractive site.
Posted by Arwika Ussahatanon, Corporate Media
We look to the Twittersphere for the latest news and join the hashtag frenzy on Instagram with as much fervour as the next internet-wired, mobile-owning person. The world now is the World Wide Web, a place where information and communication converge. Trend-spotting, the exchanging of ideas and the coalescing of people into communities increasingly occur online.
Observing, listening and connecting through the web offer vast opportunities. And for businesses today, having access to significant groups of consumers and keeping abreast of industry developments is possible not so much by being social as it is about going social. What this means is establishing a presence and engaging on the right social media platforms.
Social media and its smart utilisation can help drive brand awareness and reinforce brand recall. Social behemoths like Facebook and Twitter have become go-to networks for both consumers and marketers – not only are they recognised as mobile advertising juggernauts, they also offer a large user base (1.59 billion and 320 million users, respectively) with which businesses can have direct and sustained contact.
So which sites should marketers put their efforts into? Here are a few essentials to take note of when investing in social media marketing:
Explore your options
With a multitude of social media channels available, it is important that you identify the platforms that best allow you to reach out to your intended recipients. Be where your audience is so that you can concentrate on producing content of continual interest and which inspires feedback.
As consumers look out for reliability, branding your images and creating consistent visuals are vital in creating trust and gaining followers. Explore more of visual marketing as it resonates best with consumers. Specifically, photos drive more engagement than any other kind of posts, while infographics convey complex data in a coherent and visually interesting manner, effectively increasing traffic by 12 percent, if used properly.
It is little wonder then that consumers are increasingly turning to platforms which offer interactive visual assets to suss out new brands or to keep up with old favourites. Trending social media networks to consider would include:
- Snapchat: The 100 million users on this image-messaging service share single, customised snaps or create a story (a chronological series of media forming a longer narrative), with each snap lasting 24 hours. Snapchat posts often appear more spontaneous, giving brands on the app a more human feel. Businesses can also send followers personal snaps to say hello or a simple thank you.
- Pinterest: Brands hoping to tap into a niche network can look to Pinterest, a visual bookmarking tool offering boards that organise collections of pictures and aesthetics. Most of its 100 million users are women, with fashion, food, fitness and beauty amongst the most popular categories. By allowing the embedding of single Pins or whole boards directly into your blog content, Pinterest makes the re-pinning of your material extremely convenient.
- Instagram: Powering the sharing of images is Instagram, a mobile-based social network with 400 million monthly users who collectively like an average of 3.5 billion photos per day. More and more businesses are using it to boost their visual marketing strategy, and rightly so – the app’s users embrace brands, with Instagram posts commanding 58 times more engagement per follower than Facebook and 120 times more than Twitter.
- YouTube: The biggest video library has over a billion users who upload, view and comment on material ranging from TV clips to vlogs and interviews. Considering that 85 percent of online adults are regular visitors, the opportunities to catapult your brand into the visibility of a large, captivated audience through great video content are huge.
- Vine: Ideally suited for today’s notoriously short attention spans, Vine allows its 200 million active users to share 6-second-long looping video clips on social networks or embed them on websites. The clips’ short-form nature inspires immense creativity – often showcasing brands’ quirky side – while making sure that the information being communicated remains digestible.
Studying your audience and ascertaining your niche will enable you to put together your own mix of influential visual social networks that will provide the highest return on your investments. Once you recognise the relevant social media opportunities, you can then be part of relevant conversations that will add value to your business.
Make content your priority
Content published on social media works best when it encourages participation or when it deepens consumers’ emotional connection with the brand. Focus less on hard-selling and more on engaging. Take advantage of social channels’ ability to facilitate direct interaction with customers and listen to comments which can help you shape your marketing strategies.
Learning more about consumers’ interests and the kinds of updates that motivate involvement will also help brands construct personalised messages. As consumers are more likely to seek out posts that entertain and educate, structure your content around a takeaway for the audience. And even as you create, make efforts to curate – collate great articles, videos and images and share these generously.
Remember, content must be compelling, better still, contagious! Quality posts make it easier to amass quality followers who are likely to share it with their own audiences on other social media platforms. Going viral may not always happen, but staying hyper-relevant to customers in an overcrowded market through insights-driven content may, in fact, be just as good.
Posted by Rahimah Amin, PR Executive, Corporate Media
“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation.”
If the quote by Voltaire is anything to go by, then originality must be a moot concept.
Originality is often understood to mean thinking or acting in an independent, inventive, or individual manner. But considering that we live in a world that requires us to be connected and responsive, it is inevitable that our thoughts and actions are inspired and shaped by our experiences and the environment in which we live.
So then, can there truly be an original idea – free from influence and imitation? Facing this very challenge are content marketers, in their exacting search for continually creative content. But given the industry’s propensity to churn out ideas every single day, only for some to be cast aside, marketers have taken to reusing once-rejected material for new clients. Should recycling creativity be always seen as doing more harm than good? How can the credible creative recognise the right times to reuse old, yet amazing (and possibly profitable) content?
Here are some tips to consider when deciding to breathe new life into an old idea while waiting for your next spark of genius:
A look at the marketing landscape will show that influences abound. However, be aware of the differences between mere reproduction, and careful revision of ideas. Recycling creativity goes beyond reusing old content, and should see the marketer conscientiously reworking ideas such that they fit the brief and product of any new client. While the eventual concept may draw inspiration from different sources, it should essentially be work consisting of inputs which have been modified into, and presented as something fun and fresh.
While taking creative liberties with recycled ideas, it is also important to stay connected with their origins or how they came to be, so that marketers can better appreciate the new, improved versions and retain the authenticity in their communication with consumers.
Manage the creative ego
Creative minds are often afflicted by the fear of banality, and sometimes, unnecessarily so. Recognise that moments of brilliance are not always readily conjured, and that recycling creativity can mean letting a previously shelved idea – with the necessary tweaks made – take flight and live out its potential.
And even if concepts perceived to be new are discovered to have been delivered before, it should not weaken marketers’ belief in their ideas. After all, our thoughts bear a degree of unique, personal influence and are never exactly the same as some familiar version of it. Moreover, there has been plenty of evidence pointing to consumers taking pleasure in, and responding to recognisable structures and cues. Gain emotional leverage with familiar models while making sure that these ideas are able to deliver some form of value to consumers.
Do not be too obsessed with breaking the mould
In an industry fixated with being trendsetters in creativity, content marketers may get too carried away with wanting to consistently break tradition. In truth, however, the mould-breaker does not come by as frequently as we think. Marketing is no stranger to recycling concepts, with a large majority building upon or reworking existing thinking.
Opting to work on the tried-and-tested may allow marketers to make the most of their versions as they focus instead on improving the execution of their works. By obsessing less on originality as the ideal, marketers can channel their efforts into achieving content excellence as opposed to creative excellence. When brilliantly delivered, time-worn concepts can always come across as new and exciting.
Go the extra mile
Recycled ideas should ultimately be converted into insights-driven content. Effective concepts understand the client’s business drivers, address their points of concern, and create and sustain brand awareness. Sure, there’s nothing wrong in presenting a used idea to another client if the solution meets the brief, but make sure it is reworked and tailored to best serve the client’s business.
That being said, recycling creativity cannot be a marketer’s first instinct or his or her last resort – it should never be the easy way out, where the same idea becomes the persistent solution for different problems.
Expand the definition of originality
Let’s not restrict ourselves to only striving for total originality (if that is possible any more), but also find inspiration in successful and tested formulae, and then fastidiously improve on them. The creative ego should not stifle the many possibilities that recycling creativity presents!
At the end of the day, content marketers look to put out work that may not always be revolutionary, but is importantly, expressive, engaging and which resonates with consumers.
Indeed at times, the process of creativity can be made simple. As Marcel Proust sees it, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Content marketing may have found a new meaning for originality.
Posted by Rahimah Amin, PR Executive, Corporate Media