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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Social. Okay, social media, got it.
Listening. Hmm… so it’s okay to just sit and listen?
Amid all the social media chatter today, with 500 million daily messages sent on Twitter alone, people are undoubtedly engaging in conversations related to your brand. Are you listening, and if so, how are you responding?
Social media has provided people with the ability to voice their opinion on companies, brands, people – in short, anything and anyone. What people say can be good or bad, but that alone doesn’t determine your social media success. The way your company listens and engages with these social media posts is what dictates how those opinions influence your online presence and brand sentiment.
Social media listening goes beyond ‘listening’ – it’s really about monitoring and managing a brand. Every company strategizes to create content that is engaging, well-written and unique but if you’re not listening to the social conversations happening around it, then you might as well bury your head in the sand!
You may think that you know what your audience is saying and are willing to spend thousands of dollars researching on what you think your audience wants to hear. But, finding the conversations around what you think is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. And if you can’t track the buzz, where does your brand go next? Listening, on the other hand, does the research for you.
I’ve finally heard what they’ve got to say.
So I’ll just fix it or respond.
Whatever you hear doesn’t always warrant an immediate response. Social media listening allows you to hear what’s going on and gives you time to strategize before responding in a timely manner. It’s good practice to anticipate things that could relate to or affect your brand.
And conversations don’t always have to be bad ones; it could direct you to do something you weren’t thinking about. So if there’s an event happening which your brand should be a part of, jump at the opportunity. Start with an event hashtag or by simply retweeting relevant content. At the end of the day, it’s all about reputation management and playing your cards right.
Ah..I think I finally get it!
Now how do I actually ‘listen socially’?
There’s no scientific way to tackle social media listening –but there are tools you can use (look out for Part 2 of our blog on Social Media Listening).
When it comes to social media listening, every company will have to adapt and learn. However, before you embark on your journey to becoming the Social Media Whisperer, you’ll first have to ask yourself these 5 important questions:
1. What is your brand reputation?
Find out what defines your brand and how you want it to be defined. Monitor the names of your company, CEO, and product(s).
2. What is the reputation of your competitors?
Monitoring your competitors’ conversations with their own communities will help you understand their positioning, and give you insight into their marketing strategy.
3. Who’s talking, how are they saying it (outlet of communication) and who is leading the conversation?
Get a feel of who’s talking about you and discover the format of communication and style of content being shared. This will help shape your social channel strategy and help you craft channel-specific content that works. Also pick out the conversations that matter.
4. How should you strategize?
Since you now know what’s going around, write custom content that resonates in the hearts of your followers and your to-be followers. Develop important relationships and act as a catalyst to connect to each other. Add links and other measurables.
5. Which conversions matter?
Use free and freemium (or perhaps even paid) social listening tools out there that deliver both comprehensive data and insights associated with that data. If your strategy isn’t working, find out why and rework it.
Remember, social conversations depend on social networks. It’s hard to have eyes and ears everywhere, and it’s overwhelming to be listening and monitoring 24/7. While listening, don’t discount anything. If something seems overwhelmingly popular but irrelevant to a brand, monitor it. Find out why before you look the other way.
Posted by Stephanie Robert, Advocate, PR, CorpMedia
Content marketing is showing no signs of slowing down. It begs the question why this is beginning to replace the traditional methods of outbound marketing. The answer is apparent: businesses are finding that content marketing attracts customers and builds real trust between brands and consumers with the use of owned media instead of rented media. Content marketing is empowering customers with consistent and valuable information they need, making them more perceptive and ultimately benefiting organisations with their business and loyalty.
So what is Content Marketing?
“Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action” – Content Marketing Institute
Content can be said to be just about anything the organisation churns out, ranging from articles to blog posts and even social media posts and podcasts. They can be visual, auditory or written. The main function of content marketing is to attract customers and more importantly keep them engaged. In other words, it is the art of communicating with your prospective customers without selling. This makes content marketing a creative outlet in terms of sources of information, awarding creators of these content the opportunity to test the boundaries that define their creativity.
Open up options by jumping on the latest Internet bandwagon! These are the essentials to building a content marketing strategy;
- The Basics: Start with the content that is already on your website and work from there .The key is to optimize user benefits by making sure there is ease in accessing information they are looking for and you are offering the solution.
- Stand out: Bring out your unique style, as the web in a sea of information and your competitors are out in the open too. The only way to make a good impression is to have a unique style of presentation. It only takes 7 seconds to make an impression.
- Intent-based content: Identify your target audience and thought has to be put in to the user’s wants, expectations, or needs when he or she arrives on your website through search. Find out what they are actually talking about instead of making vague assumptions. Try to also anticipate what type of questions your clients may have.
- Don’t “sell”: Leave the selling of your content and try to provide as much value as you can. People will naturally want to buy this way. Think of it as ‘commercial karma’. (says Bryony Thomas)
- Don’t publish low-quality content: It is a better way to build your authority, credibility, and brand recognition when you don’t publish a particular piece of content you don’t consider to be high-quality. High-quality content in anything that is engaging and informative on a regular basis.
- Be reachable: Follow up on discussions as this signals to everyone you are listening and being responsive. It puts a real person behind the valuable information and makes them more inclined to trust you. You reap what you sow.
The challenge in content marketing would be producing engaging content and making the transition for audiences from learning from you to buying from you easy. Through content marketing, networks can expand rapidly and deliver warm leads that are easy to convert. In the midst of creating content, it is imperative not to forget that at end of it all – it has to be congruent with the company’s vision and goals.
Posted by Thaslim Begum, CorpMedia
When Instagram first launched in October 2010, it did not expect to gain 1 million users in a span of 3 months. Apparently, many people fancy the idea of showcasing their photos in square grids. But it is more than a personal thing.
Growing at an exponential rate for 3 years straight, Instagram has become one of the rising darlings of social media. Through its focus on photos and close connectivity, Instagram offers an innovative way to leverage visual marketing, with new elements such as InstaDirect-send private messages and InstaVideo– takes a 15 second video.
Today, the Instagram community boasts a whopping 150 million users worldwide. Huge companies such as National Geographic, Zara and Starbucks are all using Instagram to expand their business.
Why are companies jumping on the bandwagon? Because Instagram offers an opportunity for brands to diversify their content as a means to broaden their online reach quickly. Simply put, businesses want to be where their customers are! Getting on this platform is a great way to check out what’s trending in the community, and also track their products by the number of mentions. Through the use of hash tags, companies are able to engage in direct conversation with their audience, and this can inspire new products and/or new product uses.
How can your business benefit from Instagram? Here are some tools and tips to get you started:
Under the “About Me” section, write a brief description of your brand/company. Just like any other social media network, everyone reads the simple introduction on your page before scrolling further. Make it appealing to viewers and remember that less is more. A short, witty tagline is better than a long presentation that can throw people off.
- Behind the scenes
Yes, it is a business that you are running so why not show the viewers how it’s done? Snap photos showing the different aspects your product, or post pictures of events or conferences. Photos of the office and staff interactions will help to build rapport with your audience.
- The art of # (Hashtags)
Thanks to Twitter, the hashtag has become an important means of communication. Hashtags open up the potential of allowing the consumer to influence an ad campaign, for example. So if you’re doing a short survey, or even hosting a contest via Instagram, create a hashtag that users can easily identify with and access quickly. Each time they search for a specific content hashtag (e.g. #iwanttowin), all related photos will show up in one place. However, use relevant hash tags.
- Be creative
You don’t have to go all professional and capture photos using a DSLR camera, and then edit on Photoshop. The key is to keep it creative but simple. Add filters to your images. There are tons of free applications you can download from. There are even filters for InstaVideo! Remember you are communicating through visuals to tell a story to your viewers, so there is no reason to produce boring pictures or videos. Or someone may just hit that “unfollow” button!
- Link everything together
Does your company have Facebook, twitter, blog? Link your Instagram posts to all the platforms – this will have a multiplying effect – not only will your followers stay updated, it will widen your reach.
Not only do people interact through your visually appealing pictures, they may also post comments. Do make it a point to reply and if they follow you, follow them back! This presents another opportunity to explore your audience and understand their interests, which may impact and/or help to improve and expand your company and brand offerings.
- Reward your followers
Once you reach your target number of followers (e.g. 4,000), why not reward them with discount codes, promotions and free tickets? This is a good way to show your appreciation and in turn, your followers will also spread the news about your company. Take Mercedes-Benz for example. They gathered five of Instagram’s best photographers and offered each, five days behind the wheel to take inspiring photos with the car. The one who received the most likes got to keep the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLA. The best part, even fans were allowed to participate. They sent their photos under the hashtag ‘#CLATakeTheWheel;’ in the hopes of winning a car. The contest helped Mercedes-Benz to gain more followers, and the company appeared in the newsfeed of millions of Instagram users through selected Instagrammers’ posts.
Instagram is an invaluable marketing tool. By integrating Instagram into your social media marketing campaign, you can give your followers an insight into your company. It is a great way to promote your business while being creative at the same time – and that’s always fun right!
Posted by Aishah Nur, Corp Media.
The average individual living in a city is exposed to close to 5000 images every single day. Just think about it- 5,000 images! Consumers are saturated to the brim and over with ads. To the extent, that they are almost desensitized as a result of this monotonous and homogeneous display of images.
Understandably, people walk past desperate attempts at handing out fliers with increasing ease. It’s no wonder why people come ten minutes after a movie’s scheduled starting time. The primary function of Smart TV’s appears to be very smartly forwarding past the ads.
Social Media and Advertising
With the onset of social media, ads are implicit in almost everything. Social media has mobilized and given a new form to the world’s oldest marketing method: good old word-of–mouth. A simple picture taken on a smart phone of a dish at a restaurant, edited via Instagram and uploaded on Facebook, Twitter or Tumblr well falls within the definition of an ad. Yet, people don’t consider these newsfeeds as marketing mediums. Ironically, though social media is rated as one of the most effective forms of advertisement. It has given rise to a very different form of advertising; one which allows for dialogue and feedback about products, corporations and even politicians.
Traditional Media- Redundant or Not?
This is not to say that traditional media has no bearing on communications. Press releases, TV commercials, newspaper and magazine ads hold their own against social media. They are often seen as a source of credibility and are essential to establishing and maintaining, reputation and image.
Advertising with a Difference
Where social media differs is in its provision of an informal and highly relatable setting for communication to occur. More importantly, this setting is an active one that allows for opinions, for example, individuality amongst homogeneity and, for perception and interpretation. Social Media embraces creativity and imagination.
Social Media- The Practical Solution
We’ve all heard the term valued consumer and valued feedback. Well, it’s safe to say that social media embodies these terms; not only valuing feedback but facilitating it. And with over a billion people active on social media sites today, that’s a wealth of information for corporations and organizations, which may in many instances, be more reflective of the population and demographics than any research or survey could possibly be.
At this point, critics of social media would say that it intrudes privacy and increases risks of defamation. On the other end of the spectrum however, it is also necessary to emphasize that social media allows for a mechanism of self-regulation. With every irresponsible act in the use of social media, come criticisms, which most are eager to avoid, particularly on a public forum.
Young adults using their laptops to watch, ironically, TV shows at their convenience, is not an uncommon sight. Today’s rule is efficiency and accessibility. In a highly wired community, social media helps to strengthen relationships, in great part due to the demands of modern city life and the time it takes away from building relationships. Particularly with young people, by far the most important source of technology is the computer and by extension their smart phones, all of which are used to access social media. Why should this tool be limited to personal relationships? Social media can and is, by all means, increasingly being extended to the relationships between corporations and consumers, governments and citizens.
Integrating Social Media into Advertising
More traditional forms of media still remain imperative for mass communication particularly in corporations’ desire to establish credibility. Social media cannot do without traditional media. The relationship between the two is not that of substitutes but rather a complementary one. Social media enhances and amplifies the messages delivered by traditional media in a way that is both cheap and effective, a plus point for most corporations.
Social media is not without its risks but increasingly, these risks are being reduced. Why? To ensure the longevity of this obsession with social media. Social media is here to stay and embracing it is an imminent and necessary step forward for almost every organization albeit for different purposes.
Posted by Tara Kishin, PR Executive, Corporate Media Services
You’ve facebooked, you’ve tweeted, you’ve spread the virus (the good ones anyway!) and you’ve hurled yourself into the blogosphere. Are people interested in what you have to say?
Let’s talk about blogging today.
The word “blog” is one of the most popular words on the internet today. A blog is a web log, or an online public diary that is written for others to read. You can create blogs for personal or educational reasons, or for business purposes. In fact, you can blog just about anything.
For business use, blogs offer all kinds of potential. Blogs have some truly unique characteristics as a marketing tool. For one, they are much easier than newsletters when it comes to getting your idea across. They can be updated at any time and from virtually anywhere. Blogs not only offer credibility, they make your company more accessible to the public and your target audience.
That said, how do you keep the wheels in motion? How can you continuously engage your target audience and give them fresh news about your company and views?
Some tips to bear in mind if you’re you thinking of entering the blogosphere with a bang!
1. Decide on why you’re writing a blog. Is the goal to share knowledge that’s useful to others; to demonstrate your expertise in your business area; test ideas and get comments? Or is it to be used as bait to draw audience to your website?
2. Plan an editorial calendar. Decide on when entries will be added – daily, weekly or fortnightly. Be realistic! You need to make sure you and other contributors can keep to the timeline ensure that the quality of your postings is maintained.
3. Updating the blog and frequency. It doesn’t have to be dependent on one person or senior management. Spread the culture, keep it informal, recognize and applaud team “bloggers” – better still add a photo of the blogger for instant recognition.
4. Choose the right blogging platform. Your blog should look and feel the same as your website. This can be done by integrating WordPress or other platforms into your website.
5. Promote your blog. You can do this via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and through your email signature. This not only helps build traffic but will also help build links and encourage interaction with your audience.
6. Invite external guest bloggers. It can’t always be about you! Guest bloggers, not working at the company, are a welcome addition to the blog party. They can bring fresh perspectives and ideas to the table.
Whether your blog is a personal one or for business, readers come to blogs expecting to find interesting perspectives on a topic that you are passionate about. It is important to realize that your choice of a focus (niche) area can have a significant influence on the success or failure of your blog.
Your niche needs to be a popular topic that many people are interested in. Choose a topic that will make it comparatively easy to grow your readership and build a strong following.
Online business tools can help you reach a more targeted audience with personalized messages, build relationships with customers, and grow your business.
Starting a business is always exciting! Just as you’ve selected a business name, you have to build your brand reputation and yes – sell it! For small companies with small budgets, marketing and advertising can be a big problem. So, why not let your fingers do the talking?
In today’s digital age there is no better way to promote your brand than through the power of technology. If you’re still not taking advantage of the web to promote your business, you may as well crawl under a rock! Seriously, you are missing out on a huge potential to increase your visibility in the market and it’s a competitive one!
The web has emerged as one of the strongest mediums to spread the message about your products and services – it gives you access to a global network of potential customers.
So What’s Your Game Plan?
While there are several ways to promote your business online, we’d like to share the top three online tools to get you started.
1. Promote your website – this simply means that your web address should be displayed everywhere that your business is seen or heard. These include commercials (radio, TV, online videos) and your print materials – billboards, business cards, product brochures, corporate folders, email signatures, etc. Whether your business name is communicated verbally, in published form or displayed anywhere, your web address should be the next piece of information that is seen or heard.
2. Search engine optimization – commonly referred to as SEO, this is the process of structuring a web page so that it is found, read, and indexed by search engines in the most effective way possible. This makes your website and its content attractive, relevant and visible to search engines and potential customers.
3. Social media – social media offers plenty of online options for getting your website address out to the public. Depending on your type of business, look to Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube and Blogs. These platforms can help you get noticed online, provide opportunities to share links, and more importantly, direct traffic back to your website.
- Twitter is a social media venue for any business. If you’re a service professional, you should have a Twitter account with your name featured. If your business is product oriented, your Twitter account should feature your business name. For instance, a housing agent may want to use himself as his Twitter account persona. On the other hand, if you’re the owner of a retail store, it makes more sense to use your business/company name as your Twitter persona.
- LinkedIn is beneficial to you as the businessperson or face of the company, e.g. founder or director. LinkedIn connects people in the business – and is often viewed by similar type groups or people. While you can use this medium to share information about your business products or services, LinkedIn is more about you, the owner. Every business owner should have a LinkedIn account.
- Facebook pages connect us personally with friends and family but your business can also benefit from a “Facebook business/fan page.” Facebook business/fan pages work well for businesses and organizations that have more of a community-based appeal like restaurants, bars and special events.
- YouTube offers a great way to add videos to your website and enhance your business profile. If you’re the owner of an interior design company, having a simple (but professional) video of yourself and your work can make you more accessible to a wider audience. YouTube is also great for adding company videos that can be uploaded to your website as well.
- Blogs allow you to position yourself as a leading authority in the business you’re in. Through blogs, you can promote your views and comments on everyday issues that will get everyone talking. And you can link the blog to your website – more traffic!
So next time you start thinking about your marketing plan, remember – business promotion doesn’t have to be expensive – all it takes is ten fingers!