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Content marketing basics, social media trends

content marketing

The journey to success in communications, marketing and public relations starts with the basics.

If you want to have a successful communications, marketing and/or public relations campaign or program, you must start with the basics. That beamed through clearly in talks this week by Krista Neher of Bootcamp Digital at Cincinnati IABC and Daniel Brockdorf of Caesar’s Entertainment at Cincinnati AMA. It’s vital to build upon those basics by implementing the latest and greatest available.

Brockdorf spoke about driving customer loyalty through content and measurement. It was interesting hearing how successful organizations start with the fundamentals to break through the ever-growing clutter of loyalty programs. As you can imagine, it can get quite sophisticated as marketers perfect the science of analyzing big data and delivering content at the precise point that an individual is receptive to it. But, as Brockdorf stated: It all starts with the basics… and many skip or shortcut the following steps for various reasons. They include:

1. Purpose
2. Audience
3. Message
4. Channel
5. Frequency
6. Execution

Neher, meanwhile, shared 10 new strategies and tools for social media. She covered trends and topics, such as:

1. Sharing your story in a faster, more relevant way. People are overwhelmed, so you’ve got to get to the point.
2. Keep it short. In this era of Twitter and Vine, you must connect quickly and poignantly.
3. Real-time communication. If you wait, the story goes on without you. Speed is of the essence.
4. Real photos and real stories. User-generated content helps people buy into your messages. Only 14% trust ads, while 78% trust referrals.
5. Instagram and visual content. Our brains process images much more quickly than text.
6. Pinterest. Be creative with this visual social network. For example, use it as a resource guide for your target audience instead of forcing people to dig through your website.
7. Be interesting. Present content in a positive, compelling manner. Don’t be boring, or dull!
8. Be prepared to spend money on social media. It’s not just an earned or owned channel for interacting with your key audiences.
9. Stop talking about yourself. Get other people to talk about you. Partnerships are important.
10. Infographics. Include them in your marketing and communications mix. They can convey a lot of information quickly and are very sharable.

Both speakers went into detail about all of the above points. But, as Krista advised, I’m going to keep this brief!

 

 

Convergence of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Word of Mouth (WOM), Content Marketing, Social Media = Opportunity

Krista Neher

Krista Neher of Boot Camp Digital welcomes participants to the first SIMEngage conference in Cincinnati. Krista and others helped us better understand the convergence of earned, owned and paid media.

After hearing Jason Falls‘ opening keynote talk at the SIMEngage (Social + Internet Marketing) conference May 15 at Memorial Hall in Cincinnati, I remarked to a colleague that I had already gotten my money’s worth.

Falls, a true social media marketing pioneer, spoke about the convergence of PR, Content Marketing and Social Media, with Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Word of Mouth (WOM) in the middle — and the tremendous opportunity this presents for organizations to achieve their strategic goals.

He started with a quick explanation of SEO, and how Google crawls pages searching for keywords.  The most relevant content comes up first, based on 200-some factors. Moving up in search rankings is our role, helping boost rankings in search engines. An old goal with SEO was getting more inbound links to your website, using tactics such as online press releases with links. This still helps, but two years ago Google changed the ranking system.

SEO has become an earned media approach. You need to provide content that people care about. Become a thought leader. Create great, unique content that resonates with your audience. Share content in social media. Promote it.

Falls pointed out that social media ranks high in searches. Social profiles appear on front page of Google and Bing results. Social media directly impacts how websites rank, according to Google. Google+ might be relevant only for that reason.

You have about seven seconds to win a customer. You must figure out your moments of truth. What are your audience members asking when they are getting ready to buy? When are they making decisions? What are they asking? When can you provide relevant content and engage them?

This is important because Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing is 62% more effective than an ad! And media coverage, paid, etc. boost SEO and WOM. Gets people talking about you online and offline.

“Search cannot exist in a vacuum” Falls said. “PR, search and social must be integrated for you to succeed.”

What does it take to develop earned content that will drive your SEO? Creative content. A great user experience. Relationships and storytelling. A dash of technical geekery.

“Content is the currency for building social relationships that boost earned media,” Falls said, adding these nuggets:

  • What is great content — Original (from you), Simple, Valuable and Useful, Entertains, Emotional (laugh, cry). Above all the content must be relevant to your audience.
  • Key considerations — Who is the audience you need to reach? Why will they care about you? What are you doing to earn their interest? What incentive do they have to share?
  • Finding topics — Ask your sales team, Mine the buying cycle, Q/A sites like QuoraYahooAnswers, mine social media, follow industry and peers.
  • Next: Answer questions with blog post, video… American Express Business Forum is a good example. Others: H&R Block and the American Moustache Institute to lobby Congress for $250 tax credit. The Stache Act.  Million Moustache March, etc. Make  your profile. Point: Got H&R block in conversation for men 24-30, and it worked.

Just what is this thing called Brand Journalism? And why do I like it?!

April 26, 2014 2 comments
My wife and I have made a living doing brand journalism (aka content marketing).

My wife and I have made a living doing brand journalism (aka content marketing).

Every now and then, you get some clarity. You find something that sums up precisely what you have been trying to convey. That happened for me this week when I read this entry by Ann Wylie in Public Relations Tactics (April 2014):  

“Content marketing — aka brand journalism — is relevant, valuable and interesting information that you publish, post or present in owned, not rented, media. Instead of pitching your products and services, content marketing messages position your organization as an expert in your field. Not just blog posts and status updates, content marketing includes conference speeches (and your coverage of them), bylined articles, marketing magazines and e-zines, and more.”

That’s it! That’s what I do, and plan to do for years to come: Brand Journalism!

In recent years, I’ve defined myself as a “public relations professional with social media experience” or a “digital strategist.” I’ve tried to weave in my experience with content strategy for websites and intranets. I’ve spoken about my passion for social media and love of internal communications. I’ve talked about how I get great satisfaction out of researching, planning, implementing and evaluating strategic communications plans that support business goals.

Yes, I am a public relations professional. I do have social media experience. I have worked on digital strategy, although I like to pull in experts to assist with technical aspects such as web design, SEO and online advertising.

So there you go: I’m a Brand Journalist! That’s my passion. It’s my sweet spot… my groove.

It makes sense, really. I worked as a newspaper and editor for a dozen years before entering corporate and then government and then, again, corporate PR/communications/marketing. Heck, I started covering basketball games for my hometown newspaper as a 15-year-old. My dad drove me to my first assignment.

I feel in the flow while developing a strategic communication plan — and then pulling together content that helps educate, inform and entertain key audiences, those that could make or break my employer.  It gets my juices flowing writing a human interest article or Q/A with a thought leader; collaborating with a creative designer, photographer or videographer; tracking viewership and getting feedback for improvement…

I think that’s why I did internal communication for so long. It was so cool to segment audiences, foster two-way communication with them, integrate an intranet, town hall meetings, e-mails, broadcast voice mails…

Then, social media came along — and I got the great fortune of tapping its power to build mutually beneficial relationships via blogs, web chats, YouTube, streaming video and social networks. I experienced how the online supports the offline, how setting up a strategic speakers bureau integrates with a continuing series of web chats. Meantime, I saw my wife help many, many people thrive while living with cancer and other chronic illnesses through her blog and Facebook page. She had gained a bunch of experience in healthcare marketing communications before cancer entered her life.

I hope this blog entry helps you more precisely define what you do. I suspect that there are a bunch of us former journalists now working in PR, marketing and communications who sometimes fumble with describing their focus. It’s a continually evolving area, with the blurring of lines between PR, marketing, advertising and digital — and, dare to say, journalism. Technology has given us the power to “go direct” with key audiences and influencers as never before. Networking is on steroids.

Footnote: Just realized that this post has a bunch of I’s, when this as actually been a We endeavor. Brand Journalism is a team effort that involves supportive leadership, collaborative teammates, outside resources. It definitely is not a go-alone proposition. We’re all in this together.

 

Think outside of the Facebook box

FacebookA blog post by Forbes contributor Ewan Spence this week confirmed what I’ve been hearing — and experiencing — as the administrator of Facebook business pages: They are becoming a paid marketing and public relations channel. The days of “free” organic reach on this massive social network are dwindling with each passing year.

Citing research by Social@Ogilvy, Spence noted: “From 16% of followers of a brand page being shown a piece of content in 2012, the percentage of organic reach has dropped to roughly 6% in February 2014 for an average page, and just 2% for large pages with more than 500,000 likes.”

He adds: “And the unofficial advice from Facebook sources to community managers noted in the report? Expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future.”

This confirms a belief of mine: You need an integrated approach to social media marketing. Don’t get overly dependent on Facebook, especially if you have a limited budget.

Strongly consider channels such as blogs, YouTube, Pinterest. LinkedIn. Twitter, Instagram… and, dare I say, Google+ when researching and planning your strategic public relations and marketing plans. Think outside the Facebook box.

You may have noticed that I used the terms “public relations” and “marketing” in the previous sentence. I find this excerpt from the excellent new book Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek very helpful:

“The concepts of marketing and public relations are often used interchangeably, even by those who are involved in the field. There are many definitions of both terms, but simply, ‘marketing’ is a multidisciplinary process by which a company or institution actively promotes, sells, or distributes a product, idea, or service to potential customers. ‘Public relations,’ on the other hand, is a process (an aspect of marketing, in fact), by which a company or an institution tries to encourage broad, public understanding and acceptance of an idea, product, or service among its various potential audiences.”

Any thoughts on the changing role of Facebook in your marketing and public communications strategies? Please comment.

 

 

What content works best?

What makes great content? Stories about trips to cool places like Alcatraz!

What makes great content? Stories about trips to cool places like Alcatraz!

At a recent Cincinnati PRSA breakfast, Matt Trotta, BuzzFeed’s East Coast vice president, explained how brands can increase brand affinity and purchase intent by creating quality content that users want to see and share with their friends. (BuzzFeed is a news and entertainment website — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BuzzFeed)

He first gave this view of the media landscape:

  •  Mobile is the future
  •  Social is mobile (BuzzFeed had 100 million visitors last month, and 50-60 percent shared content via mobile.)
  • Animals have become the new Leisure section (Millennials have grown up with cute animals… It’s about content you know your audience wants.)

BuzzFeed has learned this about content:

  • Readers want to be inspired
  • Identify niche communities and create content for them
  • Humor is popular
  • People love to share nostalgia and talk about it
  • Cute animals deserve respect
  • Lists are popular: 31 things no one tells you about being a parent, etc.

“Good content will find its audience,”Trotta said. “When you create more content over time, you will see your lift go up… you will find what works. Be sure to create content in the voice of the brand that the audience will share. Experiment. Keep trying.”

A good practice is to be on the alert for hot topics… where it makes sense to join the conversation in brand voice. Also, have “evergreen” content ready for use.

BuzzFeed uses a real-time dashboard to measure social views… and has learned how different content behaves differently on different platforms. For example, content stays hot on Twitter for 24/48 hours and dies off. Meanwhile, DIY, food and beauty content grows in popularity on Pinterest over 30 days. By the way, funny content is more likely to be shared on Facebook.

Examples of good social campaigns, with audiences pulling content to reinforce brand identity: Pampers Love, Sleep and Play created content around a busy baby. Charmin’s 14 things only read in a bathroom.  Columbia jackets’ regional campaigns – 10 ways to survive Midwest winter, and New England winter.

Some food for thought as you develop content strategies!