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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.

Public relations, communications, marketing, digital… We’re all in this together!

Violinist Roddy Chong inspired Cincinnati PR pros with lessons learned during a career that includes touring with Celine Dione, Shania Twain and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Violinist Roddy Chong inspired Cincinnati PR pros with lessons learned during a career that includes touring with Celine Dione, Shania Twain and Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

It’s an exciting time for those of us in public relations, communications, marketing, digital strategy and related disciplines. It also can seem confusing, overwhelming, contradictory, counter-intuitive… as we embrace the challenges and opportunities of this time of rapid change. 

Thank goodness, we don’t have to navigate these exhilarating — and sometimes turbulent — times alone. This era of social media allows us to build extensive networks and nurture mutually beneficial relationships as never before. We’re all in this together as we move to make this world a better place and enjoy the journey (at least that’s my goal during this short time on the planet).

This week, for example, I had the great fortune of attending Northern Kentucky University’s 2nd Annual Social Media Summit. The theme was “Maximizing the Client/Agency Relationship in the Social Media World.” An expert panel reinforced a lot of what we know, I thought. Stuff like social media allowing consumers to connect more directly with brands, the need for organizations to collaborate with outside partners to develop and implement social strategies, the need to integrate social with digital and offline, the imperative of breaking through the noise, etc. But, even more important to me, was the opportunity to speak with people I respect and like before the panel discussion — and to meet new folks interested in this subject area.

Two days later, I found myself in the middle of a totally unexpected experience at the monthly Cincinnati PRSA luncheon. Roddy Chong, a renowned violinist who has toured with Celine Dione, Shania Twain, Trans-Siberian Orchestra and others, gave a motivational talk interspersed with amazing violin playing. He simply blew away the 50-75 or so in attendance in the green room at the Aronoff Center.

Please take a look at the MikeBoehmer57 Twitter stream for my tweets from the summit and PRSA meeting. You’ll read some nuggets that hopefully will help as you work through fears en route to amazing, fulfilling work.

Here are several of Roddy’s points that particularly resonated with me:

  • When you don’t face your fears, your dignity grows smaller.
  • Find influences that point you above average.
  • Be clear and specific.

These are exciting times, for sure. Scary too.

I’m glad we get to experience them together!

The future looks bright for PR, marketing, advertising, communications, social, digital….

#ThrowBackThursday photo from a decade ago. The future was so bright we needed to wear shades! For those of us in PR, marketing, communications and digital, the forecast remains sunny.

#ThrowBackThursday photo from a decade ago. The future was so bright we needed to wear shades! For those of us in PR, marketing, communications and digital, the forecast remains sunny.

Sonja Popp-Stahly of the PRSA National Board of Directors affirmed my optimism as she described the evolving role of the public relations professional and prospects for the future in an information-packed presentation at Cincinnati PRSA this week. Popp-Stahly, APR, is director of digital media communications at Eli Lilly and Company, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis.

As she pointed out, this is a transformative time for the public relations profession. Social media has made a tremendous impact, greatly expanding the opportunity for two-way communication and increasing challenges such as rapidly responding to complaints.

It’s also a soft-of a confusing time, as the lines between public relations, marketing and advertising continue to blur. “Who owns social media?” Popp-Stahly asked. “All own it.”

She noted that PR pros need to think like reporters and publishers, as brand journalism becomes a vital tool in the communications toolkit. That was great news for the many ex-journalists like me in the room.

Popp-Stahly cited Department of Labor stats forecasting a 21-percent increase in employment in 2010-2020. Business leaders view strategic public relations as essential, she said. Public relations budgets are increasing.

She listed these competencies: (1) understanding business strategy, (2) multi-disciplinary leadership, (3) data analytics (“We have to do math,” she said with a smile, evoking laughter.), (4) social media, (5) earned, owned, shared and paid…. It can be daunting, as we are on-call like never before with social media and e-mail, and we’re expected to demonstrate ROI. We’re not just expected to have a seat a the leadership table, but to be among the outspoken leaders there. We need to drill down beyond reporting impressions to measuring influence on key audiences. Note: Social media metrics include mentions, retweets, replies, tone analysis, and how many targeted journalists follow your brand on Twitter. Other measures include message penetration (what percentage of messages are in news coverage).

Popp-Stahly shared insights from an infographic The Re-Imagining of PR. For one, bloggers have joined reporters in importance. The days of in-person media relations have dwindled, as reporters rely heavily on e-mail to manage their rapid news cycles.

Some constants remain, as we move ahead: thought leadership, credibility, authenticity, relationships, storytelling…. and active participation in PRSA helps with all of those. Popp-Stahly encouraged us to get involved in PRSA. Take advantage of its sections, such as employee communication and healthcare. Attend a conference: Washington, D.C., in October; Atlanta in 2015; Indianapolis in 2016. Get your APR. Volunteer at the local, regional or national level.

Let’s embrace the change and pull together as we embrace the opportunities and tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Handling customer complaints: Not always fun, but usually rewarding

March 15, 2014 3 comments
FishingStMarys

This is not one of the negative experiences that I encounter in social media: Fishing on Grand Lake St. Marys in Ohio! However, when you manage social media strategies, you sometimes need to respond to frustrations and complaints aired by your target audiences.

It’s truly a blessing to know so many people who manage social media channels for organizations. Collectively, we can share best practices and reaffirm what we know to be true. That happens occasionally when someone encounters frustrations, complaints or other negative sentiment on their organization’s social media channels.

Sometimes, instincts will tell us to just delete the comments. In fact, outsiders without a knowledge of how social media or public relations works may instruct us to do just that. However, best practice tells us that this is an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive. By being responsive, acknowledging the concern in a reply, and taking the issue offline for resolution, we are showing viewers that we really are listing and do care. In fact, the complainer will often come back with a reply expressing surprise at the responsiveness and thanking you — in public, for all to see. It’s a powerful word-of-mouth practice.

If you just delete the comment, you are demonstrating that you don’t care… that you’ve got something to hide… that you’re running from the issue. The person will vent their frustration elsewhere: Most likely to their friends and family, both online and in-person. They may escalate the matter — by contacting the media, setting up a Facebook group, circulating a change.org petition, etc.

All because you didn’t acknowledge the concern and take it off-line for resolution.

eMarketer recently reported that most people who manage social media sites respond within a day. In fact, many take action within an hour.

To tell the truth, it’s not always the most-fun thing to do — handling a complaint. But it can bring the biggest rewards. And there is a sense of satisfaction that you helped someone who was frustrated or not happy with the service they were getting; that you made things better for them.

 

 

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!