Increasing Engagement: IKEA Creates A Website On Instagram

There are brands that follow the norm, and there are brands that go beyond the norm. And then there are brands, only a few of them albeit, which don’t even consider the much-travelled-path of being ‘norm’. They disrupt, they transform, and they set templates for new norms.

While companies across the world are still trying to figure out ways in which they can use Instagram to engage with their consumers, Ikea has gone ahead and created world’s first inter-linked website on Instagram. Yes, you read that correctly – a website on Instagram!

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The ‘website’ has been created by the Russian division of Ikea on the brand’s latest Instagram account dedicated to its PS 2014 collection. The inspiration behind Ikea PS 2014 is \”in the moment\”, as the collection has been specifically created for the young, urban folks, who owing to their versatile and fast-changing lifestyle are constantly on the move, living in cramped spaces, and frequently changing cities and apartments. The collection offers a range of lightweight and portable items with multifunctional design.

So why is Ikea calling this Instagram account a ‘website’?

The PS 2014 Instagram account acts as the homepage of this ‘website’. It has 12 posts around the categories of benches, tables, storage, light, textiles, and ideas and all these posts have tags that take you to sub-categories. For instance, the post on ‘tables’ has tags of ‘ps_laptop _station’, ‘ps_storage_table’, ps_bureau, ps_f_table, ps_table, and ‘ps_side_table’. Clicking on any of these tags takes you to a separate Instagram account dedicated to that sub-category. This structure allows the user to seamlessly move from one collection to another, giving the feel of a website.

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The ‘website’ went live in June and already has more than 21,500 followers. To those who thought Instagram was only about nostalgic filters and selfies, there is inspiration to be taken from Ikea. Here is a quick look at some of the things they got right, and some others they could have done better.

3 Things Ikea Did Right

Hit The Sweet Spot With The Target Audience

Ikea is a mass brand. From students, and the newly wed to the middle-aged and those in their twilight years, everyone can find value in the simplicity, and elegance of Ikea furniture. The challenge of a mass brand however is to constantly reiterate its relevance to its distinct users. Since PS 2014 collection is all about young people on the move, the Instagram App proved to be the right platform to engage with this target group.

Built A ‘First’

The word first has a charm because nothing can ever replace what it represents. In the fast-moving world of social media, firsts are a rarity. To have the vision, and inclination to build a first is in itself commendable, and Ikea gets full points for doing so.

They\’ve Got Their PR Right

Would anyone have taken notice if Ikea had promoted PS 2014 Instagram account as just another brand Instagram page? Probably not. But the moment they said they had created a website on Instagram people were all ears. Using a catchphrase such as ‘first Instagram website’ – even though it was not the right one to use – got Ikea the required PR buzz.

3 Things Ikea Could Have Done Better

Not Used The Word ‘Website’

As important as it is to use a catchphrase to draw attention, it’s even more important to use the right one. The PS 2014 Instagram page is not a website. To begin with it does not work efficiently on a browser and was designed for people specifically using the Instagram App from their mobile phones. By calling it a website, Ikea has probably stretched facts, and taken a little bit of a risk.

Given Greater Opportunity For User Participation

The PS 2014 Instagram account is like a catalogue. It works very well for those who are interested in browsing the different categories and want to check out various products that are a part of the collection. Even though Ikea has invited people to share photos of their collections by tagging @ikea_ps_2014, the catalogue structure gives very little opportunity for users to participate in and interact with the content.

Focused More On The Product

The Instagram account dedicated to the sub-category gives a link to the designer\’s bio in the information box. While this displays great respect for the designers, it doesn’t help the user, who at this point might want to go to the product’s description page on the Ikea website.

Ikea_cornerchair

 

There is a lesson to be learnt from Ikea here. The Ikea Instagram \’website\’ is not an innovation. It is also not an outstanding example of increasing engagement or brand storytelling. It\’s merely an idea.  But what makes it a winner is its attempt to use Instagram in the form it exists to create a completely new concept for free.

7 Tips To Build Trust From Your Social Audience

I had always been a staunch supporter of online revolution and usually scout the brand’s social media channels and blogs on the web before I make a final purchase. This aspect of marketing that includes authentic reviews comforted me a while back; I mean why wouldn\’t you buy a product if the same is highly recommended by a blogger or has great reviews all over the internet? A reality check while being associated with a brand, introduced me to a unique mafia that operated undercover, and included the likes of celebrities, bloggers and other pushed form of reviews, mostly internal which may look authentic however are a mere façade! Many brands today indulge in these malpractices to push sales, the most recent ones being Samsung and MasterCard.

While this may be the latest in the hay, these malpractices by brands aren\’t new. One of the oldest examples in this regard was when L’Oreal came under the storm in 2005.

When L’Oreal Lost It

In early 2005, Vichy, part of the L’Oreal group decided to launch an anti-wrinkle cream (Peel Micro abrasion) in the market, and while doing so L’Oreal created a fake blog named Le Journal De Ma Peau or Diary of my Skin along with a fictitious character, named Claire who supposedly whined about her ‘wrinkle’ story and how she benefited from this product. What L’Oreal didn’t realize was the fact that the Claire was indeed a model who was photoshopped. The users were quick to realize this aspect and soon L’Oreal was bombarded with complaints from actual users.

L’Oreal accepted this mistake and apologized to its users and revamped the blog (unfortunately the same does not exist anymore) after inviting real bloggers to share their experiences, thereby bringing to light a seasoned blogger engagement which was authentic.

Another aspect of “faking” it would also involve marketing technique, which may look lucrative (and sound new age) however are deceptive, something like the infamous MTV hack of its own twitter account. Though L’Oreal was lucky to get a fresh life post its debacle, MTV was highly criticized. While the brand may have regarded this as a clever stunt, it surely played with customers’ trust, something that brands should never forget.

Mohit Doda, a seasoned marketing professional and currently AVP Digital Marketing for Zoffio, a Zuri Group initiative shared:

“As more people are relying on online reviews to make their buying decisions, marketers are tempted to plant fake reviews to acquire new customers. While they may get away with it, this practice can do more harm than good in the long run. If your brand isn\’t good enough, there will be too many negative reviews about you anyway. Moreover, sugar-coated fake reviews aren\’t too difficult to spot by your social audience who are quite evolved today and brands should not subscribe to such malpractices as it can permanently ruin their reputation.”

Having worked as a mystery auditor as well, Mohit further states, “As a marketer, being open to feedback is crucial as negative reviews can also contribute to improving your product or service. However, any business will have their share of satisfied customers and getting genuine reviews shouldn’t be very tough.”

The big question that arises today is how to gain trust from your social audience and to conquer we are sharing 7 tips with you in the infograph below:

7While you are at it, I can’t help but share this awesome quote by Larry Light, a US Brand Consultant: “A brand is more than a trademark. It is a trustmark. A brand is a covenant between the company and the consumer. A trusted brand is a genuine asset.”

While honesty is the key to any business, a social savvy audience would not give your brand another chance in case of a fiasco (read fake reviews) and we sincerely hope that these stats would help you rank trust in high regard while addressing your customers!

Social Ads: Everything You Need to Know

Social advertising. That\’s been the buzzword for a while hasn\’t it? Well, it\’s been one of the buzzwords that we like to throw around.

If you\’re a serious digital business (and who shouldn\’t be?) – you\’ve probably been talked to about social advertising, or if you\’re a digital/social agency, you\’ve probably discussed social advertising with your clients at some point in the last couple of months.

The discourse began of course, once Facebook reach plummeted, and people realized the free ride was over. Sure, you\’ll still find a ton of influencers and social gurus beating their chests on the sidewalk talking about how Facebook isn\’t dead, but they\’re leaving out the important part. Social isn\’t free.

It never has been. You\’ve always had to hire someone to run your social presence for you. It\’s always been a cost for you, except now – there\’s an add-on cost associated to it.

As supply remains the same and demand goes up, a product becomes more expensive. There is limited room that social networks have to work with when it comes to space for social ads, and while earlier it was easier and cheaper to get your word out, it\’s going to get a lot harder – in fact it already has.

Prepping for getting on board with social ads? You know visuals are important, so perhaps this infographic will come in handy for you and your design team.

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What\’s the Catch With Social Advertising?

There\’s no catch really. The reason it\’s come up with such a strong force is because there are thousands of posts that people are exposed to on all the networks that they\’re on, and it\’s hard to break through the clutter. With everyone fighting for space – it becomes harder to get your messaging out, and therefore social networks are making you bid for it.

The higher you bid – the more likely it is that your customer will see your content, the more likely you are to generate a lead.

What Networks Should You Advertise On?

Most people take the easy route and jump onto Facebook for their advertising needs. There\’s a vast amount of content on Facebook ads that\’s circulating the internet and you\’ll find that it\’s easiest to find help for Facebook ads than for any other platform (except perhaps Google AdWords). Most people have a presence on Facebook and therefore they try and amplify it through social ads.

Not something you should do.

Every network has its own benefits. And please, it\’s not true that if you\’ve got a B2B business you should only focus on LinkedIn and if you\’re B2C you should only focus on Facebook. It\’s all about the targeting. You might be a high end pen manufacturer, and while you are a B2C company in nature, you\’ll probably find better leads if you were to advertise on LinkedIn and target CXOs.

Think about what would work best for you.

How Much Should You Spend?

There\’s no \”set\” minimum spend amount, and it\’s not true that you won\’t get any results with $20 or that you\’ll get results only with $2,000. Ensure that your targeting is incredibly sharp, incredibly straightforward and you\’ll notice that both $20 and $2,000 will get you results – differing magnitudes of course.

Personally, I\’d advise you to spend $100 – $200 in your first burst, and then figure out if it\’s getting you the desired results or not, and tweak accordingly. It\’s hard to measure anything on any network before spending a certain amount that can give you a big enough data set to work with.

All said and done – social advertising is something you\’re going to have to get your hands dirty with, so you may as well dive in as early as possible and develop an expertise in it before your competitors do and sweep up your customer base!

7 Ways To Achieve Direct Response Marketing

Online marketing can go in millions of different directions, but the one marketers seem to stick with the most is direct response marketing.

This type of marketing inspires an immediate response from consumers. You might want more people to sign up for your e-newsletters, attend your webinars or simply buy something from you. With this type of marketing, you can easily judge the success of your efforts based on the level of response.

There are two basic approaches to this type of marketing: the one-shot and the campaign. Both have the ability to deliver good results and drive up your profits, but different companies will find different uses for each approach.

The one-shot is a narrowly targeted ad, email, postcard or letter that urges consumers to act, almost always to buy. Marketers first find a problem that their product or service will solve and then work tirelessly to define the target audience so they can be sure their ad is going to the right people. Once they have a problem and target carved out, marketers create a strong ad to put in front of consumers.

The campaign approach begins like the one-shot, with a strong marketing ad. However, the goal is different. With the campaign, you don’t need to sell products and services right away. Instead, you want people to join your mailing and emailing lists so you can send them frequent updates, newsletters and coupons, which encourages purchasing over a period of time.

Lead

So now that you know what direct response marketing is, let’s take a look at seven awesome direct response strategies that will help your profits grow.

Begin With A Story

One of the best ways to put a consumer into the right frame of mind for your product or service is to open with a story or narrative. You’ll often see this in infomercial ads that feature people confronted by a problem who use a product or service to solve a problem.

Life Alert, the medical alert system with the “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up” slogan illustrates this strategy. This ad includes a testimonial from a concerned daughter who wants to be sure that her elderly mother, who lives alone, is safe. The alert system has a button on a lanyard that can be worn around the mother’s neck. If she falls and can’t get to the phone, she presses the button, which calls for an ambulance.

Life

A story gives readers something to connect with. They can relate to the situation and will feel the need to solve the problem similar to the person in the ad. This story reaches out to all sons and daughters with elderly relatives who live alone and offers peace of mind.

Become An Expert In Attention-Interest-Action

John Caples, one of the leading names in the history of advertising, swore by the research-based approach, what he called “scientific advertising.” With this in mind, he developed the Attention-Interest-Action (AIA) plan, the three-step process to creating a knock-out ad. Here’s what it means:

  • Attention: Get the audience’s attention and fast!
  • Interest: Keep that attention and further pique it.
  • Action: Present them with a valid reason to act and tell them how to do it.

Caples always placed great emphasis on the action part and deemed any campaign that failed to deliver actions as a dud, no matter how cool and creative it looked.

Define The Ultimate Appeal

When someone is purchasing a product or service, what is the one thing about the product or service that is the most appealing? Maybe a woman buys a designer skirt to appear more professional to her peers. A student might buy a laptop that suits all of his gaming needs.

Dior

Your goal is to determine the most appealing aspect of your product and push that into the faces of your potential consumers. A good marketer will appeal to the human emotions that are timeless and shared by nearly all consumers. Try some of these:

  • Make more/save money
  • Prestige
  • Better health
  • Bring comfort (both physical and emotional)
  • Reduce fat
  • Banish worrying thoughts

There are many more, but these appeals are considered most common. Luxury car dealers want to appeal to a buyer’s sense of prestige, showing them how their cars will bring drivers prestige. Diet pills and exercise equipment sellers like to show before-and-after pictures of people who have lost weight and body fat by using either a diet pill or exercising on a certain machine.

Message, Not Medium

Have you ever seen a commercial that made you laugh, but you can’t remember what they were actually selling? Or have you ever stared too long admiring an image, but completely forgot to look at what the image was supposed to sell?

These are examples of mediums overtaking the message. Though a funny ad or a striking image can instantly capture a person’s attention, it can also overpower the ad and cause viewers to completely miss the message.

The trick is to harmonise the message with the medium. Keep the Attention aspect of AIA interesting, but not too interesting that your viewers never make it past the medium. Keep typeface simple and don’t let the colours overtake the ad. Let it all work together to showcase your message.

Offer An Incentive

Companies like Steve Madden and ModCloth use two-step direct response campaign when they offer discounts to consumers just for signing up for emails. Consumers agree to receive updates and are given a small coupon to entice them to buy. Once they see the product and are satisfied with it, they’ll be more apt to buy from the company again.

ModCloth

Software service and other types of services like to offer free-trials to encourage people to sign up. After trying the product, consumers will be better convinced to purchase a subscription or an ongoing service.

If you’re worried about getting people to the site in the first place, remember that you can advertise these incentives online and in print ads. Include your website address so people know where to find you.

Try AdWords

When it comes to direct response, nothing is more direct than Google AdWords. This pay-per-click service allows you to target certain keywords. When someone types in those keywords, banner ads will appear alongside the search results. They’ll even appear on Google’s partnership websites.

You’ll know you’re getting your name into the hands of people who are actively searching for your product or service. You also won’t pay until someone clicks the ad to your site.

There are a few different types of ads to try:

  • Offer that incentive mentioned above: “Sign up for get 15% off your first purchase.”
  • Make a bold, yet true statement or warning: “Don’t buy this without reading this first.”
  • Pose a question: “Thinking about remodelling your kitchen?”

Test Everything in Direct Response Marketing

And when you’re done, test it again.

Think for a minute about Coca Cola’s current ad campaign. Is it the same campaign they ran last year? Five years ago? Absolutely not. Coca Cola knows that its market is constantly changing and the only way to know if you’re reaching them is to test your websites, headlines, ad copies and images again and again.

Coca

Take advantage of free programs like Google Analytics and Pingdom to monitor your website and sales progress. Test different markets until you see a definite upturn in your sales.

In short, direct response marketing is something of an art form. With the right components, you can create something memorable that will stick with viewers long after they’re put down the ad or closed their email.

The Importance of Addressing Feedback On Social Media

Gone are the days when you thought the only way to register your complaint against a brand or a product is to dial that ever-busy customer care support. As brands increasingly use social media as a marketing tool, many young customers are also finding the platform an effective way to voice their woes. In an ebook by Microsoft Dynamics CRM, LinkedIn’s Senior Content Marketing and Social Media Manager Jason A. Miller perfectly describes social as a “telephone which can turn into a microphone.” He said,”The voice of the customers are becoming bigger and louder.” Hence, it is no surprise why some of the brands are now heavily investing a lot of their time on social networking sites to engage with customers and listening to their audience.

We chose three such brands who actively listen to their social community to improve their services or make visible changes to their products based on the needs of their customers.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s Xbox One case stands out fresh when we talk about the power of listening to feedback on social media, also better known as social listening. When the gaming console was revealed in May last year, the company faced severe backlash on Twitter and Facebook. Gamers were particularly upset with the idea of connecting the console to the internet once every 24 hours. Many took it to their social pages to vent their anger against the new changes. Some went as far as threatening to change their loyalty and adopt Sony’s PS4 console. Microsoft had to finally give in to their demands as the liability of not listening to the customers became high. Soon, Microsoft scrapped the new policy, retained some of its old features and implemented changes as desired by their customers.

xbox Fans show their excitement after Microsoft changed their policies to use Xbox One after they were bombarded with angry messages on their Facebook page.

Starbucks

Starbucks has consistently been listed among the most engaging brands on social by many social media enthusiasts and outlets. A look into their Twitter handles and Facebook page will tell you so. With over 6 million followers on Twitter, it constantly seeks ideas, listens to suggestions and closely monitors its services through feedback from its social community. In fact, they have a separate twitter handle @MyStarbucksIdea dedicated only to hear out customers\’ suggestions. Their responses to tweets and posts are direct, quick and at most times, they nonchalantly apologizes to disgruntled customers. Whether it\’s that complaint of serving stale milk or a follower\’s suggestion to provide non-dairy milk in their stores, Starbucks responds to each one of them giving assurance to incorporate suggestions or fix their complaints.

JetBlue

Jetblue’s marketing strategy has always been heavily digital ever since its existence. This California-based airliner is much ahead the race on how to use the social media pages to its best. Their online conversations are prompt, real and interactive, and is evident they try shaping their services taking into account feedback from customers. Tweets and Facebook post on flight delays, bad customer service or suggestions are all taken care with a tinge of fun and a lot of warmth.

Here’s how you benefit by listening to customers on social media:

1. Build Relationships

Social media allows brands to forge a more personalised relationship with customers than what a traditional media can offer. By being a keen listener and responsive to customers, brands can make them feel valued. According to a study by J.D. Power and Associates, about 65 percent of customers expect companies to reply to them if spoken directly via social media. Hence, responding to feedback can show a brand’s transparency and willingness to take responsibilities. This will go a long way in retaining loyal customers

2. Gives Brand a Personality

Discussions on social networks spread far and wide. Issues get magnified and louder, and if not tracked on time brands can run into the risk of a public disaster. Studies have shown that consumers who get quick and effective response are more likely to recommend to others than those who were not responded. Further, a special advantage of addressing feedback on social media is that it allows you to customise your response, make it more human, fun and real than just being a corporate entity. It gives a face and personality to the brand.

3. Garner Product Insights and Tap into New Markets

Keeping a close tap on what customers say on socials can give a good insight into how brands can improve their products and services. It gives ideas and first hand inputs on how a firm should proceed further in its strategies, what to end and what to start. As JetBlue\’s Senior Vice President (Commercial) Marty St. George puts it in an interview “I spent a lot of money and waited a long time to get feedback via traditional market research. Now I’m getting instantaneous feedback. To me, that was the power of it.”

Get Your Feedback App

So if you have been using social media as a one-way road to reach out to the customers, it\’s time to change the game. Make it a platform for two-way communication between your brand and its fans. To make your work easier, Circus Socials’ plug and play apps have specially designed feedback apps.

Feedback

The dashboard provides a view of all the apps designed by Circus Social. It’s got the Feedback apps too.

Simple Simple view dashboard

Customization

These apps can be customized and used for your businesses. It has different themes from which one can choose according to what suits best. It can be incorporated smoothly with your Facebook pages or your website. So go ahead and explore your customers. Time to listen to them.

Changing Social Media Landscape: 8 Ways To Stay Ahead

Social media as of late has become more of a beast that businesses are trying to tame, rather than a powerful tool to be used to enhance their business. With this changing social media landscape, what was once presumed to be a fad and expected to meet the same fate as the dot com bubble burst, ceased to occur. Social media has impacted the revenues of the traditional marketing, along with the ways of the advertising world. This can be seen by the emergence of the ads in YouTube and the growth of targeted Google & Facebook ads.

While social media has impacted the world around it in a large way with its own landscape, there are so many dynamic changes happening that being on top of it has been a challenge that has been faced by the businesses and professionals alike. Sometimes it is the platform deciding to change its way of functioning. For example, Facebook has been known to change its layouts and ad policies almost without any prior intimation which tends to impact the planning and other times a relatively new platform, or an app becomes a fad or an obsession while one that was a rage a day ago becomes oblivious. A classic example of this is Facebook taking over Orkut which overshadowed MySpace.

The social media ecosystem requires the social media managers to essentially be more creative in their approach than technical. Information needs to be shared rather than merely collected. This makes it essential to be aware of certain approaches while planning a social strategy:

Content Focused Approach

The focus has drastically shifted from profile creation to a more content focused one. Engaging content drives the individual to share it within their network which in turn translates into the traction for the brand. Aim should to be to educate and entertain those who visit the page.

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German business software company SAP, one of the largest software companies in the world, is an ideal example of using content for engagement. Its SAP Community Network, has more than 2 million members, has been functioning since 2003.  There are over 5,000 members, including customers, partners and outside developers, who blog on the network, creating a huge database of feedback for the company. Seven hundred other members moderate tech-focused conversation threads, covering topics from scripting languages to sustainability. A constant flow of webinars and e-learning materials keeps everyone in the community up to date. Not only is the network a valuable resource for the companies, clients and thousands of employees, it\’s created an extended culture.

Experiment With The New, Stay Loyal To The Old

Social networking platforms are cropping up fairly frequently. So its natural to have the knee-jerking reaction of wanting a presence in all of them to capitalize the trend to the maximum. While the intention of the approach is right, it is impossible to sustain the entire gamete of activities on all the platforms. Keeping the focus on a few and integrating the rest on a single platform is a good way to begin. Each of the new entrants can piggy back on the existing established players. Facebook is an excellent platform to integrate the other social media activities.

Space Is A Commodity To Be Used Wisely

Every bit of internet is a marketplace. Make it a place not just to share ideas but to exchange them. This enables possibility to capitalize the space.

Capitalize Existing Social Media Assets

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Instead of chasing the volume of new followers its important to leverage on the community on your owned properties. The key is engagement. Volume will automatically follow. One of the interesting example of this is one of Hollywood\’s biggest film studio-20th Century Fox. Fox not only manages its own core page but also has region specific page (for eg. Fox Indonesia/Fox Star Studios India) which are active with the ongoing activities of the studio. The studio also creates movie specific pages as per the release schedule. All these pages are promoted actively and audience is kept engaged even after the movie is released. When a new release is around the corner every single page is activated which then reaches a wide target audience.

Paid Campaigns

Most social platforms are making their free memberships restrictive and hence to reach the right audiences the advertisers will have to be more open to pay. But the use of the advance tools will be effective in getting an edge over competition.

Social Sells

Social Media is no longer just a passive marketing tool. Through the emergence of Ecommerce social media can play a powerful ally to the sale of products and services

Collaboration

It is becoming increasingly essential to think as collaborators rather than individuals in the social media ecosystem. Like individuals businesses too need to be leveraging on each other connects. This can either be done with brand partnerships or sharing interesting content of other relevant brands. Thinking individual gain is quite passé as a thought in the increasingly social world.

Clear Ideologies

Its extremely essential for the brands to be true their identity and remain so to stand apart from the clutter

While traditional media is sure to dominate the advertising world for quite a while social media is being taken more seriously. Businesses are more open to adapt the changing scenario. With minimal but focused efforts the social media platforms will emerge as a powerful ally rather than just another activity a company has to indulge in to align itself with its potential target audience.

Content Marketing: The Importance of Audit and Lifecycles

Content is what makes up your website – content IS your website. Therefore, you have to make sure that every single piece of content that exists on your site is useful. We\’ve already explored how ‘content is king’ and how you can make it work for you on social media, but, what if you are re-vamping your entire website or creating brand new website content? Where do you start with your content marketing strategy?

The reason you need a content marketing strategy in the first place is because you want your content to be useful. If Information Architecture (the structure of your website) helps us say “where” content lives, a content marketing strategy tells us decide “when” it lives. This combination lets us know why this content exists.

Assess Your Content

If your website already exists, these are key steps you can take to see whether a content audit is necessary:

  • Inventory: Demonstrate magnitude and complexity of the existing content.
  • Best Practice Assessment: Prioritize content efforts by identifying low quality content and gaps.
  • Strategic Assessment: Measure content against strategic user and business goals. What needs to change? How do we get there?

5 Step Inventory Process

  1. Identify your user and business goals.
  2. Make a list of the pages on your site in an Excel/Google document.
  3. Map the hierarchy of these pages using an online system like Balsamiq.
  4. Map your user goals that are met on the hierarchy map.
  5. Identify excessive content (pages or elements that don’t meet a goal)

Personas

How can we use personas as part of the content marketing strategy to create user driven content?

Whether you’re undergoing a content audit or creating content from scratch, personas enable us to map user goals against business goals. The user goals help us best understand what users want and need. We can then prioritize these goals and then this will take shape to create a better or a new Information Architecture.

Hold a workshop and use post it notes to write out all your goals. See which goals align with each other, can these form pages? This will help you create your content.

Cancer Research UK – New Content Creation

When creating a BBQ for Cancer Research UK, it was vitally important to refer to business and user goals at each step in the process. This process meant that we avoided excessive and duplicate content and that everything created for the page was completely necessary for the user.

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Cancer Research UK – Content Audit Process

Sometimes re-evaluating content can be much harder than creating content from scratch. This is because they’re needs to be a thorough assessment of the content that already exists. Why is it there in the first place? What goals does it currently meet? Is it duplicated elsewhere on the site? Is the content fluffy or excessive?

At Cancer Research UK we often come across problems with old site content because it has been written by people with a publishing background. Print is very different to digital in that it cannot be as easily reiterated. Also, people who read on screen, read in a very different pattern to people reading offline.

Research proves that readers skim content online. Therefore, it is forever more important to prioritize what is important on a page and how you can highlight this to your reader. At Cancer Research UK, we use headers, bold text and bullet points to deliver effective information in a digestible way. Therefore, the challenge we often face during the audit process is breaking down reams of unnecessary content to make it useful and coherent to our audiences.

The Content Lifecycle

Content, just like the websites they inhabit, are living, changing things. When strategists seek to assess and improve the quality of a website’s content, they typically follow a four-part process. Content should be a circular process. Once created, it should be revisited and updated. Not only is this good for SEO but it ensures that your content is always the most valuable to your audience.

Whether your website is stale and in need of a content audit or you need to create content from scratch, make sure you have a good strategy behind what you’re creating.

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Maintain

Once you have either audited or written your content from scratch, you shouldn\’t leave it to go stale. As an editor, part of your work is to update, rework and revisit. Content is thought of as circular because it isn\’t ever complete and it changes with the times. Not only will revisiting content ensure that you are always appealing to your users but it will also make sure that you’re meeting user goals and continually improving your SEO.

Start your content life-cycle today, whether it is auditing, creating or improving.

What is Your Pinterest Marketing Strategy?

Everybody is always looking for the next best thing in social media, to latch on to and Pinterest has caught the attention of several brands as the next best thing and owing to Uniqlo’s Gold Lion winning campaign, it’s now the best time to jump on to pinterest before this ship sails.

Before jumping onto the Pinterest bandwagon, an organization needs to weigh the pros and cons to understand whether or not they are getting into this for all the right reasons. In previous articles, we have always talked about brands being where there audience is and because all social media presence must support and encourage growth,  if Pinterest is where your product/service needs to be then, it’s time to have a good strategy in place. Strategy is the framework built to keep your goals together and the inner components of this framework are made of objectives and activities. Before beginning to build your Pinterest marketing strategy or framework, it’s important to zero in on the goal which can be either of the following:

Increase Sales

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The most common of the goals with all efforts directly mapped with revenue earned. Organizations create a strategy to convert browsers into buyers, and with Pinterest’s growing popularity, this may not be so hard to achieve. According to wishpond.com 69% of people who have visited Pinterest have found an item they have purchased or wanted to purchase. Pinterest gets products and services seen and the best way to get customers to participate in a sale could be store coupons, online coupons or group coupons. Because Pinterest has hundreds of coupon pinners and coupon boards, your sales will go up at an excellent rate. Additionally the Pin it button is a Pinterest business feature. You’ve undoubtedly seen these buttons on numerous sites and pages, and they can be put next to all of the images of your products on your site. Since pinning doesn’t require any major effort, if anyone likes your product, the button makes it super easy to share on Pinterest and this pin it button can easily lead back to your website as well. Finally contests are a fantastic way to increase sales for any organization on social media and Pinterest is no exception. You can generate tons of repins, likes and shares through the excitement generated by the contest.

Increase Reach

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According to Nymag.com, Pinterest drives more web traffic to other sites than Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.  Robert J. Moore explains in the article that the Pinterest concept aptly, “It’s aspirational. People pin products they’d love to own, recipes they want to cook, and projects they want to tackle.” The popularity of these aspirational images/pins can only mean people will always be on the lookout for related items, willing to be redirected elsewhere from the pinned image itself, so ensure you always put a description of the image you are pinning, so it appears in search results and add a call to action to the pin description. Another great way of redirecting customers to your website would be to add the company logo and the URL as text in the image itself, that way the customer has all the information he/she will need right in front of them. A few simple modifications like addition of more images and with the pin it button next to every image will mean easy pinning. Add your website address to your description on your profile and verify the website to unlock Pinterest’s free analytics tool to check how much traffic you are getting from Pinterest and how you can get more.

Connectivity Between Website And Social Platforms 

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A critical factor to success for social media websites is definitely connectivity. Websites can’t get away by being operational individually, and Pinterest has identified that flaw to their benefit. Pinterest now connects with Facebook, Twitter and your website enabling users to automatically post new pins to their Facebook news feed for others to see. This means more eyes from other channels get access to the images you post to Pinterest.  This kind of connectivity can ensure that your audience is fully engaged helping you build connections across all of your networks.

Discover Trends

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Pinterest is a great place to discover trends. From marketing to fashion and beyond, you can discover what people love to share. You can follow your followers to see what inspires them. This gives you an opportunity to understand what’s trending today and use that information to position your own offers and products. Pinterest gives an insight into the lifestyle a person either lives or aspires to live. It is easy to find out what food they like, what cars they want to drive, the holidays they enjoyed and the books or movies they love, and this information is highly valuable for crowdsourcing.  While introducing new products or lines, you can gauge its popularity by the number of repins it will get. You can ask your followers to pin an image of themselves with the product, this will encourage customers to pin about your brand as well as inspire repins.

With every brand out there adopting Pinterest, it would be best to know the value behind being here. If it’s just a matter of being where everybody else is, then you’re probably better off investing in some other channel. But if there is value in your brand being on Pinterest and you are still having a hard time wrapping your head around its appeal? Then think of Pinterest as a much-loved and a user-friendly way for people to move through content, whether on their desktop or on a smartphone. It’s a visually appealing way for users to interact with products and ideas.

Hashtag Woes: Lessons From The Ice Challenge

Hashtags – the little bookmarks of the internet are also one of the most exploited tools in social media campaigns. Brands use these all the time to promote themselves and get their campaigns trending. However, every once in a while, this strategy can backfire leading to really confusing situation for the brand as well as the brand\’s followers. We have picked one such incident where two very different social media campaigns used the exact same hashtag for promotion leading to an ocean of confused fans and of course a few hearty laughs.

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The hashtag in limelight for all the wrong reasons is Ice Challenge. It was chosen to promote two very different types of causes. The first one was used with the intention of creating awareness about breast cancer and the second one by Moet & Chandon was for their Sea & White photo contest – both of which used #icechallenge as their main hashtag. So you might imagine the plight of the marketers as well as fans when both the campaigns went live. Those searching for pictures of yachts and champagne ended up looking at hundreds of people taking pictures of themselves taking an ice cold shower.

Moet & Chandon

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The campaign from Moet & Chandon was a typical social media photo contest where the fans were asked to share images that best illustrated their theme for the month of July which was Sea & White. Moet & Chandon asked their fans to share these images with #IceChallenge and this is where everything went wrong. The marketers failed to check and verify if the hashtag was already in use. As a result, a well planned campaign goes down the drain and the brand gets ridiculed for poor execution. Basically, the marketers at Moet & Chandon have to wade their way through a tsunami of online reputation management. This is perhaps the reason why they have also included #moeticechallenge as a hashtag to be used for the contest but not before vigorously promoting #IceChallenge.

Lessons to be learnt

  1. Always do your homework before launching a social media campaign. It is always the finer details that make a huge difference (in this case the poor research and hashtag selection).
  2. Double check your homework. Even if you have planned a campaign, it doesn\’t hurt to go over it once more before launching it does it?
  3. Be quick to rectify your mistakes. Okay mistakes do happen we are after all just human. Not rectifying your mistake is something that is not forgivable especially when an impending disaster threatens to ruin you completely. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, be quick with the damage control. Nobody will hold an apology against you.

Cancer Awareness Drive

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Driving awareness for the cause of cancer is a very noble cause. From giving away donations in exchange for motor boats from girls to dumping a bucket of icy cold water on yourself, the internet is not short of downright bizarre campaigns aimed at spreading awareness. The #IceChallenge is one of the many such bizarre awareness drives. It is hard to understand how dumping a buckets of icy cold water on yourself can help drive any form of awareness towards breast cancer which has resulted in the campaign being ridiculed widely on social media at its lack of sense.

you would think a campaign that focuses on cancer awareness and fundraising would actually mention cancer #IceChallenge

— Catherine Hume (@cathume83) July 15, 2014

#IceChallenge just wasn\’t complete until parents started gettin their Toddlers & Infants to do it aye……Fux sakes…

— TheBlackSheep.com (@LivinOffTheGrid) July 10, 2014

When designing a campaign always make something meaningful. If it is about cancer, don\’t leave out cancer from the cause even if you think getting completely drenched in cold water is a lot of fun.

Google+ Content Strategy: Android

Surprisingly, Google+ pages is an underestimated and often under-utilized tool in the realm of social media marketing. However, the good people over at Android’s online marketing department would doubtlessly swear by it. According to SocialBakers, Android is currently topping the list for the most likes on a Google+ page this month–an impressive 7 million!

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Visuals

Let’s ease on in with some visuals, shall we? We can’t stress how important visual presence is as an online marketing strategy. It is generally the first thing the public will notice, and often the most retained information.

Android has a good grasp on this factor; one glance at their Google+ page, and you will be greeted with a flurry of bright, colorful, aesthetically pleasing posts. Android’s visuals essentially fall into 2 categories–their ads featuring the android mascot (that little, green, alien-esque dude), and functional ads, which feature a high resolution background, with an android device held in front of it, displaying a pertinent app.

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The Android mascot apps are great – they depict the brand’s martian-like spokesman in various activities related to current events or a product. These range from the little guy playing soccer for the World Cup, dressed in a graduation gown to congratulate recent college grads, or hoisting dumbbells and in full workout attire to promote the My Track app. These posts are surprisingly effective because they essentially cover three key marketing bases with one cute, entertaining image:

  • Android is providing the consumer with relevant information and current events, and linking it to their brand or product.
  • The use of the mascot in these ads reinforces their brand image. You see him, and you think “Android”.
  • You are providing the consumer or follower with entertainment, a laugh or smile, and not just spamming them with “buy our product” ads.

The second type of visual that is present on the Google+ page are the ads which directly feature Android’s products. In these ads, an Android device is in the foreground, with an attractive setting behind. On the screen of the device, we can clearly see some sort of app being used, often one which is relevant to the setting. These visuals do not seem to be as effective, and on a whole, have less likes than the Android mascot–and for good reason. They are essentially just screenshots of someone using an app, with a pretty background behind.

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Content

Android’s Google+ content is a bit of a mixed bag. There are copious amounts of attractive visuals and ads, which we just discussed, but they also make sure to employ interactive content, such as the Androidify app and video content.

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Android’s page also offers the latest industry news, keeping customers and followers coming back to stay informed. They also engage customers by encouraging them to send in photos related to the current holiday, such as their “show us what you heart” promotion for Valentine’s Day, where followers were asked to send in pictures of people, places, and things they love.

Having content that engages or encourages fans to participate is invaluable to any brand. It keeps fans coming back for more, and it makes them feel as though they are part of a community–this is undoubtably what contributed to, at least in part, the recent spike in Android\’s Google+ popularity.

Insights From Jesse Stay

For further insights on Android\’s success with Google Plus, we spoke with social media expert and Vice President of Social Media at Fit Marketing, Jesse Stay. Jesse is a seasoned speaker, author, and consultant on the topics of social media, and has written six books in this field. He was also featured as one of 20 developers to follow and one of 10 entrepreneurs to follow on Twitter by Mashable.

Why do you think Android has been doing so well, from an online marketing standpoint?

Jesse: I\’ll be honest – a lot of Android\’s success is because it\’s owned by Google, and the influence they have in their own products and cross-integration between those products. That, along with a strong interface that interfaces really well with Google products is the reason it has taken off so well. My experience is that the more a brand can \”own\” the experience and make it as easy for them to use their products, the more their products will spread.

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I\’m not privy to their marketing strategy, but I wouldn\’t doubt that they\’re also applying a strong SEO, PPC, as well as social ad strategy (but as you see in my response below I\’m not 100% sure of that – they may not be doing anything there). Also, just searching for \”cell phone\” on Google brings up a whole host of their vendors\’ sponsored ads all promoting Android phones. I\’d say a strong and solid partnership with the major mobile phone brands (and the acquisition of Motorola\’s mobile division) has had a big affect on their success. Going open source also probably helped, as that made the transition for vendors even easier.

What tactics do you think contributed to Android\’s Google+ page, in particular, getting so much traffic?

Jesse: My experience is that many of Google+\’s most passionate users have a strong bias towards Google products. Where Google+ is a Google product, and Android is a Google product, I anticipate psychologically Android\’s Google+ page would be one of the first places Google+ users flock to. In addition, Android is already on many suggested accounts to follow lists as users join Google+, giving them even more opportunities to grow.

All of the other Google+ accounts also share content from the Android Google+ channel frequently. I have no doubt that drives more followers as people recognize the Android brand, something many Google+ users are already passionate about. So to sum up, Android just fits the demographic of a typical Google+ user.

Why do you think there is such a large disparity between Android’s Facebook page (1+million likes) and Android’s Google+ page (over 7 million likes)?

Jesse: I think it\’s just further proof of my point earlier that Android is a much more familiar brand on Google+, and that it has an advantage on Google products. I\’m not seeing a ton of evidence that Google is advertising their Facebook Page on Facebook (and if they are they\’re doing a horrible job at it), so I\’m sure that contributes. Google needs to invest a little more into their Facebook Page to see growth there (in other words, they have to actually try over on Facebook). I\’m noticing they\’re not giving much enticement to their fans to engage in posts. The images they\’re using aren\’t quite sharable enough. Honestly, it doesn\’t look like they\’re putting much effort into Facebook. I anticipate it\’s the same on Google+, but they get more fans there because it\’s a Google product.