Win with Content for your Brand: Give away value and usefulness

5m to read / 

To win with your brand's content marketing strategy – give something away – for free!  Not prizes, not coupons. Value. What you need to do each and every time is to share content with your audience that is useful and valuable for them. That's how you create an experience that your target audience will enjoy, benefit from, and look forward for more. And be consistent with your generosity!

Content is hugely valuable in our currency of marketing today. How do you create a winning content plan for your brand? There are so many ways to use content to better market your products and services, to better connect to your target audiences, and engage consumers. Whichever way, whichever types of content you plan to create and share, remember that end-user value is critical.

As far as the types of content you can or should create, see Content Marketing Strategy: What kind of content should you create.

Overall, for your content strategy, read up on 6 ways to get Content Marketing done right.

No matter how you plan, and what you aim for, you'll need to keep in mind that  Customer Insights is your First Step in any form of Digital Marketing. This is particularly important for your content strategy. That's how you'll be able to work out what you need to 'give away' or share.

Content marketing is not a quick win

Content marketing isn't a quick play game. It takes time for a brand that uses content marketing to build trust and to be recognized as a source of useful, valuable, enjoyable and reliable information. You need to become a go-to brand for your audience and stay top of mind and in their focus on a continuum.

In real life for example, remember how you walked into a Home Depot to buy a box of nails to hang some new pictures, and the guy took a good half an hour of his time to show you the best way to hang picture frames? And you ended up buying a $45 hammer because that's how he got his nails in perfect? Now think of content as that half an hour of show and tell of How To content.

Gain your audience's trust and retain it

Become a trusted, valued resource by giving away something. People like freebies. And I don't mean prizes and discounts (although discounts help somewhere along the conversion funnel). Giving something away means sharing content that is so useful to your audience that it really benefits them in their daily lives. That's beyond a price tag to that give away. And, that's what builds loyalty to your content, to your brand.

How and what to give away

Once you have audience and customer insights, you can plan on how you will add that value. Obviously, it will have to do with what your brand, your product, your service has to offer.

For Starbucks, it's not about their latte's but about the experience and those moments and how to get there, how to relax, how to, how to, what to... For Chevrolet, it's where you can go on a long drive, rather than fuel efficiency and horsepower. If you sell software, give away your 'mindware' – your knowledge.

If your company repairs iPhones, put out short form videos and how to tips on common problems, and how people can fix it themselves. Sure, they won't come to you for that fix, but you're building trust right there. Educate your audience – become a resource. Gain authority and trust. You also might post on your blog, or create Facebook videos on neat hacks and How-to use all the features of the latest iPhone. Share unboxings that reveal hidden features. That's how you build leverage for the future. That's how your relationship begins.

Make sure that when you create content that is useful, you make it shareable. When someone likes what you've given away, they will give it away as well. To their friends – and that's how your message, your brand gets around. Use all the right sharing tools for social. Empower your content for sharing the value you create.

Not just about your brand, you can share the joy.

Useful, valuable content isn't necessarily built around just your brand or product. You should have the generosity of creating content that may involve other brands and bring your audience the benefit of a shared experience. In the airline industry it's called code-sharing.

If you are Nutella, for example, your content could be about the Nutella with banana experience. Remember the Mentos and Diet Coke videos that went ape-viral? That was a shared content story. And Mentos got that totally right, Coke didn't.

If your brand is a hospital, your content shouldn't be just about what to do in an emergency, or who's the best surgeon at your hospital. Create content on wellness. Sounds like counter productive to your business goals? If you were thinking of some really advanced surgery, wouldn't you immediately think of the Mayo Clinic?

When you give, do not expect return. Or expect return right away. Content is not a QR code which someone redeems and you sell your product. Over time, you become a brand or a product that someone automatically should think of when they're looking for a genuine sellable solution that you can provide. Because over time, you've inched past being just another, to building a relationship by proving solutions every day. That's the pot at the end of the rainbow.

That's something fundamental to content. The value. The usefulness. And that's the basics. That's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Please add your comments below, and do share it with friends. People like value, after all...

6 Easy Ways to Improve Facebook Engagement for Brands

2m to read /

How do you improve consumer interaction with your brand's Facebook posts? How do get your news feed to get better exposure and engagement? With social media becoming critical for brands in their marketing effort, engagement with followers and fans becomes key. Here are five easy ways to get better engagement on Facebook...

1.  Create relevant content that is shareable

You really need to understand your target audience and create content that resonates with them, which they share. That's how you increase exposure. Facebook calls this “thumb stopping” – when your audience stops scrolling and pauses to read your content. If they truly find your content adds value to them, they will feel an urge to share it. But getting to know your audience is key: 
Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing.

Shareable content could be breaking news, educational or instructional, funny, entertaining, or anything that they wouldn't find as trivial and common. This is the type of content that will make your audience look good to others when they share it. So, try to consistently post photos, videos, graphics, and written content that are relevant, that will make you unique on their the news feed, and make people want to share it right away.

2. Use variety in content types

Mix up content types to add spice to what you post. For example, a higher ratio of video content these days will help your visibility and improve engagement. To keep seeing the same types of photos week in week out is boring. Use listicles, text posts, graphics, GIFs, polls, live posts etc and vary the type often.

3. Ask your audience for engagement. Include a Call to Action.

Ask your audience to engage. Include a Call to Action like "Please share this" or "Please comment". When you create content that resonates, people will respond and do what you tell them. Make sure that your content motivates them o do what you ask them.

4. Track your post timing and change it a few times

Yes, you need to be consistent, but mixing up your post timings often gets better results because a whole different set of your audience gets to see it. Try posting at times outside business hours when people have a little more time and attention. Ideally, you should check how your posts have been performing based on post timings – and particularly when your audience is online.

5. Try Facebook Live. Use it as often as you can.

Video gets great results, but Facebook Live is absolutely a winner these days. Plan on doing Live broadcasts – start with say, one Facebook Live post a week.
Read this: How to use Facebook Live video like a pro. The essentials of getting it right.

6. Drive traffic to Facebook from your other social media

Plan to drive traffic to your Facebook page from your other social networks, your email marketing and your website. How? Click on the timestamp of your post – which will give you the URL of that particular post. Use a URL shortener like bitly or Google's and paste the short link into twitter, instagram, and your websites and other marketing tools.

These simple steps will help you improve how your brand gets better engagement on Facebook. That's basic social media marketing. That's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Now read these related posts:

• Here's how to Power up your Facebook engagement with Video

• 7 ways your brand can increase Facebook organic reach

Winning Content Strategy: Always share something valuable and useful

Be ready for Search shifting to Mobile – specially smartphones

3m to read / 

We know that Search is shifting to mobile – particularly to smartphones. Google tells us in a new research on cross-device habits that a growing number of consumers browse the web and search on multiple platforms through the day. What the research also tells us that a fair number of those consumers actually just go mobile – by passing the desktop experience altogether. Is your brand ready for this trend?

Before you consider mobile in your brand strategy, or focus on it even more, if you are already there, it's important to know your audience, your target, your customers. Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing.

Mobile-first world today

It's really a mobile-first world today. People expect answers quickly, in the immediate. Consumers today turn to the nearest device to make a decision, learn something new, or get something accomplished, Google tells us. Google calls this micro-moments. "Connecting the dots across these micro-moments is necessary for marketers to tell a single story across devices, channels, and formats".

Search needs to yield results there and then

People are impatient. And, they are empowered with the immediate – thanks to their smartphones. They want to know, they want to find results right away, And they are turning to mobile. Google reminds us that "nearly 40% of people search only on a smartphone in an average day as they look to meet immediate needs. As a result of this shift, more Google searches are happening on smartphones than computers".

Transform your digital marketing by Being 'Right There, Right Then'

Marketing Land tells us that users are increasingly spending more time on smartphones than on desktop.

"Users spend 170 minutes on their smartphones daily vs. 120 minutes on PCs and roughly 75 minutes on tablets (for those who own tablets). The four most common physical locations that smartphones are used, in order, are:

1. Home
2. Work
3. Stores
4. Restaurants and Bars

More striking, however, is the finding that 27 percent of people are smartphone-only users (on any given day). Google also reports that of those people who conduct searches on an average day, 39 percent search only on a smartphone and 32 percent search only on a desktop".

As a marketer or digital marketing strategist for your brand, you need to be ready. Following are some useful tips from Search Engine Watch on how to effectively focus on mobile search as part of your strategy...

  • The AdWords interface will show you what portion of your clicks and conversions come from mobile vs. desktop, and if 10 percent or more of a campaign come from mobile devices, consider targeting separately.
  • Google allows for targeting by specific devices, operating systems, and carrier (with further tablet targeting options expected later this year), which is important because the end user mobile search experience is different on a mobile phone than it is on an iPad/tablet.
  • Mobile searching lends itself to shorter query lengths and hyper-local results. Google’s mobile keyword selection tool offers great assistance for getting started when choosing your ad keywords.
  • The searcher’s attention span is limited, so make mobile specific ad copy short and sweet. Include clickable phone numbers and/or geo-targeted maps to enhance your CTRs and conversions.
  • Landing pages from mobile search clicks should reflect your conversion goals. If you want them to call you, download something, watch a video, and/or view a map, optimize these pages accordingly.
  • When launching new campaigns, it’s best to start with an aggressive bidding strategy, which will allow you to establish a strong quality score off the bat. Securing position in the top two paid results is imperative with the limited viewing area on mobile devices.

Focusing your digital marketing strategy on mobile is no longer a nice-to-have. You really need to amp up your mobile marketing efforts – particularly with search engine marketing if you want to win over your target audiences.  That's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Now read these related posts on Mobile and Search:

• 4 Pillars of Mobile Marketing you need to focus on to succeed

• 5 Simple Ways to get your Mobile Marketing Done Right

6 Ways to Be There in Today's Search Driven World

6 Types of Social Media Posts to Engage your Audience

3m to read /

Here are some ideas for social media posts that help your brand keep your audience engaged. You should not be posting content that's focused purely on your brand – that's boring. But even if you post on topics that are interesting, that somehow connect to your brand, you still need inspired content buckets to use to vary it up a bit. Here are a few content types that you can use to keep your audience interested and engaged:

Before you start, you really need to know your audience. Your customers, your targets are looking for content that helps them, content that is useful to them, in context of your brad or product. It is critical to realize that Customer Insights is your First Step in any Digital Marketing. Once you are armed with that insight, you can develop posts that serve to those areas of interest...

1. How-To 

'How-to' posts have immediate value for your audience. They are practical, it helps them with their daily lives or solves a particular problem they may face. 'How-to' posts also makes your brand look an authority on the topic – and you become a go-to source for information and inspiration. You'll need to think about your audience and not just interaction with your brand. What do they really need to know, versus what you want to tell them? Think of them first, not your brand. Think value.

2. Tips 

Tips are simple posts that could be quick lists or small nuggets of information for your audience. They should be readable quickly – one should be able to skim over them. Tips are tactical and different from How-To posts because they don't need to explain a whole process in detail. Tips are highly ever green and shareable, and have key word value as well. 

3. Lists

List posts are for quick, immediate consumption. They can be shared easily, and people consume these "listicles" far more readily and easily than any other type of posts. They are optimized for web and mobile consumption and get shared more often. Good list posts are not long. The points can be one liners and can easily be converted to visuals. List posts can be built around your brand or product, but should ideally, go beyond that in providing value.

4. Tools

Tool posts are like Tips and How-To posts, but these don't necessarily have to be your brand related directly. You can curate these from around the web if you need to. Grab hold of useful sites, plugins, and downloads that make your life easier and share them with your readers. Keep the content useful and relevant to your topic and your brand.

5. Influencer content

You can get relevant and insightful content from influencers in your domain. Influencer content adds credibility to your brand and also builds relationships with the right influencers you use. They in turn can help build audiences and engage them for your brand or product. You can simply curate influencer content and serve it up for your audiences on relevant topics, or get the influencers to participate and contribute to your content.

10 Essential Steps to Influencer Marketing Success for your Brand

6. Thought leadership

These are point-of-view posts that establish your brand as a knowledgeable authority on topics that your audiences find relevant. The purpose of these posts is to demonstrate understanding and command of the topics you want to lead on. These may not have tactical impact on your audience, but have larger corporate impact as a brand. They make your company look great and reliable. They should be transparent and open, and have consumer/customer value as an end goal, and should not be about corporate drum beating.

6. Interactive and participatory

You can have your audience participate and contribute to your posts and your content overall. User generated content and opinion goes a long way in convincing your audiences about your brand or product. It's so much better that just one-way posting from you. Mix it up with polls, ask for UGC (User Generated Content), request them to share their opinion, create quizzes, and ask your audience to develop content with tips, experiences and hacks.

Keeping your content types varied and interesting is key to engagement.  That's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

Now read these related posts on content and social media:

8 Must Have Steps to Unleash the Power of Content Marketing for your Brand

Winning Content Strategy: Always share something valuable and useful

7 Useful Social Media Post Ideas for winning Content Marketing

Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing

Brands need to think engagement rather than advertising in our Always On world

4m to read / 

In today's battle for attention, the focus in marketing is digital – and digital is all about being Always On and engaging the audience in a dialog, rather than the one-way shouting we call advertising.

Consumers have shifted their media consumption patterns in favour of the online world. Attention is scarce, and people simply do not trust brand messages any more. User generated brand content therefore becomes key – and that content is Always On.

But the reality is we’re mostly stuck in the traditional advertising vortex. Even online. We’re still so taken with creating ‘advertising’ that we forget that the dynamics have been shifted. The consumer has moved the goalposts from receiving one-way communications to interaction and engagement. They want to be part of the action, the give and take. And if you aren’t giving them relevance, experience, and a genuine value-add for their time spent with you, they aren’t taking the bait.

Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing and these insights about your audience will tell you that it's really about engaging the audience rather than throwing advertising spends at them

Because the focus has shifted from the brand to the consumer, you really need specialized skills to stay in tune with this new consumer out there. The Always On one. Read Why every brand and every agency needs a Digital Insights Manager.

Consumers want value

What we tend to forget is the fact that consumers have always been unpredictably outside thin slice channel silos. Our game has always been about value. Value in exchange for time. The digital marketing trick is about creating value – rich experiences, rewarding content, engaging, useful things delivered to them – where they want it, and when they want it. At their whim. At their convenience. Look at all the digital things we do every day – email, sms, phone calls, downloads, blogs, information gathering, googling – each one delivers something useful, something valuable. This is the core remote flicking fighter. This is the new model. If you build this, they will come.

Engagement vs Advertising

Engagement vs Advertising in digital code is Pull vs Push. Theirs vs Ours. The traditional online model (I know those two words together sound like oxymorons) is about awareness building. I have a new product, and here’s a ten page microsite that glorifies it, while also telling me about my vision, my mission, my CEO’s bio, and of course my ‘contact us’ details. And I have spent a considerable sum of my (miniscule) online budget on banners across various portals that I believe you go to, to drive you to my said microsite, and you better click through, or else. And, wait, since I am so 2020 ready that I have also put my microsite address on my print ads. Well, well.

No, because that just does not work. Well, it did nicely enough for a while, but it no longer cuts the ice. Today, it’s about building something that is interesting, something the consumer will gladly spend time with, and if done right probably even advocate. I’m not saying this is the death knell of all display advertising. Some display ads have a simple message ‘free upgrade’ , ‘5% interest’ and ‘$99 to London’ will get clicked through if it is in a relevant channel. But overall, our online communications needs to be way, way beyond advertising. It needs to be fresh, fun, fabulous as an experience.

Brand to consumer is all about the wow

What we tend to forget often that we are in the wow business. All of us. Offline mainstream creatives, suits, brand managers, CEOs et al. Brand-to-consumer communications is all about wow. We have a wow gadget, an unbelievably comfortable sofa, a juice so fresh it’s still on the tree, a free-lobotomy-with-nose-job offer, and for the CFO – yes, we’ve made a small but remarkable profit in the middle of a bust year kind of wow. So, the, how come when we tell people about all this, we forget the wow?

Evolving technology for better engagement

The magic of digital is the technology it sits on. Ever changing, ever evolving technology. The tech spine allows us to build a nice sexy body around it if we want. Use it cleverly and it can be rewarding – for both brands and consumers. Technology and the newness of it, the fresh wow bits it can deliver allows us to better entertain, better engage, better wow. Like the way Mini used augmented reality applications in their print ads – that led to quite a wow experience for the consumer. And it doesn’t all have to be all tomorrow’s leading edge today. We simply need to see how social media today is all about engagement. Not about selling. Improve your social media engagement. Move from Selling to building Relationships.

Which brings us to my final point. We the guilty – the advertising fraternity – have so long ignored what the consumer wants to see, hear, feel, do and chased the Cannnes and other metalware glory , that we’ve lost sight of the consumer as creative possibility.

Lo and behold the new creative director – the 19 year old YouTube upload kingpin out of Muscat. Guitar hero, garage band expert, iMovie editor and brand ambassador par excellence on YouTube. And, he is willing to work for you on a pro bono basis. And no, your brand does not have to be green or preach tree hugging, but just open. Meet John Doe or Salma the blogger or Bob the facebook fiend – the social media sneezer. The one with self empowerment to make or break your brand. And he is a no-label free spirit who does not believe in advertising. But ask him to be part of your engagement plan, and he will happily take up your flag. The engager. The non advertiser. Your new ambassador.

That's the way it is today. The shift has happened. That's Digital Marketing Strategies 101.

More reading on Always On marketing

7 Essential Pillars for your Digital Marketing Strategy

Intent is the new black in digital marketing. In-the-moment marketing is what's hot.

How social media has totally changed marketing

3m to read / 

Today, the way brands do their marketing has changed dramatically because of social media. When Facebook launched in 2004, it was really about connecting people. Today, just more than a decade later, social media has become the go-to choice for most brands out there for their marketing communications. It's no longer a nice-to-have. It's a must-have.

Social media has impacted marketing in so many ways. Social media sits between the brand and the consumer, allowing and facilitating brands to convert consumers to fans and followers, and then to customers and advocates. Here are a few ways it has opened up fresh new channels and new ways to reach out to consumers and customers:

Conversation and dialog

Conversation and dialog between brands and consumers is something that advertising as we know it never ever delivered. It was the old simple model that led the way to purchase: AIDA – meaning the consumer went through four simple stages – Awareness, Interest, Desire and Action (meaning Purchase). Today there are so many new stages thanks to social media, and each stage offers brands new ways to influence and communicate with their target audiences. And these are mostly organic – not paid.

The new stages involve 'engagement', which is way beyond the capabilities of advertising. The stages include Awareness > Interest > Opinion > Dialog with brand & Community > Desire > Shared Desire > Action > Shared Action > Opinion > Advocacy > Loyalty. All of these new stages allows for brands to participate in the conversation. 

Content marketing

Social media has fuelled the rise of content marketing and brought it mainstream. The role of the brand as content generator or creator is a given today. Add to this a new role for brands that want to stand out: brand as curator or aggregator, facilitator, connector of all stories great and small – around the brand, the customer, the context. This is because brands cannot engage in a conversation without content – you need something to engage your audience – and that's content. Today the brand as content publisher is a reality.

Advertising that is micro targeted

Social media has really changed the we brands can hyper target their messages today. It changes the game from mass to micro. Never before the advent of social have brands been able to deliver the exact message to the exact target audience at the exact time in the engagement cycle.

Before advertising on social media, brands had to put out their messages on websites and channels where they believed their target customers would be. Today, with social platforms like Facebook, they can highly and effectively target segments in their audience.


With the empowerment of consumers, brands really need to be totally transparent in their communications. They cannot hide behind the one-way advertising game. It is an always-on world, and brands need to be open and honest. And be open to criticisms and negatives that are public – on social platforms.

While most of these changes have had a positive impact on the way brands market themselves, there are caveats and pitfalls that brands face because of the open nature of social media. More than ever, it is becoming important that brands get their social marketing and digital marketing right in every way possible.

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

Now read these social media and content related posts:

• 8 Ways to boost customer loyalty using Social Media

• 6 Key Essential Focus Areas in Social Media Strategy

• How to select the right Social Media platforms for your brand

• 7 Useful Social Media Post Ideas for winning Content Marketing

• 8 Must Have Steps to Unleash the Power of Content Marketing for your Brand

Plan your Distribution Strategy to succeed with Content Marketing

3m to read /

One important way to succeed with your brand's content marketing efforts is to get content distribution strategy right. You may be creating amazing content, but unless you add the value of 'context' to that content – meaning distribute them across relevant platforms and media, your content will remain distant and irrelevant to your target audience.

Know where your target audience is truly engaging

The first step is to know your target audience and identify exactly where they are, doing what, and when.

You cannot talk to every one all the time. Insights are far more valuable when they give you specifics on a certain target audience. Otherwise, it's information, not insight. Fence in the customer, or consumer, that you want to know about. Your insight strategy could be targeted by location, behavior, social platforms, their visits to your website, reactions to your advertising etc.

Who are your customers who visit your home page and jump straight out? Once you know your goal, knowing who you want to find out more about is important. Once you know this target, figure out how you are reaching that segment.

Who are you engaging (or not) and where? Your website, social media channels, your paid media reach and results, your email campaigns, your sms, online forums and reviews are all points of engagement that you could check as to where that specific audience is. This is your first step in defining a distribution strategy.

Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing

Identify the key segments in your audience

There are usually three broad categories that most people in your target audience will fall under:

Actively Engaged: This is your big fish. These are people who comment, participate in dialog with your brand and with their community about your brand. They Like, they Share, they retweet and re-gram. Usually they will follow you across multiple platforms and are more likely to have an impact on your content than any others.

These are the folks you genuinely want to aim your content out, so your content distribution stRategy should be mainly configured to meet these people on their favored platforms and media and at their favored time slots.

Passive Engaged: People who follow your brand or product, but do not engage. They view your posts, but move on. They may be just following your brand posts to stay informed on updates, new products etc. They don't Like of Share, they don't Comment.

Spectators and Collaterally Reached People are the ones who come across your content quite by chance. Your post may have popped up on their timeline because a Facebook algorithm figured out they may have an interest, they may have seen a share by an actively engaged fan etc. They are not seeking out your content.

Develop a distribution strategy that is focused on your target audience behavior.

Your content needs to have a clear distribution strategy based on where your target audience is most engaging – with your content, and with similar content to yours. What are the types of content they most engage with? Video? Blog posts? Microblogs like twitter? Which platforms are they on? When are they on? What types of content gets most shared and commented on? All of these factors are essential to configuring your content distribution.

Have the right goals and KPIs

Brands often have broad KPIs that they use to measure success. That's wrong. Your content distribution should take into account whether each type of content you have out there targets one of the three types of people in your audience – the active, the passive and the mere spectators. You will need content and distribution to meet all three types. And you need to measure accordingly. 

Sometimes, visits to your website may be a more relevant KPI or goal than say, Likes on Facebook. Comments on long form content such as blog posts are relevant in measuring success of the actively engaged segments. But counting Likes on brand building posts may not be a good KPI. 

Do not ignore the relevance of paid distribution channels. Whether through links on ad networks, paid social, or via native content in partnership with publishers, these are important distribution channels. 

Keep SEO in mind for all your content as well. Relevant content will help you get inbound links to your pages (thus increasing your PageRank), but you need to identify the search terms related to your business, and build content around them– using keywords in the headline and body copy and creating valuable, useful, relevant content across the right platforms for them.

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

Now read these content marketing related posts:

• Winning Content Strategy: Always share something valuable and useful

• 7 Useful Social Media Post Ideas for winning Content Marketing

• 8 Must Have Steps to Unleash the Power of Content Marketing for your Brand

5 ways to get fans to create social media content for brands

3m to read / 

Include your fans in your social media marketing by letting them create content for your brands. Social media content today is a lot about story telling, and today those stories need to be authentic and ones that add value to the consumer.

According to a study done by Nielsen, “92% of consumers trust online content from friends & family above all other forms of brand messaging. And they trust strangers second most — far more than they trust content from brands. Social media content generated by your fans – your community – is a great way to add that spark of authenticity and creativity and enables marketers to tell brand related stories without having to work hard at creating them.

1. Curate content under a clever and catchy #hashtag

Let your brand be the platform that your fans use to get recognized and be creative. Focus the spotlight on your fans and you'll get a whole load of user generated content. Use a clever and catchy hashtag to curate all the content – which will give you instant access to what your fans and followers are uploading.

Check out this amazing #wanderlust campaign by National Geographic. It asked users to simply tag their photos of beautiful places and people with a @wanderlust hashtag – creating a much loved opportunity for fans to highlight their photography skills under a famous brand banner – National Geographic. The brand had access to a huge collection of content that they could use in their social media.

2. Ask them to be creative with your products

Be the brand that brings out the creative side of your fans and followers. Encourage them to think outside the proverbial box and come up with interesting ways to showcase your products and how they use them. All of the social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat offer your fans great opportunities to show their creative sides with photos, videos, tweets or simple posts.

The key is to get your fans to get involved with your products and your brand and give them the freedom to be creative. Unboxings are a great way to encourage fans to create user generated content around your product.

3. Ask them for their opinion

Fans like to have a voice – specially when it comes to brands and products on social media. Ask your fans and your community for their opinion. Let them tell you about their preferences, ways they use your products, cool features (that may be even you didn't know about), hacks, unboxings, new product ideas, flavors, colors etc. Run polls across your various platforms. People look to social media for recommendations, reviews and feedback from “real” people – make these authentic conversations work for your brand.

4. Run contests with low barriers

A lot of brands try to get user generated content by running contests and some are hugely successful. But they key to running contests is a prize they'll value, and more importantly, removing or lowering barriers to entering. Make it easy. Keep it simple. Allow text only submissions. Don't insist on high quality videos in HD.

Open up the contest across multiple platforms whenever possible. You can use a catchy #hashtag to bring all the entries together (see Point #1). Contests should motivate and encourage your fans and followers and inspire them to be creative and innovative. Without too much effort. For example, one research finding shows that "contests which allowed for text-only submissions (in addition to photos and video) saw a 900% lift in submission volume."

Here's an interesting post from Hootsuite on some of the best UGC contests.

5. Offer multiple ways to upload content

Offer multiple ways to upload content across multiple platforms. Don't just insist on submissions that are limited to smartphone uploads (like Snapchat). Open up across various platforms and ask for content. But remember, in today's mobile driven world, you absolutely must engage and make your submissions possible using mobile. User generated content (UGC) comes in various forms, formats, and sizes. Be open to harnessing a 140 character tweet or a long form blog post, a 10 second 'snap' or a 3 minute YouTube unboxing. Remember they're all products of brand love.

UGC or User Generated Content can help your social media in unprecedented ways. Remember to make it easy for your fans to engage with your brand and product and it will flow in.

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101.
 Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

How to use the power of Pokémon Go for your Brand

4m to read /

Pokemon Go is a unique 'phygital' phenomenon – combining both physical and digital experience. This creates unforeseen opportunities for brands to use the unprecedented power of the app for their marketing. Specially if your brand or product is focused on millennials and teens.

What is Pokemon Go

It is the biggest mobile game ever. The object of the game is to walk around the real world to find and ‘catch’ Pokemon on your phone. Through the use of GPS technology, the player can see digital Pokemons in their surrounding area, walk up to the creature, and use the camera on their smartphone (which overlays the Pokemon on the real world) to capture it.

Whether you are a local taco shop, a large tech retail outlet, a community center, a restaurant or fast food outlet, or even a car dealership, you can use Pokemon Go to target unique audiences for your business. Here are some ways you can build a youthful, energetic side of your marketing strategy with Pokemon Go at its core:

Pokestops is a great way to start

A basic feature of the game is the ability to go to a fixed location and get bonuses from being there. These places are called Pokestops. They’re usually important or unique features of a town. A PokeStop will show up on the Pokemon Go player’s map as a place to congregate for special Pokémon, eggs, and other treats. They’re noted by a blue cube on the map.

A feature of the game is the ability to go to a fixed location and get bonuses from being there. These places are called Pokestops. They’re usually associated with statues, memorials, or other important or unique features of a town. Find out if you have one nearby. If you haven't already, then download the game and pull up the map and see if you have a blue icon spinning near your business. If you do, put down a lure and watch as a whole new group of 'customers' walk into your store.

At the moment, game creators Nintantic have stopped accepting submissions for PokeStops from businesses. But this should change soon, and you would be able to create a PokeStop at your location itself.

Use Pokemon on your social media

Brands are finding that any posts built around the phenomenon of Pokemon Go get huge engagement. Players like sharing tips, tricks and jokes. Non-players like to ridicule the craziness. Either way you win if you can somehow mention Pokemon Go in a couple of your posts. 

Invite platers to your location

Use social media to invite players to come play in your store. Even banks are doing it. You'll get a lot of extra social buzz with that, besides of course the footfall. Just the fact that your brand is involved in this craze can boost your social engagement quickly.

Offer players wifi and power stations

Pokemon Go consumes a huge amount of battery power it requires in order to play. It needs to run data,  GPS, the screen on all all times, and other features of mobile devices. And of course, a whole lot of data. You can attract players by offering free wi-fi and free battery charging stations. Announcing this on your social media will get a huge buzz. Opening up your wi-fi is a huge lure for Pokemon players.

Immediately announce Pokemon visits to your location

Pokemon are all over the world and pop up in random places. If a Pokemon shows up at your location, immediately jump on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat and announce that 'Pikachu' or 'Lunella L'  is around.. If you’re fortunate to have a rare Pokemon visit your location, you’re guaranteed to see a fair amount of players rush in.

Request players to tag their photos with your brand

Ask players to tag your business when they share photos. Depending on the social platform they share on, they should be asked to tag your business in the post or tag it as the location they were playing at. This gives your brand instant social chatter. Ideally, you should track these mentions and thank them on your posts.

Ask players to take pictures of Pokemon characters with your products

You can incentivize customers to play Pokémon and share their photos on social media. Ask players to aim Pokemon on products they want to buy, and you could offer special small discounts or up-sells and add-ons for each share.

Grab photos and videos of Pokemon players at your location

You can get your location staff to shoot photos or videos of players at your location (seek permission first). Use these on your social media.

Offer free related benefits

If you offer mobile service provider or sell accessories, find a way to create special services and discounts that help Pokemon Go players. T-Mobile did this by announcing unlimited data for Pokémon Go players – announcing this by using a specially created hashtag.

Pokemon Go is compelling, engaging and immersive as an experience. The app uses real world video (via the camera) and combines it with a fascinating and interactive AR layer. This is storytelling in a whole new way. And that's a opportunity for many brands out there to participate in the phenomenon.

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

Also read this Pokemon related post now:

8 Cool Lessons Brands can Learn from Pokemon Go

4 Pillars of Mobile Marketing you need to focus on to succeed

2m to read / 

There are four essential pillars in any mobile marketing strategy. These are absolutely essential to keep in mind when building your mobile marketing campaigns and strategy. Every successful mobile effort by your brand, needs to accomplish some tasks. Some of these are focused on your audience – the consumer, other tasks may be business related.

Through mobile, brands have the ability to be present at the exact moment a consumer is seeking a solution.

Transform your digital marketing by 'Being 'Right There, Right Then'

Today, your audience is rarely without their mobile device. Consumers check their mobile device 150 to 200 times per day. Mobile provides brands with opportunities at every touchpoint on the path to purchase. Here four essential pillars for the foundation of your mobile strategy:

1. Convenience in the instant

Convenience is such a critically important pillar, that there's now a whole new genre in digital marketing called Convenience Marketing! Today consumers want simplicity and convenience, and mobile devices give them what they might want with fewer obstacles to disrupt their journeys.

Mobile facilitates a quick and easy step from desire to action or acquisition. It instantly resolves problem and provides solution. Your brand must be there ready to at that micro-moment (as Google calls it). By being accessible, keeping things simple and direct, and providing immediate solutions, your brand will able to meet the consumer across those "I want to..." moments.

Use the Power of Here and Now: Convenience Marketing with Wearables (and Mobile)

2. Relevance

Sure, you can be there whenever your audience is looking, but with what? Does your solution have true relevance? Does your mobile content genuinely provide a solution and relate to the need of the consumer? Mobile content needs to respond to consumer needs at the precise moment of desire – and instantly and effectively. So, if the mobile content you offer isn't relevant at first glance, game over right there. Build content that is relevant to your target audience's needs. Find out first what those needs are in order to do that.

So, Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing.

3. Location

Mobile's uniqueness is location. Mobile offers unique possibilities to serve location relevant content and solutions to your audience. Marketers very often fail to focus on location. You should not create mobile content without a focus on this pillar. Your mobile strategy should focus on creating modular content that is tailored to meet your audience across multiple locations. This is what content in context really means. Do not forget the importance of location as context.

4. Permission (vs. Intrusion)

Many mobile strategies are developed that ignore this important pillar. You can be relevant, you can be there in the instant, get right-place right-time done right, but you should not be intrusive. Most consumers hate being intruded on, when their journey is interrupted without their permission. As well, you need to make consumers feel secure that you respect their privacy and safety. The bonus of focusing on permission is that at some point you'll know through dialog and interaction, what they are expecting.

These pillars are the foundations that you build your mobile strategy on. Read more on mobile strategy – links provided below.

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

Important reading:  • Shifting the brand mindset to Mobile First

Now read these related posts on mobile:

• 10 Critical Elements you must get right for Mobile Marketing Success

• Mobile Marketing: Native App or Responsive Website? Which one's right?

• How to create a winning mobile App for your Brand

8 Ways to boost customer loyalty using Social Media

3m to read /

Today, more than ever, it's both easy and efficient to build your brand's customer loyalty using social media. Today's socially engaged customers are ready to build better connections and relationships with brands, provided the brand does its part to nurture the relationships.

1. Start by listening

Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing. This is something you really need to keep in mind (and do read the linked post as well). You can't have insights if you don't listen. You need data – and data that's cleverly converted to valuable insight.

Social media listening is not just for monitoring social performance or sentiment. It provides a huge opportunity for customer loyalty building and retention.

Where are your customers on social media? Which platforms do they prefer – particularly in context of your brand or product.

Which particular products and services do they talk about the most. Which ones get no responses at all? What are the sentiments (positive or negative) when they mention these products? Do they recommend them?

Do they have consistent positive or negative comments on social that you should encourage or address quickly?

And, from a social media point of view, what kind of content are they truly engaging with – commenting, sharing, liking? Are they creating content on social platforms around your brand or product (User Generated Content)? Do they prefer photos or videos? Long form content and blog posts? How To's on YouTube? Unboxings?

These above listening points give you so much insight about your customer, that you cannot afford to ignore any of those signals. And, ideally, you should also key in your customer data from your mail or CRM programs.

The importance of listening in social media, and how to get it right

2. Provide value to engage your customers

Often brands forget the importance of socially driven customer retention. Social can be of huge help with after sales. Here's where you get feedback from your customers and you build better engagement by creating value for them. Have some sort of a plan – a content calendar – that locks in promotions, customer special offers, seasonal campaigns, and a few dedicated 'customer only' offers and promotions via social.

If you create he right value adds for your customers, it becomes easy to up-sell, cross sell across your product lines. This is where brand loyalty kicks in. Value is really key here – and make no mistake, value is not just about deals and offers. Value is perceived benefit as well. When you are there for them as a brand.

3. Customers get First in Line on Responses

Honor your customers by responding to their queries and feedback quickly and effectively. A whole lot of brands often don't bother responding to questions and feedback – which really fails their social efforts. No one wants to watch a new product video when they have a beef about a product they already own. Social media customers expect to hear back – almost within the hour. If you are able to maintain a good response rhythm, that in turn impresses the people following your brand who just aren't quite customers yet.

4. Seek out the super customers and advocates

Use your social listening tools to identify which of your customers are super fans and loyal, and beyond that, who are the real advocates for your brand. Find ways to reward them – and not just in tangible ways, but also via social recognition when possible.

You can create 'Super Customer' clubs on social and offer some value for members – your best customers and advocates. Again, use listening here to get feedback about what they feel about the rewards and recognitions. Which ones work better?

5. Create rewards programs

Offer a program which your social fans and community can clearly identify as rewarding and one that adds genuine value. It does not have to be limited to special offers. You can offer sneak previews of new launches, special user tips, How To Guides, Upgrades, Product Tips, posts on product benefits they may not know about, and so much more.

6. Get more than just your social team involved

Social media aimed at customer building and retention is beyond just the realm of community management teams. Get your customer support teams, your senior marketing teams, and even your top executives to contribute to your social efforts. Content that comes from top leadership helps establish a sense of rapport with your customers and builds a trust factor that a community manager just cannot muster.

7. Share their victories, feel their pain

You cannot build a community of loyal customers on your social platforms unless you are genuine and human. Your responses, posts, mentions have to be genuine. When a customer heaps praises, retweet and share it with an aded on comment that appreciates their effort. Address their product pain points with empathy – not "We'll get back to you asap".

8. Measure and learn. Then keep doing what works

Analyze your results regularly and accurately. What worked? What didn't? Which rewards worked? How quickly did the team respond to customer queries? What was feedback sentiment. And, of course, if you can track social to effects on sales and numbers, that's what really helps. So you need to track everything you do on social from a customer perspective and learn from the results you achieved. Then, keep doing what works and improve on it whenever possible by being creative and meaningful.

These are some simple points to remember when you use social media to attract and retain a good customer base. And, no social media strategy should be built without having that as an important reason to exist.

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

Now read these related posts:

• How to Make your Social Media Rock Solid by Listening and Acting Quickly

• Improve your social media engagement. Move from Selling to building Relationships

7 ways your brand can increase Facebook organic reach

4m to read / 

Your brand can still win the organic posting game on Facebook with these simple tips. Many brands are running away from posting organic content on Facebook. Sure, paid posts reach more people. Facebook's content explosion has resulted in the average organic reach dropping to around 2%. Organic content still has value on Facebook, and Pages that publish great content — content that teaches people something, entertains them, makes them think, or in some other way adds value to their lives — can still reach people in News Feed.

Here are seven easy ways to win back your organic reach on Facebook:

1. Get your post timing right, and try off-peak posting

There are so many theories about best times to post on Facebook. Check your Facebook Insights to see when your fans are online. That's one way to go. One other way is to try post in off peak hours (6pm - 8pm) checking to see when maximum fans are on during that period. Your chances of appearing in the feed increase since other Facebook pages aren’t posting during this period. Less competition means better results. As your post receives better engagement, Facebook will distribute the post to more of your fans. And, as well, you'll be able to reach global audiences in different time zones from yours.

2. Create more evergreen posts

The life of a post in Facebook News Feed is also dependent on recency. If you publish timeless content, then it remains useful and interesting for your audience for longer periods. They’ll keep liking and commenting on your post. Because of this increased engagement, the Facebook algorithm will ensure that your post gets distributed further and that it appears in feeds for longer periods. Keep track of this from Insights on which posts show continuing interest. Give the content a new spin and post them multiple times. You should post the evergreen content at a different day and time than the first occasion.

Some forms of typical evergreen content include "How to" posts, FAQs, Tutorials, Testimonials, Links to Product User Manuals etc.

3. Mix up your post types

Don't just stick to photos. Mix up your content with photos, links, videos, status updates. You'll know which ones do better for your brand from Insights on your page. Don't forget that links drive traffic to your brand website a lot more than photos. Photos somehow have the least organic reach according to Social Bakers.

4. Publish videos natively on Facebook

People are watching 100 million hours of video on the social network each day, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said while delivering the company's fourth-quarter financial report in January. Facebook boasts 8 billion video views per day. Native videos have become the top performer in News Feed. Video on Facebook plays silently until you click on it.Your video has to be high-quality from the first frame. It needs to grab attention, even without sound right away.

See tips from Facebook:

For each video you post to your Page, you can view metrics like video views, unique video views, the average duration people viewed your video and audience retention. These metrics are designed to help you learn what’s resonating with people and tune the length and content for your video audience.

To better engage your video viewers, you can add a call-to-action (CTA) to visit your website or a destination of your choice. The CTA can be Learn More, Shop Now, Sign Up, Book Now, Download or Watch More.

5. Check and test your post frequency

Adobe tells us that there is a huge increase in brand frequency on Facebook. A lot of this is driven by news broadcasters and media brands. But as a regular brand, don't post 15 times a day.

Here is another study by Locowise on 600 Facebook pages  (with 250 million combined likes), to find out their reach and engagement vs frequency.
Here are frequency tips:

• Avoid posting more than 2-3 times/day. It just turns your audience off.
• Post quality content. Engage your audience with humor, inspiration and educational content.
You can be successful, even with a higher posting frequency, by providing variety. Mix your posting schedule and post types.
• Test your frequency results. Only your insights can reveal your audience’s exact response.

6. Use fewer hashtags

Unlike Twitter or Instagram's love with hashtags, Facebook does have hashtags, but it's a love hate relationship. See results below from a Social Bakers study. Keep a limit on hashtags to 2.

7. Post content that engages your audience

Customer Insights is your First Step in Digital Marketing. Know your audience. Not just from your facebook insights. You should have all the data you can get about your audience from all data points so you know your audience better. Stay on trend. Remember, it's simply not just about your brand or product. It's actually about your audience and what will inform, entertain and keep them loyal. Post content that will resonate with your audience and keep them looking for more from you.

Don't focus on the Reach metric

Funny, you think, I'd say that in a post on how to improve organic reach. But you need to focus on metrics that really mean something to outcome. You need to measure traffic generated to your website, leads generated, products purchased, not just reach. Yes, you shouldn't abandon organic posts, and yes, you can get it right, but once you have used some simple tips above, focus on the real goals. (See link below on how to measure social media success).

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.

Read this now:

• 3 Simple ways to measure Social Media marketing success

• Here's how to Power up your Facebook engagement with Video

• How to use Facebook Live video like a pro. The essentials of getting it right.

Beat today's multi-screen, multi-device challenges with great content

5m to read / 

How can you understand and take advantage of today's multi screen multi device media habits? The tv watching experience is getting richer, better because of online? Rather than killing off tv in the living room, digital channels are adding to it, and broadening the perspective.

Consumers today are increasingly using multiple screens and devices while consuming media. With the boom in high speed access and the popularity of both tablet and mobile, people today aren't just watching tv. It's a combination of lean back (tv) and lean forward (tablet, mobile, laptop) in the living rooms of our region.

Multi screen marketing is a challenge

Earlier on, the ad industry jumped at the idea of an increase in consumer engagement across multiple screens. Experience, participation, multi-platform engagement became buzzwords. What we blinked on was the fact that the proliferation of screens today fuels fragmentation – it causes consumer ADD – Attention Deficit Disorder. And we were caught dozing.

Yes, it’s much easier to engage and hold attention in a conversation than in a monologue, but with some unforeseen pattern shifts, multi-screen engagement becomes a challenge. Consumer time and attention is getting lower as we move from traditional to digital (think banner blindness, low click through rates). Now as ‘digital’ is increasingly via mobile, small screens offer even smaller real estate for those of us planning to build engagement on.

What is multi screen marketing

Multi screen marketing isn't new. But it's developing into a huge, synergistic platform where not only the message across what you watch on tv syncs with what's on your website, it does so at the same time, and with planned, timed and well-executed intent. We've always put an URL at the end of the tv spot, but now we're beginning to put in a Facebook address, and more often a Twitter hashtag. The twitter hashtag is to encourage immediate participation in sharing, in dialog, in comment fishing and more. In the UK, almost 70% of brands reviewed in a survey encouraged multi-device participation.

Twitter themselves stated, "simply adding hashtags on air - or in ads - helps organise and steer the conversation."

The Twitter report goes on to say, "in advertising, we're seeing that deeper integration of Twitter not only drives discovery and engagement but also drives increases in brand recall scores and other marketing goals." Twitter's increasing popularity and acceptance as a "code-sharing" medium with TV is linked to the open field nature of the microblog. It's so in the now and the instant.

I watch a tv program, or a spot, and instantly am able to share my viewpoint using a hashtag (#) – and it's there for anyone to see. It's a bit more open than the Facebook walled garden where only my 'friends' can see what or react to my opinion. Red Bull in the UK did this very successfully with their #GivesYouWings campaign.

Our interactions are mostly screen based today

Ninety per cent of all media interactions are screen-based, and we spend around 4.5 hours of our leisure time in front of one screen or another. And we do this across multiple screens on multiple devices. Either sequentially, moving from one device to another at different times to complete tasks, or simultaneously – for complementary usage in a related activity or multi-tasking across unrelated activities.
As consumers move seamlessly between devices, what really drives device choice is context: amount of time we have or need, what we want to really accomplish, where we are at that time, and our attitude or state of mind. Whatever the case, TV is no longer a singular focus activity. We tend to use another device nearly 80 per cent of the time we watch TV.

TV and social

What's even more interesting is that in a multi-device, multi-screen scenario in the living room, consumers tend not to get up and walk out during a commercial break. They stay engaged and busy, and connected. This works particularly well in "native" or "content marketing" campaigns that tend to want to engage the viewer in every possible way.
Just adding a #Brandname at the end of your spot is not the way to go. The #whatever should be about the campaign, about the call to action, and about what you want the target audience to do. Using a slogan like Red Bull did in #GivesYouWings is the way to go. And multi-device or multi-screen marketing is not just for brands and products. 

Brands need to be creative to grab and hold attention

Brands need to get both their creative and media plans in order again. Because while single-tasking may be a consideration, it is against the norm. What is single-tasking? Well, it’s all there in the name. Single-tasking means doing one activity at a time with as few distractions and interruptions as possible.

Today's attention-divided consumer responds to a well-told, well-synced brand story that feels the same, regardless of where it is being consumed. They're interested and motivated to engage further when they see seamless continuity. Inconsistency of content style, inconsistency of message is what turns consumers off. Brands that succeed with multiscreen single campaign objective—increase awareness, hold attention, engage across platforms and screens, and deliver the same story across multiple touch points and screens.

Start with analytics: Know your audience

Start with analytics – first know about your consumer, about the audience you want to engage. The best way to start a well planned multiscreen marketing strategy is to have a grasp on what your consumer is all about. Customer or audience insight is key . Effective audience targeting can be achieved by using analytics that converts data from and about usage on any device to help brands increase their understanding of their audience and anticipate their next steps. And resolve what their audeinces are looking for at each stage, across each screen.

Be screen-neutral in your thinking at first. Don't assume that tv is your starting point. Old school "multiscreen strategy" builds from TV as its base and presumes different objectives for each screen after that. Today, multiscreen can start anywhere – and it very often starts with Search. First of all, you just have to be there for your audience in Search . How you do that across screens is secondary.

Remember that today's consumer jumps from screen to screen (sometimes at the same time) to achieve their goals. TV as we know it, is quickly evolving and becoming a larger experience. With multiscreen video, sharing, tweeting, in-the-instance interacting tv is becoming infinitely richer, increasingly interactive and delivering deeper levels of engagement.

Great content is the solution

So, in today's world of ADD (Attention-Disruption-Disorder) combined with multi tasking a brand's message needs to effectively cut through the clutter, be relevant, add value, and be in context. Each and every time. And if it is content driven – which again is the new way – that content needs to be both entertaining and relevant. Content that is working these days is infotainment content – providing information on and around a brand's products and services in an entertaining, useful way.

Related reading:

• Content Marketing Strategy: What kind of content should you create?
• 6 ways to get Content Marketing done right

And that's the basics of digital marketing strategy. That's 101. Please share this post with your friends and colleagues today... And do comment if you feel you want to add to this.