Repurpose Your Brand’s Content for Social Media

image recycle_wallpaper_1920x1080_by_poldas-d66om1t

 

When I do any public speaking, attend a cocktail party where people ask about social media, or meet a potential new client, one of the first things people ask is how do they or their company produce enough content to fill a week’s worth of postings on their social media profiles. Simple, I say, repurpose content that already exists within the company and share, share, share.

I often find that while people may be passionate about their product or service and might very well be experts, they undervalue their knowledge which then translates into not making the connection between taking the content they are already creating and sharing it via social media so here are some tips that might ignite an ahhhh moment when it comes to your brand’s social media content planning:

  1. Already creating an email blast on a regular basis? The content you create here can be formatted into a blog entry and you can link to it multiple times when posting on the social channels. No blog? Host your email newsletter online, better yet share the email blast on a landing page on your website and link to it often. Helpful hint: tell your readers in the email that the same content is hosted online and they can view and share it as many times as they wish. This allows you to create 360° of traffic between your website, the email and the social networks where the content is shared.
  2. Do you have someone internally doing press releases? Work with an agency to manage your PR? All content produced for the media can be reconstructed many ways and then shared often via social media. Helpful hint: take the press release and post it to your blog or website and link back to it often when posting to twitter, Facebook and more.
  3. Does your company produce or sell white papers? Take a few powerful thoughts from each section and share as separate updates with your online community and always include a link back to the original white paper so they can read or purchase the paper in its entirety. Helpful hint: you have enough content via these papers to fill your social media channels for months so use it to urge your reader to take an action that benefits your business.
  4. Has your company produced a manual or video for new employees? If so, I bet there are some cool facts included about the history of your business. Grab the info and share online. Helpful hint: a top goal for a brand’s social media should be to drive readers back to the website where the new visitors can either learn more about your company or buy a product or service. Interesting facts will spark curiosity and will hopefully drive the most inquisitive back to your website.
  5. And what about your website? You have spent hours, days, weeks and most likely months putting it together so grab various snippets of content (images, words, and/or videos) and link back to it from your social channels. Helpful hint: does your product come in two colors or two slightly different variations? Sounds like a tweet to me!
  6. Does your company attend various events or trade shows? If so I bet you are producing content to give to interested potential customers as they pass by your booth. What can you do with that messaging? I think you get the point now, fill your social channels with your newly repurposed content.

And one more final helpful hint: if you are already producing newsletters, whitepapers, press releases and brochures and distributing to an already interested audience, make sharing the content easy so your biggest supporters can easily turn into brand ambassadors who help you get the word out about just how great you are! Remember you have what it takes to reach your next customer online with content that is already sitting in front of you, just use it again and again.

Valorie Luther, Founder and Executive Director, Creative Concepts

 

(Art by Poldas)

Tips To Use Social Media For #SEO

twitter cover 5

One of the things I like the most about social media is that it doesn’t have just one role for a brand, it has many…it’s what I call textured.  When most consumers think about social media in reference to a brand, I believe they think about the content they consume and the deals they can take advantage of.  Keeping this in mind, many companies focus on their brand voice and messaging along with providing enticing coupons and prizes which is why management often wants their PR people (agency or in house) to oversee their social media.  But did you know that posting content strategically on your blog and in the social networks is an excellent search engine optimization (SEO) tool?  Did you know if done correctly, social media has the power to raise your company’s website rankings in Google, Bing, Yahoo and more?  This is the texture I was referencing; social media has many capabilities to consider and SEO is just one of them.

As a case in point, I have a client who came to Creative Concepts wanting to do social media, and in our first meeting he shared that SEO was his highest priority with social media being an add on he thought he would try.  Back when his website first went live some years ago, he was the online leader among local competitors, but once others caught on, his search ranking dropped to the bottom of the first page and in some cases for certain keywords, his website dropped to the second page which was detrimental to his business.  Keeping this in mind as I developed the social strategy where he also wanted to increase brand exposure locally, I created a plan that centered on his blog and Google + page for SEO strength and Facebook and LinkedIn for some SEO but mostly for brand exposure.  Within one month of implementation of the SEO and social strategy, his search standings bumped up to midway of the first page…a huge jump after watching his website drop monthly for a year (and yes brand exposure increased dramatically too between increased Likes on Facebook and millions of impressions on LinkedIn).

Here are some tips to think about when using a blog in particular as an SEO tool:

  1. Get into a habit of updating your blog regularly and often. For clients, I have found that one time per week doesn’t really do the trick, three times tells Google you are alive but five or more times per weeks bumps you up in the search rankings as you long as you follow best practices.
  2. Titles of each blog entry are huge for search so try to use keywords important to your brand and if possible your company name without making the title seem too robotic and ad like (because remember you are still trying to appeal to your customer as well as the search engines).
  3. Always embed an image or a video in your blog entry.
  4. Use keywords in your blog entries that others would use to find your business online.
  5. Link often to other areas of your website. For instance on the Creative Concepts website, if we mention social media in the blog, we embed a link to the social media section of the website.  This is both informative to the reader and great for search for the overall website.
  6. Embed links from outside quality sources. You will want to do this in order to back up what you are saying similar to how you would use a footnote for a written paper but beyond that, some say that a website or blog is dead (ie has no visitors) if there are no outbound links.  The concept is similar to gift giving during the holidays…it’s a two way street.
  7. Remember to add tags to your blog entries.
  8. Research and use popular hashtags to gain further exposure for your blog content. I have even gotten into the habit of using key hashtags in the titles of the blog entries which helps boost the title that much more.
  9. Last but not least, spend time writing high quality, original content keeping your customers in mind always. At the end of the day, no amount of links and keywords will help your SEO if your content isn’t informational and/or entertaining for your readers.

I hope this helps you look at social media with new eyes and helps you attain new visitors and higher search rankings in the near and far future!

Valorie Luther, Founder & Executive Director Creative Concepts

 

Tips To Manage Upcoming #Facebook Changes

image flickr @smernon

Everyone is buzzing about Facebook again after they announced that starting in January 2015, promotional ad like content will barely (if at all) be seen organically by the Page’s followers.  Facebook took a poll of hundreds of individuals and the one item at the top of their wish list was to stop seeing “ads” in their News Feed.  Facebook listened to the poll and changed their policy so now marketers are scrambling in order to figure out next steps to successfully promote their Page and therefore their business.

I think this is a great move and it means, in my book, that Facebook has come full circle.  Back when social media was in its infancy, those of us who ‘got it’ pushed our clients to do something new when promoting their business: be human, be genuine, be approachable and be honest during the good and the bad that might happen.  This was a new approach when it came to promoting a brand because public relations and ads always used gloss and spin to bring more exposure.  We, the social media agency pioneers, guided our clients down this new road and found success.  Present and potential customers of our clients appreciated this new turn and showed their support through additional online visits and increased sales.

As social media started to be accepted by the mainstream (marketers and the public), brands wanted more.  They wanted thousands if not millions of followers on every channel and that became the focus.  Facebook in particular morphed into an ad machine where the goal for most businesses was to increase ‘Likes’ and they did so via paid promotional content fed to News Feeds.  Increased Likes became the goal and the number to measure vs. finding a smaller more interactive group who truly believed in and interacted with your business.

So now Facebook has come full circle and no longer wants ad like content spamming News Feeds so marketers are back to the where they began, but it is a good beginning because we are all smarter and hopefully understand our customers better thanks to social media. And while this new change makes many nervous, we should all embrace it and learn from it and carry these lessons forward to all of our online profiles.

Whether you are on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest and whether you are new to the social game or just don’t know which way to turn after being at it for a while, here are some tips that can help you gain momentum on Facebook and beyond:

  1. Check out your analytics for all channels including your website.  Who is visiting, how often, what content do your visitors like?
  2. Who is the demographic that is buying your product or service? Study them and research what makes them tick.
  3. Make a list of the top 10 most interesting features of your business, your products and your leadership keeping in mind that most customers don’t know the inside details of how you do what you do so sharing these facts is indeed interesting to them.
  4. Take your favorite top 5 features from the above list, note what you learned from your analytics and your research on your customer and create a monthly content calendar for your website, your blog (if you have one) and all social media profiles and expand on these top 5 features.  Tell your story, share details about the product that no one would know about, interview people in your company, provide captivating imagery and keep in mind that no matter what you do, you should follow the themes you chose for your top 5 features.
  5. Once you have done all of this good work, check your analytics again after a month so you can see a trend.  Is there a bump up (or down) in visitors? Has the demographic changed in any way?  Are people actually talking to you?  What content is the most popular? Make note of what you find and continue to edit out all that doesn’t work and add more of what does from your present top 5 list while adding a few more themes in from the remaining 5 of your 10 most interesting features list.
  6. Follow tips 1-5 and never stop.

When supporting brands as an in house social media marketer or agency, the goal is to make sure your business is educating and/or entertaining the customers and sincerely caring for their needs.  If we can continue to focus on this approach vs. generating straight out ‘look at me’ paid promotions, then a slight change in Facebook’s Page policy won’t affect us at all.

(Image from Flickr via @smernon)

Valorie Luther, Founder & Executive Director, Creative Concepts

#Digital Marketing Tips

Creative Concepts mobileWhen a brand says they need help with their digital marketing, what are they talking about?  Is it social media? A website? Something else? Digital marketing is marketing that makes use of electronic devices such as personal computers, smartphones, cellphones, tablets and game consoles to engage with stakeholders as per Wikipedia so let’s figure out what that really means to you and your brand.

Websites: We all know what a website is, but how do you take a new look at your site and reconfigure it as a digital marketing tool?  In other words, how do you use your website to acquire new customers?  Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  1. Are you clearly explaining your services?
  2. Are you doing so in a unique way with video or other unique tools in order to help share your story in an interesting, educational or entertaining format?
  3. Are you updating your content often via a blog or other areas of your website so you give a reason for the customer to come back while increasing your SEO (search engine optimization) rankings?
  4. Have you provided a forum on your website for customers to share their thoughts and/or questions with you and other customers?
  5. Do you have a way to capture visitors on your website so you can get back to them with a ‘thank you for visiting?’
  6. Does your website look great on a computer, smartphone and tablet?  FYI, no compromising here, this should no longer be on the wishlist…it’s a must do!

Social Media: Social media is a very effective (and these days necessary) way to digitally market to your customers.  There are many elements to consider, as I have written about previously, like your available time and budget.  Additionally you have to then dig deep to figure out a successful content strategy coupled with the goal of increasing community engagement on the many social networks available so pick wisely, take one step at a time but make it happen because this is a part of marketing that every sized business needs to invest in.

Email: There are so many opinions out there on the effectiveness of email, it’s hard to know if this is a wise investment in digital dollars, but here is what I personally know: like everything else you might do to promote your brand, if you target your buyer(s) properly, provide high quality imagery and content, and give the customer a reason to continue to open the email (discounts, giveaways…), then you will have a high conversion rate, period.

Online Advertising: I personally am not a fan of the online banner ad but I do love the option of native adverting which is more interactive than the old time banners and is most likely supported by the trusted website the customer just visited which gives your advertising an extra edge.  Video ads also offer an interesting option so do investigate your choices from the websites that feature your advertising to the formats that represent your brand so you can get the biggest bang for your buck!

Mobile: Mobile is really the next evolution for digital marketers and brands.  Between opt-in SMS, mobile sites and of course apps, there are so many ways to reach out and touch your customer, engage them and lead them to buy.  And with Apple Pay, SnapCash and many other mobile payment options, mobile effects our online and offline lives so the faster your brand can figure out how to make use of some or all of the mobile options, the faster you will discover the way to increased sales!

Games: Depending on who you want to reach from young men to the growing number of women playing online, games can be of huge value to any brand or marketer.  We have a client who has the simplest of games on Facebook.  Each month the player with the highest score from a branded matching game wins a prize. They love it and hundreds play it each month. You don’t need to invest in millions to gain brand exposure as product placement could also be an option for you vs. creating a whole new game in order to interact with your present and potential customers.  As always, be creative and strategic in order to get a return on your investment.

Check out 6 Predictions About The State of Digital Marketing in 2015 by Forbes contributor Sujan Patel.  ‘Content Will Be More Important Than Ever,’ ‘Marketing Will Be Even More Connected,’ and ‘Mobile Will Take Over’ are my favorites from this list and all are part of the digital marketing mix so get creative, be strategic and take a chance ….it’s the only way to build a strong future for your brand!

Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, @CreativeConsult

Hire Right For Social Media Success

creative concepts

Brands everywhere are looking for a social media expert, guru, strategist, manager, senior executive and/or visionary but because social media and the broader category of digital marketing (and all of its varied parts) is still relatively new to many, the job ‘needs’ list gets long and unwieldy because those hiring often don’t understand the different levels of expertise required based on present needs, long term goals and senior management’s commitment (or lack thereof) to building their online presence.  Here are some tips on finding what you need to make magic happen whether you are a brand or an agency supporting many brands online.

You know you need a Community Manager* when:

  1. You have no online presence and you don’t know where to begin.
  2. You, the founder of your company, have built your brand’s social media profiles which has helped to grow the business, but now you are too busy (thankfully) to manage all of the social media.
  3. Other people in other departments have been pitching in erratically to help build your brand’s social media presence but now you need to make a real commitment to social media in order to take your business to the next level.

*My definition of a community manager is someone who understands how the various social media channels work, is a great ‘social’ writer, knows how to engage an online community and understands basic marketing principals.

You know you need a Social Media Strategist* when:

  1. You have been investing time and money into your social media but you don’t seem to be making a dent in brand exposure or sales.
  2. Your social media really needs to support and lift your public relations and marketing efforts but you don’t know how to make that happen either.
  3. You have no idea who and what an online influencer is but you hear that building relationships with these people is a good thing, but again you don’t know the who, what, and where of blogger building.

*My definition of a social media strategist is someone who has come from a PR or marketing background who understands all social channels and could either be doing daily content too or will oversee the daily content producers. This person is able to peak their head above the daily work and put a strategy in place that is linked to the company’s overall marketing and communication goals.  They should also be able to build relationships with online influencers.

You know you need a Digital Strategist* when:

  1. Your website, social media, online ads, videos and all other web based assets don’t look or sound the same…there is no continuity.
  2. You need to go beyond social media and understand if online ads, social ads, native advertising and/or sponsorships will be good for your business, and then implement based on what your online research reveals, but you need help.
  3. You need to bring all online elements together for an effective 360° digital campaign but you have no idea how to do this.

*My definition of a digital strategist is someone who not only understands social media on all levels but then looks at the whole online presence in order to bring every element together so that messaging is not only clear but it moves present and potential customers to take an action like sharing (for greater brand exposure) or buying (to increase sales).

You know you need a Senior Social/Digital Marketing Executive* when:

  1. You have a department full of community managers and social strategists but no one to pull them and their efforts together while making sure all overall marketing and communication goals are met for the brand.
  2. You need a senior level executive on the management committee who understands every level of the digital horizon.
  3. You need a digital strategist who can also manage a team and a budget because you have now made a deep commitment to your brand’s expansion via your online presence.

*My definition of a senior social media/digital marketing executive is someone who has over 10 years’ experience in social media alone, digital, PR and Marketing even longer and whose expertise includes market analysis, strategic planning, client and team management, creative production, P&L management, and new business development.

While all of this can be confusing to anyone who doesn’t spend a lot of time mastering the digital space, take a moment to slow down and really assess what your needs are and take baby steps so you can achieve both your online and off line goals.

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

Dream Team Management Tips

Creative Concepts team

One of the wonderful things about running my company is building and managing a successful team…but wait, is it always great? No, but like everything else, I have learned a thing or two over the years and refined our communication and work flow processes so now whether we are doing projects for present clients or have a new client coming on board, we are a well-oiled machine as they say.  Here are a few tips for hiring and managing your dream team:

  1. When someone comes to Creative Concepts looking for a position, I always take the time to read their resumes and consider their background.  Most of my present day team came to Creative Concepts this way.  Hiring someone who has investigated your company and already knows they want to work there is half the battle.
  1. When interviewing a potential hire, I do what everyone does and ask about their background and what they want to do, but I also ask if they didn’t have a care in the world, what would be their most perfect job?  Answers I have gotten have ranged from writing to running their own PR firm which said to me that they fit into Creative Concepts but when one person said horseback riding, I wished her luck with her job search and said no thank you because I really do feel everyone should follow their passion and do what they love whether they work for me or not (and sorry, no horseback riding at this social media agency).  I did have one person submit her resume multiple times for a business development position…she didn’t understand that to sell social media services you have to have an online presence and understand at least the basics….she walked away mad but am I hoping she has found the perfect position that is more suited for her background.
  1. Once people come on board, I touch base with them often even if they are directly reporting to someone else within Creative Concepts.  I ask how things are going, ask what they like and what isn’t working for them.  Hearing their feedback allows me to learn if our process is generally working, but it also helps me to know if they will stick around which is important to know quickly because training takes time and money.  I also take these opportunities to learn more about them overall which helps me to understand their future path within Creative Concepts.  Writers, for example, all don’t head in the same direction internally.  We have one writer who has evolved into a client services role and another who is now Editor of all client content.  The fact that they are both doing what they love enables longevity within our firm.
  1. When we have new client work, those who have been with us the longest don’t get first dibbs on the work as it is given out to the people who best fit the client.  Seniority should never compromise our clients.  If everyone on my team is doing what they love for clients they can relate to, it actually saves money and the clients are excited by the work we produce.
  1. I believe in total flexibility as a manager.  I have a lot of moms who work for me which, as a category, is an untapped market still to this day.  These moms have different needs in their schedules based on what happens at home so if anyone on the team doesn’t have a client facing position, and they get their work done by the end of the day well in advance of deadlines and its high quality, then I don’t care about the how, when and where.  We have multiple communication tools that help us to stay on top of our work whether someone is in their car heading to a football game at 4pm or sitting in front of the computer in the office at 6am so it all works: clients, team and I are all happy!
  1. As per mistakes?  Everyone makes them!  I only bring on great people who take pride in their work so if a mistake is made, I am usually the calmer one between us.  I believe all mistakes can be fixed either with time or making a simple correction so as long as people learn from every issue, then I am good (if they don’t learn, then that is another case entirely).
  1. Because social media is ever evolving, I am very happy messing around with every new social network and every new approach but many on the team aren’t like me so I take the time to push them individually and drive them to learn and expand their approaches to their work.  At the end of the day, this makes most of the team happy and those who aren’t know to leave and find a slower unchanging environment.  Everything always works out in the end.
  1. And if you hire smart creative people, you have to allow them to do what they do best.  Once I trust they know the client and the goals, I always leave the work in their hands so they can do what I hired them for.  It saves me time and shows how much I respect them which I believe is motivating.
  1. Hiring ethical people who can be trusted is essential to every business so this isn’t necessarily the last item, it should just go without saying.

Every company is different of course and every manager has a different style so it can be hard to make magic happen every day but as long as you, the manager and leader, listen, respect, educate and appreciate those who work for you, you are off to a great start.

Happy managing!

Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

Tips On How To Use Social Media For PR And Events

creative concepts, green closet

Like many who have been in the middle of social media since its inception, many of us know that Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more lead the way when it comes to increasing brand exposure and reaching out directly to present and future consumers, but let’s look at how social media can be used as a support to your public relations and events efforts as well.

Public Relations Success Via Social Media

Because I do both public relations and social media at Creative Concepts, I often (but not always) have the luxury of working with these two communication tools simultaneously.  I literally have hundreds of examples of how I have used social media to further the reach of the more traditional public relations efforts but let’s turn to a ‘green’ cleaning client as a great case study of how social media can build and then support public relations:

An international eco cleaning company wanted to reach beyond the present ‘super green’ customer and appeal to a broader range of people with a focus on women specifically who weren’t necessarily zeroed in on sustainability in order to increase sales in the U.S.

I proposed a social media and public relations strategy that involved educating the consumer continually (vs. doing a one time “campaign”) about conscious living via an approach I called “Green Closet” which appealed to a demographic of a wealthier educated woman. The idea was to suggest that one could and should create a “green” closet by choosing high end fashion manufactured sustainably, staying away from fast fashion and reusing old clothes already in the closet, and of course washing all clothes with sustainable cleaning products made by my client.  Instead of doing the more common one-way brand messaging, I instead built a ‘Green Team’ of two very well respected eco designers, a world renown author and expert on Fast Fashion, an eco-stylist and more to act as spokespeople for “Green Closet” where one or all of the team lead with their passion for a more sustainable approach to fashion but they always included my client in the online and press conversations about living eco-fashionably 360°.

This was a public relations homerun supported by social media.  The Green Team contributed content to my client’s blog and social sites which helped to build online and offline buzz where I was then able to catch the attention of top media as the topic of a “Green Closet” told by our Green Team was both timely and impressive where the approach was educational vs. promotional.  Between sophisticated imagery and high level informative and interesting online content showcased on the brands’ and the Green Team’s social sites, the press bit at the story.  This is a great example of how social media (along with a timely and unique message) can be used to catch and then urge the press to take the story further.

Events Using Social Media (and PR) To Fill The House

Social media can be a huge tool when planning and promoting events, attending events or sharing brand messaging post event as seen with this client case study:

A client was opening a new franchise and needed to fill the grand opening event with potential customers.  And for anyone who couldn’t make the event, the client wanted to make future customers aware and excited about their services so potential new members would sign up sooner rather than later.

I proposed and then used a combination of Facebook (knowing their potential members were there), strategic partnerships with local mom bloggers (the client’s business was focused on families), and public relations to fill the house and get the word out about the new business.

With a three month lead time using the power of social media and then closer to the event alerting the press, we garnered over 20 press mentions locally, had 500 attendees in three hours, and got 200 families registered for memberships and/or classes.  Social media not only helped to inspire the press to cover the event but it helped to get the word out through multiple trusted channels which drove so many to attend and then sign up.

In closing, everyone who knows me lives with my passion for and belief in the power of social media.  The way I look at it, you just can’t go wrong whether you are leading with social media or supporting a public relations campaign or running an event!

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

 

How To Find Your Daily Balance And It Starts With a Glass Of Lemon Water

image flickr @liberato

Everyone on the face of the earth talks about finding balance.  Yes/No, White/Black, Ying/Yang….how do you do it?  When younger, I thought it meant taking big vacations, going to a spa and/or going dancing via the hottest nightclub, but when kids and a tightening budget didn’t allow for the extravagances, I found balance in the everyday smaller choices which, as it turns out, leads to a fuller more enjoyable life daily and lasts longer than the two week vacation I used to take.

Here are some balancing tips for your body, mind and soul.

Tips good for the Soul:

  1. I have two areas of focus in my life, family and work.  Knowing this makes daily and long term decision making easier.
  2. I say no a lot.  My priorities are always clear to me: everything I say yes to has a direct and immediate effect on my family (I will drive my kids to the bus stop in order to catch up with them vs. baking brownies for their teachers for example) or my business (I will spend extra unbudgeted time at meetings with a client vs. going to a random conference where I ‘might’ meet a future customer).
  3. On the flipside, if I commit to a yes, I will go to the ends of the earth to fulfill that yes.
  4. I believe in giving back.  By doing this unselfishly and for all of the right reasons, I have received unbelievable gifts from the efforts.  The process never ceases to amaze me.
  5. I am flexible; there are just some days I blow my daily plan because the unexpected pops up so I go with the flow knowing it’s all happening for a reason (and there usually is a reason I end up being grateful for in the long run)

Tips good for the Mind:

  1. Before I do any work in the morning, I peruse Flipboard (good for seeing the exact news sites I want all in one place) to check the international and U.S. news.
  2. I post to twitter any social media news that I find noteworthy which forces me to be up on my industry.
  3. I check email and get a grip on it before jumping into new work.
  4. I create a list of must dos so I have a basic plan for the day.
  5. If I have a big project to work on, I turn email off so I am not distracted.
  6. When checking email, I take an immediate action so it doesn’t spin out of control (delete, flag, or file it).
  7. At the end of the day, I make a list of must dos for the next morning.

Tips good for the Body:

  1. I drink a glass of water with ¼ of a lemon squeezed in before I get out of bed in the morning.
  2. I drink green tea with breakfast, black tea in the afternoon and decaf green tea at night (at a minimum).
  3. I work out 3x per week at a gym.
  4. I get 7 hours of sleep or more each day.
  5. I eat a mostly organic, non-refined sugar diet.
  6. I eat a meal or small snack every 2-3 hours.

Tips for Body, Mind and Soul Combined:

  1. I try my best to listen and hear what his not being said (helpful with kids, employees and clients).
  2. I try to take a walk outside 2x per week with my dog.  Between being out in nature and watching the joy of my dog, it’s a great way to start the day.
  3. I never lie…not even white lies!

Before I wrote this I didn’t realize I had such a long list of daily dos but it works for me.  What is one small thing you do that helps you find the ‘ommmmm’ every day?

(Image from Flickr via @liberato)

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts, follow me @CreativeConsult

Native Advertising: Who Creates The #Content, A Case Study

digital contentNative advertising is a hot topic right now but what is it and who creates the content, the sponsor or the publisher?  Well first, “native advertising is an online advertising method in which the advertiser attempts to gain attention by providing content in the context of the user’s experience” as defined by Wikipedia….basically sponsors pay to have their very branded content featured on a website that normally publishes unbranded, unbiased, reporter-like content like The New York Times, The Atlantic and similar or smaller sites like I mention below.  Many have been debating the pros and cons of native advertising for quite some time now, but I personally am already past the should-we or shouldn’t-we conversation as I already agree with the IAB and Edelman Berland research that says there is great value in native advertising.  So let’s move on and review the burning question of who writes the content: should it come from the brand or should the editorial staff from the publication produce it?

Because native advertising is still a relatively new concept, there really is no set answer on this question as each publication is wading through these new waters very differently, but I do have some experience coming from the brand’s point of view, so let me share a few case studies featuring one client (so same goals and roughly the same messaging for each example below) but different publications (who shall remain nameless) and their approach to native advertising:

Sustainability focused website: I approached a ‘green’ website on behalf of our client because their number of daily/monthly visitors was vast, content was high quality and their readers were very engaged plus their demographic was a young working professional which was very appealing to our client.  The only sponsorship opportunity with the site as per the founder was native advertising and so we jumped in ready to go.  I had a preconceived notion of how to approach sponsored content but they had their own way which was very unique.  They would pinpoint content on their site that fulfilled the following to be used again for native advertising:

  1. The site’s suggested content had already gone live and was successful by their measure (large amount of readers, high engagement….)
  2. The already live content theme was in sync with the brand

They had proposed that once the content was approved by my client, they would repost it with a small mention at the bottom of the post saying it was sponsored content with our clients’ name, logo and a small tag line. The idea behind the approach was that because the content had already proven to be popular within their online community, posting it again, but this time as sponsored content, would almost guarantee success (thousands of views) for our client.

Well, this stopped me in my tracks as I had never encountered this approach before but I was willing to give it a try.  So they sent their first content suggestion which included products that were in the same brand category as our client but a variation that our client didn’t sell so that was a no because we didn’t want to confuse present or new customers.  The editor said they would take that particular product out of the suggested content.  There were about three more edits that had to be made in order for our client to feel comfortable as a sponsor of their content; after all shouldn’t native advertising highlight unique features of the brand paying for the opportunity?  By the time we hit our next and final edit, the content wasn’t the same as what the site’s staff had originally produced and so we didn’t get to test out this native advertising approach because their team didn’t feel the newly edited content would deliver the views because of the edits.  And they still wouldn’t compromise by having our client produce completely new content for them or in partnership with them (my original request) even though we wanted to submit ‘green’ lifestyle unbranded (except for a company mention at the bottom of the post) content that would educate and help their readers grow their eco-lifestyle.

An unwillingness to compromise and to see that newly created sponsored content could be an asset ultimately took this project nowhere.

Mom focused website: Because I personally love this mom website because their daily content is top notch and they have thousands of readers, I was fine when they said that the only way they offer native advertising was for them to create the theme of the blog entry and write it up themselves after we provided some basic brand facts; they were keen on having all content on their site consistent and presented in the same style so I said let’s give it a try.  When they completed the piece, it looked great…awesome images, multiple client mentions peppered throughout the blog entry which ended up being a how-to piece for moms planning a fun party for their kids.  Couldn’t wait for it to go live…you couldn’t go wrong with this one, I thought!  But when it hit online, it was a fail.  No one really interacted with the entry, barely anyone shared it, it fell flat on all of their social media channels and there were no discernible increases of visitors to the client website or social profiles.  Was this because their readers didn’t really engage on a regular basis?  Didn’t want to engage with this content in particular? Was it because the content hovered between being unbranded (written by the site) yet branded (client name was mentioned all through the entry) so the reader didn’t know what to think?

It was a pretty expensive venture for minimal results and no insight from the site’s management, and so we moved on and continued to look for new native advertising opportunities.

Natural lifestyle focused website:  This is another website I admire for their numbers, their passionate mission and super engaged community so we took another chance on the native advertising idea for the same client.  This time we had to provide the content 100%.  We had to get the topic approved by them and all products included in our blog entry needed to be in sync with their site mission but other than that, we were truly a partner in this native advertising opportunity.  We provided content that was entertaining and instructional and not overly promotional and it was hugely successful.  The site made it very clear to their readers that our content was sponsored by putting us in another place on their website but regardless of being sponsored content, they linked to it often throughout their website and in their social channels.  Because their readers were clear that it was native advertising, they were able to move past that quickly and appreciate what our client had to offer in terms of tips and overall suggestions within the product category.  On the flip side, the website wasn’t afraid to present the sponsored content often because they knew from experience how to approach native advertising and because they ultimately understood the value of partnering with a reputable and well-loved brand which they smartly used to their advantage.

This was a successful and fruitful collaboration: the website proved once again to their readers they could by trusted by presenting a well vetted trustworthy brand openly while our client had the benefit of getting their messaging in front of a whole new group of potential customers.  A native advertising win.

Like everything else that is new, there are going to be publications and websites that get it and many who don’t but like everything else that is digital, if you remain flexible, listen carefully and are completely transparent about what you are doing, I do believe success will be had by all!

Image via Flickr @opensourceway

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts

 

 

 

Daily #Content Matters For Brands, Tips To Make It Work

image flickr @tessawatson

As I approach my tenth year working in social media, I often look at the lay of the land and think of where “blogging” was back in 2005 (before the words “social media” even existed) and where the art of doing business socially stands today.  I am both amazed at how far brands have come and shocked at the same time that many businesses haven’t come far enough.

What do I mean?  Well, for example, let’s look at the role that daily content plays not only in the social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and more, but its place (or lack thereof) in the overall marketing communications plan as an example of not seriously moving ahead with a brand’s social media opportunities.

After closely watching many larger brands via social media, I have noticed that there are some that spend their time putting together one-off online campaigns that are clever, eye catching, entertaining and very expensive.  The amazing creative and the efforts behind it might grab attention for the short term and even receive awards for their outstanding work, but will these same campaigns…

  1. Inspire loyalty in the customer?
  2. Position the brand as experts?
  3. Elicit trust?
  4. Create an impulse to think of the brand first when shopping?
  5. Ultimately sell products?

Sadly, many times the answer is no to these questions because there is often a big disconnect between the high level glossy promotions and the daily content strategy where in the everyday on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and more, you have the opportunity to be front and center with your customer and create content that answers the call of the above questions.

Daily social content should keep in mind the companies mission, short and long term marketing and sales goals as well as promoting the big digital and PR campaigns.  There should be a 360° approach taking place daily on all social networks where your brand has a presence. While this may seem like common sense, many brands with the larger budgets don’t take this approach and often miss a chance to build a long term consistent relationship with their customer which can be a huge driver in maintaining and increasing sales.  Client Bigelow Tea is a great example of how to invest in strategic daily content as noted in our case study:

 

So how does a brand find daily social media success?  Ask the following and share the answer directly or indirectly with every Facebook update, every Tweet, every Pin, every blog entry, every Tumblr post, and every video on YouTube:

  1. What is your mission?
  2. What do you sell (be specific…down to the smallest details…customers want to know everything)?
  3. What is the big deal about what you sell?
  4. Why should the consumer pick your brand over any other (without degrading your competition)?
  5. Does your company do good in the world by taking care of your employees, honoring the environment, or giving back in some way?

If every brand (or agency for that brand) fully understands that daily content is not random, you are ahead of the game, you will win against your competition, and you are the innovators still…at this point.

-Valorie Luther, Founder Creative Concepts

 

photo credit: tjmwatson via photopin cc