Respond in real-time, or don’t bother

6 Jun

A good response strategy carefully matches your creative and content to your influencers and your audience.

A good response strategy carefully matches your creative and content to your influencers and your audience.

Summary: Develop a digital response strategy by analyzing data and matching creative and content. This delivers more opportunities to use good content and makes paid and owned media better.

Real-time media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google+) requires active response (real-time media = social media). Real-time media differentiates your brand from others. The right content (a status post and/or link to content), delivered at the right time and to the right customers can motivate strong emotional connections.

Real-time media is critical for communicating with customers and starting conversations. So pay attention. Be relevant in real-time and be prepared to respond. Building real-time Response Strategy means:

  • Analyzing data (Google Analytics and social media data)
  • Matching your creative and content to the news cycle
  • Matching your creative and content to influencers
  • Matching your creative and content to your audience

What response strategy delivers

When your brand is listening and learning with real-time (social media), you now have the detail you need to create better content for your digital channels that act as a resource or service. You can do good things like identify, curate, co-create and prep for triage.

  • Identify and inventory resources for the brand and thought leaders in industry.
  • Curate content for additional visibility (Storify, Pinterest, YouTube)
  • Develop opportunities to co-create content with influencers and customers
  • Response scenario plan (content triage): Build real-time channels and content sets for quickly responding to negative or disruptive situations.

What’s next?

The true value of paid and owned media is based on the impact of earned media. Show a pulse and respond decisively from your real-time (social) media. Earn value with your content or don’t bother.

Case for no auto-play video or audio

18 May
Auto-play video cat

A polydactyl cat strongly reacting to auto-play video on a website.

Audio-play video or audio will immediately get a website added to negative usability example lists, incessant mocking, as well as, post-dating the website (what is this, 2002?). The major reasons for avoiding auto-play are:

  • Screen Readers: Usability annoyance (especially for handicapped/blind users)
  • People already listening to music
  • Users viewing page in an office setting

Auto-play media went out of fashion in 1998-2002 when more developers started to pay attention to their analytics and noticed that users bounced in droves when encountering auto-play (video or audio).

The correct way to display audio or video content is to introduce user to this content on a landing page (images, text and link) or your homepage and then allow the user to determine whether they will click on and play the media.

Need another opinion?

Auto-play is annoying.
Auto-play is really annoying.
Jakob Nielsen thinks it’s annoying.

 

Content Marketing equals strong intent

13 May

Search for a phrase like “small backpacking stove” you’re expressing strong intent. Demographics is a passive metric, but when a user takes an action – pay attention.

Content marketing attention and spending are up (43.9 billion – Characteristics Study by the Custom Content Council and ContentWise) because there is a fundamental shift in consumer behavior. Inbound marketing (and search) means that consumers control the pace and volume of information ‘before making a purchase decision.’ Content Marketing equals intent.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re an alpaca farmer, a professional bowler, a small business owner or a second-year grad student, when you search for a phrase like “small backpacking stove” you’re expressing strong intent. Demographics is a passive metric, but when a user takes an action – pay attention.

Businesses and their marketing partners are now coming to grips with this fundamental shift in consumer behavior – inbound marketing. People control the information they receive and how they receive it. In outbound marketing, the company was in control. The playing field has changed. Content Marketing equals strong intent.

Blend Content Marketing tasks and documents

5 Feb
content marketing task list

(Library of Congress image)
Be crystal clear: SEO strategy should be integrated into your content marketing strategy so each content item supports your overall findability.

Now that you have 5 essential content marketing documents you can focus on 5 essential content marketing tasks. Content Marketing is an important part of sustaining the opportunity presented by consistent and unique thought leadership and related events. Link participants, content and conversation and ensure that each piece of content yields optimal results toward your business goals by following these steps.

Your expensive paid online marketing strategy (Google AdWords, retargeting, banner, display and old media buys) ultimately drives visitors to your online content marketing (your website and social media channels). When customers discover your online content does it answer their questions? Whether you have a paid online marketing strategy or not you need to practice content marketing.

  1. Recycle and format content: Be green and make the most of each content marketing effort. Plan related content and alternative presentations of content in advance. Use your Content Inventory to find existing information to highlight in your current publishing cycle. Don’t forget to link to related content and cross-promote each item to extend its usability. Create different pieces of content on the same topic –  alternative presentations – to make your content stand out. What in your Content Inventory can be created in a different format: PowerPoint to Blog Post; Case Study to Infographic; video to web page?
  2. It’s all about search – optimize: SEO strategy should be integrated into your content marketing strategy so each content item supports your overall findability. Review your Keyword Suggestions document, select one keyword phrase, and focus your headlines, copy and tags to gain maximum SEO value.
  3. Relevant calls-to-action and mobile-friendly: All that effort and writing to create great content – perfect. Now, finish the job. Review your Online Metrics and guide users to a specific call-to-action (tell them what you want them to do). Assume potential readers will read your content on many different devices, such as Macs, PCs, smartphones, and tablets. Review your Online Metrics, discover top landing pages – /services, /press, /productx – learn, replicate, simplify; make certain that contact info is in the page field, not just in the left-hand rail or the footer of the page.
  4. Publish your content: Promote your content to maximize its potential to reach interested consumers. Update and then publish content on a regular basis with your Content Calendar.
  5. Share your ideas: Why create it and then keep it to yourself?Encourage and enable readers to share your content across relevant real time platforms. Connect this content with your Event Participant Inventory; add social sharing buttons to your website; affirm other event participants; share their content – reciprocate.

Also: Essential Content Marketing documents

Essential Content Marketing documents

3 Feb
Content marketing document examples

(Library of Congress image)
You need to develop and maintain content marketing documents to track your content marketing efforts.

According to Google ZMOT, in 2011 people researched and digested 10.4 unique pieces of content (blog posts, web pages, video, Twitter posts, Facebook status posts, SlideShare presentations, etc.) before making a purchasing decision. Your online content is the voice of your company, each item is speaking to your customers and telling your story while you’re very busy growing your business. You need to develop and maintain content marketing documents to track your content marketing efforts.

Your paid online marketing strategy (Google AdWords, retargeting, banner, display and old media buys) is expensive and ultimately is supposed to drive visitors to your online content marketing (your website and social media channels). Whether you have a paid online marketing strategy or not you need to practice content marketing.

Here are examples of 5 essential content marketing documents to guide a successful content marketing strategy.

  1. Example of a content inventory

    Example of a content inventory

    Content Inventory: Use your Content Inventory to find existing information to highlight in your current publishing cycle. Reference your inventory to link to related content. Create different pieces of content on the same topic at the same time. Cross-promote each item to extend its usability. What in your Content Inventory can be created in a different format? (PowerPoint to Blog Post; Case Study to Infographic; video to web page).

  2. Example of keyword suggestions

    Example of keyword suggestions

    Keyword Suggestions: SEO strategy must integrated into your content marketing strategy so each content item supports your overall findability. Use Google AdWords to identify keywords related to your top products and services. Now use these keywords to build your branded message and deliver online via organic and paid content, as well as, email, real time media and your website. Use these terms to link your thought leadership to company events and the sales cycle. Select relevant keyword phrases and then focus landing pages to maximize SEO value.

  3. Example of online metrics

    Example of online metrics

    Online Metrics. Track page views, bounces, referrals, sources, mobile and more for your website. Understand successful (and less than successful content). Track metrics for your real time channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.), as well. Improve poorly performing content and landing pages and repeat successes.

  4. Example of content calendar

    Example of content calendar

    Content Calendar: Establish a publishing cycle and deliver new and repurposed content on a regular basis. Set a pattern of good, consistent and unique thought leadership on your Content Calendar. Be flexible enough to adjust to the news and sales cycle. Check Google Trends, Insights and your Online Metrics and prepare the content that web visitors are seeking.

  5. Example of participant inventory

    Example of participant inventory

    Event Participant Inventory: Build an online community by staging regular events and then maintaining connections with your participants. The Event Participant Inventory shows all digital touch points (websites, social media/real time channels, etc.) where your event attendees share their branded messages. The Event Participant Inventory provides opportunities to identify influencers through your company’s event, and to share and affirm branded keywords.

Create (and maintain) these content marketing documents and then follow your content marketing task list to connect with your customers.  And in case you were wondering why content marketing is so damn important – it is.

Content Marketing image lists

12 Dec
Architizer website image list example

Architizer is a great image list example.

Seeing a lot of content marketing lately organized in a Pinterest-like pattern (Behance, Architizer, Ford Social).  Image lists provide that easy, soft entry point to what the user is actually there for – the content.

Yes, people go to websites to read about stories, and discover answers to their questions. Images and infographics are a big part of that process.

Make sure that you have some of these content ideas in your content inventory and editorial calendar: image entry points that tell your story (and that are very sharable).

  • Build image lists that show failure (mold damage, wear damaged parts)
  • Build image lists that show success (product glamour shots – include a user/customer)
  • Build link list that show best practices/resources (establish yourself as a curator)
  • Day-In-The-Life: Tracking trend/topic with Storify (show realtime, always on)
  • Teach navigation/familiarity (screen captures, illustrations to show exactly where content lives)

If you were online looking for information each of these would provide answers to your questions.

Anything that caught your eye lately that led you to great information?

How to explain the value of online communities

1 Oct
Online communities

Each community has a dramatically different entry point and different levels of sophistication but all are part of the map of the brand’s space for consumers.

How to explain the value of online communities? Well, first let’s try to explain the hierarchy of online communities.

Yes, we understand how valuable information is to brands. Information obtained online leads to innovation, research and development insights, customer service adjustments – this is new marketing – nurturing a brand dialogue and gaining actionable information.

Let’s look at three levels of community conversation for General Motors. Level one is the all-purpose Facebook fan page

Facebook fan page (General Motors)

  • Cost: Free staging; but $$ for custom integrated applications
  • Creative: Custom cover images; custom timeline, tab applications
  • Audience: Entry-level buyers, employees (415,000 fans, engagement 8,900 ‘people talking about this’)
  • Administration: News feed, editorial calendar, moderated engagement, links references to other channels
  • Advantages: Entry-level engagement, relatively low-cost, Facebook Insight metrics; access to Facebook ad network

Next, the GM conversation might jump to an enthusiast blog/community like Jalopnik, a weblog covering cars, car culture, and the automotive industry. Contributors to Gawker Media’s Jalopnik regularly attend media events and press conferences hosted by automotive manufacturers.

Jalopnik blog (GM discussion)

  • Cost: Private, sign-in for commenting, accessing tips, delivering story tips to editors
  • Audience: Car industry execs, industry insiders, car enthusiasts (1.6 million monthly readers; 78,000 Facebook fans)
  • Administration: Blog feed, moderated comments, links to other channels, sources
  • Advantages: More focused, relevant interest. Higher level of authority and credibility to combine with brand

Finally, the GM conversation might jump to a gated community like Liveworld, an invitation-only community for the automotive brand..

Liveworld (GM elite discussion)

  • Cost: $8-$10,000 monthly for hosted web experience
  • Audience: Invited members of a brand’s leadership (CEOs) and expertise (top engineers, developers) with selected investors, division CEOs, industry influencers (with a mix of passionate consumers and potential consumers)
  • Administration: Community thread, moderated comments, introductions via email (Less moderated more constructive dialogues supported by resourceful content and creative challenges)
  • Advantages: Displays exclusivity (think golf country club). Heavily filtered, focused discussion points, (yes, but listening is a core priority within our space, natural concerns and connections spur organic growth and refocus discussion topics) with access to top decision-makers and leaders from most important customers. Connectedness is the reward and return for consumers to have invested their time. Being heard, taking part, co-creating my brand.

Summary: All of these communities have the same goal – to allow the customer to comment on and share the brand’s experience and in turn allow the brand actionable intelligence to refine its marketing goals. The goal is to listen and to respond to customers, learning and creating lasting connections through one-to-one interaction.

Each community has a dramatically different entry point and different levels of sophistication but all are part of the map of the brand’s space for consumers.